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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Noah: Blurred Lines

Click here for Nate's Review of "NOAH"

When you walk in to a movie like Noah, which has been dragged through the mud by people claiming to protect the Bible, your internal critic is on high alert. Film is an amazing medium, like all literature, to convey truth and beauty and to explore issues critical to the human condition.

My journey with Noah began in Atlanta at the Catalyst Conference, where Darren Aronfsky premiered the trailer for the movie. Along with thousands of other Christians, we anxiously and critically watched the clips. People feared “Hollywood” ruining their story. 

When Noah bursts out with, “I am not alone” the arena erupted. Aronfsky had a deep passion for the story that went back into his childhood. For him Noah is story of peace, a story of humanity beginning new.

It’s a story of creation.
It’s what drew him to make the movie. 

Stories of creation inspire us to create.
Jesus taught in stories.
He taught in fictional stories called parables. 
Fictional. Not real. Fake. 
But in the fakeness, he taught truth.
He taught in fiction, to speak into our reality.
His stories were built upon values that had been communicated for years.
When we boil stories down to, “did it really happen?” we lose sight of the power of story.

In the creative world, stories are based on quality, complexity, individuality, and truth.
Not the truth that says it had to happen, but the kind of truth the reclaims humanity’s heart.
Darren Aronfsky directed an interesting, complex, and highly inspiring film that breathed new life into an exhausted genre.

I was talking with a co-worker about the movie and she had mentioned that her mother believed the movie was hijacked by environmentalists. During the movie, I sat next to a guy that shouted in the climax of movie, “Shoulda just read the NIV.”
In the first scene of the movie, he called it “a piece of crap.”

Noah is a film that will stick around for a while.
Aronfsky is a fantastic director. Noah is presented in the film as a dark hero or in biblical terms, a complicated prophet.

Biblically, Noah is an agent in God’s massive genocide of the human race. I don’t write that to be challenging for differences sake. I write that because God kills and wipes out the human race on account of sin. I write that because God merciless wipes out 99.9% of humanity because he says they are too far gone, too far fallen for God to want to save them. Cain killed Abel with a rock and God kills humanity with water. He could save them. He could definitely do that. Our God is sovereign. 

But he chose not to (yet).

So as the script beautifully states, “the waters of earth and heaven met” with Noah somewhere in between in an ark that God provides for him.

Noah has to deal with God’s moral goodness to him and his seeming despicable behavior to everyone else. So Noah does what millions have done throughout time. He drinks. He gets drunk. He becomes a raging alcoholic.

Noah is not a blonde-haired hero. He’s a righteous man whose been pushed to his limits. He’s drowned in mercy, but choses not to deal with it. And I don’t blame him.

This new creation God sets up that supposed to start with Noah and righteousness quickly turns to avoidance and numbness.

God eventually repents and God eventually sends Jesus to finish our sin off and reclaim us as his own.

All of this is to say, Aronfsky doesn’t shy away from this. The story of Noah is violent. Aronfsky includes violence. The story of Noah is sexy. Aronfsky includes sex. The story of Noah is ultimately the destruction of Noah.
Aronfsky doesn’t shy away from Noah’s anti-heroness. For all of Aronfsky’s addition to the story (of which still remain in the wide and expansive Christian tradition), he still manages to communicate the heart of Noah.

Aronfsky takes advantage of the affordances film gives him. The creation story is beautiful and a clip I will surely use in the future in ministry. Noah’s courage in the midst of war, rain, and God’s wrath to say that God is still with him is astounding. Noah has faith in God’s presence. Even when he’s getting drunk and avoiding what God’s done; he’s still a God-fearing, God-believing man.

Aronfsky does all this seamlessly and artistically. And of course, Russell Crowe does an amazing job as well.  Overall, while Noah dips its toe in to the realm of the heavy-handed, one dimensional morality trodden by many “Christian’ movies, it remains a strong film and an fresh perspective on a complicated and misunderstood story.


Ben Langevin

Is a student intern, speaker, published writer and worship leader from Oviedo, FL. As a creative writing major at UCF (Go Knights!), he enjoys creating, discovering, and cultivating life giving environments wherever God leads him. Ben is an avid culture fanatic. His favorite things include Netflix marathons with his girlfriend Erika, dodgeball with students at youth group, and of course Starbucks. He attends Summit Church and works at University Carillon United Methodist Church. 
Connect with him on twitter:

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Theology is in right now. There is no other way to describe what is going on with this culture shift. People are interested in God again, but people are not necessarily interested in the Church, and to be quite honest we haven't been giving many people a good reason to like the church. Just look at the news. But the fact that Hollywood is getting on board with this... I really hope we as the church don't react poorly to the theological interest.

Click here for Ben's Review of "NOAH"
We need to be ready to answer these questions... and answer them truthfully and correctly. We have to be ready to give them answers to the hope that we have. And I think Noah is a great thing for us to bring these questions up. The discrepancies in the movie open up the chances for the church to teach the story correctly. 

First off, I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Darren Aronofsky's epic of Noah.

There was a large outcry about this film and it's Biblical accuracy throughout the web up to its release, and it hasn't diminished yet. I would like to say that on the point of Biblical accuracy, those who have been attacking it have a point, however I am not so interested in that reason being the thing that keeps people from watching the movie.

Jewish Rabbis used artistic expression to fill in the gaps of stories all the time, its what they call Midrash. Where the screenplay differed from the Biblical account, there was a use of mysticism and 'legitimate' yet not widely accepted theories on biblical characters such as the Nephilim.

This movie is a secular modern day equivalent. That is to say, Aronofsky is not a man who holds Scripture very high or even cares about how faithful the movie is to the inspired Word. However, with the mindset of seeing good art in a mostly Biblical view, it is a gift to us.

Because Jesus can handle a movie.  His Kingdom is still being ushered in, and the fact that the non Christian world is THIS excited about a Biblical narrative should make us excited to speak the truth of the Gospel.

I appreciated the character development of Noah throughout the film. There was a focus on the angst and anxiety that plagued him during the building of the ark as well as during the flooding. 
The question of what makes a human, truly human is also at the center of the story, with flashbacks to the Garden of Eden and Cain killing Abel, Noah begins to question whether there is any good in mankind, even himself. 

The theology pointed towards the cross, the angst between the characters and the development of Noah into a human being with real, raw emotions if anything pointed towards the need for a savior. The "good guy" had flaws, just like every real "good guy" in the world. 

I appreciated the artistic license. It wasn't necessarily the biblical story, but theologically it drives the point home of the overall story and theme of scripture. Fallen man needs reconciliation with our Creator. All of us.

I think this movie will do more to make people think of their theological leanings than 'Son of God' did.

May we look at this film as a piece of art, nothing more than art that is telling a story that is theologically on point.

All of that being said, it is Scripture that changes hearts, nothing less. And it is the preaching of God's Word that He has chosen as the way to draw people to him, not visual entertainment. We cannot substitute a movie, even if it was flawless in its Biblical accuracy (which Noah was not), for the Word of God. 

Nonetheless, I recommend Noah as a MUST GO! 

(But read the actual story in Genesis 6-8.)

Edit 04/17/2014: For the controversy regarding the movie and gnosticism, or the use of Kabbalah, Peter Chattaway shares his views on his blog that I found helpful: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/filmchat/2014/04/no-noah-is-not-gnostic-say-that-ten-times-fast.html

Nathan Bryant

Is a student of Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri. Majoring in Biblical Leadership, New Testament Studies, and Missiology, he has a combined passion for unity and discipleship in the global church. Nate is a crazed sports fan, he enjoys college football and playing fantasy football. He also enjoys watching baseball with friends. He works as an Admissions Counselor and Resident Assistant at Ozark. Nate is unashamedly a Starbucks addict. Yay Coffee!

Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our causes.
Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our boundaries.

Follow him on Twitter:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lent Reflections: "The Mystery"

Today's post does not come from any of the usual writers. I wanted to share this video from something that my church is doing for Lent. Thankful for College Heights Christian Church and Eric Epperson for putting this together.


The Mystery from College Heights TV on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


“Happy are those who mourn,” says one popular translation of the Beatitude in Matthew 5:4. It seems an impossibility, a contra¬diction of terms. Maybe we had better go back to the old familiar, “Blessed are they . . ." even if we’re not quite sure what that means, either!

The Greek word behind the translation is makarios (mah KAR ee oss). Long before the New
Testament was written, makarios was used by the pagan Greeks as a description of the gods, not men. It meant to be happy -- blissful -- free from cares and worries. Before long the word was sometimes applied to men, especially if they were fortunate and wealthy. In these early years, to call someone blessed was the same as saying, “Congratulations!” Parents were congratulated on their children, wise men on their knowledge, and rich men on their wealth. Such people, thought the Greeks, were blessed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Gate and The Path

Two Gates.
Two Ways.
Two Trees.
Two Foundations.

The Bible likes to use contrasting illustrations to make a point. Jesus was the master of this type of teaching.

And this is how he ended the Sermon on the Mount. Two Gates. Two Ways. Two Trees. Two Foundations.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

A Tree and Its Fruit

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Build Your House on the Rock

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Two Gates. Two ways. Two Trees. Two Foundations.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Saint Patrick

Today is St. Patrick's day.

For most of us we know this day as the day to break out your green shirts and where we all somehow trace our lineage back to being Irish. There are flashy gold coins, four leaf clover searching and leprechaun hunts.

This day has been associated with luck, but historically more than anything, it should be a day where we celebrate the grace and providence of God.

Patrick, an Englishmen, was born around 390 CE. Historians guess that he was about sixteen years of age when he was captured by pirates and taken to the shores of Ireland, where he was sold into slavery as a shepherd.

He spent the next six years in the wilderness shepherding cattle and sheep.

Patrick was a rebellious non-Christian teenager who had come from a Christian family. His grandfather was a pastor, and his father was a deacon within the Catholic church. Being taken and forced into slavery changed his life. Because of his extended periods of isolation without any human contact, Patrick began praying and eventually accepted Jesus Christ.
Patrick endured the years of isolation in rain and snow by praying up to a hundred prayers each day, and another hundred each night.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pale Blue Dot

Watch the video. Full Screen. Headphones. HD. You know the drill...

Humbling isn't it? And yet, we feel special too. Privileged to live in such a vast universe. Thankful for that pale blue dot.

I come away from this video sad, however, because the author, Carl Sagan, makes this comment: "In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves."

And yet the truth is... That help has come. There is a hope that we have in Christ.

God came down.

To save us from ourselves.

The Ruler and creator and master of all of the cosmos... Came to live with us...

On our pale blue dot.

Breathe that truth in today. Rest in it.

Because he came down and was humiliated on this pale blue dot.
He came down and was brutally killed on this pale blue dot.
And he was buried and laid down only to become as insignificant as anyone else who has ever lived on this pale blue dot.
But then...

He changed something.

As the entire universe waited. Cried out. Watched. Listened.

The eyes of the universe turned toward our insignificant pale blue dot... as resurrection occurred.

And this Jesus?

He has promised that he is coming again to this pale blue dot.

There is hope.

SO, I am sorry Mr. Sagan, but help has come.

We have become saved from ourselves. The question that remains is... Do you accept it?


Nathan Bryant

Is a student of Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri. Majoring in Biblical Leadership, New Testament Studies, and Missiology, he has a combined passion for unity and discipleship in the global church. Nate is a crazed sports fan, he enjoys college football and playing fantasy football. He also enjoys watching baseball with friends. He works as an Admissions Counselor and Resident Assistant at Ozark. Nate is unashamedly a Starbucks addict. Yay Coffee!

Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our causes.
Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our boundaries.

Follow him on Twitter:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lent: An Introduction

What is Lent anyway?
        As Robert E. Webber points out, the season of Lent is foreign if not intimidating to most Protestants. Those of us who grew up in nondenominational churches would probably agree with this statement. At best, we are simply ignorant of the practice of celebrating the Christian seasons outside of Christmas and Easter, or at worst, we have been hurt by churches and therefore have a bad taste in our mouths when we think of the practices they followed. To the ignorant (myself included), I want to assert that ignorance need not be bad, as it can lead to learning. And to the hurt, I want to offer my condolences for your pain. The Bride of Christ should exist as a community that loves others, not hurts them. I hope that you find such a loving community in your home church.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Where You Go, I Go

I hurt a guy once. He was one of my best friends and I pushed him out of my life because he was angry. Granted I’m summing up a deterioration of a close friendship in a sentence, but essentially I didn’t know how to handle his anger or his bitterness, so I let him go. I didn’t really ask why and I didn’t like the reasons he blamed either. He acted out in anger against me for a little bit and I cut him out. His anger brought me somewhere I didn't want to go.

 To this day it’s one of my biggest regrets.

This past weekend I spoke on the book of Ruth. Ruth is interesting story because like Jesus’ story doesn’t start with Jesus, Ruth’s story doesn’t start with Ruth. It starts with Naomi.