White Christians are up in arms over Octavia Spencer’s portrayal of God in the upcoming movie, “The Shack,” since she doesn’t fit the image of what they claim is “the one true God.”
Joe Schimmel, pastor at Blessed Hope Chapel in Simi Valley, California, not only slammed the Academy Award-winning actress’ portrayal, he ridiculed her looks for good measure. Meanwhile, James B. DeYoung, author of “Burning Down the Shack: How the ‘Christian’ Bestseller is Deceiving Millions,” sees the character as a literal threat to Christianity.
Schimmel, speaking to the Christian News Network, fiercely criticized Spencer’s portrayal of the physical manifestation of God, named “Papa.” In the film, based on author William P. Young’s 2007 bestselling novel, Papa calls protagonist Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips back to the abandoned shack where his daughter was abducted and presumably killed years earlier.
“Young’s pretentious caricature of God as a heavy-set, cushy, nonjudgmental, 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 … lends itself to a dangerous and false image of God and idolatry,” Schimmel said.
Schimmel, who described Spencer’s character as a “fat black woman,” also criticized the depiction of God in human form. He said it is unfortunate that Christians have created such imagery as they await the Lord’s return to Earth.
“Jesus warned of a time, after His ascension, that some of His servants would conclude that He was delaying His coming and would also live wicked lives,” the pastor said. “Sadly, as we await our Lord’s return from heaven, many are guilty of fashioning images of God that they find more accommodating to their desires and chosen lifestyles and calling these gods ‘Yahweh.'”
Meanwhile, DeYoung told Christian News Network the film damages the Biblical definition of the religion.
“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,” DeYoung said.
The book and film are based on universalism, which is the idea that everyone will go to heaven and any discipline is temporary. DeYoung, who is an associate of Young’s, disagrees with that view.
“Tragically, these heresies are reflected in the aberrant fictional theology presented in ‘The Shack,'” DeYoung said. “These are not mere trivial matters but strike at the very heart of God’s character and the Gospel that saves our eternal souls.”
“The Shack” opens in theaters nationwide March 3, 2017.