Is anyone really surprised?

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This past week, rumors surfaced of Oprah joining the cast of a new faith-focused film—playing the role of God.

The film? The Shack, based on Wm. Paul Young’s dangerously stupid book. If the rumors turn out to be true, this would be perfect casting.

I read the book in the summer of 2008 right around the time it was first attracting serious attention. Tons of people were talking about this book—it was a topic of conversation online, at our church and in my office. Lots of folks were raving about how amazing the book was, and how they felt like they better understood God and the reasons for suffering…

But the god they were connecting with wasn’t the God of the Bible.

It was the god of Oprah.

The god presented in the book is a bizarre combination of new age spirituality and conflicting first century heresies. It’s a god who appears as (a bizarre stereotype of) an African-American woman, a flighty Asian Spirit, and a Middle Eastern man. It a god who has a preference for uncertainty, rather than a God who is confident in His knowledge of all things. A god who speaks to you subjectively, in and through your own thoughts, rather than with clarity in the Bible.

It is a god of our own imagining, and the kind of god, if we’re honest, many of us actually want.

It’s a god who doesn’t offer us any challenges or pushback (not really); a god who has no desire or ability to hold us accountable for our actions. A god who is all about relationship, and not about rules.

A god who wants us to have the life we want, but not the Life we need.

And really, who better to portray such a god than one who is so adept at perpetuating the myth of its existence?

No doubt there will be many who flock to see this film when it eventually sees the light of day. And make no mistake, it will be made. Some professing Christian leaders—the same ones who encouraged reading the book—will no doubt encourage their congregations to see it.

But rather than present a pretty picture of a pretend god, and encourage people to connect with a god who doesn’t exist, how about we give a grander picture of the God who does?


photo credit: Barack Obama via photopin cc

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books including the Big Truths Bible Storybook, Epic Devotions, Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation, and the End of Poverty, and Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World. His next book, published by Lexham Press, will release in Spring 2023.

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10 Replies to “Is anyone really surprised?”

  1. […] Is Anyone Really Surprised? – This past week, rumors surfaced of Oprah joining the cast of a new faith-focused film—playing the role of God.  The film? The Shack, based on Wm. Paul Young’s dangerously stupid book. If the rumors turn out to be true, this would be perfect casting. […]

  2. […] Is Anyone Really Surprised? – This past week, rumors surfaced of Oprah joining the cast of a new faith-focused film—playing the role of God.  The film? The Shack, based on Wm. Paul Young’s dangerously stupid book. If the rumors turn out to be true, this would be perfect casting. […]

  3. […] Is Anyone Really Surprised? – Aaron Armstrong shares his thoughts on the announcement by Oprah Winfrey of her financial backing of a movie version of the book The Shack. […]

  4. […] Oprah as God in The Shack Movie […]

  5. Michelle Dacus Lesley May 5, 2014 at 11:22 am

    “Dangerously stupid” is being kind :0)

    1. Well, I figured why not shoot for charitable language 🙂

      1. Michelle Dacus Lesley May 5, 2014 at 11:48 am

        Lol :0)

  6. “Only if God can say things that make you struggle will you know that you
    have met a real God and not a figment of your imagination.” – Tim Keller

  7. Dangerously stupid book = dangerously stupid movie. Thanks for putting another nail in that coffin.

    1. Always glad to help

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