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alice2My post about The Shack is still reverberating about the intertoobz, both good and bad, mostly bad. In the midst of all the outcry and other distractions, I never really got a chance to address Maria. She has since reposted her UPDATE: The Shack – what do we do with this book and movie?

I actually did something I rarely do, I decided to go see the movie. Long ago I read the book, but the movie is what is being discussed, so I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. I must say, now that I have seen the movie, I am more baffled by the Christian outrage than I was before.

Apparently movies that promote love, forgiveness, and faith without the usual sex, pornography, and gratuitous violence, are deeply offensive to us? Who knew?? My biggest complaint about the movie was actually the actor, Sam Worthington. I need some drama in my melodrama and he simply looks into the camera somewhat blankly. Personal bias, I’m sure.

I could not find one single thing that ran contrary to theology or contradicted doctrine or amounted to heresy. It is a movie about one man’s experiences, his perception of faith, and healing after child abuse, spiritual abuse, and the murder of his daughter. I thought it was beautifully done.

Maria has posted a photo called “13 heresies in the Shack” I have studied them all extensively and I want to say, I did not see a single one of these things in the movie. These theological conclusions were not the ones I reached at all, not from watching the movie.

I also want to say, you all are free to disagree with me or even better, to come along side me kindly and offer some edification. A couple of those things labeled “heresy,” I rather agree with. So perhaps I am not understanding properly, in which case feel free to elaborate.

1. God the Father was crucified with Jesus.

Actually the idea is, God the Father was with Jesus, right up until, “Father, why have you forsaken me.” The concept is, God did not abandon His son to crucifixion.

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

Actually the concept is God is holy, loving, and cannot practice injustice.

3.God forgave all of humanity whether they repent or not.

Actually it is Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The idea is that our repentance did not cause God’s forgiveness. God’s goodness did.

4. All hierarchical structures are evil.

?? I didn’t see this anywhere, nor do I believe it myself. In The Shack there is a mom, a dad, kids. In the church there is a pastor, deacons, elders. These are healthy, normal, hierarchies.

5. God will never judge people for their sins

People tend to judge their own selves for sin, and sin carries natural consequences, too. God doesn’t have to run around punishing people for unforgiveness, for example. In The Shack the guy is carrying the “sin” of having had his daughter murdered. He struggles with unforgiveness. Wouldn’t you? What kind of God would then heap on additional punishment for your unforgiveness when your child is murdered? They make it pretty clear that God is not excusing anything, including the evil that was done to the daughter.

6. The Godhead has no hierarchical structure, just a circle of unity.

I believe that. I do not subscribe to things like the Eternal Submission of the Son. Why are we trying to assign a hierarchy to the Trinity? Is God limited by our human perceptions of power and so we must inform Him which parts of Himself have higher or lower rank?

7. God submits to human wishes and choices.

Never saw that in the movie, don’t believe that myself. God does however, answer prayers. He allows things in our world to sometimes align with human wishes and choices. He blesses us. I’d rather not launch into a thesis about predetermination, free will and the nature of time.

8. Justice will never take place because of love.

God’s love is restorative justice, not revenge based justice. We separate our own selves from God. Love and justice go hand in hand. Justice is not the revoking of love.

9. There is no such thing as eternal judgement or torment.

Well, I’ve never believed that. There is such a thing as eternal judgement and torment here on earth so I see no reason why there wouldn’t be in the after life, too. There are people living literally in torment and judgement right here, right now, on Earth. The farther away from God you move, the darker it gets. That’s true no matter what dimension you’re in.

10. It doesn’t matter which way you get to God, Jesus is walking with all people on their different journeys.

You have to read that very carefully. It is NOT saying there are many paths to the Father. It is saying you can start out in life far from God and Jesus is right there with you, always knocking on the door, always trying to get you to take His path. That is why we have atheists who become Christians, or whatever. People get to God through drug addiction, war, brokeness, other faiths, all over the world. God may well know us before we are born, but on our side of things, we are not simply “born a Christian.” We are all on a journey to Christ.

11. Jesus is constantly being transformed along with us.

I have no idea where that even came from? Even in the Shack, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. In the movie he’s a young Middle Eastern guy who walks on water, teaches spiritual truth, and does carpentry.

12. Everyone will make it to heaven.

?? Again, I have no idea where this came from. I’ve never believed everyone will make it to heaven. As CS Lewis once said, “there will be surprises.” Some people separate themselves from God while they are here on Earth, so it seems like the same happens on the other side.

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

The bible is true. However, the bible in the hands of evangelizing atheists is a total train wreck, not God at all. So yeah, people trying to reduce God to paper is a real thing in the world. God is not a flat, two dimension concept in a book, He is real. God is not words on a piece of paper, He has personhood.

Maria asks, “The Shack – what do we do with this book and movie?”

Well, if we’re wise we allow it to convict us, “we” being the church, and we use it as a mirror reflecting some harsh truths back at us. We, the church, meaning me too, have become so religiously affiliated, so idolatrous of our own theology, that we have been running about bad mouthing abuse victims, falsely accusing our brothers and sisters of heresy, and generally acting like total wankers, all because of a movie promoting love and forgiveness.

In case anyone needs a recap of the tale, a faithful, dedicated, Christian guy is horrifically abused by his father, a deacon in the church, than he grows up and his child is murdered. He shares a beautiful spiritual experience which led him to forgive the unforgivable and the Christian response from many is…. to promptly accuse him of heresy, attack, and go on the rampage?

Wrong headed. Wrong hearted, too.

Also just for the record, I really dislike the term “heretic.” If you all would be so kind, I much prefer “polemic.” 🙂