THE SHACK - YES OR NO? GOOD OR BAD?
As leaders of Gospel Life Church, we are given the responsibility and privilege to guard the flock from harm and we take that duty very seriously. Recently a movie has opened in theaters, proclaiming to be Christian, but does it pass the test? Does it accurately represent the God of the Bible, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the established doctrines of the Christian faith?
The Shack is a movie based on a fictional book by William P. Young. The book was released years ago, receiving much scrutiny and even more scholarly theological criticism. This work of fiction attempts to answer these questions:
“Is there a personal God? If so, does He care about me, my pain, and my struggle? And if He does exist, and if He is a personal God, then why don’t I see Him coming to my aid, rescuing me from life’s misery and mystery? It would seem that either God cares but is not powerful enough to fix it, or God is powerful enough to rescue me, but He just isn’t all that loving.”
Let us assure you that these are not new questions. Every generation since Adam has faced these same challenging questions. Let us also assure you that there are objective answers to these questions based on the Word of God, the Bible. Orthodox Christianity gives systematic answers to each of these questions, which has guided and guarded our community of faith for centuries. We are convinced that The Shack does NOT represent Orthodox Christianity. Instead, it misrepresents God and can mislead people, leaving them to experience eternal consequence.
You may hear various voices within the Christian community supporting The Shack, which is why we felt it necessary to share this blog. The Shack is intended to show people the nature and character of God and convince them of deep theological truths. We would submit that the movie does not pass the test of Orthodox Christian doctrine, which anchors our faith. The Shack misrepresents all the persons of the Trinity, replaces God’s good news with a dangerous FALSE gospel of self-salvation and, in doing so, dangerously marginalizes the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
Friends, these are not minor issues that would render The Shack harmless. They need to be considered as extremely dangerous lies, that if believed, will lead people away from their only hope, ultimate help, and eternal salvation freely extended by God though the person and work of Jesus!
Please consider the following:
THE SHACK PROCLAIMS A FALSE GOSPEL
The "gospel", according to The Shack, is merely the willingness to forgive others. It presents a false gospel of self-realization, resulting in self-improvement and self-actualization that finally leads to self-salvation. This is a heretical misrepresentation of the Bible and the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is actually an old story in a new wrapper called, “New Age” thinking. Don’t buy this lie, even though it feels good and/or right. It is not the truth and the enemy of our soul has been telling us this one since the beginning (Gen. 3) hoping to lead people away from God’s true love experienced through a real relationship with Jesus Christ!
THE SHACK PROMOTES A FALSE JESUS
The Shack depicts Jesus as an unassuming, laid-back nice guy. Whereas, the Bible depicts Jesus as the King of kings, Lord of lords and to whom one day every knee shall bow down and worship. Never does the movie depict Jesus as our Savior, Redeemer, or the One who died for man’s sin, but simply a folksy, friendly kind of guy you might find shopping for Birkenstocks at REI. This gross mis-characterization of the Son of God demeans the Jesus of the Bible as God the Son, Savior, and King. If Jesus is only a nice guy and our friend, we’re still in our sin and can never have a relationship with a perfect and holy God.
But because of Jesus, who lived the life God requires and died a sinner’s death we all deserve, we can by grace and faith experience a loving relationship with a perfect God – now that’s true good news!
THE SHACK’S FOUNDATION IS SINKING SAND
According to The Shack, the Bible has no actual relevance and God evidently only communicates through dreams and supernatural manifestations. This intentional disregarding of the Scriptures is very disturbing and inconceivable while proclaiming to be “Christian" story.
Orthodox Christianity has forever revered the Bible as the only true, inspired revelation of God to man. All proposed miraculous dreams and supernatural manifestations must always be scrutinized and be subordinate to the inspired Word of God. To ignore the Bible as the sole source of truth is both dangerous and alarming, leaving us to stand upon the shifting sand of our emotions and our feelings. While emotions and feeling are good, they should not be what we cling to or how we are led. Our feelings and emotions will deceive us and change as often as the seasons. Therefore, we must rely upon a more sure foundation; one that’s eternally tested, sure, and proven to be true. God’s Word is that foundation upon which we must rely – it’s solid!
While the movie is admittedly a “feel good” story, it’s dangerously light on truth, making it pleasing to the senses but harmful to the soul.
Detecting the lies camouflaged among truth is our responsibility as church leaders. While time and space do not allow us to speak to each of our concerns, the totality of these major doctrinal objections are well outside of established Christian Orthodoxy and mandate we DO NOT recommend The Shack. We fear it is misleading, misrepresents God and sound Biblical teaching, and presents falsehoods as truth.
Let us assure you that God is, in fact, a very personal God. Because of Jesus, you can have a deeply personal relationship with Him. Yes, God knows who you are and each one of your life’s struggles, pain, and hurts. Yes, God does want to minister to you in the furnace of your life’s struggle. But we completely disagree with The Shack and the seemingly "good news" message it proclaims. Instead, we want to share with you the true gospel of Jesus, which is actually what has the power to set us free!
Please feel free to talk with us further if you have any questions. Our goal is your edification, encouragement, and growth in sound Biblical truth!
With Deep Affection,
The Elders of Gospel Life Church