If you want to see a movie where the lions beat the “Christians” go see Noah.
If you want to see a movie where the Christians beat the lions go see God’s Not Dead.
If you want to see a story where the lions “eat” a lot of Christians but many prevail read the Bible. Hebrews 11. All the way to the end.
If you want to see a movie where an unbelieving director uses a Christian story as a springboard to put forward his own environmentalist and we-are-all-connected pantheist story go see Darren Aronofsky’s Noah.
Aranofsky insists he is a believer, not an atheist. And that his religious beliefs are best summed up in his movie The Fountain—a quest for the fountain of youth, a cure for cancer and an answer to what happens when we die. At the end of the movie the seeker is launched into the black starry expanse of the Universe as the audience is told…”Death is the beginning of awe.”
Another seeker struggles until he turns into plants and flowers. The Universe is one—we are all connected. Including humans, animals and plants. Except animals and plants are innocent. Humans aren’t. That’s why it feels like the lions beat the “Christians” in Noah—they took the real, Biblical story, treated it like a myth and rewrote the myth with new characters and a new plot.
(If you want to see a movie where an unbelieving director makes a movie of a story with a strong Christian worldview and treats it with genuine affection and respect go see Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.)
If you want to see a movie where the believers who made it cherish the gospel then go see God’s Not Dead. The outcast finds a family in the community of God’s church, the sick and dying find hope, the abused find the courage to confront their oppressors, lies are exposed by the light of truth and the hard work it takes to find it.
If you like movies where the protagonists struggle to understand who God really is and what he really wants…go see Noah.
Spoiler alert. Russell Crowe plays a tortured, fanatical, homicidal Noah. He sees images of a world underwater where the animals float up to the surface while he and the plants remain below. He decides this means that God wants him to save the animals to replenish the world that human meat-eaters and civilization-builders have broken. But that God intends for all the humans to die. Including him and his family. Even if it means denying your son a wife or killing your grandbabies. Then he decides he can’t do it. Then he feels like a failure because he can’t. Then he decides it’s what God wanted all along. Cue the sunshine and the rainbow.
If you like movies about certainty, where the protagonists convince all doubters and seekers to come to Jesus…go see God’s Not Dead.
Josh Wheaton chooses to sacrifice his girlfriend, his other grades and maybe his career to stand and defend the existence of God in his philosophy class. With impressive power point visuals and reasoning from world-respected scientists and philosophers Josh wins a hearing. And (spoiler alert) changes the mind of Every. Single. Student. in his class. Even the arrogant philosophy professor converts on his “deathbed.”
If you like clarity mixed with mystery and messy reality, read the Bible. The real people God shows us there are far more multi-dimensional than the stereotypes in God’s Not Dead. And like the parable of the sower…not every person’s heart is fertile, responsive soil for the gospel. We are such mixed bags of motives. If you really love people, love the gospel, treat them both with more respect. And when someone dies, even if they convert on their death bed, surely a little empathy for the pain and loss is in order.
As for Noah, the Biblical account weaves together clarity and mystery…God tells Noah exactly what he intends to do and why, how to build the ark, when to go in, how long the rain will last. But Noah has to trust God with the mystery of “How long?…How does it end?” It will be nine long months before they can leave the ark and live on dry land.
Then, in the newly flourishing earth Noah plants a vineyard and gets drunk and naked. A scandal unfolds as his sons respond. It’s a messy scene exposing the tragic flaws of a man of great faith, one that Aranofsky includes in his story, but would not fit the "put a bow on everything" sensibility of God’s Not Dead.
What do unbelievers think Christians think of them when they see this movie?
If you want to see a movie where 76% of the critics loved it and only 47% of the audience liked it go see Noah.
If you want to see a movie where only 20% of the critics liked it but 87% of the audience loved it go see God’s Not Dead. (Rotten Tomatoes)
If you want to read a book that over six billion people have read and millions have given their lives for…read the Bible.
Note: For a more in-depth response to Noah the movie see my previous post here