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Son of God: Not Just Another Pretty Face


Mar 7 2014
How Hollywood’s portrayals might actually teach us about God, if we look beyond appearances.

With the possible exception of Passion of the Christ, no popular God-image has caused quite the furor in the evangelical community as William P. Young's 2007 book, The Shack, which assigned to God the human form of an effusive full-bodied black woman.

Those who were offended rattled off a long list of reasons the unusual portrayal was "unbiblical," "heretical" and even "dangerous." Yet many found the character of Young's "Papa" God to match the God described in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures—wise, kind, loving. When tears welled up behind the eyes of Mack, the story's protagonist, Papa coos, "It's okay, honey, you can let it all out…I know you've been hurt, and I know you're angry and confused. So, go ahead and let it out. It does a soul good to let the waters run once in a while—the healing waters."

Young's imaginative representation of the first member of the Trinity allows me to connect more deeply to the God described in the Scriptures who is gracious. Who is kind. Whose mercies never fail. That's a win, in my book. God's, too, I'd expect.

And to the degree that Diogo Morgado puts authentic flesh on a God-man who moves toward those who've historically been assigned to the world's margins, who graciously welcomes sinners and who loves people as they are and not as they should be, he has given authentic face and voice to Jesus. Because of it, the eyes and ears of my heart are drawn toward the gracious Jesus I meet in the New Testament.

Charlton Heston's comment that each of us hears God's voice from inside ourselves is, in real measure, true. When the voices and images we've gathered from the culture and tucked into our deep places match the God revealed in the Scriptures—as Hollywood's portrayals, on occasion, actually do—we're closer to, not further from, encountering the God who is true.

Margot Starbuck invites readers to consider the face they've given to God in her new book, Not Who I Imagined: Surprised by a Loving God. Connect at MargotStarbuck.com or on Facebook.

Related Topics:Entertainment; God; Jesus
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Son of God: Not Just Another Pretty Face