#800 – Mostly Complete Bible Stories

noah-uk-poster

Darren Aronofsky’s Noah will debut in two weeks. I saw an early trailer for the movie almost a year ago at the Catalyst Conference. I have been looking forward to the movie since then and featurettes like the one below have only gotten me more excited for the film.

As I wrote about Noah earlier, some people are concerned with how closely the movie will follow the biblical account. USA Today has an article that addresses the tension between art and staying true to the Bible.

I have no doubts that there will be some differences between the biblical account of Noah and Aronofsky’s Noah. The biblical account wouldn’t make for a very exciting or very lengthy movie.

In the end Noah is going to be a movie and we should judge it on whether it stays true to the story of God’s love and provision, not whether it adds some details or misses others.

In fact, we leave out a lot of details when telling some Bible stories. Noah may be mostly complete and here are some other Bible stories that we leave mostly complete, especially in Sunday school.

Noah

How can we be upset with Darren Aronofsky for telling an incomplete tale of Noah when we often do the same thing? I heard the story of Noah’s Ark year after year in Sunday school. I could have told you all about the animals coming two by two, it raining for 40 days and 40 nights and about the birds finding dry land. However, I couldn’t have told you about Noah planting a vineyard, getting drunk and lying around naked. When telling the story about Noah we like to focus on rainbows and promises, while leaving out the part about Noah’s parts.

Elijah on Mt. Carmel

Another great Sunday school story was that of Elijah’s showdown against the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Again, it’s a great story of God’s very real power. I love how Elijah mocks the prophets of Baal, suggesting that their god is on vacation or spending some time in the restroom. It’s an amazing display when Elijah finally prays to God and fire falls down from heaven, consuming his entire sacrifice. In Sunday school the lesson would often end there and the children would be happy about their mighty God. We often leave out the part of that story where Elijah has all of the prophets of Baal seized and slaughtered. God took the purity of his people very seriously and did not want them to be led astray. However it is a little convenient to leave out the part of the story where the blood falls as fiercely as the fire.

Jonah

Jonah is a great cautionary tale about ignoring God’s desire for our lives. We can try to run away from God but eventually he’s going to get us. And, when he does, we might end up a lot like Geppetto and Pinocchio. Eventually Jonah makes it to Nineveh, he preaches repentance and the city actually repents. A lot of times I’ve seen this story end with Nineveh’s repentance. Sometimes it’s easier to leave out the part about Jonah’s racism and lack of compassion. I really appreciated that Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie addressed Jonah’s unchanged heart, not shying away from a more difficult part of the story.

I don’t think we should teach little kids that Noah got drunk and laid around naked. We need to tell age-appropriate Bible stories, holding back some points and emphasizing others. Noah may hold back some points and emphasize others, but still communicate the heart of the biblical narrative. I’m hoping it does that while displaying some mind-blowing visuals.

What other Bible stories do we mostly tell?

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2 Responses to “#800 – Mostly Complete Bible Stories”

  1. I appreciate and endorse your generous attitude toward the film. I am very curious to see NOAH.

    Oh, I also like the VeggieTales Jonah for exactly the reason you mention. Kudos to Big Idea. Likewise, “The Prince of Egypt” did an admirable job of telling Moses’ story (at least through the Red Sea), with his warts and all (even if they finessed it some for dramatic reasons – I have a hunch storytellers did likewise with many Bible stories before they finally got written down; how else would they have been preserved? And, yes, the Spirit would have been active in that process, too!).

    What other Bible stories do we only mostly tell? Sometimes we don’t even tell all of Jesus’ story in America today, like the parts about selling all possessions and taking up one’s cross daily.

    • David is really someone who could have finessed his story but I didn’t. I love that he was the king, could have dictated what parts of his story got told, and still left some big warts in there for everyone to see.

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