These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a
righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. (Bereshit/Genesis
The Torah refers to Noah as righteous and blameless. How can that be
you may wonder? That Noah wasn't as bad as most - or even all - of his
neighbors we can accept, but righteous, blameless? Is that possible?
Isn't that's like saying, "Nobody's perfect; except Noah!"
Some traditions are okay with spiritual superheroes. This view of
"sinners" and "saints" creates two categories of
persons. First, there's the general population, so-called normal folk.
We're the ones in mind in the saying, "Nobody's perfect." Then
there are the exceptions - the Special Ones! These saints somehow
possess a moral superiority that sets them apart from the rest of us.
How they came to be this way, we don't know for sure, but we stare at
them with a kind of awe - a little impressed, a bit of jealousy perhaps.
We might applaud them for doing the good that we think we could never do
even though we think we should.
While regarding someone like Noah as a spiritual superhero may make
us a fan, he can never be an example. Separating people into saints and
sinners in this way creates a chasm we cannot cross. It's almost as if
these spiritual superheroes exist in a different dimension - a parallel
universe - a different plain we normal ones cannot attain. We observe
them and their activities. We may hear their words and at times
appreciate what they have to say, but they don't really live in the
normal world. Therefore we cannot be expected to be like them.
An alternative approach is to reject the Torah's description of Noah.
The weird thing about this approach is that it is common among people
who most adamantly claim to believe the Bible. Statements such as this
that ascribe righteousness to humans get filtered out by a theology that
denies that such a thing is valid. Doesn't the New Covenant absolutely
state: "None is righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10). None is
none, Noah included. Unless "none is righteous" doesn't
include Noah, which takes us back to the saints-and-sinners dichotomy I
described, making Noah a superhero and the rest of us morally and
It's not as if Torah doesn't teach that we are morally and
spiritually disconnected, or that "none is righteous" is not a
legitimate general statement. Doesn't Solomon say in his prayer
"for there is no one who does not sin" (1 Melachim/1 Kings
8:46), Noah included? But then how could Noah be called righteous and
blameless? It's not that Noah was a different sort of person in and of
himself. His spiritual and moral state was not based on a different kind
of human nature, but rather it was derived from God.
Note that the passage I quoted at the beginning includes the words,
"Noah walked with God." Noah lived his life in step with God,
which is how the righteous have always lived. Being blameless is not a
self-derived moral condition, but a relational one, whereby one's
dependence upon God establishes a right relationship with him. Since
this is not derived from human nature, but from God, genuine
righteousness doesn't depend on us, but upon him.
This is why the New Covenant writings state: "For by grace you
have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the
gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast"
(Ephesians 2:8-9). Right relationship with God is not an achievement,
reserved only for the spiritually superior (who don't actually exist),
but a gift of God available to all of us normal people, if we put our
trust in the Messiah.
Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible,
English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a
publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All