Posted by: thefourwinds | November 30, 2008

Concerns about The Shack

Here’s a letter I wrote to a friend of mine who had recommended I read the wildly popular book, The Shack, a work of theological fiction.

Hi _______,
 
I debated whether I should even write this email.  I pray you won’t consider it too abrupt.  Part of the abruptness is because it’s late, I’m tired, and I’m preparing for yet another move.  However, if I don’t write this now, I fear I won’t write it at all.  And since I’m plagued with thoughts of Ezekiel, trumpets, and watchmen, I must write to you about this (see Ezekiel 3:16-21 and 33:1-9).  Please forgive me if I don’t come across smoothly.
 
You had recommended to me the book The Shack.  I can see why people are captivated by it; it’s a compelling narrative.  But being compelling and being truthful are not always the same thing.  I must say there are some deeply troubling redefinitions of Biblical Christianity that take place in the pages of The Shack.  For example:
 
1.  The Father is an African-American woman??  The Bible claims God is a Father and always refers to Him as “He.”  He is not genderless in the way presented by this book.  Although He has some qualities that we often consider feminine in humans, the Bible still calls Him a Father, always calls Him “He,” and even once refers to Him as a “man of war” (Exodus 15:3). 
 
2.  Jesus is the best way to the Father???  The Bible says Jesus is the only way (John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me”).
 
3.  There’s no hierarchy in the trinity?? All hierarchy comes from sin??  John 4:34 – “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.”  There are more Scriptures I could include here about all things being subjected to the Son except the Father, and so forth. 
 
4.  The Father doesn’t punish sin???????  Yes, the results of sin can be their own punishment, and it may be His joy to cure sin, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t punish sin.  John 3:36 – “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (emphasis added by me). 
 
5.  Jesus is merely a perfected human??  This sounds more like Mormonism than Christianity.  Shall I list all the Scriptures that attest to the divinity of Christ? (Start with John 1:1). 
 
More could be said.  This list is heavy enough, but I’m noticing as I reread what I typed that even a reading of just the Gospel of John clearly denounces the theology put forth (in such captivating fashion) by The Shack.  One could almost say the presentation of theology by The Shack is seductive, as in seducing people into a false understanding of God and a false gospel.  Remember what Paul wrote to the Galatians:  “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again:  If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).
 
It’s not possible for me to judge the intentions of the author of the book, but it is possible to judge the theology presented (and it’s Biblically right to judge the theology – “Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” 1 Cor 5:12b).  ________, the theology of The Shack will lead you off the narrow path and away from the God of the Bible and away from the true Christ who can save you from your sins.  I pray that God will grant the grace to smooth the rough edges of my message so that you may receive what is presented here. 
 
The grace and peace of Jesus Christ be upon your life,

Greg

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Responses

  1. Greg,
    Amen! I was so glad to read your email and find another person recognizing the theological assaults this book delivers. I was shocked when this book was recommended by someone I respect in the homeschooling community. I ended up reading the book so I could verify the reservations I was having based on reviews. It was so highly offensive I had to put it down several times. The writer is so slick in his deception that I’m afraid he is pulling the wool over the eyes of what I thought were grounded Christians.

    After pouring over comments from reviews of the book and visiting the Shack community I became deeply disturbed at how quickly people are embracing the theology in this book. People are saying this book has transformed their relationship with God. People are calling God “Papa” which I think is Scriptural but in their mind they mean the “Papa” in the Shack which is a large black female (I could also go on about the ridiculous stereo types in the book!) When people in the forums and reviews talk of the Holy Spirit they refer to Sarayu, an Asian female! Though this book is fiction people are having “life changing” experiences with God through reading this book. The God of the Bible is referred to as a male. We as females possess His qualities since we are made in His image but He has never been a female!

    The big premise of this book tries to dispel “performance” religion which I totally agree is worthless and leads to bondage. But if one is trying to “work” their way to God or to work to earn His favor then they are not following what the Bible says a person must do to be saved. I would question if they know the Biblical gospel which offers salvation through repentance of our sins and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. People are saying this book has freed them from running on the performance treadmill of pleasing others and God. Those who have been soundly saved respond out of love towards God in wanting to live their life for Him. They shouldn’t be concerned with pleasing others, only pleasing God.

    I wish that people would get their theology and revelations from reading the Word. God’s love, care, direction and eventual judgment of mankind are all written down and there for discovery in His beautiful Word. Great review!

  2. […] GodDecember 1st, 2008 @ 1:52 pm I was so glad to read a review of “The Shack” from a former coworker of Tony’s and find another person recognizing the theological assaults this book delivers.  I was shocked […]

  3. Thank you Greg for posting on this. I, too, have GREAT concerns about this book, and blogged about it a few weeks ago after my book club decided to read it. After it was suggested, I did some research because I had heard some “concerns”, but didn’t really know anything for sure; but then after reading some very powerful critiques about it, I went back to my book and humbly told them I had theological concerns and wouldn’t be reading this one along with them. Happily we decided as a group not to read it. Check out my posting for links to the critiques I read…they are very helpful if you have friends who are still unconvinced. http://bikebookandbread.blogspot.com/2008/11/shack.html

  4. Christy,
    Thanks for the pingback and your comment. I’m thankful to see you guys have noticed the same things, and disheartened with you that it is misleading and/or seducing so many professing Christians.

    Steph,
    Good to see you also have stood up for the truth in that setting. I’m afraid that the people who have been most affected by it are “postmodern” enough in their thinking that the truth just doesn’t matter to them as much as their own personal experience. We can only pray the Lord will open their ears, eyes, and hearts.

  5. The shack is another book that will lead people away from truth …I have an article on my blog critiquing this nonsense.

    dale

  6. Click on my name or here :

    http://weblog.xanga.com/PerilousTimes/683125167/the-shack-heresy-.html

  7. Dale, thanks for standing up against seductive heresy.

    I disagree with something that you wrote, though, in one of your comments on your own site, but it is the simple difference between whether Christ atoned for all of humanity on the Cross or whether His death atoned for the elect. I believe the Scriptures indicate He atoned for the elect.

    Grace in Christ to you.

  8. I also believe He atoned for the sins of the elect only …Where did I make the comment to the contrary please ?

    God be with you

    – dale

  9. Hi Dale,

    It’s been a while since I was on your site. I tried to find what I had seen. I think I may have mistaken a comment written by someone else on your site as one written by you.

    My apologies for the mistake.

    Grace to you today,
    Greg

  10. its just a good book, at no time does it claim truth. why cant “christians” see that?
    you quote scriptures, and give your meaning of them but who are you people to explain the word of god? its not for you to do. Why cant you get past your religious brainwashing and just read a book,it doesnt have to have any other meaning than just a book that makes you feel good, i promise you wont go to hell just for reading it!

    • Thanks for your reply.
      1. If the author is not concerned about it being true or not, then why does he insist on traveling the world talking about his version of the truth?
      2. The Scriptures make it clear that God calls some people to be teachers of the Word. While someone who considers himself a teacher will be held to a stricter account (James 3:1), it doesn’t mean we’re supposed to give up the possibility of teaching people what the Bible says.
      3. Jesus, Paul, Peter, and all the apostles repeatedly defended the Scriptures against false teaching, and Jesus warned us to be on guard for false teachers and false prophets.

      You ask me who I am. I ask you: Who are you to tell me I should go against the Word of God, which instructs us to rightly handle the Word of Truth (2 Tim.2:15), and instead follow you and your ideas?

      Obviously, I never said anyone will go to hell for reading The Shack. The question is, will you believe it? If you believe, I have concerns for your soul.


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