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When I agreed to do a review on the documentary, Roadmap Genesis, it was the title that immediately drew my interest. I have read the book of Genesis many times and never really looked at it as a roadmap for life. On the contrary, I saw it as more of a top ten list of things not to do.
- Stay away from talking snakes bearing fruit.
- Don’t bring a veggie tray as a sacrifice.
- Don’t mock your neighbor if he starts building a giant boat in his backyard.
- Don’t give your children too much praise when they build a giant tower out of legos.
- If telling a stranger that your wife is really your sister didn’t work the first time, don’t try it a second time…or a third. (Come on, Isaac.)
- Don’t sleep with your wife’s servant, even if your wife encourages it.
- Offering your virgin sisters to an angry sex-crazed mob is not a good way to make friends.
- When God says, “Go, and don’t look back!” I’m pretty sure he means, “Go, and don’t look back!”
- Getting drunk is always a bad idea, especially if your name is Noah or Lot.
- And, finally, while selling your brother into slavery might seem like a good idea at the time, it’s not worth the headaches later.
Seriously though, it is much easier to see the pitfalls on the map than the actual path. You see Genesis is filled with real honest to goodness “human beings”. They don’t always look the part of the suit-wearing, church-going folk. They are deeply flawed people and the bible makes no effort to hide the flaws. It’s almost as if God wanted you to see their all their warts and blemishes, huh?
Well, Roadmap Genesis does an excellent job of highlighting the pitfalls and navigating a path through the treacherous territory of Genesis. Although I can’t say I was in complete agreement with everything stated in the film (I must admit, I was a bit critical the first go round), I would still recommend it.
I want to share the areas I feel the director, Nolan Lebovitz, gets absolutely right. There was so much good to take from this film that I wish to begin there, rather than delving into those areas of disagreement. What I love about the film is its focus on family, stewardship, compassion and morality, which truly are the underlying themes of the Bible. But more importantly, the movie conveys the truth that the Creator God and His Holy Word make up the foundation upon which these fundamental pillars of life are built. When a society removes God as its foundation, the pillars that hold that society up become unsteady and crumble to the ground.
What I love about this film is its strong emphasis on family. Of course, when we hear the word “family” it is only natural for one to think first of one’s spouse, children, parents, siblings and grandparents. Maybe you’ll even include that crazy aunt or uncle. But what really convicted me was the idea that we are all family. After all, you have to admit, there are some people out there you wouldn’t want to invite to a family dinner. That being said, what if we began to think just a smidge differently? What if we saw all our neighbors as members of our family?
I understand that people are not part of the heavenly family until they place their faith in Jesus Christ, but we do share a collective story. Now, I’m not talking in some weird new age sense but we are all connected by shared thread that leads all the way back to Genesis, a story that begins the first humans, Adam and Eve. As one interviewee so simply stated, “Your story is my story and my story is your story.” What a profound and impactful statement, but only if we allow it to be.
You see, what gets us into trouble, is when we forget this, when we lose sight of the fact that we are our brother’s keeper–when we forget that we are people made in the image of our holy God–when we become more consumed with our own individual needs, rather than the needs of others. We seek our wants, our needs, our pleasures. Along the way we lose our direction and we forget about our God. We become selfish, self-centered and arrogant. So we eat of the fruit, we kill our brother, we build the tower, and we replace God with another god made after our image. And God asks us, “Where is your brother?” And we say, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Just as with Adam, Cain, those who built the Tower of Babel and even America, today, there are consequences for rejecting God and ignoring His precepts.
Roadmap Genesis correctly states the problem today. We are living in a time filled with disillusionment and uncertainty. We’re going somewhere, but we know not where. We have no purpose. So we just live for the now. We live for self. We forsake God and family. We immerse ourselves in the self-indulgent world of tweets and selfies. Social media has become the avenue to promote self. We reject the Bible’s warnings as the rantings of ancient men that no longer apply to our modern highly “evolved” world. We boast our technological achievements and declare that we have no need for God. We have become like gods ourselves.
We have become fools.
As Pastor Sutton stated in the movie, “When individualism is pursued without God, it results in chaos,” and that is precisely what we are seeing today. We are living in a bizarro world where right is wrong and wrong is right. Everything is flipped on its head and no one knows how to fix it because they won’t read their Bibles. They probably don’t even own a Bible so how can they read it?
If only they would read about the failings of Christian forefathers. Then they would see their failures are our failures. All men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. If only they read about the hope we have in Christ, that is revealed in the New Testament. Then they would know that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Genesis is a warning letter, a cautionary tale and a promise of hope for the future. If we will not read the words of the past we are doomed to repeat them in the present, and we will be without hope for the future.
So where is the good news in Genesis? Where is the hope? Well, it’s not all bad, as Roadmap Genesis accurately points. Our hope begins with Redemption. As soon as man committed the very first sin, God began working to redeem his people. A seed was promised that would crush the head of the serpent that tempted Eve. The promise was extended to Abraham and all his generations. Thus establishing the importance of family.
First God created man. Then he created woman out of man because it was not good that man be alone. Then ordained family, saying they should be fruitful and multiply. And then, in Abraham and Sarah, he extended this idea of family, separating a people unto himself. And today the promise is to all who come in faith and believe.
The Good news is that God never lost control. He always had a plan. It began with a promised seed, back in Genesis, and was filled in the life of Jesus in the New Testament gospels. This is the hope. And our job is share this hope with the world. This message is lost in the film (probably because the film-maker is Jewish, and does not believe Jesus is our Saviour) but I found that it easily fits between the lines.
God also established stewardship. He gave Adam and Eve the roles of caretakers over His creation. They were to have dominion over the earth. This doesn’t imply that they could do whatever they wanted. It meant they were given responsibility for creation. They were to utilize and care for it, not abuse and neglect it. The film points out just how thoughtless we can be. Something a simple as releasing a balloon in the air could prove disastrous for many of God’s creatures. We need to be more mindful of the consequences of our actions (or lack of action). Throwing a bottle on the ground may seem insignificant, but each such careless act adds up. Every parent desires to leave things better for their children than they found them. Shouldn’t this include the environment as well?
But our stewardship doesn’t end there. America is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It may not seem like it as we grumble over rising gas prices and the cost of food, but there are people in our own country, let alone the world, that go hungry everyday. Those who have been given much have a responsibility to help those who have very little, whether in our communities, our nation or in the world. Wherever children are starving, people are without adequate nutrition, homeless and without access to health care, it should be shared concern. How can we call ourselves Christians and ignore the suffering of others? I love that the movie shared this concern.
So I agree with the movie’s premise that we, as a society, are in a state of decline, that we have lost our moral compass. Individualism has replaced family. We have become a narcissistic culture. We are neglecting the needs of the poor, and we have forgotten God. But it gets worse than that.
God’s Word is being watered down and distorted. Here is where I feel Roadmap Genesis train jumped the tracks. Much of the message in the movie is true but the cracks and crevices are filled with a lot of error.
I thought the whole point of the movie was that we are to get back to Genesis. But then there is this push in the movie to disregard a literal interpretation of the first book of the Bible. Granted, the interviewees were speaking directly of the first chapters of Genesis, concerning Creation, but I struggle to understand the “pick and choose” method for what is and is not to be taken allegorically. If the the opening chapters of Genesis are allegorical, how do know for sure that the rest isn’t? Are the stories of the Bible just that–stories? Are they nothing more than a series of made-up moral lessons? If so, why should I, you, we take them seriously?
In the film, Rabbi Elliot Dorff declares he “doesn’t have to worry about the literal meaning of the texts because [his] ancestors have already interpreted these texts in these very different ways.” The ways he was referring to were Philo’s interpretation through the ideas of Plato, Maimonides through Aristotle and our interpretation through the ideas of Darwin and modern day astrophysics. So, in other words, we interpret scripture through the popular scientific opinion of the day.
Let me ask you this: Where is that found in the Bible? Actually Peter warned that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. Context determines meaning, not Greek philosophy and certainly not a godless interpretation of science. Let God be true and every man a liar.
One interviewee stated that being spiritual, living a spiritual life and understanding that there is a God is what is key. That sounds good on the surface but what does that really mean? What you deem as spiritual and what God defines as spiritual may be two completely different things. You can believe “wrongly” about God. When it comes to salvation, details matter. If you claim to be “spiritual” but haven’t placed your faith in Christ’s work on the cross, you are seriously mistaken.
But the interviewee’s comments weren’t questioning salvation. Her comment was in regard to a literal interpretation of the Creation week. So what is the big deal? Essentially she was just saying that the details concerning that first “week” really aren’t important. What matters is just believing in God. But she wasn’t considering the ramifications of what she was saying. If the first week isn’t to be taken literally, then by what authority are we to take any of it literally?
The very foundations of death, sin and the need for redemption are grounded in a literal interpretation of Genesis. When we interject man’s opinions into the text, we weaken it. And if we weaken the foundation, eventually the whole house will come down. The Bible is not a subjective text. It is the Word of God. It is holy and pure and should not be handled carelessly as one does a book of fairy tales.
Should we encourage everyone to return back to the moral teachings of Aesop’s fables or the stories of the brothers Grimm? If Genesis is a roadmap, it mustn’t be a set of allegorical tales, but Scriptural truths. We can’t let our lack of Scriptural understanding threaten the integrity of God’s Holy Word.
In the end, I would suggest people watch the film, but only with the knowledge that it’s only half the story. I don’t believe that you can take people back to Genesis and change society. I guess my biggest problem is, I’m more concerned about saving souls than saving our country. This world is not really our home, afterall. That doesn’t mean we should neglect to care for those in this world, but we need to share the Truth of God’s salvation with them also.
Here’s a quick trailer:
If you’d like to win a copy of the dvd, please leave a comment below. A winner will be randomly chosen on February 14 evening.
Grace be with you,