The Story of Noah: A Pastor's Review
“The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.”
– A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit Of God
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to watch "Noah" staring Russel Crowe as Noah. It was a well produced, and well directed fictional account of the Biblical story of Noah. By now, I have read and heard various well meaning Christians speak about the horrors of such a film: The conspiracies to undermind the Biblical truth; The conspiracies to promote pro-ecological agendas; The "Hollywood" mindsets to be anti-God. I get it and understand the reality of those trends and how deeply troubled and threatened Christian communities are when there is a re-interpretation or manipulation of the Biblical narrative as it literally is "living and active". I have a very high regard for scripture and accept its teachings as the paradigm for truth but more importantly, it is the revelatory narrative that connects to the living God and His mission for His creation.
I mention my understanding and regard for scripture as the backdrop for the following observations about the movie and the Christian community:
1. The Biblical narrative on the details surrounding Noah is quite sparse. We have no idea of Noah's personality, his interactions with his wife, his parenting skills, his experiences growing up, his experiences in the ark, etc. We understand his character to be "righteous" or in a right relationship with God, but that can express itself broadly. I personally, did not like the character of Noah as developed in this movie because he was very nihilistic. His emphasis was on God's judgement and he could not understand God's grace, for which he himself was a sign and an agent. However, its very realistic for a servant of God to misunderstand His mission and calling, even in the midst of doing it. Overall, the liberties that they took in his character were believable because they are rational and consistent with the responses of other Biblical characters in the Biblical narratives faced with the kind of catastrophic event and global calling. (You can not help but to see the Director's ingenious comparison of Noah's willingness to kill his family due to his perceived calling and calling of Abraham and his sacrifice in Genesis 22).
2. The Biblical narrative is unclear regarding the role of angels, giants (niphillum), and supernatural beings in the story of Noah. In the movie, these beings take a surprisingly prominent role. Interestingly, the angels in the story remind me of the way J.R. Tolken uses the "Tree herders" in the Lord of Rings. It brings an understanding that the world, humanity, and our stories are not the only things that God, the creator is involved in.
3. There are obvious departures from the Biblical narrative that are mostly not important to the overall understanding of the big picture. The biggest was the failure for wives of his two sons, and the presence of the evil king on the ark. However, mostly, they were not important.
4. Most importantly: The movie was very pro-God, pro-faith, and pro-redemption. I believe that it expresses themes of trusting God, grace in the face of judgment, and glaringly, the promotion of God's life agenda.
With that, I would not be afraid to suggest for someone to watch it. It makes a great discussion piece for the greater narratives and themes of scripture. I, myself, found myself looking up the timeline for Methusalah, only to realize for the first time, that Methusalah does die in the flood (check it out yourself).
Lets look at this story as a means of drawing closer to God and understanding all of our roles in the Biblical narratives and inviting conversations with those with different, alternative, and conflicting word views.
God bless and I would love your thoughts
Pastor M Traylor