William P. Young published his novel, The Shack, in 2007 and a movie based on it will be released on March 3. In 2007 lots of people began reading the book and immediately the questions started swirling. Questions about the trinity, God’s punishment of sinners, God’s authority over people, the meaning of the Bible, universalism, and more in the minds of some readers revealed how many other readers are void of biblical discernment.
Over 18 million books have been sold. Now the movie is coming out. That means a lot of our friends will find themselves liking what they read and see. Many church members are now asking, “What should we do?” “Should we see or read it?” “Should we condemn it?” “Should we go with our friends to watch it or stay in our book club and read along?” Here’s my advice.
Be warned, there are dangerous heresies in the book! Go read these reviews in order to be fully aware of what’s in it. Click here for reviews by Tim Challies, by Al Mohler, by Randy Alcorn and one on the movie, Why I Won’t Be Seeing The Shack Movie by Tim Challies.
But at the same time my advice to believers is that we should not bury our head in the sand and refuse to acknowledge The Shack. Why not read or watch it with your friends. By all means, use your theological discernment and treat this as an opportunity to help your friends go deeper into the Scriptures. There are some good things in the book that are worthy of affirmation. But the bad in the book far outweighs the good so that I cannot recommend it as a good book. However, it can certainly provide us with an occasion to go deeper with friends on the truth of God and the gospel.
I read the book a few years ago and here’s what I liked about it. You can see in it that God cares deeply about deeply wounded people. God does something about wounded people. He’s not afraid of messes in life, even the worst. He is full of grace toward those He restores and He’s good at restoring people. He desires a loving relationship with His children. And you also see there is no sin or suffering that is beyond the sufficiency of God’s grace. All these things are clearly taught in the Bible.
The things I didn’t like have been expressed well in the reviews above. The great things about God and His restoration are represented as available to you only if you get outside the teachings of the Bible. It is as if maybe the Bible won’t let you in on the good parts about God. And the same for the church; certainly the great things about God can never be found in the church. It is a must for you to put the church aside to really get God and healing. And tragically, those who have suffered terrible evils in the world cannot expect to find any real justice from the God of heaven. He appears to be perfectly fine with people who perpetrate diabolical acts toward the weakest among us. Where does that leave the oppressed? This is not the God of the Bible!
So here’s a suggestion. If your friends are reading or watching it. Do it along with them. Study up on these links. Pray hard for the heart of your friends. Find a way to engage in meaningful and loving discussion. You can use this, By Michael Youssef, as a guide for talking through it with them. Invite them to take a closer look at the Bible with you and let it turn into a series of Bible studies where God’s word will be free to speak to your friends things that you cannot say. It just might be that He transforms their heart and draws them close to Himself and the Scriptures.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful?