Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera that highlights the political and interpersonal struggles between Judas Iscariot and Jesus. It is based loosely on the Gospels’ account of the last week of Jesus’ life, beginning with the preparation for the arrival of Jesus and his disciples in Jerusalem, and ending with the crucifixion.
Jesus Christ Superstar was the first musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to be produced for the professional stage.
If someone slanders the name and character of our best friend we would be so rightly incensed that we would have to show our disgust and opposition to such a thing. In highlighting our opposition to this opera we are showing our disgust at those who slander the name and person of Jesus Christ.
‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ is a rock opera about the last seven days of the life of Christ before His crucifixion. Critics have given it rave reviews over the years. Even some churches have sung its praises. Some have even hailed it as a means of presenting Christ to young people in a way they will understand and accept. What is wrong with it? Why would we want to oppose it?
There are three areas we want to consider, two briefly, one at some length.
The opinions of these men can be obtained from an ‘Open-end interview’ they gave when the opera was first performed, forty years ago. I am unaware that they ever have repudiated these views.
Tim Rice had this to say about Jesus Christ:
For me it obviously indicates that, Christ was just a super-prophet who - a fantastic man, who made a big mark on his time, and we don’t really know all that much about him. The fact that an awful lot happened in Christ’s life that could easily be legend, I don’t think diminishes the importance of the legend. But, I think, as the years roll on, in the 20th and 21st centuries, I think less and less people are going to think of Christ as a god, and I think more people are going to see him as a generally good thing. I don’t see him as a god at all, and the opera doesn’t categorically say he wasn’t but I think it leaves the question very open.
Some important points arise from this statement. In Tim Rice’s view Christ is:
1. Just a super-prophet; not a god at all.
He further said:
1. It is to view Christ through their own eyes. In a joint statement in the same interview as already quoted they confirmed this by saying:
2. It is to view Christ through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. In this opera we see how natural man in his sinful and natural ignorance views Christ. Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber present Christ as seen through the eyes of Judas. They stated:
3. It is ultimately to view Christ through the eyes of the devil. If it is from Judas’ standpoint it is therefore from the devil’s standpoint. Christ said of Judas: Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? John 6:70. He is called the: son of perdition, John 17:12. The Scriptures speak of the devil entering into him, John 13:37.
Jesus Christ Superstar presents a Christ who died in defeat and mental turmoil. It leaves Him on the cross, as a failure. That is surely the devil's version of the story of Christ. It is a distorted view. The devil ever seeks to denigrate, minimise and pervert the person and work of Jesus Christ. This opera certainly fits into that perspective.
The Christ this opera portrays is a blasphemy. It is a slander on the person and work of Christ.
1. Christ is portrayed as being confused. Both men said in their joint statement that:
The Christ portrayed in this rock opera is a confused individual who has little true idea of who He was or what He was meant to do. He is mixed up even to the extent of railing against His Father for sending Him to the cross. Words are attributed to Christ which portray Him confessing that He is not as sure and sad and tired:
2. Christ is portrayed as being powerless. On one occasion in this opera our Lord is depicted as being angry and disconsolate, causing Him to turn upon the crowd and scream in frustration at them as they beg Him for His healing touch. Though He heals some of them, their number increases, and He is overwhelmed. He is depicted as being unable to solve everyone's problems, This is why He tells the crowd to heal themselves.
3. Christ is portrayed as being impure. Through the words of Judas and Mary, this opera casts Jesus Christ as the lover of Mary Magdalene. To make this supposed relationship all the more repugnant it implies that Mary Magdalene is a harlot.
The Scriptures totally repudiate this wicked insinuation on both accounts, For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens, Hebrews 7:26. No where in all the Bible is there is slightest hint that Mary Magdalene was a harlot. It is said that out of her the Lord cast seven devils.
4. Christ is portrayed as being inconsistent. This opera has Judas chiding Jesus Christ for being morally inconsistent:
But she doesn't fit well with what you teach and say,
It doesn't help us if you're inconsistent,
They only need a small excuse to put us all away.
Imagine the man described in Scripture as having a devil accusing the Son of God!!
5. It accuses God of terrible sin. This opera takes away the accountability of man for his own sin and makes God to blame for the evils deeds of men. The opera has Judas saying:
For your foul, bloody crime
You have murdered me! You have murdered me!
Judas was responsible for his own moral actions and generally men and women go to hell for their own sin not because God sends them there.