Three Beyond Today staff members discuss the gnostic side to the movie Noah. Spoiler Alert: The movie wasn’t what you thought!
[Darris McNeely] We’re back on BT Daily. We have done a couple of reviews of the movie Noah that’s been a big blockbuster that’s just recently come out. It generated a great deal of discussion, and I reviewed it the other day and gave it two thumbs down, from my perspective. Now, two of us others have come back, some of our staff from Beyond Today production, and they’ve both seen the movie – Jonathan Magee and Mitch Moss – and I thought it would be good to bring them into the discussion, because in doing so, I think we can take this a little bit deeper to help you, the audience, understand exactly what has taken place. Jonathan, maybe we can start with you, your initial perspective on the movie.
[Jonathan] Well, I started off with an open mind. I’d heard reviews and I knew it wasn’t –
[Darris] Probably my review, right?
[Jonathan] Well, yeah, I even read – no, actually, I didn’t look at it until later. But I’d saw that it was going to be Biblically inaccurate. I knew it was going to be off. And I knew it was going to be – I thought of it more of like, I was going to go to a movie that was called “Joe”, a movie Joe, and –
[Darris] Joe in a boat.
[Jonathan] Yeah, Joe in a boat, maybe like something that was nothing like Noah, but just – but a couple of ways like him. And so I, for the first half of the movie, it helped. I had a open mind, I was cheering for these rock monsters that were helping Noah and helping God, and it was good, but then I got towards the middle part, where it started to break down – Noah started turning into a bad guy, and God was just so unclear as to what He was trying to tell Noah, and it was just kind of like an absentee presence God had there. And I was wondering like, why would Hollywood do this? Why would they – even any movie, you don’t make Superman a bad guy in the middle of the movie, you know? The hero doesn’t turn bad, and the people you’re cheering for don’t get confusing like this. But then it all started to make sense when Mitch – you showed me your article that you found.
[Mitch] Yeah, I found this – somebody sent me this blog post where this – I think he’s a theology – he’s got a theology degree, his name is Dr. Brian Mattson. And he wrote about Noah and had seen some things in it that he recognized as something called Gnosticism. Now, Darris, I know you teach Gnosticism – what’s kind of the deal with that?
[Darris] Yeah, it’s a fascinating subject. Gnosticism is an ancient set of teachings – philosophy, religious, quasi-spiritual – that pre-date Christianity. In fact, the apostle Paul and the apostle John, in New Testament writings, combat Gnostic ideas, but it goes way back further than that. Gnosticism is called a philosophy for lack of any better word, that seeks to explain origins of man, this universe, this world, evil, the spirit realm, and it’s a mish-mash. There’s no one guru, or leader, or established creed of Gnosticism. Somebody said, you just never know what you’re going to get. It’s like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you just never know what’s going to come out from Gnosticism. And yet, this movie was full of gnostic elements.
[Mitch] That’s right. In particular, one of the things that in general you can say about Gnosticism, although it’s very varied, is that physical is bad, spiritual is good. And the true spiritual God is way, way up there, and He has nothing to do with us down here in our physical realm. And the creator of the earth, because he’s created the physical, is somewhere in between. There’s kind of layers between the physical and spiritual. So in the movie, when they kept talking about the creator, they weren’t talking about God, the way we think of God, they were – no, they were talking about this sort of demiurge, they call it, this god that’s in between us and the real God, who created us and he’s vengeful and he’s spiteful and he’s violent, and you know, Tubal-Cain kept talking about how we’re made in the image of God and –
[Darris] It’s in some Gnostic teaching, Mitch, that god is the Old Testament God, the harsh, wrathful, vengeful god, as opposed to the good, kind, merciful Jesus Christ. And so, that’s how it plays out at times.
[Mitch] Yeah. The way that this spirit versus physical kind of plays out in the movie is, for example – Adam and Eve, before they take the fruit, are spiritual bodies, and then once they sin, the vengeful creator god punishes them by putting their immortal souls into their physical bodies. And the same thing with those fallen angels called the watchers – they’re good light beings until they come to earth, and then they’re punished by having their souls trapped inside these rock formations, the physical.
[Jonathan] I thought they just had, initially, a bigger budget in special effects than they thought. They were like, “We got the waves covered, let’s just – what else can we do with this? Extra money, let’s throw some rock monsters in!” I thought it was totally Hollywood.
[Darris] Well, they become a little bit sympathetic, and then they defend man – they help Noah build the ark, which is not exactly how it happened in the Bible. But then, as they die, their spirit is released back to their creator, and that idea there is a type of a universal reconciliation that even evil spirits will be reconciled ultimately with God – not Biblical, but somehow woven into this particular story.
[Mitch] Now let’s talk about the snake skin.
[Mitch] So in the movie, the snake skin is this thing that’s passed down from generation to generation in the righteous line of Seth, and Jonathan, I think you were saying you were kind of confused by that whole thing.
[Jonathan] Yeah. Again and again, they use this snake skin they wrap around the arms, and they use this as their ceremony to pass manhood onto the other person. And I thought, why of all the objects would Hollywood choose something that’s the bad guy in the script?
[Mitch] The serpent, right.
[Jonathan] But in the Gnostics, it’s not the bad guy. It represents knowledge.
[Mitch] That’s right.
[Mitch] Sophia. The serpent is called Sophia, which is wisdom, and this whole snake skin ceremony represents that. Spoiler alert – at the end of the movie, you know, Noah’s all drunk on the beach, he’s naked, he hasn’t reconciled with his family after trying to kill his grandchildren, but then he gets this snake skin back, and suddenly everything’s good. So there’s a clear transition here from you know, angry Noah, who is trying to follow this creator god, and he’s becoming more violent, into good Noah, who’s got this snake skin, because he’s got love and mercy, things that the creator doesn’t have.
[Darris] There’s another element of Gnosticism that comes out in the story, Mitch, and that is the fact that Noah’s daughter-in-law, Shem’s wife, has twin daughters, and by that now, mankind is going to be saved. So you’ve got three women who are standing there in a symbolic Mother Earth type of an approach that represents the hope and the future of mankind. And Noah’s daughter-in-law actually begins the process of rehabbing him out of his anger and his misguided zeal, and so there’s the feminist idea that is being brought out here, which is a typical Gnostic idea, that anything feminine is much, much better than anything dealing with the masculine side of the genders.
[Jonathan] My wife might be a Gnostic, then!
[Darris] It’s wild and it’s weird. You know when you stop and you process this through, the Bible is our ultimate guide and foundation to understand truth, and God and salvation and all of these elements that are really talked about here, as we were talking about this in preparation, a writing from the book of Jude came to mind, because 2000 years ago, Jude was combatting these ideas that were within the church, Christianity in its earliest years, and people had to contend for the faith once delivered. And he said, “I write to you concerning our common salvation” – this is in Jude verses 3 and 4. “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints,” Jude goes on in verse 4, “for certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation – ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness, and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Taking ideas of salvation, redemption, the Biblical story, and grace, turning it upside down and putting it – layering it with all of these Gnostic ideas, does great disgrace to the plan of God, to the nature of God and Jesus Christ, and the truth altogether. And I think it’s important that our audience – you – understand these matters that are, not only in this particular movie, Noah, but are really rampant throughout our culture and entertainment and media in so many different ways. It’s a big subject and something that you should understand and be aware of. So we hope this helps put the movie, and many of these other ideas into perspective for you, just to realize what it is that’s being thrown at us.
That’s BT Daily – a little bit long today, but please, join us next time.