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Hell is a sticky subject.
For centuries the church has sold God as a loving being full of grace and mercy. And yet, equally consistent has been its message that Hell, a place of torment, is the eternal place for unbelievers. That eternal damnation awaits those who don’t make the right choice about God.
Understandably, the two ideals create an odd friction. How is it that God can be loving and full of unmerited favor and send people to torment in Hell for an eternity?
Before we begin, I think the Christian must first recognize the question as legitimate. More than legitimate, even. Most of the time the very asking of this question implies a “benefit of the doubt” being afforded to God. The asker wants to believe in a loving God, who pardons in great and fantastic ways. There, of course, are other times when the person asking has simply identified what seems to be a contradiction in God’s character. Eternal separation does not, on its surface, jive well with ideas like love, mercy and grace.
It’s important to grant these positions.
There are quite a few naysayers (here, here, and here) out there concerning Darren Aronofsky’s latest work, Noah. Most of which are Christians who are outraged that the director did not take a straight-from-the-Bible approach to making the film, and others because of its storyline and themes. Some are not even calling it a “biblical” movie at all.
I profoundly disagree. From my perspective, Noah presents a significant opportunity for us to peek into the mind of God.
I’ve reviewed Noah already, but in that review I try not to tell much of the story in order to preserve the experience for the viewers. In this blog, I will assume you have already seen the movie, and so will discuss five different things I found significant about the film from a Christian perspective.
1. Concerning The Watchers
The easiest target in this movie is the stop-motion, rock titans called “The Watchers.” They are introduced in the first five minutes and most certainly procured the “eye-roll” from the Christians in the audience. I think I rolled my eyes as well. But, as I continued through the film, I understood that the movie was setting us into a very different, pre-flood, Earth.
Darren seems intent on showing this in several ways. Many Christians are familiar with Genesis 6 and its mention of the fallen angel’s interaction (and intermingling) with men. The passage mysteriously lacks thorough descriptions. And yet, when you read it, you get the sense that some hybrid of man and angel not only existed, but was prominent in Noah’s day. They are referred to as “heroes” (ESV) or “giants” (KJV).
I bring this up because no one knows the nature of a creature that is half fallen angel- half human. And, again, the scriptures are not very descriptive. This means that any representation of such beasts might inspire a critical reaction.
That said, Darren’s version of Nephilim (The Watchers) are not even close to what I’d imagine. Their function, as presented in the movie, is a complete fabrication. But they do serve a couple key purposes for the storyline. First, they establish Man, especially the pure line of Adam, as significant. And two, they offer a redemptive picture in the midst of the God’s judgment.
Banished from heaven, they have been stuck on Earth until their purposes are fulfilled. And then, upon asking for forgiveness, the fallen angels shed their earthly trappings to be received into heaven by the very “Creator” they chose to rebel against. All this while the rain of judgement is falling on the earth from that very same “Creator” to wipe away wicked Men from the earth.
It is one of the many places in this story where we see God’s judgment and God’s mercy side by side.
If you’re looking for a warm and fuzzy story to share with your children, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is not it. Aronofsky tells the story of Noah and the great flood with creative flair, beautiful cinematography, and an unapologetic humanism that floods us emotionally from all sides. It is a step forward for movies inspired by biblical stories. The story is a complex tale that negotiates biblical factual accuracy for a chance to connect with something deeper. This movie is not what you think. It’s dark and a bit long, but there are so many great moments you don’t mind the wait. I dare say, you must see it!
A young man faces off against his college philosophy professor to put the existence of God on trial for the class. Kudos to the makers for approaching a demographic (college students) who are historically (and increasingly) walking away from Christianity. But I’m afraid most of the satisfaction felt in the audience is coming from those already convinced of their faith, rather than those searching for answers. God is Not Dead inches the genre forward, from an artistic standpoint, but is plagued with the same lack of “real life” storytelling that alienates the audiences it tries to introduce itself to. Namely, for this movie, the cynical skeptic.
When you read the title of this blog, you probably thought the passage was going to be about the wedding where Jesus turned water into wine. And you were mistaken.
Today’s passage is a parable about a king whose throwing a party for his son. Follow this link to take a peak at it.
Well, there are so many things to talk about here, and so little blog space to talk about them in. The story Jesus tells here is such a theological whirlwind. The style of writing found in Bible communicates so much in an amazingly few amount of words. This story is jam-packed with goodies. In this story, we see both God’s judgment and God’s grace, a combination not often found Jesus’ parables. More than that, it holds up a mirror for us to look into as it describes the responses of the invited guests: namely apathy, hostile rebellion, and selfish insincerity.
The story ends with an offbeat situation about a man not properly dressed for the wedding feast. His wardrobe seems to earn him the boot! He gets thrown out of the wedding feast into a place of torture that sounds a lot like Hell. After which, Jesus ends on the “many are called, few are chosen” statement, which is bound to rile up the Calvinism conversation.
So much is here.
A future society that’s decided that the best way to keep the piece is to separate the population into factions sounds just a little too high school cafeteria for me. But, as it turns out, with some strong performances from one of my favorite up-and-coming actresses, Shaine Woodley, and new-to-me actor Theo James, the movie turned out to be slightly more than bearable.
So I really wanted to write this post after I wrote up my review for Frozen (where I utterly fail and say that the movie won’t be a classic) but didn’t get the chance to. Hey, life happens.
But now, with the Blu-Ray/DVD being freshly released, it’s a perfect time to talk about some of the things that kinda got me to thinking after having watched the movie several times. And hearing the songs several times. And by several, I mean hundreds not dozens.
Anyway. Since you’re probably going to buy the movie (if you haven’t already) and watch it very soon, so I thought I’d give you five insights to look out for in between those catchy songs. Maybe you can chat about one or two of them with your little one. Here we go.
I love that the gospels show Jesus’s frustration with his disciples. Not because I’m looking to justify my own frustrations (even though it helps to know that they aren’t necessarily “sin”), but because it is yet another instance of Jesus’s humanity.
In Matthew 17:14-21, Jesus is met by a crowd when a man kneels before him and asks to have his son healed of epilepsy. The man tells Jesus that he’d brought his son to the disciples to be healed (which, by the way, says something about the reputation of the disciples) but they were not able to heal him.
Then something rather peculiar happens. Jesus let’s the disciples have it, right there in front of this man and the crowd. At least that’s the way I see it. What Jesus says makes me laugh a bit when I read it because, again, it sounds so human. “Oh faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to bear with you? [sigh] Bring him here to me.”
Okay, okay, so I inserted the “[sigh],” but it seems like it fits. What is it that has Jesus so exasperated?
After they bring the boy to Jesus, he casts out the demon in him quickly. The text doesn’t make much of a fuss about it; probably because the miracle itself is clearly not the point of this little story. It’s the faith of the disciples that take center stage.