Film Review on The Shack
By: John Clifford
“Do not listen to the words of the prophets
who prophesy to you. They make you
worthless; They speak a vision of their own
heart, Not from the Mouth of
the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:16
I had the opportunity to watch one of the premier viewings of The Shack in South Africa. The storyline follows the main character, Mack, as he struggles to deal with his personal concept of God and the immense sufferings he has encountered in his life. The story develops after Mack receives a mysterious message in the mail, requesting him to go to the shack where he previously found his little girl who had been brutally murdered. The message was signed by “Papa” which is the movie’s depiction of God the Father. Upon arrival at the shack, Mack meets “the Trinity”: “God the Father”, portrayed as an African American woman, “God the Son” portrayed as a Jewish carpenter and “God the Holy Spirit” portrayed as an Asian woman. Mack deals with his perception of God, his understanding of suffering and apparently finds peace. The story of Mack’s discovery of who God is and how to deal with suffering follows an emotional storyline accompanied by good acting, music and cinematography. It is a high quality film production.
The movie The Shack is based on the 2007 novel which has sold over 20 million copies. While it is a fictional novel, The Shack claims to “wrestle with the timeless question: Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” In order to answer that question,some evangelicals may expect to view a story akin to the book of Job or a message to the Church to stand up against evil and call all forms of authority to obey God’s Laws in order to see evil dissipate, but the shack offers something quite different.
The Nature of God
At the core of one’s theology is one’s view on the Godhead. This most important aspect of sound Theology is distorted in The Shack. From the beginning of the film, “God” is an effeminate being whose greatest desire is to fix hurting people. While it is true that God does save, heal, and deliver people from the power, guilt, and ultimate consequences of sin, His main goal is not simply to be a shoulder for people to cry on. God is far more interested in displaying His Divine attributes through the salvation of a particular people and glorifying Himself as He redeems those people and calls them to holiness. God’s mission is to save mankind from sin, not simply act as a coping mechanism for those who have been affected by consequences of sin.
The doctrine of the Trinity is also misunderstood. At key points in the film, the main character looks at the wrists of all three members of the Trinity. Each member of the Trinity is depicted with scars on their wrists. This of course gives one the misconception that all three members of the Trinity died on the Cross. The Biblical model of the Trinity and the Crucifixion is quite different. There is only one God who is revealed in three distinct Divine persons. The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is not the Father. They are three distinct Persons who are all truly One God, each playing a different, yet unified, role in the salvation of God’s people. Therefore, it is inaccurate to depict all three as suffering on the Cross, even though all three played, and do play, vital roles in the redemption of God’s creatures. “He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found.”