The Shack: Why This Popular Book and Movie Should Be Condemned by Christians
So much hoopla has been made over the new movie “The Shack.” Unfortunately, many Christians are supporting this film that is filled with much heresy. Let’s take a look at why Christians should be avoiding this terrible film instead of supporting it.
We live in a day and age when many Christians are deceived by feel-good theology. Whether in the form of books, movies, or preachers on television with white smiles and perfect hair, Christians are often led astray by their lack of theological discernment. This is a problem for individuals and for the local church alike.
Compounding this problem is a “don’t judge me” culture in which even Christians have fallen for the lie that it is wrong to judge. This is sad considering the many verses in Scripture that not only teach us that we have a responsibility to judge, but show us the right and proper way to do it. (See: Matthew 7:15–20; 18; Luke 6:43–45; 1 Corinthians 1:11; Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25, 3:16; Titus 2:1.)
The end result is that many Christians will readily accept a book, movie, or preacher that has remotely spiritual overtones without discerning whether they are biblical or not. They will also quickly condemn any person that dares to speak against said book, movie, or preacher as “judgmental.” This is causing a rise in “Christian heresy” in our culture and in our churches.
And then there is the favorite Christian excuse: “well, if it leads one person to Jesus it’s okay with me.” What a cowardly, damnable position to take. I should know; I used to take that position. I used to be of the opinion that anything that could lead a person toward Jesus was a good thing. The problem is that when the thing you are using to lead people to Jesus doesn’t accurately reflect the truth of who Jesus is, you are leading people to a false Jesus, a false Gospel, and a lie. Furthermore, you are creating an idol. Anything, book, movie, or preacher that does not biblically represent Jesus is creating an idol for others to worship. For this reason, movies like The Shack are little more than heretical portrayals of God in need of rebuke by Christians, not support.
If you’re really interested in an in-depth response to The Shack, this would be a good place to start. In this short article, Tim Challies reviews a book called Burning Down the Shack by James DeYoung, a professor of New Testament Language and Literature. DeYoung has a unique perspective in that he was once an acquaintance of Paul Young, the author of The Shack. DeYoung dives deep into the theology of Young and the influences that helped him write The Shack and shows how unbiblical Young’s theology really is. It’s eye opening.
Someone might object that The Shack is just a movie, not a theology textbook. But that objection shows how disconnected people, and Christians, can be from the reality that everything, including movies, influences our theology. And, when a movie comes along that claims to “show us what God is like” but is not biblical, we need to rebuke and avoid it, not support it.
For anyone that wants to know more of the heretical views of Paul Young, the author of The Shack, you can start here. In this very well written article by Tim Challies, we learn about the “Lies We Believe About God” from Paul Young. This is a book Young recently released to explain his theological beliefs. It will take just a few moments of reading to understand that there is nothing remotely Christian about Young or his beliefs. He is espousing heresies such as universalism, panentheism, and divine child abuse, which violate clear biblical teaching on God’s sovereignty, human depravity, salvation, hell, and the nature of the Trinity. This is the theology being espoused in The Shack, making it not just unbiblical, but anti-biblical, and something Christians need to avoid entirely.
Some of the “lies” Young wants to clear up for Christians include:
God is in control.
You need to get saved.
Hell is separation from God.
Sin separates us from God.
Anyone with a cursory understanding of orthodox Christian theology can see that these are not lies but truths clearly taught in the Bible. And yet Young seeks to change our understanding of biblical theology by making the clear truths of Scripture out to be “lies.”
One of the most dangerous beliefs espoused by Young in The Shack is universalism. This is the belief that eventually everyone will accept Jesus as their Savior and be saved. Anyone that does not accept Christ before they die will go to hell only for the purpose of purging away their doubt and bringing them to faith where they will eventually be restored to a right relationship with God and end up in heaven. This is clearly a heretical teaching that violates the clear doctrine of salvation and hell as taught in Scripture.
Furthermore, in this analytical review of The Shack, we learn how the theology espoused by Young in the book and the movie violates clear biblical doctrine. For example:
The doctrine of God the Father and God the Son: The Shack teaches that God the Father and God the Son were both crucified and that God the Father died as well. In the book, the God the Father figure says that the Father and the Son were “there together” on the cross. And yet the Bible teaches that God the Father turned away from the Son because He could not look at sin or in any way be associated with sin (Matt. 27:46).
The list of ways this book and movie violate Scripture, teach heresy, and twist orthodox Christian doctrine until it is unrecognizable goes on and on. There is nothing good about this book or movie for Christians to support. And while I’m sure someone will continue to say, “Well, there is a little good in it that points people to Jesus so I will support it.” I would counter by asking a simple question: “If I gave you an entire gallon of clean water with only a drop of poison in it, would you drink it?”
You see, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump,” as Paul taught in Galatians 5:9. Even the smallest amount of heresy is too much for any Christian to approve or support. This makes it very clear that Christians cannot support The Shack and should, instead, be prepared to explain why we do not support it. Otherwise, we are sinning by affirming heresy and false doctrine.