In the upcoming faith-based fantasy drama film “The Shack,” an adaptation of William P. Young’s 2007 novel, a man whose daughter was murdered during a family camping trip sinks into a deep depression and begins to lose his faith. One day, he receives a mysterious letter encouraging him to return to the site of his daughter’s murder and finds the physical manifestations of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God, who takes the form of an African American woman played by Octavia Spencer.
Unsurprisingly, some Christian figureheads object to Spencer’s role as well as the film itself, which purports to be a faithful adaptation of Young’s book. Joe Schimmel, the pastor of Blessed Hope Chapel in Simi Valley, California, told Christian News Network that “Young’s pretentious caricature of God as a heavy set, cushy, non-judgmental, African American woman called ‘Papa’ – who resembles the New Agey Oprah Winfrey far more than the one true God revealed through the Lord Jesus Christ in Hebrews 1:1-3 –…lends itself to a dangerous and false image of God and idolatry.” Schimmel also objects to “the depiction of the Holy Spirit as a frail Asian woman with the Hindu name, Sarayu.”
Christian author James B. DeYoung, who wrote “Burning Down the Shack: How the ‘Christian’ Bestseller is Deceiving Millions,” also told Christian News Network that “if the film is a faithful portrayal of the events and the theology of the book, then every Christian should be gravely alarmed at the further advance of beliefs that smear the evangelical understanding of the truth of the Bible.” DeYoung primarily objects to the book’s promotion of universalism, “a belief that everyone will eventually go to Heaven, and that any punishment will only be temporal.”
“The Shack” will enter theaters on March 3, courtesy of Lionsgate.