Interview with Illusionist
On Christmas Eve, 2005,
world renowned illusionist Brock Gill appeared in a Discovery Channel special
Miracles of Jesus. The program is based on the book Miracles of Jesus by
Michael Symmons Roberts and the BBC special by the same name. Brock's appearance
was not an attempt to disprove the miracles but instead to prove why Jesus
could not have been dealing in trickery, deception or illusion.
During my recent conversation
with Gill he told me, "They (Discovery Channel) were looking for a Christian
illusionist (to host the program) and somehow they found me. They wanted
someone who had a faith background and an idea of what scripture says about
Jesus. They asked me if I would be interested in doing it and I thought
it sounded like a good idea. I just wanted to make sure I knew where the
show was going to go. I didn't want it to be one of those things where
they used me to tear apart the idea of Jesus being a miracle worker. I
didn't hear from them for awhile and then all of a sudden they called me
and said let's do it. The next thing I knew I was on a plane going to Malta
and we started filming."
For some, it would seem
that having an illusionist trying to prove or disprove miracles is a conflict
of interest. When you combine that with Gill's faith, you really begin
to wonder at the juxtaposition. The illusionist however had his own reasons
for accepting the challenge, "I'm the kind of person that always asks why.
I'm a little bit rebellious. I'm always trying to think through things
a little more deeply and not just take the face value meaning of things
so I was up for the challenge of seeing if I could recreate the miracles
of Jesus and to see if it could be done. I thought of certain things like
that in the past and this gave me a chance to prove it to myself and to
prove it to the world. Without the power of technology and some of the
perks we have in this century there is no way Jesus could have done anything
through the art of illusion. What he had to be doing was miracles."
Gill said he tried to be
as objective as possible, "I said I want to put my faith and beliefs on
the shelf for a few minutes. I want to really investigate what the truth
is behind this man called Jesus that I have devoted my life to. It strengthened
In addition to his faith,
the opportunity held a personal attraction for Gill because he had the
opportunity to travel to Israel for the first time and visit some of the
spots where Jesus stood, spoke, taught and performed miracles. "Once I
was able to go to those spots, stand where Jesus stood and take it all
in it just blew me away. It just brought it (the Bible) to life. When I
read the scripture that describes (Jesus and his disciples) getting into
the boat and going across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum, I can picture
where that is, what it looked like and what it felt like. It is really
cool to have that experience behind me."
Some of the other locations
included Malta, Florida and Texas (and no you did not misread your Bible--Jesus
was not on the beach in any of those places!). Malta was used as a location
because the film crew used a special effects stage at the Mediterranean
Film Studio. It was comprised of a big boat and a huge tank of water. Gill
says, "It looks like you are in the middle of the ocean. They made an artificial
storm there that was unbelievable. I calmed the storm. We pulled the cameras
back and we show a wide angle view of how I did it. We expose how I did
There may still be skeptics
in some close-minded Christian circles who believe that it is a heresy
for a Christian to perform as an illusionist, however, if they are out
there, Gill hasn't run into too many of them.
Gill takes great care during
his performances and in his discussions with media to ensure that people
understand that he is working with illusions and not trying to draw upon
some supernatural or mystic power. He indicated to me that another reason
for doing so is so that any children in his audience do not attempt to
replicate his illusions and end up with tragic consequences.
Perhaps the most ringing
endorsement for his chosen career and God-appointed ministry comes from
the highly visible Evangelist /Author Luis Palau who said, "The Discovery
Channel series The Miracles of Jesus featuring our friend and colleague
Brock Gill, is a wonderful way to enter into discussion and dialogue with
friends who have yet to experience a relationship with Christ. The question
of whether Jesus actually performed miracles is examined in a respectful,
positive way. In our society today simply getting people to think about
who Jesus was can be an important first step. I encourage pastors and leaders
to alert their congregations to this great opportunity."
This amazing illusionist
has shared the stage with top drawer rockers, worship bands, rappers, actors,
Christian Hosoi (ask your kids), Corey Martinez (ask them again!) as well
as evangelists like Franklin Graham and Luis Palau.
"I have been with a lot
of different people. It has been good to see the body of Christ working
in all the different capacities. We work with people who are singers, musicians,
involved in extreme sports, athletes, painters, just about anything.
Come on 'fess up, Gill,
do you have a favorite miracle? "That is a tough question. I have had a
couple of people ask me that. I don't know what the answer is because there
are just so many of them. They just blow me away. Walking on water is just
unbelievable if you really take that all in and realize what that means.
Walking on water was incredible. Healing a blind person also just blows
me away. Taking a person who is born blind or a person who has never walked
before and totally healing that person is amazing. If I had to pick one
it would probably be walking on water just because it is so far beyond
anything that had been seen before. Even with raising the dead it had been
done before. The widow's son at Nain, Jesus raised him from the dead, but
Elijah did the same."
Okay, Gill, you fudged on
that answer so I will approach this from another angle. What significance
do the miracles of Jesus hold in your life? "That is a good question
because before I worked on this project miracles were just like anything
else in the Bible. It was there, I believed it but that was it. Now miracles
seem to be the number one evidence that Jesus was the son of God. Knowing
what I know about creating illusions, my knowledge of hypnosis, psychology
and a placebo effect I have learned a lot about different things people
have said Jesus could have been using. People called him a magician but
knowing what I know and understanding the miracles of Jesus it just proves
that he really was the son of God. Now as I read scripture and I read about
miracles they pop out of the pages. It just keeps bringing things to life.
A miracle is like the finger that points to Jesus as the Messiah."
Gill wants you to know this
isn't just about entertainment by a guy who happens to be a Christian.
"What we do is super evangelistic in a very unique way without a doubt
they will hear a very clear gospel presentation that is guaranteed to get
their attention and is guaranteed to make them think about their own spiritual
Television and mainstream
venues have all embraced Gill and hisdare we say it?bag of tricks.
He revels in the larger audience not because it attracts attention to him
but as he said, "When there are more people then there are more people
hearing the message."
By Joe Montague, exclusive
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.