Hollywood, 'Noah' and Creative Liberty's Gray Areas

Craig Gross says Christians shouldn't fear Hollywood's Bible films.

Editor's Note: Darren Aronofsky's Noah movie comes out on Friday. We invited XXX Church founder Craig Gross, whose son appears in the film, to discuss his thoughts on the project, the filmmaker behind it and the controversy it's caused. RELEVANT will post a full review of the film when it releases tomorrow.

You know what color I love? Gray. I have tons of gray clothes, and it’s gotten so bad that my wife has told me to stop buying them. Gray shirts, gray shoes, gray jeans ... I think my wife may have a point. 

But this isn’t about clothes. I think I love gray because that particular color reflects my views on most issues that face our world today: I pretty much find myself in the middle on most things. I have very, very few opinions that I would consider black and white, where there is a clear and definite absolute. 

Unfortunately, the loudest voices in our culture are often black and white.

You know what I’m talking about. These voices belong to people who say with clarity and certainty things like: 

  • Women can’t be pastors.
  • You can’t get into heaven without being baptized.
  • Jesus is coming back before the tribulation.
  • There is no such thing as speaking in tongues.

I get it. I understand the need to defend the faith. But I do wonder how these types of lines get drawn so definitively; why do these loud, black-and-white voices get so argumentative? 

Too often, those of us who are Christians find the need to dig in and prove that we’re right, to the point where we get very exclusive—often to the detriment of the large part of gray around us, holding to the really important parts of black and white. 

And still the Church gets divided on too many gray issues, treating them like they’re black and white.

And even if they are black or white in your opinion, nothing is as important as Jesus. 

Which brings me to the movie Noah, which hits theaters tomorrow, and which many Christians have already made up their minds to not see.

The fact is, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent by major Hollywood studios to make movies from the Bible. That’s a good thing!

Hollywood taking some liberties with a Bible story is a gray issue, but the minority of voices in the Christian world want to make it black and white. It’s a major Hollywood production, financed by a major Hollywood studio in an effort to reach a wider audience with this epic story. 

And some Christians are approaching it with fear. Just like some of us approach so many other things. We’re afraid to talk to our kids about sex. We’re afraid of the government. We’re afraid of Hollywood basing a movie on the Bible. 

The fact is, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent by major Hollywood studios to make movies from the Bible. That’s a good thing!

Will they take liberties with it? Yes.

Is that OK? Yes.

My son is an actor, and he had the opportunity to work on the film, playing Young Ham. I met Darren Aronofsky, the director, and heard firsthand about his passion for this project, how it’s been one he has been wanting to make since he was a kid, and how inspired he is by the story. 

None of us are going to be perfectly true to the Bible. But if we can live our lives, make films, and create music and art that attracts nonbelievers to Jesus, then we’re fulfilling the Great Commission. A film like Noah is a great opportunity for Christians to introduce this gray world to the black-and-white Jesus. 

But unfortunately, Darren isn’t part of the Christian elite. He used the F-word in an interview. He gets profiled by The New Yorker. He doesn’t make safe, “family” movies, but instead creative films that get messy and ask more questions than provide answers. 

Add to that the fact that Noah is being produced by Paramount, a major studio in Hollywood, instead of some upstart independent—and provably Christian—studio in Colorado Springs or Nashville. 

All of those things scream “gray," and that makes them uncomfortable. Which makes them afraid. Which makes them dig in and get even louder in their black-and-white interpretations. 


Don’t we believe that Jesus can handle some people getting their hands on one of the greatest stories in the Bible?

Why are we so scared and fearful? 

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Don’t we believe that Jesus is bigger than this stuff?

Don’t we believe that Jesus can handle some people getting their hands on one of the greatest stories in the Bible?

Don’t we believe that He can use that in some great and grand way to make Himself known? 

This movie isn’t taking your Bible away—you’ll still have the actual Scripture to read, to fall back on, to go through with your kids and your families. Regardless of how Noah is received or how well it performs at the box office, the words of Scripture will remain on the page.

Now that’s black and white I can get behind.  


Rick Adams


Rick Adams commented…

Just got back from seeing this movie. I was moved to tears a few times throughout the film as I took in so many amazing portrayals of the problem with original sin, the deep agony it cause the ones we love, the ones we don't love and how it breaks down what God has created. I would highly recommend everyone to see this film. What the bible says about the story is in the film and some very artistic demonstrations of the human condition. It will break your heart in some places and give you hope in others. great film

Bryan Hudson


Bryan Hudson commented…

Just saw the film Noah. I'm going to post a review on my blog later, but let me say this now: This film has NOTHING to do with the Bible except the name Noah. I would not say that it should not be seen, it is simply not a film to educate people about the Bible or motivate people to trust God and his Word. It's just a fictional movie. It is no better than "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" or other films that pull something from the Bible. In fact, Indiana Jones was better!

I understand "creative license" but unnecessarily contradicting scripture sends a message... "The Bible is neither relevant nor reliable. Doesn't matter what it says."

1 Pet. 3:20, "To those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water."

Gen. 7:13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark.

Look at how the movie handled these plainly stated instances.
Persons on the ark:
1. Noah
2. Noah's wife
3. Shem
4. Shem's wife
5. Ham
6. Japheth (a youth)
7. A stow away from Cain's line with whom Ham conspired to kill Noah (unsuccessful)
8&9 Shem's twin girls (That Noah wanted to kill until he changed his mind)

There is also the non-trivial issue of the movie writer/director reason for why God destroyed everything:
Quotes from Noah film:

"The Creator said that people will be destroyed for what they've done TO THE WORLD." (environment) "The innocent will be saved....THE ANIMALS"

Grant Holle


Grant Holle commented…

The real gray area: is it spelled gray or grey

New Covenant Church


New Covenant Church commented…

Here is my review and commentary of the Noah movie as a pastor and Bible teacher:

Rob Tennant


Rob Tennant commented…

I am surprised no one commented about the sad lack of minority actors. Every one in the film was white - do we know that Noah resembled Caucasian Europeans? The book "The Blessing of Africa" suggests otherwise. We fret about the evangelical world finding the a Bible-related film Biblical accurate or not. Where is the concern about how lacking it is in faces of color?

Rob Tennant


Rob Tennant replied to Rob Tennant's comment

Correction - Bryan Hudson does point this out in his thorough review

Rob Tennant


Rob Tennant replied to Rob Tennant's comment

I cannot figure out why Craig Gross, described as a "revolutionary" ignore this omission in the film

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