I had severe separation anxiety issues as a child. I was extremely attached to my mother, and did not appreciate her leaving my side at any moment, for any reason.
My mother was a business owner, but she started her business from our home when my sister and I were pre-schoolers. So we had our mother home with us until we started school. Yet, every once in a while, business or life would call her name, and she would have to put me in daycare or with a baby sitter. I HATED it.
Even when my mother would leave me with my grandmother, whom I absolutely loved with all of my heart, I would stand at the glass door sobbing and screaming for her to come back. It was a heart-wrenching scene indeed.
My mother was my person; you know, the one I can run to with all of my problems, the one I can trust to love me even in my worst moments, the one who will cuddle me when I am afraid, and wipe my tears away. I felt safe when she was around.
I felt unsafe when she was not. I felt loved when she was close. I felt unloved when she was not. It was really that simple.
For that reason, I have a low view of most baby sitters and daycare experiences. Not because they were mean and there was anything wrong with their programs; but because I was like a tiny dog who was attached to one person and no one else would do.
But there is one woman who sticks out in my heart’s memory – a black woman who once took care of me in my mother’s absence. I remember very few details about her, but as the extraordinary poet and activist Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
How wise and true are these beautiful words? I remember this woman making me feel both safe and loved as a very small child. She was my mother when my mother had to step away for a moment, and in actuality, she was my god.
As William Makepeace Thackeray puts it, “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.” This is not idolatry because little children do not yet understand the concept of God. They look at their mother and father as their gods. Their parents provide all of their needs and wants – food, protection, security, and most importantly, love.
Children looking up to their gods do not pay attention to gender or skin color. They only ask themselves one question: how does this being that is much larger than I am make me feel? A mother and a father are the first representations of God to their children; what a great responsibility this is.
The way children view their mothers and fathers often affects how they will grow up to view God. Of course, much inner healing can change this view, so not to worry if your mother and/or father did a poor job representing God.
With the movie, The Shack, coming out, some Christians are already putting up a fuss and crying “idolatry.” They have all sorts of reasons, but let’s face it, many Christians struggle with the idea of God being played by a woman, and a woman of color, at that.
This is both sexism and racism, and we need to confront these sins in our hearts, head on and support this movie.
God is not a white man. In fact, God is not a man at all. Yes, Jesus was a man when He walked the earth. But all Christians agree that God is spirit and without gender. God has been played by a man in many fiction movies, including Oh God, Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, etc., and there was little Christian fuss. We need to confront our hypocrisy here.
Perhaps the Holy Spirit is disrupting our closed minds with this movie and revealing a deeper truth to us – that God will not be confined to the boxes of human thinking. Scripture is clear that both male and female are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). All logic tells us that God must hold both masculine and feminine attributes, if both male and female are made to be like Him/Her.
Further, scripture is full of maternal images of God http://juniaproject.com/biblical-maternal-images-for-god/, so even the most conservative Christian should feel comfortable supporting a fictional movie like The Shack.
Publicly supporting the movie, The Shack is a real opportunity for Christians to support both women and people of color. It’s a chance to show the world that we are not sexist or racist at a time in which the world is truly questioning if we are. It’s chance to let our light of love shine bright for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
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What a beautiful word picture you paint in this post, Jory. I had never heard the Thackery quote before, how lovely. I am looking forward to seeing this movie, as I so loved the book, and Young’s portrayal of the Trinity. Keep speaking truth. <3
Thanks so much, Tamara. 😉
I experienced God as a black woman too: a modern version of Harriet Tubman. She was a strong, fierce liberator. Due to childhood domestic and sexual abuse from men, I had real trouble connecting to the fierceness of God in a male form. I was able to receive that when I experienced God in the form of a woman. I also experienced tender nurturing from God, and interestingly, He gave me this in a masculine way. It was what I needed to be able to form connections to human men, and to think they could be different than what I experienced as a child.
I wrote more about these experiences here:
Thanks for sharing. 🙂
I do not think the shack is the be all and end all that the publicity at the time made it to be, but lets not throw the baby out with the bath water. It is an allegory and nothing more. CS lewis depicted God as the lion Aslan and most people do not object to that. I just to not think the shack is right up at the top with Pilgrims Progress as some people thought. However, one never knows what opportunities for the gospel it may bring, so I think, even if you hate the book, hate the film, if people are talking about it, then you should join the conversation and point them to Jesus.
Actually Lewis stated that his books on Narnia were NOT allegorical – https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/gospeldrivenchurch/2017/02/23/why-narnia-isnt-allegorical/
CS Lewis objected to the term ‘allegory’ as it was understood. I think our understanding of allegory has perhaps broadened since then. He didn’t want his characters seen as simple symbols representing something else. He preferred the term ‘supposition’ – “In reality however he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, ‘What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?’ This is not an allegory at all. So in ‘Perelandra’. This also works out a supposition. (‘Suppose, even now, in some other planet there were a first couple undergoing the same that Adam and Eve underwent here, but successfully.’)” So while he objected to the nuances that he saw in the term ‘allegory’ the Narnia works are certainly a very close cousin.
Except Narnia and Pilgrim’s progress promoted sound theology whereas the Shack promotes Universalism and a slew of other heresies…not really the same thing at all actually.
“CS lewis depicted God as the lion Aslan and most people do not object to that.” sorry George, Mr. Lewis didn’t depict God as a lion. Check out the link in my post below.
You know what I think, I think a lot of people are going to be in for a shock come Judgement Day for producing and promoting “The Shack” and its distortion of the very nature and character of God who is thrice times holy. People just do not fear God these days nor do they tremble at His word.
This article is some of your best writing, Jory. Thank you.
Thank you, Sally. 🙂
If you are at all interested, Paul Young is making nationwide appearances for The Shack Seminar (www.theshackseminar.com). It’s a chance to discuss the book with him, hear the intent behind more controversial passages and learn about what went on behind the scenes at the making of the movie. If you’re interested, you should check it out.
I agree with Sally! Even before I scrolled down to the comment section, I thought to myself….This is one of Jory’s best articles.
Thank you, Gloria. It was nice hearing from you on the blog. I hope you are doing well. XoXo
Blasphemy. Utter idolatrous, blasphemy. You obviously don’t understand biblical womanhood, nor biblical manhood. This is the greatest threat to the church today. This narcistic feminism, that props up women over men, by crying sexist or racist, when true people of God call “foul”, on blasphemous statements and psuedo-theology.
Keith, I do understand the false teaching of “biblical manhood/womanhood.” I believe that the correct biblical teaching is biblical Christian-hood and that both men and women are called to follow after Christ. We are all one in Jesus and I do not believe that we have a separate set of rules to follow based on our genders.
Also, next time, please be more respectful, and we can have a much more productive conversation. I will not engage with you again if you start in a tone of accusations and dramatic tones. Thank you.
So you claim that if Christians ‘struggle’ with god being played by a ‘woman of color’, we’re either racist and/or sexist. Really? Are those the only options for why people would find this idolatrous or disagree with your assessment? Doesn’t sound very productive or respectful to me.
“Oh God, Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, etc., and there was little Christian fuss.” Actually, I’ve found all of them quite disturbing. “Oh God,” was one I did not at first when I was younger, and not Born Again. Even then, I’ve never liked Michaelangello’s idolatry on the Sistine Chapel. I like movies where they don’t show God, you only hear Him voiced by a man. Even movies about Jesus. “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. 5 eYou shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am fa jealous God, gvisiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands2 of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 h“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. 22 And the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the people of Israel: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have btalked with you from heaven. 23 cYou shall not make gods of silver to be with me, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold. ” Exodus 20: 4- 7, 22, 23.
The Shack itself is full of wrongheaded Theology that I cannot recommend.
Jesus Christ claimed to be God in human flesh and proved it by raising himself from the dead. Christ was a man and the fact that he was circumcised on the 8th day after his birth undeniably proves that. I’m a Christian and I reject your claims that “All Christians believe that God is spirit and without gender.”
This film and the theology within it is nothing short of blasphemy.
To make the claim that holding a movie up to the scrutiny of scripture is both racist and sexist means that your arguments are predicated on nothing less than regressive identity politics masquerading as Christianity.
Repent and believe the gospel.
Furthermore, Christ had to be a man for atone for the sins of the world. As, Adam was the federal head of all mankind, Jesus Christ the better Adam, died to become the new federal head (head meaning representation of the human race, like the president is the head of the USA, he represents the USA). Furthermore, if the scriptures are inspired, and is the only way to view God, then when He calls Himself “Father”, do any of us have a right to call Him, mother then? (Now granted I sometimes run on emotion too) Your article is full of examples and no substance, I love my mom, but should I let human experiences affect my theology, we are broken, our experiences are not inspired, the scriptures are. Please do not try and refute this, I do not want heresy to be come from here, my words are not inspired, but the Bible is.
The world will judge whether I am racist or sexist or not by my actions, not by what I think of this film. I will not be beholden to anyone who wishes to think that I am racist or sexist because I will not support a heretical narrative.
There are significant portions of this making universal claims without any supporting evidence. Aside from any doctrinal issues which may or may not be present, these claims alone make me question the validity of what the author is saying. Personally, I would like to see something backing up those claims.
Yay! More heresy!
But Jesus addressed God as “Father”. God was referred to as Father 110+ times in the book of John alone. The Greek word used is pater which is a MASCULINE Noun. Paul says in Romans 8:15 that Christians can now come to God and say “Abba Father” and uses the same Greek word pater. I really don’t see how mother is interchangeable here or what biblical basis you have to make the claim that to reject God as a woman or black woman is sexist and racist?
So, if I stick to the gender pronoun given to God by God Himself in the Bible, I’m a rascist and sexist? Wow. Talk about taking God captive to the human experience. Btw, “The Shack” is far more unbiblical in more than this area
“Scripture is clear that both male and female are made in God’s image…”yes but God is not made in our image, period. Have you checked out any of Tim Challies reviews etc., at Challies.com? They are excellent, brilliant even, as he says in one,…”enter Narnia but stay out of The Shack.”
In the eyes of a child, mother is God. I always very much understood that sentiment. For a child, their first experience with love, grace, compassion, and peace is in the arms of their mother. As a mother myself, I take this responsibility very seriously. How can I teach my girls the Gospel if I don’t show them love? My life would be a contradiction
Are their feminine elements of God? Absolutely. There are a few Scriptures that show us that. The one in particular (forgive me, I don’t know the chapter and verse off the top of my head) is that verse that talks about God gathering us like a hen gathers her chicks. We think of mothers, we think of love and nurturing (as I mentioned before), and God certainly is those things. You are correct in pointing out that God is genderless because He is spirit. WE want to cram Him into a box so we can wrap our human minds around Him.
I have absolutely no issue with W.P.Young personifying God with a woman of color. Asians probably view God as Asian. White folk probably view God as white. And black people probably view God as black. That’s all good. However, MY issue with The Shack has absolutely NOTHING to do with God being a black woman. It has everything to do with bad theology.
It has been quite a while since I’ve read the book. I remember it was a nice story on forgiveness. However, there are a view theological issues in the book that I believe could be a stumbling block for non-Christians and new Christians. For example, the idea that God submits to OUR will is certainly not Biblical. Like I said, this could be a stumbling block for a new Christian or a non-Christian. God will do what I want Him to? FANTASTIC
I’d encourage you to, perhaps, read the book and see for yourself some of the issues within the story before publicly supporting it.
You are missing a very big point in this article. The real concern with this movie goes far deeper than the color or gender of the charter. You mentioned the other movies where “White males” played the part of God but you didn’t mention those movies were never sold as a “witnessing” tool to the lost world. The presupposition of this article has sadly clouded the real heresies taught in this movie. And that is the real concern. We have many lost people and newer Christians that will see this and never learn the true nature of God and his true love for us. That makes those who support this guilty and God will not leave sin unpunished. We all need to repent and point people to Christ and not because of his gender, color, or sexuality. But because he died on the cross for all our sins. It’s not about us, it’s about him.
I’m sorry but the shack teaches modalism when it shows all of the person’s of the “Trinity” having their hands pierced (which is heresy). Also I don’t care what color or gender the person representing the “Father,” God the Father is spirit and does not have a body. He can’t be seen. The reason why these other movies didn’t cause a ruckus among Christians is because they weren’t being heralded as a Christian movie. I’m sorry but this has absolutely nothing to do with race or gender.
There are some really great fair biblical reviews over at challies.com
I read it and think it is unfair, which is why I wrote this blog post. The Shack is simply a movie. Do I agree with all of the theology in it? Of course not. But, I don’t agree with all of the theology in any Christian movie. That does not mean I won’t support it. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
Who says we have to keep the “baby”? There doesn’t have to be anything we hang onto when it comes to false theology amongst a little good…we are not “required” to keep from refusing to support the “whole” project because there is a little good. If someone’s standard is all or nothing, especially when it comes to theologically targeted movies, that is their right and in my opinion a biblical one.
False teaching is false teaching. I refuse to hang onto anything that might be “ok” just to avoid the whole “baby and bathwater” statement. That is just immature discernment.
It only takes a little scripture twisting to be dangerous, but that does line up with your theology, so why would you throw the baby out with the bath water.
Makes sense to me.
As a Black woman well versed in the Scripture reading this, I am compassionately appalled. As someone who has taught children for now 20 years, and seen the effects of children increasingly being raised without a loving father present in the home, I understand the logic of the reasoning of this article. It is hard to learn to revere a Heavenly Father when one has not grown up with knowing what a father is like. So, the idea of a great loving being therefore being more maternal is gaining currency.
HOWEVER, I think we all know as mature adults how inappropriate it is to take our concepts of the world as children and apply them to concepts that must be understood maturely. No one is making a case from childhood enjoyment of counting on his or her fingers that the same math should be used and celebrated in engineering, science, and medicine — we recognize how dangerous that would be, because the math of early childhood does not contain the concepts necessary to safely accomplish the tasks of those fields.
Therefore in our theology, there is a reason the Apostle Paul tells us that when he was a child he thought as a child, but when he grew up, he put away childish things. I am as attached to the Black women who raised me as anyone else, but they and the Black men who raised me taught me to read and study the Bible in depth. Therefore as a mature adult, I have objective fact about who God is, and how He has revealed Himself, and I can compare and reason based on those facts more than my experience in the universe and my emotional response to it. And this is more important than not using childhood math concepts in engineering: when we speak and think of theology we are speaking and thinking of affairs that control the eternal destiny of souls.
All that being said, I am compassionately appalled by both The Shack and the defense of it here because as a mature Black woman, I am appalled to see my image used to cover and excuse the communication of theology that has no power to save the souls of the people who encounter it! I emphatically do NOT want my image used to promote and excuse heresy! I do not want my image appropriated in this way — nor am I impressed by the idea that because a Black woman in her stereotypical role of a caretaker for White children was exceptionally good at what she did, it is therefore racist and sexist to dispute the idea that God is not the mammy of us all. Both ideas are wrong to the last degree of wrongness. God reveals HIMSELF in Scripture consistently as HIMSELF; the New Age with all its age-long Satanic deception is the source of the idea that we can have a goddess. We are all adults here; we can all get past our feelings and read some primary source documents about both Christianity and the New Age, and we ought to be able to compare and reason correctly between them. Just doing that will clear the matter right up.
Great points on all counts!
Thank you for saying this! You see through the enemies wish to divide us and water down mature biblical truths. We seem to think we can re-interpret what God clearly says so it makes us more comfortable, but that is the road to herecy. Understanding who God is through His word always trumps our own life ‘experiences’. We loose context otherwise.
I couldn’t even finish the Shack book because I just came to the conclusion, this isn’t the God I’ve read about and have relationship with. He doesn’t change who He is to spare my feelings. He is, as He is, sufficient to meet ALL my needs.
Bruce Almighty was not based on a “christian” bestseller! And honestly, Evan Almighty is probably more biblical than most “Christian” movies. But that’s just my opinion. My point is this, it is hardly an adequate comparison of Bruce Almighty to the Shack in regards to concerns from the Christian community.
Uh, shouldn’t this “Christian feminist” with separation issues be encouraging women to stay home with their children?
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