Concerns are being raised as the popular and blasphemous novel “The Shack” will be released as a film in 2017—a book that portrays God the Father as a woman, and that some say unbiblically teaches universalism.
William P. Young’s 2007 novel is stated to have sold approximately 20 million copies and has been translated into 39 languages. In 2013, Lionsgate Entertainment obtained the rights to turn the book into a film, which is now scheduled to be released in March 2017 and is currently being promoted nationwide.
“The Shack” tells the story of a man named Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips who faces a crisis while on a family vacation as his youngest daughter Missy is abducted and presumably killed in an abandoned shack. Years later, the grieving father receives a note from “Papa,” who tells Phillips that it has “been a while” and to meet up at the shack the following weekend.
Reluctantly, Phillips returns to the site, where he meets the Godhead, portrayed as what Young called a “large beaming African American woman (page 82),” another young woman named Sarayu, and a carpenter named Jesus, who seek to help him deal with his faltering faith and to learn to forgive.
The film features Octavia Spencer as “Papa,” who is asked blatantly by Phillips, played by Sam Worthington, “Where were you when I needed you?”
“I never left you. I never left Missy,” she replies with tears.
Sumire Matsubara, a young Asian woman, plays the Holy Spirit, portrayed in the book as Sarayu.
Spencer told reporters prior to the film’s production, “[P]eople have to remember it’s a manifestation of God—how [the film subject] sees God—not necessarily how or who or what God is.”
In addition to music from country stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Lady Antebellum, Brett Eldredge and Dierk Bentley, the film also features songs from Christian-identified groups Hillsong United and NeedtoBreathe.
But some have expressed concern not only over the portrayals in “The Shack,” but also the numerous messages that they state are unbiblical. James De Young, a professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Western Seminary in Oregon, wrote a book entitled “Burning Down the Shack: How the ‘Christian’ Bestseller is Deceiving Millions.”
“A relationship with God comes only by personal trust or faith placed in Jesus Christ,” he told WND. “For the book to ignore this core of faith is to propound another and different gospel to that of Jesus and the Apostles. It is the heart of the gospel, but it is ignored in the heresy of universal salvation.”
De Young said that in “The Shack,” “ultimately there’s no divine Savior and Lord, because if people including the devil and his angels get into Heaven, there’s no cross left to preach.”
“If we cast off the uniqueness of the gospel message, then God is relegated to an understanding of a deity of our own creation,” he stated.
Others have also noted that “The Shack” suggests that God is all love and no justice, and will never judge men for their sins, nor will any be tormented eternally in Hell.
“I can already imagine ‘The Shack’ Bible studies, sermon series, and of course the social media hype, not to mention busloads of small groups fellowshiping and praising ‘Papa’ for another opportunity to share Jesus. But which Jesus?” asked Amy Spreeman of Berean Research.