Professor Black Goes to Hollywood

by Logan Cain

“Lights, camera, action!” An unexpected phone call from a major motion picture studio led an APU theology professor to accept an invitation that took him out of the classroom and onto a Hollywood set. Entertainment company Lionsgate interviewed Gary Black Jr., Ph.D. associate professor in the Honors College, about the Christian themes in The Shack, their film adaptation of the bestselling novel, for a special feature that appears on the recently released DVD.

For Black, this interview presented an opportunity to share the timeless truths of the Gospel in a culturally relevant way. “I was happy to offer my perspective on The Shack,” he said.“It's an important work and I was honored to play a very small part in it.” In the segment “God’s Heart for Humanity,” Black, alongside two other experts, William A. Dyrness, D.Th., professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Michael Bernard Beckwith, founder and spiritual director of Agape International Spiritual Center, shared his understanding of the film’s theological underpinnings. Black touched upon how God’s goodness is revealed even in the midst of our suffering and loss.

In The Shack, unthinkable tragedy strikes a family, and the resulting trauma strains the husband’s relationships with God and his wife as he struggles to cope. One day, a mysterious note brings him to a shack where he meets three strangers, representing the Holy Trinity, who help him process his pain and accept God’s love and forgiveness for himself and those who wronged him.

The loving and affirming nature of God or “Papa” endeared millions of readers, including Black, to William Young’s novel. “The Shack sheds light on two fundamental Christian truths: the impoverishment of humanity and the faithfulness of God,” said Black. “The film reminds us that no matter what happens, He is at work in our lives for the good.”

Logan Cain '18 is a public relations intern in the Office of University Relations. He is a biblical studies and humanities major in the Honors College.