Religious Leaders Praise 'Noah' in New Featurette (Video)

8:35 AM PST 03/24/2014 by Hilary Lewis

The heads of churches and religious organizations share their thoughts on the controversial film, interspersed with insights from the screenwriter and behind-the-scenes footage.

In the wake of controversy over Noah's treatment of the biblical source material, several religious leaders have shared their thoughts on the upcoming Paramount film in a new featurette that also includes insights from screenwriter Ari Handel and behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the movie.

Writer, speaker and producer Phil Cooke created the video with his eponymous production company, noting that all of the people commenting on the film in the video have seen the movie. Paramount asked Cooke to create the video after he wrote a blog post recommending that Christians see the film, Cooke says in a post introducing the video.

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In the video, Handel, Cooke and Noah biblical advisor John Snowden talk about the challenge of creating a movie based on the short story and limited insight into the characters that the Bible provides, adding that the story of Noah is much darker than the one children learn.

"It's a horrifying story about how serious human sinfulness is," King's College president Gregory Thornbury says in the video.

Handel also shares the story arc they crafted for Noah and how it deals with two different approaches from God.

"The story of Noah starts with this concept of strong justice, that the wickedness of man will soon be met with justice, and it ends when the rainbow comes and it says, even though the heart of man is filled with wickedness, I will never again destroy the world," Handel explains. "So it ends with this idea of mercy. So God somehow goes from this idea of judging the wickedness to mercy and grace. So we decided that was a powerful and emotional arc to go through, and we decided to give that arc to Noah."

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The leaders then share that they were riveted by the film, which led them to think more deeply about the biblical story.

"Movies aren't meant to preach; movies aren't sermons," Hollywood Prayer Network founder Karen Covell shares in the video. "And so if they can bring up a topic and start conversation that's a good movie, and this one made me ask questions. … Any good movie has to deviate from the book, and I loved the choices they made. I thought it was a story that could have stopped once they got on the boat, but it kept driving me to wanting to go back and read Noah again."

Q founder Gabe Lyons, who also supported last month's big biblical movie, Son of God, adds that the film touches on the questions that many Christians wrestle with of, "How do we know we hear from God? How do we know God's told us to do this?"

The 4½-minute video is followed by quotes from a plethora of religious leaders praising the film.

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Among the quotes that flash across the screen is the following message from Focus on the Family president Jim Daly: "Darren Aronofsky is not a theologian, nor does he claim to be. He is a filmmaker and a storyteller, and in Noah, he has told a compelling story. It is a creative interpretation of the scriptural account that allows us to imagine the deep struggles Noah may have wrestled with as he answered God's call on his life. This cinematic vision of Noah's story gives Christians a great opportunity to engage our culture with the biblical Noah, and to have conversations with friends and family about matters of eternal significance."

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, adds: "Noah is big and bold and entertaining, and without a doubt pro-faith and pro-God."

Jon Tyson, pastor of Trinity Grace Church, says: "A powerful, artistic interpretation of the biblical text. A profound wrestling with depravity and redemption."

Watch the full video below.

NOAH FEATURETTE with Quotes from Cooke Pictures on Vimeo.

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