It seems like more and more Christians are shunning Non-Christians over different issues. Many professing Christ followers are polarizing themselves away from the world. By polarization I mean Christians (specifically Evangelical Christians) and Non-Christians are growing more divisive than any other time in my life that I can remember. From all of the hot button issues in American/Western culture like gay marriage, homosexuality as a whole, and politics that caused Chik-Fil-A Day and calls for an A&E boycott to the flare ups of bashing Miley Cyrus, Katie Perry and others. Oddly Christians are so quick to spew hate at some celebrities who are being truthful about who they are while they are quick to accept Matthew McConaughey because he thanked “God” in his Oscar acceptance speech before going into a completely narcissistic talk about his future self being his inspiration. Bewildering.
The latest polarizing issue in our culture today is director Darren Aronofsky’s (Atheist, raised in a Jewish home) film NOAH.
CHRISTIANS LIKE THE GOOD GUYS
Many Christians (at times, myself included) like championing people they think are the good guys. People like Tim Tebow because he puts John 3:16 under his eye. People like McConaughey because he thanks God. People like Clayton Kershaw because he is Christian and is a stellar athelete–the best at his craft as a pitcher winning multiple Cy Young Awards. We love Russell Wilson because he is a humble leader on the football field. We love the Robertsons on Duck Dynasty. We love Christian celebrity.
And Christians like championing their people of faith in the Bible. So, when you mess with the Bible’s story of Noah, like many believe Darren Aronofsky did in “NOAH”, they get upset. However until yesterday when the movie opened, 99% of the bloggers/commentators who told you why you should be upset about NOAH, if you are a Christian, are people who have not seen the movie yet. Nonetheless many people I know and love are posting about why you should not go to see this movie.
PLEASE HEAR ME: I am not out to bash my brothers and sisters. I am here to implore you to consider going. If you are a movie goer at all…you need to see this movie. In fact, if you saw “Son of God” and “God is Not Dead” you should see NOAH.
First let me address the biggest perceived concern and then I will address why, I believe, every Christian movie-goer should see this movie.
Taking Creative Liberty with the Bible
Many people are up in arms about the contrast to how they perceive the Bible portrays Noah and how NOAH portrays Noah. And they are appalled!
Does the movie follow closely to the Bible’s story? In some ways, yes, and in some ways, no. Does the movie make Noah out to be an “Environmentalist”? Yes. Does the movie take major creative liberties? Yes. Could you make Genesis 6-9 into a 2 hour cinema event without adding something to the text? Does the movie go to great creative liberties–further than even I am comfortable with–to portray the mysterious Nephilim from Genesis 6? YES!
The question becomes what did he add? What did he change? And what does it matter? For Paramount Pictures to say NOAH was inspired by the biblical story of Noah is not a far stretch to me at all. You can tell that it is. I mean no one ever made it out that this was supposed to be a Cinematic replica of the biblical story of Noah. No, it was inspired by the biblical story of Noah. Did you catch that? A story from Scripture INSPIRED an Atheistic director. Why? Because the Bible has some amazing stories! A-MAZING. Not only are they inspiring, but when you view the Bible correctly, Noah’s story is more inspiring than the way you heard it as a child.
MORE inspiring than when I read it as a child? I am basing this on the assumption that you read Noah and the Ark with Noah as the main hero. Yet when you watch the film you will find yourself wrestling with Noah’s character. He is not heroic. He becomes crazed. At the beginning of the movie Noah sees himself as righteous man from the line of Seth (Adam’s third son) instead of the line of Cain. That means Noah’s line is different. They are not murders. They have not rebelled against the Creator. They are better. They are good. They are righteous.
However, while building the Ark Noah has a vision from the Creator. His vision (MINOR SPOILER ALERT) reveals that in the depths of Noah’s heart he is capable of the same sins as those from the line of Cain. Noah is crushed! His faith that God was starting over with a righteous family is now devastated. Upon discussing his despair with his wife she desparately tries to convice him that he is wrong; that they are GOOD people. Noah proves her wrong by asking simply, “Would you not kill to protect your children?” Of course, she would. And so would he. Does that make them not good? Yes, it makes them capable of murder. Something that centuries later Jesus would say makes you guilty of murder in your heart. Plus this makes them like the line of Cain.
Thus, at this point in the film the only person being completely truthful with themselves is Noah, himself.
Before you get frustrated with me re-read Genesis 6:5-8. All of the earth’s inhabitants were wicked. All means Noah. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Gen.6:8). Favor does not mean Noah is awesome and God realized, “Hey, Holy Spirit, did we forget how awesome Noah was when we decided to end the world?” No, favor means, grace. God gave grace to Noah and his family. Unmerited grace. God had a bigger plan than the flood. God’s bigger plan was the redemption of creation–not destruction.
So, when you see the movie you will see that Noah is not really a hero. He is a troubled man who wants to be obedient to his Creator and save the good and righteous people, namely his family, and the innocence of creation (animals) while allowing God’s just judgement to come swiftly on the unjust of his day, only to find out that deep down he is unjust himself.
Sounds like a downer, huh? Last night after thinking about the movie I posted this on twitter/facebook:
“Excited…perplexed…intrigued…broken…and hopeful after watching NOAH. A good film and very thought provoking.”
NOAH: A STORY WITH A HIDDEN HERO
Noah is not the hero because he, like all mankind, while being made in the image of God is a broken creature. He is in as much need for grace (unmerited favor with God) as you and me.
But there is a hero in the Biblical story of Noah and a hero that is hidden in the film NOAH. He is not hidden because he doesn’t want to be found. He is hidden because we aren’t looking for him. We are looking for Noah to be the hero and feel let down that he is just like the line of Cain. He his capable of the most wicked of human actions and emotions. So what are we left with? I don’t want to spoil the movie but we see redemption is found–through forgiveness and mercy. It’s the threat of a lack of forgiveness from Noah’s wife and a perceived threat of no forgiveness from the Creator if Noah doesn’t follow through with what he perceives to be his marching orders from him that has him perplexed.
Noah can’t handle the weight of that. So he buckles. You will not leave feeling inspired by Noah’s story unless you see the hidden hero.
Jesus: The Hero
God punished the wicked on the earth both in the Bible’s account and the film NOAH through the flood.
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Genesis 6:5-7
But Noah was not annihilated because God showed him unmerited favor. God showed him grace. Surely Noah’s sins were not less in the eyes of God than the descendants of Cain?
We see that Adam’s line through Seth becomes important as the Bible story goes on. Through Seth’s line comes Enoch, who “walked with God” and later Noah whom God showed grace. Down the line comes Abraham of whom Joshua says, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac. ” (Joshua 24:2b-3)
God rescued Abraham from pagan worship by grace. Nothing was said here of Abraham’s worthiness. It was God’s plan to continue Adam’s line through Seth, later Noah, then later Abraham then Isaac who would have a son named Jacob but renamed by God to be Israel. Through Jacob’s line would ultimately come a man named Jesus (for genealogy of Adam to Seth to Jesus see Luke 3:23-38) . And when Jesus came he bore the flood of God’s wrath for your sins and mine to make a way for his created, broken image bearers back to God, their Creator, by grace.
Jesus is the Hero you are looking for in Noah.
Jesus’ atonement on the cross and subsequent resurrection was planned before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8, Acts 4:28). He now offers unmerited grace to all who believe. Sure Noah is listed in Hebrews 11:7 as being commended for his faith. It’s not a coincidence, however, that the culmination of Hebrews 11 is Hebrews 12 where Jesus is honored most of all for “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus is the hero. All of Hebrews is to show how Jesus is better than any other hero of faith.
Throughout the film NOAH the difference between the line of Seth and the line of Cain is story marker.
While Jesus remains hidden in NOAH he is most likely more needed after you watch the film NOAH than after the way you have always told the story of Noah to your children and grandchildren. To me, that makes NOAH possibly more biblical in some important ways than your view of him.
So go, see NOAH, and begin discussions with co-workers, other believers and relatives about NOAH and what hero was missing from the story? If you are a Non-Christian, ask yourself if Jesus sounds like much of a hero to you.
Grace & Peace