A couple of nights ago I watched the show Restoring the Shack on TBN about the new controversial movie The Shack. In the show, the author of the book the movie was based on, William Paul Young, shares the incredible story of God’s healing work in his life.
If you are a Christian on social media, I’m sure you’ve probably read something by a concerned Christians calling William Paul Young a heretic. Many believe the truths of scripture have been compromised. Many declare that they won’t watch the movie and you shouldn’t either. Some say the movie teaches universalism and some say the characters representing God in the movie are graven images. But in this beautiful work of fiction, I saw more scriptural truth than I did anything else.
Steve Brown, founder of Key life ministries and a seminary professor, likes to say 50% of what he says is wrong, so those who are listening to him will have to check to find out which part is true. I believe this applies to the movie The Shack, too. Certainly, every believer looking to find theological truths in this movie should examine the scriptures. However, they should also bear in mind that William Paul Young wrote this as a work of fiction.
Christians are instructed by scripture to be concerned about theological truths and the destructiveness of heretical teachings. Jesus warned about wolves in sheep’s clothing. The apostle Paul described the destructiveness of the wolves with many tears.
The little book of Jude is dedicated to warning the church about false teachers. His book reveals false prophets who aren’t on the movie screen or in a book, but in the church.
These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.
Whenever there is division among Christians, we the church of Jesus Christ called to love one another and bear with one another, need to especially take a closer look. Scripture is clear at the heart of division is pride. And that never brings about anything good. However, Jude also reveals to us that these false teacher are sitting next to us at church. They might be your pastor or a deacon. They might be your best Paul warns that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
Deception is deception because it takes what belongs to you without you even knowing it, and our family has lost a lot. We didn’t get led astray by a wrong message we heard in a movie or a book, rather it was by a man we trusted to lead us.
With all that said, I’m not trying to start a fight. There’s enough of that going on already! I’m just here to share how this inspiring movie impacted me.
William Paul Young grew up in a crushing religious environment. He was the child of a missionary. He was sexually abused multiple times as a child. He wrote the book The Shack originally as a Christmas gift for his kids, because he didn’t have money to buy them a present. The book being published was even a fluke.
Paul also lived his life in ministry for years as what he calls a pretender and a predator. His poor moral choices did great harm to his family that it took 11 years to heal from.
The inspiration behind the book was Paul’s own realization that those who grow up in broken homes have on the inside something that is like a broken shack in desperate need of repair. He shares how over the years his relationship with God began to restore his own broken down shack. The book and movie are a reflection of the amazing work God did in his life over about 11 year period of time. His story resonates with me because of what I’ve learned over the past few years about trauma and what it does to our brains. It’s a long process of healing to get out of trauma mode. Our bodies do not forget the damage that has been done. Love and compassion and relationships are what bring healing. Especially if it’s from a parent who will never let us down – Our Perfect Heavenly Father. I thank God that He is restoring my own broken down shack.
As Christians our broken stories reveal a God who relentlessly pursues us and meets us where we are. He’s the only one who can see all the pain and know what we need. Certainly, Scripture is the ultimate source where God is revealed to us. But scripture teaches us that Creation reveals God, too. I heard Steve Brown say recently because Jesus says He is Truth that wherever truth is Jesus is there. And Paul’s true story of brokenness and restoration was the truth I needed to hear. In my own journey, God has used other’s books and stories many times to reveal the true nature of God’s loving character and gradually over time to meet me in some really dark places where the Bible only reminded me of my own spiritual abuse. Truly, God knows our pain and meets us just where we are.
Everyone’s journey is different, because we are all uniquely designed by our Creator. And it’s not anyone else’s place to judge the work that God is doing in someone else’s life. Judgement day will come, and according to Jesus what we see is going to surprise the religious people especially.
So be careful before you label someone a heretic. Be careful before you judge another’s heart. And don’t forget what God says about the human heart and that you have one. God is the only judge, because He’s the only one whose motives are totally pure and good.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT
A house divided cannot stand. We should never compromise the truth, but we shouldn’t squash the good in our efforts to be right either. And for someone like me The Shack has been a clear evidence of His goodness and love for me. You don’t have to agree, but Jesus does call you to love.
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
Ephesians 4:2-4 NLT
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.