It’s sad that the most segregated hour in America is 11:00 on Sunday morning, and this is all the more glaring under the banner that we’re living in a post racial society. After 8 years of having a Black President, it seems that the American church is the last to convert. I recently came across a tweet on my timeline that read, “All of us who have a Priest, Rabbi, Imam, Pastor, etc., should ask them to speak out against the immoral executive order banning refugees.” This led me to speak Matthew 25 to my congregation, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
But I also wondered, given these virtues, how and why is there a controversy over the ethnicity of God in the film The Shack? Why is it that those of faith take issue with God being depicted by a woman of color? I see this as hypocrisy within this regime, and furthermore, it suggests that Americans are myopic. The idea of one look, one faith, one ideology is hypocrisy coming from those who believe in ecumenism.
For white theologians to be offended by God being portrayed as a black woman, is dizzying in the face of the tolerance of Black Christians who gave no protest during The Passion of The Christ, when the portrayal of Jesus Christ was not consistent with scriptural records of him having bronze skin and hair like wool. The black church also stood in allegiance and overlooked the historical inconsistency, while watching The Bible, the great adaptation of the word of God, but still, the portrayal of Christ was not consistent with what historians and anthropologists know to be correct. We bristled silently but never audibly at the fact that in The Bible Experience, which broke all kinds of viewership records, only had one character with melanin, and that was Judas.
For these theologians to have issue with the portrayal of God as a black woman, goes against a global view that is emulated around the world. If you go to Korea, Jesus is portrayed as Asian, in Germany, Jesus is portrayed as non-characteristic. It is only in America that we have a reinforcement of God reflecting the dominant culture. There is also inconsistency with these evangelical theologians who took issue with God being portrayed as a black woman, but no issue with God being portrayed as a Native American man or of the Holy Spirit being portrayed as an Asian woman, and all of them I would invite to spend a weekend at the Shack.
The Shack is forward thinking because it integrates everybody into the gospel. I can really appreciate the Holy Spirit represented by an Asian woman, Jesus as a Middle Eastern man and God as Black woman and then Native American in the end of the film. How we see our faith is how we see our community. This film is authentic art, which causes conversation and dialogue. It is not an adaptation of a biblical story, rather, it is an expression of one man’s imaginative journey. To fight the film is to suggest that Christian’s can’t be creative.
Furthermore, what do we say to Christian children in places like South America where Christianity is the fastest growing faith? Do we tell our children there that God did not create them in his image and in his likeness?
I had the privilege of watching the film with people of different backgrounds, and everyone walked away with something unique, but the common theme was that God was worth knowing.
The issue that these evangelical theologians have with God being represented by a black woman, is not and affront to the black church, it is an affront to the body of Christ and all of the body of Christ should be offended by their offense. There are those who argue that is doesn’t matter what color you are, and to those I say then don’t worry about what color God is.
The Shack makes the gospel global.