*A pastor in Simi Valley, Calif. has taken aim against the upcoming faith-based movie “The Shack,” in part because of its physical representation of God as “a heavy-set, cushy, non-judgmental, African American woman.”
As previously reported, Octavia Spencer takes on the deity in the Lionsgate film adapted from William P. Young’s bestselling book. Sam Worthington stars as Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips, who faces a crisis while on a family vacation as his youngest daughter Missy is abducted and presumably killed in an abandoned shack. Years later, the grieving father receives a note from “Papa,” who tells Phillips that it has “been a while” and to meet up at the shack the following weekend.
“Papa,” played by Spencer, is Mack’s wife’s name for God. Reluctantly, Phillips returns to the site, where he meets Papa, as well as a young Asian woman named Sarayu (the Holy Spirit, played by Sumire Matsubara), and a carpenter named Jesus. Together, they seek to help Phillips deal with his faltering faith and to learn to forgive.
Joe Schimmel, the pastor of Blessed Hope Chapel in Simi Valley and host of the documentary “Hollywood’s War on God,” told Christian News Network that casting actresses of color to play God is akin to worshipping false prophets.
In addition to pointing out the race of the characters, he also points out their body types – implying that portrayals of God should only involve white, physically fit, male actors.
Schimmel told 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.
Schimmel preached a message at his church entitled “The Shack and the Seduction of the Church,” which he is currently making available as a warning to Christians.
Also blasting the film’s casting is Christian author James DeYoung, who states it could “far outweigh” the damage that the book has done, and “if the film is a faithful portrayal of the events and the theology of the book, then every Christian should be gravely alarmed at the further advance of beliefs that smear the evangelical understanding of the truth of the Bible.”
Directed by Stuart Hazeldine, “The Shack” is in theaters now (as of 03-03-17).
Watch the trailer below: