7 reasons why you should see the movie “Noah”

 7 reasons why you should see the movie “Noah”

I'll admit I'm late to the party on this -- but only because I don't go to the theater. Redbox and I kind of have a thing. So I waited for months to see Russell Crowe as Noah and finally had the chance to watch it a few weeks ago. And I have 7 reasons why you should watch it too (or again).

First of all, I’ll say that I know that this movie was not received well by the majority of Christians that cared to post or talk about it. Because of that, you might be wondering why I am taking a different stand, and so late in the game. I am actually writing because I have been pretty concerned that Christians have been so offended by the movie; especially in light of the fact that I thought the movie did an excellent job of capturing the prevailing themes of the Genesis 1-6 story. It is concerning to me because I think several of the themes the movie highlighted desperately need to make their way into the discipleship pathways in our churches and it makes me nervous that a movie in which these themes are so evident has received such a negative backlash from Christians. Of course, I’m not saying the movie even came close to being a model for upholding the biblical text. I thought it did many injustices to the text and there were a lot of strange, additional elements that aren’t in the biblical account. But if you want to know exactly what happened, you should read the book (that’s what someone has told me about every movie adaptation of a written story). I know these discrepancies made a lot of people leery of the movie – but don’t be so quick to disregard the movie as unbiblical because it didn’t stay on the straight and narrow with its sub plots and details. I’d challenge that if you are willing to excavate the themes out of the movie, you’ll find that it actually did a pretty good job of maintaining the integrity of the story.

I am afraid we do an injustice to the biblical stories and to ourselves by simply memorizing them and fact checking them; what we really need to do is examine ourselves as to whether our lives are actually being formed by their themes. I fear that most Christians watched the movie “Noah” with the intention of measuring it against the biblical story, went back and read the biblical story, and completely missed the various themes they should be wrestling with in the text and the movie in the process.

So, here are the seven themes I thought the movie “Noah” captured from the biblical account that you and I should be wrestling with – and thus, seven reasons why you should watch it. 

(Many of the questions I propose are taken from a reproducible, foundation, discipleship training called Story Formed Life)

#1 // The Creator is the central character in this Meta Narrative that all humans live in. He is the true and rightful King over creation.

For some reason people seem to be upset that the word “God” is never mentioned in the movie. I don’t get it. God didn’t reveal His name in the biblical narrative until He revealed it to Moses. So, why is it strange to think the people called Him “The Creator” before the flood?  One of the distinct differences in Western and Eastern thought is that the western mind is constantly trying to prove the existence of God while the eastern mind assumes the existence of God. The movie definitely spent no time trying to prove that God exists; it simply acknowledged that He does. Even the people who had rejected God's kingship referenced the Creator repeatedly. Though Noah was on the screen for most of the movie titled with his name, he knew he wasn't the main character or even close to it. He was one man to play a small part in God's Meta story. The Creator was never shown and never heard audibly in the movie, but everyone knew they were living in His world.

In what way have our cultural values convinced you that this is your world and that you should spend your life building your own kingdom? Is there evidence in your life that you might think of yourself as the main character in the story?

#2 // Mankind's rebellion in the garden caused the world to descend into chaos and dysfunction.

In the movie, this chaos and dysfunction were demonstrated in mankind’s violence against other humans, their ruthless treatment of animals, their careless extraction of natural resources, and their belief in their sufficiency to rule themselves. I thought this was a wonderful way to demonstrate their wickedness.

The original command God gave to humans was to fill the earth and subdue it. I believe humans were given dominion by God so they could extend the reality of the garden to the ends of the earth as they reproduced. But the first humans’ rebellion against their Creator and His mandate resulted in an ever increasing, spiraling out of control, cycle of brokenness that ended up here: "every inclination of their heart was evil and God regretted that He had made humans". The Hebrew word for evil is transliterated "raa" which doesn't simply mean moral failing, but the rampant glorification and promotion of dysfunction and chaos. The movie clearly displayed what the world looks like apart from the Creators rule: it’s a world devoid of order, beauty, and functionality.

Have you seen brokenness play out in the world around you? Can you think of an example of a time when you disobeyed a clear command from God and experienced chaos and dysfunction firsthand because of it?

#3 // A world run by self-indulgent humans is not a desirable one; especially when compared with a world run by a good, loving God.

The movie could have portrayed the "evil people" in a variety of ways but I believe they portrayed them accurately. Did anyone watching the movie not think that mankind needed to be brought to justice? Did anyone watching the movie not feel sick at how they had ruined the Creator's magnificent world? Did anyone want to go live in that world? No. No. and No.

One of the most significant themes throughout scripture is that humans constantly seek to live in a world ruled by our own self-indulgence and pleasure at the expense of living in a kingdom where everything is how it ought to be. We reject a good God who is all about the inter webbing of all things in harmony, and cling to our broken, miserable sub kingdoms. All sin is rooted in the suspicion that God isn’t actually good – that there is something outside of what He has provided for us that is better than living under His Kingship. This is a deeply understated theme in the church today and yet one of the most recurring themes throughout scripture.

How deeply do you believe in God’s goodness? Do you really desire to live in a world where His will is always done? And what does the evidence of your life suggest about who you want running the world?

#4 // God's activity has always been and will always be toward renewal and restoration.

It would have been easy for a Hollywood take on this story to portray the Creator as a vengeful and destructive God -- instead they portrayed Him accurately as a grace filled restorative God who carried out justice on humans who had abandoned the true essence of humanity, but then extended grace by giving them a new start. One of the most controversial things about the movie is that Noah thinks humankind should end because of their tendency toward evil. But what Noah doesn't realize (in the movie) until after he gets off of the boat, is that the Creators flood wasn't really about giving the creation a new beginning, it was about giving humans a new beginning. God’s restorative heart is central to scripture and is demonstrated numerous times throughout the movie.

Do you have more difficulty seeing God as merciful or God as just? How is God’s goodness demonstrated in both attributes?

#5 // Noah typifies the primary role of the first humans, to steward and protect God's creation.

In the midst of a whole host of people exploiting and abusing their God given dominion over the earth, Noah is a type of Adam. He still values the Creator's intentions for humanity as he still sees it as his role to steward God's earth responsibly. All the other people on earth had abandoned that commission and were selfishly and carelessly using the creation they were commissioned to protect for their own purposes, not the Creator’s. It bothers me when people point to this element of the movie as embodying a liberal agenda. I would say that it instead embodies God's agenda for His people - to protect, care for, and value the beauty of our Creator's world. Isn’t it ironic that those who are constantly fighting to uphold the truth that God created the world are the ones who seem to care the least about fighting to preserve that world?

Are we as Christians predominately standing on the wrong side of caring for God’s creation? Have we wrongly associated our role as caretakers of our King’s handiwork with a political stance?

#6 // Though we lost what we had in the garden we still see glimpses of it – and we are all longing for it.

Methuselah was really old and remembered what the post Eden world was like more than anyone else in the movie. His search for berries was a cool way to depict his longing for that world. He had a glimpse of the garden reality and he longed for it. We all do.

Imagine what the original world would have been like. Even though we lost it, do you still see glimpses of it? Do you long for God ‘s Kingdom to come fully?

#7 // Noah was considered righteous not because he was good but because he was obedient.

Noah took God at His word and carried out His command. In this way, the movie highlighted the most important theme of all – that righteousness is demonstrated primarily in one’s submission to God’s kingship. In one scene of the movie Noah is asked why God chose him. He says that he wasn’t chosen because he was good but because God knew He would do what He told Him to do. Thus, the film highlighted a problem running rampant throughout Christianity in America – we need more people who measure their faithfulness to God in whether or not they are obedient to His Kingship and less people who measure their faithfulness in how morally flawless they can be or how doctrinally sound they are. The religious elite did the latter, the disciples did the former.

When you think about your own faithfulness to God, how do you measure it? Does the evidence of your life suggest that you think about your relationship with God like a disciple does or like the religious elite do?

In conclusion…

I didn't particularly like the specific struggles they wrote into the story for Noah but I think it served to reinforced one of the core questions the narrative raises: “is humanity worth saving”? I for one would love to watch this movie with someone who was far from God and have that conversation afterwards. Of course there were some weird things in the movie. Of course they took some liberties with the story. Of course they clearly went against the narrative on a few occasions.
It is, after all, a movie made with the intention of making money and entertaining people. But all in all, I thought it captured the themes from the biblical story quite well. And I thought the themes it captured are themes most Christians actually need to be wrestling with.


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