Ask Pastor Kevin Response
My inbox has been full of requests asking for me to respond to the recently opened movie The Shack. I have read many Christians’ response to the movie myself. Plus, I have seen so many fellow Christians respond very positively to the movie on my social media feed. The official movie trailer is gripping both as good theater and production.
So, should the Christian watch the movie? …Object to it? …Or invite everyone to see it?
I believe there are three compelling reasons why as a Christian my family will not be watching this movie. The reasons are listed below with links provided to highly articulate, well-done articles where each author provides a full explanation of my brief synopsis.
The Shack breaks the Second of the Ten Commandments.
Tim Challies in his blog “Why I Won’t Be Seeing (or Reviewing) The Shack Movie” writes the following:
My foremost concern with The Shack—the one that will keep me from seeing it even for purposes of review—is its visual representation of God. To watch The Shack is to watch human actors play the roles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I take this to be a clear, serious violation of the second commandment: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6). I will not see the film, even to review it, because I will not and cannot watch humans pretend to be God.
I will grant that the primary concern of the second commandment is worship. It forbids creating any image of God in order to worship God through that image. Yet the commandment first forbids any visual representation for any reason. Whether that image is used to better worship God or better understand God, the commandment covers it. For our purposes, we can leave aside the issue of representing God the Son as a human figure. Some Christians believe this violates the second commandment (since Jesus is God) while others do not (since Jesus is a man and a historical figure). But to represent the Father and Holy Spirit as human figures is a matter of far greater clarity.
I refer you to the rest of his good blog as he in detail explains his concerns.
The Shack is not another C.S. Lewis’ Narnia.
Several well-meaning friends have expressed the idea that The Shack is no different than the very creative Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. Again, we turn to the writing of Tim Challies where in his blog “Why Papa of The Shack Is not Aslan of Narnia.” He suggests three reasons why the two are not the same: different genres (allegorical fiction vs didactic fiction), different persons (Jesus vs God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit), and different messages (Aslan is like Jesus vs Papa is God). Challies wraps up his blog with the following:
I have argued on three grounds that Papa of The Shack is not Aslan of Narnia. They appear in different genres of literature, represent different characters, and teach different messages. Narnia is an allegorical tale; The Shack is didactic fiction. Aslan is a Christ-like figure from a parallel world and its fabricated mythology; Papa is God the Father in the real-world and its Christian faith. What Narnia teaches by analog is generally consistent with the historic Christian faith and meant to create confidence in it; what The Shack teaches using literal characterization is subversive of the Christian faith and meant to undermine it. My counsel, then, is to enter Narnia but stay out of The Shack.
The Shack teaches fundamentally flawed theology.
Albert Mohler recently edited and republished his initial critique to The Shack as a book in his blog “The Shack – The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment.” He details multiple theological arguments that differ from the Bible. I agree with Mohler and would point to some of the primary doctrines affected as the doctrines of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the problem of evil, and salvation. Mohler writes:
In evaluating the book, it must be kept in mind that The Shack is a work of fiction. But it is also a sustained theological argument, and this simply cannot be denied. Any number of notable novels and works of literature have contained aberrant theology, and even heresy. The crucial question is whether the aberrant doctrines are features of the story or the message of the work. When it comes to The Shack, the really troubling fact is that so many readers are drawn to the theological message of the book, and fail to see how it conflicts with the Bible at so many crucial points.
My Opinion: As much as I like a good story, this is not one for me.
I hope these articles provide you more information to consider as you think through what you want to do for you and your family. Whatever any of us choose, let’s interact on social media and in personal conversation with each other with respect and kindness. This is not the first time Christians have disagreed and certainly will not be the last.
Revised Content Addition 03.10.17
Tim Challies reviewed Paul Young’s new nonfiction book Lies We Believe About God. Young is the author of The Shack. In this book, Young examines in his opinion 28 lies from Evangelicals related to many different theological issues. Bottom line: What theological heresy that is implied in The Shack is made very clear in his new nonfiction work. Check out Challies review at this link, “What Does The Shack Really Teach? ‘Lies We Believe About God’ Tells Us.“