It is pretty rare for a Facebook post to turn into a blog for me, but after posting an article by Tim Challies regarding the upcoming movie that follows the best selling book, “The Shack” I determined a blog may be a good way to follow up.
I wrote a review of this book way back when I first read it almost ten years ago. But it wasn’t until reading a blog by Tim Challies this morning that I was reminded of my primary concerns from the book. Many struggled with the book because God the Father was portrayed by a black woman. That was not my primary issue, despite the fact that the author WAS trying to push something with that depiction. My greatest issue concerns the basic representation of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Without going back and reading it, I can only briefly address any specific content issues. I remember some comments regarding authority and hierarchy that I believe were given to Jesus that completely goes against the Biblical evidence that the Trinity has a working order of authority. This Trinity that Mack meets in the Shack sounds a lot like a modern American who doesn’t like the idea of anyone being in charge and calling the shots. So Jesus denies that “Papa” is really in charge. Despite the Biblcial evidence that the son speaks what the Father gives Him to say, and the Son does the will of the Father, and the Father and Son send out the Spirit, etc.
Equally, I recall a comment by ‘Papa” to the effect that God doesn’t punish sin. Sin is its own punishment, and God’s purpose is not to punish it, but it is simply His joy to cure it. That is NOT consistent with Scripture.
But again, feel free to correct me if I am wrong or misquoting anything. This is my blog and I get to do less research and admit that I am doing less research.
But my deepest concern is the reality that people will take this novel and enfold it into their view of God right along with Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Revelation, etc. And that is a best case scenario. Because even worse than this, is for the many who have not quite made it the book of Revelation in the Bible, this piece of fiction may even sidestep that book altogether. Many who have never read the full counsel of God will go to this movie, and walk out with the producer’s ideas of God filed in the place where the Bible should be.
How can I analyze a movie I have not yet seen and call it dangerous? Perhaps this movie will prove to be a careful exposition of the Bible and my concern will amount to nothing. But if it follows the book, then the Father will receive no honor, awe, or reverence. The Son will be there as an additional figure who is kinda unneeded because the Father fills His role, and the Spirit will be a supporting actress who cannot possibly in any authentic way, reflect the reality of the awesome power of God displayed by the indwelling presence of the omnipresent Spirit of God. Remember that Jesus encouraged the disciples that they should be glad he was departing because that meant that the Holy Spirit would be sent to them to live in them and through them. That’s a tall order to attempt to convey with one actress on a screen. But if you don’t feel compelled to convey the Spirit in any Biblical sense, then it makes the job easier.
I would suggest that you read the book of Job before going to the movie. Read what God shows to a person who has lost everything. Read how God responds. Picture that in film. Make that movie in your mind as you read. And then consider how it differs from Papa and the gang!
Job walks away from His trials in awe, wonder, and EVEN APOLOGY to God for having doubted Him. God gets to be in the driver’s seat and the very nature of original sin is that we didn’t like that and tried to take the wheel. But God who is loving and good has made a way for sinful humanity to be restored to Him. And all the persons of the Trinity are involved.
But this book ignores a central theme of all of Scripture; namely, that God the Father is far beyond what we can take in. The Shack attempted to tame the heavenly King by making Father and Son flat! Jesus is the image of God, but he took on flesh so that we could relate to Him and know Him.
But those who encountered God trembled in awe and wonder. They did not chill with the father on the mountain. They were told to stay clear from the Holy mountain. And Moses’s face shown with glory for weeks just because he saw the proverbial back of God. The routine response to encountering God in a Scripture was to fall down in awe and wonder. How big is God? How amazing? We ought not think of him as a black woman named “Papa” who just wants to chill with us and hang for weekend. We ought to consider His great love for us that is demonstrated through the sacrifice of His Son to appease His wrath. But we should not allow the knowledge of His Son and His great compassion to cloud our awe and wonder at his great power and authority. We should not dumb down the Father’s glory.
I would not ask people to boycott a movie. I am not asking anyone to follow my personal convictions. But I am asking that we give a VERY significant consideration to whether or not you want your view of God to be potentially polluted by novel that could result in a lessening of your view of the Almighty God. I can say this as a student and preacher of God’s Word . . . If Mack doesn’t fall flat before “Papa” that only shows that “Papa” is not consistent with the Almighty God revealed in the Scripture. And if “she” is not consistent with the Biblical view of God, then why assimilate this content into your catalog of ideas about the Almighty?