God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are venerated and celebrated in the most creative and out-of- the-box way in a new movie being released nationwide in 3,000 theaters this coming Friday, March 3rd.  The movie is called The Shack.

I hope that you and your congregation will go see this movie. I’m predicting that much like the affect The Passion of The Christ had on Dan Leach in a Houston Theater back in 2004, a resurrection and transformation awaits many who see The Shack.   If The Passion showed us what, The Shack powerfully reveals why.

I’ve seen The Shack twice now, both times having the privilege of spending time with spiritual leaders as they asked important questions of the movie’s producers. I have heard their heart and I am confident in the theological soundness of the movie. But much more importantly, I saw The Shack as a tool to engage this culture with the life-changing message of a God who can bring truth into the midst of the darkest lies.

On exiting the screening of The Shack in Dallas two weeks ago, I was reminded of a Houston Chronicle story I had read in 2004. Read article here.

Twenty-one year old Dan Leach had gone with friends to check out Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ. Church happened that night in the Houston movie theater, for shortly after, Dan walked into the Fort Bend County sheriff’s office and turned himself in for the murder of his former girlfriend, Ashley Wilson.

A month and a half earlier, Dan had committed the perfect crime. He carefully planned and executed the murder of Ms. Wilson by making it appear as if she had committed suicide. The coroner and medical examiner both ruled her death a suicide. Dan Leach had gotten off scot-free.

But that night in March when Dan saw The Passion, he met Jesus.

“I went and saw the movie with a couple friends. It was very intense, and having that visual stimuli really helps to focus; it does move you. After watching that movie, I was very emotional. I thought about the things I had done, and I was upset that I hadn’t repented yet.”

“Being guilty, I knew I couldn’t repent to God for it and be forgiven spiritually without going to the law and allowing them to take their course of action.”

In America, this present Millennial generation has been brought up largely without God having come along after prayer and the Bible were removed from public schools in 1963. Confirming the prophetic voice of Justice Potter Stewart in his dissenting opinion, “It [the decision] led not to true neutrality with respect to religion, but to the establishment of a religion of secularism.”

Though many younger Americans may never darken the doors of a church, as the sight and sound generation, they will go to the movies.  It’s where they worship. Media and technology are how they communicate. It is at this intersection-conjoining technology and entertainment-where the false gods of secularism, multiculturalism, and political correctness have dominated, evangelizing and converting America’s youth. Submerging them in a “Whatever-makes- you-feel- good-do- it” worldview, entertainment offers alternative and competing philosophies, ideologies, and values that contend with Jehovah, the Living God. The Shack is a potent drama and powerful tool that enables the Church to engage this generation in a loving, provocative conversation about the truth of Jesus that unveils the life-changing power of the Gospel.

At a time when the world perceives religion as growing increasingly irrelevant, The Shack wrestles with the gnawing question of humanity,“Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” Do not stand on the sidelines and miss an opportunity to become part of this unfolding conversation that will undoubtedly touch multiplied millions with this movie. Watch the trailer here.

Gideons and Rahabs are beginning to stand where pagan religion now dominates every aspect of American society: the media, public education, higher learning, Big Business, Fortune 500, the Supreme Court, federal courts, and Hollywood. Praise His name.

David Lane
American Renewal Project

From Baptist Press:

NASHVILLE (BP) — A fictional and emotionally destroyed Mack Phillips answers a mysterious invitation to a remote, isolated cabin. There he finds a trinity of fatherly love in a woman named “Papa” whose cohorts teach Phillips forgiveness and the faith to run on water — literally.

It’s the synopsis of the movie “The Shack,” based on William Paul Young’s New York Times bestseller and award-winning book by the same title, that some described as a biblically sound parable. And as with the 2007 controversial book that sold more than 20 million copies, others are criticizing the movie as a farce that serves to deeply distort rather than affirm biblical truths.

Among critics of the film is Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. If the movie is anything like the book, he says, it is dangerous in its false portrayal of the Holy Spirit, even though the book is a fictional fantasy.

“We need to be clear. This depiction of God, of Christ, of the Holy Spirit, of the Gospel is profoundly unbiblical,” Mohler told Baptist Press. “The Bible warns against any false depiction of God and calls it idolatry. Making that into a compelling story just compounds the theological danger, and when all of this is added to the creative storytelling power of Hollywood, it also becomes very seductive.”

James B. De Young, a Western Seminary professor who countered the book with his own 2010 book “Burning Down ‘The Shack’: How the Christian Bestseller is Deceiving Millions” has likewise criticized the film.

“If the film is a faithful portrayal of the events and the theology of the book,” DeYoung has told Christian News Network, “then every Christian should be gravely alarmed at the further advance of beliefs that smear the evangelical understanding of the truth of the Bible.”

The movie’s makers promote it as an educational depiction of the love of the true God, and offers free resources intended to be evangelistic and educational, including movie clips, a downloadable Scripture-laden discussion guide, bookmarks and flyers.

“Our discussion guide is designed to help you dive deeper into the themes of The Shack with members of your church, school, community and others,” the guide is described at theshackresources.com. “We’ve added Scripture verses and discussion questions to help you unpack each section. Feel free to follow the prompts or use this guide as a jumping off point for your own insights. You may present the movie clips in your service or group setting.”

Eugene Peterson, retired Presbyterian pastor and author of the award-winning “The Message” Bible, praised the book as comparable to the classic “Pilgrim’s Progress,” but Peterson is not listed among the movie’s endorsers. Instead, top endorsements on the movie’s website are offered by Dick Rolfe, co-founder and CEO of the Dove Foundation; Geoff Tunnicliffe, former head of the World Evangelical Alliance and Bob Waliszewski, director of Focus on the Family’s (FOTF) media and culture department, among others.

“The film will do a lot to point a world desperately looking for answers to a God who loves and cares,” Waliszewski said at theshackresources.com/endorsements, but did not review the film on FOTF’s Plugged In movie review program he directs.

Mohler believes the movie is dangerous as entertainment as well as education, he told BP, because of the incredible power inherent in storytelling.

“There are many Christians who sadly may not be sufficiently grounded in biblical doctrine to understand just how unbiblical this movie is,” Mohler said. “Secondly, they’ll be many people who are not believers, who will go away believing that the movie depicts biblical Christianity, true Christianity. It creates a cultural conversation in which the bottom line issue is that the makers of this movie have sought to create an entertaining story at the expense of biblical truth.”

In a 2010 review of the book on which the movie is based, Mohler points out the book’s skewed presentation of the trinity and its concepts of universalism, universal redemption and ultimate reconciliation. In the book “Jesus tells Mack: ‘Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved.'”

LifeWay Christian Resources no longer offers the book.

“We stopped carrying ‘The Shack’ a few years ago,” LifeWay Director of Communications Carol Pipes emailed BP, “because although it is a work of fiction, the theology presented as integral to the story clearly conflicts with the Bible on many issues, especially in regards to the character and nature of The Trinity.”

Mohler describes the book, and the movie to the extent that it aligns with the book, as the opposite of Pilgrim’s Progress.

“It is not credible under any standard of Orthodox Christianity,” Mohler said. “Pilgrim’s Progress is a parable that affirms Scripture. The Shack you might say is a parable at the expense of Scripture.”

The movie opens in wide release March 3, with a special March 2 preview showing, and stars Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, Grammy Award winner Tim McGraw and Sam Worthington. Brad Cummings and Gil Netter (The Blind Side and The Life of Pi) are producers; Stuart Hazeldine is the movie’s director.

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