In many areas of life the answers to the questions, “Should I? or shouldn’t I?” are not always as cut and dried as we would like. Sometime the question should be, “Is it wise or unwise?” Or, “How could this affect my beliefs?”
How any input affects a person is not based on the information alone; in fact, it is more about the person’s heart, their deep-seated beliefs that emerge from their life experience, self-worth, religious ideology and a host of other life factors. I once heard a wise man say, “It’s not the direction the wind blows that determines where the ship goes; it is the setting of the sail.” Good or bad consequences and the degree of those consequences are often determined by the heart.
On the positive side, many people emerge from reading the book, The Shack (and I’m sure it will be the same with the movie) with openness to God’s compassion and gentleness. There is no doubt that many could testify to a positive experience after their encounter with The Shack. Those who have a grasp on scriptural truth don’t usually see it as a great threat, but they are not the ones at great risk.
Actual Interpretation vs. Subjective Reasoning
Ironically, some of the truths presented in the book and movie that express God’s mercy and goodness are conceptually accurate. The problem is they are not based on actual interpretation of the Scripture. Scripture is set aside by the author and replaced with subjective reasoning. This is where, based on a person’s heart, watching the movie or reading the book could take you toward destruction!
Proverbs tells us above all things we must guard our heart. It tells us to cease to hear instruction that leads us from the knowledge of the truth. Jesus explained that the seed sown into our heart determines the fruit that grows. There are many factors to guarding the heart, but among the most prevalent is what we allow ourselves to see, hear and experience physically. Today’s Christianity seems to have little realization of how subtle error can lead to life-consuming consequences.
One of the warnings God presented in the Old Testament was to never create an image of anything in Heaven (Exodus 20:4). We tend to think the graven image as something that only applies to deliberate idolatry, but the concept is much broader. God revealed Himself to man, first and foremost, by His name. Subsequently, had Israel interpreted God’s Word only in light of His revealed names they would have never turned the Old Covenant into a legalistic death trap. But they didn’t! They combined their subjective reasoning, carnal logic with a mixture of occult thinking and this became the basis of interpreting the Scripture as well as the character and nature of God. It was this corruption that led them away from the true worship of God and the ultimate destruction of their nation.
Danger: Hollywood Ahead
The problem with creating images of God is they alter how one sees God. How one sees and interprets the character and nature of God makes the difference between a personal relationship with God and a relationship with their imagination of God. It is inherent to the carnal mind to seek to create an image of God that is conformed to our personal liking, our preferences and the justification of our weaknesses!
There is a rash of movies being produced retelling Bible stories and history. I have only watched a few of them in order to answer questions to those who get confused by those movies. Every one of these movies I’ve seen presents a concept of God that is inconsistent with Scripture. In the movie, Noah, God was represented as a psychopath. There was no revealing of His love for the human race and his desire to deliver the world from the grip of Lucifer. I personally make it a rule to never watch anything that will shape my view of God.
This may have little effect on a person who has an in-depth understanding of the Scripture, but to the average believer he is making his or her heart susceptible to devastating beliefs about God. Remember, a movie is both visual and audible. It uses music to increase the effect on our emotions. Movies have been one of the primary tools used to demoralize America and make all manner of perversion acceptable because of its ability to manipulate our beliefs through subtle, indirect influence.
But, “The Shack made me feel so good about God…”
Many would argue, “The Shack made me feel so good about God, what could be destructive about that?” Over the long haul, the source of information can become more destructive than the information itself! Most occult groups and secret societies draw the unexpected participant in with an accepted truth. Their intentions are not clearly stated up front. Only after we accept them as a credible and safe source are we introduced to the destructive deceptions that reveal their true intentions. For the believer, anything other than the Word of God, creation, and Jesus that becomes our interpretive source for knowing God is a form of idolatry!
When Jesus came to Planet Earth He was the Word made flesh. In other words, everything God had ever said or done could only be understood in light of Jesus’ life, teaching, death, burial and resurrection. He was the first and only man qualified to teach the proper interpretation, intention and application of God’s Word. Jesus alone should be our basis for understanding God and His Word. This is at the core of what it means to surrender to Him as Lord. He is our only definitive way to see and know God!
If my view of God is established outside of Jesus’ life, teaching, death, burial and resurrection, it is only an imagination, carnal calculation and intellectual argument (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). This is what the Apostle Peter called a private interpretation: an interpretation of the Word of God bent toward personal preferences. It is the exaltation of my opinion above the knowledge of God revealed by Jesus!
Subtle Influences of Error
The author of The Shack presents many subtle concepts that, on one hand, make God very endearing, but, on the other hand, lead the viewer away from the image of God as represented by Scripture and, more specifically, away from Jesus’ representation of God. The author’s personal refusal to see God through Jesus has led him to embrace a concept of God that is conjured by his own preferences. In his own teachings he implies that one cannot trust the scriptural presentation of God; neither can they trust Jesus’ presentation of God, leading on to his own imagination.
If a person has a positive experience in his view of God from watching this movie it will make him suggestible to other teachings from the author and those in his circle of influence which are all in the realm of Ultimate Reconciliation and Universalism. The outcome of those who travel this path is a rejection of God’s Word which always leads to iniquity: the twisting and rejection of God’s morals, values and standards. Ultimately, this ends with a rejection of the biblical presentation of Jesus as Lord and His representation of God, the Father.
This rejection of Jesus as the only basis for understanding God and His Word leads to a journey into other religious and philosophical sources to understand God, which always leads to serious deception and very often personal destruction. The subtle influences of error are like little seeds sown from the hidden beliefs and intentions of those presenting their idea. It seems self-evident that the author’s intention is to mold the viewer’s image of God into his personal view which would ultimately lead him or her down the same path of departure from God, His Word and Jesus’ representation of God! In the end, those who really do not understand or believe the purpose of Jesus coming to earth, the weak, those who are on the verge of being sucked into error, those who are seeking justification for a compromised lifestyle are the ones who will really suffer the damage.
The grace of God, which is God’s power, strength and ability that works from our heart and makes us able to do and be what God says we can do and be, only manifests when it is combined with faith. Faith isn’t the belief in anything about God or a general concept of God; faith is the belief and trust in God’s character and nature as expressed through the Lord Jesus’ interpretation and representation of God’s character and nature. To experience grace one must have faith in what God says about Himself through Jesus, not what one chooses to believe.
The Shack and similar movies are like a mild toxin, it won’t kill you if you watch it, but it has the ability to weaken you and undermine your spiritual health. While stimulating a warm and fuzzy feeling it will undermine your confidence in God’s Word and the Lordship of Jesus. Be prepared to see more and more of these influences promoted by a godless movie industry that desires to destroy all morals and values presented in God’s Word!
Thanks Jim, your message regarding these type of movies is “right on” even though many will not like it..cuz they LOVE The Shack. I used to as well, until the Lord brought me to more purity of the Word.
Thank you, Jim, for pointing out possible areas for deception to creep in. I, for one, heed what you have said.
Thank you for the article. I have a willing heart to heed and obey but i need to frankly tell you that i dont really understand why The Shack is not ok… is it because we dont see the story only through the eyes of Jesus? To be honest i dont see any place in the movie where the conversations, the behavior or anything else would not be consistent with the Scriptures. Afterall the main character didnt see the face of the Father God as the Word says we cannot but it doesnt mean that He cannot manifest in some other way. Can you please clearly show where the movie is deceptive and wrong? It is important because i loved the book, i read it 4 times and i didnt see anything wrong with it and i always thought that i see deception and evil influences easily..and after reading the above article i still cannot see where the movie is wrong…
I totally do not understand why the movie could be judged as deceiving or wrong or damaging based on the fact that the same author or producer made something else where he believes or supports universalism. The Shack was being questioned here, not something else. The author can be right here in the case of the book or movie (The Shack) and wrong in his other productions. But it was this particular movie in questioned and criticized here and as I can see there is not really one argument to prove the point. it is an important issue because when I read that something is wrong or damaging or deceiving and I had previously seen it and judged as good and profitable I then question my further judgements. So when you yourself admit that there is really NOTHING in the movie that is not Biblical you destroy the review of the movie. But on the other hand I am glad that my judgement did not turn out to be false.
Hello, I have watched the movie (last Saturday) and earlier I read the book but to be honest I really do not see where exactly is the movie deceptive….Could you please tell me where does it violate the Scriptures? which verses exactly contradict the movie? I have read your article but it is so general that I still am not able to see where the problem is. Yes, God the Father reveals Himself through the Son now but He also revealed Himself to people: through the fire, Joshua saw God’s feet, Peter and John and Jacob heared His audible voice. The Holy Spirit manifested Himself in a form of a dove. Why couldnt He manifest Himself the way He did in the Shack? Could you please specificly refer to what verses prove the movie is contradictory to the Word of God? Thank you.
I think that Dr. Richards made his main point at the beginning where he says it could be damaging to young and untrained believers. ‘The Shack’ was edited by the publisher who took references to universalism out of the book and he is also the producer of the movie so he made sure the movie was true to the book. That stated, the author does believe in universalism and has written other books espousing universalism. Thus, even though ‘The Shack’ does not include universalism, a young Christian could get deceived if he decided to go on to read another book by the same author. As always, the decision to see the movie or not is between you and the Holy Spirit. You simply need to honestly ask yourself if it in any way made you look at God in a way that is not Biblical.
Thank you for helping me to protect my heart. My eyes were not open to the deception.
What about movies like Miracles from Heaven and Heaven is for real?
I have not seen those movies so I can’t really offer you an opinion.
The movie Miracles from heaven is a testimony about a girl healed from a very serious, life threatening sickness. This is a great and encouraging movie and I am sure you yourself are able to judge that for yourself and not always depend on other people and external sources to tell you what is good and what is bad. You (if born again) have the same Holy Spirit.
it’s been over two weeks and my question is still unpublished and still awaiting moderation? WHY??? i asked important questions, important to me and maybe to others also who are wondering what exactly wrong is with the movie…when will you reply?
I respect Pastor Jim Richards so so so much. Nobody is right all the time but I am so glad that I was not wrong in how I felt about the movie. I am being so blessed by Dr. Jim Richards and his books and teaching materials. They are really huge blessing to me. Thank you.
Hello Jim, I’m so glad to be introduced to this article. Back in 2017 God made me watch the movie The Shack three times. As I watched it God gave me what I needed to write down concerning the false doctrine being delivered to the masses. I actually wrote a 5 page commentary with scripture references to expose the deception being promoted to the Christian community. Some of the things you wrote are confirmation to me what God spoke to me to write. I gave a copy of it to my pastor and mailed a copy to top Christian TV producers and ministries plus many Christians that asked for it. You are the first one I’ve read that confirms what God had shown me. Great story but the New Age doctrine is heresy. My concern that I stated will be future movies to the faith-based community and the masses to deceive if it were possible even the elect. Jesus warned us that they will be deceiving and being deceived. We’re certainly living in the last days just prior to Jesus return. Maranatha!