The Shack: Heresy or Truth?

Happy New Month guys! And welcome to the last month of the third quarter of 2017. This is the first movie review for the month and I guess you guys probably expect that we start off with one of the current blockbusters, but I’m going to have to beg your forgiveness because this film is neither recent nor will it be appealing to all the movie fan demographic. It simply fits the mood I find myself in this period.

September is a kind of a bittersweet month for me; I both dread and revere in it. One because I get to remember that I lost someone very dear to me and two, because I get to recall everything this individual taught me and why I loved him so much; my darling bro, Pst. Peter Emeaghara.

If you ever lost a loved someone, the biggest question on your mind is usually “why?” Didn’t you pray enough or wasn’t your faith big enough to save that person. Why would a God that loves you put you through the unbearable pain of your loss? And how can you ever trust in such a God ever again?

So, you can only imagine how I felt knowing that I would soon have to deal with the feelings of loss, anger and sadness all over again. Then I stumbled on the film “The Shack”.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CL0yUbSS5Eg]

The Shack is a 2017 American Christian drama film directed by Stuart Hazeldine and written by John Fusco. Based on the 2007 novel of the same name by William P. Young, the film stars Sam WorthingtonOctavia SpencerGraham GreeneRadha MitchellAlice BragaSumire MatsubaraAviv Alush and Tim McGraw.

The film follows the story of Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips, who suffered physical and emotional abuse as a child at the hands of his drunken father, a religious man. His childhood makes him question the existence of a loving God, even as an adult with a good life, married to a Christian wife and with three children.

Tragedy however strikes when Mack’s youngest child becomes the latest victim of a serial killer.  This destroys Mack’s fragile faith and slowly unravels his once loving home, reinforcing his belief that God doesn’t really care for His creation and is responsible for every bad thing that happens to them.

After receiving a mysterious note signed “Papa”, Mack heads for the shack where his daughter was supposed killed, hoping to capture the murderer but ends up spending the weekend with three strangers, who turn out to be human representations of The Trinity. The trio help Mack in finding closure for his daughter’s death, healing for his family and teach him the art of forgiveness.

Released in the United States on March 3, 2017, the film has grossed over $96.4 million worldwide against a budget of $20 million. So, I guess it can be called a box office success. In North America, The Shack opened on March 3, 2017, alongside Before I Fall and Logan, and was projected to gross around $10 million from 2,888 theatres in its opening weekend. It went on to open to $16.1 million, finishing above expectations and third at the box office behind Logan and Get Out.

Focus on the Family had this to say: “What filmgoers do get is that God cares. He loves deeply and unconditionally. He wants to heal our woundedness. And He can do so when we let Him.”  In Julie Roy’s opinion: “The Shack masterfully reveals God’s heart towards us. 

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 21% based on 63 reviews, with an average rating of 4/10. The consensus being, “The Shack‘s undeniably worthy message is ill-served by a script that confuses spiritual uplift with melodramatic clichés and heavy-handed sermonizing.” Owen Glieberman from Variety called it a mushy, theme-park ride movie in which you get to know what it’s like to hang out with God and make friends with Jesus. Writing that the film reduced faith to a kind of spiritual comfort food.  

The film also attracted the same sort of controversy  that the book did, with Theologian Albert Mohler saying the film’s depiction of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is “profoundly unbiblical seeds.” New Testament scholar James B. DeYoung said the film promotes universalism, which he characterized as heresy.

Well, Jollyhood is in no way surprised by Hollywood’s reaction to the film. For an industry that promotes homosexuality, pornography and violence, saying anything good about the film would have been heresy. Lol! And as for the religious views, I’ve always considered religion to be the bane of humanity. Just check out the chaos and destruction wrecked on humanity since time immemorial in the name of religion.

Christianity isn’t a form of a religion but a relationship with The Trinity; the Father/Mother sides of God; firm and stern, loving and caring, His ever-gentle Spirit, that comforts and soothes and Jesus, our friend. While religion paints the picture of an austere God that loves to Judge and whip us for our mistakes, Christianity tells us that He’ll rather forgive, heal and make us the best versions of ourselves.  And “The Shack” skilfully depicts all these.

I believe learning to see and understand the different sides of God makes it easier to have a meaningful, loving relationship with Him as opposed to a dutiful one. So, you can actually go running over the river with Jesus, gardening with the Holy Spirit or baking with God. These are just visual representation of what it means to hang out with God. So how can any of it be heretic? Isn’t that what relationships are about? I know watching the film helped me deal with my loss and helped me see that Christianity isn’t this boring, drudgery of a life people paint it to be.  My favourite quote from the movie by “Papa” God.

“I can work incredible work incredible good out of unspeakable
Tragedies, but it doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies.”

Beautiful, right? And so true. I’ll sure love to hear your thoughts on the movie. Especially from those of you that have had to ask the questions as moi. Let me know if the movie helped in any way. Waka With Debbie to Kajuru Castle was plenty of awesome. You can check her out on Facebook for pictures and call to find out what other cool trips she has planned for the year.

Until next week, have a beautiful weekend folks. To my darling brother; today makes it 9 years since Papa God called you home. The ministry is definitely not the same without you. I miss you like kilode and you’ll forever be in my heart. XoXo!

 

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Damien Ibidun
    September 16, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    Speechless!

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