The Trinity of “The Shack”

A hot topic right now among Christians seems to be concerning the movie “The Shack.” Many Christians are calling it a “Christian” movie. Some are calling it mere fiction that need not be taken seriously. Still others are declaring that it teaches Universalism and New Age doctrines that are deceptively garbed in Christian terms. Emotionally moving  from the start to the finish for so many broken Christians around the world, the book took the globe by storm, and now the movie will probably do no less. The author Wm. Paul Young’s excellent storytelling, wove a poignant tale that aimed straight for the heart. But, with what words do the readers find comfort? Are they words from the Bible or from another source. And why is Father God called “Papa” portrayed not only as a woman but as a black woman in the story?

The truth concerning this popular book and soon to be popular film, however, is far more sinister than many may realize. For, not only is “the Shack” openly Universalist (teaching through dialogue that all are saved) and New Age (teaching that god is in everyone and everything), but it deceptively presents the concept of the Hindu trinity (trimurti).

At first glance in “the Shack” one simply sees an odd concoction of a black “Papa” god who is always busy baking and cooking (much like the black woman “the Oracle” in the movie “the Matrix”), a handyman Jesus teaching that he is only the “best” way, and a wispy, oriental, female spirit with the East Indian name of Sarayu, meaning “wind” or “holy river” (and yes, there is actually a river in India called Sarayu). It was blasphemous enough to have Father God of the Bible portrayed as a black woman, but when one takes an even closer look, the story gets even darker.

First of all, an age old belief in Hinduism states that there is a sort of trinity called a “trimurti” of the gods: Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva. Yes, believe it or not, there actually is a so-called trinity in Hinduism. Though on the surface Hinduism has by several accounts 330 million gods, there is one “Supreme Reality” and there are three main gods flowing from that “Reality” that Hindus esteem and from which their other gods have emanated. It is generally thought that the Hindu trinity was created by the eternal, impersonal Supreme Reality. Though each of these three have different ways of manifesting, they are the three main gods of Hinduism. Furthermore, there are four major denominations in Hinduism, each emphasizing one of these three gods. Shaktism is one of these Hindu denominations, and Shaktism has four divisions/expressions. One of those expressions is “universalist” in nature. Unlike the other Hindu denominations, Shaktism believes that Brahman, the creator of all, is a goddess not a god, and that creator goddess goes by different names. One of those names is Kali. Kali is a black goddess. Her name in Sanskrit can refer to “time”, but usually is taken to mean “she who is black” or “she who is death”. She resides on the cremation grounds of people’s lives and hearts in order to help her followers to face what they do not want to face. She is constantly busy because she is energy (shakti), and appears as kundalini (the female serpent). Though she is closely connected with death and destruction, she is also revered as Kali Ma (the mother goddess) who swallows up sorrow, bad emotions and painful memories etc. in people’s lives so that they might be healed and renewed.

Is this not like “Papa” in “the Shack”? Is “Papa” not more of a creator goddess than a god? Is “Papa” not black? Is she not at the place of Mack’s daughter’s death? Is she not always busy doing something, making something? Is she not helping him to overcome and face what he does not want to face, helping him to heal? From all appearances, Papa looks and sounds and feels a lot like Kali.

Thus, “The Shack” is a seductive, deceptive mixture of Hinduism, Universalism, and New Age beliefs (after all, New Age philosophy is westernized Hinduism anyway). Not only can this be seen through its portrayal of a black goddess and a Hindu trinity, but can be seen through Wm. Paul Young’s associations with New Age mystics such as Cynthia Bourgeault and Richard Rohr who emphasize the “Divine Dance” of the “trinity”. In Hinduism, both the god Shiva and goddess Kali are known for their dancing, particularly their dances of destruction. Indeed, Shiva is known as the Lord of the dance.

 There is so much more that could be said, but to be very bluntly succinct, Wm. Paul Young has deceptively presented a Hindu trinity to the body of Christ, and too many Christians have readily accepted and adopted it as their own in place of the true Godhead of the Bible.

 I pray that your heart has been moved as you read this. I pray that you will seriously and sincerely consider the content of this article.

 ***I have not yet documented my sources, but they are readily available on the internet and public as well as university libraries (mostly Hindu, pagan, and Wiccan sources were used–no Christian sources were used in the research for this article).

 ***For further Christian writing on this topic, I refer you to Warren Smith (an expert on the New Age), Lighthousetrailsresearch.com, Eric Barger, Lamb and Lion Ministries at http://christinprophecy.org/ and Michael Youssef.

March 15, 2017 originally posted on holylight4u.wordpress.com

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