My wife and I went to see “Noah” over the weekend with a couple we know, much to the chagrin of many of our Christian friends. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen Ken Ham’s reasons we should avoid the movie; heard Glenn Beck’s criticisms; and witnessed the extreme reactions on Facebook, as follows:
“I won’t go see it because Glenn Beck says it’s unbiblical.”
“The film promotes evolution.”
“The director is an atheist.”
“The director drops the ‘f’ bomb over and over in an interview about the film.”
“The film portrays Noah as some kind of green eco-warrior.”
“What’s up with the rock giants helping build the ark?”
“The film portrays Noah as hateful, and no prophet of God would ever be hateful.”
“The film portrays Noah as a drunken, homicidal, child-sacrificing madman.”
“In the movie, Noah says ‘In the beginning, there was nothing.’ The Bible says that ‘In the beginning, there was God.’ This film promotes the idea that there was no eternal God, present before the time the earth began.”
And my personal favorite:
“If you choose to go see ‘Noah’ when you could have gone to see ‘God is not Dead’, then that’s a sign that God truly is dead in your life.”
I’m going to address these one by one:
- Glenn Beck says the movie isn’t Biblical.
I may not be the most well-behaved Christian person on the planet, but I know where I stand theologically, and on the truth of Scripture. Frankly, I’m not dumb enough to allow someone who is a Mormon to determine what I believe about the Bible. As badly as David Barton of Wallbuilders and others want to frame Beck as a Christian with Mormon leanings , he’s a Mormon. Just because you agree politically and morally with the guy does not make him a Christian. And being a newscaster does not make him a Bible scholar.
Glenn Beck may share the same values that many of us Christians have, but he simply isn’t a Christian. He’s a Mormon. Don’t think there’s a difference? Here’s some thoughts from Christianity Today.
I would never say that Mormons aren’t decent, respectable people. Their beliefs are profoundly different than those of Christians, though, when you begin to explore the theology, soteriology, and eschatology of the group.
So, to sum up my thoughts, Glenn Beck isn’t Biblical. Why would I allow him to determine for me what is?
- The film promotes evolution.
In the opening moments of the movie, there is a scene where an animal is killed, and it has a combination of scales and hair, suggesting that an evolutionary process is taking place. There’s discussion on the internet of snakes with feet in the film, but I didn’t catch that at all. Maybe I was eating popcorn at the moment. Or thinking about how popcorn and two drinks costs twenty bucks. Now that’s unbiblical! I really didn’t see anything else to suggest evolution. I think that Scripture is clear that there were creatures in the past that don’t exist today. We may be quite surprised at what some of these could have looked like.
In one powerful scene, Noah tells his children a story that he states his father told him, and had been passed down for the ten generations from Adam to himself: the story of creation. Noah then details a six day creation. Not six days equals a thousand years. No gap theory. No, “Billions of years ago…”; instead, he says that ten generations before him, there was a six day creation. I would think Ken Ham would have been really pleased with this. I guess not.
Then again, he wouldn’t have gotten his name in the paper for agreeing with something.
- The director is an atheist.
So are Angelina Jolie, Kevin Bacon, Jodie Foster, Jack Nicholson, Howard Stern, Joaquin Phoenix, Donald Sutherland, and Daniel Radcliffe. Granted, the same folks who refuse to see “Noah” likely also refused to see “Harry Potter”, but I would bet good money that they at least own the “Footloose” soundtrack, if not the movie. And let’s don’t forget old Gandalf himself, Ian McKellan. What???? Didn’t his character represent the resurrected Christ in LOTR?
Oh, and if you’re really gonna take this stance as a reason for skipping the film, I would suggest that you throw out your kids’ copy of “Toy Story”, take “Agents of SHIELD” off your DVR schedule, and skip the next “Avengers” movie. Josh Whedon, who co-wrote “Toy Story”, and directed the other two works, is an atheist.
I better go home and edit my own DVR so “The Following” doesn’t record anymore. Dang that Kevin Bacon.
- The director drops the ‘f’ bomb over and over in an interview about the film.
So choose not to invite him to your kid’s birthday party. It doesn’t mean he’s incapable of producing art.
- The film portrays Noah as some kind of green eco-warrior.
I am far from “green”. I firmly believe that the folks who want us to stop cutting down trees should try wiping their behinds with any product other than paper, then let me know how they feel about trees.
There are moments when Noah is portrayed as vegetarian, and being concerned for the environment. In one scene, he tells his son not to pick a flower, because it is capable of producing seed that will create many more flowers for man to enjoy. Honestly, I didn’t get a “green” vibe from this…I got the idea that Noah was trying to be a good steward of the world God created. I admired Noah in the film for trying to live out God’s directive to tend the earth, as Adam had been commanded to do generations before.
- What’s up with the rock giants helping build the ark?
Now, this was a little LOTR-ish. Aronofsky had an interesting take on the Nephilim, giants mentioned in Genesis 6:1-4 and Numbers 13:33. His idea was that they were fallen angels, encased in stone. That sounds like a pretty horrific fate for something composed of light and beauty, actually. I found the interpretation intriguing, but altogether inaccurate. Made for an interesting sideline in the film, which, as Aronofsky has stated several times, isn’t a re-telling of the Noah story, but a re-interpretation, made for Hollywood. It intrigued us that saw the film enough to go to Scripture so we could discuss the Nephilim.
- The film portrays Noah as hateful, and no prophet of God would ever be hateful.
This was a point of Glenn Beck’s, who has obviously never read Jonah. Jonah hated the Ninevites so much, he risked life and limb to avoid ministering to them. When they repented of their sins and chose to honor God, he pitched a hissy. He couldn’t stand them. Jeremiah offended literally every ethnic group he encountered, preached for 40 years, and no one converted.
The Noah character in the film was confused and conflicted. I would be, as well, if I had to listen to all of humanity screaming for rescue outside of what was apparently the only floatation device available in the midst of a flash flood. I did not gather from the film that the character was hateful.
- The film portrays Noah as a drunken, homicidal, child-sacrificing madman.
We’re not even going to argue whether the Bible says Noah got drunk, are we? See Genesis 9:18-23. Unless you’re so rigid about alcohol that you’re going to throw out the old “Wine then wasn’t wine as we know it…It was fermented grape juice” argument…which is ridiculous. He got drunk, and he got naked. This I know, for the Bible told me so.
The potential child murder was one of the points of the film that I really didn’t like, along with a “son of Cain” making his way onto the ship. The laced tea induced hallucinations and the time lines associated with the building of the ark and the flood were a little crazy. Facts about the family were off. Again, though, we must remind ourselves, this film wasn’t designed to be an evangelism tool, a line by line retelling of the Noah story from the Bible, or something we would show in our churches to our discipleship groups; instead, it was designed to be an artistic expression of something the director considers to be ancient legend.
-In the movie, Noah says ‘In the beginning, there was nothing.’ The Bible says that ‘In the beginning, there was God.’ This film promotes the idea that there was no eternal God, present before the time the earth began.
When the statement “In the beginning, there was nothing” was made in the film, it was in a context that I clearly understood was referring to the passage of scripture that reads “the earth was without form and void” (Genesis 1:2). I didn’t catch any implication that God wasn’t present; on the contrary, “The Creator” was referred to constantly throughout the movie (The name “Yahweh” would not have been introduced yet during Noah’s time).
- If you choose to go see ‘Noah’ when you could have gone to see ‘God is not Dead’, then that’s a sign that God truly is dead in your life.
Yeah. I’m gonna file this one right behind, “If you don’t go see ‘Left Behind’, you’re gonna get left behind”, and right before “The DaVinci Code is causing people to give up their faith by the thousands.” If a movie is the determining factor in whether or not you have faith, you had a shaky faith before you ever bought your popcorn.
If we throw out “Noah”, because it deals with a Bible topic, but doesn’t follow the Bible narrative perfectly, then there are some other things we must dispose of:
- Dante’s Inferno: An amazing, but certainly unbiblical, description of Hell.
- Evan Almighty: More popular amongst Evangelicals than “Bruce Almighty”, because it had less swearing, and we like to watch “The Office”. If Noah had been a weatherman, he probably would have missed the forecast of 40 days and 40 nights of rain altogether, and the Ark would’ve never been built.
- Oh God: God would never smoke cigars. If He did smoke, it would have been a pipe, because CS Lewis smoked a pipe. He also wouldn’t need to wear glasses, because perfection wouldn’t be nearsighted.
- It’s a Wonderful Life: The phrase “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings” is most certainly unbiblical. Angels don’t earn their wings based on whether or not some human rings a bell. They are created beings. Works based theology won’t get you anywhere but the place that Dante so inaccurately described, brotha. Maybe the 8th or 9th circle of H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks.
- Every Veggie Tales movie ever made: In their retelling of Joshua and the battle of Jericho, the Veggies portray the Israelites, and the people of Jericho are French peas. We all know from the Bible that France wasn’t even invented in the time of Joshua, so French peas could not possibly have existed. The French peas throw milkshakes at the vegetables of Israel as they march around the city walls, which is just not in line with Scripture. Milkshakes didn’t exist until Chik-fil-A came out with the hand-spun cookies and cream shake in 2007. Can I get an anathema, anybody?
So here’s what’s good about the film “Noah”…
- It prompted discussion among us about the Noah story from Scripture. I probably haven’t had a conversation about Noah since I sang that song about the “arkie, arkie” when I was a kid. It was good for us to examine the Biblical narrative of Noah from an adult perspective. It challenged us to examine Scripture, so we might know details of the story better for ourselves. One person in our group remarked, “We were only taught the Sunday School version of Noah, the kids’ version. I think we need to know, as adults, how awful that period in history was, and why God did what he did.”
My overall grade for the film: C-
I found the movie troubling, mostly because of the violence, but honestly, I think this gave me a new lens through which to view the time of Noah. We just think things are bad today…Imagine what it must have been like when God thought mankind needed destruction. What is portrayed in the movie in regard to human behavior is gruesome, but I think probably mild, compared to what Noah’s time was really like. This film gave me a powerful visual which I lacked before, much in the same way “Passion of the Christ” did years ago.
I won’t be adding “Noah” to my DVD collection, and I won’t go see it again, but it’s not because it offended my Christian sensibilities. I just didn’t like it that much. I guess I’m just not an artsy-fartsy dream sequence kinda guy. Also, ever since “Gladiator”, Russell Crowe has been ruined for me. I want him to be Maximus in every film he’s in. I won’t say he did a bad job in the “Noah” film, because I think he acted the script, portraying a complex character well.
“Noah” didn’t change my belief system or make me question the validity of Scripture. I wasn’t changed for the worse because I saw it.
And God isn’t dead in my life, just because I went to a movie.