Perhaps you've heard, or maybe you haven't, but they are planning on opening a Noah's Ark Theme Park in Kentucky. Evidently there is a big discussion on whether or not government money should be used to help fund the project. I'm not going to get into that here, instead, I'd like to bring up another issue. Why in the world do we celebrate the death of almost an entire population? Why is a Christian organization creating a theme park that is named after an event that is defined by death rather than cute fuzzy animals? We would be mortified if someone created a theme park about the loss of lives in Pearl Harbor, the tsunami of 2004, or the genocides that have plagued different people groups throughout history. Why is this tragedy different?
Think I'm being a bit extreme? An entire population, save a few, died a horrific death by drowning. Parents were swimming, lifting their children in the air until exhaustion took over and their legs stopped kicking and they drowned, releasing their doomed child to fend for itself. Husbands couldn't save their wives, animals were trapped, and all of creation was utterly destroyed. Praise God, in the end grace prevailed, but this is by no means a light-hearted story.
Here's the thing, we've taken a story that should point us to the evilness of our world and have made it a fluffy bedtime tale. We decorate rooms, throw baby showers, and have twisted the annihilation of humanity into a sweet bedtime story. How has this happened?
I'm not out to blatantly attack the theme park, although I think it is a ridiculous idea that has the potential to be borderline sacrilegious. I just cringe imagining the water rides: little arks full of children riding around in fake thunderstorms through as sea of fake dead bodies? really?
But this is a far bigger issue than theme parks and childish decorations. This is about minimizing the Gospel into inaccurate bedtime stories and theme parks. We have an entire generation of "children of the faith" who no longer think that the Bible is relevant, that its story is real. We blame MTV, out of date churches, poor parenting, etc. But perhaps the issue is something greater: we have belittled the story of redemption into bedtime story. We have taught them that it isn't real.
Hear me out. Perhaps we've not only softened the cute Bible stories in the Old and New Testaments. Maybe we've gotten so used to softening things that we've reduced the message of the Gospel to a point where it is no longer transformational. It is simply a bedtime story that you "believe" in and if you're a good person and go to church, you can avoid hell. And people aren't buying it anymore, and why should they!? It doesn't work.
Empty religion is a lifestyle that leads to short-term behavior modification and long-term frustration. It's a guise that can only be kept up for a time, then people recognize it doesn't work and move on.
Here's the thing, the story of sin, condemnation, and mercy is not for the weak. It's not made for fluffy bedtime stories. It's a heroic story of death, life, and promise. Don't get me wrong, we should teach our children the stories of the Bible, but we should teach them accurately. Perhaps if we teach them rightly, they won't abandon the faith like many in my generation are doing. One thing is for certain, if we're teaching the story of Noah's Ark accurately we definitely wouldn't be making theme parks about it.
Those are my thoughts on the matter... I would love to hear yours!