What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

Word of Faith, New Apostolic Reformation, False Teachers, Prosperity Gospel

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a movement made up of a number of like-minded people who call themselves Christian, but share a number of unbiblical ideas. Most NAR teachers are also Word of Faith teachers, another decidedly unbiblical set of ideas.

Movements are difficult to analyze and assess. Because a movement has no central authority, there are no official statements, and there is no official oversight. Individuals involved in the movement may have widely disparate beliefs, so valid criticisms for some are invalid for others. Because of the variations in belief and practice in any movement, each church’s or individual’s involvement with others in the NAR must be assessed independently of every other. The only reasonable goal here is to expose the errors and excesses, providing a correction for some and a warning for others.

I see three paths for fairly assessing a movement like NAR:

  1. To look into the principles involved in the genesis of the movement,
  2. To critique what influential leaders in the movement have taught and written, and
  3. To examine the trends embodied in the movement.

New Apostolic Reformation Founding Principles

As with any movement, the NAR has had a variety of influences over the years. While not everyone in the NAR is Charismatic/Pentecostal, the movement is almost entirely in Charismatic/Pentecostal circles. Based on the teachings of some of its prominent leaders, the NAR has strong connections to previous, troublesome, Charismatic/Pentecostal movements. Here are a few of the commonly-held ideas taught by prominent leaders in the NAR:

  • God specially empowered new intercessors in the 1970s, new prophets in the 1980s and new apostles in the 1990s. 2001 marked the beginning of the ‘Second Apostolic Age.’
  • Men and women calling themselves apostles and prophets are elevated to positions of leadership based on supposed God-given authority in the church.
  • These leaders are supposedly given supernatural powers, including the ability to provide new doctrinal revelation.
  • Supernatural manifestations, from tongues to raising people from the dead to mass conversions to heavenly conversations with Jesus or Adam or whomever, are to be expected (and are claimed by certain leaders).
  • These powers are needed to establish dominion over the earth, as God supposedly instructed in Genesis. This is variously understood on a spectrum, from having influence over culture to actually ruling God’s Kingdom here on earth, in our time.
  • They believe Jesus cannot return until the church has dominion over the earth. This process will necessitate the martyrdom of many as spiritual warfare increases.

Related people, movements, and theological concepts in the New Apostolic Reformation:

  • William Branham
  • Latter Rain Movement
  • C. Peter Wagner
  • Rick Joyner
  • Steve Shultz
  • Todd Bentley
  • TBN
  • John Wimber
  • Kim Clement
  • Bob Jones
  • IHOP
  • Mike Bickel
  • Che Ahn
  • James Goll
  • The Passion Bible
  • Bethel Church (Redding, CA)
  • Bill Johnson
  • Hillsong (Australia and worldwide)
  • Kingdom Now
  • The Elijah List
  • Spiritual Mapping
  • Joel’s Army
  • Toronto Blessing / Brownsville Revival
  • Five-fold Ministry
  • Dominion Theology

You can read a lot about the New Apostolic Reformation on the Spirit of Error website. Holly Pivec co-authored a book on the NAR, has written for Biola Magazine and the Christian Research Journal, and has a Master’s degree in apologetics from Biola University.

My Conclusion

While I always try to be impartial, my previous research into groups and individuals colors my conclusions. I’m not anti-Pentecostal, but the excesses and abuses in the movement have given me pause. I see the NAR as only the latest in a long, long line of theologically error-prone leaders, false teachers, charlatans, and demonically-inspired grifters.

Many in the movement are quick to point out that there is an agreed-upon statement of faith in place, and that it is historically and biblically orthodox. While true, that’s often unrelated to what’s actually being taught. In fact, much of the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement is characterized by ideas that are theologically questionable at best and, at worst, are simply lies. Most of the recent growth of Christianity around the world appears to be happening in Charismatic/Pentecostal churches, which I find disturbing…not because I’m a hater, but because most of the theologically awful stuff in my lifetime has been birthed and spread there.

Can Christians Eat Pork?

It’s okay for Christians to eat pork. Why wouldn’t it be okay?

Some suggest that because the ancient Israelites were forbidden by God to eat pork, Christians are to avoid pork as well. That this is nonsense should be obvious to everyone, as Christians are not Israelites. Unfortunately, many preachers and teachers are teaching nonsense.

It seems that in the beginning, people only ate plants. After the great flood, God said this in Genesis 9:3:

Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

So pigs were definitely on the menu. The command to not eat pork came later, and is recorded in Leviticus 11:7-8:

“…the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses…”

That’s pretty clear. Let’s make sure we’re reading this verse in its original context…to whom was this instruction given? Go back a few verses to verse 1:

“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Say to the Israelites…””

That’s very clear. God told Moses and Aaron to pass the word to the Israelites about not eating pork (and other things). Noah and his family were allowed to eat pork, so there’s obviously nothing wrong with using them as food. God had a specific reason for telling the ancient Israelites to not eat pork, but it wasn’t because pigs are bad. Christians are not under the Mosaic Law, and have never been under the Mosaic Law. God didn’t tell the Chinese to avoid pork. He didn’t give these instructions to Babylonians, or Ethiopians, or Canadians. These instructions were given as part of a covenant (agreement) between God and the ancient Israelites. They have never applied to anyone else.

That’s not all, though. These instructions no longer apply to Jews, either. How do we know this? Because we read it clearly in several New Testament passages. Look at Mark 7:14-19. Take note of the last part:

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

That’s abundantly clear. Jesus – the Son of God, a Jew, and a man who never sinned – declared all foods clean. This was obviously a difficult idea for His disciples, whose culture had forbidden pork for around 1500 years. Simon Peter needed a bit more convincing, which we see in Acts 10. He was given a vision by God, in which he saw all kinds of animals…including those formerly considered unclean. God told him to eat, and Peter refused, saying that he had never eaten anything unclean. God’s response? Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. This was a two-fold message for Peter. The first and most obvious part of the message is that Peter could eat whatever he wanted, which was a change from the laws of Judaism. The second part of the message is that there is no difference in God’s eyes between Jews and non-Jews. Peter was supposed to go and preach the gospel to Cornelius, and God was preparing him to see that non-Jews could receive the gospel and be saved, just as Jews could.

One more passage: 1 Timothy 4:1-5. The apostle Paul is teaching Timothy, a young pastor, telling him to make sure to point out the errors of false teachers. He gave Timothy a few examples, including instructions about food:

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

There have always been people, like those in the Hebrew Roots movement, who work to convince others that they should obey the Mosaic Law. They are wrong. The only people who were ever expected to follow those laws were ancient Israelites. Those laws never applied to anyone else. Now that Jesus has come and made a New Covenant with everyone, the Mosaic Law has been fulfilled and has become obsolete. As we can see from the verses above, Jesus (a Jew) taught Peter (a Jew) and Paul (a Jew) that pork could be eaten, declaring all foods clean. Anyone who says otherwise is contradicting Jesus. That’s something I’m unwilling to do.

God says that it’s okay to eat pork. One might have personal reasons for not eating pork, of course. We’re free to eat pork, but that doesn’t mean we must. It means that those who teach that God prohibits His people from eating pork are teaching contrary to Scripture.

Some believe they can win God’s favor and gain eternal life by following the laws of the Old Testament. Among these are groups like those in the Hebrew Roots movement, some Seventh-Day Adventists, and so on…but this is a misunderstanding. We are not saved by following the law, but by the grace of God through faith.

The Flaw of Postmodernism

Are minds real? Do humans have free will? Is evolution true?

Postmodernism is the idea is that reality is subjective…that there is no absolute truth, and that reality differs from person to person. The phrase “what’s true for you might not be true for me” typifies a postmodern point of view.

Another way to understand postmodernism (or “Pomo”) is to say that no truth can be extended beyond an individual’s experiences. Postmodernists will necessarily have trouble with my definition, since they like to suggest that words only have the meanings we give them…and, in defining postmodernism, we try to give it a meaning for all to share. That’s the contradictory essence of postmodernism: we can’t even discuss what it is without the conversation devolving into an uncomfortable silence.

Steve Taylor referred to the postmodern dilemma in Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Number’s Up:

Sally’s into knowledge
spent her years in college
just to find out nothing is true

She can hardly speak now
words are not unique now
’cause they can’t say anything new

Listen on YouTube

Here’s the point: postmodernism essentially says “there are no absolute truths”. It’s a self-defeating statement, to be sure…but that doesn’t stop some people (like my friend Sean) from trying to live by it anyway. Many postmodernists avoid looking for answers because, were they to find real answers, they’d then have to change the way they live.

The NBC show ER (Season 14, Episode 13) aired an episode that exposes the flaw of postmodernism: it’s completely useless for people who want actual answers. We all believe in absolute truth, yet the postmodern person rejects truth anyway. In this clip, the hospital’s postmodern chaplain can provide no answers for a dying man who seeks forgiveness for his sins:

Your thoughts?

The King James Only Controversy

How to understand Revelation? Is Jesus coming back? What is the mark of the beast? Is Hell real?

What is it?

The KJVO controversy is about whether Christians should consider only the King James Version of the Bible to be reliable and trustworthy. While there are a variety of views within the KJVO movement, the basic idea is simple: no other Bible will do.

The King James Only movement is largely built on the claim that modern Bibles are doctrinally corrupt…that they have strayed from responsible and accurate translation of the Greek texts. There are a variety of other claims in the movement. Here are a few:

  • The KJV is the only true word of God.
  • The KJV is the only English translation that can be trusted.
  • The KJV contains no errors.
  • The KJV was supernaturally translated by God.
  • The KJV is more perfect than the manuscripts from which it was translated.
  • The KJV contains no errors or problems with translation.
  • To understand God’s Word, everyone on earth should learn English…so they can read the KJV.
  • Any deviation from the KJV is wrong, and may create doctrinal errors.
  • Translators (and possibly readers) of modern Bibles have a sinister ulterior motive.
  • Modern Bibles are a perversion of God’s Word.
  • Modern Bibles like the NASB and NIV are part of a satanic conspiracy to lead the world astray.
  • People who use other Bibles are not Christians.

Which KJV?

There are a number of different versions of the King James Version. Most KJVO advocates do not use the version finished in 1611, but the Blayney version from 1769. Between the two are revisions from 1613, 1629, 1638, and 1762. After many years of discussing this issue, no KJVO person has suggested to me that one is better than the other. This is a serious problem for their point of view, as each differs from the others.

Errors in the KJV

Most KJVO advocates claim that the KJV is better than all other Bibles because it alone is without error. This is absurd, and demonstrably false. The errors in the KJV are too numerous to list here, but it only takes one error to prove them wrong. I’ve made note of a few that should be persuasive for anyone willing to consider the evidence. Unfortunately, I’ve never met a KJVO advocate that was willing to consider the evidence…they usually run away from it. If you’re a KJVO person who wants to discuss the evidence, please leave a comment!


Most adults realize that unicorns don’t really exist. KJVO advocates must overlook the nine times that the word “unicorn” appears in the KJV: in Numbers 23:22, Numbers 24:8, Deuteronomy 33:17, Job 39:9, Psalm 22:21, Psalm 29:6, Psalm 92:10, and Isaiah 34:7 (read on Biblegateway). The Hebrew word is RE-EM, and probably means an auroch or other, now extinct, wild bull.

Easter / Passover

In Acts 12:4, the KJV mistranslates Pascha as Easter, rather than Passover. I’ve written more about this in Easter in the KJV.

Jupiter/Zeus, Mercury/Hermes

In Acts 14:12, the KJV says that the people in Lystra called Paul “Mercury” and Barnabas “Jupiter”. This is in spite of the fact that the Greek uses the words “Zeus” and “Hermes”. (read on Blue Letter Bible)

Don’t trust the demons

In Acts 16 we read about a young lady, possessed by a demon, who followed Paul and Silas. The demon – according to the KJV – said that they were servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. Unfortunately, this is simply wrong. The Greek (the original language of the New Testament) doesn’t say “the way of salvation.” It says “a way of salvation.” The Greek word is Hodos, which means “a way” (see the definition in context). The demon wasn’t agreeing that Paul and Silas taught the only way to be saved…it suggested that they taught one of many ways. The King James is simply inaccurate here.

Listen to the KJV translators

Most Bibles have a preface, in which the translation team explains their motives and methodology. The KJV is no different. The 1611 version of the KVJ had an extensive preface, removed from later versions. Read the full preface. In it, the translators themselves demolish the KJVO controversy:

  • They didn’t intend to make a new translation, but to improve on previous ones
  • They acknowledged that previous Bibles were “the word of God” despite containing “imperfections and blemishes”
  • They wrote that translations will never be infallible.
  • They noted the supremacy of the original manuscripts over any translation
  • They wrote that one should not object to the continual process of correcting and improving English translations of the Bible
  • They were often unsure how to translate specific words or phrases
  • They did not always translate the same Greek or Hebrew words into the same English words

Questions and Objections

But the NIV takes out stuff

The primary target of KJVO folks is the New International Version (NIV). Their claim is that the NIV translators have removed crucial words and phrases from the Bible, undermining God’s word and leading unwitting people astray. There is a very serious flaw in this argument: they invariably use the KJV as the standard. Any word or phrase that differs from the King James is then suspect.

Is this logical? Of course not. The KJV translators themselves would object to this method. They would never consider the KJV to be the standard by which all future Bibles should be judged. Instead, they would recommend exactly what the NIV translators have done: go back to the manuscripts, in their original languages, and try to improve on the Bibles that already exist.

Trickery: comparing the KJV and NIV

The KJVO folks like to compare verses side by side, to show how the NIV (or other Bible) differs from the “right Bible” – that is, the KJV. That seems reasonable, on the surface. It’s a serious problem, however. It presumes that the KJV is always right, and that other Bibles are corrupt because, well, they’re not the KJV. The proper approach is not to compare one translation or version with another, but to compare all of them with all available ancient manuscripts.

There are more scholarly ways to describe this controversy, involving more complex considerations like different manuscript families, formal vs dynamic equivalence, and so on. This article is meant as an overview…a summary of the controversy and why I believe the KJVO folks have no real argument. If you have specific questions, feel free to ask them.

What I am NOT saying

I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with the King James Version of the Bible. In fact, I recommend it. One could read the KJV and learn all they need to know about being in a right relationship with God. I’m not criticizing the KJV here. I’m only criticizing the idea that the KJV is in any way superior to every other quality Bible. I agree with the KJV translators: it’s good, but not perfect. Those who claim that the KJV is better than any other Bible must not only claim it, but also demonstrate it. Simply put: they cannot.

Universalism: Will God Save Everyone?

Is Intelligent Design true? is evolution wrong? How old is the earth?

Recently, a friend asked me to look at a blog post and let him know what I think about it. This post might not make much sense by itself, because it’s my response to that article. Please take note: I haven’t written this to demean the author, but to discuss the idea of universalism with my friend. It’s too long to post on Facebook, and someone else might benefit from reading it, so I share it with you here. I appreciate the author’s desire to know the truth, and his systematic approach to his beliefs. I wish more people – Christians and non-Christians alike – would do the same. My disagreement isn’t with him, but with the conclusions of his article. Note as well that I’m only addressing the first of a series of posts. If someone asks, I may address the rest…but when the foundation of an argument has been removed, the whole thing falls down. I believe that the points raised here are sufficient.

To see if the author’s position is flawed, let’s look at his assumptions. The primary assumption in the article is that, because God is sovereign, He always gets what He wants…and, because He wants everyone to be saved, everyone will be saved. Let’s take a closer look.

First, the Bible does say that God wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Second, every Christian I know would say that God is certainly sovereign. That’s found throughout Scripture. So, why would I disagree with the author’s conclusion? Simple: he assumes that God’s sovereignty gives Him everything He wants. I’m not convinced.

It’s interesting that while the author claims that Calvinism is depraved, he duplicates their error. He claims that Calvinism’s problem is the combination of total depravity and unconditional election, but it’s really rooted in the same problem we’re talking about here: a misunderstanding of sovereignty. Calvinism teaches that God predestines some for Heaven and some for Hell and, because He is sovereign, we play no part in our own salvation. If we did, we could thwart God’s will…making us more powerful than God. That’s known in Calvinism as “irresistible grace”. The author teaches that God predestines everyone to be saved and, because of His sovereignty, everybody will be saved. That’s the textbook definition of irresistible grace…the author simply includes everyone, while Calvinists only include some. Both must ignore much of the New Testament to make their claims.

Let’s look at his use of THELO. He cites Thayer’s (the go-to Greek lexicon) to support his claim that THELO indicates God’s resolve and determination that all should be saved. Unfortunately, he’s only telling part of the story. There’s only ONE definition in Thayer’s: “to will, have in mind, intend”. That one definition has several shades of meaning:

  1. to be resolved or determined, to purpose
  2. to desire, to wish
  3. to love
    1. to like to do a thing, be fond of doing
  4. to take delight in, have pleasure

He cites Thayer, but doesn’t account for ALL of Thayer. I’m not saying that he’s being dishonest, but it does seem that he’s cherry-picking. Did Paul, when writing 1 Timothy 2, mean that God would be delighted if everyone were saved? Did he mean that God likes to save people? These definitions, without the context in which they were written, carry equal weight. In this case, the context of 1 Timothy 2 actually works against the author. Paul tells Timothy that believers should live their lives in specific ways. Why? Because God wants everyone to be saved. If everyone is going to be saved anyway, there’s no connection between the activities of Christians and the fate of unbelievers. That Paul wrote this passage presumes that it needed to be written.

Let’s look at the section where he addresses the word “all”. For the sake of discussion, let’s grant his point: that “all” literally means “every single person”. He points out the universality of the word with regard to being made alive, being reconciled to God, being justified, being offered mercy, and so on. He also (rightly) says that the subset is part of the larger group. If we’re granting his definition of “all”, and granting that the subset is part of the whole, why would we still disagree with his conclusion? Simple: none of those things are salvation.

1 Corinthians 15 doesn’t say that all will be saved. It says that all will be resurrected. The entire chapter, as one can see by actually reading it, is designed to convince the reader that Jesus was resurrected, and that everyone else will be resurrected as well. In fact, this passage also undermines the author’s claim. Verse 2 says that we are saved by the Gospel IF we hold firmly to it. Otherwise, we have believed in vain. If Paul believed that everyone would be saved, there would be no “if”. Verse 18 says that if there’s no resurrection, then “those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.” If Paul believed that everyone would be saved, he would not write that ANYBODY could be lost. Verse 23 refers to Jesus’ second coming, and of those who ‘belong to Him’. Since some will NOT belong to Him, some will apparently not be saved.

The author then cites Romans 5, Romans 11, 1 Timothy 4:10, and 1 John 2:2, noting the use of “all” in each. The assumption in every case is that the passages indicate that all will be saved…but is that what Scripture, as a whole, teaches? No, it’s not. One of the best-known verses in the New Testament says that ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). A lesser-known verse says that one (Jesus) died for all, therefore all died (2 Corinthians 5:14). Jesus died to take our place…that is, He died the death we deserved. Does that mean that, because the penalty for sin has been paid, everybody goes to Heaven? Look at the whole passage:

If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 5:13 – 6:1

The author cites Colossians 1, which says that God has reconciled to Himself “all things”. Paul wrote Colossians, and he wrote the above passage in 2 Corinthians. When you look at the two, it’s clear that while God reconciled “all things” to Himself, there’s something else that must occur: we must reconcile ourselves to Him as well. God’s grace was extended to everyone, but that grace can be received in vain. Note the meaning of “in vain”…that it does no good, and doesn’t fulfill its purpose. What are we talking about in this passage? How, through Jesus’ death, God reconciled us to Himself. This passage guts the author’s view as well as the Calvinist view, because it puts the final piece of the salvation puzzle in the hands of mankind. God has done the work of salvation by coming to Earth and dying for us, but WE MUST RESPOND or it’s all for nothing.

The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, expresses that mankind has both the freedom and the obligation to respond to God. From the call of the Old Testament prophets for the people to turn their hearts toward God to John the Baptist’s call to repent, our role in our own salvation is clear. Every mention of salvation in the New Testament becomes meaningless if the author, and the Calvinists, are right. Why write about turning our hearts toward God if salvation is only a matter of God forcing His will on us? If everyone will be saved, why encourage Christians to live lives worthy of respect that might lead to the salvation of another?

In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about the Ten Virgins, the Bags of Gold, and the Sheep and the Goats. In each section, He describes the day of His return in stark terms: some will get in, and some will be left out. There’s no indication at all that being excluded from God’s coming Kingdom is a temporary situation. The only way to find that in the text is to insert it yourself, because it’s not there. We could look at dozens of passages in which we are told to take responsibility for our salvation, and that not doing so is a grievous mistake. God, in His sovereignty, has not chosen to control us entirely. He gives us a measure of sovereignty, and expects us to use it to choose wisely.

7 Questions about the Noah Movie

Was Noah's ark real? How old was Noah? How did the animals fit on the ark?

The 2014 movie Noah is clearly The Most Divisive Movie Ever, except for all of the other religious movies ever made. I don’t do movie reviews…but, since so many are asking questions about the theological content in the movie, I figured I’d better get to work. WARNING: SPOILERS.

Is the Noah movie good or bad right or wrong?

Is the movie Biblically accurate?

No. The Biblical story of Noah is the background for the movie, but the story told in the movie is a composite, created from a number of sources:

…and more. In other words, the movie is an exploration of the Noah story as told throughout history. Not only is the movie not designed to tell the Biblical story of Noah, Director Darren Aronofsky called it “the least Biblical movie ever made”. There are a few places where the movie directly contradicts the text (Genesis 5-9 ).

What’s the deal with the Watchers?

For those expecting the Bible story they heard in Sunday School, one of the most surprising elements of the story is the inclusion of “the Watchers”. Some say that these are just made-up characters designed to make the story cool, but the truth is more interesting than that. The Watchers are found in the Book of Enoch, a pseudepigraphal work. The movie tells us they were disobedient angels, exiled to Earth. The Watchers are redeemed in the end, and ushered back into God’s presence as a result of helping the main characters. Stylistically, they’re a lot like the Ents from The Lord of the Rings.

Are the film-makers trying to undermine the Bible?

No. Co-writers Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel are Jewish, and they are telling a story. In an interview with Christianity Today, both of them explained that they consider the movie to be midrash. For those who didn’t grow up with Judaism, midrash is a method for interpreting the Tanakh. This traditional Jewish practice attempts to fill gaps in the text to make difficult passages easier to understand.

As a Christian, I’m a Bible guy…so I try to stick closely to the text. I wouldn’t tell the story in this way, but it’s not my movie. Noah tells an ancient pre-Christian story, and doesn’t contain any anti-Christian sentiments at all. If Christians want to tell the rest of the story, they’ll have to make their own movie.

What are the film-makers really trying to say?

It’s clear from the interviews I’ve read that Aronofsky doesn’t consider the story of Noah to be specifically and technically true. That is, he doesn’t seem to consider it an accurate description of actual events. It’s equally apparent that he considers the story to be valuable, and to contain some truth…that is, to convey meaningful messages that we need to hear. Here are a few of those messages:

Environmentalism 101:
The underlying assumption of the movie – both expressed and implied – is that mankind is the source of all bad things on Earth. While on the ark, Noah retells the story of creation…and everything through the first 5.5 days of creation was “good”. Then, we are told, mankind came along and messed it up. While it’s true that some people do all kinds of awful things to other people and to our world, the Biblical account shows that we are part of the “good” in God’s creation (Genesis 1:27-31 ).

Environmentalism 201:
The Watchers gave technology to the descendants of Cain. This was a Very Bad Thing to do, since they then used that technology to create cities and wreck the planet. Technology isn’t the planet’s primary problem, and neither are cities. This is as true today as it was before the flood. The primary problem is sin, which is disobedience toward God, from which all creation still suffers (Romans 8:18-22 ).

Environmentalism 301:
The good guys (Noah and his family) are caretakers for the planet. They wouldn’t even pick a flower unless they needed it for something specific. The bad guys (everybody else) want dominion over the planet, using and abusing nature to suit their selfish and evil desires. The problem with this departure from the original text is that the idea of dominion was God’s: God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28 ) That doesn’t mean, of course, that mankind is not to take care of the planet…we surely are. It means that God intended for us to also use the resources that He provided.

The idea that man is irredeemable gets an “on the other hand” at the end of Noah. For most of the movie, mankind must be eliminated for the good and innocent (the animals, that is) to thrive. Only Noah’s family is exempt from destruction but, in a pivotal moment of insight, Noah realizes that he and his family are capable of the same great wickedness as everyone else. He concludes that, once the animals are safe from the flood, mankind should be no more. This adds an element of confusion for the viewer. Noah appears to lose his mind at this point in the story, and appears willing to murder to make sure that humanity does not spread beyond the ark. Right before he kills, he seems to come to his senses. His explanation is that he chose mercy instead of justice. Movie-goers are left to wonder whether Noah’s mercy was obedience or disobedience to The Creator.

Did you like the movie?

Yes and No. As movies go, it was pretty good. The movie has an all-star cast, and Russell Crowe and friends did an excellent job. The special effects were generally excellent. I didn’t notice the music, which seems just right…it helped tell the story without drawing attention away from it. The first half of the movie went pretty well, but the second half seemed to drag a bit. There were some directorial decisions that distracted, and detracted, from the story…notably that Biblical Noah’s sons all had wives in the ark, but movie Noah’s sons didn’t. In fact, a major plot point in the story revolves around this issue. Another noteworthy decision was to put a stowaway on the ark. No, it wasn’t a unicorn. It was The Bad Guy.

Would you recommend this movie?

Mostly. It’s certainly not for young children, who might have nightmares due to dramatic depictions of evil. It’s an interesting movie, but not one I’d care to see over and over.

Do you have any reason to NOT see the movie?

Yes and No. While I disagree with the environmentalist message in the movie, and question a few of the decisions to deviate from the text, I don’t see anything seriously wrong with the movie. It could be used as a springboard to in-depth discussion of things like justice and mercy, human nature and original sin, the character of God, and redemption.

At the same time, there is certainly a negative involved with movies like Noah. Many will see the movie and NOT engage in any in-depth discussion. A lot of these people will assume that the elements in Aronofsky’s film are factually accurate, in spite of the fact that the writers never make such a claim. Two recent examples come to mind:

  1. Titanic:
    A whole bunch of young people saw the movie Titanic, and thought it was just a movie. They were shocked to learn that the movie was based on actual events. This isn’t James Cameron’s fault, of course. One could make the case that he did history teachers a favor, telling a (mostly) true story. Will moviegoers believe that the movie Noah is the real Noah? I don’t really know. In the end, I’m more concerned that many will see it as Aronofsky does: worth moralizing over, but not actually true.
  2. The DaVinci Code:
    GodWords has received hundreds of thousands of visitors looking for information about The DaVinci Code. Author Dan Brown stole a story from some conspiracy theorists, rewrote it enough to avoid prosecution, and published it as a novel…but he confused a lot of people in the process. How? By stating that the essential components of his story were absolutely, without question, 100% true. I can’t tell you how many people wrote to me at that time, looking for someone to help them through their crisis of faith. While Dan Brown’s motivation was admittedly anti-religious, I don’t believe that Aronofsky and Handel have any desire to create in their viewer a crisis of faith. Still, some will watch Noah and come away confused. For that reason, I’m a little wary.


Noah is a pretty good movie, but it’s not awesome. It’s not a Bible movie, and shouldn’t be praised or criticized as though it were.

There is no truth

Is Intelligent Design true? is evolution wrong? How old is the earth?

“In any case, even the truth, when believed, is a lie.”

Warner Erhard, founder of Erhard Seminars Training (EST) and Landmark Forum

Some like to say that there is no absolute truth. It’s a fun mental exercise, but nobody – absolutely nobody – lives that way. How can I be sure? Try a little experiment: when someone tells you that there is no absolute truth, ask them, “Is that absolutely true?”.

A good definition of “truth” is “that which corresponds to reality.” That is, something that is true is something that really IS. If I tell you that I ate a unicorn sandwich for lunch today, that statement is either true or false. The reality is that I either did, or did not. For the record, I did not.

Many statements about truth can be invalidated by simply looking closely at them. Erhard’s quote can be invalidated by asking “is that true?” In this case, Erhard is asking you to believe that what he says is true, even while saying that those who believe it believe a lie. It’s nonsense. Anyone who suggests that truth doesn’t exist is asking you to not believe them when they say it.