The Two Sides of ‘The Shack’

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The Two Sides of ‘The Shack’

By Jacqueline Napoli


The Shack tackles incredibly deep topics from the first instant. The main character, Mack, survives a “Christian,” but horribly abusive, childhood. Later, he loses his little girl in a brutal nightmare, leaving Him wary of God’s “love.” He then miraculously meets the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are cast perfectly – kind, joyous, radiating love. But the Father and Holy Spirit are presented as flesh-and-blood women, one of the main controversies surrounding The Shack. Still, the film is packed with profound lessons, most of which share wisdom, but others have some error.

Things The Shack gets right

  • God is the Great “I AM”
  • The Bible is true.
  • The main thing in life is to be loved by God and to give that love to others
  • God is good. There is no evil in Him whatsoever.
  • God reveals Himself in various ways that we can handle and relate to.
  • He suffers with us in our pain.
  • He brings good out of every single thing in our lives.
  • A world-class lesson on how to forgive unforgivable hurts. Incredible.
  • God is fun, happy, funny, joyous, and in a word, Love.
  • He doesn’t want slaves, He wants friends.
  • He wants us to experience His love and be made whole, and our pain is a way to do that.
  • Our biggest problem is that we don’t believe God is good.

All told, I think that’s a pretty impressive list. It’s nice to go to a Hollywood movie that gets so many things right about the heart of God. It draws us into the reality that God is extremely nice, and that every single one of us matters an awful lot to Him, because He is just plain Love. But the movie does miss the mark a little on the nature and justice of God.

Things The Shack doesn’t quite get right:

  • The Father and the Holy Spirit aren’t women or genderless. Jesus became a man, but God and the Holy Spirit are eternally Spirit. Fathers also cannot be female. God has “feminine” features, like nurturing, tenderness, and compassion, but this does not make Him a female.
  • The Shack suggests that all people are God’s “children,” but really, becoming a child of God is a choice a person makes by putting their trust in Jesus. Until then, we are His creation, but we aren’t His kids – there is no knowledge of Him yet, no relationship.
  • God does work every single thing for good, but only in the lives of those who love Him and are living out His purpose for their lives (Romans 8:28).
  • God does have wrath. In the movie, Papa claims to not have wrath, but the Bible says, “Anyone who believes in God’s son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment,” (John 3:36).
  • Papa says “the truth sets everyone free.”  But Jesus said that whoever holds to His teaching, would “know the truth, and the truth will set [them] free,” (John 8:32).

I especially love how The Shack shows us that God is in love with every person in the world, deeply desiring relationship with us, and how He brings good even out of horrible evil.  I suppose the one main thing I would fix about The Shack would be for it to let us know that prayerful, humble reading of the Bible is the only way to find out exactly who God is. Otherwise we tend to make up our own god, one we are comfortable with, one who doesn’t challenge us out of our comfort zones or biases.  Experiences can lead us down the wrong path, but the words in the Bible are pure, trustworthy, and endure forever. No one who keeps His words will ever be disappointed.