Let's talk The SHACK. I have friends on both sides of The Shack spectrum. Those that yell, "Heresy! Blasphemy! Burn him at the stake!" Okay, maybe not the burn him at the stake part, but pretty close. Then others who have been counting down the days of its release with their Junior Mints & Popcorn bucket on standby for the big day.
I have read everything that I have come across from the former camp of people, and after praying and contemplating for a couple of weeks I decided to keep my tent pitched in the latter camp and went with my Dad to see The Shack yesterday. Here are my thoughts after having seen it....
Who I Am
Let me preface by saying, you know that I love Jesus. He is my whole life and I have no life outside of Him and His word, which I believe is where we find absolute, undisputed TRUTH. I go to bed reading it and talking with Him and I wake up praising and yearning for Him. We spend time together in my dreams and I spend all my days with Him trying to better fulfill my purpose of setting the captives free in His name. And I promise you that although I am human and am not always perfectly correct, I will never intentionally mislead you, and I will never give you a mere opinion when it comes to spiritual matters, but will only tell you what I hear God saying and see Him doing and it will ALWAYS be in line with His written word. Lastly, I am an inner healing and deliverance minister and as such I seek to have NOTHING IN COMMON WITH THE ENEMY, like Jesus states in John 14:30. Now that you know who I am, let's get to the point. In case you've been living in a shack in the woods without electricity and have no idea what all the hubbub is about, The Shack is a new movie made from the book written by William Paul Young in 2007 by the same title. Without any spoilers, after a tragedy a broken man encounters the Trinity of the One True God of the Bible. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The overarching themes of the book are Suffering, Forgiveness, Reconciliation and REDEMPTION.
The Female Father
When I first read it back in 2007 I only read it to pick it apart and critique it. I had heard that Father God was a woman character in the book and my fire was lit! I actually remember being instantly angry at the thought and purposely going to get the book so that I had validity having read it to come back and tell my friends why it was terrible and heretical. I prayed for discernment, grace and protection and proceeded with caution. What I found instead of fodder for a witch trial was a new revelation of our heavenly Father. One that reminded me that my personal testimony of how Father God chases after the one is not unique to me, but rather it is His character found in scripture. Like the Parable that Jesus told of the WOMAN who lost a gold coin and would not stop pursuing until she had it with her once again. (Luke 15:8-10) The WOMAN in the story is representative of Father God...interesting. He is the Pursuer, Lover of our souls, and as such-He knows just what we need to let our guard down to Him and He woos us in His kindness. (Romans 2:4) This is why the Father is a woman in the Shack, I find no heresy here.
A Universalist Agenda?
Moving on, I have read that the author is a Universalist who does not believe in Hell. My understanding is that he believes that the cross of Jesus was for the redemption of the all of humanity regardless of what each human does or doesn't do. Yes, Jesus's cross was powerful enough to redeem ALL of mankind,(1 John 2:2) but no all of humanity is not saved, the Universalist's belief stops short of the whole truth. The whole truth is that the cross of Jesus is most certainly powerful enough, and that it is God's will that none should perish, (2 Peter 3:9) but sadly, many will perish in the very literal fiery lake because they do not repent. (Revelation 21:8, Acts 3:19)
That said, this particular message in the Shack is somewhat eluded to, but not spelled out completely and certainly not a main agenda of the movie. Had I not know what a Universalist was, I may not even have understood that this is what was being said in the movie. The one line on this topic that people point to as heresy is that the Father character states "Sin is its own punishment." This is truth, the word says that sin leads to death (James 1:15) and we see in that Revelation 21 verse above that the second death is the fiery lake, so therefore this statement is true, but again, it is not the whole truth. It would be impossible for one two hour movie to impart all the theology of the bible. This is not a movie of apologetics. It's purpose is not to indoctrinate, rather it is a parable of God going after the one and working all things for good according to Romans 8:28. And it accomplishes that, with so much beauty and awe, it fully accomplishes that.
Oh Jesus, I LOVE You
I cried almost every single time that the Jesus character was on camera. Every. Single. Time. I couldn't help myself. The Jesus I know in the word was portrayed on the screen through this character as flawlessly as I have ever seen any human play Jesus. Is what was portrayed on the screen all there is to Jesus? OF COURSE NOT. Can any human even come close? OF COURSE NOT. But can the people watching be inspired to imagine what it will be like when they look into Jesus's eyes face to face after seeing The Shack? YES. The answer is a giant, resounding YES. I LOVED this portrayal of my King Jesus so much. It made me even more excited for His return, and if you know me, you know that is almost impossible! I didn't think it was possible to be MORE excited about His return than I already am so thank you Avraham Aviv Alush for your superb acting! Well done-you made even me fall deeper in love with my Jesus! And I certainly hope playing Him made you fall in love with Him too. (I need to research that!)
I could go on but just like The Shack did not set out to cover all theology, this review cannot cover every little detail and combat every argument of naysayers against the movie. Let's wrap this up...
Should you see The Shack? I say YES, it's lovely and exuding HOPE for so many who need it. Take your friends who are hurting and have closed themselves off to God because they are angry at Him, watch and see Him melt their hearts of stone and replace them with soft hearts of flesh that may be open to accepting Him again after watching The Shack. (Ezekiel 36:26, Jeremiah 2:7) As a movie, it is a wonderful winner in my book. (Just be sure to take a box of tissues or extra popcorn napkins when you go!)
Should you garner your theology from The Shack, I say NO. It does not tell the entirety of scriptural truth the way that a relationship with God through His infallible word should, no movie should attempt to do that and The Shack does not try.
Is William Paul Young a false prophet here to deceive the world with demonic theories about God? I say NO, he is not. He is an eternal optimist who is blinded to a few very important parts of God's character named JUSTICE, HOLINESS, and RIGHTEOUSNESS, but he is still on the journey of uncovering the whole of God in His word. We ALL are and forever will be as we can never get to the end of the mysteries of our Lord. Mr. Young as far as I can see did not add anything to scripture or make anything up, he just stopped short of full understanding. He cannot portray the parts of God that He does not understand, nor can you or I! But sheesh, I really hope I am not vilified by my brothers and sisters in Jesus for what I have YET to learn about Him. Please call me OUT and tie me to the stake if I tell you something of God that is not in the bible! Please! But if I leave out something of Him that is there that I do not yet understand, please, please love me, and HIM, enough to cal me UP instead, and please leave the word 'heresy' for someone who is purposely telling lies and making up falsehoods not found in scripture. We should be careful with that word as we will all have to give an account for every word we speak someday. (Matthew 12:36) <3
Spirit of Religion
Lastly, if you feel anger or fear in regards to the story of The Shack as I did ten years ago, I suggest you pray about the possibility of a spirit of religion that could be tainting your view. Think about it, if this movie has the potential to bring the salvation of Jesus to people then Satan is going to counter attack. How did He counter attack salvation in the bible? Through the demoinc spirit of RELIGION that was plaguing the Pharisees and Saducees.
I have falsely been accused of having a spirit of religion on many occasions as I speak about the holiness and righteousness of God and it is not okay. I am not here to accuse anyone, I am merely suggesting that ALL of us take our feelings about this and everything else to the Lord and ask Him to search and know us, see if there be any wicked way in us, and lead us in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139 23:24)
****UPDATE**** I've learned since writing this this morning that the book is co-authored by Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings. Wayne read my review and shared a post to his own thoughts on the matter. It is SO GOOD and worth your time if you plan to see this movie! It tells a bit the back story of the book and if Paul Young is really a Universalist. And I don't remember any spoilers from what I saw. Enjoy!