I’m going to review the Christian movie “The Shack”. My reason? There are literally Christians who claim the film is not Christian at all but rather a false teaching and blasphemous. In response to these absolutely unfounded allegations, I will likely be saying a few things in this article that will anger some of the hyper-scrutinizers, who literally believe they are in some way doing God and the Christian community a favor by doing things like boycotting the film. Rather, they are doing the Christian community an injustice. Now let me explain what these complaints against “The Shack” are and then try to get the pretentious movie watchers an explanation. This likely will do no good ‘for them’ because there is a “pride” type stance that some Christians will stick-to, to save face and to prevent any perceptions that they could be wrong very wrong. If you are one who sees serious problems with this movie but you are too lazy to read this review, you may want to examine yourself to see if you might actually be a busybody who enjoys interjecting their self into the negative side of unwarranted controversies.
Here’s the basic movie subject matter: A mother, dad and two siblings lose their third and youngest child to a rapist-murderer of children, while they are on a camping trip (the set up for this was very well thought-out by the producers/directors). The dad was especially close to his murdered 7 year old daughter. She was basically a daddy’s girl and he falls into extremely deep depression; even contemplating suicide as a Christian man. He develops a seething hatred for God because he didn’t stop the tragedy. He goes to the shack where her life was taken, after receiving a note in his mailbox from “Papa” by supernatural delivery (see the movie for more details). Papa was the family’s endearing name for God, when they prayed. When the father of the slain daughter reached the shack, he found the same blood-stained wood floor he had seen before, when her body was found. His intention was to kill the man who took his daughter from him but his own hatred was destroying him. As he lay crying on the floor of the shack for hours, he fell asleep (keep in mind there are more details – see the movie).
He awoke and began to walk back to his borrowed camper-truck but was startled by a man walking in the snow-covered woods. At first he tried to ready the pistol be brought to the woods with him, to kill his daughter’s murderer. He saw the peace within this man, knowing he was not the murderer and by the fact that he wanted him to follow him, where he said he could warm himself from the hard, cold weather. He felt compelled to follow this man who he was yet to realize, was the Lord Jesus Christ. There was an area he began to enter as he walked, in which the hard coldness, changed to a beautiful sunny path that led to a beautiful shack with gorgeous outdoors surroundings. Jesus led the broken-hearted man to an attractive, very pleasant black lady, who was also pleasantly plump but who beamed with love. The man said “Do I Know You?” He asked this because he recognized her. She was a lady from his childhood who offered him love and kindness because she knew his own dad was physically and verbally abusing him severely when he was a child. She gave him beautiful pieces of pie back then as she laid her hands on his shoulders and comforted him with pleasant words of encouragement.
Was this the same woman? No, it was God (Papa) helping a man to enter into the Lord’s healing in a way he could handle and accept it. Here are a couple of scriptures that are along these lines. – – – “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2) “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20) I believe some Christian viewers of The Shack, supposed that God has never directly presented himself through a being appropriate for the person he appears to (God is sovereign – events like these are rare). Additionally, God’s means may be through dreams or visions (Acts 2:17 – challenge: read this, you who are of the anti-miraculous/anti-supernatural camp). Jacob is one man who had an actual, physical encounter with God, just as Moses and Abraham did. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)
“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. (Genesis 32:24-30)
Remember that Jesus himself told his disciples that he spoke in parables (analogies, metaphors), so that those who could receive any of these teaching messages could do so. To others, these parables were beyond their scope to understand. Possibly these were the same type people as those protesting this movie – because they have a predisposed stance to disagree with what they will be seeing before they see it, therefore they see it through eyes of hyper-judgement. Please understand that I believe there are inconsistencies in many Biblical movies. In one of the Noah’s Ark movies for example, we see “Lot” visiting Noah as the Ark is being built, thanking him for saving his life. It was rather Abraham, uncle to Lot who saved his family, minus his wife who looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed instantly (turning into a pillar of salt) after being told not to look back. In the incorrect scene of this Noah’s Ark movie, Lot is even carrying his wife’s finger turned-to-salt in a jar around his neck. There are problems with movies made about Jesus as well but I’m able to look past the mistakes and still find blessing in them. No one can make a perfect Bible-based movie although some come somewhat closer than others. I literally separate the imperfections for-lack-of-better-term and simply let the parts I know are scriptural – Holy Bible correct, to bless me.
The Shack in my opinion, beautifully portrays the Holy Trinity, the Love of Jesus, the Comforting of the Holy Spirit and teaching that reminds us that “man” brought a sin-fall to the whole world and while God the Father does allow tragedies, HE DOES NOT ORCHESTRATE THEM. He also brings great blessing to those who experience tragedies (can turn them toward blessed outcomes in life) who are open to God’s power in healing the hearts of people and drawing them closer to him.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). The movie does imply that what happened to this man in seeing God, was a dream that God made very clear to him as being divinely provided. One very touching moment was the man getting to see his daughter playing with other children and running into the arms of Jesus for a loving hug. The movie does in fact teach about eternal life for those who belong to Jesus Christ and punishment for those who reject him, contrary to those who seemingly watched the movie with one eye closed and the other squinted. The point made by “Wisdom” (see the movie) and by God himself who, by-the-way also used a man’s form during part of the hateful man’s healing journey, made it clear that people obtain their own punishment (refusal to forgive – sometimes extremely difficult, or to be forgiven). God honors their choice should they reject eternal life through Jesus Christ. In a scale of 1 to 5, I give “The Shack” a resounding 5!