So, I have been somewhat amused but not necessarily surprised with the recent and much-anticipated premier of Noah. And no, I haven’t even seen the movie. But, I have read and perused various articles authored by Christians who believe the biblical account of the Noahic narrative found in Genesis 6-9. Many (not all but many) of these articles have been written by God-fearing Christians who are absolutely blistering in their critiques. For instance, http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2014/03/28/the-noah-movie-is-disgusting-and-evil-paganism. And, to be fair, a number of severe critiques from non-Christian outlets have also emerged. It seems that this movie which attempts to portray Russell Crowe as the biblical and historical character of Noah is lacking somewhat in its accuracy when compared to the biblical account. In fact, it appears that it might even be “blasphemous” and sacrilegious in its portrayal of what really happened. Big surprise? Not really.
However, what has become increasingly surprising to me over the past several years is how many Christians respond to these productions of Hollywood (as if Hollywood was expected to be the outlet of biblical and theologically accurate documentaries and films). In light of the various “Bible inspired” productions that have found their way into movie theaters and even onto mainstream cable TV outlets in the past several years, the reviews that many Christians have given have been far from evangelistic. Some have been outright frustrating to read.
So, being a weird guy who always likes to have a reason or purpose for why I do something (at least I like to make myself think that I try to operate this way), I have a couple of questions and observations.
(1) Either many Christians have increased their expectations for Hollywood by epic proportions, or they may possibly be guilty of taking misguided delight in critiquing (and at times outspokenly bashing) those producers, actors, and viewers who are literally operating as blind people trying to complete a Spartan obstacle race. In essence, they are getting upset and are nearly screaming at spiritually blind people trying to package biblical truth in an entertaining way with the end result of selling it to an audience of spiritually dead people—to make a living and a profit in a fallen and damned world. Make no mistake about it. Christians need to be bold in speaking the Truth—and they must be just as careful to speak the Truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). This is the antidote that the Apostle Paul says will keep Jesus’ Church from being tossed around with various doctrinal errors—and such will also be the means whereby people come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. No one with their heart or conscience intact would jeer a blind quadriplegic for failing to qualify for the NFL draft. And the picture is much worse when it comes to depraved people falling far short of God’s glory. We must be careful to not spike the spiritual football of biblical accuracy on those who are essentially spiritual corpses. It wasn’t long ago that we were in their shoes. That is, until the Spirit spoke His Truth to us in love and graciously breathed life into our souls.
(2) A film like Noah, and any other such “Bible inspired” productions created through the medium of spiritually blind producers and actors in Hollywood, offers the Church an amazing platform to share the Truth (i.e. the Gospel love of God). Am I saying that we should all feverishly run and purchase a ticket to watch Noah? No. Am I saying that we should water down the message of God’s wrath on sin and not point out error when it is presented as entertainment? No. Am I saying we should picket outside movie theaters and conduct street preaching and tract distribution operations at movie theaters? Probably not. So, what are you saying Sam?!
OK, here’s what I’m saying (or asking and pleading):
• First, what in the world do we as Christians expect from a lost and blinded culture? Perfection—or at the very least faith in the biblical record apart from spiritual life? (The same goes for non-professing politicians too by the way, but I digress.)
• Secondly, what in the world are we as the Church doing to offer real hope to a lost and blinded culture? Are we at all contemplating opportunities for potential Gospel advancement when a movie such as Noah comes on the scene? Or are we more concerned about drawing our battle lines, preparing our debate cards, and rattling our hermeneutical sabers to a culture that really doesn’t care about God’s Word?
• Thirdly, what in the world are we going to say to Jesus one day when He asks us how we redeemed the time within the cultural landscape that He sovereignly and strategically placed us in as He was building His Church?”
Here’s a closing thought from a simple guy who doesn’t pretend to have all the answers to living out the Christian life but who would love to see my family members, neighbors, and friends who don’t know Jesus to fully embrace His gospel message. You can take it or leave it because, hey, this is just one’s guy’s perspective—but I think it’s worth considering:
Instead of bashing a movie like Noah and holding in contempt those people who created a film that completely lacks credibility in its accuracy to the biblical account, perhaps we should try this approach. When people ask you about the movie Noah, joyfully tell them the truth about the biblical Noah narrative. Tell them that Noah was a real guy just like all of us—he was full of sin and he desperately needed God’s grace. Tell them that God showed Noah amazing and undeserved grace. Tell them that God has a punishment on sin—it’s called death on earth instantly followed by eternal torment in Hell and the Lake of Fire. Tell them that each of us, whether we are a pimp or a pastor, deserve to be drowning in the bottomless sea of God’s wrath because we are all sinners by nature. Tell them that God so loved the world that He sent His special and holy Son to take on human flesh and face His Father’s wrath for us. Tell them that God genuinely loves them—the same God that totally hates their sin. Give them hope—give them truth—give them light. Tell them about Jesus, Who is the perfect Shelter and Refuge from the worst storm that sin will ever hurl their way.
If you respond to a movie like Noah in this way, I can promise you that 3 out of 4 things will happen:
(1) You will have faithfully planted or watered the seed of Truth in a heart of darkness. God gets the glory anyway—not us (1 Corinthians 3:7-8).
(2) You will have joy in fulfilling the purpose for which you were created and redeemed (Matthew 28:19-20). Interestingly, the Apostle Peter remarks that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). It doesn’t seem like God’s method or plan for us is any different today except that we get to preach His righteousness on this side of the cross!
(3) You will not be boasting in anything other than the cross of Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14). Your satisfaction will not be found in apologetically “proving” how the days of creation took place or how both geological and archeological evidence “proves” your view of the biblical account of a worldwide flood. You will be happily boasting in the grace of God found in Jesus and throwing the responsibility of salvation up to His Holy Spirit–which He loves to fulfill.
(4) You may get to know the joy of welcoming a new brother or sister into the family of the King as the Holy Spirit gives light and believing faith to the eyes of their soul (2 Corinthians 4:1-7). What an awesome opportunity and experience!