“I don’t need to punish people for 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.” “Papa” (aka, “God The Father”) as written in The Shack
“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” Romans 16:17-18
This article is not intended to serve up a polemical argument against The Shack. That it is a work portraying multiple heresies has been well-exposed in multiple reviews. Just Google “The Shack Heresies” for gobs of pages that address the many, many problems with both the novel and the subsequent fictitious flick.
The Shack, in any media format, is not Christian. The single quote from it (above) should attest to a fundamental doctrinal flaw which immediately positions itself against Scripture, against historic mainstream Christian orthodoxy, and against what even the increasingly doctrinally-lax modern evangelical church claims adherence to. Most glaringly, it positions itself against the very Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are an evangelical Christian, The Shack does not represent the “sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1) of the faith to which you claim to adhere. Beware.
According, though, to the promotional website for all things “The Shack,” one thousand “faith leaders” have penned endorsements for this faux faith flick. That site, theshackresources.com, includes the following preface to its listing of endorsements garnered from attendees at the movie’s prescreening in some two dozen cities across America. This preface, for the discerning, abide-in-my-Word (John 8:31) believer, should itself be a trigger alert that the flick is a theological nightmare, unless, of course, your theology is some sort of Christianized, spiritualized, new-age make-up-whatever-you-want-ism. In the realm of popular religion, The Shack is the social equivalent of a transgendered expression of theological confusion in which absolute Truth drawn from Scripture is dismissed in preference to desirable, subjective persuasions. The preface is a hazard warning, one which should be well-heeded by the authentic, “not Christian in name only” disciple who takes seriously “the faith once for all delivered.” (Jude 3)
“The following are comments from faith leaders who have seen the movie “The Shack” at pre-screenings across America. They come from pastors, priests, ministers, nuns, church staff, teachers and parents, of every color and every denomination (or no denomination). These are verbatim quotes taken from their comment cards, and used with their permission.” Preface to The Shack Endorsements Page (Source)
This statement alone, discounting even any astute review of the book or movie, should serve as ample warning that The Shack is serving up something other than authentic Biblical Christianity. The tolerance-touting proclivities of our post-modern culture have been ushered in to pews and pulpits where the growing presumption that “doctrine divides” comes in second only to perhaps the idea that “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” While the latter presumption itself is Scripturally illicit – so often “heard” by the pew-dweller as a temporal promise to be apprehended by one’s personal choice (walk the aisle, raise the hand, say the prayer, join our family, etc.) – the former exhibits the underlying disdain for the fullness of Biblical truth so prevalent in many churches, which thus makes even identifying the correct “Jesus” impossible. There are as likely as many “Jesuses” in the modern church as there are pews where you are invited to worship Jesus as you know, love, and have constructed Him, regardless of whether you’ve got the right Jesus or not.
That “pastors, priests, ministers, nuns” from “every denomination (or no denomination)” could laud this film speaks not only to the obvious laxness of allegiance to doctrinal standards by these presumed endorsing “faith leaders,” but also to the powerful way in which the film has been able to appeal to the post-modern, “it’s about me” mindset that compels us to create God in our own image, and to tolerate those around us who do the same. The mere fact that this blockbuster novel now put to the big screen is being touted from every corner of the self-monikered “Christian” world reflects how genuinely successful the enemy is in advancing his anti-Scriptural agenda of ecumenism. For the Bible-fixated, authentic Christian, however, when the apostle asks the rhetorical question, “What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) we understand what the Lord means.
But, by the providence of God, via the evident marketing greed of the industry behind the movie, we have been given a list of “faith leaders and influencers” who have implicitly, publicly proclaimed their disregard for the “sound doctrine” of God’s Word by endorsing this blasphemous, non-Christian work of fiction. In some cases, these individuals need the Gospel; in other cases, they need a stern rebuke to repent from their endorsement of what the God of Scripture assuredly anathematizes. So we can, at least, be thankful to God that He has given us this list of 1,000 whose leadership, churches, and para-church ministries might be appropriately flagged and regarding which we may obediently follow the apostle’s command: “avoid them.” (Romans 16:17)
The opening “endorsements” page for the movie includes some notable “celebrity” “Christian” names. Here is a list of some of them:
Besides these touted front-page endorsements, perusal of the additional 1,000 endorsers yields a vast array of individuals representing churches of numerous denominations, para-church ministries from around the country, and numerous individual churches from the pre-screening cities.
The cities that populate the list of the 1,000 include the following: Atlanta, Austin, Beverly Hills, Chicago, Colorado Springs, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, Irvine, Lake Mary (FL), Los Angeles, McLean (VA), Nashville, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, Tampa, Thousand Oaks (CA), Virginia Beach, Waco, and Washington (DC).
From a casual scan of these endorsements, you will find the likes of the following organizations, churches, and individuals: Habitat For Humanity, Jeff Foxworthy, CRU, First Baptist Austin, Austin Baptist Association, Fireproof Ministries, Moody Broadcasting, Hillsong Chicago, Outreach, Inc, First Baptist Dallas (TX), Potter’s House, the Greater Orlando Baptist Association (Florida Baptist/SBC), Church of The Nazarene, Seventh Day Adventist, First Baptist Orlando, Assembly of God, LifeWay, and numerous other local churches.
Perhaps if you are in any of the geographic areas from which these endorsements are drawn, your time would be well spent in determining if you are associated with any of the individuals or ministries that have chosen to endorse this spiritually dangerous, Scripturally-toxic piece of fiction. If so, perhaps you can share the authentic Gospel with them, and/or exhort them to repent for their public disregard for God’s Word and the perspicuous teaching it gives.
The screen clips provided below are random, but exhibit a consistent theme – the emotional impact of the film on the viewer. In no case will you find a comment where the reviewer was thankful for the Gospel, was compelled to repent and believe in it, or was motivated to pursue greater, deeper truth about God IN HIS WORD. You won’t find notions of repentance, atonement, regeneration, righteousness, judgment, or divine wrath mentioned, such things being jettisoned for the more likable, embraceable, warm-fuzzy-inducing attributes of God.
But such Biblical themes are not needed since the book and the movie promote universalism. Like so much of the modern church, regard for and exegesis of the Word is absent, the Gospel is missing in action, and “God,” “Jesus,” and the “Holy Spirit” are merely the constructs of your own imagination. (God’s just happy that you’re even thinking about Him.) That such a thing could be called Christian – much less endorsed by “Christian” leaders – is an offense to God.
While what offends God ought also to offend us, the wide evangelical and extra-evangelical embrace of this faithless fodder is evidence of a continued downgrade in the church, epically highlighting the egregious disregard for the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. If it makes us feel good, it must be good. But that is not Biblical. It is not Christian. As Albert Mohler noted in his commentary on The Shack:
All this reveals a disastrous failure of evangelical discernment. It is hard not to conclude that theological discernment is now a lost art among American evangelicals — and this loss can only lead to theological catastrophe. (Source)
(The following screen clips are taken from the publicly available website, theshackresources.com. Individuals are noted according to the affiliations which they indicated on the solicited comment card following their preview of the pre-screening of the movie. Pulpit & Pen can, therefore, neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of the affiliations as noted. In some cases, no doubt, the association of an individual with an organization would not necessarily imply the agreement of that organization with their endorsement. But still …)
(Click each graphic below to enlarge)
“By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” 1 Timothy 1:14
[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]