While The Shack is no King Kong or Logan, the little faith-based film has made an impressive showing at the box office coming in third during its first week and fourth last weekend. Starring Sam Worthington and Octavia Spencer, The Shack has taken in $32,268,691 in ticket sales so far. While many Christians lament that Hollywood has forsaken them, they should be thrilled with this news, but many are not. Some claim that the movie teaches a false doctrine while others see it as a beacon of light. Why is there such a divide on the issue?
“Sometimes it seems like some Christians almost go looking for something to disagree with,” says K. Rex Butts on his website, KingdomSeeking.com.
“If that’s our objective, we’ll find that something in almost everything we do. It’s even more frustrating when a minor issue is made into a bigger issue than it really is.”
The Shack is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by William P. Young. The story is about a man who has suffered great loss and gets to meet God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit face to face who help him see past his pain. The story is basically an allegory and that can be a comfort or a distress signal depending on who you ask.
Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says, “The real danger – the seductive danger of The Shack – is that it’s presented as a retelling of the Christian story. Christians armed by scripture and committed to the Christian worldview should highly value fiction and thus evaluate it by Christian norms,” Mohler recently said on his podcast, The Briefing.
“But we can never value a vehicle for importing heresy into the Church or misrepresenting Christianity to the watching world… Making that into a compelling story just compounds the theological danger, and when all of this is added to the creative storytelling power of Hollywood, it also becomes very seductive.”
Ben Seewald, better known as the husband of Jessa Duggar, also warns that The Shack presents a “false god” reports Christianity Today.
“There is a God presented to us in The Shack — a false god. A god of human imagination that directly contradicts — this idea of God directly contradicts a God who reveals himself speaking of Himself in His Word,” says Seewald.
“There’s going to be a lot of people unfortunately walking out that theater with a false idea of God. Don’t let it be you.”
Michael Youssef from Leading the Way put together a list of “6 Major Problems with The Shack” including that he believes that the film portrays God as one who will never judge people for their sins, promotes universalism (all roads lead to heaven) and present God as one who is unconcerned with holiness among others.
“We must not allow ourselves to be swayed by emotionalism. We must instead be like the Bereans, ‘daily examining the Scriptures’ rather than readily accepting what they heard as truth,” says Youssef.
“Because no story, no matter how compelling, can ever improve upon God’s story of redemption in the Bible.”
Youssef’s story was posted on Charisma.com, but so was Jonathan Wiggin’s post praising the film.
“The Shack, in many respects, represents something that is not particularly heretical when compared to countless other Christian-friendly, fictional works,” says Wiggins.
“I have seen this kind of thing before. Therefore, I don’t fear the premise of the story. I don’t depend on them either. Instead, I allow myself to profoundly enjoy and appreciate them while looking exclusively to the Bible for the foundations of my theology and faith… In short, The Shack is a theologically imperfect and extremely disarming invitation for millions of readers/viewers to reconsider God’s goodness as well as our own complete inadequacy without Him.”
Rex Butts shares the sentiment saying, “The beauty of this film is its journey into the world of suffering where there is brokenness and deep pain along with doubt and uncertainty that evokes a crisis of faith for anyone unfortunate enough to be on this journey. I have and still an on this journey, though I have learned how to walk along this way. This film is about the healing that everyone suffering needs. This is a healing that comes knowing that God still loves them, that the grace of God is still for them, and that they can trust in God again even though they don’t always understand.”
Perhaps the most interesting perspective is from the one starring in the film. When Sam Worthington was approached about making the film, the producer said something to the effect that Sam was probably not very religious (something that Worthington agrees) but since the main character in The Shack wasn’t either, he thought Sam would be a good fit for the role. And what did Sam get out of playing the part?
“I think a lot of the questions that Mack had I had at that time in my life,” says Worthington.
“I may not have the answers to why does God let these things happen, but the book, the script, the experience has given me foresight to know there’s something bigger than all of that and bigger than me in it. Um, and to embrace that.”
[Featured Image by Summit Entertainment]