|The Mystery of Mary Magdalene airs at noon on Good Friday. Photo: BBC|
Christian Concern, a religious lobby group, has issued an action alert to its members urging them to complain to the broadcaster about the program "The Mystery of Mary Magdalene", reports the Huffington Post UK.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the campaign group, told HuffPost UK: "Instead of promoting better understanding and proper investigation, the BBC mounts a provocative attack on the person of Christ, based on sloppy scholarship, half truth and insinuation.
Williams told HuffPost UK her organisation were "calling for a follow up program to set the record straight.
"At midday on Good Friday people across the country will be remembering the crucifixion of Jesus Christ who died to bring forgiveness and reconciliation with God. It is a key marker in the Christian calendar.
"Yet the BBC sees fit to broadcast a 'flagship' Easter documentary that impugns the purity of Jesus and even suggests that Mary Magdalene may have been his lover.
"Christianity stands up to rigorous investigation and historical scrutiny but this 'documentary' relies on suggestion, speculation and highly dubious scholarship based on documents of very doubtful provenance.
"It is extraordinary that the BBC should broadcast a program of this nature at this time —and present it as an Easter feature.
"It reinforces worryingly superficial understandings of the historical record of Jesus Christ and of what Christians today believe."
The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Anglican bishop of Rochester, told the Daily Telegraph that the programme would be “hugely offensive” to devout Christians because it amounted to the “sexualisation of Christ”.
This is not the first time that a sensationalist TV producer has chosen Holy Week to air a program based upon the Gnostic Gospels. In April 2006, National Geographic aired “The Gospel of Judas” on Protestant and Catholic Palm Sunday, and then again on April 22, which was Holy Saturday for the Eastern Orthodox Church. This show intended to re-write the history of Judas’s betrayal.
The “Gnostic Gospels” are papyrus documents discovered in Egypt in 1945 and later in the 1970s. They are believed to be written by Gnostics, who fabricated “Gospel” stories of their own and falsely attributed them to Christ’s Apostles.
Fr. Steven Tsichlis of St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church, Irvine, California wrote an article concerning the 2006 National Geographic program. He explains Gnosticism:
The root of the word Gnosticism is the Greek word gnosis, meaning "knowledge." Gnosticism is an umbrella term that modern scholars use to describe a number of religious movements in the ancient Roman world, many of which were not at all related to Christianity, all of which had several common themes: that the members of various Gnostic sects had a secret knowledge not available to others; that there exists a series of lesser, mediating divinities and luminaries sometimes called Archons, sometimes called Aeons; and a dualistic outlook, an antithesis between matter and spirit, body and soul; and a hatred of the physical world that was often believed to have been created not by God, but by a lesser, evil demigod to imprison the souls of human beings. In Gnosticism, human beings are literally trapped in their bodies and the content of salvation is to be released from the body "that clothes me" as the Jesus of The Gospel of Judas says to Judas. Only the Gnostics, those "in the know," understand this.
The Church has rejected from the early centuries and continues to firmly reject the “Gnostic Gospels” as false.