I’m going to see Noah this week. In preparation, I’ve been reading reviews. If you do the same what you’ll likely find is a mixture of cautious endorsement (“Hey, it’s got crappy Bible content, but it starts a spiritual conversation”) and condemnation. Most of the latter is from young earth creationists objecting to the movie’s depiction of evolution in Noah’s retelling of the creation story. Some don’t like the Watcher element (which itself is altered, with specific theological intent in turns out) that picks up on the flood story from 1 Enoch, which was (if you’ve read that book or my work) in the heads of the apostles of Peter and Jude in their writing (there’s content in 2 Peter 2 and Jude 5-6 you won’t find in Gen 6 or anywhere else in the OT).
What you won’t find unless you’re reading this blog — or Dr. Brian Mattson’s — is the real truth behind the content of the film. Dr. Mattson deftly navigates the details of the movie in his post, “Sympathy for the Devil,” showing quite clearly that Daron Aronofsky is giving viewers a heaping plate of Jewish Kabbalistic mysticism and, worse, the Gnostic worldview that the God of the Bible is an evil entity. This isn’t conspiratorial thinking. It’s what pops out at anyone who has read Gnostic material. Only someone who doesn’t know Gnosticism (which is 99.9% of the evangelical church, and probably just as much of the wider Church) would fail to see this.
Readers of my material (particularly PaleoBabble and UFO Religions) know my eye is trained for this sort of thing, too. I’ve been harping about Gnosticism and pop culture for a long time.1 It’s exciting to run into another Christian scholar who blogs to serve the believing church pick up on this so well. I can’t say enough about how important Mattson’s review is. I can’t wait to get the visual experience in view of what he describes.
Mattson gives evangelicals the punch in the nose they deserve:
So let me tell you what the real scandal in all of this is.
It isn’t that he made a film that departed from the biblical story. It isn’t that disappointed and overheated Christian critics had expectations set too high.
The scandal is this: of all the Christian leaders who went to great lengths to endorse this movie (for whatever reasons: “it’s a conversation starter,” “at least Hollywood is doing something on the Bible,” etc.), and all of the Christian leaders who panned it for “not following the Bible”…
Not one of them could identify a blatantly Gnostic subversion of the biblical story when it was right in front of their faces.
I believe Aronofsky did it as an experiment to make fools of us: “You are so ignorant that I can put Noah (granted, it’s Russell Crowe!) up on the big screen and portray him literally as the ‘seed of the Serpent’ and you all will watch my studio’s screening and endorse it.”
He’s having quite the laugh. And shame on everyone who bought it.
I’m sure glad we don’t preach content, aren’t you? Biblical theology is just sooo impractical.
Shame on pastors for being so ignorant. Our pulpits are simply intellectually vacuous. Mattson offers a simple solution:
In response, I have one simple suggestion:
Henceforth, not a single seminary degree is granted unless the student demonstrates that he has read, digested, and understood Irenaeus of Lyon’s Against Heresies.
Because it’s the 2nd century all over again.
Agreed. I’d only add that (firm grasp on the obvious moment here) pastors ought to preach the text on Sunday. Not happy thoughts that use one verse as a launching point. That isn’t taking your people into the text. And if you do read Irenaeus, his content isn’t just for you, either. Teach it to your people. We substitute toothy grins and happy-clappy music for informing people and prompting them to think theologically in their world (which in our case, is permeated by pop culture). Want to lament the biblical and theological illiteracy in evangelical churches? You’re reaping what you’ve sown, pastor. Your pulpit is either part of the solution, or part of the problem.