In the past decade or so, we have seen a rise in the number of faith-based movies coming out of Hollywood. Beginning with Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, we have witnessed a steady stream of movies that highlight personal faith in Jesus Christ and how that faith makes a difference in everyday life. Sherwood Baptist Church has offered encouraging and inspiring works such as Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous. History Channels’ The Bible television mini-series offered a look at the life of Christ through the New Testament. Most recently, we have seen three movies that have done, and are doing very well at the box office. Those movies are Son of God, God’s Not Dead, and Noah.
The success and positive witness of certain movies have also been met with doubt and skepticism within the Christian community. There seems to be, at least to me, a disturbing trend developing among Christians and Christian leadership related to faith-based movies. The trend: when the film deviates from the biblical narrative in any way whatsoever, the film should be dismissed as having no value. Of all the movies listed above, all but one were produced from an unapologetic Christian worldview. They have enjoyed very little criticism and doubt.
The movie that is causing a firestorm today is Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. According to the press release, Noah is an “epic biblically-based fantasy film” and is “loosely based on the story of Noah’s Ark. The Christian community seems to be in an uproar because a Hollywood movie about Noah does not resemble the Sunday School story and look of Noah. There is some heartache that the movie takes some liberties as it relates to the person of Noah, the historical record of the flood, and the nature/character of God. As a pastor and Christian, I do not like to see a biblical narrative skewed and distorted. To be honest, I have not seen Noah at the box office. My thoughts are based on what I have read about the movie. I would point you here and here for a solid review of the movie by Dr. Jerry Johnson, President of the National Religious Broadcasters. As you try to decide whether or not you will see Noah, or any other faith-based Hollywood film, let me offer a few things to consider.
1. It is unrealistic to expect a Hollywood producer or director who is not a follower of Christ to produce a biblically-accurate, true to the gospel narrative film. Priorities and motives are different for Christians. I can only assume Noah’s director wanted to make a movie that made money.
2. It is critical that every Christian know what the Bible teaches for these reasons:
a. Your understanding of the Bible will keep you from being misled and pulled away toward any falsehood.
b. Your understanding of the Bible will allow you to hold a conversation with the person who believes the Hollywood movie is the truth.
3. Any conversation, whether positive or negative, that focuses on Jesus Christ, faith, the Bible, or redemption is better than no conversation at all. I’ll take a “biblically-inspired fantasy” and a “loosely based story of Noah” any day of the week if it will begin a conversation about God and His plan and love for this world.