Movie Review: The Shack

Posted on March 15, 2017 by Steve Willis in Article from The Messenger

I’m not Roger Ebert, but a lot of people have asked me my opinion on the recently released movie entitled, The Shack.  I hadn’t really planned to see the show, but due to its religious nature, and because there is sooooo much theology being taught by the movie, I figure it’s probably wise for me to
weigh in.

On a positive note, let me first say that the movie is well-produced.  Unlike a lot of B-movies that come out of Hollywood, the producers of The Shack had the resources to include good special effects, good actors, musical score, etc.  It’s a legit movie from a production standpoint.

I was also moved by the theme of the story.  I think any parent would be touched by the positive ideals of the movie: forgiveness, family, love.  I could say a lot of good things about the movie.

But I kind of look at The Shack the way I look at Joel Osteen.  Joel makes a lot of people feel better, he’s encouraging, he can be uplifting, but when he tries to teach theology he’s just off….way off.  There’s a fine line between heresy and just plain old false teaching, and while I wouldn’t say The Shack is heretical in its view of God, it certainly misses the mark on a number of points.

The most damning is its false portrayal of God’s judgment and punishment of sin.  The movie spares no expense in attempting to communicate that God doesn’t “punish people. Sin is its own punishment,” and at another point the God-figure in the movie washes His hands saying, “I don’t orchestrate tragedies.”

Someone tell that to Joseph, who told His brothers that God intended evil to come upon Him for the purpose of saving many lives.  A quick look at Acts 5 shows God punishing Ananias and Sapphira with death because they lied to the church and the Holy Spirit about their gifts to the church.  King Herod was struck down by an angel of God because he accepted the worship of men.  The entire book of Revelation is a story about how God pours out His wrath on the earth because of our sin.  Indeed, Paul proclaims that God “works ALL things together” (that would include tragedies) for the overall good and for His glory (Rom. 8). To make a statement that God doesn’t orchestrate tragedies, it’s not a matter of interpretation, the writers had to be intentionally disagreeing with what the Bible teaches about the character of God.

There are a handful of other misrepresentations about God’s character throughout the movie and I don’t have room in this article to address them all.  But the difference between this movie and a movie like Evan Almighty where God calls Steve Carell to build a modern-day ark, well, nobody in their right mind takes that movie seriously.  No thinking person confuses that movie with the Biblical account of God.  Not so with The Shack.  It’s preaching to us, trying to communicate a view of God in a way to convince people what the Bible says about how God deals with sin isn’t really the way God deals with sin.  And to me, that’s the most dangerous part of all.

I’m not in the business of telling people to boycott things.  But I do have the responsibility of warning the flock when I’m aware of false teaching in our midst.  The Shack, for all of its good qualities, is chock full of misguided representations of God.  If you choose to go see it, just remember, it’s a work of fiction full of half-truths that could easily mislead those weaker in the faith.  God is a loving God, and we need to leave judgment to Him, but make no mistake, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).

–Steve