The filmed version of Noah is a produced version of the Biblical story of the Great Flood, well acted and well written. And it tears the very heart from the reality portrayed in the Word of God. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously declared everyone is entitled to his own opinion but nobody is entitled to his own facts. If a film producer wants to tell a story – any story – he is welcome to in any way that seems good to him. But he is not welcome to tell his story and claim it is really some other story on which the copyright was established millennia ago. Such a producer is a cinematic fraud.
The Genesis account of the Flood depicts a God who tells Noah in great detail how to build the ark; the cinematic Noah tries to contact God repeatedly and receives only silence. Noah’s three sons are all married and planning future generations in Genesis; God actually commands them to multiply in Genesis 9. But the movie Noah believes God intends humanity to end with the deaths of his own family; he lets one fiancé die and threatens to kill the offspring of the only married son.
The most serious about-face in the film is having Noah and his family worship the serpent. In the Genesis account, the serpent in the garden is the enemy of all life and the usurper who would steal God’s throne out from under Him if he could. In other words, the film presents nothing original in itself. It is merely a dark side rendering of the antithesis of the Biblical story. And I will say again the producer is welcome to tell his own original story if he will, but to simply counterfeit the Bible is nothing less than fraud and nothing more than lying under cover of the art form.
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My purpose here is not to make a case for the truth of the Bible; that case has been made. But I would make a case for letting the Bible – or any literary work – speak for itself without people who do not believe it presuming to re-write it to suit themselves or their need for self-justification. This is a matter of integrity – artistic or otherwise.
“But” – some would argue – “how much difference does it make, these details of the story you cite in your second paragraph?” It makes the difference between a God who loves and a God who hates, between a God who makes provision for the continuation of humanity despite the trainwreck they have made of His creation and a God who apparently wants all human life destroyed. (God never does tell Noah to show mercy to his grandchild; Noah is simply unable to complete the killing.) It is the difference between a God who longs to communicate and have intimacy with His people – and has provided a means to that end – and a God who broods in silence over the men and women scurrying about trying to avoid His wrath like some gigantic spider contemplating the next meal of its helpless prey below.
Do we want a God who loves and reaches out to us despite our persistence in provoking Him by our treatment of each other? Or would we prefer a God who obviously hates the very people He has made, giving us first the silent treatment and then a cosmic waterboarding? More to the point – for this piece – will we let the competing versions of God’s story stand against one another that the better prevail in the marketplace of ideas, or do we honor the one that masquerades as the other?
Of course, the ultimately guilty parties are not the film producers but credulous people who – for the most part – claim to be Christian, but are so Biblically illiterate they have no idea whether they see truth or fiction when God is depicted on-screen. The solution is simple enough: Read your Bible before watching a movie that claims to tell you what it says.
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The Apostle Peter tells us to be always ready to account for our faith. That is for the sake of those who have none, but equally for those who believe we do. Jesus says – Matthew 10 – those who acknowledge Him on this planet will be acknowledged by Him in the presence of His Father; those who don’t, not so much. This can be construed as a threat to the unfaithful, but it is really a promise of neverending devotion. The Son says again – Matthew 28 – He will never ever leave us behind or alone.
But it all kinda begins with a commitment to truth.
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