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Noah: Application for Christians and Hollywood

There’s plenty of buzz going around for Darren Aronofsky’s Noah film, releasing March 28th. Much of the buzz from the Christian camp is negative or skeptical, and many are concerned that Hollywood’s artistic license will overshadow the values and details of the biblical story. Some are even openly hostile toward Aronofsky’s film, such as Creationist apologist Ken Ham (who has admittedly not pre-screened Noah) and Way of the Master’s Ray Comfort (who also makes no mention of having seen the film). Comfort has even produced an alternate Noah movie and encourages Christians to watch his 30-minute film and bypass the Russell Crowe flick.

However, some Christian leaders are more hopeful about the biblical epic set to hit the silver screen. John Snowden, the biblical consultant for the film, shares 10 reasons Why People of Faith Can Embrace the Noah Movie. Jerry Johnson (President and CEO of NRB) also encourages believers to check out the film, writing about 5 positive features and 5 negative features audience can look out for in Noah. In his follow up piece entitled Noah: Application for Christians and Hollywood Johnson writes that Noah should be neither a “buy up block tickets for our church” nor a “boycott” kind of film – but rather one that can be a learning experience both for Christians and for Hollywood.

An application for Christians, he writes, would be to engage in meaningful dialogue after viewing Aronofsky’s interpretation of the story.

“Noah, the film, may be inspired by the biblical character and events—but it is not a straightforward retelling of that story. Churches who are looking for that kind of movie will not find it here.

However, many people will go to this film and enjoy it. The main events from the Noah story are depicted in a powerful way on the big screen by name brand actors and quality production. Christians should be ready to engage moviegoers in conversation about biblical and cultural themes that are portrayed in this movie. For instance, if you want to talk ethics, discuss the pro-life/anti-infanticide moment. If you want to set up a robust dialog or debate, use the film to contrast creation vs. evolution or biblical stewardship vs. radical environmentalism. Most importantly, you can have healthy gospel discussions about some of the positives, and even the negatives, as identified earlier.”

Johnson also mentions an application for Hollywood, citing the respectful exchange that happened when Hollywood invited NRB to screen the film, NRB watched it and then requested a disclaimer be added to press materials, and Paramount graciously acquiesced. Johnson encourages other studios to follow Paramount’s example in this.

Ed Stetzer on Christianity Today comments on Johnson’s articles,

“I'm thankful for Jerry's input here. And, I don't plan to buy tickets or to boycott—I just plan to go and watch the movie (if the reviews are good, probably), enjoy the film, be a bit glad that it will start some conversations, and move on from there.”

Crosswalk’s Shawn McEvoy also intends to see Noah, and lists 5 Reasons Why Christians Should See Noah in Theaters. He muses,

“If Noah ends up preaching a false gospel, will we have "lined the pockets" of a charlatan? I suppose. If it ends up intriguing enough to start conversations between seekers and believers, will we have funded evangelism? Maybe. In either case, the success of such a film likely only means more chances to see the Bible on screen and talk about it in the public sphere.”

Not sure if you want to see the film? Check out this behind the scenes feature on building the ark, featuring film footage and commentary from director Aronofsky and actress Emma Watson. And don’t forget to watch Crosswalk’s video movie review of Noah before heading to the theater on March 28th.

Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for

Publication date: March 11, 2014