Why you should see The Shack

My wife and I went to see The Shack  last Saturday. No spoilers here if you read the book, but I will say that if you loved the book you’ll love the movie.

On the other hand, if you’ve already made up your mind that The Shack is heretical and dangerous false doctrine, well…your opinion probably won’t change.

To be clear, I don’t think disliking The Shack is wrong. Some objections I’ve heard are understandable and need to be asked, but others are downright damning. Here’s a few examples of the latter:

The Shack Exposed
– Connection between Beyoncé and Shack to Mother Goddess
– Dangerous heresy and error
– Wolf in Sheep’s clothing
– Blasphemous representations of God
– Mystery Babylon, Jezebel spirit
– New age paganism
– Not a Christian story

I have to admit, the “Beyoncé and Shack to Mother Goddess” conspiracy connection cracked me up.  🙂

And this comes from what seems to be the biggest objection, that God the Father appears to Mack (the protagonist) as an African American woman, and Holy Spirit appears as an Asian woman. While it’s understandable to be surprised by this unique depiction, in actuality, God is neither male nor female (besides Jesus).

I talked about this already in “By the way, God is not a man…

The argument goes that the Bible always refers to God as Father…as “He”…Jesus is a Son, not a daughter.  Okay…so…is God also a mother hen who gathers her chicks…with feathers and wings? Is He a dove? After all, God’s described this way in Scripture, too!

Using this logic, how can any woman believer ever be a “son”(Gal.4:6; Eph.1:5; Heb.2:10; 12:5)? And are all believing men not part of the “bride” of Christ? Why are we not understanding this?

Beloved, these are metaphors and anthropomorphisms. God the Father is Spirit (John 4:23-24), not a human being of any kind. Jesus is the only human in the Trinity (and He’s a Middle Eastern Jew). The Holy Spirit can be feminine or masculine, technically speaking (see note *).

So, if we’re going with this standard of judgment, it would be just as heretical to say that God is an angry looking old man with a white beard!

It’s NOT about gender, okay. There’s not some new age goddess worship conspiracy going on here, so please…put down your torches and pitch forks.

“Father” and “Son” are relational terms. They are used this way so our tiny finite brains have a mental grid to relate to an infinite God. To harp on the movie for not making God a white old man with a beard is just totally missing the point.

As Insanitybytes brilliantly put it in her blog post, “The Shack“:

“This is one of those times when people’s theology can go all wrong, because we have forgotten who the patient is. Just for a reminder, the patient is actually the guy bleeding out on the floor in front of you.”

Amen. Who is the patient here? We are! The “Shack” represents our Great Sadness…the hidden brokenness in all of us. It’s not about God’s gender, it’s about His furious love coming into the middle of our deepest darkness and loving the “hell” out of us.

As author William Paul Young has stated many times, the story was never meant to be systematic theology. It’s a story about the questions that haunt everyone of us: “Is God really that good?” and if He is, “Why does He allow suffering and evil in the world?” 

One site even accused the movie of promoting the heresy of Patripassianism because Papa shows Mack the wounds on His wrists. Their accusation would be just if the movie were saying that Jesus was the Father, but this isn’t being said at all.

But it does reveal what I believe is a critically important point (and fitting as we head toward Easter). It exposes a lie that we believe about God, that the Father abandoned His Son on the cross. I believe that popular myth has done much harm.

The scene in question is where Mack and Papa are in the kitchen. Mack accuses Papa of going missing when people need Him most. After all, He abandoned His own Son on the Cross. Watch this clip…

The reason Mack “misunderstands the mystery” is because that’s what he was taught, and a lot of us were taught. What both Mack and the movie’s accusers don’t understand is that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor.5:19). I go into greater depth on this point in my post, “The Father did not abandon Jesus.”

If you really need theology for this book and movie, I would suggest you read The Shack Revisited: There’s a Lot More Going On Here Than You Dared Dream written by theologian C. Baxter Kruger. Dr. Kruger actually understands the book and does an excellent job of showing how Mack’s experience does line up with the God of the Bible.

One last mention. I saw this Robby Dawkins Facebook quote in Daniel Lovett’s post, “The Scandal of The Shack.” I think Dawkins uncovers what we should be more afraid of:

Is there a Demonic Spirit related to the movie the Shack? The Answer is yes!

I read the book several years ago and wept so hard. It made me angry then broke my heart. Then watching the movie tonight with my wife Angie Dawkins, all those emotions were stirred once again. This story is really about the author’s horrific struggle with the Lord after suffering sexual abuse as a missionary’s kid. This deep wound is depicted in the story with a horrific tragedy in a family.

None of the depictions of God are Caucasian (loved it!) And portrays God in both male and female form (loved that too). This movie is so powerful and I felt the presence of the Lord so strong at various points of it. And felt the theology to be very sound.

So what of the demonic I mentioned you ask? I believe there is a demonic assignment against this book and movie. It’s both by a Religious Spirit and a spirit that incites Prejudice. These demonic spirits are trying to block people from experiencing healing and freedom from a critical spirit.

I highly recommend you take every atheist, spiritually wounded, orphaned spirited person you know to this movie and then a “sit down” with them afterwards to process it. It sets us up to bring many to Christ…”

I would agree with Robby on both counts. If there’s a demonic spirit here, it’s a religious one that feeds on fear and control, that seeks to keep God’s people bound in a critical spirit. But it’s also a divine setup to bring countless people to Christ…if we’re willing to see it. Many will find redemption and healing by encountering the unfathomable and unconditional love of God through this story.

I have no qualms about highly recommending The Shack. Don’t go if you don’t want to, but make up your own mind…don’t be bullied by fear. I’m confident that if you see it with an open heart and mind, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. God is that good!

* NOTE: The Greek word for spirit (pneuma) is neuter; the Hebrew word for spirit (ruach) is feminine. Of the 89 times ruach is found in the Old Testament, 80 references are feminine, 44 of which  (including Gen 1:2 and throughout Judges) accompany feminine verbs.
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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
This entry was posted in Doctrine, Father Heart of God, Quotes, Theology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Why you should see The Shack

  1. Kathy benson says:

    Loved it ! And loved your post !

  2. KarenS says:

    Amen!!!

  3. Well, as soon as one mentions a Religious Spirit, the discernment bloggers just cry “ack, Charismatic! Run for your lives!”, so there’s no getting through to them.

    It’s a shame that people can’t just pick up a book, take what’s good, and ignore what they don’t agree with.

    • Mel Wild says:

      How true, Brandon. That would be the gracious thing to do. We are free to disagree when we read or see something. We don’t have to demonize it. It pains me that I feel compelled to write a post like this. But so many have been bullied by fear from all the vitriol on the Internet and pulpits against this book and movie. I believe it’s keeping God’s people away from something wonderful. Like you said, just don’t go if you don’t like it.

      Discernment is good when done with grace and gentleness (Gal.6:1-4), not dismissively condemning people to perdition because they disagree with your theology! It’s sad that there’s so much fear driving God’s people. And, to be frank, the term “religious spirit” can be used just as dismissively as “heretical” and “false doctrine.” Of course, we don’t mean people are literally possessed by demons, but are being influenced by an “argument” that exalts itself against God’s true nature. The enemy can influence any of us when we still have buttons that can be pushed. We can be driven through fear instead of love, for instance.

      Nonetheless, I know this “religious spirit’s” reality because I had operated under its influence for over 20 years of my Christian life! I was critical, ungracious, and suspicious about anything I didn’t agree with! My God was angry and distant. I saw the antichrist under every bush! It’s so insidious because you think you’re serving God (being “discerning,” for instance). I didn’t realize until I was freed by God’s unrelenting love and scandalous grace that my criticisms had nothing to do with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23). I was acting out of my own perceptions of what God should be like. I had made Him in my image, and read the Bible through that lens instead of the lens of Jesus Christ. I used the Bible more as a club than a liberator of human souls.

      A religious spirit is one that is critical rather than discerning, and divisive instead of inclusive (John 13:35; 17:23). Jesus warned us against this “leaven” (and the political “leaven” – Mark 8:15). It’s interesting that Pharisee means “separatist.” I had to find this out hard way about myself.

      Thanks for pointing this out, Brandon. May we all learn to be gracious, walk humbly and with mercy before our great and loving God. 🙂

    • That should be a blog post, Mel.

    • Mel Wild says:

      It probably has been, mixed in somewhere in all my posts. 🙂

    • But yes, I too have struggled with religious spirits set against me. In my case, they’ve been used to block my willingness to receive things God wants to give me for his glory. I might be wrong, and I continue to surrender to God every day and remember that it’s ultimately his glory, but I should at least be willing to view him as a generous God when I pray.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen. Very good. Seeing God as good and generous is so important. Thanks again for your comments, Brandon. Blessings.

  4. Pingback: Good God or Bad God? | Just me being curious

  5. daniel says:

    Gave me the chills reading this. Shared it. and thank you my brother!

  6. daniel says:

    Reblogged this on Daniel Lovett and commented:
    I don’t know how it happened but God connected me to Mel Wild’s blog a few years ago. He’s been one of my mentors and I recommend checking out more of his blog posts. I have his book Sonshift and would highly recommend it as well. Love you Mel!

  7. Cindy Powell says:

    This is so good, Mel. I saw the movie opening weekend and used up a lot of tissue. I feel like some things were lost from the book in the encounter part of the film (understandably since some of it would be difficult to portray), but it is still well worth seeing and could be so healing for so many. It is pretty absurd to me that the sticking point for so many is how the Trinity is portrayed. If you DO want to be a theological stickler, there are some things you COULD take issue with–but that isn’t really one of them! (Especially since it is allegorical fiction.) For those who have less “religious” concerns, I thought this: http://wmpaulyoung.com/universal-reconciliation/ was a really good article. Of course it will do nothing for those who simply want to be critical, but for those with legitimate, thoughtful questions, it might help. I thought it was cool that Paul Young posted it on his site. Blessings to you!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Cindy. And thanks for the link. I just read the article. Very good points, full of grace, especially coming from the Calvinist point of view. I also thought it was instructive about what Burleson said, that we don’t tend to throw people out so easily when we actually get to know them, let alone actually understand their works. Yes, humility comes with greater understanding. A LOT more humility is needed. 🙂

      So much is fear-driven, throwing around the “discernment” word, meaning it doesn’t agree with my particular theology (so it must be wrong!). I mean, really?

      I don’t think most people would say C.S. Lewis is a heretic, yet his views and Paul Young’s are very similar. This is why it’s so sad that Christians are demonizing one another when they don’t really understand what they think they’re against.

      The bottom line is that there’s going to be a lot of things we’re going to disagree on about what the Bible is actually saying, but at the end of the day we’re still all part of the same family. I hope we take that to heart someday. Blessings to you, too.

  8. Pingback: Wm. Paul Young, C.S. Lewis, and my own “Shack” encounter | In My Father's House

  9. I’ve read the book twice. There were some things I agreed with and some that I did not. However, what I did learn was that the book made me want to get closer to my Heavenly Father. The problem that people are having is that they are trying to use the Shack as a theological source of study. I love reading the Message Bible, but do not use it for study purposes either. Good post.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Patrick. And you hit it on the head. While novels will have a theological perspective, never use them as a theological source (or music or any other creative form). We need to see the movie parabolically, even as a dream that Mack had, since the story leaves a question of whether he actually made it to the mountain. If I had to agree with every doctrinal point of Christian works of fiction, there wouldn’t be many I would be able to like!
      Not to mention in all of this, arguing over doctrine totally missed the point of the movie and book, which is what happens to Mack because of the encounter.

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