Because barely a word has been written on it right? Kidding of course.
After seeing the movie The Shack today my first thought was to blog about it. My second thought, was to immediately shut down that first thought. Surely, I am the least likely qualified person out there to write a post dissecting a popular film’s spiritual message and whether or not it stays true to Christian doctrine. A theology expert I am not and I would certainly be made a fool by anyone choosing to debate me on it.
My third thought came several hours later and it was that my unsureness about what being a “real” Christian is all about is exactly why I should share my thoughts about The Shack. The film (and the book it was based on ) was not created for those who are confident in their beliefs and have things all figured out; it’s directed at people like me who believe in God but struggle in really knowing His all encompassing love and perfect nature.
The book came to me at a time in my life several years ago when I desperately needed divine guidance and healing and it opened a crack in my heart to the possibility that God really does exist, really does love me unconditionally and really can be trusted to act in my best interest. This was, you might say, an unexpected gift from God given at the most perfect time.
The way the story portrayed the Trinity, God’s continual process of redemption and renewal, the presence of evil in the world and His absolute devotion to working bad in to good in a very fallen world really made sense to me in ways traditional Christian materials could not.
Was that God’s way of introducing Himself to me? I can’t say for sure of course, but I can tell you that reading The Shack put me on a path of spiritual exploration that involved doing crazy things like actually studying the Bible, checking out local churches and eventually becoming a Christian.
The movie I think does a pretty good job at following the book and is even able to exude God’s supernatural nature without falling in to parody, which often happens with films of this nature. Its explanation on why God “allows” bad things to happen is also very well done and comforting.
There were many striking scenes, but the most potent for me was when the main character Mack is in a boat and finds himself quickly being taken over by a black sea of ink until he finally heeds Jesus’s call to look at Him. The importance of fixing our eyes on Jesus instead of our own sorrow and loss has never been so powerfully portrayed in my view.
Does the movie touch on themes that will upset doctrinaire Christians? Yes, without a doubt, the most prominent probably being its universalist view of everyone getting in to heaven. Yet even that’s not so straightforward because the movie also strongly focuses on a God who is madly in love with His people and constantly pursuing them to return the favor.
Being a Buddhist, Muslim or atheist for example does not mean God won’t meet you where you are and accept you if you’re willing to follow His ways. Salvation comes from a loving God, not from religious institutions, a notion this movie does not contradict and which Peter infers in Acts 10:34, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”
The movie’s portrayal of God in different genders and races also did not set off any red flags for me, as it’s obvious He is showing up as characters Mack could most easily relate to and is not some sort of silly token social justice stunt.
Like I said, my point here is not to dive in to the weeds of theology. Those that have reservations about The Shack certainly have every right to speak out about why they feel Christians’ shouldn’t support it. I’d challenge them though to actually see the movie or read the book before doing so. It’s themes are more complex than you might think and hold appeal for many spiritual seekers who feel turned off by traditional Christian avenues towards finding Christ.
We all know God’s ways are not ours and it’s impossible to discern with any certainty how and why someone finally comes to Him. The Shack offers a way for some and knee jerk reactions against it in my view are a mistake.