republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:
Christian leaders who have issued warnings about William P. Young’s bestselling novel “The Shack,” which portrays God as a woman and espouses universalist beliefs, state that if the scheduled national film release is faithful to the text of the book, its distribution could “far outweigh” the harm already done to souls through the printed page.“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,” James B. DeYoung, author of “Burning Down the Shack: How the ‘Christian’ Bestseller is Deceiving Millions” and an acquaintance of Young, told Christian News Network.
As previously reported, “The Shack,” released in 2007, is stated to have sold approximately 20 million copies and has been translated into 39 languages. In 2013, Lionsgate Entertainment obtained the rights to turn the book into a film, which is now scheduled to be released in March 2017 and is currently being promoted nationwide.
“The Shack” tells the story of a man named Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips who faces a crisis while on a family vacation as his youngest daughter Missy is abducted and presumably killed in an abandoned shack. Years later, the grieving father receives a note from “Papa,” who tells Phillips that it has “been a while” and to meet up at the shack the following weekend.
Reluctantly, Phillips returns to the site, where he meets the Godhead, portrayed as what Young calls a “fat black woman,” a young Asian woman named Sarayu, and a carpenter named Jesus. Together, they seek to help Phillips deal with his faltering faith and to learn to forgive.
The film features Octavia Spencer as “Papa,” who is asked blatantly by Phillips, played by Sam Worthington, “Where were you when I needed you?” Sumire Matsubara plays the Holy Spirit, portrayed in the book as Sarayu.
“Young’s pretentious caricature of God as a heavy set, cushy, non-judgmental, African American woman called ‘Papa’ (who resembles the New Age Oprah Winfrey far more than the one true God revealed through the Lord Jesus Christ—Hebrews 1:1-3), and his depiction of the Holy Spirit as a frail Asian woman with the Hindu name, Sarayu, lends itself to a dangerous and false image of God and idolatry,” Joe Schimmel, pastor of Blessed Hope Chapel in Simi Valley, California and host of the documentary “Hollywood’s War on God,” told Christian News Network.
Schimmel preached a message at his church entitled “The Shack and the Seduction of the Church,” which he is currently making available as a warning to Christians.
DeYoung says that he knew Young well prior to the book’s release, and personally witnessed Young’s slide into universalism—a belief that everyone will eventually go to Heaven, and that any punishment will only be temporal.
“In 2004, [Young] prepared and released a 103-page document for our M3 Forum in which he rejected his ‘evangelical paradigm’ and embraced universal reconciliation (UR),” he explained. “He has never renounced the particulars of universal reconciliation, [and] he refuses to say that other world religions are in error in their assessment of Jesus as the unique Son of God.”
Schimmel noted that Young has made similar statements in public interviews, denying that God will pour out his wrath on unrepentant sinners, as well as the fact that Christ took God’s wrath as the substitutionary atonement for the wicked.
“Tragically, these heresies are reflected in the aberrant fictional theology presented in The Shack. These are not mere trivial matters but strike at the very heart of God’s character and the gospel that saves our eternal souls,” he said.
Schimmel warned that such depictions, much like the children of Israel who forged a golden calf, create a god in man’s image.
“Jesus warned of a time, after His ascension, that some of His servants would conclude that He was delaying His coming and would also live wicked lives (Luke 12:45). Sadly, as we await our Lord’s return from heaven, many are guilty of fashioning images of God that they find more accommodating to their desires and chosen lifestyles and calling these gods ‘Yahweh,'” he said.
Young encouraged Christians to ask themselves key questions about the film’s content.
“My word to the viewers of the movie ‘The Shack’ is this: If they confess to be Christians, they should pay close attention to the statements made by the actors and ask themselves: Does this theology agree with the Bible and Christian doctrine? Or, is it more in line with the old distortions of the truth that Christians have identified as heresy as early as the Council of Constantinople in 533?” he said. “Contrary to UR, 2,000 years of Church history cannot be wrong.”
Thirteen Heresies in The Shack (From Joe Schimmel)by Dr. Michael Youssef
1. God the Father was crucified with Jesus.
Because God’s eyes are pure and cannot look upon sin, the Bible says that God would not look upon His own beloved Son as He hung on the Cross, carrying our sins (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 27:45).
2. God is limited by His love and cannot practice justice.
The Bible declares that God’s love and His justice are two sides of the same coin — equally a part of the personality and the character of God (Isaiah 61:8; Hosea 2:19).
3. On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless.
Jesus explained that only those who come to Him will be saved (John 14:6).
4. Hierarchical structures, whether they are in the Church or in the government, are evil.
Our God is a God of order (Job 25:2).
5. God will never judge people for their sins.
The Word of God repeatedly invites people to escape from the judgment of God by believing in Jesus Christ, His Son (Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-3).
6. There is not a hierarchical structure in the Godhead, just a circle of unity.
The Bible says that Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. This doesn’t mean that one Person is higher or better than the other; just unique. Jesus said, “I came to do the will of Him who sent me. I am here to obey my Father.” Jesus also said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit” (John 4:34, 6:44, 14:26, 15:26).
7. God submits to human wishes and choices.
Far from God submitting to us, Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.” We are to submit to Him in all things, for His glory and because of what He has accomplished for us (Matthew 7:13-15).
8. Justice will never take place because of love.
The Bible teaches that when God’s love is rejected, and when the offer of salvation and forgiveness is rejected, justice must take place or God has sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for nothing (Matthew 12:20; Romans 3:25-26).
9. There is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell.
Jesus’ own description of hell is vivid … it cannot be denied (Luke 12:5, 16:23).
10. Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God, and it doesn’t matter which way you get to Him.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).
11. Jesus is constantly being transformed along with us.
Jesus, who dwells in the splendor of heaven, sits at the right hand of God, reigning and ruling the universe. The Bible says, “In Him there is no change, for He is yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 11:12, 13:8; James 1:17).
12. There is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because everyone will make it to heaven.
Jesus said, “Only those who believe in me will have eternal life” (John 3:15, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40).
13. The Bible is not true because it reduces God to paper.
The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who put pen to paper (so to speak), each from different professions and different backgrounds, but the Holy Spirit infused their work with God’s words. These men were writing the same message from Genesis to Revelation.