Is Hollywood Writing God Out of His Own Book?
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Is Hollywood Writing God Out of His Own Book?
Taking another look at Hollywood's cinematic portrayals of Noah and Moses reveals the words of the Bible are not even used.
[Darris McNeely] I know it might be hard to believe, but I think what we are seeing is God being written out of the Bible by Hollywood. Recently I reviewed the recent movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings. Earlier this year we had gone to see Noah, and Hollywood's depiction of that story from Genesis, of Noah and the flood. We had earlier reviews about that, as well. And I'm not going to rehash both either of those reviews except to make this one point that, as I think about this going forward here and kind of looking back over this past year's crop of Hollywood movies that try to deal with these religious, biblical themes, I do think that we are seeing God consciously being written out of the Bible through some of these cinematic efforts. Now, that's not in one sense a revelation, it's not new, but I think we should note it and understand exactly what is going on.
In the movie Noah, we covered that – frankly, the only similarity to the Bible was the man named Noah, a boat, and a flood, back in that review. Gnostic ideas were brought into it, a completely rewritten story. Exodus: Gods and Kings – one of the thoughts that I had about that, it really kind of shocked me and struck me, was that there was only one noticeable piece of dialogue in Exodus that was from the Bible – that was where the portrayal of God by this little kid said, "I AM." He was asked by Moses, "Who shall I say has sent me?" "I AM." There's no other biblical dialogue.
Now of course, Noah, the flood, the story of Exodus, Israelites, Moses – rich in biblical teaching, meaning, and certainly the dialogue, especially with Noah, is rich. "Let My people go". God hardening Pharaoh's heart. "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord", when Moses stretches out his arms over the Red Sea, the parting by God of those waters. There's dialogue there that comes from the Bible, and that's important. When we look at what is there and we read it for what it is, we are enriched. And to take the artistic license, as it may be called, to write biblical dialogue out of the story that comes from the Bible really does a disservice to the Scriptures. And I think we should note that and we should understand that exactly for what it is.
Of course, the directors who have done these two recent movies have openly said they don't even believe the Bible to be the word of God. They did not believe that – Ridley Scott said he did not believe Moses even existed as a character. And so their disbelief obviously colors how they approach these things. But as we note that, and as we understand it, we need to look at what the Bible really is, and that is the word of God. And time and time again within scripture, the power of the word of God is mentioned and it is highlighted. Jesus said that "The words I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life." In Hebrews 4:12, it says that "the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit." Hebrews 4:12. There's power in the word of God. That's why reading the Bible, letting it touch our lives and sink deep into our thoughts, in our heart and our being, is being instructed by God. It is reading the very word – the mind, the character, the love – of God. And to tinker with that in the stories of Noah or the exodus and Moses, and any other biblical topic and rearrange things, rearrange whole stories or just to certainly deliberately omit the very word of God is wrong. And it does disservice and it is something that we should note and understand, regardless how you might view the rest of the cinematic depictions that we're talking about here.
I think that what we are dealing with is certainly a cultural matter. You know, I don't expect Hollywood or any of these top-flight directors and producers to have a particular view of the Bible that I do. I don't expect that when I go to see these movies or for that matter, any type of the culture coming out of our modern media culture. Movies have always been entertainment, let's face it. Whatever your favorite movie is, you think about what it is that you might watch over and over again, it's entertainment. And certainly, they should touch on noble and pure and good themes that encourage, uplift us, and certainly point us in a good way of life that certainly mirrors God's way, if it's not exactly talking about the Bible or God's way of life. But the entertainment that we immerse ourselves in should certainly not take away from that. But I think we are given that movies are entertainment. When they get into the Bible to tell a story, and if there's another agenda, then that's a problem as well. And I think what we are looking at is our culture having come to a point that this freedom to treat the holy word of God in this fashion is saying something very, very deep about our culture and our world.
I was reminded of what it says in Isaiah chapter 1, where God says through the prophet, beginning in verse 4 – He talks about a people who are sinful, filled with iniquity, a brood of evildoers. And he goes on to talk about the problems that society – in that case, Judah, the nation of Judah – and the principle applies to us today, that the problems that strike a society and a culture are there because of a reason. And he says, "You revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints." This is Isaiah 1:5. And in verse 6, he says, "From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and sores that have not been closed or bound up or soothed with ointment" (Isaiah 1:4-6). That's a mirror of a culture, and in many ways it describes our modern popular culture in many different ways. These two movies, their depictions, the way they've handled the Bible, I think shows just some of the core problems that we face and deal with and the reasons that the solutions are very, very far from us, because we are very, very far from the purity, obedience, respect, and love of the word of God.
So, God, the Bible, and Hollywood – it's an interesting mixture. And if God's not first, and if the Bible's not treated with respect, then we've got problems. Those are a few thoughts, in thinking about the culture that we've been looking and seeing develop in recent months.
That's BT Daily. Join us next time.