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.I've taken a lengthy excerpt, for which I hope Dr. Mattson will forgive me. Do go and read the whole thing.
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).
Why does this matter to me, when I haven't even seen and don't plan to see the movie?
Because right now there's a ton of Christian squabbling about the movie, based on various Christian reviewers and their reviews, positive or negative, of it. The positive reviewers are finding Christian messages and meaning; the negative reviewers aren't, and at least one of them is claiming that the positive reviewers are being paid, compensated, or flattered and appeased into giving their positive reviews. It's a mess.
What makes much, much more sense to me is that the movie really is a Gnostic, Kabbalah-inspired mess itself, which makes the positive Christian reviews not so much toadyism as simply misunderstanding--but it also makes the negative reviews miss the mark, too. We're all dupes, but we're all being duped together, in other words (and if I can say "we" given my non-viewing of the film).
And we Christians have got to be careful about that. Nobody thought Battlefield Earth or After Earth were Christian movies, because everybody could see they were Scientology movies instead (and truly horrible films as well). But the whole danger of Gnosticism has always been that it takes things that look and seem Biblical or Christian and then says, "Oh, but wait! This isn't the real truth. This is what the ordinary people get told, to make them behave. If you want the real enlightenment, the real power, the real arcane mysteries, you have to read more than the Bible, and ascend higher than mere Christianity...you have to go On Beyond Jesus, in other words."
Is it a surprise that Gnosticism would be revived in our time? Not at all. Gnosticism always does well when people are both hungry for truth and disenchanted with "official" religious teachings and structures. It also does well in an environment when people lack basic knowledge and instruction in the Faith, and have lost touch with the Church. The promise of secret, mystic knowledge and power the individual can control himself is always alluring--and it's always an echo of the Fall, when exactly that kind of knowledge and power was promised by the Serpent, the Father of lies and a liar from the beginning.
In the end, while there might be many reasons to see an imperfect religious film, or even an imperfect secular film loosely based on religious themes, there can only be one reason for Christians to see a Gnostic one, and that is to warn others against its false ideas and blasphemy. If Dr. Mattson is right about this movie, and it is a Gnostic film, then Christians should be on guard.