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Resisting 'Temptation'

July 16, 1988

The article on "The Last Temptation of Christ" ("Evangelicals Intensify Struggle to Stop Film," July 11) was misleading in suggesting that the film and the book were beyond the pale of Christian orthodoxy.

I have not seen the film (as is the case with its detractors), but I have taught the book (by Nikos Kazantzakis) several times in local church and college settings. It has always created deeper feelings of commitment and of faith--even with the more conservative.

Nikos Kazantzakis was completely within the bounds of orthodoxy as defined by the early ecumenical councils of the church (and as reaffirmed by most parts of the church periodically since then).

The fundamental conception of Jesus was declared at these councils: that he was fully human as well as fully divine .

That persons such as Tim Penland and James Dobson object to Kazantzakis' fleshing out this fundamentalist point is beside the point. The conservatives (I refuse to call them "fundamentalists," because they are not!) have always been heretics--contending that Jesus was not fully human but was totally divine (whatever that means!).

The bottom line is that Kazantzakis has inspired readers for several decades now. Perhaps Dobson should read his book. Perhaps the executives at Universal should also. I hope the film bears some fundamental resemblance to the book.

THE REV. JOSEPH W. BROWNRIGG Th.D.

Scholar in Residence

The Institute for Religion and Wholeness School of Theology

Claremont

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