Looking for Christian Controversy? I NOAH Guy.

The internet is flooded with opinions about the new Noah movie.

Alright, I think I’ve said all the puns I can think of.

Truth is, I wanted to blog on this movie earlier but it was too much. We’re planning our celebration of one year as a church this Sunday so I couldn’t dedicate the time a Noah blog would need. So I will summarize.

There’s lots of controversy around this movie. Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis founder and one half of the amazing/delicious “Ham on Nye” debate on creation) came out and said “I feel dirty–as if I have to somehow wash the evil off me. I cannot believe there are Christian leaders who have recommended people see this movie.”

That’s a bit extreme.

But he’s not alone.

It’s not uncommon to have controversy follow any time someone makes a movie based on anything biblical.

Ironically, there’s never controversy around Christian movies that promote bad theology where God always give humans what they want -whether it’s a win on the football field or helping a couple who couldn’t get preggers finally find fertility all because they finally served God enough.

But this isn’t about that.

Since I still don’t really have the time I believe I’d need to fully go into whether or not someone should watch Noah, I’ll just offer up a few resources that I think may help inform us all.

This blog that I wrote back in November assumed the movie wouldn’t be incredibly accurate. After all, how do you craft a 2 hour movie out of 5 chapters in the Bible?

The Gospel Coalition is as conservative an organization as you’ll find. These Calvinists wrote this review about the film. Here are a couple of highlights:

It’s a world so gone wrong that you could imagine a good and kind God wanting to have nothing to do with it, drown it to death, and start over. As in, really that bad. Aronofsky gets all of this. I mean, we’re dealing with the director of The Wrestler and The Black Swan, for Pete’s sake.

Only with the juxtaposition against radical depravity can mercy actually make sense. Failing this understanding, you cannot sustain Christian theism. Otherwise, mercy becomes weak, expected, and even demanded. Seeing Russell Crowe-as-Noah grit his teeth and war against real flesh-and-blood evil makes sin, a notion seemingly incredible to Hollywood, to be real. As a viewer, locked into the gaze of the film, you’re thinking, I’m with God, and this Noah guy. It makes the redemption and mercy theme of the film compelling, even if Aronofsky takes a slightly perverse (and admittedly extra-biblical) route to make the point. We grew up in a world that makes Noah nice. Noah is not nice.

About that extra-biblical material. There’s a ton of it in Noah. If you go into it, saying “That stuff is not in the Bible!” you are going to be a very grumpy camper when you leave the theater. But of course we all realize that Genesis 6-10 actually underdetermines much granularity in terms of the precise details of a story. 

God is actually a character in the biblical Noah narrative. In the text, God speaks in intelligent sentences and paragraphs. You actually can see the world through the LORD’s point of view. You can feel his grieving over the tragedy of creation. For Aronofksy, “God who speaks and shows” (to use Carl Henry’s phrase) was simply not possible for artistic reasons. And let’s be honest: does anyone really want to hear Liam Neeson-as-the-voice-of-God again? No, thank you. I’ll read the book. Still, because Noah is seized by the Lord through dreams in the film, we never really develop an imaginative sympathy with the Creator.

I’ll admit that at first when I heard the off putting statement by Aronofsk that Noah is “the least biblical biblical film ever made” I was leaning towards not seeing it. Now I think it was the director’s over reaction to all the criticism from those who wanted a more biblical story.

I was put off by that mainly because I saw it in a tweet by Rick Warren.

Shame on me.

The quote was out of context. In the original New Yorker interview it was said to show that the movie was unlike any other biblical movie that had been made in a cinematic sense and feel.

In fact, the TGC article above starts by talking about how impressed the author was with the reverence Aronofsky had for the source material.

This is an interview he did on last night’s the Colbert Report.

 

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/77oyfl/darren-aronofsky

This video is a great reminder from Cinemagogue that teaches us the cultural engagement scale and how we can watch to glorify. It is a great primer on viewing media as a Christian.

 

 

Ultimately, I don’t think anyone is wrong or right for watching/not watching this movie.

It’s your call on weather (get it?) or not to shower Noah with praise or drizzle it with criticism.

Ugh. Now I’m done.

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4 thoughts on “Looking for Christian Controversy? I NOAH Guy.

  1. Kelley McElreath says:

    Adam, here is my beef with ALL of these movies. Christians have complained over and over and over for so long that there are not enough good, clean, Christian movies being produced by Hollywood. Then, when Hollywood listens, Christians come out of the woodwork with their judgmental criticisms putting down each and every point they possibly can. And, I have found that a lot of THESE people haven’t EVEN viewed the movies for themselves!!! UGH. UGH. UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Here is what I challenge Christians to do. Find a statement out there from Hollywood, where they ever stated that their movies were going to be accurate and that their mission in life was to “tell a Bible story”. Find that statement and I’ll shut up and get off my soap box about all this hoopla that is sure to last the entire summer long!!!!

    kelley@feelthetatas.com

  2. Rob Kotaska says:

    Larger issue: expecting any adaptation to be “faithful”. Different mediums, different structures, and if someone beat for beat adapted even the shortest novel, you would have a miniseries.

    Embrace the changes, talk about them, find the core (and I hope they kept the core) of the Noah story in Aronofsky’s film and talk about that.

  3. Adam Lockhart says:

    Kelley – I think what they really want are movies where the good guy always wins because God is on their side. Moves like Facing the Giants where if you need something from God, just try harder and He HAS to answer your prayer.
    It’s why I’ve been afraid to see God’s Not Dead – aside from knowing it will have bad acting I worry that it will have bad theology.
    Personally, a movie that isn’t entirely accurate but maintains themes and the sinfulness of man is less dangerous than a movie that makes you think that God can be manipulated to do what you want him to do.

    Rob – couldn’t agree more.

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