So, after listening to both sides, I think each make legitimate, reasonable points. When I first saw mention of this movie I looked it up to see what it was all about since I’d never read the book. SO MANY of my devoted Christian friends were raving about this movie on Facebook, so I needed to see what all the fuss was about. But once I googled The Shack I quickly became unnerved by all the negative reviews (you know what they say about the internet…It’s where dreams go to die). Then I found some excerpts from the book that troubled me…“How could so many of my Christian peers be so enamored by such heresy?”, I thought to myself. “Where is their discernment?”…“Why aren’t alarm bells going off in their heads?!?” I know their love and devotion to the Lord is genuine. I trusted that fact so I decided maybe there was more than meets the eye in this case. I say “in this case” because there are movies I have flat out refused to go see because of their BLATANT heresy. Films such as The Last Temptation of Christ or Exodus: Gods and Kings, or Noah, just to name a few. The bible is amazing all on its own. It does not need help with its narrative. It does not need any changing or add-ons, but Hollywood seems to think otherwise.
For me it is far too painful to watch lies about my Lord on screen so I try to avoid them. I think those movies are quite damaging because so many people who have never read a bible story watch Hollywood’s version and know no other. BUT, after reading someone’s comment about how God can use anything it got me to thinking about these heretical films. “Hmmmmm”, I thought, “How many people, after watching these, actually picked up a bible to see if what they saw was actually in there?” That’s not to say these films don’t draw more people further away from God than to Him. I’m just pointing out the fact that God CAN use anything. And I’m most certainly not trying to excuse the making of these blasphemous films. But, in my humble opinion, malice intent was behind the making of those films but not so in the making of The Shack. Yes, yes, I know good intentions can fall short and lead to unintended consequences. After all, French philosopher Albert Camus made a good point when he said,
“The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.”
So I guess I just refuted my own argument. But then again, here’s another quote showing the flip-side to that coin….
“Early in life I learned, just through observation, that right always wins out over wrong. If a person has good intentions in his heart and wants to do the right thing, then there are certain ways that any obstacle can be overcome.” -Monte Irvin
OK, so these quotes are just from ordinary peeps…but what does the bible have to say? Well, I’m no biblical scholar and I have so much to learn, but I kept hearing a passage in my head from Romans 14…so I read the entire chapter and feel its meaning goes well beyond food. I think it relates to what someone was trying to say in a comment I mentioned earlier…Those that are confident enough in their faith to go see this movie and gain some sort of beneficial understanding from it which does not conflict with God’s truth should not be condemned or shamed by those who aren’t comfortable with this film. God blesses both.
Was The Shack perfect? No. But after excessive researching of different reviews and comments from both sides of the aisle and a self-defense piece by the actual co-authors (don’t forget to check out the comments section, too), I decided to go see for myself. After all, how can I make judgments based only on others’ opinions? As my husband loves to quote, “I’ll know my song well before I start singing”. And, like I said, after all of my studying of this film it did not seem to fall into the same category as the others (for me). I still had my doubts and worries about how God’s character would be portrayed but I also went in knowing that this movie was having a positive effect on people. I can’t say the same for those OTHER films nor did any of my fellow Christians endorse those films. Ope! But since those movies were OBVIOUSLY disingenuous I can already hear the arguments now…“but deception comes wrapped up in truth! That’s far more dangerous!” Yes. That is true. Deception works best when it’s disguised with truth. But I didn’t see anything in this film that would cause someone to lose their soul to the dark side. But yeah, there were some key elements in this film that I didn’t like.
I’m not into a fictionalized idea/portrayal of two parts of the Trinity appearing as people, but that’s just me. It felt wrong. I also didn’t like the watering down of sin and its consequences. When I heard her (Papa) say, “Sin is its own punishment” I immediately said out loud, “WHAT?!?!” I don’t even know what that means! Most sin is enjoyable or no one would be doing it. How can sin be its own punishment? That would mean Jesus didn’t have to die for our sins if there’s no danger of punishment. We all have to face judgment one day. That’s why believing in Jesus and what He did for us at the cross is so important. We are redeemed through His blood. I didn’t feel the complete message of the cross was presented well, if at all. It was hard for me to move past that scene. It was basically implied that there is no such thing as the wrath of God. Well, tell me that after reading the book of Revelation. Let’s just say this is why I don’t like to watch these movies…I feel safer (and calmer) learning and reading about God’s will and character straight from God’s Holy Word because from there I KNOW for sure, without a doubt, that what I read is true and accurate. But that’s not to say God can’t reveal Himself through other avenues. He does it all the time.
I do understand the thought behind these fictional characters (and that’s just what it is, FICTION) and the reasoning of why God the Father appears to the character, Mack, in such a way. And the reasoning was also explained to the audience. Just because I don’t like that concept doesn’t make it wrong for others who do (again, refer back to Romans 14), but then again…does it?
So this is where my struggle/inner conflict comes in…
I tend to think something is either wrong or it isn’t…it’s either scriptural or it isn’t. I’m really confused since so many believers don’t seem to have any qualms with these portrayals, yet I do. Is there something wrong with ME? Am I too closed-minded? Are they too open-minded? I tend to think if something portrays God’s truth then there shouldn’t be confusion attached. And I understand there are those of you who believe the mere fictionalized portrayal of God the Father as a woman is blasphemous. I’m not so sure I disagree but I don’t believe this portrayal was meant to imply that God is a woman. Besides, later in the movie God the Father changes form and appears as a man as well and we were all created in His image, male and female, soooo…I just keep going back to the fact that this is someone’s fictitious narrative.
So, again, this movie is based on a work of fiction from someone’s imagination. They had an idea and tried to fit scripture into it. Is that wrong? I don’t know. God seems to be using it regardless. Who am I to say it’s bad to watch this movie? In this case, and I already explained what I mean by, “in this case”, there was more meat than bones. So, as a believer rooted with a solid foundation of truth, I chewed the meat and spit out the bones. And, as a believer, I can now have a discussion about this film if it ever comes up because I saw it. Others who don’t have as solid a foundation or none at all should be able to be fed by the rest of us who do. If we choose to view this film we can then explain the truth to those who don’t know or understand. This film presents opportunity.
I didn’t want to assume I knew what this film was all about without seeing it. So that’s why I chose to go see it. We shouldn’t judge, condemn, or shame our fellow believers for being excited about a movie that seems to be encouraging them in THEIR walk (which, once again, goes back to my reference of Romans 14) and helping those who are struggling with grief and forgiveness. After watching this film I don’t see it as a deterrent to knowing the One True God. I’m hoping it will pique one’s curiosity and lead them to do some seeking of their own. And if in their earnest seeking they are sincere, God will meet them.
It’s OK to lovingly express our concerns and remind our brothers and sisters about using discernment and being alert to the possibility of hidden deception. I think it’s important and we should do that, but then it is in their hands. The choice is their’s to make and we must trust that Holy Spirit is at work. Who am I to judge something that has touched so many? I’m willing to admit that I don’t know it all. Just because it didn’t impact me doesn’t mean it can’t be encouraging for someone else. Granted, I did go into the movie knowing what was coming in many places and that may have ruined the element of surprise, but that’s what I needed to do “in this case“…but there was a time in my walk, as a believer, when I DIDN’T always test everything…and yet somehow I turned out alright. Imagine that. Holy Spirit must be doing something right.
Would I recommend this movie to others? No. Probably not because of my own lingering doubts and concerns. Would I watch it again? Sure…if it happens to be showing during a free DIRECTV movie preview at home…Sure. Maybe I’ll get more out of it the second time around, and since I’ll be at home, I won’t be tempted to buy that overly priced, buttered popcorn that goes straight to me butt.
After reading through all that I wrote above it is clear to me I was in conflict with myself; trying to justify why the movie is OK for some while still struggling with the fact that this story is not based on 100% biblical truth. I’m not OK with a movie conflicting or distorting any aspect of God’s true nature. I will not compromise God’s truth for man’s warm, fuzzy feelings. This movie carries along with it a heavy weight of confusion. Confusion does not come from God. This film leaves me with an uneasiness deep within my gut because its theology is clashing with the Holy Spirit who lives in me. I should not have to struggle to justify something if it’s message is in alignment with the bible; this story is not. And one should note that the author, William Paul Young, does not believe in the One True God of the bible. His latest book, “Lies We Believe About God” proves that. He believes in universalism, where everyone is saved. That is not biblical. And I did see universalism suggested in this movie. Even though this book’s co-author does not support this falsehood, the very fact that both authors have conflicting beliefs should raise red flags.
I spoke of deception being disguised with truth and upon further reflection I DO believe this movie is veiled in deception. What I wrote was me basically arguing it all out with myself…Pros and cons…But, for me, I don’t like anything that is just far too questionable and that can mislead someone into thinking that true repentance and having a healthy fear of God are not necessary, because that’s part of this movie’s message whether one wants to agree with it or not. I can’t support something that takes away from the very essence of why Jesus Christ died on the cross. I cannot and will not try to justify this film any further…Is God a loving God? Yes. But He is also Holy and deserves reverence. I get people’s arguments that this movie reaches those that think God is unloving and unreachable, but this movie watered down certain truths to appease those who don’t want to know about the reality of eternal consequence to sin by rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That, to me, is the most important message and did not need to be excluded…but after learning what the main author’s theology is I’m not surprised. Not sure this movie would lead one to salvation even though I did say God CAN use anything, but it could lead one to believe all paths lead to the One True God…and that’s a travesty.
I found a clip of Ravi Zacharias answering someone’s question and he speaks of Paul Young in a very loving way but puts into words exactly how I feel but wasn’t able to express…
“…Doctrinally if you come close to that which can become quite aberrant you risk the pristine nature of the doctrine and can run the risk of fouling it up…”
I also agree with Steven Bancarz’s take on this movie as well…