Don’t be sacked by the Shack
The Shack book by 2008 and rose to a great success. Paul Young based the book reflecting on his own life's journey through pain and misery to his personal "transformation” of love and acceptance.
If you are going to teach about God (especially through Hollywood), you had better approach this with the fear of the Lord, have wisdom so that you do not misrepresent Him. You must present God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. His revelation needs to be accurate.
The Shack is fiction but presents God using the Trinity as its main characters. It is speaking about the God of Christianity, of the Bible. Yet the Shack book contradicts what God has conveyed to us about Himself. The author’s interpretations are not from the Bible (“it barely even mentions the Bible”—USA quote). That is why so many see his view of both God and Christianity as distorted.
The movie, based on the book, will certainly attract non-Christians as well as Christians to movie theaters. So we must to be equipped to know what this is all about.
A campaign is largely underway with resources designed to help you and your church (school, community etc.) dive deeper into the themes of The Shack. They are offering materials to help you promote and communicate your event as well as materials to guide your discussions. They are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and so forth. (e.,g., The movie is based on One Of The Best-Selling Faith-Based Novels Of All Time. The official Twitter account for #The Shack - Coming to theaters March 3). With art banners and guides, this is a full-out promotional that they want the church to be involved with http://theshackresources.com/discussion-guide
They offer digital toolkit with a Shack study guide for discussions and outreach. 365 day devotional selects meaningful quotes from THE SHACK and adds prayers written by W. Paul Young to inspire, encourage, and uplift you every day of the year.
The promoters have collected a 1,000 endorsements of the movie prior to its opening, many are from Christians. http://theshackresources.com/endorsements
Dick Rolfe, co-founder and CEO of the Dove Foundation; Geoff Tunnicliffe, former head of the World Evangelical Alliance and the director of Focus on the Family's media and culture department.
We need to pay attention to the Christians that endorse this because they have no reservations of the confusion or harm this movie (and book) influences can be.
This type of promotion was also done with Mel Gibsons movie “the Passion of the Christ” as they coordinated with churches to use it for its outreach. While Gibson’s movie portrayed the Bibles story and took some unprecedented liberty to promote his Roman Catholic beliefs. The portrayal in the Shack is something quite different, it’s imaginary.
Their engagement flyer asks you to join the movement, it states of the movie “it connects with those searching for faith and those who may have lost their faith somewhere along the way” as well as those hurting and had loss, saying “the Shack offers a message of hope.”
The movie is done by the producer of the Life of Pi and the Blind side which almost guarantees some success. In human terms the emotion portrayal of this story on the big screen story may give people hope. Basic raw human emotions presented by the actors will move people to feelings and thoughts they may have not had before on God. But these will not be based on truth but a man’s imaginary story of God with a modicum of truth.
We are told it is like an allegory. An Allegory can be presented in either a story, poem, or picture a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms;
It reveals a hidden meaning, typically a moral or spiritual, i.e. "Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory of the spiritual journey."
Writers or speakers use allegories as literary devices or to convey meanings through symbolic figures, actions, imagery, and/or events, which together create a moral, spiritual, or political meaning the author wishes to convey.
However when it comes to God even allegories are to illustrate truth from the Bible not reinterpret it so it is a shell of its former substance.
The Shack as an allegory that compromises truth, it takes liberty to change the nature of God in the Bible.
In the Shack poster advert, we read Mack journeys to an abandoned shack in response to a letter invitation. And “encounters an enigmatic trio of strangers led by a woman named Papa.” (Papa being the name Mack’s wife uses for God)
In its most severe presentation The Shack's "God" God (fully) as portrayed as a three physical entities in the book and movie, and is presented as female.
Mack asks The Shack's Jesus, “Speaking of Sarayu, is she the Holy Spirit?” Jesus answers, “Yes, She is Creativity; she is Action; she is Breathing of Life; she is much more. She is my Spirit.” Mack responds, “And her name Sarayu?” Jesus explains, “That is a simple name from one of our human languages. It means ‘Wind,’ a common wind actually. She loves that name” (The Shack, p.110).
Jesus described the movement of the Spirit only once, to Nicodemus. Saying you CAN’T see where it came from or where it’s going but you can see the effects. likening “so is every one that is born of the Spirit” to the wind as an example (Jn.3). To call the Holy Spirit a wind (which is created) changes the Scriptures meaning of the verse. But to say Gods Spirit who is in Jesus is a she also implies he is a Man as human, but she as God.
The Shack’s Holy Spirit is represented as an Asian woman named Sarayu which is a name derived from the Hindu religion that generally means wind, or storm. It is also the name of a holy river which was source of fire. Hindu mythology says Sarayu is also known as wife of the God of fire. Clearly the author is aware of this names usage as other things he has introduced.
Many have also found it equally disturbing that God the Father (called Papa) is an African American woman. The offense has nothing to do with any race or ethnicity but with distorting Biblical theology to make God a she.
The Bible teaches only one became human; the ETERNAL Son. According to this book (and movie) God is seen as a she.
The Holy Spirit as female contradicts Jesus’ clear statement that the Spirit is called “He” (masculine term) not a she (John 16:13 God the Father, another “he”. Nowhere does the Bible refer to God as a ‘She’, God is spirit, and refers to himself as a Father and Son.
In the book we find The Father and Jesus were crucified together. In the trailer she (who is either the Holy Spirit or the Father?) she shows the scars on her wrist saying she shared in the pain of Jesus. This is more than taking creative license, no one should endorse this kind of portrayal for numerous reasons that are obvious, as only the Son became man, only he has the scars. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2872518/videoplayer/vi1568585241?ref_=vi_nxt_ap
"For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning." (p.93)
Traditional, Biblical Christianity is not "Religious conditioning" it is TRUTH that sets one free. The author criticizes, changes and diminishes many Biblical concepts replacing them with his new ones. THAT to me is religious conditioning. This book has a number of subversive themes running through it, some are not so subtle. I suspect the movie will as well.
The Bible is implied as inaccurate because it reduces God to a book.
“In seminary [Mack] had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course.. “God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects…Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?”
Overlooking the snarky attitude; one cannot accept the gospel without guilt or shame of their sin. The Bible is God-breathed, His word is Spirit. It is living, it is not just print on a page. The Lord had holy men writing the same theme from Genesis to Revelation of man’s redemption and it is complete. So instead of lifting up the Bible, it is belittling it. The reason is to fit with the premise of God appearing as three persons, 2 who are females. This concept supports the idea that God physically appears to man today (see Jn.1:18; 6:46; 1Tm. 6:16).
The book also confuses the nature of God further when it says, “When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human. We also chose to embrace all the limitations that this entailed. ...flesh and blood." p.98-99)
All three persons did not become human, only one, the Only Begotten Son. And He certainly was not spoken into existence.
When Mack asks “how do I become part of that church?"
"It's simple," the Shack "Jesus" says. "It's all about relationships and simply sharing life... being open and available to others around us. My church is all about people, and life is all about relationships." (P.178)
The Bible tells us we the people are the church, the entry into the body of Christ is by believing the gospel. The church is about our relationship to Jesus, and secondary to the people. No matter what else the Shack says, accurate or not, this point is missing. Mack asked a good question and received a convoluted answer from Jesus. Unlike what Jesus said to Nicodemus “that you must be born again” (spiritually reborn).
Paul Young writes:
“Selfishly, one of the reasons I’m excited about the film is that I will be given the very rare opportunity to have creative input. Often, when a book gets turned into a movie, the author gets shut out of the filmmaking process. However, after having many conversations with a lot of wonderful people in Hollywood, I’ve been told that my voice and opinions will be an important part of the movie”
“Given all that, I am confident that The Shack is going to be a movie that remains true to the message and spirit of the book.”
Which book? His, not the Bible. And that is the concern, because it’s his book, and it is filled to the brim with unbiblical teaching of God and man. It implies that God is already involved in all people lives as he would be in the believers in Christ lives, who believe the gospel. So there is no difference.
One should first know what the author actually believes to understand his books allegorical presentation that will now be going out to the masses in a movie.
Paul Young in an interview said he did not believe in the biblical view of substitutionary atonement, he does not believe Christ was punished on the Cross by the Father for our sins. So this man does not understand the biblical presentation in Scripture of the love of God.
The Shack “Humans have a great capacity for declaring something good or evil, without truly knowing.”
He also writes, “Both evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do not have any actual existence. I am Light and I am Good. I am Love and there is no darkness in me. Light and Good actually exist. So, removing yourself from me will plunge you into darkness. Declaring independence will result in evil because apart from me, you can only draw upon yourself. That is death because you have separated yourself from me: Life.” (William Paul Young, The Shack- quote from goodreads)
Evil does exists and it is not only defined as the absence of good. This sounds like a Course in Miracles and similar to other new age definitions. We do not remove ourselves from God but are born as removed, it’s our natural sinful state until we receive Him.
Furthermore the explanation of what happened to his daughter does not make sense if evil does not have any actual existence, “What happened to Missy was the work of evil and no one in your world is immune from it.”
The Shack presents God’s attitude towards sin as flippant, “I don’t need to punish sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it, it’s my joy to cure it.” (William P. Young, The Shack, p. 120)
Sin being its own punishment may be partially true, but God does indeed punish sin and He warns people of this throughout the bible. We have many examples of God punishing unrepentant sinners. “God cannot send any of his children to an eternity of hell just because they sin against him.” The Shack implies there no such thing as eternal judgment. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). There’s a large application for this.
The Shack: God says, "In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship." (p225)
“On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless.”
If all humans are forgiven of their sins, then all go to heaven regardless of what they do or believe! Jesus said that only those who come to Him, who believe the gospel are saved (John 3:5-8; 14:6; 1Cor.15:1-4). The Shack is promoting universalism.
God’s love has holiness and justice. To Universalists His love and mercy is supreme, even to those who oppose him and refuse His truth given in love. Then there is no judgment.
Most new agers will take this position, the concern is the growing denial within the church, and this will bring even more confusion. The late apologist Ray Yungen attended a lecture at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon to hear The Shack author William Paul Young speak. Young’s talk was titled “Can God Really Be That Good?” He told the audience that “the God of evangelical Christianity is a monster.” He was referring to the belief that God is a God of judgment and will judge the unbelieving. Young also rejects the biblical view of atonement (wherein Jesus died as a substitute for us to pay the price of our sins). https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4650
The question then presents itself to every believer of Scripture, why did the Father send the Son, deliver up the Son to be crucified. Then there is no gospel. For it says in 1 Cor.15:3 he died for our sins according to the Scripture. So according to this author who presents to his readers the God of Christianity, it all goes out the window.
The apostle Paul preached “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor.1:18, 23). He said “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1-2). The book of Acts tells us that the apostles preached Christ crucified, we are to as well.
In George Otis’ Jr.’s book “The God They Never Knew,” sin as a sickness is a false concept; he speaks against sin present in mankind as our nature. “Thus we concur that though a sinful nature is present, it originates by choice.” So we make ourselves sinners.
“The assertion that Jesus paid for our sins has caused immeasurable damage to the Body of Christ.” (p. 93)
In the book “The God They Never Knew” (Chapter - sin is a sickness false concept 1): Otis jr. argues “If we accept the premise that Jesus literally purchased our salvation with His blood, it not only portrays God as vindictive and bloodthirsty and totally incompatible with biblical forgiveness, it also presents another grave difficulty. If Jesus literally paid for our sins with his blood (a paid debt is no longer a debt), and He died for the sins of the entire world, then we can come to but one conclusion. The theological word for it is universalism, which simply means the whole world will be saved.” (p. 109)
His is clearly a misunderstanding of the atonement which is a provision made by Jesus for all who come by faith (1 Peter 1:18-19).
We need to understand his book was published 1982, and this heresy has been circulating for some time, especially to youth who went into YWAM where it was taught. So here we are 25 years later with another author’s book made into a movie depicting the same view.
There are other very questionable exchanges in the book that are seen in other religions, and not found in the bible. “Mack could almost feel her words (clairaudience) rain down on his head first and melt into his spine, sending delicious tingles everywhere. He shivered and decided that he never wanted to speak again. He only wanted her to talk. . .” (The Shack, p.153).
Mack is experiencing what is described as kundalini from Hinduism in his encounter with the God of the Shack.
It takes Mack even further into mysticism and eastern religion as he "sees" the colorful "auras" that show spiritual maturity.
And we also read, “God who is the ground of all being, dwells in around and through all things – ultimately emerging as the real” (p.112).
This clearly an eastern religious view, panentheism, which has nothing to do with the actual Biblical view which is real. If God is contained in all that is made then the incarnation is diminished.
"Such a powerful ability, the imagination!" said The "Jesus" of the Shack “That power alone makes you so like us."(p.140)
Does imagination actually make us like God? Certainly Eve imagined she would be like God eating the forbidden fruit, but it was imagination from a liar.
Some do not have the Biblical training to see where the Shack challenges the Bible, or they ignore it. This would be especially true for those who are new in the faith. But when you have pastors, and those at Bible networks that can’t see this … it becomes a large problem.
Belinda Elliott at CBN says: “As a work of heresy, however, I was sorely disappointed. I just couldn’t find much in the book that I would consider heretical.”
She writes: “The author portrays the Trinity in a unique way. I understand that some readers will be uncomfortable with this portrayal, especially with God The Father as an African American woman and the Holy Spirit as a mysterious Asian woman named Sarayu. This depiction is one of the things that many critics have deemed heretical. Some have gone as far as to cite these two characters as the promotion of “goddess worship” or a feminist God. But I found these to be not only interesting artistic choices, but actually enlightening in a spiritual sense as well.”
To say the trinity is portrayed in a unique way is excusing the new openness offered.
When Mack asks what it "means to be a Christian," the forthcoming answer is revealing:
“'Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian.' The idea struck Mack as odd and unexpected and he couldn’t keep himself from grinning. 'No, I suppose you aren’t.'" (p.182)
The Shack’s “Jesus” states: “Those who love me come from every system that exists. …I have no desire to make them [people from all religious and political backgrounds] Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa” (p. 184).
The word "Christian" means one follows Christ, no other. (Acts 11:26), it was a derogatory term used by the enemies of the Church. Of course Jesus is not called a “Christian,” but to say HE does not want others to follow Him (which means they become Christian) is incredulous. This is a promotion of what the Emerging church teaches, one can be a follower of God and be in other religions; which is interfaith and universalism.
Jesus saying he wants to join them in their transformation. Does Jesus need to be transformed? Only sinners need a transformation.
All this shows is liberal theology intruding on Biblical teaching of the Trinity and the nature of God and man. The Shack becomes more than allegorical, extending beyond the parameters of Scripture it presents a different nature of God, Jesus and man. Sounds so much like other new age books, i.e. The Course of Miracles.
Often what happens is that people read the book and want to see the movie, or people see the movie and then want to read the book. Some will be learning from this book for the first time others will unfortunately get into this even deeper.
A lot of people would say the book is good because it helps people. But, there are many things that help temporarily that are not of God. … our “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33)
How much wrong teaching can be put in one book and passed off as Christian? This shows that Bible understanding in our age is at an all-time low.
Along with portrayals of human emotion the music in the Shack movie may cover-up the actual false teaching and representations of God because of talented actors and musicians. https://genius.com/albums/Various-artists/The-shack-music-from-and-inspired-by-the-original-motion-picture
I don’t expect Hollywood to get the Bible right, nor do I think they care to. I’m not trying to be critical of the actors who are employed to do their job. It is the storyline that will bring confusion to so many who will assume that it’s really based on the bible.
This book/movie will prevent people from believing the gospel by its portrayal of how God acts. The Shack portrays God working with everyone without Christ.
The message in the book The Shack is not biblical teaching, but has New Age thought and Eastern mysticism disguised in a Christian wrapper. Let me put it squarely and bluntly the New Age Movement is spreading and the target has always been the church.
If the book is this off and the movie is based on the book then what God are they presenting to the world? Should we not counter the counterfeits that come by books and movies that compete with the real Jesus (Jude 3) and mislead those who search for the truth.
For more on the book see http://www.letusreason.org/bookR21.htm