Benedict Fitzgerald, who co-wrote the screenplay with Gibson, said he leaped at the opportunity to work on the project. "I had come back to my Catholic faith and immediately felt that my entire life was in preparation for this project."

And it was a time of spiritual growth for Fitzgerald, the writer of "Wise Blood" and "Heart of Darkness." He was quick to thank Gibson not only for his professional insight, but also for Gibson's part in his ethereal development. "Mel contributed to my returning to my faith. I can now pray un-self-consciously, as a result of working with him."

Referring to the film's ending, which reveals Christ exiting the tomb, Fitzgerald added, "Whatever hope we have comes from that moment [the resurrection]. In a sense, it is the beginning. Because after the passion, the world was forever transformed."

Music composer John Debney said Gibson's "interpretation really hit home what Christ did for us. It affects you in a very deep way." Debney further detailed his experience by adding, "I was tested during the making of this film. I learned that doubt is the greatest weapon Satan has. We all had those moments of self-doubt. But we also saw God at work."

Jim Caviezel, a verbose, deep thinker, added, "Mel was under attack. At the same time he was directing, he'd be fighting wars all over the place. I don't know how he finished this film. It was a miracle. It was God, who gave us just enough, and barely enough."

Asked if his involvement in the production had influenced his spiritual walk, Caviezel replied, "I know Jesus in a more personal way than I ever have. I'm proud of this film because it is under attack. It is the truth. And I'm proud that people of all denominations of the Christian faith have been able to see beyond their differences."

Many Protestant readers may be concerned that the film is dominated by Catholic doctrine. "The Passion of the Christ" is not about denominational dogma, Gibson said. Rather, it is a portrait of the brutality Jesus endured as the sacrificial lamb, then it testifies that Jesus as Messiah arose from His tomb.

"I hope it makes people think," Gibson said. "I hope it makes them reflect. The movie is about faith, hope, love and forgiveness. If it stirs those things up in people, it will be a success. I hope it makes people ask questions, and maybe even makes them want to read 'the Book.'"

© 2004 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.