I’ve written about the controversy regarding The Shack before. My wife and I are currently reading the book, and this last weekend we went to go see the movie. Here is what I thought.
The Shack is a pretty good movie, but it is definitely geared toward a specific audience. Its not really geared to the skeptics who question the existence of God because of a lack of evidence. It is also not really geared towards those who are super confident in their faith. Instead, its a movie and a story that is geared to those who are hurting. The Shack’s target audience, besides fans of the book, is people who have stopped believing in God because of tragedy or because of being hurt by the Church.
I found the depiction of God in The Shack to be pretty good, but not perfect by any means. This is a story; a parable to try and show the heart of God towards those who have written God off because of pain and tragedy. Its main focus revolves around grace, forgiveness, and relationship. These are repeated themes throughout the movie, and all of those things are at the core of what it means to be a Christ follower. More than that, all of those things are at the core of what it means to be loved by God. As Papa (God the Father) says in the movie – I am quite fond of you.
There are a few things that are theologically borderline, if not outright incorrect. Papa claims to have no wrath while visiting with the main character Mackenzie over breakfast. This kind of brushes over more uncomfortable parts of Scripture, specifically those found in the Old Testament. Also, later in the film, Jesus claims that He doesn’t care what people call Him as long as they know His love. These couple of instances made me squirm in my seat and made me a little uneasy. They are pretty significant theological statements that go against some pretty traditional Christian beliefs.
However, many of the stories that Jesus told to illustrate the Kingdom of God and the nature of the Father were quite scandalous. Many times, the stories would be a spiritual gut punch to the religious zealots of the time.
In the end, The Shack is not theologically perfect. I also didn’t really find it to be necessarily heretical. The Shack is a story for those who are hurting and need healing. Its a story about God’s desire to heal our hurts and to live in relationship with us. It may miss the mark on some things, but in this case it may be best to not throw everything away.
After all, I do believe that Papa really is quite fond of us.