New Movie “The Young Messiah” – Did the Boy Jesus Know Who He Was?

by Steve Ray on March 15, 2016

Dave Armstrong wrote an insightful review of this new film and some problematic theological issues. Here is his review:

I wanted to let you know about two recent posts of mine, concerning the new film, The Young Messiah. Based on what I have seen about how it presents Jesus’ knowledge (in other reviews), I’ve concluded that it has heresy in it. Briefly, it appears to present the view that young Jesus (age seven in the movie) did not yet know that He was God (or even the Messiah). 

This notion of developing consciousness of His own identity was, in fact, never taught by the Church fathers or the magisterium of the Church. It first arose with various early heresies, and then was revived and developed much further by modernist theologians after 1800. It looks like it has become quite fashionable today, and has been picked up even by those who are otherwise orthodox, and seek to be orthodox and obedient to the Church.

In my first post, I cited magisterial texts and extensively cited two theologians, Fr. William G. Most and Fr. Bertrand de Margerie, S. J., as well as critical reviews by Brad Miner and Neil Madden.

My second one, just put up in the last hour, is an abridged presentation of a wonderful 1922 book (a dissertation) that I found last night, on the young Jesus’ consciousness. Fr. Patrick Joseph Temple, S.T.L.  goes through the views of the Church fathers, the medievals, the early heretics, and then modernists after 1829, and does scriptural exposition of Luke 2:40-52, showing that orthodox Catholic tradition always taught that Jesus knew Who He was from conception (and possessed the Beatific Vision) as a result of the Hypostatic Union.

The problem is that many notable Catholics have already endorsed the movie, and now it is being extolled on Catholic radio as well. At this point, my view (which I believe to simply be that of orthodoxy and Catholic tradition) is a “minority” position. At least two bishops and a Cardinal have enthusiastically recommended it.

What can I say? It contains serious error. I have to call it as I see it, as a defender of the faith. If the magisterium teaches something (as best I can determine, through thorough research and consultation of experts), I accept it and defend it, as needs be. That’s a higher authority than statements from individual bishops. 

Anyway, if this interests and/or concerns you, you may want to check out my papers and judge for yourself (read both sides of this dispute). I think this is a very serious matter and that Catholics need to come to agreement on it. Heaven knows we have enough division these days, both in the Church and in the political arena.

“…But the knowledge and love of our Divine Redeemer, of which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation, exceed all the human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the beatific vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him, and He embraced them with His redeeming love. O marvelous condesce.sion of divine love for us! O inestimable dispensation of boundless charity. In the crib, on the Cross, in the unending glory of the Father, Christ has all the members of the Church present before Him and united to Him in a much clearer and more loving manner than that of a mother who clasps her child to her breast, or than that with which a man knows and loves himself……” – MYSTICI CORPORIS CHRISTI, Pius XII.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Borromeo March 15, 2016 at 4:27 AM

Have recently been called a “Pharisee” by my sister re: my pro-Life, anti-abortion “Catholic” views.
My concerns are these,
1. If we are ‘too conservative/traditional’ don’t we risk losing the ear of our close friends and relatives who are quite liberal/progressive.
How can we ‘accompany’ or even dialogue with them when they know that our stance on such issues is so ‘rigid, intolerant and unloving.’
2. In a. case like this, there is NO pastoral approach possible which to many is a non-starter to be avoided at all cost.

How does one resolve this Dilemma’ ?

STEVE RAY HERE: Fear of offending when it comes to truth is not something I worry about. I don’t shove things down peoples’ throats but I want everyone to know what I think and that the truth is the truth. 2 + 2 = 4 even if people don’t like it.

Archbishop Chaput says, “Truth without love is bitter and can drive the wounded away; and ‘love’ without truth isn’t love at all, but a comfortable form of lying.”

Karen Salstrom March 15, 2016 at 2:22 PM

Hi, Steve and Dave. Thank you so much. I’ve been part of a CA Thread, and somewhat feeling like the lone ranger. This post is extremely helpful, and outlines my very concerns. I’m referencing it in a FB Apologetics page I have, as well as a Catholic College Students group I work with (we had this discussion last night!). Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

Karen Salstrom March 15, 2016 at 2:42 PM

BTW: One of my deepest fears is that a Seeker who may see the movie may observe Jesus’ lack of knowledge, and the ‘prompting’ of Mary and Joseph (Mary telling the circumstances of his conception & birth)—then view it as Jesus executing a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy not based upon his Godly Nature and Knowledge, but instead on prompts from his family. Would a Seeker of Truth then feel that perhaps the Jesus Story was concocted in order to explain a young girl’s pregnancy? And was the Resurrection then a hoax? I think it sets up in a non-believer or weak believer a perfect storm for falling away from the Fullness of Truth. Lord have mercy…

Vincent U Badongen March 20, 2016 at 4:12 PM

Jesus answered this already in Luke 2:49 when He was found in the temple by Joseph and Mary. As a child He knew that God is His Father. Lk. 2:49 “He answered them, Why did you have to look for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house?”

Bob Renaud March 23, 2017 at 4:38 PM

A couple of things for Steve:
1) Thank you for defending the Faith. Like it or not, people have to come to the well and decide ; ‘Do I drink of the everlasting waters? Or do I wait for somebody/something else? TRUTH IS TRUTH – So, thank you, Steve! (We met in Syracuse once upon a time at the Men’s Ignite Conference)
2) I have not seen the young Messiah – but if Jesus is portrayed as a miracle worker at such a young age- then what is the sense of The Wedding Feast at Cana? …”Woman… my time has not yet come”. It is clear that no one knew Him as a miracle worker YET. By performing His ‘FIRST MIRACLE’ as it is clearly written in Catholic understanding, He was at that point of beginning His Ministry and Mission as Savior and Lord. By Jesus performing a miracle FOR ALL TO SEE, would mean His Road to Calvary would begin AND Mary’s Role as Mother of ALL would established.
3) Interpretation of the Bible is a tricky thing. Yes… God is speaking to each one of us through His Word, BUT, this does not mean that each of us are in the position to denote its theological meaning and present it as TRUTH. Sadly, this is why so many protestant denominations have popped up. One may ‘shop’ for a belief that suits the ‘shopper’. Therefore movies that present views that are the interpretation of the ‘author’ should be heavily scrutinized. ‘Entertainment’ can tempt those who are not well grounded in their faith to believe something other than TRUTH.
I am grateful for such a wonderful Faith as the Catholic Faith. It is rich. It is solid. It is truthful. It is full of mystery. And although we as Catholics GROW in our Faith, it is a faith that never changes. Blessings.

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