Octavia Spencer has played various roles in her career, but her upcoming work in the faith-based fantasy drama film “The Shack” in which she plays God has irritated several Christian figureheads who’re upset not just with her casting but the film itself.
An adaptation of William P. Young’s 2007 novel, the story follows a man (Sam Worthington) stuck in a deep depression who loses his faith. He receives a mysterious letter encouraging him to return to the site of his daughter’s murder and finds three people who are the physical manifestation of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In this take God is a kind African American woman (Spencer) named ‘Papa’.
Joe Schimmel, the pastor of Blessed Hope Chapel in Simi Valley, California, told Christian News Network (via Indiewire): “Young’s pretentious caricature of God as a heavy set, cushy, non-judgmental, 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 in Hebrews 1:1-3 –…lends itself to a dangerous and false image of God and idolatry.”
Schimmel was also said to be unhappy with the depiction of the Holy Spirit as “a frail Asian woman with the Hindu name, Sarayu.” Christian author James B. DeYoung added that: “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.”
“The Shack” will open in cinemas on March 3rd.