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Is that supposed to be God? Or is it Oprah Winfrey?

“The Shack,” the supposedly “Christian” best-selling novel by William Paul Young, has been transformed into an eponymous film premiering Friday.

Filmgoers will see God the Father portrayed as a large African-American woman and God the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman named “Sarayu.”

Some Christian leaders see it as another manifestation of “The Shack’s” embrace of universalism and denial of Christianity cloaked in ostensibly Christian marketing.

Among them is Joe Schimmel, pastor of Blessed Hope Chapel in California, who criticized Young’s work in an interview with the Christian News Network.

“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 – 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,” he said.

Blogger and pastor Tim Challies said he would not watch or review the film because he feared it would be an “unwise and even sinful spiritual decision.”

Challies noted the film has a number of “theological weaknesses,” but his primary problem with the movie “is its visual representation of God.”

“To watch ‘The Shack’ is to watch human actors play the roles of Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” he said. “I take this to be a clear, serious violation of the second commandment: ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.’ (Exodus 20:4-6).”

Challies believes human representations of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit distort and diminish the understanding of anyone who views them.

“To portray the Spirit is to vastly misrepresent the Spirit; to portray the Spirit is to blaspheme the Spirit,” he wrote. “The same is true, of course, of the Father.”

James De Young, New Testament language and literature professor at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, agrees “The Shack” is promoting what he calls “idolatry.”

He wrote “Burning Down The Shack” to expose what he contends are theological flaws in “The Shack,” which he worries will receive even greater promotion through the new movie.

Is one of the most successful “Christian” books in history actually promoting anti-Christian beliefs? Don’t be fooled. Find out the terrible true story behind “The Shack” and uncover the heretical doctrines being promoted. Your soul could be at stake. “Burning Down The Shack” by James DeYoung, available now in the WND Superstore.

“Here for the first time in all cinematography has someone attempted to visually portray the Trinity as three separate persons,” said De Young. “It is one thing to draw a picture of the Trinity for a reader’s mind, which may be somewhat obscure, unclear, imprecise and differing in shape from person to person. But once Young determined to bring his characters to film where they take on a precise, clear form, he has crossed the line!”

De Young criticizes “The Shack” for giving definite form to the three persons of the Trinity in the book version. However, he says the movie “raises the issue of idolatry to a whole new level.”

De Young also rejects the attempt to excuse idolatry by appealing to the personal characteristics occasionally ascribed to God in the Bible.

“Now Young has publicly defended his novel’s depiction of the Trinity as doing nothing more than what the Bible does in using personification to describe God,” noted De Young. “In other words, the Bible often describes God by using language that humans use: God walks, hears, sees, talks, weeps, touches and ‘does’ other things. There is something in humans that corresponds with how God communicates and acts with humans. Yet this is all metaphor since God is spirit and doesn’t have a body.

“But I pointed out in my book, that never is personification used to depict the entire being of God, his whole person. All the personifications depict something about what God does, not who he is or what his being is. And this is not surprising since there is nothing in all of the creation that can unfold, explain, portray, depict the entirety of God’s being – who he is, including his being invisible spirit. This portrayal has been reserved to Jesus Christ who brings God to bodily form (Colossians 2:9).”

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Yet didn’t Michelangelo depict God as an old man in his famous painting in the Sistine Chapel? De Young says he did, and that also is a move towards idolatry. However, he argues what “The Shack” is doing is far worse.

“The visual forms are like actual objects,” he explained. “Michelangelo drew only a picture and he wasn’t trying to depict the Trinity as three separate beings. The characters on the screen are pretending to be the Trinity – and that is what an idol is. The Bible forbids making images of the Triune God and asserts that he is beyond anything in the universe, that he is invisible, that no one has ever seen him – or if one does see him he will die! But it seems that Young has done just this.”

De Young accuses Young and “The Shack” of reaching new depths of blasphemy.

“By his three persons Young seeks ‘to go where no one else has gone before’ – deeper into idolatry than anyone else professing to be a Christian,” he said. “The ‘final frontier’ will be breached when he or the studio makes figurines in memory of the film.”

Is one of the most successful “Christian” books in history actually promoting anti-Christian beliefs? Don’t be fooled. Find out the terrible true story behind “The Shack” and uncover the heretical doctrines being promoted. Your soul could be at stake. “Burning Down The Shack” by James DeYoung, available now in the WND Superstore.

 

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