The theatrical release and controversy of faith-based film The Shack represents a “theological disaster,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a March 8 episode of “The Briefing.”
“The real danger, the seductive danger of The Shack, is that it’s presented as a retelling of the Christian story,” Mohler said on his daily podcast. “Christians armed by Scripture and committed to the Christian worldview should highly value fiction and thus evaluate it by Christian norms. But we can never value a vehicle for importing heresy into the church or misrepresenting Christianity to the watching world.”
The Shack, based on the equally controversial 2007 novel by William Paul Young, opened on 2,888 screens across the country on March 3 and earned $16.1 million in its opening weekend. Critics largely panned the film, but moviegoers rewarded it with an “A” CinemaScore, which often indicates a movie’s staying power at the box office. Some Christian leaders have endorsed the film.
During his podcast segment, Mohler described Young’s theological views as embracing the heresies of universal salvation and a presentation of the Trinity in three human persons. Mohler said while The Shack is a fictional story, it must be judged against “Christian standards of truth and beauty and righteousness.” Unlike Pilgrim’s Progress, which Mohler said affirms and upholds Scripture, The Shack is a story that undermines biblical doctrine.
“Readers of the book and watchers of the movie are actually getting a sustained theological argument,” Mohler said. “It may not be packaged as systematic theology, but it is a rather systematic destruction of biblical Christianity in favor of an entirely new theology.”
In comments to Baptist Press prior to the film’s release, Mohler warned against the story’s portrayal of the Trinity.
"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."
Mohler’s comments on “The Briefing” are available here. A 2010 blog post on the book is available here.