James Walker

James Walker

President, Watchman Fellowship, Inc.

James is a former fourth generation Mormon with over twenty-five years of ministry experience in the field of Christian evangelism, apologetics, interfaith evangelism, and discernment. He has been interviewed as an expert on new religious
movements and cults on a variety of network television programs including Nightline, ABC World News Tonight, and PBS NewsHour. He has spoken at hundreds of churches, colleges, universities, and seminaries throughout the United States and internationally. Full bio

The Shack is a very controversial book within professing Christian circles that is now out in a movie that many professing Christians are excited to see.  And Christian churches, ministries and radio stations (not ours) are promoting it heavily under the guise that it can be a tool to share the gospel with unsaved friends.  But there is a slight problem: the true gospel does not even remotely appear in the book or the movie.

The Shack movie opened in theaters across the US in March 2017.

This morning we discuss The Shack with James Walker of Watchman.org and look at the life and theology of the author, comparing the movie’s theology with the Word of God.  And we will attempt to equip you to accomplish what the promoters are claiming the movie can do: reach the lost with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are seeing a polarization within professing Christianity with this book and movie.  Some are calling it a beautiful story of the power of forgiveness and an evangelism tool…others are warning against anyone seeing the movie, fearing people will be seduced by a false gospel.  We ask James Walker his thoughts.

Why are so many people–including self-professed Christians–falling for something so deceptive and potentially evil? Is it because it appears harmless and is not nearly as bad as most of the garbage Hollywood puts out these days? we debate the good and the bad on today’s broadcast of Stand Up for the Truth!

I have had conversations with Christians who have read the book and here is how I try to frame up the discussion with some questions:

  • Do you believe the book or movie represents the theology and beliefs of Christianity?
  • How do you know the movie’s theology is Christian?  (Their answer: The Bible)
  • Do you believe the Bible is truth—God’s written Word to men?
  • If they answer “Yes”, ask them how often they read and study the Bible.
  • Question:  if you believe the Bible is the truth, wouldn’t you want to know if God’s Word confirmed or contradicted the teachings of The Shack?
  • If the two were in contradiction, which would you choose to believe?
  • If they answer that they do not believe the Bible is truth, ask them what their standard for truth is?
  • If they answer ‘what I feel or believe’, ask them this:  Have you ever believed something was true and later found out you were wrong?
  • If they are the least bit humble and truthful they will answer “yes”.
  • Then ask them “how do you know you are not wrong about this”?

Back to the basics: the Gospel

We will continue to lovingly hammer home a huge point on this show:  That the true gospel according to God’s Word has been “sanded down” at the edges to make it more acceptable to man’s fleshly desires.  Here is the complete gospel:

  • Man is desperately sinful and wicked in his nature and incapable of changing.
  • God despises sin and rebellion against Him and must, because of His righteous, just and holy nature, punish this sin and rebellion.
  • God wants to reconcile sinful men to Him, so he sent Jesus Christ—God in the flesh—to pay the price for our sins.  On the cross Jesus absorbed the righteous wrath of God that we should receive, so that we who confess and repent of our sins, and place our complete faith and trust in Jesus might be forgiven, spared from eternal damnation and live with God for eternity in heaven.
  • That when we become “born-again” we receive the grace and Spirit of God and the desire and ability by His power to start leading a life increasingly holy and pleasing to God: sanctification.

Here’s just one of the many informative articles available:

Thirteen Heresies in The Shack  by Dr. Michael Youssef

1. God the Father was crucified with Jesus.

Because God’s eyes are pure and cannot look upon sin, the Bible says that God would not look upon His own beloved Son as He hung on the Cross, carrying our sins (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 27:45).

2. God is limited by His love and cannot practice justice.

The Bible declares that God’s love and His justice are two sides of the same coin — equally a part of the personality and the character of God (Isaiah 61:8; Hosea 2:19).

3. On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless.

Jesus explained that only those who come to Him will be saved (John 14:6).

4. Hierarchical structures, whether they are in the Church or in the government, are evil.

Our God is a God of order (Job 25:2).

5. God will never judge people for their sins.

The Word of God repeatedly invites people to escape from the judgment of God by believing in Jesus Christ, His Son (Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-3).

6. There is not a hierarchical structure in the Godhead, just a circle of unity.

The Bible says that Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. This doesn’t mean that one Person is higher or better than the other; just unique. Jesus said, “I came to do the will of Him who sent me. I am here to obey my Father.” Jesus also said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit” (John 4:34, 6:44, 14:26, 15:26).

7. God submits to human wishes and choices.

Far from God submitting to us, Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.” We are to submit to Him in all things, for His glory and because of what He has accomplished for us (Matthew 7:13-15).

8. Justice will never take place because of love.

The Bible teaches that when God’s love is rejected, and when the offer of salvation and forgiveness is rejected, justice must take place or God has sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for nothing (Matthew 12:20; Romans 3:25-26).

9. There is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell.

Jesus’ own description of hell is vivid … it cannot be denied (Luke 12:5, 16:23).

10. Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God, and it doesn’t matter which way you get to Him.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

11. Jesus is constantly being transformed along with us.

Jesus, who dwells in the splendor of heaven, sits at the right hand of God, reigning and ruling the universe. The Bible says, “In Him there is no change, for He is yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 11:12, 13:8; James 1:17).

12. There is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because everyone will make it to heaven.

Jesus said, “Only those who believe in me will have eternal life” (John 3:15, John 3:36, John 5:24, John 6:40).

13. The Bible is not true because it reduces God to paper.

The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who put pen to paper (so to speak), each from different professions and different backgrounds, but the Holy Spirit infused their work with God’s words. These men were writing the same message from Genesis to Revelation.


Become familiar with the philosophies and teaching of “the Shack”.

Rather than scream “heresy” when someone opens up a conversation about the movie, ask them the questions we outlined earlier.  Seek to understand their thought process and beliefs.  Ask them what their barometer of truth is?

Use this misleading book and movie for the glory of God by taking the time to speak the truth in love and point people to the true gospel.


History, Doctrines, Christian Response to The Shack from Watchman Fellowship (pdf)

The Shack Matt Slick C.A.R.M. (extensive!)

The Shack and the seduction of the Church – Good Fight Ministries

What’s So Bad About The Shack? – CBN News

The Death of Discernment – Eric Barger on The Shack

The Shack – Healing or Heretical?  – WND

The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment – Albert Mohler