Will “The Shack” be the next blasphemous blockbuster?

The ShackMovies about God are making big bucks at the box office, and the film adaptation of The Shack will more than likely be a top ticket seller when it hits the big screen. I can already imagine The Shack Bible studies and busloads of small groups fellowshipping and praising “Papa” for another opportunity to share Jesus.

But which Jesus? We know that the Jesus of the Bible is very different than the one author William P. Young wrote about in his mega-bestseller.

Yes, I know it’s fiction. And I get that the story of forgiving a heinous, unspeakable crime against a child is powerful. I never tell people what not to read or what movies they shouldn’t see. That’s your business. But here’s the thing. If you’re looking for the God of the Bible in this book, or thinking that this is a great film to give your kids a “whole new perspective on God” (we hear that one a lot), then I’m going to speak up and say that there are some things you ought to know about how and where this story veers off track into dangerous waters.

First there is the matter of Universalism. Everyone gets into heaven in Young’s story. No sin or repentance, no need for a savior, and no need for a Gospel at all. Last year we interviewed an old colleague of Young’s, James B. De Young, professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Western Seminary in Portland, Ore., who wrote the book, Burning Down The Shack: How the “Christian” Bestseller is Deceiving Millions. You can listen to that podcast here.

You may also want to check out the Thirteen Heresies in The Shack, written by Michael Youssef. Here is what he wrote about those 13 concerns along with what the Bible says about them:

1. God the Father was crucified with Jesus.

Because God’s eyes are pure and cannot look upon sin, the Bible says that God would not look upon His own beloved Son as He hung on the Cross, carrying our sins (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 27:45).

2. God is limited by His love and cannot practice justice.

The Bible declares that God’s love and His justice are two sides of the same coin — equally a part of the personality and the character of God (Isaiah 61:8; Hosea 2:19).

3. On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless.

Jesus explained that only those who come to Him will be saved (John 14:6).

4. Hierarchical structures, whether they are in the Church or in the government, are evil.

Our God is a God of order (Job 25:2).

5. God will never judge people for their sins.

The Word of God repeatedly invites people to escape from the judgment of God by believing in Jesus Christ, His Son (Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-3).

6. There is not a hierarchical structure in the Godhead, just a circle of unity.

The Bible says that Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. This doesn’t mean that one Person is higher or better than the other; just unique. Jesus said, “I came to do the will of Him who sent me. I am here to obey my Father.” Jesus also said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit” (John 4:34, 6:44, 14:26, 15:26).

7. God submits to human wishes and choices.

Far from God submitting to us, Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.” We are to submit to Him in all things, for His glory and because of what He has accomplished for us (Matthew 7:13-15).

8. Justice will never take place because of love.

The Bible teaches that when God’s love is rejected, and when the offer of salvation and forgiveness is rejected, justice must take place or God has sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for nothing (Matthew 12:20; Romans 3:25-26).

9. There is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell.

Jesus’ own description of hell is vivid … it cannot be denied (Luke 12:5, 16:23).

10. Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God, and it doesn’t matter which way you get to Him.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

11. Jesus is constantly being transformed along with us.

Jesus, who dwells in the splendor of heaven, sits at the right hand of God, reigning and ruling the universe. The Bible says, “In Him there is no change, for He is yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 11:12, 13:8; James 1:17).

12. There is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because everyone will make it to heaven.

Jesus said, “Only those who believe in me will have eternal life” (John 3:15, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40).

13. The Bible is not true because it reduces God to paper.

The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who put pen to paper (so to speak), each from different professions and different backgrounds, but the Holy Spirit infused their work with God’s words. These men were writing the same message from Genesis to Revelation. If you want to read more about the place of Christ in the Scripture, read “We Preach Christ” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Here is a brief video of Yousseff that is well worth the watch:

No word on when the movie will make its debut. We’re learning that Summit Entertainment has acquired the screen rights to The Shack, and will be produced by Gill Netter and penned by John Fusco.

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8 Responses to Will “The Shack” be the next blasphemous blockbuster?

  1. Linda Berg says:

    When I read this book in a group of Christian women, I was shocked so many of them thought it was wonderful. At the end of the book, the author asks the reader to go to a website. I thought it was going to be a way we could all help victims of abduction or to help prevent abduction. The website was all about HOW TO PROMOTE THE BOOK and HOW TO HELP TO MAKE IT INTO A MOVIE! Talk about self-serving! I was so disgusted with the theology, the absolute lack of Biblical integrity, the easy slick way so many people fell into thinking this was just "another interesting view of God." It is dangerous to play with the truth and this author will be rotting in hell for deceiving millions.


  2. Susan Hayden says:

    This is the best book I have ever read! I have been religious for 40 years and was in the ministry for many of those years. Thank God I realized how much God loves us all. I hope the movie is made. I will buy tickets and give them away, just like we do the book. You are very wrong in your theology about the book….Loving unconditionionally means just that…Loving without conditions. We are all born sinners, and nothing you do can change that. But the love of God did when he had Jesus pay that price on the cross, for everyone including you, me, gays, gossipers, obese, bald, white, black, etc. Jesus on the cross said, "It is finished". And it means just that. F I N I S H E D.


    • Geof says:

      AMEN; “It is Finished"… but don't forget we are all born sinners who long for righteousness, the great part is when we confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord", and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom 10:9) That is the second half of the Jesus on the cross story you forgot to mention, it's that resurrection action that brings victory over sin and death =ultimate salvation.


    • Last Train Out Of Ba says:

      I'm so glad to hear that you have been "religious" for 40 years. What the world needs now is certainly more modern day Pharisees. "Religion" is what Jesus had absolutely no use for.


  3. David Berry says:

    I haven't read any actual criticisms with evidence against the Shack. I read the criticism but no evidence was provided. I didn't see how the Shack supported that accusation.

    I can't watch videos so want to actually read something.


    • Amy Spreeman says:

      I totally get what you mean about watching videos vs. actually reading! I am the same way. The "13 Heresies in the Shack" is a good place to start, David. I pulled the 13 bullet points for this article, but you'll find a host of things to research under "Related Articles."


  4. M. Jacobs says:

    I found several things wrong with the book from the start that I took issues with. (one is that sin is it's OWN punishment….really?!) I do not negate that it has helped some people find God, or there perception of Him, but I am mainly concerned that new Christians, reading a theologically unsound book that doesn't reflect biblical standards, is detrimental to those budding Christians learning to walk in grace and truth. Be aware and read with open eyes!


  5. Craig H says:

    I like Michael Youssef but apparently he didn't read the same book I did. Only one of his 13 did I see might have a valid argument, but for the other 12 he is taking a lot of out of context. I'm not sure he actually read the book.


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