I’ve not seen the movie but I did read the book, The Shack. I read recently that in the movie when the main character asks God (called Papa) about his wrath, God responds, “My what? You lost me there.” This strikes me as a mark of our age. We have sanded off this rough edge of God to make him not much more than a sweet old man—or in the case of The Shack, a woman.

People have always tried to minimize the aspects of God they don’t like. In the second century Marcion separated the God of the Old Testament with his wrath and judgment from the God of the New Testament represented by a loving Christ who only wanted people to be healed and saved.

Even earlier, in Acts 24 you can read the story about a Roman official named Felix. He talked often with the Apostle Paul. On one occasion Paul discussed righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment. Felix grew agitated and stopped the discussion. These subjects made him uncomfortable, and though he spoke with Paul often, he was only hoping for a bribe.

Yet I’m quite sure Paul would have talked with him about the escape hatch expressed in Romans 5:9, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him.” However, Felix persisted. He preferred his sins rather than avail himself of this.
Felix understood that judgment pointed a finger at his sins. Today we’ve gone a step further by trying to make a safe space away from such unpleasant ideas like judgment and anger, and so we have created a god more suited to our sensibilities.


Still, Felix is a great example of why many people reject Christianity: we avoid any discussion of righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment. Many of today’s arguments over the existence of God or over the nature of God can likely be traced to our stricken consciences. Like Felix, our resistance to Christianity is a matter of coming to grips with sin and judgment.

God’s wrath may send shivers down our spine, but without it redemption is a meaningless word, and forgiveness makes sense only in view of God’s judgment. The Gospel satisfies His wrath by the blood of Christ, an escape hatch that God himself provides. Admitting that God is right and we are wrong is the first step to overcoming the Felix effect.