It’s common knowledge that the Noah movie is about as biblically accurate as the “Stairway to Heaven” song’s explanation of how to get into the pearly gates.
I was scrolling through post after post today on the issue. Most of the posts were different streams of Christians yelling at each other from behind their keyboards. I put my head in my hands and prayed in frustration to the Lord. I was so discouraged. Not by the movie, but by the Christians yelling at each other.
Ugh. Another issue making Christians appear petty and argumentative and superior. God, what’s going on? How do we move past stuff like this? Teach me how to respond, how to act, what to believe, and how to honor both you and others at the same time. I pray for your help Father.
Would I like the story of Noah to be more biblically accurate when I watch it in a film? Sure. I think the Bible has an incredible story regarding Noah. I think it speaks sufficiently and has all the action a person would need.
Am I angry at Hollywood for adding parts or taking parts away? No.
Well, let’s talk about it. Here are three thoughts that come to mind when I hear objections to the Noah movie.
OBJECTION ONE: “HOLLYWOOD IS YET AGAIN DEVIATING FROM A TRUE BIBLICAL STORY AND ADDING IN FAKE STUFF. THEY SHOULDN’T DEVIATE. IT MAKES THE STORY LOOK BAD, OR WORSE, IT MAKES GOD LOOK BAD.”
Hollywood has never been an exclusively Christian, so it has no biblical obligations. And God can take care of Himself. He’s not wringing his hands, wondering what in the world he’s going to do with big bad Hollywood.
Each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.
(Jesus in Luke 6:44)
What Jesus means is that you can’t expect to gather biblical loyalty from a person or institution that isn’t rooted in the Christian message. In other words, Jesus tells us to expect a person or an institution to produce things rooted in what they truly value. If Hollywood values money and box-office success, it will produce things that achieve that value. Stop expecting Hollywood to produce Christian fruit when it’s not rooted in anything close to Christianity.
And, just to spice things up, if you really care about being biblical, the biblical fact is that the mainstream patterns of this world will not be Christian ones. Why are you mad that Hollywood, one of the hubs from which patterns of society are birthed, isn’t committed to staying biblically accurate? They won’t ever do that. They never signed up to.
The film industry in Hollywood has one job: create really good stories that sell big on a screen. Those stories may be based on other stories, or perhaps slightly inspired by them. But at the end of the day, Hollywood is committed to writing a good story, not staying true to the Bible.
Why are Christians surprised by this? Why are they angry that Hollywood is doing exactly the things Jesus said mainstream culture would do?
Hello. Jesus told us these things would happen. Stop acting like it’s shocking. It’s not a unthinkable or detestable that a bunch of Non-Christians aren’t acting like they are Christians. Stop the outrage. It’s ridiculous.
We as Christians only started to care about the things of God because we came to know Him. We care about biblical accuracy because we love the God that the Bible flows from. We care because He’s changed us; He’s made us new. We’re loyal to Him because we love Him.
If these things aren’t true of most filmmakers in Hollywood, why would they care about telling an accurate story of someone they’ve never cared about or loved? If God is just another made-up character to Hollywood, then they will tweak His stories all they want.
Stop asking them to operate like people who know and walk with God when they don’t. Stop being shocked that they don’t treat His word like it’s sacred when it’s not sacred to them. Good stories are sacred to Hollywood, no matter how they get created. Stop expecting grapes from a bramble bush.
OBJECTION TWO: “WHEN PEOPLE CONTRADICT THE TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE, IT’S OUR JOB TO DEFEND THE FAITH AND REBUKE/JUDGE THEM.”
Where they find biblical basis for this claim:
“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
Titus is a short book; only three chapters, in fact. Read it. That verse is clearly giving a command to pastors and overseers of churches to stay true to biblical principles and correct those in their flock who create false teachings. The book of Titus is completely in the context of the church. It’s not giving direction regarding the institutions of the world. I’m not saying you don’t have a voice to go riot against rape or murder or horrible things. I’m saying pick your battles and know where your true jurisdiction is.
So sure, if a church is doing what Hollywood is doing, correct it. You have every right. But in the case of the Noah movie, we’re not dealing with a church. It’s not in our jurisdiction to rebuke or judge Hollywood. It’s only in our jurisdiction to judge (as in correct, not condemn) other believers inside the faith. If being truly biblical is on the line, we as Christians should submit ourselves to this passage:
It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside.
(The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthias 5:12-13, NLT)
In other words, you don’t get to be on the judgment seat regarding those outside the Christian faith. That’s God’s job, and you’re not going to change the world with angry blog ranting spewed at non-believers or Hollywood.
OBJECTION THREE: “THESE KINDS OF DEPICTIONS OF THE BIBLE LEAD PEOPLE ASTRAY.”
Sure, maybe a few will leave thinking that movie was the true story of Noah. But I’d argue that this movie is actually helping the spiritual climate of America more than hurting it.
People are interested in what the Bible says about Noah, his descendants and these “watcher” creatures. They’re searching for the real story. Their curiosity is piqued. They want to seek it out. When I walked out of the theater I was bombarded with an onslaught of conversations whizzing around me, all centered around the Noah story. I heard all sorts of questions whirling in the room–Well why don’t they call him Father instead of Creator? Do you think those Watchers are really in the Bible? What book of the Bible is the story really in?
My heart lept for joy. I wanted to jump from group to group, answering questions, engaging in the dialogue. It was a sweet moment for me and the Lord:
Father! This is amazing! All these people are talking about you. They are talking about your Word. They have questions. They find you interesting, maybe for the first time in a long time. They want to read your Word, the Word that has given me so much joy and life. I’m so excited!
But then I heard a group of Christians fighting with each other and my heart sank. I wanted them to ponder this: $95.1 million was accumulated in worldwide Noah box office tickets. That means that this movie sparked a massive interest in those who would usually never come in contact to any biblical story on a daily basis. They didn’t go see a sleezy movie with twelve unnecessary sex scenes. They didn’t just rent porn for the night. They didn’t play a video game full of bloody, violent gore. They chose to fix their eyes on a movie centered on a biblical character and they were brought into a God-sized story, even if it was just for two hours. Given what America visually consumes on a regular basis, I think Noah is a step up. Why in the world are we arguing when a room full of those interested in God have questions?!
Just think about how many people this week have Googled “what’s the real Noah story?” A lot of people are coming in contact with the Bible for the first time ever, or for the first time in ten years. A lot of friends are asking me questions about the Bible, friends who would’ve never brought it up a month ago. Instead of being angry with all of it, we should be ready to engage these seekers and answer their questions.
Instead of leading people astray, I think this movie has brought people nearer to the Bible. They want to read the story for themselves.
And let me please just add one note, Christian to Christian.
It’s not Hollywood’s job to tell a story that leads people to spiritual health or salvation. That’s the church’s job.
Brother, sister, that’s your job. That’s my job.
If you’re angry that people aren’t coming in contact with true biblical stories then explain those stories to them yourself. Build a friendship with them and relate the story accurately, in the context of warm dialogue, not angry Facebook messages or hate mail.
The hard truth is this: If you have never creatively exposed people to the Bible in a loving and intriguing way, then Hollywood’s doing a better job than you. Stop piping up on blogs and social media when a new book or movie comes out that isn’t perfectly matchy-matchy to the Bible when your life (and my life) isn’t either. Maybe Hollywood brought someone closer to God than your life has done in a decade. Maybe not. Maybe Hollywood offered more effort in piquing interest in spiritual things than you have in your lifetime. Maybe not.
I’m just asking you to honestly look at yourself and ask, “when was the last time I lovingly communicated a biblical story to someone who doesn’t know God?”
If that’s a hard question for you to answer, and it is for all of us at some point, put your gloves down my friend. You have some soul searching to do, not finger pointing.
Don’t rant about how Hollywood communicated the story of Scripture all wrong if you don’t communicate it all.
When Hollywood creates more of an interest in the Bible than the church, something’s wrong. And it’s not Hollywood. It’s us.
The biblical answer for correcting a wrong view is to correct the erroneous view in friendship and in love, not anger.
People have believed wrong things about God forever. No, really, even since the time of Noah. It’s not like everyone was fine and one movie created heresy in everyone’s hearts. So stop acting surprised that people may believe something wrong about the story of God. They always have.
I used to. You used to. We all have at one point or another.
And how does God correct this?
He uses His people. He offers people another person to walk alongside them. For the love of being biblical, can you remember? God’s mission gets accomplished through people investing in other people.
When we were far off from Him, God didn’t send down a movie. He sent down a person, His son, to bridge the gap. He does the same now. When people are far from God, it’s not a movie’s job to correct everything back to biblical accuracy. God uses people to connect others to Him. It’s a beautiful thing.
So remember, friend, it’s not a movie’s job to tell accurate biblical stories or to bring people close to God. It’s ours.
We are not to stand astounded by the fact that people may use the Word of God inaccurately or for profit. We already knew that, remember? We, instead of getting angry, get excited for spiritual conversations and maintain in one loving and unified voice:
“Unlike some, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”
(2 Corinthians 2:17)