Although the couple in front of me was talking rather loud, and the light from their phone was nearly blinding in the dark theater, I really didn’t mind too much. As Darren Aronofsky’s Noah played on the big screen, the couple in front of me showed each other passages of Scripture on their smart phone. They were apparently comparing the movie with the biblical text. That was my favorite part of the film.
Admittedly, I did not have an open-mind when I went to see Aronofsky’s Noah. I had been hearing extremely negative reviews even before its nationwide release. But after seeing it for myself, I have mixed feelings.
On the one hand, this movie has served as a catalyst for Bible study and Bible discussion. That is a very positive result. Anytime our culture is talking about God and His word, it gives Christians a great opportunity to step into the discussion and help people navigate the issues.
That being said, there were some obvious – and a few outlandish – differences between Aronofsky’s film and the biblical account of Noah. I won’t bore you with a long list of inaccuracies; and honestly I think some Christian reviewers have been a little nit-picky with all the flaws they’ve pointed out. Furthermore, I think there’s a much bigger issue at stake than the things with which most Christians seem to be the most upset.
I’m afraid we may be missing the much bigger issue here!
The REALLY Bad
I was not surprised that an atheist Hollywood director would play fast and loose with a Bible story. After all, I’m sure Aronofsky believes the story of Noah is no more historically accurate than the story of Paul Bunyan and his giant blue ox. To Aronofsky, Noah is a myth and a legend. He seems to believe he can take the story of Noah and use it as a vehicle to make a theological point.
Aronofsky used Noah’s retelling of the creation week to highlight how simple-minded people of faith see magic, where rationally-minded people see science. While Noah talked about Creation, the theory of the “Big Bang” and the imagined evolutionary process played out on the screen. As if to say, “This is what happened – over the course of millions of years – Noah just happens to see the imaginary Creator as having had a hand in the process.”
This condescending way in which Aronofsky portrays faith, is my greatest problem with the film. The characters in Noah all stumbled through the story, trying to figure out what the Creator wanted them to do. Each character had his own interpretation of what the Creator was all about. The Creator – if He even existed in the movie – remained completely silent. Contrary to the biblical account, His voice was never heard. The film’s antagonist, Tubal-Cain, even shouted, “Why won’t you speak to me?” But the Creator wouldn’t speak to him, Noah, Methuselah, the fallen angels, or anyone else in the film.
When the rain stopped falling, Noah interpreted it as a sign he was supposed to kill his grandchildren. But his daughter-in-law interpreted it as a sign Noah was supposed to allow the children to live. Nothing was absolute. Everything was a matter of interpretation and opinion. Even the old and wise Methuselah said, “Who is good? Who is wicked? How am I supposed to know what is right?”
Apparently, Aronofsky believes people today are in the same boat (no pun intended). He believes God has not communicated with mankind. He believes faith is just simple-minded people interpreting what they see around them as being from God.
Aronofsky couldn’t be more wrong! God has not been silent and there is absolute truth! God has told us who He is, how He created the world, and how He expects us to live. Faith is not blindly following your interpretation of what you see. Faith is hearing, believing, trusting, and obeying God, as He has clearly spoken to us through Scripture (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11).
Noah was a man of faith. He listened to God’s specific instructions about righteousness, judgement, and even the dimensions of the ark. Noah is not a fairytale or fable. Noah lived and his example lives on. If nothing else, this movie has given us an opportunity to talk to the world about who Noah really was and what faith really is.
By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
I love you and God loves you,