Noah: Why Christians should stop complaining about biblical movies and watch them

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Noah movie opens today to a confusing chorus of Christian voices. Some say, “Go,” while others say, “No.” Some say, “Good,” while others say, “Heresy.”

Predictable.

If Hollywood has a checkered history with biblical movies, Christian responses are equally inconsistent. Partially at issue is whether followers of Christ should expect perfect alignment with scripture when the story is being told by a non-believer. Any deviation from the text sets loose howls of “war on Christians” or “war on the Bible.”

Noah movie Jennifer Connelly Russell Crowe

Jennifer Connelly and Russell Crowe star in Noah [Image Credit: Regency]


I cannot for the life of me understand why some pastors–who do not agree among themselves what the Nephalim are–can suddenly agree among themselves what the Nephalim are not. Common enemy and all that I suppose.

The issue seems to be whether followers of Christ should “support Hollywood” or “send a message to Hollywood” regarding biblical movies. Here are a few thoughts:

1. No movie ever gets all of a biblical story exactly right.
The most well established biblical epic of all time, The Ten Commandments, does not get it right and the vast majority of Christians have seen and appreciate the (now dated) effort. Expecting movies, many of which are working with scant source material, to stick strictly to the biblical storyline is quite preposterous.

Besides, if Noah went literally by the book, viewers would have to listent to him preach for 120 years, then sit through 40-days of rain scenes, followed by months of floating. Theater preparation would necessitate dramamine and motion sickness bags.

Because of the work of believers Paramount added an “explanatory message” to the advertising:

“The film is inspired by the story of Noah.

While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide.

The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.”

So, Hollywood makes a movie about a biblical story, includes a statement telling viewers they have departed from the actual story, and explain exactly where they can find the actual story in the Bible, yet this is a bad thing?

Good grief.

2. Too many Christians are like chained dogs that have been living on a diet of gun powder and pepper sauce.
You have met them. You many be one of them. Always itching for a fight. Always critical of every. other. Christian. Especially where they can find any place of disagreement. They cannot see any view as orthodox other than the echo-chamber reinforced theology they themselves hold. Confirmation bias seems to be their spiritual gift.

Constantly angry, critical believers alienate honest unbelievers, even those who are considering the claims of Scripture. Nowhere does Jude imply that “earnestly contending for the faith” means berating anything at all, much less everything in sight.

3. It is far better for Hollywood to explore themes surrounding God and miss by a little, than explore themes surrounding Jesus and miss by a mile.
These are two different things. By all accounts, Noah, has its hits and misses. But, by all accounts, it is not The Last Temptation of Christ. It definitely is not Bill Maher Religulous style brain death.

4. Religious and biblically-themed movies are cultural bridges for the gospel.
Whether the movie is Noah, Bruce Almighty, The Village, The Passion of the Christ, Heaven Is For Real, Exodus, Mary, Mother of Christ or The Blind Side the bridge is built for us. Why destroy the bridge rather than walking over it? The gospel travels more easily over a bridge than over a chasm.

5. Why is it so difficult to affirm the good rather than carping on the erroneous?
It is quite ironic how many of these complainers will affirm Christian movies that are poorly made, poorly written, and containing questionable theology. Are Chariots of Fire and Les Mis the only secular made biblical themed movies the majority of Christians can agree on?

We need not be unnecessarily critical of Hollywood’s biblically themed movies to affirm and support a burgeoning Christian film segment. Perhaps support will bring an ultimately better product from both directions.

It makes me wonder how different Mars Hill would have been had Paul been like many 21st century American Christians.

“As I look around I see you are very, very religious. This, of course, is a terrible thing. Look at all these altars. You people are blind and you don’t even know it! You have altars to cows, horses, and false gods of every ilk!

Look. Here’s an altar to an unknown god. What a waste! I cannot believe God has not smitten you all with boils and unimaginable plagues. You ungodly, pagan, unrighteous, rebellious, blind, deaf, dumb, false god worshiping bunch of liberals! You should tear down all these altars including the one to the god who will be named later! Just believe in Jesus.

Morons.

If you want to find how that conversation really went, take a peek at Acts 17 in the New Testament.

Surely we must be discerning in all movie viewing, not merely those which claim a biblical source code. There is nothing wrong with checking multiple reviews to help come to a personal conclusion. You can read every review written, but if you have not seen the movie you should be slow to criticize. Better to say, “Based on reviews I’ve decided not to see it and here’s why…” rather than, “This is a piece of drivel no living, breathing Christian should see it” when you have not seen it yourself.

And so it goes…

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

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  • noles76

    An Epic Defense for Capes and Floods

    When I see an ad for a Superman movie, I might go. I will look for a cohesive story, someplace in the ballpark for consistent with the archetypal mythology that goes with it. If the original story says that Kal-el comes from Krypton, I am going to see if the movie says he is from Krypton.

    Most people are this way. Look at the Marvel Universe or DC characters. Comic book fans, purists if you will, go NUTS if a character’s costume is adjusted or back-story is altered. There is something in me that likes keeping with the original, but still being creative.

    I have a good “suspension of disbelief” for movie versions of books, history, etc, ie. Sherlock Holmes, 300. From the Hobbit, it is a stretch to get Legolas a major story line, but, ok, I can put up with it a little. I still feel taken advantage of somehow. I think that some creative person could have done better with the original material to make it believable without making up stuff that is way from left field.

    People also want a good story. They won’t spend money to see something just thrown together. (I really felt that Neo and Lost should have ended better.) They won’t spend money on something that people are “expected” to go see just because of the title or genre. The Green Lantern movie is a great example. That was a great way to kill a franchise.

    So, the Noah movie comes out. I hear that the director plays fast and loose with the original narrative. He publicly proclaims a disdain for the audience of the original source material. I see the production company try to play catch up, filling in holes and saying, “it is not that bad.” I also see the movie people were trying to ride a “wave” of popularity for the genre. They did not plan well in getting the right director for the project. They thought that since it is a Bible movie, religious people will come and pay $10 a person “just because.”

    Now, I am being told that I am a hypocrite. If I don’t go see a Bible movie, after complaining for years about there not being something good to go see, I am being irresponsible and inconsistent. That is ridiculous. I don’t want to be taken for granted. I want a good story, and love a creative roller coaster ride. I will spend money for that. I am being consistent. I don’t want to see a movie “just because.” For me, if that won’t fly for Superman, it won’t float for Noah. I am staying home.

    • martyduren

      Noles-
      Yours is a great point.

      If I came across as insinuating hypocrisy on the part of any believer who chooses not to see Noah or any other biblical-themed movie, I apologize. That was not my intent.

      I think you raise a very valid point on your “good story” and “cohesive story” issues. Others might have mentioned “Star Trek canon” types of concerns. If any movie does not live up to your personal expectations or interests–for any reason–it does not follow that you should see the movie anyway out of a legalistic burden.

      Frankly if a person dislikes Russell Crowe, epics, boats or movies about water they are well and good to avoid them and, as you say, save their $10.

      • noles76

        I love Russell Crowe. Master and Commander was not so good. Gladiator is my favorite. I would rather not hear him sing. He was ok as Jor-El. Robin Hood was a stretch. A Beautiful Mind was not so beautiful.

        • martyduren

          “I would rather not hear him sing.” And a chorus says, “AMEN.” ;^)

    • Lizard

      “Taken for granted” is an excellent way to put it. Too many producers seem to think that way nowadays.

  • DrCarlHoffman

    I went to the movie last night and made a review today. Here are my thoughts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc2Px7Wg580

  • karpea

    So let me re-state your points the way that I read them:
    1. Since no one has ever done it right, why expect someone to now. Low standards breed low expectations and we should be content with this.
    2.Even if the movie sucks and loses the true message of the Bible, thus throwing confusion and misinformation out there for everyone to enjoy, we, as believers, are supposed to only smile and say “oh well, god try there buddy”
    3.Since other films have been made about Jesus that suck more, we should be grateful for this misrepresentation of God’s redemption and mercy in this movie because it sucked less.
    4.Any old crap produced with an angel and a mention of a creator can supposedly be used by us as bridges to have conversations. The problem is the bridge doesn’t lead to Jesus, it leads to man being the victim and God being the angry judge and the ark being a way to save animals. That conversation isn’t going to help very many people.
    5.Why is the film industry so shallow as to need us Christians to support their lame efforts to make a biblical movie. They weren’t trying to please us when they made it, but in fact made great statements about taking pride in the creative license they took.

    I saw the movie. It sucked. It wasn’t factual and with such a barebones story, it wouldn’t have been too hard to at least include all the facts that ARE there. Since its made my an atheist, there is no spiritual understanding expressed in the film, which completely strips meaning from the original. I watched the movie with an open mind, hoping i would see real effort. What I saw was a poorly acted, scripted, written story that did not adequately portray the truth in any way.

    • martyduren

      Thx, karpea, for stopping by and for your comment.

      As for your first five points, that isn’t what I said no matter how you read it. So, I’ll pass on responding.

      As for your opinion of the movie, I have no argument whatsoever. If you think it sucked, that works. After I see it I may join you in that assessment. In the end letting directors and producers know why we disliked a certain movie not simply that we disliked a certain movie will go farther toward a better product, imo. To do that we need to see more of them.

      • dani

        Wait… did you just say you wrote this article WITHOUT seeing the movie first?! Perhaps holding back until viewing to see what all the hubbub was about would have been beneficial.

        Also, the title of the article proclaiming this film to be a “biblical” movie. Even the director himself proclaimed this the “least Biblical” Bible film ever made. Perhaps we should be a bit more upset when one takes a scriptural character and PURPOSEFULLY blasphemes our Creator?! (ex// the “bad guy” monologue consists entirely of quoting Scripture, and the movie depicts the ‘creator’ as demanding the death of Noah’s grandchildren and the halting of ALL reproduction.) This movie has never even attempted to get “the biblical story exactly right”.
        The idea that this movie is useful for starting conversion, and therefore is overall a positive development (which is unfortunately common) is only as sensical as thinking the same of “piss christ”. This movie was a deliberate slam against scripture with the side benefit of hoping to drain lots of $$$ from god’s people that could be put to much better use!

        • martyduren

          dani-
          Thx for commenting.

          I’m not sure your concern. I’m not offering a movie review of Noah, not did I imply that I had seen it, I don’t think.

          My point is that Christians should see it. (I now have. More on that later.)

  • Dathan Reeves

    They advartise evolution in here and not God’s Creationism. THAT is why I don’t want to watch it. Anything else I could understand.

  • justathought

    As a supportive note to the bridge concept, the Ten Commandments movie was a major stepping stone on my journey to salvation and I know a woman who had the door opened for her by the movie Jesus Christ Superstar of all things. God can use anything to reveal His truth to the hungry soul.

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  • Zach Baja

    Secret garden of Eden seed, rock angels who go to heaven, and weird family issues aren’t what I wanted to see Noah for. I feel like I was the victim of fraud. I felt promised one thing, and given some other thing.

  • In present time, Aria gets a message from A, “Daddy needs to know. Or I let the other one go. To the police.” That prompts her to come clean to her dad, and even apologize to Meredith. She even tries to give back the earring, but it’s not even hers. So who does it belong to?

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  • othelzer@yahoo.com

    there are two narratives of the creation story, this is the Magial or mystery school version as attested to by the prominence of tubal cain (the masonic master)
    Christians are just saying this has nothing to do with the biblical version of Noah
    and the story is not only not perfect or similar it is 100% not the history we have
    in the bible and the book of enoch. which is a more fantastic version to tell
    than this esoteric flop

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  • dennis richardson

    and give them encouragement to make more non-biblical movies that have their facts argued over for all eternity. They do not believe the words of the Book to begin with how are they going to believe in movie disagreements? when Catholics do not like any discussion that does not agree with their ecumenism, what do we do then?