'The Shack' Director Defends Portraying God as Black Woman, Says Bible Was Written Allegorically

'The Shack'
Octavia Spencer (L) plays God in the film "The Shack," in theaters March 3, 2017. |

British director Stuart Hazeldine, who is behind the controversial Hollywood movie "The Shack," which has been scrutinized for its portrayal of God in various forms, insisted in an interview that the Bible should be understood in allegorical ways.

"The Shack" made over $37 million in the U.S. alone following its theatrical debut in March, and is now set to premiere in the U.K. and other countries on Friday.

Hazeldine responded in an interview with Premier on Tuesday about some of the criticism from a theological perspective that the film has been receiving, but argued that the Bible is not meant to be interpreted as "black and white."

"Scripture was written and understood to be read in allegorical ways ... and yet modern society ... is very much black or white, it's true or it's not but that's not the case," the director said.

"Some of our greatest writers, like C.S. Lewis, were in love with metaphor and allegory and yet many of us often struggle with that," he added.

One of the most controversial aspects of both the film and the book it was based on was the portrayal of the Trinity, with God ("Papa") appearing as a black woman.

Jerry Newcombe, the senior producer and on-air host and a columnist for D. James Kennedy Ministries, argued that the film "took too many liberties with the Person of God. God commands us to not to make any graven images."

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. noted that "The Shack" paints the wrong picture about what Christians believe.

"The real danger, the seductive danger of 'The Shack,' is that it's presented as a retelling of the Christian story," Mohler said on his "The Briefing" podcast at the time.

"Christians armed by Scripture and committed to the Christian worldview should highly value fiction and thus evaluate it by Christian norms. But we can never value a vehicle for importing heresy into the church or misrepresenting Christianity to the watching world."

Others, such as Roger E. Olson, professor of Christian Theology of Ethics at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University, who says that he is of an evangelical Baptist persuasion, pushed back against evangelical criticism of the film.

"May I just say that I am very disappointed in some Evangelical Christians' responses to both the book and the movie; in my opinion some of them are extremely shallow and dismissive," Olson said in his review.

"Of course, I don't expect Calvinists to like the theology of the movie, but I do expect them to at least view it before talking about it."

Hazeldine said in his latest interview that there were some legitimate reasons for the controversy, but also others that he called "a bit silly."

"I think the legitimate ones are discussing who is God, what is the nature of God, to what extent does Jesus' atonement cover some people or everyone — is it limited atonement, it is universal salvation," he said.

"Those are important issues that we've been wrestling with the days of the early church fathers and that's a debate that's a great thing to have."

As for people who didn't like the presentation of God as a black woman, the director said, "If you read the story, you understand exactly why God chooses to present himself to the lead character, Mack, in that way."

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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