Another perspective on The Shack

Instead of posting a song this Sunday, I would like to post a recent video from John Crowder where he responds to people who wanted his perspective on the movie The Shack. I include this because of our recent discussion on the book and movie. Crowder pretty much sums up in about 16 minutes what would’ve taken me a whole series of posts to unpack on this controversial subject!

You may not like Crowder’s comedic delivery style (understandable) but what he actually says here must be considered if we’re going to be honest about our assessment of The Shack. He briefly addresses most of the theological criticism against the book and movie. He also addresses some of our popular theology: the trinity,  judgment, hell, wrath, and mercy. He particularly hammers the evangelical sacred cow of “Penal Substitutionary Atonement” which I’ve also been critical of (click of link above for list of articles).

His perspective is a bit polemic (no more than The Shack’s detractors though), so have some thick skin when you watch. 🙂

Anyway, I invite you to watch the video with an open mind and without fear or being reactionary (no, the video is not of him laying on the couch with a guy reading the book!). Think for yourself on these things. Let’s employ the art of “faithful questioning” to what we think Easter, or even Christianity itself, is all about.

Peace and Oceans of love,


About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 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.
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15 Responses to Another perspective on The Shack

  1. That was awesome. Thanks for posting the video, I really enjoyed it. Cracked me up when he says “where’s my angry American white guy God?” Indeed, isn’t God made in our image?? Or perhaps we’ve gotten that backwards again and we are supposed to be conforming to His image? I sometimes think there’s a translation problem between heaven and earth, where we seem to hold everything up in front of a mirror and just read it all backwards.

    • Mel Wild says:

      “I sometimes think there’s a translation problem between heaven and earth, where we seem to hold everything up in front of a mirror and just read it all backwards.”

      Haha…that’s good! Sadly true. John Crowder has a humorous way of getting his point across that some may find distasteful, but the guy is actually pretty solid theologically.

      Whether The Shack is theologically up to snuff or not, what it did, in an ironic way, was endear non-Churchians to God, having them reconsider what He’s like, while at the same time upsetting the Churchian’s religiously entrenched view of Him! Sounds a bit like the kind of reactions Jesus got. 🙂

      • Ha! The church really needs it’s relgiousity rattled.

        I went and saw the movie the other day and watched it from the perspective of theology and I really could not find a single thing that gave me pause. It is not the bible, it is a little snapshot in time, one guy’s experiences, but none of those experiences in any way ran contrary to doctrine or theology. Nothing. The book left me with a few questions, but not the movie.

        There’s a saying I really like, we’re to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” This book and movie seem to have afflicted a few religionistas and perhaps that alone is a good thing.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, we’re having a sacred cow barbeque this afternoon in the backyard. Come on over and play “rattle the cage” with us. It’ll be fun. 🙂

          Let’s all just admit that it’s hard for us to give up the “Angry American White Guy God” image and move on. There’s some really good things happening here.
          Thanks, IB. Blessings.

  2. “Whether The Shack is theologically up to snuff or not, what it did, in an ironic way, was endear non-Churchians to God”

    Absolutely, Mel. Love this brilliant vid by Crowder. So much truth here. Thanks so much for sharing it.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Susan. I thought he did a good job explaining why The Shack is good movie and that’s it’s theologically sound (in most parts), just not in the way popular in evangelicalism, which I am part of. As Papa says to Mack, “I’m not who you think I am.” We could all benefit from that! It shows a God who doesn’t do abandonment and condemnation, who come into the middle our mess and loves the poison out of us.

  3. I love that: …. dry, sour, old weasels….
    Thanks for introducing it to me.

  4. Citizen Tom says:

    Interesting, but polemic.

    I suppose I will have to break down and read the book some time. Apparently, the theology is not as unBiblical as some have portrayed.

    Crowder’s heavy-handed rejection of “Penal Substitutionary Atonement” struck me as a bit heavy handed. Since his rejection of the theory very much depends upon a negative characterization of those who subscribe to the theory of “Penal Substitutionary Atonement”, it struck me as ironically unChristian and unloving. I wish he would have better explained what he believes instead.

    Why did Jesus die on that cross? He died for our sins. Based upon what the Bible says the theory of “Penal Substitutionary Atonement” makes logical sense. Is it true? I don’t know. The problem is we actually don’t know why God required Jesus to die on that cross. We just know God loved us enough to die for our sake. Since the idea of God crucified on a cross is so challenging, we grasp for a reason, but nobody actually know the reason. We just know God loves us, that our salvation required Jesus to die for our sake.

    Because the Bible does not explain everything in the excruciating detail some might crave (and probably would not understand anyway), to fill in the gaps we theorize. Does it serve any purpose to get worked up about what are essentially guesses? Sometimes, because a guess contradicts the Bible I suppose it does, but the important thing to remember is our sins put Jesus up on that cross. Where we should have died, He died. What we would not have forgiven, He forgave. With His death and resurrection, He redeemed us. Instead of Hell, we can be in Paradise with Him.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Hi Tom. You are right when you say Crowder is a bit heavy headed and somewhat ungracious. We all have a tendency to do that when we’re passionate about something we think is wrong. Especially, when that thing we disagree with is so popular. But we should still be careful about how we say it (even if it is funny!). Also, your point that these are atonement theories is important. There are least a half dozen atonement theories that try to answer the question why Jesus had to die for us. The early church had several theories and disagreements on the atonement. Satisfaction theory didn’t come along until the 11th century; Penal Substitution theory in the 16th century. The Eastern Orthodox church called Penal Substitution and Satisfaction heresies. But you’re right that no one knows for certain which theory is right.

      But on the other side of this are evangelicals and fundamentalists that treat Penal Substitutionary Atonement theory as required dogma. There are some pretty big names who say if you don’t believe this you’re not a Christian. At least Crowder is not damning people’s soul to hell for disagreeing with him.

      It would be really good if everyone dialed down their tone and we all listened to one another instead of calling everyone heretics and new agers because they have a different interpretation. There’s probably an element of truth in all of the atonement theories. One thing we do know for certain, as you said: Christ died for us and now we can be with Him forever! That’s good news!

      • Citizen Tom says:


        GM. I have a little theory.

        God made each of us different for a reason. Because we are different, we each have the capacity to see something about God that no one else sees as well.

        If we are willing to listen to and to love each other — especially those unlike us — then we receive a reward. We see something — begin to understand something — about God we would not otherwise known about. If we on the other hand detest our brother or our sister because he or she does not think like us, we remain blind to what that brother or sister has to share with us.

        I see it as just another way in which sin becomes its own punishment. When we are too dogmatic for our own good, we deserve pity not hatred. Pity, honest sympathy, may irritate us, but it also shames us. Hatred and anger just drives us to dig our foxhole deeper and call in the artillery.

        Anyway, I am just speaking as a former skeptic, not as an expert preacher of the Gospel. That I ain’t.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Very good. 🙂 Kind of like the story of different people reporting on the same elephant. One person is saying an elephant looks like a trunk with ivory tusks, while another vehemently disagrees, saying, no, no, no…it’s got a tail and…

          Love your take on the sin having its own punishment, too. And, yes, being told we’re stupid idiots never makes someone say, “Oh…thanks for pointing that out to me…you’re so right!” LOL!

          Great comments, Tom. Blessings.

        • Citizen Tom says:


          Story of the blind men and the elephant is exactly what I had in mind. Appropriately, the story comes from India.

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