My Review of Noah

I thought Noah was fantastic!  Too many Christians have judged it without really seeing it.

And those who have taken the time to see it and still criticize it have not, in my view, seen it closely enough.

As true followers of Jesus, we simply should not be so shallow, judgmental, and old-fashioned.  It’s time Christians join the times and be the salt and light God called us to be.

Before attempting to review Noah, I wanted to make sure I read the story again.  I did not want my review of Noah to be based on hearsay or the opinions and outrage of others.  No, I owed it to the literally hundreds – perhaps thousands – who have not asked for my critique to “see” the story with fresh, inquisitive eyes – eyes that actually looked for its message, subtly, and power.

So I opened my Bible and read the story of Noah again.  I tried to pry away my Sunday School familiarity awash with felt animals, a big boat, and a friendly old man.  Such a reading would be my way of “judging” the story – filtering it through an interpretation that softens it or serves my interests and comforts – without really “seeing” it.  I thought that would be shallow… and old-fashioned – old-fashioned because it would re-work a biblical narrative into something I can use for my own agenda.  “Old-fashioned,” to me, does not refer to old versus new, but to worldly versus heavenly.  That which is heavenly is always new, fresh, and alive no matter how old it is.

I do not want to be old-fashioned.

In any case, I felt God did not want me to judge this story by seeing it through the eyes of my own self-interest, my Christian Bible-reading obligations, or some other personal reason.  I felt he wanted me to see it through open, honest eyes – helped along by him – so I could actually “see” the story, hear its message, and perhaps strive to embody it by the power of the Spirit for my own generation.

So I opened my Bible and read the story again.  I tried to take my time and be careful.  I wanted my review to be good.

I watched and listened.

It was harder than I thought – not to be free of my own agenda, but to take in the gravity of the situation of Noah’s world.  If the story were merely a Sunday school tale, no problem.  If it were only fodder for my own “interpretation” or version, say, for a movie or novella, then it would have been an easy read.

But it wasn’t easy.  I had to let it speak to me on its terms, not mine.  I had to be honest.  The story is graphic, unembellished, and at times harsh.

I had forgotten the level of dark, unspeakable corruption that poisoned the human race in Noah’s day.  I was confronted with the fact that this actually happened – in my world, among my ancestors, in the presence of my God.

Wickedness was so rampant and internally natural to humans that God actually regretted making them.

It hurt to read that.

Nowadays some people think God no longer feels sorrow or anger because he is only in a good mood thanks to the cross.  But I feel such thinking “judges” the biblical narrative.  It subjects the story’s revelation of God to our presuppositions.  We cannot “see” the story that way.  As a result, our “review” of the story replaces the story itself.

How could a God of real love and grace not experience the range of emotions described in Scripture, including the New Testament?  How could we judge the story by whittling God down to a set of grace principles rather than incorporate it into the fuller narrative of salvation history – our very heritage, our gospel?

I was haunted by Yahweh’s emotions.  I had to force my eyes to see what those few short verses said about God.  I could not pass them over, implicitly putting them on the shelf of “that’s just the Old Testament.”  Instead I had to let the divine emotions over the evil situation sink in.

Sorrow.  Regret.  Pain.

That provoked me to deal with raw, real life, rather than inoculate myself to it through cheap grace or amusement.  It was a difficult provocation.

I took a moment to think of a fraction – the tiniest, most minuscule of fractions – of what God sees around the world on a daily basis.

I thought of how evil people steal little kids for sex slavery, defiling them to death for their own gain.  I thought about terrorists who train children to kill for a twisted ideology, equipped with machine guns and savage hate, without ever experiencing their due childhood innocence – often before their tenth birthday.

I thought about failing marriages and adulteries and fornications and homosexuality and violence and addictions filling our cities and suburbs and schools.  I thought of the way some who identify as Christians engage in the same behaviors, all while attending “relevant” churches with successful preachers but little transformation of actual people.

As I reviewed the Noah story, I thought about how God sees all of this everyday.  And I thought of how he’s looking for something different.  Someone different.

Back in Noah’s day, God’s only recourse – his righteous decree for the sake of humanity’s future – was to carry out comprehensive judgment.  The watery chaos of Genesis 1 had to return.  God had to renew creation and start over.  But the weight of that massive, global ocean of destruction was still not greater than the weight on God’s heart.  Things were dark.  The world staggered under violence and rebellion.  God’s innocent eyes ached to watch.

And yet…

“Noah found favor in the eyes of Yahweh… Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generations; Noah walked with God.”

How refreshing Noah must have been to God’s just heart!  Noah would be like a new Adam, the father of a renewed Adamic race.

Noah was a human with a nature like ours.  Yet that same Noah showed me that it is possible to live in this stubborn, rebellious world and still be truly innocent, holy, righteous – God’s friend.

Reading Noah again I remembered how God was indeed refreshed by the fragrance of my Savior’s sacrifice.  Noah prefigured God’s son.  Jesus Christ’s faithful life, death, and resurrection caused the Father great joy – and atoned for the sins of all who would believe!

Now by the gift of that sacrifice, and by the gift of the Holy Spirit, followers of Jesus can be conformed to his image in practical life, becoming the kind of humans God always intended.

I thought about Noah for today.  Yes, God loves all of his children.  But not all of his children love him back enough to walk with him as Noah did (the way Hebrews 11 and 12 encourage modern saints to do).

Does God have friends like Noah today?

I don’t want to judge the old story by not asking that question.  If it is shallow for Christians to judge a movie because “it’s not biblical,” then it is even more shallow for Christians to judge a Bible story by not taking it more seriously than movies, by not digging deeply to “see” it with the same vehemence they pursue entertainment, and by not allowing it to provoke them into radical, Christ-like change.

So a fair review of Noah brings me to ask, Does God have friends like Noah today?  Are there authentic, powerful followers of Jesus who actually know him and please him and impact their world?  Are there people alive today who refresh God’s heart?

Or are we too busy looking for the latest movie or doctrinal fad to distract us from reality – all while relishing in the freedom to do so?

Does God have people so deeply dedicated to Jesus Christ that they cultivate new creation life to the point of actual, supernatural righteousness, love, and power?

The real Noah was a world-changer, a courageous hero of whom the world was not worthy.  And he became such a man at great cost.

If I am not seeking to walk with God as Noah did amid a perverse and sinful generation, I am old-fashioned, shallow, and judgmental in the eyes of God.

And if I am not absorbed with developing Christ’s image in me, and walking in a blameless way before God as Noah did, then I have become more a product of my hip but spiritually weak Christian culture than of God’s heavenly culture – the culture to which Noah belonged.

That is the very kind of shallowness and judgmentalism I wish to avoid.

As you can tell, then, this is not a review of the recent movie about Noah.  I did not see the movie and have nothing to say about it.

This is a review of the biblical story about Noah.  For this review I had to read his story with fresh eyes.  I wanted to “see” it so I could review it with integrity.

But now that I did see it, I find I have no right to review it.

It, rather, is reviewing me.

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32 Comments on "My Review of Noah"

  1. Charity Merrill Bervaldi says:

    Wow, wow, wow, and that right there is why you so quickly became and remain my very favorite mentor! I loved this, it made me think and as always inspired me. I love the way you think and turn things from what the majority see to where we should be looking from an eternal perspective. It’s honest and raw and sometimes actually painful but it inspires change and challenges ones integrity and character . You have a unique gift in motivating change in people, at least me. I so want to move to Charlotte and just run into eternity head on with men of God and others who want to give it all. It’s killing me to just be sitting here in dry ground at least in my “flesh’ . I want more!!!! love this review<3

  2. Clarice Green says:

    You provoked me to read the story of Noah again so I did before I read your entire post. Yes I have seen the movie. I was at your first line before I saw it…..fantastic. That was my hope, I wanted it to be that. Surprise to me…my religious mind set kicked in once I saw it. That bothered me. Love what you shared. Opened fresh thoughts for me. Seeing it a bit different. What struck me as I was reading Genesis was God was grieved that he made us. I want to please Him not grieve Him….that’s my focus. Thanks.

  3. James Malkin says:

    Thank you for writing this, powerful and challenging.

  4. Nathan says:

    It’s a sobering thought to think of Jesus telling His disciples that it will be as in the days if Noah when the Son of man returns, and the story comes up at this time into a secular social display for all eyes to see freely and hear a warning of the judgements still yet to come.
    Lord have mercy.

  5. Dr. Bob,
    You have written the BEST blog or article on this matter that I’ve found on the entire internet. Or least that I’ve come across.
    Great review of Noah!

  6. metanoia says:

    I see what you did there. ;-) Thanks

  7. dawb says:

    Dr. Gladstone. I think your review of Noah was right on. I felt the same way when I recently read it. But I’m afraid people who don’t actually know your character might stop reading your review after the first patagraph…. and think it’s OK since it would appear you were talking about the movie … and liked it. But nonetheless I agree with all that you said!!

  8. Jeff says:

    You had me going the whole article. I could not believe the Bob Gladstone I remember approved of a movie that promoted evolution, fallen angels building the ark with Noah and Noah trying to murder his family. I was really devastated until I read the whole article. I kept waiting to see why you liked the movie. Once I realized you were not talking about the movie I had to read it again. I am no longer devastated at your stand, haha.

  9. Jim Mack says:

    Clever twist on reviewing a movie to which you hadn’t gone (as well as the day you chose to post your “review.” No accident I presume ;+) Like a plot twist, there’s something about this approach that shakes the brain and says “Wake Up!” Mental fog dissipates and clarity begins to return as you engage more than just the autoread portion of the brain. Thanks for another wake-up call. Any chance you could do a “review” of The Matrix? HHH…

  10. Mark R Butler says:

    Thank you for your views, Dr. Gladstone. I won’t see the movie since I don’t want movie-makers to get rich off of distorting God’s word, but I certainly hope that this movie will cause many to read the Bible and seek out the real story of Noah and what the ark actually represents. God Bless you as you continue to enlighten us about His Word…

  11. Sara says:

    I would be interested to hear your response to this blog: http://drbrianmattson.com/journal/2014/3/31/sympathy-for-the-devil
    I think the worldview of the one making the movie should be considered, especially when there are so many parts of the movie that are unsettling (which I think the blog I posted does a good job pointing out). You are right that Christians should have shallow, ungrounded responses, but at the same time we need to be grounded, and recognized deception. And when there is falsehood and deception posing as truth, it is there that we must draw lines in the sand and say, “No, this is not ok.”

    • I read that blog and thought it was very interesting. Not having seen the movie, I can’t speak to whether or not it is rooted in a Kabbalistic or Gnostic worldview. But it wouldn’t surprise me. Thanks.

  12. EAB says:

    Mr. Gladstone, I appreciate your critique it was some what inventive. But my challenge to you is, is to see the movie anyhow and do a apologetically based review. Don’t be afraid to critique false messages about our God.

  13. Bill Brown says:

    Bob – Well done. Intriguing, well written (if a little “tricky” :-) ) Not having seen the movie, I did not “see” your intent to not comment on the movie until near the end of the article… at which point I thought, “brilliant”. I totally respect your reasons for not spending the time or money to view the movie. For a number of reasons, I do plan to go to see the movie. However, I am now encouraged to go back and “see” the story afresh before I go to see the movie. Whether the producers of the movie intended to produce this effect or not, it has certainly stimulated a level of discussion of the nature of God, man, sin and redemption that I am sure He is pleased to use for His glory and for the good of His Kingdom. Much grace to you, bro, as we celebrate our risen Savior. Bill

  14. Alexsa says:

    Mr. Gladstone, I found this article by “accident” and every line had my heart racing. I really want to “see” all the things I read in the Bible- without any of my own preconceived ideas. When you posed the questions after asking if there are those who refresh God’s heart and followed it with “And if I am not absorbed with developing Christ’s image in me, and walking in a blameless way before God as Noah did, then I have become more a product of my hip but spiritually weak Christian culture than of God’s heavenly culture – the culture to which Noah belonged.”- I could feel the conviction in my heart. Thank you for posting this.

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