Whence Christmas?

These days, Christians everywhere face persecution for their beliefs. One example is in the name “Christmas.” Non-believers, let alone overt pagans, do not like the name. For example, the U.K. just decided that it’s ok to call say Christmas, …for now. But others are enduring lawsuits over display of a “Christmas tree.” Nativity scenes are just as contested, if not moreso.

Within Christendom, Christmas is also controvercial, due to its inaccuracy concerning the actual birth of Jesus / Yeshua, and also because December 25th evidently has pagan roots.

A few weeks ago, Lamb’s Harbinger posted an article by Dr. David Reagan and Dr. James Ya’akov Hugg at Lamb & Lion Ministries. The article asks the question, “When was Jesus Born?” It most precisely uses data from the Bible record as well as historical data to arrive at an accurate date of Feast of Tabernacles (late September / early October)… in the years B.C. 5-4. [The Jewish calendar runs through 2 years, similar to the way a modern school calendar spans 2 years. See timeline below, all credit due Dr. James Ya’akov Hugg]

chart_jcbirth.jpg

Now, researchers and Christian apologists such as Lenny Esposito and Sean McDowell have argued for Christmas (observed December 25th) as having truly Christian origins. The articles are found linked below:

Mr. Esposito goes to great lengths, exhuming ancient records of the early church and 3rd Century Rome—which precede the time of Constantine—in order to prove that Christmas is not based off of Pagan religious festivals such as Saturnalia, Ophelia, Winter Solstice & Sigillaria. Mr. Esposito’s research features a pièce de résistance. He shows that the Roman way of calculating months places these feasts from December 17th – 23rd (3-7 days). From that, he asserts no early Christians could have been copying a pagan holiday, when first celebrating what we now call Christmas. Amid these arguments, Mr. Esposito also inserts that Dies Natalis Solis Invictus—a Roman celebration of Sun worship (at the Winter Solstice, “birth of the new sun”)—began to be celebrated on December 25th, 354 A.D. From that, Mr. Esposito gathers,

the charge of Christians chose December 25 in order to “Christianize” or even just appease a pagan populous is weak at best.

One is tempted to see it Lenny Esposito’s way. His argumentation is fairly persuasive. However, there are 2 major flaws with his reasoning.

  1. Mr. Esposito completely omits any mention of the biblical data presented by scholars such as Dr. Hugg and Dr. Reagan. He instead relies almost solely on tradition, going so far as to cite teachings from Augustine (who admits he quotes tradition) that mystically align Jesus’ conception and birth (“Christmas”) to his death and resurrection (“Easter”)… on a Roman [equinox and solstice] calendar. Even ancient tradition is still tradition. As biblicists, we place Scriptural data above tradition, even from the 3rd Century A.D.
  2. Mr. Esposito fails to account for variances in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and also, astronomical variances, such as shift in earth’s axes and the adjustment of Solstices.

For the first error, Dr. Reagan and Dr. Hugg precisely and accurately prove the biblical data is accurate for reaching an appropriate date.

For the second error, I offer the following. Calculating Winter Solstice to the time of 1 A.D. – 48 A.D., [as far back as calculators generally tabulate] reveals December 22nd and 23rd as  the dates between which Winter Solstice oscillated at the time of Jesus’ life and the first 15-20 years of the early Church. Since Mr. Esposito concedes that Saturnalia and Sigillaria center around this Solstice and last a total of 3-7 days, one can see December 25th falls directly at the Mid-point of the pagan festival set. If we forward those calculations to the time of the 3rd Century A.D., we arrive at December 21st and 22nd as the placement of Winter Solstice… still plenty of time for December 25th to fall within the 3-7 day set of pagan festivals.

Taking this more nearly accurate astronomical data into account, it is easy to say that December 25th was accepted by 3rd Century, pre-Constantine, “paganized” Christianity as a date that would consistently fall within the pagan winter festivals of Rome. Mr. Esposito takes the view that Christianity always was prevailing in Roman society. That is simply not historically honest. The first 10 emperors of the Church’s existence persecuted them repeatedly. Amid those persecutions were attempts to pollute pure Christianity. The Apostles attest to these kinds of onslaughts in their letters.

Genuine Christians have never attempted to “Christianize” anything pagan, according to the biblical command found in 1 Corinthians 6:16-18. However, pagans have always tried to “paganize” Christianity. While Lenny Esposito correctly states “the charge [that] Christians chose December 25 in order to “Christianize” or even just appease a pagan populous is weak at best,” he also needs to consider another possibility. From 30’s A.D. to 354 A.D., Rome took advantage of 320+ years worth of time to persecute, distort and pollute genuine Christianity. Given that view, is it not possible that Romanization and paganizing led to a divergent Christendom? That false Church began its compromise by complying with Saturnalia and Sigillaria in early centuries… and eventually (by 354 A.D.) embraced the pagan Dies Natalis Solis Invictus date of December 25 as the commemoration of the birth of Christ.

Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

Jeremiah 10:2-4 (KJV)

All this being said, I am careful not to judge the motives of current-day believers who celebrate the incarnation of Yeshua / Jesus on December 25th. As a very good friend and wise brother says,

I think it would be good for us, as a church, to move away from using the word “Christmas” to describe the day in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Much like using the word “Easter” has become synonymous with bunnies distributing eggs, Christmas has become synonymous with obsessive self-centered commercialism that has nothing to do with celebrating the birth of Jesus…. 

Paul said “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days” (Colossians 2:16)….

There are certainly some parallels that could be drawn regarding an ancient pagan rituals that include similar things we see in what has become traditional Christmas customs. Does that mean that the redeemed must abandon any and all practices that some pagan group decides that they want to include in their rituals? Certainly not. When researching several years ago, I could not find any pagan group that claimed December 25th as a day to worship their false gods/idols or conduct satanic rituals. It doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen in the past, I think that it most certainly did. I am just stating that I couldn’t find any contemporary pagan groups claiming the day….

It is important to note that all of the Earth and all things on & in the Earth were created by God. While God created all things… Satan created nothing. The evil one is an imposter, thief, a liar & deceiver, and while wickedly inventive and resourceful; the devil is not a creator. Satan, while originally cognizant of the truth of God, has promulgated the body of lies he spins to humankind for so long that I would not be surprised if he hasn’t somehow convinced himself that the lies are truth. Why else would he continue to rage against God if he believed he was truly doomed? We know that it is simply Satan’s nature to lie about God’s truth and elevate his own prominence and power while promoting his rebellious agenda.   

My point is this; if pagans claim a day of the year to hold celebrations, has God somehow lost the day or is no longer in control of the day? Is the day no longer HIS? Certainly not. My guess is that most Christians would say that they celebrate Christ’s incarnation on and or around what has become known as the Christmas holiday season. 

Just because several centuries ago some pagans used a day in December for their worship of idols and false gods, it does not mean that Christians cannot celebrate the birth of our Lord on whatever day(s) they choose. There is nothing inherently sacred or evil about any particular day. It’s what is in an individual’s heart that defiles him or her.

The Apostle Paul—in 1 Corinthians 8—clarifies that there is nothing evil in meat itself, but placed the prohibition on eating such meat which came from the pagan temple only IF it offended a weaker brother. He said they should abstain in order not to offend or put a stumbling block before a young Christian or the Jews who thought is was wrong. The meat itself was not tainted because it came from pagan temple. That is a substantial lesson to be grasped. 

The principle God is teaching is clear. A specific day of the year is not sinful. There is nothing evil about the 25th day of December. If true believers want to honor and worship the Lord on Dec. 25 and remember His birth there is no scripture that prohibits it. True Christian believers are not involved in sinful behavior… on December 25 or any other day of celebration. 

When born-again, Blood-washed believers celebrate Dec. 25, they are celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus (even though you and I both know that He was born around late September or early October)! 

We see Sha’ul (Paul) writes that the mature balance in such matters is to “become all things to all men that by all means [we] might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). We should be ready to change custom, cultural habits, societal status, and dietary restrictions for the Good News’ sake, so long as these do not lead us to worship in pagan ways and thought, or join with them in their worship (2 Cor. 6:14). 

In conclusion, this is a time when Christians are persecuted everywhere. Christmas is so closely associated with celebrating Yeshua / Jesus as the incarnate Messiah that whole nations and the international community are trying to decide if it’s ok to say “Christmas.” Since this is a matter of being salt and light—a chance to preach Jesus; and since no pagans  (besides the apostate Roman Catholic Church) claim Christmas, I will not abandon celebrating Christmas. But, if a believing brother or sister think celebrating Christmas is wrong for them, then I will do everything in my power to show deference by not celebrating in their presence or forcing them to celebrate.

_________________

OTHER RESOURCES:

Who’s the Weak One?

Conservative Americana vs. Biblical Christian Culture 

Interpreting Genesis 3:15 & 6:4 [Presentation]

What if one verse in the opening chapters of the Bible explains and drives the overarching plot for the entire Bible, especially its prophesies? What if that one verse—when taken in context and according to grammar—delivers clarifying insights into the otherwise most controversial Bible passages (ex. Justifying a World-wide Flood, Justifying Genocide of Canaanites by the Hebrews, Several Incursions of Giants in the Ancient World [Num. 13:33], What are Demons and demonization)?

Genesis 3:15 is commonly known to Bible scholars as “the first gospel.” Just before the words of Genesis 3:15 were pronounced by God, mankind had placed itself willingly under the rulership of “That Old Serpent, The Devil.” Yet, God proclaimed One (the Seed of the Woman) who was to arrive in order to destroy the works of the Devil. There would be an enemy status between that Seed and the “seed of the serpent.” The woman’s Seed would crush the Serpent’s head; but, the Serpent would bruise the Serpent Crusher’s heel.

Thus begins the ages-old conflict between 2 seeds, which progresses even now and into the future. But, what is the seed of the Serpent? When Genesis 6 is compared with its pre-context of Genesis 3:15, one gains important insight. Is the seed ungodly heathen humanity, or is it the product of fallen angels’ cohabitation with mankind?

What does it matter? The ages-old conflict of the 2 seeds is still ongoing, and Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew. 24:37; Luke 17:26).

Interpreting Genesis 3.15 and 6.4 (PDF)

Interpreting Genesis 3.15 and 6.4 (PPTX)


 

OTHER RESOURCES:

You won’t hear about this in your church on Sunday morning. Most Christians know nothing about this subject. Fortunately Gary Stearman and guest L.A Marzulli are world renowned experts on this subject. The battle started a long time ago in the Garden of Eden. God created Adam and Eve in His own image but the fallen angel Lucifer had plans of his own. Leaving their home in heaven these fallen angels attempted to change the DNA of man forever by intermingling angelic seed with human seed. It may sound far fetched to even consider such a wild scheme, but these half-human hybrids created havoc on Earth. A few hundred years after they appeared, God destroyed all life on Planet Earth with a worldwide flood. Every living thing died with the exception of Noah and his family, found “pure” in their generation. Learn all about the “SEED WAR” between God and Satan.

Chuck Missler on Genesis 6

Chuck Missler on Transhumanism, Singularity, Super-soldiers and Nephilim

Fallen Angels, Not Aliens!!

Study of Fallen Angels: Demonology

The Revived Roman Empire is Upon Us

The Last Empire to Rule Jerusalem – Part 4

UN Reaches Consensus on Post-2015 Global Sustainable Development Agenda

Geopolitical Engineering at Its Best

World Government on the Horizon via Bible Prophecy Blog

Lamb’s Harbinger key word search: “Genetic Engineering”

KIC 8462852: The “Alien Star”

What’s Next?

Blood Moons Summarized

“The Rebellion and the Day of the Lord” via J. Hampton Keathley III

Constantine the Puppet

There has been a lot of talk and defences recently about the validity of Constantine’s Christianity.

This line of conversation is important, because Church leaders look to Constantine as the figure who fathered the Roman Catholic Church in its form of unity between State and Church. Some theologians and church historians who focus on the “First Things” of Christianity say Constantine was a genuine Christian with flaws like the rest of us.

[One can read Constantines-Christian-Creed.]

I posit that if Constantine was a genuine Christian, he was a puppet of the Roman Senate, and the Empire did more to destroy authentic Christianity through Constantine than all of the preceding emperors and persecutions combined.

I begin my discourse with a response to J.W. Wartick’s assertion that, “There was only one church, and Constantine, Eusebius, Athanasius, Augustine, Basil, Ambrose, Jerome, etc. each belonged to it.”

To say there was only one church is false information. I will tell you of two branches of Christian churches, starting from the time of Justin Martyr onward.

First, we must understand that in 67, Nero initiated Christian persecutions. Then in 81 and 88, Domitian and Trajan held respective persecutions of Christians, due to their growth and monotheistic influence against the pantheistic Romans.

Because 70 years of persecution had only grown a Christian presence in the Roman world (instead of ridding the Empire of Christians), the Roman Senate gave audience to the doctrines of Christianity via Justin Martyr’s defense to them (A.D. 140-150). Yet, the Senate and Emperors of Rome decided to persecute the Christians ever after. Altogether, there were 10 persecutions under Roman emperors, the 10th being under Diocletian (in 303), who instituted the Persecution Act the same year.

Due to these persecutions, there were (as today) placating groups of Christians, and there were those who stood true to the Apostles’ doctrine. These two kinds of Christianity evidenced themselves in the following historical events after the time of Justin Martyr.

Have you not read of the Monatists (c. A.D. 158), whose spiritual descendants withstood the doctrine of pedobaptism set forth first by Calixtus, pastor of Rome (A.D. 219-223)… and which doctrine was later accepted at the Council of Carthage (A.D. 252) and by Origen (who died in 254)? Have you never read that Novation (a protesting church leader) was excommunicated from Rome in 257 for holding contrary beliefs to the pedobaptism of Council of Carthage?

But, even after the Persecution Act by Diolcletian in 303 and the subsequent persecution of true-to-the-faith Christians by Rome, the population of Christians was not undermined.

Intriguingly, we read that the Senate underwent a major shift of tactic in 311. Whereas they persecuted Christians before, they now pass a Toleration Act (A. D. 311). Two (2) years later, Constantine ascended to the throne. Coincidence? I think not, because in 318, only 5 years after Constantine’s installment, we see a shift of focus in the Christian world to Carthage, where Donatus was appointed bishop. [Donatus is the father of the Donatist Movement (who did not hold to pedobaptism or to Constantine)].

If this group of Donatist Christians were a real affront to Constantine’s and Rome’s Christianity, then we would expect to see them persecuted by the Emperor. AND, that is exactly what happened! In the same year (A.D. 324/325) that Constantine declares his Christianity the religion of Rome, we see the Christians of Northern Africa being persecuted… and Rome does not come to their aid. In fact, the persecution of Donatists stems from Rome.

In the time that Jerome was compiling and writing the Vulgate–the Romanized Bible (331-420), 30+ pastors of Lybia and Egypt were martyred.

354-430 Augustine, having already aligned himself with Rome’s church, presents a defense to the Senate of Rome, explaining why Christians are not the reason for Rome’s collapse. His work, The City of God, becomes the basis for viewing the Christian religion as that which is best embodied as a City–a nationality, if you will. (a.k.a. Covenant Replacement Theology in seed form and grounds for the Vatican).

In 379, the Church of Rome holds “heresy” as a capital offense to be punished by death.

390 – Jovinion is condemned for holding to the regeneration by the Spirit, the Preservation of the Saints, and denying the equivalent of Mariology

415 – Donatists are forbidden by the Church of Rome to assemble

416 – Council of Milevium (Decrees Church Discipline–excommunication–for all who do not hold to Pedobaptism)

445 – Valentenian III “makes” Leo of Rome the rightful ruler of the Western Church

Thus, the Roman Catholic Church is established with its first Roman-recognized “pope.” And, here I thought Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are those who “make” Church leaders. [sarcasm]

From these facts, we conclude that Constantine was a product of the Senate’s choice to “Tolerate” Christianity. This Toleration Act was the alternate strategy to persecution, which had been unprofitable or ineffective over 70+ years and several emperors before. In solid Roman fashion, “divide and conquer” seems to have been the plan of the Senate and their new Emperor Constantine. They did divide the Christian Church, in doctrine and in location. Those who stayed with Rome and embraced a State Religion were the compromised. Those who were persecuted and went to Northern Africa (mainly Donatists) were the true.

Based on this study of history, I hold 2 pillars of “First Things:”

1. There was not just one Church
2. Constantine is a pretender Christian, or at least a puppet of the Senate.

And for that matter, who in his right mind (excepting those who today hold Catholic unification of Church and State and Divine Right of Rule and Covenant Replacement Theology) would ever say, “In this sign conquer” is a valid thing to cross the lips of a true Christian?

Noting that the author — to which you refer (Peter J. Leithart) for your information — lays out a case for “Reformational Catholicism” as a Presbyterian, I find your source biased, if not confused. Subsequently, I find your review of his materials both unprofessional as an objective historian and your defense of Constantine untenable.

……………………………

OTHER RESOURCES:

The Anabaptists by Scot McKnight via Patheos

ChristianHistory.net

Christianity Today Library

Christianity through the Centuries by Cairns

The Baptist Heritage Timeline

Phillip Schaff’s History of the Christian Church

The Works of Josephus

This Day in Baptist History, vols. 1-3, by David Cummins (my late Church History professor)

The Kingdom of Heaven and Its Keys

The Consolidation of the Covenant Community

Questions for the Pope

From Dr. Brian Mattson: “Sympathy for the Devil” — A Theological Analysis of Noah, the Movie

[The following directly copied from drbrianmattson.com]

SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL

In Darren Aronofsky’s new star-gilt silver screen epic, Noah, Adam and Eve are luminescent and fleshless, right up until the moment they eat the forbidden fruit.

Such a notion isn’t found in the Bible, of course. This, among the multitude of Aronofsky’s other imaginative details like giant Lava Monsters, has caused many a reviewer’s head to be scratched. Conservative-minded evangelicals write off the film because of the “liberties” taken with the text of Genesis, while a more liberal-minded group stands in favor of cutting the director some slack. After all, we shouldn’t expect a professed atheist to have the same ideas of “respecting” sacred texts the way a Bible-believer would.

Both groups have missed the mark entirely. Aronofsky hasn’t “taken liberties” with anything.

The Bible is not his text.

In his defense, I suppose, the film wasn’t advertised as such. Nowhere is it said that this movie is an adaptation of Genesis. It was never advertised as “The Bible’s Noah,” or “The Biblical Story of Noah.” In our day and age we are so living in the leftover atmosphere of Christendom that when somebody says they want to do “Noah,” everybody assumes they mean a rendition of the Bible story. That isn’t what Aronofsky had in mind at all. I’m sure he was only too happy to let his studio go right on assuming that, since if they knew what he was really up to they never would have allowed him to make the movie.

Let’s go back to our luminescent first parents. I recognized the motif instantly as one common to the ancient religion of Gnosticism. Here’s a 2nd century A.D. description about what a sect called the Ophites believed:

“Adam and Eve formerly had light, luminous, and so to speak spiritual bodies, as they had been fashioned. But when they came here, the bodies became dark, fat, and idle.” –Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies, I, 30.9

It occurred to me that a mystical tradition more closely related to Judaism, calledKabbalah (which the singer Madonna made popular a decade ago or so), surely would have held a similar view, since it is essentially a form of Jewish Gnosticism. I dusted off (No, really: I had to dust it) my copy of Adolphe Franck’s 19th century work, The Kabbalah, and quickly confirmed my suspicions:

“Before they were beguiled by the subtleness of the serpent, Adam and Eve were not only exempt from the need of a body, but did not even have a body—that is to say, they were not of the earth.”

Franck quotes from the Zohar, one of Kabbalah’s sacred texts:

“When our forefather Adam inhabited the Garden of Eden, he was clothed, as all are in heaven, with a garment made of the higher light. When he was driven from the Garden of Eden and was compelled to submit to the needs of this world, what happened? God, the Scriptures tell us, made Adam and his wife tunics of skin and clothed them; for before this they had tunics of light, of that higher light used in Eden…”

Obscure stuff, I know. But curiosity overtook me and I dove right down the rabbit hole.

I discovered what Darren Aronofsky’s first feature film was: Pi. Want to know its subject matter? Do you? Are you sure?

Kabbalah.

If you think that’s a coincidence, you may want a loved one to schedule you a brain scan.

Have I got your attention? Good.

The world of Aronofsky’s Noah is a thoroughly Gnostic one: a graded universe of “higher” and “lower.” The “spiritual” is good, and way, way, way “up there” where the ineffable, unspeaking god dwells, and the “material” is bad, and way, way down here where our spirits are encased in material flesh. This is not only true of the fallen sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, but of fallen angels, who are explicitly depicted as being spirits trapped inside a material “body” of cooled molten lava.

Admittedly, they make pretty nifty movie characters, but they’re also notorious in Gnostic speculation. Gnostics call them Archons, lesser divine beings or angels who aid “The Creator” in forming the visible universe. And Kabbalah has a pantheon of angelic beings of its own all up and down the ladder of “divine being.” And fallen angels are never totally fallen in this brand of mysticism. To quote the Zohar again, a central Kabbalah text: “All things of which this world consists, the spirit as well as the body, will return to the principle and the root from which they came.” Funny. That’s exactly what happens to Aronofsky’s Lava Monsters. They redeem themselves, shed their outer material skin, and fly back to the heavens. Incidentally, I noticed that in the film, as the family is traveling through a desolate wasteland, Shem asks his father: “Is this a Zohar mine?” Yep. That’s the name of Kabbalah’s sacred text.

The entire movie is, figuratively, a “Zohar” mine.

If there was any doubt about these “Watchers,” Aronofsky gives several of them names: Semyaza, Magog, and Rameel. They’re all well-known demons in the Jewish mystical tradition, not only in Kabbalah but also in the book of 1 Enoch.

What!? Demons are redeemed? Adolphe Franck explains the cosmology of Kabbalah: “Nothing is absolutely bad; nothing is accursed forever—not even the archangel of evil or the venomous beast, as he is sometimes called. There will come a time when he will recover his name and his angelic nature.”

Okay. That’s weird. But, hey, everybody in the film seems to worship “The Creator,” right? Surely it’s got that in its favor!

Except that when Gnostics speak about “The Creator” they are not talking about God. Oh, here in an affluent world living off the fruits of Christendom the term “Creator” generally denotes the true and living God. But here’s a little “Gnosticism 101” for you: the Creator of the material world is an ignorant, arrogant, jealous, exclusive, violent, low-level, bastard son of a low level deity. He’s responsible for creating the “unspiritual” world of flesh and matter, and he himself is so ignorant of the spiritual world he fancies himself the “only God” and demands absolute obedience. They generally call him “Yahweh.” Or other names, too (Ialdabaoth, for example).

This Creator tries to keep Adam and Eve from the true knowledge of the divine and, when they disobey, flies into a rage and boots them from the garden.

In other words, in case you’re losing the plot here: The serpent was right all along. This “god,” “The Creator,” whom they are worshiping is withholding something from them that the serpent will provide: divinity itself.

The world of Gnostic mysticism is bewildering with a myriad of varieties. But, generally speaking, they hold in common that the serpent is “Sophia,” “Mother,” or “Wisdom.” The serpent represents the true divine, and the claims of “The Creator” are false.

So is the serpent a major character in the film?

Let’s go back to the movie. The action opens when Lamech is about to bless his son, Noah. Lamech, rather strangely for a patriarch of a family that follows God, takes out a sacred relic, the skin of the serpent from the Garden of Eden. He wraps it around his arm, stretches out his hand to touch his son—except, just then, a band of marauders interrupts them and the ceremony isn’t completed. Lamech gets killed, and the “villain” of the film, Tubal-Cain, steals the snakeskin. Noah, in other words, doesn’t get whatever benefit the serpent’s skin was to bestow.

The skin doesn’t light up magically on Tubal-Cain’s arm, so apparently he doesn’t get “enlightened,” either. And that’s why everybody in the film, including protagonist and antagonist, Noah and Tubal-Cain, is worshiping “The Creator.”They are all deluded. Let me clear something up here: lots of reviewers expressed some bewilderment over the fact there aren’t any likable characters and that they allseem to be worshiping the same God. Tubal-Cain and his clan are wicked and evil and, as it turns out, Noah’s pretty bad himself when he abandons Ham’s girlfriend and almost slays two newborn children. Some thought this was some kind of profound commentary on how there’s evil in all of us. Here’s an excerpt from theZohar, the sacred text of Kabbalah:

“Two beings [Adam and Nachash—the Serpent] had intercourse with Eve [the Second woman], and she conceived from both and bore two children. Each followed one of the male parents, and their spirits parted, one to this side and one to the other, and similarly their characters. On the side of Cain are all the haunts of the evil species; from the side of Abel comes a more merciful class, yet not wholly beneficial — good wine mixed with bad.”

Sound familiar? Yes. Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, to the “T.”

Anyway, everybody is worshiping the evil deity. Who wants to destroy everybody. (By the way, in Kabbalah many worlds have already been created and destroyed.) Both Tubal-Cain and Noah have identical scenes, looking into the heavens and asking, “Why won’t you speak to me?” “The Creator” has abandoned them all because he intends to kill them all.

Noah had been given a vision of the coming deluge. He’s drowning, but sees animals floating to the surface to the safety of the ark. No indication whatsoever is given that Noah is to be saved; Noah conspicuously makes that part up during an awkward moment explaining things to his family. He is sinking while the animals, “the innocent,” are rising. “The Creator” who gives Noah his vision wants all the humans dead.

Many reviewers thought Noah’s change into a homicidal maniac on the ark, wanting to kill his son’s two newborn daughters, was a weird plot twist. It isn’t weird at all. In the Director’s view, Noah is worshiping a false, homicidal maniac of a god. The more faithful and “godly” Noah becomes, the more homicidal he becomes. He is becoming every bit the “image of god” that the “evil” guy who keeps talking about the “image of god,” Tubal-Cain, is.

But Noah fails “The Creator.” He cannot wipe out all life like his god wants him to do. “When I looked at those two girls, my heart was filled with nothing but love,” he says. Noah now has something “The Creator” doesn’t. Love. And Mercy. But where did he get it? And why now?

In the immediately preceding scene Noah killed Tubal-Cain and recovered the snakeskin relic: “Sophia,” “Wisdom,” the true light of the divine. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

Okay, I’m almost done. The rainbows don’t come at the end because God makes a covenant with Noah. The rainbows appear when Noah sobers up and embraces the serpent. He wraps the skin around his arm, and blesses his family. It is not God that commissions them to now multiply and fill the earth, but Noah, in the first person, “I,” wearing the serpent talisman. (Oh, and by the way, it’s not accidental that the rainbows are all circular. The circle of the “One,” the Ein Sof, in Kabbalah, is the sign of monism.)

Notice this thematic change: Noah was in a drunken stupor the scene before. Now he is sober and “enlightened.” Filmmakers never do that by accident.

He’s transcended and outgrown that homicidal, jealous deity.

Let me issue a couple of caveats to all this: Gnostic speculation is a diverse thing. Some groups appear radically “dualist,” where “The Creator” really is a different “god” altogether. Others are more “monist,” where God exists in a series of descending emanations. Others have it that the lower deity “grows” and “matures” and himself ascends the “ladder” or “chain” of being to higher heights. Noahprobably fits a little in each category. It’s hard to tell. My other caveat is this: there is no doubt a ton of Kabbalist imagery, quotations, and themes in this movie that I couldn’t pick up in a single sitting. For example, since Kabbalah takes its flights of fancy generally based on Hebrew letters and numbers, I did notice that the “Watchers” appeared to be deliberately shaped like Hebrew letters. But you could not pay me to go see this movie again so I could further drill into the Zohar mine to see what I could find. (On a purely cinematic viewpoint, I found most of it unbearably boring.)

What I can say on one viewing is this:

Darren Aronofsky has produced a retelling of the Noah story without reference to the Bible at all. This was not, as he claimed, just a storied tradition of run-of-the-mill Jewish “Midrash.” This was a thoroughly pagan retelling of the Noah story direct from Kabbalist and Gnostic sources. To my mind, there is simply no doubt about this.

So let me tell you what the real scandal in all of this is.

It isn’t that he made a film that departed from the biblical story. It isn’t that disappointed and overheated Christian critics had expectations set too high.

The scandal is this: of all the Christian leaders who went to great lengths to endorse this movie (for whatever reasons: “it’s a conversation starter,” “at least Hollywood is doing something on the Bible,” etc.), and all of the Christian leaders who panned it for “not following the Bible”…

Not one of them could identify a blatantly Gnostic subversion of the biblical story when it was right in front of their faces.

I believe Aronofsky did it as an experiment to make fools of us: “You are so ignorant that I can put Noah (granted, it’s Russell Crowe!) up on the big screen and portray him literally as the ‘seed of the Serpent’ and you all will watch my studio’s screening and endorse it.”

He’s having quite the laugh. And shame on everyone who bought it.

And what a Gnostic experiment! In Gnosticism, only the “elite” are “in the know” and have the secret knowledge. Everybody else are dupes and ignorant fools. The “event” of this movie is intended to illustrate the Gnostic premise. We are dupes and fools. Would Christendom awake, please?

In response, I have one simple suggestion:

Henceforth, not a single seminary degree is granted unless the student demonstrates that he has read, digested, and understood Irenaeus of Lyon’s Against Heresies.

Because it’s the 2nd century all over again.

Postscript

Some readers may think I’m being hard on people for not noticing the Gnosticism at the heart of this film. I am not expecting rank-and-file viewers to notice these things. I would expect exactly what we’ve seen: head-scratching confusion. I’ve got a whole different standard for Christian leaders: college and seminary professors, pastors, and Ph.Ds. If a serpent skin wrapped around the arm of a godly Bible character doesn’t set off any alarms… I don’t know what to say.

Update – 4/2/2014

I’ve posted a short follow-up video here.

And an important follow-up post here.