What Do Christians Think of 'Noah'? The Reviews Are In

Surprise, surprise: Noah , Darren Aronofsky's big-budget, high-stakes biblical epic is controversial. In an event that's shocked absolutely no one, the film, opening on Friday, has stirred up some major audience reactions since it began screening. While many viewers have praised the film's casting and drama, others have been more critical. Some reviewers have condemned Noah for its take on one of the Bible's most famous sections, arguing that the movie crosses the line between taking liberties and being ridiculous. Yet, surprisingly, much of the people holding this latter view aren't from the group you'd most expect — Christians. Apparently, religious folk, despite what you'd assume, don't actually hate Noah for its version of biblical events. In fact, they actually kind of love it.

Well, they love the idea of Noah, at least. In Christianity Today's review of the film, the publication applauds the existence of Noah, but acknowledge that many religious readers might take issue with the actual content of the film.

You should see Noah. I can't promise you'll like Noah. Nor would I suggest that if you don't, it indicates that something is necessarily wrong with you. But as I struggled to write about this film this week... that's what it all came down to. So yes, if you're wondering: Noah is worth your time and your ticket price.

The review goes on to praise Noah for its scope, applauding its "startlingly fresh" re-telling of the Bible story and commitment to asking the "big questions" about humanity. The element of Noah that most impressed the reviewer, though, was the film's ability to straddle both biblical "truths" and human imagination.

Noah respects the human's imaginative capacity by thinking of itself as a story about how it could have happened.

This attitude, the reviewer says, is "tremendously effective," "respecting and hewing to its source material" while making audiences "re-see a story anew." That's an impressive achievement for any film adaptation, but especially one whose source material is so closely read and analyzed.

Not all elements of Noah will please religious viewers, however. In an Christianity Today article, Jerry A. Johnson, a theologian and head of National Religious Broadcasters, expressed his frustrations with the film. The character of Noah, Johnson says, is angry and obsessive, nothing like the "righteous" man described in the biblical story. There's also an evolution-like scene that contradicts Creationism, as well as a fair amount of mishandled biblical details and characters.

Given these facts, and facts they are, the movie trailer may feel like a 'bait and switch' to Jews and Christians.

Overall, most Christian-based reviews seem to indicate that Noah is worth seeing, but viewers intent on teaching the story in Sunday school should probably stick to the source material. If you forgive all the liberties taken by Aronofsky in the name of filmmaking, then Noah, despite its biblical contradictions, could be an enjoyable, and even educational, experience. And for those potential viewers still pissed about the movie's hat-tip to evolution and mid-Atlantic accents? One religious reviewer said it best. From pastor and author Craig Gross: "a message for my fellow Christians: chill out. Noah is just a movie."

Image: Paramount