The film “The Shack” will soon appear in theaters nationwide and probably beyond. If it is as popular as the novel on which it is based it will be a blockbuster.
For those who do not know, this is the movie version of the fictional novel, The Shack. This novel has sold upwards of 20 million copies over the last several years. It was on the NY Times best seller list for many months. It made the author very wealthy. This is quite amazing when we consider that this was written by a writer claiming to be a Christian and intended for Christians to give a Christian explanation for why people suffer. Obviously the story has resonated with a multitude of people, whether Christians or not, who have wondered about the love of God, eternity, and why Jesus Christ came into the world.
The story is about Mac and many Christians like him who are struggling with serious life questions and uncertainty about their faith. They have been challenged by severe suffering beyond their control. They feel that God does not care about them and perhaps has even abandoned them. Many are angry at God. Like Mac they may come to a shack where they come face to face with God. The Shack provides an explanation for their pain and anger, and a way of escape—back to God.
But deeper, more gnawing questions often lie behind the surface struggles. If God is a good God why do so many people suffer? If God is a good God why are so many people—those who are non-Christians—destined for eternal suffering? Why should people suffer everlastingly for sin and for sins committed during a short life time? If God is love, why does he judge people and send them to hell? At one time or another all have thought about such heavy questions.
It is really these difficult questions that The Shack seeks to answer. But the answer is surprising. The answer is not to explain the Bible’s teaching on these matters but to provide a new understanding of who God is—a God who is all loving and whose love limits his judgment and justice. Paul Young says that Christians have misunderstood God, indeed, the whole Trinity.
And this is where the rub comes in.