The Shack?

One of the more popular religious books and movies to be released lately has been “The Shack.” The Shack is a theodicy (an attempt to explain why God allows evil and pain) in novel form. We are thankful for a renewed interest in films with spiritual backgrounds, but we hope to have accurate representations of Biblical theology in these films.

Mack, the main character, meets a representation of God the Father in “Papa,” an African-American woman; Jesus, a Jewish carpenter; and Sarayu, who is the representation of the Holy Spirit. These individuals, representing the triune God, speak to Mack and try to explain why God’s character. However, the Shack’s representation of God is different than the Bible’s presentation of God.

Dr. Albert Mohler presents a summary of the theological problems given to us in The Shack.

“While the literary device of an unconventional “trinity” of divine persons is itself sub-biblical and dangerous, the theological explanations are worse. “Papa” tells Mack of the time when the three persons of the Trinity “spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God.” Nowhere in the Bible is the Father or the Spirit described as taking on human existence. The Christology of the book is likewise confused. “Papa” tells Mack that, though Jesus is fully God, “he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being.” When Jesus healed the blind, “He did so only as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone….Jesus tells Mack that he is “the best way any human can relate to Papa or Sarayu.” Not the only way, but merely the best way.In another chapter, “Papa” corrects Mack’s theology by asserting, “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.” Without doubt, God’s joy is in the atonement accomplished by the Son. Nevertheless, the Bible consistently reveals God to be the holy and righteous Judge, who will indeed punish sinners. The idea that sin is merely “its own punishment” fits the Eastern concept of karma, but not the Christian Gospel.” (

The basic theology of “The Shack” is built upon the foundation of liberal theology. The foundation of the book rests on the foundation of universal reconciliation.

The Bible presents the triune God as being perfectly equal, eternal, and all-powerful–Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3, 14; & Matthew 3:13-17. The triune God works together in harmony (1 Peter 1:2-5) to defeat the real power and influence of sin (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23). Jesus is the only way to the Father (Acts 4:12). Those who reject Christianity will be lost forever (Matthew 7:21-23).

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