By Jeong Eun Kim and Pastor Olivia Johnson
“The Shack” is a movie that depicts the unveiling of the unconditional love of God in the life of Mack, who was abused by his father as a child and who as an adult experienced a family tragedy — the loss of a child. God, played by award-winning actress Octavia Spencer (affectionately called “Papa”) invites Mack on a journey toward healing through a love relationship with God.
The movie addresses Mack’s pain, bitterness and anguish and unveils the mysteries of God’s love in the midst of his tragedy and offers Mack a myriad of opportunities to be healed by God’s power through forgiveness. Viewers are prompted to reflect and look within themselves and visit their own shacks wherein pain and hurts of our pasts dwell and challenge us to forgive and allow God to love and heal us.
My favorite part was where Jesus tells Mack that Christianity is not about religion, but more about being in a “friendship” relationship with God, discrediting the notion that Christianity is all about being enslaved to laws and regulations with God being the master.
Theologically, I was concerned that God and the Holy Spirit are depicted as female. Though biblically inaccurate, it seems to be a deliberate portrayal in consideration of the fact that Mack’s father abused him as a child. For when Mack told God, he always thought God would be a father, God told him, “I can take any form” and explained that the female form was chosen because Mack couldn’t take God in father form because of what his biological father had done to him. Thus, rather than appearing as a strong male force, God, as a female, offered a very angry Mack a softer, gentler, more nurturing experience which, over time, he embraced. It was later in the movie that God would transform into the father figure Mack needed in his life. As well, the diversity of nationalities of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit appears to depict God as creator of all nations.
Additionally, though the Bible clearly speaks of the wrath of God along with the love of God, there are some questionable scenes where it seems that God denies wrath as one of His attributes. However, there is mention that “sin has its own consequences.”
In conclusion, the dominant message was clear that God is love and He wishes His creation to know that we are most affectionately loved by Him, even when His love seems unrecognizable due to great difficulties of life. Indeed, “The Shack” is a timeless work, and is an inspiration to all, and is based on a New York Times bestselling book of the same name by William P. Young.
For more information, call (708) 935-1951 or visit www.generationalblessings.org.
Jeong Eun Kim, youth pastor at Generational Blessings Family Worship Center, is a student at both Washington University, St. Louis and Eden Seminary and will be graduating with dual masters’ degrees in social work and divinity in May, 2018.
Pastor Olivia Johnson is lead pastor at Generational Blessings Family Worship Center, which is based in Chicago Heights, Illinois.