The “666 day countdown,” as announced on www.thebeastmovie.com, has begun for the movie entitled “The Beast,” which is scheduled to open on June 6, 2006 – that is, 06-06-06, the biblical number of the beast referred to in the book of Revelations.
Directed by former fundamentalist Christian, Brian Flemming, the film is intended to spread the theory that is “gaining credibility among scholars” - that Jesus Christ never existed.
As stated on the film’s site:
“The authors of the Gospels, writing 40 to 90 years after the supposed life of Christ, never intended for their works to be read as biographies. There are no credible non-Christian references to Christ during the period in which he is said to have lived.”
The plot of the movie is as follows:
When her father, a biblical scholar, mysteriously disappears, a Christian high-school student named Danielle investigates. She discovers that he had stumbled across a cover-up of Christianity’s best-kept secret: that Jesus Christ never existed.
Now that she possesses proof of this dangerous fact, Danielle must confront two strong forces: a band of fundamentalist Christians who will stop at nothing to suppress the truth, and her own desire for Jesus Christ to be real.
Diving into factual territory well-explored by scholars but largely hidden from the view of the public, “The Beast” is an epic story of innocence lost, faith in crisis and the astonishing power of the truth to survive.
On the trailer, which is viewable on the film’s site, ominous music plays while these words flash across the screen against a background of a painting of Christ’s face: “Centuries ago, a legend was invented…forgery…fraud…coercion…wealth…greed…torture…murder…war…gave it the power to dominate the world.”
The film is currently in pre-production with the cast and crew being legally sworn to secrecy.
Flemming’s work is described as being, “marked by a unique ability to spark cult-like devotion in their fans, appeal to critics with their intelligence and complexity, and still reach out to a wider audience.” His biggest success to date was 2002’s faux documentary on the assassination of Bill Gates called “Nothing So Strange,” which won the Claiborne Pell New York Times Award for Original Vision at the 2002 Newport Film Festival and received massive international media coverage. Gate’s response, which was given through a spokesman, was that he was "very disappointed that a movie maker would do something like this."
Supporters of the film have participated in a discussion forum on the site.
Says one excited poster: "I must say, I highly commend this director for his immense courage on putting something like this out!! The fact that he has the courage to put out a movie about the possibility of Christ never existing after all the controversy surrounding a movie about the LIFE of Christ (well death really) is just amazing!!
"Mad Kudos (and thanks) to EVERYONE involved in the making of this movie and good luck in handling all the 'adverse' reactions!!"
Another participant enthused, "I'm so excited! I can't wait until it's released! This is DEFINITELY the age of Aquarius!!"
Greg Koukl, the head of Stand to Reason, a Christian apologetics organization, was interviewed by WorldNetDaily about the film, and said that this kind of story line is not unusual among books and movies.
"It always turns out that fundamentalist Christians are the bad guys," he told WorldNetDaily.
"The problem with this is the evidence they draw from is always out on the fringes of academic scholarship" – evidence, he says, that is not even used by the leaders of the leftist Jesus Seminar.
Koukl noted historians that have no affinity for fundamentalist Christianity certainly write about Jesus and his impact on history.
"Nobody is trying to explain the indelible mark of Jesus of Nazareth on history by saying he never existed," he said. "That's way beyond the pale. No credible historian would make that claim. … It's a bizarre statement from an academic perspective."
Koukl wonders what motive anyone would have to invent Jesus and then "fool everybody."
He dismisses "The Beast" promoters' argument that because no non-Christian accounts of Jesus exist from the time of his life, he must be a fictional character.
"It may be the case that only Caesar wrote about the Gallic wars," he explained, "but just because there are no other writing about the Gaelic wars doesn't mean we can't trust Caesar," mentioning the four Gospels are themselves four separate accounts of Christ's life.
He mentioned there are a "number of historical references to Christ outside Christianity, which buttress the fact he did exist."
Ted Baehr, founder and publisher of MovieGuide and chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, predicts "The Beast" will bomb with American moviegoers.
"Generally, these movies do very poorly at the box office," he told WND. "'Saved!' which had a lot of publicity, did about $6 million at the box office. … That's pitiful."
Baehr said bringing the film's contentions into the light of day in the media works well to expose the agenda of its promoters.
"The way you pull the teeth of a false argument is bring up the argument first and show that it's frivolous and fallacious," he said. "Of course it's frivolous. The original apostles wouldn't have gone to their death for Jesus if they didn't believe he was real."
Baehr said, "There is a small group of teenagers who will see ['The Beast'] who will be convinced it is the truth. … It will have an impact on a susceptible few."