Noah



Many folks are pretty upset by this movie. Following are excerpts taken from an editorial review of it by our pastor, Adam Hamilton, that appeared in the Huffington Post. Click here for the whole review.

The problem for the filmmakers, and also for many of us as we read the story of Noah in the Bible, is a failure to understand what kind of story it is. Which leads us to interpret it in ways that either miss the point or distort the point. Comedian, television host and outspoken atheist Bill Maher recently lambasted the film, and the 60 percent of the American public who read the Noah story as literal history. How literally should we take the story?
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But there's something more that makes this particular adaptation of the Noah story not work, and it is possible that it dooms every film adaptation. Portraying or reading this story too literally often obscures the point of the story. The earliest stories in Genesis were not written to tell primeval history. They were written to tell readers about themselves, and about God.

Reading the Noah story as an historian's account of ancient history leaves Christians needing to prove that it was really geologically possible for water to cover the earth to a height 20 feet above the tallest mountain. They find themselves wondering precisely how many species of animal could fit in the ark, or how Noah managed to get them all in there. Or, as Maher pointed out in his shtick on the film, how a good and loving God could choose to kill every man, woman and child on the planet.

The primeval stories in Genesis were told and retold around the campfires for hundreds if not thousands of years before being written down. For an oral culture with no books, no television, no radio, no sports and no movies, stories were the vehicle both for entertainment and for teaching truths about humanity, morality and God. The story of Noah was likely rooted in catastrophic floods of the ancient past (perhaps the end of the last Ice Age when catastrophic floods were seen across the northern hemisphere which would explain why flood stories show up in far-flung cultures around the world). Yet the point of telling the story was not to report ancient history. It was to teach hearers, and readers, about themselves and about God.
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Am I suggesting the Noah story of the Bible is not true? No, quite the contrary, I'm suggesting this story tells us deep and profound truths about God, about humanity and about life. But while it is rooted and grounded in the ancient memory of massive floods that had been passed down for millennia, its point is not to tell us about a man named Noah who lived long ago, but to tell us the truth about ourselves, and about God's grief over human violence, God's concern for his creation and God's willingness to give humanity a second chance.


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7 comments:

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    1. Thanks for asking Wanda! ツ

      A difficult subject for many I think. Some feel that Moses was a type of pope who's writing was infallible and from the very lips of God. That comes up short for me because that is not how I see the Lord interacting with leaders throughout history. It also creates issues around the commandments he gave regarding the execution of people who commit certain types of sins. He even commanded a person carrying wood on the Sabbath to be stoned. I certainly admire Moses and think that he was a great leader but I do not consider him or his writings to be infallible.

      That said, I do absolutely embrace what Moses wrote as profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. I love the many lessons that we can learn from Genesis. Reading the creation story simply inspires me. My heart weeps for Adam and Eve when I read of Cain killing Abel. The accounts written down by Moses of the flood, the Tower of Babel, and Abraham's family and ancestors teach me so much. I learn so much about God and humanity when I read these accounts.

      One of the absolute favorite parts of leading "The Bible in 90 Days" training is talking with people about these very issues. Helping folks see the eternal messages in these passages encourages me greatly.

      Hope that answers your question Wanda. Have a great weekend!

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  2. I so appreciate your opinion and honesty... I don't hold your opinion. I believe the entire Word of God to be inspired by the Holy Spirit leading men in their writing...I guess this can be debated until we reach the pearly gates. But Hollywood is never going to get it right, so I don't know why Christians get upset...They don't have to go. Just like you can turn off a TV if you don't like the program. Love you Bob, and thanks so much for all the posts, insights and reference material you share.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that Wanda. I also believe that the Holy Spirit influenced men in their writings of the scriptures. But these men (like all of humanity) were not infallible. And that is what I love about the scriptures. Broken men like Moses and King David wrote amazing things. But the scriptures plainly show us that these were broken men. So it is reasonable to discern that some of the things that they wrote (like the killings of innocent children) were not infallible and not representative of the heart of God.

      All that said, I do agree that many have debated these things and will continue to debate them until we reach the pearly gates. Yet I rejoice that we both love the Lord, love the bible and love each other. And that is something to celebrate!

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  3. Yes it is, and celebrate we will.

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