Hollywood loves cheesy Christian movies. Ever since The Passion of Christ grossed over 600 million in the box office in 2004, film investors began to realize, “Hey, there is a big audience of people out there willing to pay money to see ‘religious’ films!” The only problem is that what Hollywood considers “Christian” has far too often been annoyingly inconsistent with authentic “Christian” teaching. And if you are the discerning type, this can make watching such films a pretty unrelaxing—even undesirable—experience.
At least it has been for me.
However, I managed to bite my lip for the sake of unity when my Christian friends raved about Heaven is for Real. When invited to attend a showing of Miracles From Heaven with a ladies group from church, I just politely declined. And I even nodded and smiled when my Christian sisters started clearing closets in their houses to make prayer rooms because of War Room. While these films presented ideas heterodox to classical Christian belief, they weren’t committing out-right heresy. I easily could have ripped each of these movies to theological shreds—and plenty of folks have—but sometimes charity and love between believers is more critical than whipping out the polemical sword, right?
My silence ends here.
On March 3, 2017, Hollywood released its next major “Christian” motion picture; The Shack. (You can read a quick summary of the story line HERE.) Like many Christian movies, there is a long list of tertiary concerns that surface within The Shack. But it’s not those issues that have me and many other leaders in the faith ready to endure the backlashing we will inevitably get for opposing something with a “Christian” label on it.
Between its blatant violation of the second commandment, it’s advancement of a damnable heresy known as “universal reconciliation,” and it’s belittlement of the Word of God as the only true, reliable source of revelation about God, The Shack leaves us no choice but to condemn it entirely.
A lot of ink has already been spilt by really knowledgeable Christian leaders who have drawn out the details of the incriminating factors that lie within The Shack. Instead of rehashing those concerns in this blog, I’ll spend my time pointing you to a few excellent resources that can equip you about the concerns.
COMMANDED TO DISCERN TRUTH
I want God to be able to say of me one day what His scripture attributes to the Berean people in Acts 17:11. The Bible credits them as being “more noble” because of their diligence to test all spiritual teachings through the scrutinizing lenses of the Holy Scriptures. Just as federal agents learn to recognize counterfeit money by first becoming intimately familiar with authentic currency, we need to become intimately familiar with God as He has made Himself known to us through His Word. The starting point for Biblical discernment must always be the Bible.
Next, you can look to the writings of these faithful brothers who have already done the thorough work of scrutinizing The Shack for our edification:
- For a thorough but accessible overview of some of the major issues, I’d recommend Tim Challies’ PDF guide A Reader’s Review of The Shack.
- If you really want to become an expert, read Burning Down ‘The Shack’ by James B. DeYoung.
- Short on time? The team at GotQuestions.org has a short but thoughtful analysis for us, and WWUTT produced a quick YouTube video that effectively rattles out the concerns.
My second aim for this article is to discuss WHY we should care if a "Christian" film is not in line with Scripture and to caution you from reactively praising anything in pop culture that calls itself Christian.
IS IT A BATTLE WORTH FIGHTING?
Our ultimate aim in life as Christians is to glorify God. Part of doing that well means we must truly “know Him” by understanding the intricacies of His character and His redemptive plan—as revealed to us through His Word. If God has encapsulated some truth about Himself in His Scriptures that we negligently ignore or modify, we are sinning.
In fact, this is precisely what Paul had in mind to warn us against in Romans 1:22-23. This film is dangerous because the example set forth within it will justify and encourage man’s sinful habit of creating a god in MAN’s image. We should long for God as He is in truth; as He has revealed to us through His Word. Anything else becomes idolatry. If Scripture warns that idolatry will be man’s natural propensity, our love for our friends should compel us to throw caution flags at the possibility of anything that will seduce them (and us) from falling into this sin.
Many people will accuse us saying, “Lighten up! It’s just a fictional story for the sake of entertainment. It’s not meant to be theological!” But by all counts the undeniable focus of the interactions portrayed in the story revolve around the Godhead teaching Mack something “theological” about Himself. The story’s author intentionally seeks to define the nature of the Trinity based on the author’s own warped, anti-Biblical perception. Albert Mohler puts it best: “The theology of The Shack is not incidental to the story. Indeed, at most points the narrative seems mainly to serve as a structure for the dialogues. And the dialogues reveal a theology that is unconventional at best, and undoubtedly heretical in certain respects.”
The liability of a story like The Shack is that a person could be persuaded to put their confidence for salvation in a god who is not the God of the Bible at all, and therefore incapable and unqualified of offering justification. This possibility should haunt us, dear Christian! Our entire aim as evangelists of the Gospel is to lead people to the right truth about who God is and His ability to save through the work of His Son on the cross. Anything that puts hindrance in the path of that goal should be recognized as the enemy of the Gospel that it truly is.
Sometimes our sinful love of ourselves causes us to desire man’s affection more than we desire fidelity to Truth. We don’t want to be guilty of neglect prompted by a fear of man. The Bible calls us to recognize the spirit of truth from the spirit of error, which will unavoidably necessitate our faithful and biblical response to this up-and-coming blockbuster hit.
Let us not sit idly by as friends undiscerningly set themselves under the teaching of The Shack’s heinous doctrinal distortions. If God has granted you wisdom and discernment, use it for the edification of His children. I believe we have a duty to get this right, sisters, for the sake of our loved ones and—even greater—for the glorification of our God and King!
* Portions of this article were also published at Legacy Ladies.