Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
December 27th, 2014 by Joel Watts

“Noah” and “Exodus” – movies of Skeptical Faith?

Russell Crowe as NoahThis is not a review. This is a small post dictating some thoughts I have on the two recent major motion pictures re-telling biblical stories. For a review, see here. For my quick review of Noah, see here.

I am currently re-watching Noah with my son. I liked the movie and still do. I think it deals with some unexpected theological themes such as abandonment by the Creator and the merciless love of God.

I watched Exodus: Gods and Kings a few nights ago with several friends of mine. With all of the slants (and in many cases, well-deserved points) out there, mine would matter little. So, I want to draw out a some themes shared between the two movies.

There is a theme in these two movies.

Both allow that God is there. Of course, both also suggest God is really a figment of the main character’s imagination. This is less seen in Noah, but some commentators from the Christian perspective have suggested the portrayal of Noah and God leaves much to the imagination. This theme is played up well in Exodus when only Moses can see God — who is in the shape of an adolescent boy with a temper. Several times, Aaron sees Moses talking to himself, in shouting matches. We are given the chance to believe Moses is certifiable. Shoot, read Ezekiel. He is certifiable.

exodus

I miss my cowl

Both movies question the way God loves his people. Tubalcain best represents this in Noah, especially in his dialogue about being created in the image of God and then abandoned — and then pointing out that God has killed everyone on earth but that family. Shem’s statement to Noah, “I thought you were good!” identified Noah as a mad man, to which Noah responds “He chose me because I could complete the task,” making Noah merely the willing tool of a psychopathic deity.

Exodus has Pharaoh approaching Moses demanding to know what kind of God would kill innocent children. We are supposed to feel anguish for the people of Egypt. How can we not?

This is the skeptical faith in these movies, the cold acceptance — but with question — of a God who loves harshly and not by human standards. The innocent in these movies suffer — not, not just suffer, but are slaughtered wholesale.

One thing Exodus does get right is the theomachy present in the story. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what I mean.

These, with all of their faults, are movies that much be watched by the Church and dealt with accordingly. These are the movies of the generation who questions. If we prevent their questions, we will prevent their faith.

Thoughts?

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

2 Responses to ““Noah” and “Exodus” – movies of Skeptical Faith?”
  1. I liked Noah, enjoyed it, and appreciate the faithful questioning and the art of the pre-flood world.

    Exodus OTOH, I felt could have been a great movie, but ended up meh. Not because of the swapping the staff for a sword or other details that biblicists and fundamentalists were grieved about, but the smelly anachronisms that plagued the story — from the wedding of Moses, to a conversational bit about “citizens”, that seemed so out of place with the historical context.

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