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?