J. Robert Parks Raves about "The World"

J. Robert Parks says he’s found one of the best films of the year.

A few days ago, my friend Garth asked what I was reviewing this week, and I replied “The World.” He was confused at first, and I hastened to add “The World” was the film’s name. “That’s a pretty broad title,” Garth joked. It is, and yet I’m not sure I could think of a better one.

The movie stars Zhao Tao as a young woman named Tao who works at the World Theme Park. The park is an actual (and bizarre) tourist attraction in Beijing that advertises, “See the world without leaving Beijing.” What visitors see are half- and quarter-scale replications of famous landmarks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Moscow’s Red Square, and even the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The fictional Tao is a dancer in the numerous cultural productions the park puts on, as well as a stand-in at various exhibits (she plays a flight attendant on a replica of a plane, at one point).

Tao is dating Taisheng, a young man who’s migrated from a rural province and who works as a security guard. Their acquaintances include other young people who work at the park (dancers and security guards mostly). The film follows them over the course of several months, as they meet new people, fall in love, try to switch jobs, and come to terms with what their lives are going to be like.

One of the many great aspects of the movie is how writer and director Zia Jhangke captures that restless feeling of being in your twenties: not married but dating, striving but not a success, working at jobs you plan on leaving, hanging out with friends but not sure they’ll be there for you next year. Tao’s story, with its struggles and joys, can be found on the streets of Chicago, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, and any city where young people come to find their lives and reach their dreams. That The World reveals the details in that tale as well as the larger themes and lessons is testimony to the richness of the characters and their interactions.

The World is different from almost every movie, though, in its use of visual motifs and stunning cinematography. If you’ve ever wondered what film critics are talking about when they mention “film space,” The World is a perfect example. Zia often contrasts what’s happening in the foreground with what’s occurring in the background. A peasant with a bag full of pop bottles walks in front of the park’s replica of the Eiffel Tower. Tao and a migrant worker talk on a construction site while a plane takes off behind them. The movie takes advantage of its widescreen framing, often filming a conversation while also allowing us to see how other people are acting and reacting. But the film also shrinks that distance in an amazing sequence when a young couple, using video technology, take a magic carpet ride over the Paris landscape.

Zia also highlights foreground and background through powerful diagonal shots. One conversation in the park takes place while a group of tourists watch a dancing troupe in front of the Taj Mahal. The mix of banal and strange is amplified by cinematographer Yu Likwai’s amazing composition. And I can’t leave out the movie’s opening scene–an incredible Steadicam long-take through the subterranean hallways of the dancers’ dressing rooms.

World Park is a spectacular setting for a movie, but Zia Jhangke does so much more than just use it for visual flourish and ironic counterpoint. He integrates the theme of travel and culture into his characters’ lives. Taisheng and a number of his friends have migrated from the rural province of Shanxi to Beijing (just as Zia did) looking for work, and their contrast with the more sophisticated urban residents highlights one of China’s primary conflicts. As Tao and Taisheng struggle in their relationship, Taisheng meets a woman whose husband has left for France, and Tao strikes up a friendship with Anna, a Russian woman who’s come to dance at the park. Though they can’t speak each other’s language, they still communicate through hand gestures, facial expressions, and, in one moving scene, song.

There’s also a provocative scene when Tao’s ex-boyfriend comes to visit her. He has a passport to go to Mongolia, and Tao and Taisheng are envious, and so they take him to the train station, which functions as a metaphorical crossroads. Western audiences who use Mongolia as a stand-in for the last place on earth they’d like to visit will find that amusing, but it’s also a reminder that simple geography goes a long way toward determining how we see the world. When the average Chinese doesn’t have a passport and the government still attempts to control the flow of information, the park functions as a locus of longing to see and understand the outside world.

Yet, what do these characters and the others who come to the park learn from their experience? They take pictures in front of the scaled-down monuments, and they see lavish productions. Even those, though, are fuzzy facsimiles at best. At one point, Tao is assigned to play the “African” dancer, not because of any racial distinction but because there is no one darker than she. And how is the U.S. portrayed? America is a “green country,” a taped message at the park states. “They are not cultural snobs. They know how to create a show business culture.” Guilty as charged, but I can’t imagine any American who’d be happy with such a basic characterization. Of course, the average American’s view of the world is probably even less sophisticated. When MSNBC claims, without irony, to bring us up-to-date in 15 minutes and FOX News gives its tour of world events in 90 seconds and CNN’s entertainment coverage lasts longer than any foreign news that doesn’t involve bombs, is it no surprise that Americans still can’t pick out Iraq and Afghanistan on a globe? The fact that we don’t have our own world theme park is due only to the fact that we have Las Vegas instead.

In that sense The World is more than just one of the best movies of the year. It is, like all great foreign films, an absolutely necessary window onto a part of the world that we know little about and a timely reminder of why we must broaden our horizons. That it ends up showing us how much we have in common is icing on the cake.

Four 1/2 stars out of five.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

  • Anonymous

    It sad you would applaude hate. I think we are supposed to love each other. I know in deep catholisism, and the practical true is that most of the priests preach what Mr. Driscoll addresses.

  • Chris

    It’s VERY important to realize the horrible reporting by this relatively uneducated student journalist. There are many false statements in her article. She misquotes Mr. Driscoll NUMEROUS times. Be sure to read all the responses to her article at http://www.thefalcononline.com/story/4939 including a response from Mr. Driscoll himself.

    It’s time to put a stop to SPU’s hatred towards Mars Hill. SPU should be ashamed of these blatantely false statements.

    DO YOUR RESEARCH, PEOPLE!

  • M. Reber

    John 20:23-

    Regarding Mr. Greydanus’ comment about the need for absolution of a priest, this verse is saying that the disciples did not have the power to forgive sin, rather that Jesus gave them the “privilege” of telling new believers that their sins have been forgiven because they have accepted Jesus’ message. No power was given them to hear and absolve sin. We as believers can do that also.

    1Tim 2:5 says there is one mediator between God and man and that would be Jesus Christ. I see no need for a priest in the act of confession.

    I was raised Catholic and Pastor Driscoll was bang on.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    >>”Please, pay attention to the fact that Mark Driscoll was raised Catholic and what he spoke of in that sermon was Catholicism in the 16th century and those catechisms which have understandably been reviewed and changed since then (for instance, those concerning indulgences), no longer look the same as the 20th century catechisms or on catholicism.com.”<<

    If it is true that the SPU student’s editorial completely misinterpreted Driscoll’s comments, then I extend my apologies for this post.

    But if it is true that Driscoll did criticize any current Catholic church practices or beliefs as the student mentions, I question Driscoll’s judgment in choosing to air such criticism from the pulpit. (Moreover, I question whether or not he would welcome any response from a devout Catholic, or if he’s too busy.)

    Sunday worship is just that… a place for worship. That’s not the best time or place for airing contentions about other denominations, especially if you haven’t done your research.

    I appreciate those who have posted thoughtfully, patiently, and in an informative fashion. Encouraging us to go out and hear the sermon is a healthy suggestion.

    I’m not going to bother, though, because I’m not as interested in this particular case as I am in a larger issue. I posted this link because it was part of an ongoing series of encounters I’ve had recently with Christians, Catholic and otherwise, who are appalled at the ignorance and hatred within certain corners of Evangelicalism toward Catholicism. If this particular instance proves to be false, my bad. But it is “in kind” with much that I’ve been noticing lately, and I’m weary of it.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    “i invite you to mars hill.”

    What, to hang out with someone as rash, crude, and mean-spirited as you?

    Are you Exhibit A of the kind of people waiting to “welcome” me to Mars Hill?

    I don’t believe so, but please, sit down, take a deep breath, have a cream soda, do something to settle down before you post again.

    You who only have the guts to post anonymously, I encourage you to change your tone and clean up your language for this public exchange, or your comments will be deleted.

    And if you’re so concerned about someone getting their “facts straight,” try using spellcheck once in a while. Sheesh.

  • Anonymous

    Funny how catholics get all hot and bothered about some critisism from someone said to not know what he is talking about. then, catholics turn around and read some article from a girl that really doesn’t have here facts straight and leaves out key points of marks sermon. THEN THEY CALL MARS HILL A CULT!!!!!!!! HAHAHHAHAHAHAHA!! who’s talkin the most shit!! get a life catholics. you chose your way and now your mad cause of the problems of your faith. i invite you to mars hill.

  • Rob Davis

    This is hurting my stomach. Let’s all spend time bashing people we basically know nothing about, and then refuse to respond to legitimate questions and points.

    What a great debate!

  • Anonymous

    Hi, I am not the previous anonymous. My name is Aaron. I attend Mars Hill. I would highly suggest that people listen to Mark’s sermon before commenting further.

    2 points:

    Kennethk stated that:

    “Ever notice how whenever an evangelical pastor starts preaching about how we are saved through grace alone, only grace, just faith and not anything else, s/he NEVER, EVER mentions the Epistle of James?”

    You are in luck. Mark talks about the epistle of James. Apparently this is a first for evangelical preachers…

    Amanda Lyngyel quotes Driscoll in her article:

    “”The way you and I get justified is through Jesus Christ. How exactly does this transpire? This is the great debate between Catholics and Protestants.” Driscoll is saying that Protestants are saved by Jesus Christ, but Catholics disagree. This is false.”

    Driscoll at that point in the sermon is saying that the means is the subject of the debate. She has completely missed what Driscoll was saying.

    The rest of the article is founded on the misunderstanding that Mark is not talking about the recently reformed Roman Catholic Church but the doctrines of the RCC in its history and its context within the debate with protestant forms of Christianity.

    About Mark and the strucure of Mars Hill. Mark answers to the other elders of the church, of which there are 14+ at the current moment. The books (financial records) are open to all members. Mark is not a dictator. He does not know the alarm codes for the building and doesn’t even have a key. The congregation only acts on a unanimous vote from the elders. Because of his preaching, publishing and the size of his congregation, he recieves over 1000 emails a day. He is a former Catholic and grew up as an alterboy in the 70′s and 80′s. He knows alot about Catholic history and how the RCC works.

    I hope this helps to settle some of the issues that have arisn from the misunderstandings of Ms. Lyngyel’s article.

    Aaron.

  • JS Bangs

    I was a member of Mars Hill until only 2-3 months ago, and I simply because the church had grown too large for my taste, and not over any theological disagreement. During my time there I was quite involved, and I’ve been to Pastor Mark’s house, along with most of the other elders. So I definitely know the way the church works, but I’m not a “disgruntled former member” or anything like that. I also know Bryan Zug from the early days of the church, although he might not remember me since he and his wife joined a Mars Hill church plant shortly after I joined.

    That was just to establish my credentials. Here’s my points:

    I actually disagree strongly with Driscoll about baptism, and believe something much more similar to the Catholic position. However, Driscoll definitely does *not* have a “my way or the highway” theology, as he demonstrates in almost every sermon and through Mars Hill’s “open-hand” theology. That is, Mars Hill divides its teachings into two categories: a few “closed-hand” theologies that are essential to the Church and which all members are expected to uphold, and the much larger “open-hand” doctrines that members can disagree on (and often do in the church’s bulletin boards). I strongly suspect that the theology of baptism belongs in the open-hand section, that Driscoll would tolerate other views of baptism, and I know for a fact that MH members are not required to sign off on any particular baptismal or sacramental theology.

    At the same time, Driscoll is a preacher, and he takes seriously his responsibility to promote truth and oppose error. He obviously considers the Roman Catholic church to be in error on this issue, and so is only doing his duty to express that opinion. This does *not* make him a Catholic basher, and I’ve never heard him call the Pope the antichrist or do any other outrageously anti-Catholic things. In my experience MH officially presents a fairly balanced (for a Protestant church), non-cultish view of the Roman Catholic church.

    On the other hand, (and this is important for you MH-ers who are coming here), there is quite a bit of anti-Catholic sentiment that you can find in the MH member boards, and not all of the members share the same graciousness that the church leadership does. There is also a large contingent of Driscoll groupies who cheerlead for everything that Driscoll does and says, and certainly give the appearance of cultish obsession with their Great Leader. Driscoll himself does not encourage this, to his credit. Many of the Catholic-bashers also belong to the Cult of Driscoll, and if your experience is mostly with these types, then I’m sorry. It’s understandable that you’ve gotten the impression of Mars Hill as a group of Kool-Aid drinking fanatics salivating over every word that proceeds from the mouth of Mark. Trust me, most of the church is not like that, and if you were to visit, I think you would find it a much more amenable place than the fringe indicates.

  • Bryan Zug

    Have held off on commenting because of lack of time – will post more later, but, until then, here’s a couple of things to consider –

    1) Why would such a “Catholic Basher” (CB) as Driscoll advocate an artful tradition within Mars Hill that is clearly reminiscent of how Catholicism has respected art over the years? (Remember that “Beauty” is one of the core values of Mars Hill)

    Why, when I showed “Magnolia” at one of the first film and theology groups I led there (around 2001), did Driscoll and the rest of the pastors respond to the protesting naysayers (too much sex! Too much disrespect toward women! Not enough happy happy?) by upholding Flannery O’Conner’s tradition of art instead of James Dobson’s?

    2) If Driscoll is such a CB why does he display such affection for “known Catholic” philosopher Peter Kreeft?

    Last time I looked, Kreeft’s work continues to be a mainstay on the theological ( http://lite.marshillchurch.org/site/?id=BC40D753-FFE4-479E-A405-C24E4CF87076 ) and devotional ( http://lite.marshillchurch.org/site/?id=E092536D-25BC-4B6C-BA2E-4AAE3743E106 ) reading primers that have always been core to the Mars Hill philosophy of doing church.

    Kreeft’s “Christianity For Modern Pagans” (on Pascal’s Pensees), “Summa Theologica Edited and Explained for Beginners”, and “Three Philosophies of Life” are favorites of Driscoll’s and inform much of his philosophy of ministry.

    Not hard to see where I’m going with this — strawmen wither easily, complex characters (which, last time I checked, we all are) do not.

    One other thought before I run —

    Words like “cult” and “afraid to too loudly express my opinions” should not be thrown around with little care — it only goes to dehumanize fellow believers with whom we disagree (however severely).

    Hyperbole has it’s place on both sides of discussions like this, but so does responsibility –- best that we all continue to work out our salvation out with Pauline and Kierkegaardian fear and trembling.

    Cheers –

    Bryan Zug

  • Anonymous

    Roman Catholic Christians believe, as do some other Christians, that Jesus gave to the Apostles and their successors the power to forgive sins, reconciling sinners to God for sins committed after Baptism.

    On numerous occasions, Jesus exercised the power to forgive sin.

    Mk 2:5
    When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”
    Lk 7:47
    So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.

    Jesus scandalized some Jews of his own time by claiming to have the authority to forgive sins.

    Mk 2:7
    Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?

    Jesus clearly stated that he had the authority to forgive sins.

    Mk 2:10-12
    “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”– he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone.

    Jesus gave the same authority to Peter.

    Mt 16:19
    I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

    Jesus later gave the same authority to all the Apostles.

    Mt 18:18
    Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

    The Apostle John, an eyewitness, recorded more directly the words of Jesus giving the power to forgive sins to all the Apostles after the testimony of the Resurrection.

    Jn 20:23
    Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.

    Many Christians ask why confession of sin is required for forgiveness. The Church responds that the need for personal confession of sin is required in order for forgiveness because that is the only way a confessor can judge whether to forgive or retain sins. A judgment cannot be made unless the sin in question is known and the disposition of the penitent is also known.

    The New Testament speaks of confession of sin.

    Ja 5:16
    Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
    1 Jn 1:9
    If we acknowledge (confess) our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.

    Other New Testament scriptures bear witness that the Apostolic Church acknowledged the use of the power to forgive sins.

    Acts 2:38
    Peter (said) to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.”
    1 Jn 1:9
    If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
    1 Jn 2:12
    I am writing to you, children, because your sins have been forgiven for his name’s sake.

    The constant teaching of the Church and the Fathers of the Church in explicit words testify to the existence and use of the power to forgive sins in the Church.

    The Didache, (70-110), Ch.4:13
    You shall confess your offenses in church, and shall not come forward to your prayer with a bold conscience. This is the way of life.
    Tertullian (Rome, 160-220), On Modesty, Ch 21, ML 2, 1024
    “But,” you say, “the church has the power of forgiving sins.” This I acknowledge and adjudge more [than you; I] who have the Paraclete Himself in the persons of the new prophets, saying, “The church has the power to forgive sins”
    Ambrose (Tier, 340-397), On the Holy Spirit, Bk. 3, Ch 18, ML 16, 808
    See that sins are forgiven through the Holy Spirit. But men make use of their ministry for the forgiveness of sins, they do not exercise the right of any power of their own. For they forgive sins not in their own name but in that of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. They ask, the Godhead gives, the service is of man, the gift is of the Power on high.
    Jerome (Stridon, 345-419), Letters, No. 14, ML 22, 352
    Far be it to censure the successors of the apostles, who with holy words consecrate the body of Christ, and who make us Christians. Having the keys of the kingdom of heaven, they judge men to some extent before the day of judgment, and guard the chastity of the Bride of Christ.

    The ecumenical councils of the Church, the official Magisterium, also attest to the truth of this sacrament.

    The Council of Constance (1414 – 1418)
    A Christian has the obligation, over and above heartfelt contrition, of confessing to a priest.
    The Council of Florence (1438-1445)
    The fourth sacrament is penance.
    The Council of Trent (1545 – 1563)
    But our Lord instituted the sacrament of penance notably on the occasion when after his resurrection, he breathed upon his disciples saying: “Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained” (John 20:22). The universal agreement of the Father has always understood that by such a striking action and by clear words the power of remitting and of retaining sins, and of reconciling the faithful who have fallen after baptism was communicated to the apostles and to their legitimate successors; … Therefore this holy council accepts and approves the true meaning of these words of our Lord and condemns the false interpretation of … those words.

  • Anonymous

    The church has never taught that anyone who teaches that we are saved by faith alone is anathama. Quite the contrary:
    Council of Trent, On Justification, Ch. VIII
    When the Apostle says that man is justified by faith and freely, these words are to be understood in that sense in which the uninterrupted unanimity of the Catholic Church has held and expressed them, namely, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, “without which it is impossible to please God” and to come to the fellowship of His sons; and we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification. For, “if by grace, it is not now by works, otherwise,” as the Apostle says, “grace is no more grace.”

    The Council also reiterated the relationship of good works to man justified by faith.

    Council of Trent, On Justification, Ch. XVI
    Therefore, to men justified in this manner, whether they have preserved uninterruptedly the grace received or recovered it when lost, are to be pointed out the words of the Apostle: “Abound in every good work, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. For God is not unjust, that he should forget your work, and the love which you have shown in his name”; and “Do not lose confidence, which hath a great reward.” Hence, to those who work well “unto the end” and trust in God, eternal life is to be offered, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Christ Jesus, and as a reward promised by God himself, to be faithfully given to their good works and merits.

  • Anonymous

    By definition, an indulgence is the remission in whole or in part of the temporal punishment due to personal sin, provided that the sin has already been forgiven. The power invested in the Church and her bishops and priests to grant indulgences is found in several scriptures.

    To Peter alone Jesus granted the first power to bind and loose anything.

    Mt 16:19
    I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

    To all the disciples Jesus later granted the same power to bind and loose.

    Mt 18:18
    Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

    To all the disciples Jesus gave the power to forgive sins.

    Jn 20:21-23
    (Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

    As can be seen from the nature of personal sin, as man turns from God and towards created things, man incurs both guilt and punishment. Through the blood of Jesus, all guilt of sin-turning from God–is remitted through confession of sin. Punishment, limited temporal punishment due to sin-preferring created things to God–still remains.

    Num 14:20-23
    The Lord answered (Moses): “I pardon them as you have asked. Yet, by my life and the Lord’s glory that fills the whole earth, of all the men who have seen my glory and the signs I worked in Egypt and in the desert, and who nevertheless have put me to the test ten times already and have failed to heed my voice, not one shall see the land which I promised on oath to their fathers. None of these who have spurned me shall see it.”
    2 Sam 12:13-14
    Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan answered David: “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die.”
    1 Cor 11:29-32
    For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying. If we discerned ourselves, we would not be under judgment; but since we are judged by (the) Lord, we are being disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

    The three classic actions leading to indulgences are prayer, good deeds and almsgiving.

    Prov 16:6
    By kindness and piety guilt is expiated, and by the fear of the Lord man avoids evil.
    Dan 4:24
    Therefore, O king, take my advice; atone for your sins by good deeds, and for your misdeeds by kindness to the poor; then your prosperity will be long.
    Luke 19:8-9
    But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.”
    Act 10:4
    Your prayers and almsgiving have ascended as a memorial offering before God.

    The teaching Magisterium of the church in ecumenical council also affirms indulgences.

    Council of Trent (1545-1563), Decree on Indulgences, Sess. 25
    Christ gave the power of granting indulgences to the Church, and since the Church has, even in ancient times, made use of this divinely given power (Mt. 16:19; 18:18), the holy council teaches and commands that the usage of indulgences–a usage most beneficial to Christians and approved by the authority of the holy councils–should be kept up in the Church; and it anathematizes those who say that indulgences are useless, or that the Church does not have the power of granting them.
    Vatican Council II (1962-1965), Constitution of the Revision of Indulgences, No. 1
    The doctrine of indulgences and their practice have been in force for many centuries in the Catholic Church. They would appear to be solidly founded on Divine Revelation, handed down “from the apostles.”

    From the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church

    Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1471
    An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.
    Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1473
    The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.”
    Catechism of the Catholic Church, Sections 1478-1479
    An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity. Since the faithful departed now being purified are also members of the same communion of saints, one way we can help them is to obtain indulgences for them, so that the temporal punishments due for their sins may be remitted.

  • Anonymous

    If you actually opened up your minds, you’d realize the Catholic Church holds the fullness of the faith. Every doctrine can be traced from its roots in the Old Testament, to its full flowering in the New Testament, its application in the early church fathers through today. If you want to do a little research, look at what all Christians believed for the firt 1500 years of church history.

  • Anonymous

    mmm… grape flavored…

  • Anonymous

    Mars Hill is an amazing church and Pastor Mark hits it right on every Sunday morning. If you’re going to critique him, you better know what you’re talking about because he sure does his research. It’s not a cult…if you actually took the time to listen to what he preaches and open up your minds you would know that.

  • Anonymous

    “Are you saved?” asks the Fundamentalist. The Catholic should reply: “As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:8, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).”

  • The Scrivener

    You’re a wily proof-texter, Anon, but I could equally well pull quotes for you to support my point. The issue here is, that this life is given us for repentence and for coming into union with God through Christ. For most of us that means a daily cross, for others who come to work in the vineyard very late indeed (as the thief), it may well mean a final turning to Christ at the time of death. These things are in God’s hands. I’m certainly not suggesting in my comment above that one may only be saved after putting in a certain required amount of time as a professing Christian, but I am suggesting that it just aint over till its over. From that angle, the quote you pulled could be seen to support my statement, not contradict it. Remember, Holy Scripture also gives us the image of the race that needs to be run, of the daily cross, of working out our salvation, and -as Christ God Himself put it: “He who endures the the end shall be saved.”

  • Anonymous

    Douglas said, “And salvation is not a moment of mental assent, but is a life’s work of cooperating with the God who saves us. He has paved the road to the Kingdom in Christ and He is present to help us and strengthen us for the journey, but we must actually will to stand and take those steps to get there, bearing our cross daily, running that race, working out our salvation with fear and trembling.

    But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:40-43

  • The Scrivener

    An interesting battle between the anonymice (if you’ll pardon the plural) but I’m afraid these folks are talking past each other. In Eastern Orthodoxy we don’t have a real doctrine of purgatory and we definitely don’t have indulgences, but we do understand the process of salvation rather like the Roman Catholics do. Evangelicals tend to speak of salvation as something that happens apart from us and our volition and as something that takes place in a moment of assent. But these ideas are foreign to the perspective of the historic Church and were only introduced after the Reformation. As Steven Greydanus said, it’s not an either/or scenario. We are saved once and for all in Christ, and the Incarnation, the Cross, the Empty Tomb, these are all grace. Our whole life in Christ is grace. We are saved in baptism because of Christ. We are saved in the Eucharist because of Christ. We are saved through repentance and confession because of Christ. We are saved in being men and women and brothers and sisters and parents and children for Christ’s sake. We are saved in being neighbors to others for Christ’s sake. We are saved in our suffering when we suffer for Christ’s sake. We are saved in the Church because it is Christ’s Body. Our salvation rests in all these things because Christ is present in all of these things for us. But God saves no one against his will because the union with Him to which He calls us in Christ is only accomplished in a love freely chosen. There is no other real union. And salvation is not a moment of mental assent, but is a life’s work of cooperating with the God who saves us. He has paved the road to the Kingdom in Christ and He is present to help us and strengthen us for the journey, but we must actually will to stand and take those steps to get there, bearing our cross daily, running that race, working out our salvation with fear and trembling.

  • Anonymous

    At 10:02 AM, Anonymous misquoted scripture.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    The Letter of Barnabas
    “Regarding [baptism], we have the evidence of Scripture that Israel would refuse to accept the washing which confers the remission of sins and would set up a substitution of their own instead [Ps. 1:3–6]. Observe there how he describes both the water and the cross in the same figure. His meaning is, ‘Blessed are those who go down into the water with their hopes set on the cross.’ Here he is saying that after we have stepped down into the water, burdened with sin and defilement, we come up out of it bearing fruit, with reverence in our hearts and the hope of Jesus in our souls” (Letter of Barnabas 11:1–10 [A.D. 74]).

    Hermas
    “‘I have heard, sir,’ said I, ‘from some teacher, that there is no other repentance except that which took place when we went down into the water and obtained the remission of our former sins.’ He said to me, ‘You have heard rightly, for so it is’” (The Shepherd 4:3:1–2 [A.D. 80]).

    Ignatius of Antioch
    “Let none of you turn deserter. Let your baptism be your armor; your faith, your helmet; your love, your spear; your patient endurance, your panoply” (Letter to Polycarp 6 [A.D. 110]).

    Second Clement
    “For, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; but if otherwise, then nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we should disobey his commandments. . . . [W]ith what confidence shall we, if we keep not our baptism pure and undefiled, enter into the kingdom of God? Or who shall be our advocate, unless we be found having holy and righteous works?’ (Second Clement 6:7–9 [A.D. 150]).

    Justin Martyr

    “Whoever are convinced and believe that what they are taught and told by us is the truth, and professes to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to beseech God in fasting for the remission of their former sins, while we pray and fast with them. Then they are led by us to a place where there is water, and they are reborn in the same kind of rebirth in which we ourselves were reborn: ‘In the name of God, the Lord and Father of all, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit,’ they receive the washing of water. For Christ said, ‘Unless you be reborn, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven’” (First Apology 61:14–17 [A.D. 151]).

    Theophilus of Antioch
    “Moreover, those things which were created from the waters were blessed by God, so that this might also be a sign that men would at a future time receive repentance and remission of sins through water and the bath of regeneration—all who proceed to the truth and are born again and receive a blessing from God” (To Autolycus 12:16 [A.D. 181]).

    Clement of Alexandria
    “When we are baptized, we are enlightened. Being enlightened, we are adopted as sons. Adopted as sons, we are made perfect. Made perfect, we become immortal . . . ‘and sons of the Most High’ [Ps. 82:6]. This work is variously called grace, illumination, perfection, and washing. It is a washing by which we are cleansed of sins, a gift of grace by which the punishments due our sins are remitted, an illumination by which we behold that holy light of salvation” (The Instructor of Children 1:6:26:1 [A.D. 191]).

    Tertullian
    “Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life. . . . [But] a viper of the [Gnostic] Cainite heresy, lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism—which is quite in accordance with nature, for vipers and asps . . . themselves generally do live in arid and waterless places. But we, little fishes after the example of our [Great] Fish, Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor have we safety in any other way than by permanently abiding in water. So that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes—by taking them away from the water!” (Baptism 1 [A.D. 203]).

    “Baptism itself is a corporal act by which we are plunged into the water, while its effect is spiritual, in that we are freed from our sins” (ibid., 7:2).

  • Anonymous

    Jn 3:5
    Jesus answered (Nicodemus), “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”
    Mt 28:19
    Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,
    Mt 3:11
    I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire.
    Gal 3:25-27
    But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian. For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
    1 Cor 12:12-13
    As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
    Acts 2:37-38
    Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?” Peter (said) to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.”
    Acts 10:44-47
    While Peter was still speaking these things, the holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word. The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God. Then Peter responded, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the holy Spirit even as we have?”
    Acts 8:11-13
    They paid attention to him (Simon Magus) because he had astounded them by his magic for a long time, but once they began to believe Philip as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, men and women alike were baptized. Even Simon himself believed and, after being baptized, became devoted to Philip.
    Titus 3:5
    … not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth (baptism) and renewal by the holy Spirit.
    1 Pet 3:20-21
    God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
    Rom 6:3-4
    Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.
    Col 2:12
    You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    (responding to Kate)

    “Although I have never attended in person, I have long been skeptical about the teaching of Mark Driscoll.”

    How can you speak against something when you openly admit you are ignorant about it? By not attending the church, you fail to see the great humility through which Pastor Mark submits himself to the other elders and to God. You fail to see the lives that are changed as Christ transforms them. I could go on and on.

    You also are putting down a message board that hasn’t existed for years. Part of the problem with the original midrash was that there was no accountability so anyone could say anything and it would sound like Mars Hill endorsed it.

    Pastor Mark is the LAST peson to have a my-way or the highway theology. He wants you to adapt Jesus’s way not his own. He repeatedly reminds us that it is ALL about Jesus. He challenges us to read our bibles ans see for ourselves. Many great debates have arisen on our member’s site as people respectfully question things from the sermons. We have an iron sharpens iron attiutude not a glazed-eye-whatever-you-say-Pastor-Mark mentality, The extreme devotion of the members is to Christ not any of the pastors, but we will defend them (when they are in the right) because they truly are doing the work of the Holy Spirit

  • kennethk

    Ever notice how whenever an evangelical pastor starts preaching about how we are saved through grace alone, only grace, just faith and not anything else, s/he NEVER, EVER mentions the Epistle of James?

  • mark

    Jeffrey and others,

    Thank you for updating your original post. I’m not sure what attracted you to the student newspaper article. It had virtually no research and its main point seemed to be that Mark Driscoll is a misogynist jerk. Neither knowing the writer or Mr. Discroll, and having spent the better part of my life trying to understand Catholicism as well as the protestant reformation I would say that Steven Greydanus does an excellent job of explaining and defending the Catholic position with his juxtaposition of terms and the anonymous post of explaining what the Catholic church is really saying.

    I would also like to say, using Steven’s terms, it isn’t an either/or. Neither the Catholic Church in its bigotry and Mr. Driscoll’s reported bigotry are correct.

  • Devin Scherck

    You know Mr (Mrs?) Anonymous posting at 10:43… Your accusations still don’t mesh with what the Church actually teaches. The practice of confession through a priest is supported through scripture and history.

    And Mary is not taught as a co-redeemer on par with Christ. However, the Blessed Theotokos does deserve recognition for her role in our Salvation. I feel that she is often short-changed the respect due to her as the mother of Our Lord by many Christians nowadays. By her “Behold, O Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word.” she became a part of the process of salvation. Her humble assent to the Lord’s will counteracted Eve’s assent to the will of the Fallen one. Through her flesh, the flesh of Our Lord was formed.

    And as for your last statement, tht hte Church teaches all Protestants are doomed, that itself is incorrect. From Lumen Gentium I quote, “The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God. They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.

  • Anonymous

    And please, pay attention to the fact that Mark Driscoll was raised Catholic and what he spoke of in that sermon was Catholicism in the 16th century and those catechisms which have understandably been reviewed and changed since then (for instance, those concerning indulgences), no longer look the same as the 20th century catechisms or on catholicism.com.

    Either way it doesn’t really matter. The Catholic church still teaches the mediatorship of the priest, still teaches that salvation begins with regeneration at baptism and enters you into the church which is the vehicle of salvation, and even the now dead pope put in place temporary indulgences and spoke on multiple occasions of Mary as co-redeemer of us with Jesus as she has extra righteousness to share. Lastly, the Church declared ex-cathedra that anyone who teaches Justification by Faith Alone is anathema and forever condemned, that position has not and cannot be overturned and according to it all Protestants are doomed. I could go on forever but you get the point.

    Please look just a little closer.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, please listen to the sermon yourself. I would encourage you to get your informaion from the actual sermon instead of the erroneous reporting of a student journalist.

  • Anonymous

    Please feel free to listen to a downloaded sermon from last Sunday’s service. You can access it at http://www.marshillchurch.org.
    Blessings.

  • kate

    Thanks for posting this, Jeffrey. Steven’s comments are illuminating; thanks for posting them in addition to the student’s editorial.

    Although I have never attended in person, I have long been skeptical about the teaching of Mark Driscoll. I used to frequent Mars Hill’s “Midrash” message board a few years ago, and finally stopped when I could no longer put up with the erroneous theology–specifically in the form of outright misogyny–spewing from Driscoll’s posts. I know it might be an extreme accusation, but I’m not surprised that the student writer mentioned that some think Mars Hill is a cult. The dominating personality of the church leader, the outrageous, my-way-or-the-highway theology, and the extreme devotions of its members are suspicious at best.

  • Eriol

    That’s some sad stuff. As if the pastor learned everything he needed to know about the Catholic Church by watching “Luther.” I think the RCC has changed since then and that’s assuming the movie is accurate. What’s next, Russian Orthodoxy is wicked for hating fiddling Jews?

  • Dato

    I should heed my own advice, by the way — I meant to write “spelling” and “transliteration” in the above comment!:)

  • Dato

    This film really does sound great! I only wish the reviewer had not mangled the name of the director so badly. It’s JIA ZHANGKE, not “Zia Jhangke.” This is every bit as jarring as if he had written a review of the latest film by “Stit Willman,” “Sohn Jayles,” or “Bim Turton.” Such a spellling conforms to no existing tranliteration system for Chinese. Sorry to harp on what is perhaps a minor point, but the reviewer could have easily checked his spelling before putting his review online. I admit that am tired of the carelessness of Western reviewers who don’t bother to check these sorts of details (such as reviews I’ve read that refer to Zhang Ziyi as if her first name were her last name, e.g. “Ziyi’s performance in the film was…”). Come on, people. This is one of the world’s great languages, spoken by over a billion people, with a long and distinguished history — it pains me to see such blatant disregard for accuracy in what is otherwise an excellent review.

  • opus

    Woohoo… I caught this film at last year’s Toronto Film Festival and really, really liked it. It’s one of those films that most folks would probably find boring – it’s long, meandering, and unfocused. There’s not a clear plot per se but the world that it creates and shows (npi) is so intriguing and compelling, and the characters so real and, well, human, that I just got drawn in by it. The scenes of the lead actress trying to communicate with the Russian woman despite not understanding a word of the other’s language is just heartbreaking.


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