Heresies in The Shack, Part 1
March 10, 2017
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Already there has been a great deal of discussion over the recently released film The Shack (and much of it is a renewal of the discussion begun a decade ago when the novel was published). Many Christians are excited for the movie, and I understand why: we notice how infrequently we perceive our worldview in the media, so that any time our virtues seem to be presented in a positive light – as when a character says unironically: “Have you prayed about it?” or tells a friend to listen to God – we’ll show up in droves. However, it is precisely because it happens so infrequently that our discernment is skewed, we are ready to accept any movie that presents God in a positive light, with the result that well-meaning Christians are driven unknowingly to take refuge in a movie like The Shack: misleading at best, but in fact no better than outright heresy.
I’ve heard the defense given: “It’s only dangerous if you don’t know the Bible, because then you’ll think it’s real.” However, the movie presents its message as real. The Shack presents itself as preaching literal truth, if for no other reason than simply the fact that it includes God as a character, and puts words into God’s mouth. It demands therefore to be analyzed as one would analyze a sermon, not any mere work of entertainment.
St. Paul tells us, “Do not despise prophecies” (1 Thess. 5:20), meaning that if someone speaks the truth of God, then it should be accepted as such. However, that sentence continues: “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:20-22). Therefore, since this movie presumes to speak the words of God, we are commanded by Scripture to test its teachings, to hold fast to it if it is good, and to avoid it if it is evil. There are many doctrines covered in the theology of The Shack. It’s easy for the Christian to think that, while one or two things might not be spot on, the majority is good. This is the danger of “a little leaven [which] leavens the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9). Besides this fact, a close examination reveals that the majority of what the movie teaches is actually on the side of false doctrine, with very little room for the revealed truth of God’s Word.