David Holford

Noah in Hindsight

I saw the film Noah about six weeks ago. I saw it because people wanted to know my opinion of it. So I gave my opinion of it to my inquirers in person and here.

To the delight of some and the disappointment of others, I found that the film had great merit. I didn’t find it a perfect biblical account, though more biblical than perhaps a lot of people thought.  And now to the delight of some and the disappointment of others, I realize that the film has had a continuing effect on me.

It made me go back to the Old Testament and try to understand it better. It made me go back to Genesis and try to understand it better. Noah had forced to me to re-evaluated my take on that story – to see verses I had glossed over and to get the big picture. I finally began to see it through adult eyes, rather than as just having (what I’m sure I supposed to be) greater spiritual insight to the story I heard and read countless times as a child.

It finally forced me beyond seeing the Old Testament merely within the context of the words on the page.  Just getting those I’ve taught over the last couple of years to use the full written context has been a substantial – and often futile – exercise in a Christian culture that is obsessed with taking the smallest snippets of text and praying them or claiming them or basing theology upon them.

Because almost all of my teaching has been out of the New Testament, it is only there that I have tried to emphasis the intent of the author and what the original readers would have understood him to say. Now I am more consciously putting the Old Testament within its ancient Near Eastern context, trying to look at it as its original readers would have understood it. I am shedding the anti-intellectual shield about the early chapters of Genesis that I inherited and accepted at face value as being necessary to take Genesis seriously as the word of God. I’ve been greatly helped in this by the work of Peter Enns and John Walton (so far, partaking of other serious, honest scholarship thereafter, I’m sure).

The most significant result of all of this is that I think I’m finally beginning to get why fundamentalism and the areas of evangelicalism it is has strongly influenced are dying. I see why the thinking millennials are leaving the Church as they know it, rejecting a biblicism that simply isn’t biblical, caught on the horns of a false dilemma.

Fundamentalism and much of evangelicalism (and in this I include the various Pentecostal and charismatic groups) have missed what makes the word of God the word of God. Removing the inherent meaning and purpose of the various writings that make up the Scripture, they have reassigned meaning within a 21st century English language, American culture and idiom as the only way of making them relevant. This approach has made both these churches and the Bible irrelevant.

Noah – and the studying it revitalized – had a much bigger impact on me than just the theological reflects made possible by Darren Aronofsky’s script. It made me realize much of what is at stake in bringing the Gospel to the generation that has now come of age and the ones to follow it.

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