Should You See/Read the Shack?

I received the following question:

This is an off topic question, but do you feel it’s harmful for a believer to watch such movies as The Shack? Of course, all entertainment that we view should be weighed … but this seems to be the topic of discussion in my neck of the woods. Just like hearing your perspective.

The Shack novel was controversial in Christianity so it’s no surprise that the belated appearance of the movie adaptation has resurrected the same controversy. The Christian concern is that The Shack is “heretical,” containing non-Christian, unbiblical teaching—often in disregard to what the book actually says. The claim is that these are harmful to the believer. This naturally leaves some uncertain or scared to even touch the book. Could it put your salvation in “danger?”

Are Christians right to warn people about the The Shack and even tell them not to see the movie (like they did with the novel)?

Good Intentions, Bad Paradigm

Christians who consider The Shack “dangerous” have written blog posts and even entire books against it. They list all the areas they perceive that it deviates from correct Christian theology and the Bible. Their intentions may be good, but their response is not helpful, making people afraid to read a book about God’s forgiveness and healing love. (Unless you consider how many people are intrigued to read the book because of its “taboo” reputation. This helps even more people to find the book.)

First of all, Christians like this fail to recognize that it’s only their opinion that this book is teaching heresy. Not all Christians agree with this opinion. Why? Because what the Bible teaches is not clear enough to not leave room for debate. That’s why there are 40,000 warring denominations of Christianity with different beliefs and doctrines. That’s why there are pretrib rapturists and post-trib rapturists reading the same Bible. There is no authority today on what is right and what is wrong to settle all this. Jesus or the Apostles are not here. That leaves us with only Christian opinions.

From that opinion, they make a quantum leap: this heresy is harmful to people. Where’s the proof? It’s just more opinion, even if it cites a verse to back it up. People quoting verses so often fail to realize that there are many possible meanings to a verse, not just the one they imagine and are using.

If God has left it this way, in total confusion over what the “right” beliefs are, and if “right” beliefs are as important as Christians make them out to be, then who can be saved? Most would be lost if the Christian paradigm is accurate. Few would stumble upon the right beliefs among all the confusion and disagreement in Christian circles.

Is that how a loving God set up the world, created us as flawed humans learning as we go in a world full of deception (Rev 12:9), dooming most us to be lost in our wrong beliefs?

Christianity’s Incorrect Focus on Beliefs (“Orthodoxy”)

No, I’m sure God has a better plan than that. The Christian focus on orthodox is where the problem lies. Most Christians don’t realize that this focus deviates from the focus Jesus had.

If you study the words of Jesus in the Gospels, you will find no such focus on orthodoxy, or right beliefs. He only debates theology when the self-appointed religious police of his day bring it up. Usually it comes in the form of an attack. They accuse him over how he fails to keep their invented religious laws like sabbath restrictions and kosher rules. Jesus responds with a rebuke that demonstrates how their position or tradition contradicts Scripture or how Scripture contradicts it.

Let’s not forget that they called Jesus a heretic for his deviation from their version of right theology. Sound familiar?

Go read the Sermon on the Mount and notice what Jesus teaches there. It’s all about doing the right things (love, compassion) with the right motives (faith in God’s goodness for all). Also known as orthopraxy, the counter-point to orthodoxy. He spends zero time on theology, religion, rituals, and other things that religion is concerned with.

Christianity deviates from this focus as all religions do. Not knowing this, we all turn to religion when we find Jesus’ words to hard to understand and follow directly, on our own. Yet turning to the wide path of religion and false teachers who lack good fruit is exactly what Jesus warned not to do.

Deception Unavoidable, But Here’s How You Mitigate It

I have news for those who, with their incorrect orthodoxy paradigm, worry about being deceived in their beliefs from books and movies like The Shack.

We’re all already deceived and full of wrong beliefs (Rev 12:9). All humanity has different ideas on theology. Imagine the ideas human imaginations came up with before there was a Bible or Christianity to guide them? Actually, the Bible and Christianity have done little to unify our theology, as already stated.

Do you want to know the best approach to deception? Build your discernment. How do you do that? By “constant use” of your mind (Heb 5:14). One way of using your mind constantly is to read everything you can get your hands on and considering it, comparing it against Scripture.

That’s what I’ve been doing ever since I left religion and began studying the Bible and Jesus’ words directly. I constantly learn and discover things I was taught wrong or concluded wrong all by myself. I then change my belief and categorize the thing I used to believe as one more false teaching. This is how discernment is increased and deception reduced. Wash, rinse, repeat.

So when I hear the religious police tell people not to read something “for your own good” I cringe. I know censorship like that does not serve a person’s learning and growth. Frankly, it reminds me of what a cult like Scientology tells members in order to keep them ignorant and under their control. I realize people who censor The Shack mostly have better motives, yet the censorship they share in common with cults is still suspect.

If you want to read or see The Shack, go ahead without fear of getting doctrinal cooties, being deceived or losing your salvation. Your righteousness and salvation today, like Abraham’s was 4000 years ago, is based on your faith in God’s word (Gen 15:6) as evidenced by your acting out the Law of Christ taught in that word (Gal 6:2=Mt 19:17-19). It’s not about not being deceived or holding to the theological opinion of a mere religion.

6 thoughts on “Should You See/Read the Shack?”

  1. You should I think be able to watch the movie with the idea it may or not be right for you but at the same time with disearment.

  2. Amen!!!

    I saw the movie today, though I was hesitant, due to the controversy surrounding it… after all, “I didn’t want to go against God”….
    I loved it! In fact, found my heart in tune with much of it. I found it to be a blessing!
    Tim, your words, “This is how discernment is increased and deception reduced. Wash, rinse, repeat”… hit home with me. It took me leaving the ‘church’ to find what my heart was yearning for – the True Christ! Though I’ve not “arrived”… I am ever thankful for where I am – and thankful for your thoughts.

  3. I also agree Sherry.

    PPL need to read the bible for themselves and NOT depend on the church pastor to tell them all they need to know.

    Nothing wrong with going to church, just don’t depend on the church to teach you everything, and the fellowship is a real blessing too.

    My last point for consideration is, God only lets us learn what what we can handle!! The more we learn, the more satan will be drawn to attack us.


  4. Although I agree that you will not get cooties or anything like that from reading/watching The Shack, there are certain essentials of the Christian faith that one should keep in mind. Discernment is based on criteria, and is not emotionally based. A person with discernment makes judgement calls, much like the way a referee discerns whether a play is in-bounds or out-of-bounds. There are rules, lines painted on the playing field, and specific guidelines to follow. In Christianity, we call those rules the doctrines of orthodoxy. You need to focus on orthodoxy, because that is the yardstick that your discernment works with. Discernment is meaningless without it.

    • Christian orthodox “doctrine” is drawn mostly on tradition, not truth, not directly Scripture-only. That’s why there’s 40,000 divergent, warring denominations. The yardstick therefore is really the Word of God (Lk 21:8), not what a religion invented 300 years after Christ says.


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