So, while I was sick, I decided to read a book my mom had given me a few months ago called The Shack. And why not? This book comes highly recommended and endorsed (link to endorsements) by many pastors and Christians. Now, this book was supposedly a work of Christian fiction, but as I got to the center of it’s pages, I was struck by the heretical tone of many of the author’s key points. I eventually decided to stop reading but not before I was introduced to the presentation of many points that were in direct conflict with the Spirit within me. The fact that God appeared to this man as an African American woman or even the overall nature that our relationship with God is not developed through church, scripture, prayer, or seminary, but rather through a vision where God physically manifests along with the Asian (female) holy spirit and the Jewish carpenter, Jesus Christ-these points began a spiritual friction that eventually rubbed raw to the point that I sat the book down and decided that it was not for me.
I am not opposed to presenting God as having the emotions that are, as we perceive them, female. I am not opposed to presenting God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ as a three entities that have love, respect, and relationship for and with one another. I am trying to think of any other points that do not directly conflict with orthodox Christianity, but at present they do not come to mind. (The fact that God is presenting Himself as a man to a man is absurd in the first place per Romans 1:21-23a.) There are points that may be in line with God’s heart and love but these are overshadowed by the theological ideas presented that are so out of line with truth.
For example, presenting to an audience the fact that God is telling him (the author) that He along with Christ suffered on the cross, and that God bears the same scars as Jesus. Both the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed (A.D. 325) made it very clear that it was Jesus alone who “suffered” for us on the Cross. And that He did this only through His human nature. To say otherwise is to engage in “confusing the two natures” of Christ which was explicitly condemned in the Chalcedonian Creed (A.D. 451). Suffering is a form of change, and the Bible makes it very clear that God cannot change. “I the Lord change not” (Mal. 3:6). “There is no shadow of change with Him” (Jas. 1:17). When all else changes, God “remains the same” (Heb. 1:10-12).
This is just one example, and it just so happens that this was the point that caused me to stop reading. The book also stated that Jesus was the “best” way to relate to the Father. Last time I checked, He was the ONLY way. The book stated that the parties of the Trinity were all equal. This causes confusion in Christ’s submission and obedience to the Father, and in the reference to God as the “Godhead”. This type of confusion being presented in a quote unquote Christian work is extremely upsetting to me. The fact that so many Christians are reading this book and passing it along with high praises!). And even worse, those people teetering on the decision of their faith that may be potentially misguided by this man’s writing and presentation of God.
It’s right in line with the politically correct, open,non-offensive, accepting religion that many are portraying Christianity to be. But the fact of the matter is that narrow is the road that leads to life. It is not a feel-good, all-encompassing religion. Only the real truth, Yeshua will set you free. Jesus warned us in Matthew 24 that if the end days were not shortened by His return even the very elect would be deceived. The fact that this book was a best seller among Christians is a ominous sign that we Christians are not alert and on guard. Here is a disturbing quote from a pastor that reviewed this book:
Wrapped in creative brilliance, The Shack is spiritually profound, theologically enlightening and life impacting. It has my highest recommendation. We are joyfully giving copies away by the case. Steve Berger, Pastor , Grace Chapel
Giving copies away by the case! It seriously moves me to tears. The truth of God is being distorted and then dispensed by those who love Him.
The Shack is Young’s way of projecting his particular views of theology on crucial issues in a subtle and almost persuasive manner. The reader becomes caught up in the emotions of the story and characters and is impressed with a theological stance that is many times in opposition to scripture. Now, do I feel that we can find inspiration outside of scripture? Absolutely. God may give you prophetic words, visions, dreams, signs, or speak to you in the soft voice of the Spirit. I do not feel that the scripture is the end and limitation of God’s communication. But I do feel that God’s communication is always in line with His written word.
I am not saying that a person that is firm in his or her beliefs shouldn’t read (or do his/her research on this book), but only for the purpose of refuting much of it’s content. I will close with Dr. Norman Geisler’s conclusion of this book. It mirrors my feelings and is stated perfectly:
The Shack may do well for many in engaging the current culture, but not without compromising Christian truth. The book may be psychologically helpful to many who read it, but it is doctrinally harmful to all who are exposed to it. It has a false understanding of God, the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, the nature of man, the institution of the family and marriage, and the nature of the Gospel. For those not trained in orthodox Christian doctrine, this book is very dangerous. It promises good news for the suffering but undermines the only Good News (the Gospel) about Christ suffering for us. In the final analysis it is only truth that is truly liberating. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). A lie may make one feel better, but only until he discovers the truth. This book falls short on many important Christian doctrines. It promises to transform people’s lives, but it lacks the transforming power of the Word of God (Heb. 4:12) and the community of believers (Heb. 10:25). In the final analysis, this book is not a Pilgrim’s Progress, but doctrinally speaking The Shack is more of a Pilgrim’s Regress.
P.S. Here is another great document to read that discusses the doctrinal falsities of this novel (link)