My response to the movie ‘Noah’ (Part 1 – My view before seeing the movie)
I have been following with great interest the diverse Christian views being posted on the internet regarding the film ‘Noah’. I have yet to see the movie but I would like to put my thoughts down in this blog.
I can understand why a number of fundamental Christians are upset about this movie. It does not line up with the Biblical story of Noah. It promotes evolution and not creation. There are non-Biblical elements to the story like fallen angels helping to build the ark.
However we need to realize that the story of Noah is not just found in the Bible. For example, it is also found in the Koran. Noah / Nuh was disappointed with the people and tried to warn them of an approaching disaster but they made fun of him. God tells him to build an ark and that brought more ridicule. So Noah, in anger, asks God to destroy all unbelievers. God allowed Noah to bring other believers but being Noah’s relative did not guarantee safety. So in the Koran, Noah’s wife drowned.
There are other ancient Babylonian and Greek texts that tell a similar story of the flood. However in many of these texts, we encounter more than one God. Yet the similarities are striking. In the texts like the Eridu Genesis, the Epic of Atrahasis, and the Epic of Gilgameš, we read how the gods created earth and humanity but later on decide to destroy mankind. One man is ordered to build an Ark. He survives the Flood, lands at a mountain called Nisir or Nimuš and earns immortality.
Then there is the scientific interpretation of the whole creation that brings with it the theory of evolution.
With all this information available to the producers of the film, Christians cannot claim that the story is about the biblical Noah and that they have got it wrong. Paramount Studios, responding to pressure from various faith-based groups, put out this disclaimer:
“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.”
I think the Studios were very gracious in making that statement, even though they did not have to do it. Christians cannot claim exclusive rights to the story of Noah. The fact that the creators of Noah were prepared to do this tells me that Hollywood is not out to attack Christians. Rather they are doing what other movie producers have done in creating movies from books. They have rewritten the story to make it more appealing to the wider audience.
Not coming from the west, I have not known what it means to live in Christendom. However I know what it means to leave in a pluralistic society where there are many religious and cultural view points. The movie of Noah doesn’t bother me because I don’t see it as a Christian production. I think Bryan Stone hit the nail on the head when he argues that western Christians are so used to being a main force in Christendom that they struggle to give any room for the world to disbelieve. If they come up with a story that goes against their cultural beliefs, Christians suddenly become doctrinal experts. I will be surprised if believing Christians are going to lose their faith because the producers of Noah did not follow the biblical text. However I wont be surprised if this movie triggers in the hearts of some people the desire to search for the truth about God because the story lit a spark in their heart.
I wonder if the west would be more open to Christianity if we stop acting pious and religious and embrace ways to create conversations about spiritual stuff within our culture, even if it is not biblically accurate.
When the apostle Paul encountered polytheism in Athens, he said this in Acts 17: 22-23, “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.”
My one desire is to see the church in the west get off from our religious high horses, so that we can engage with the people who are searching for the truth in our society.