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Should you see the movie ‘Noah’?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Russell Crowe stars as the titular Noah. The film, being shot in Iceland and New York, is due in theaters in 2014 (Credit: Paramount Pictures/Niko Tavernise)

Noah opens a week from today, and is already generating controversy.  For instance, newspapers are reporting that Pope Francis cancelled a meeting this week with Russell Crowe, the actor who plays the lead in the movie.  It turns out, there’s more to the story.

Crowe wanted to meet personally with the pope to discuss the film.  When the Vatican would not schedule such a meeting, the actor and a delegation from Paramount Pictures attended the Wednesday 10:30 AM general audience along with thousands of others in St. Peter’s Square.  After the audience, Crowe tweeted, “Thank you holy father @Pontifex for the blessing.”

Whether the two sides will be happy with each other once the movie opens is a different subject.  The film reportedly presents Noah in a dark, unbiblical way.  There’s been so much criticism that Paramount now says the movie is “inspired” by the Old Testament story, but is not a literal adaptation.

The film is just one of many “faith-based” movies this year.  Son of God has already surpassed box office expectations.  God’s Not Dead opens today, Heaven Is for Real will open next month, and Exodus and Mary Mother of Christ will open in December.  A reboot of the Left Behind novels is on the horizon as well.

Noah is directed by Darren Aronofsky, who is an atheist.  Russell Crowe is a person of faith, sort of: “I couldn’t tell you that I follow a particular doctrine, but in terms of spirituality, I think there’s a karmic cycle.”  Clearly, we should not expect the film to be a biblical documentary.

So, should Christians see it?  Should we see movies like it?

One position is that believers should avoid any media which takes liberties with Scripture.  We don’t want to be influenced by deception, nor do we want to support deceivers financially.

A second view is that the question is irrelevant, since Christians should not make media decisions based on theological factors.  No media is all good or all bad, some claim.  Even Son of God, which was created by very committed Christians, provoked theological concerns.  A movie theater is not a church.

A third position is that, so long as watching a film will not harm our integrity or our witness, we should use it as an opportunity for spiritual conversations with friends and culture.  Paul used philosophy when witnessing to philosophers (Acts 17:16-34) and Scripture when speaking in synagogues (Acts 13:16-41).  He explained: “I have become all things to all people, so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).  I take this position, but would like to know your thoughts—please share them in our comments section.

Billy Graham noted: “The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.”  How will you seek them today?