Seeing the Noah Movie from Muslim and Christian Perspectives

by Neal Foster

Have you heard about this recent “Noah” movie? It’s making some waves. What keeps coming to my mind is how Jesus would react to it. Can it be used for peacemaking in the way of Jesus?

Every week or two, a local evangelical pastor, another member of his church, and I get together with two to four Muslim friends. We talk about family, culture, God, life, and all kinds of things. This week, one of them said he realized he hadn’t seen a movie in the USA with his wife yet, so they decided to go see “Noah.” He understood going into it that it wouldn’t be faithful to either Muslim or Christian ideas of Noah, but he was curious, after talking to us, about how biblical some of the movie’s details were.

What most concerned my four Muslim friends was Noah’s drunkenness. One said, “You see, we think that to be a prophet in Islam, like Noah was, you are so close to God that you wouldn’t commit sins like that. We know prophets were human and made mistakes, but they knew God and His message so well that none of them would have committed the sin of, for example, getting drunk.”

Right then I had a mini epiphany and tried to share it with them. “OK, here’s what I’m hearing. We have two different perspectives. In Islam, prophets don’t ‘sin’ like we consider sin. But the Bible says about some of the same prophets that they did sin, even sometimes doing things that we might say are really big sins. These are different viewpoints, but they don’t necessarily have to conflict. Maybe there is some truth in both of these ideas.”

They leaned in closer.

“For example, the Muslim idea,” I continued. “It makes sense that the closer you are to God, the better you know Him, the better decisions you can make, the better you can worship Him, and the better you can love people. Also it’s easier to see what sin is and how to stay away from it.”

“Yes, that’s right!” they said.

“On the other hand, from what the Bible shows, prophets can still sin, but when they turn to God and truly repent, God forgives them. In fact, no matter how big the sin is, God’s mercy and compassion are greater, and God still loves them and receives them—in fact, He forgives and has mercy on ANYONE who repents and turns to him in humility and authentically seeks the truth. I am encouraged as a sinner to see God’s grace expressed in the lives of the prophets, to know that when I repent, I too can experience God’s mercy and forgiveness in my life.”

“Oh, yes, that’s good,” they replied. “Indeed, God is the most merciful.”

So I guess I’ll keep looking for opportunities to talk about “Noah,” especially if the conversation points to the forgiveness we can experience when we repent and throw ourselves on God’s mercy.