As The Shack movie hits the screen, many will see God portrayed as never before. Some will be struck by the relentless affection God shows toward the human main character. Others will be surprised by the depiction of the Trinity.

Some controversy is already swirling around the film–as it did around the book The Shack, which became a runaway best seller. Even though the story is fictional, critics complained about theological issues, and casting. Some denominational officials banned the book–and anything else from its author, William Paul Young.

This effort to vanquish and block access to one with whom they disagree smells a lot like today’s ugly political atmosphere, where pundits, shouters and protesters from one side attempt to drown out the voices of those on the other side. Listening, and calmly discussing various viewpoints, are becoming lost arts–including within our churches.

I asked The Shack‘s author about this phenomenon in the church, in my conversation with him on the Holy Soup Podcast. Paul Young said, “Most of people’s issues are not intellectual, are not theological. They’re affective. People are afraid.”

I saw evidence of that early in my work in youth ministry. For a few Sundays I took my youth group around to other churches in town, to see how others worshiped. I was roundly criticized by some fearful parents and church leaders. “What if our kids swallow that dangerous stuff they do over there?” I explained they needn’t fear. Our visits to other churches were always followed by a healthy discussion that culminated in reinforcing why we believe the way we do.

Fear should not restrain our quest to know God better. And that, by the way, is a central theme in the film, The Shack. Still reeling from the brutal murder of his daughter, Mack is invited to meet God in the very shack where his daughter was killed. He was gripped not only by fear but by anger toward God. Out of his angst, Mack encounters the depth of God’s love for him.

Millions of people will be given the opportunity, through this film, to think about God’s relentless love for them. Those in the Christian community can join their friends, and see and discuss the film. Or they can wallow in fear.

I invite you to listen to my conversation with William Paul Young in the Holy Soup Podcast here:

Also, you may join the conversation about this film at a special edition of Lifetree Cafe, scheduled live throughout the country during the week of March 5. Find more information here.

And a free discussion guide and devotionals will be available on the Lifetree general site,

If your truth stands on the Truth, you need not fear.