Book Review

“The Shack” by: William P. Young

Should you read or recommend this book?

by: Bill Perkins

We believe that the measure of a good book is not the results it brings, but its scriptural accuracy. The Shack, by William P. Young, is a book we do not recommend reading. At first glance many find it to be a masterfully written Christian book. But on closer examination, we find The Shack presents a very subjective, incomplete, and distorted view of God and His relationship with man.

When the disciples asked Jesus specifically about the last days, the very first thing He said to them was, “See to it that no one misleads you.” Mark 13:4-5. Deception is a hallmark of the last days:

1 Tim 4:1 “. . . the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”

The problems in The Shack are no doubt subtle. But deception that is subtle is all the more dangerous.

2 Cor 11:14 “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

The strong appeal of the The Shack is that it presents a loving, caring God personally intervening in the life of the main character, Mack, in order to address and heal “the great sadness in his life. Plagued by the brutal death of his young daughter, Mack finds himself struggling with dejection, disillusionment, and universal questions that cause him to doubt everything—including God.

And Young does a masterful job of framing the ageless questions, and crafting heartfelt responses on God’s part that have tremendous emotional appeal. He shows us a view of a loving God who heals every hurt and rights all wrongs.

So what could possibly be wrong with that?

First of all, Young almost totally dismisses any relevance of Scripture, referring to the Bible as “words on piece of paper.” Really? God’s Word just words? (John 1:1) Careful. That is a hallmark of church movements today that view God’s Word as secondary to experiential, subjective truth.

As human beings, we have no capacity to comprehend our infinite God apart from what He reveals to us through the Holy Spirit and His written Word.

Is 55:8 9 “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thought”  (Also read Psalm 119 and 1 Cor 2:12-14.)

But The Shack reduces God’s unfathomable attributes down to human levels without scriptural backup. Many false religions and cults have sought to redefine God according to their own imagining, apart from what He says in His Word.

God’s Word is so intricately tied to His being that Jesus is actually called “The Word.”

Rev 19:13 “He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.”

John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

We don’t define who God is. Only He can do that. So even the most appealing portrayal of Him is dangerous if it’s subjective and man-made. God takes this seriously. When God addressed Job’s friend Eliphaz, who had been trying to explain God, He said to him, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7)

Here are more the of many problems we see with this book:

The Shack calls for a denial of reality. It ignores and/or redefines sin and guilt, embraces a counterfeit “Christianity that pulls in the crowds at the expense of Biblical distortions, and discounts warnings about Satan’s deceptions.

“God . . . dwells in . . . all things” (p.112). That is pantheism, not monotheism.

“Buddhists, Mormons, Baptists or Muslims . . . I have no desire to make them Christians . . .” (p.182). Here it’s teaching that we have no need for the Cross.

The Shack’s female “God is a “large beaming African-American woman” who says to Mack, “For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning” (p.93). Traditional, Biblical Christianity is now called “religious conditioning.”

For the last 10-15 years there has been a growing worldwide movement to redefine Christianity. The reasoning is that these false teachers think Christianity, referred to as “Post-modern” must be re-thought, re-invented, and/or re-packaged if the name of Jesus Christ is going to survive here on planet earth. Wrong. Since when does God need any of man’s help reaching the lost? A person’s salvation has zero to do with how we package the Gospel! All we are commanded to do is teach that man is sinful and God has provided a fully adequate blood sacrifice in His Son Jesus. From there, it’s all God. But The Shack embraces the new “Post-modern” line of reasoning.

God is made out to be a playful, culturally relevant “God.” Biblical guidelines are non-existent as The Shack offers no eternal consequence for right or wrong, therefore, no need for repentance. It suggests church should be a unifying, all-inclusive, non-judgmental body.

The Shack also teaches that Jesus did not return to heaven but remained on the earth . . . but He can fly around (p. 99, 100). Scripture says Jesus HAD to go to heaven so the Holy Spirit could come to earth. In fact, if He didn’t leave, the Holy Spirit couldn’t come to earth! (John 16:7)

In The Shack, the main character is offered the chance to communicate with loved ones who have died. The Bible bans this practice (Deut 18:11).

The Shack has God the Father and God the Holy Spirit as flesh and blood. But the Bible teaches us that no one has ever seen the Father (John 1:18). Jesus is the only One who has taken on humanity, and that was for a very specific reason:

Heb 2:14 “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.”

The Shack has reversed roles of God and man by suggesting that God has no authority over man. Instead, the trinity is concerned that man could impede their main purpose, which is, “inclusive relationships” and “authentic community”. Sinful man can now make his own rules, and own brand of religion (p.123).

“. . . enforcing rules [says Sarayu] . . . is a vain attempt to create certainty out of uncertainty. And contrary to what you might think, I have a great fondness for uncertainty.” (p.203). So much for God always being in control. God’s Word is NOT “a vain attempt to create certainty!”

In The Shack’s new bedtime story, sin no longer separates unholy people from a holy God. This teaching fits right into post-modern churches that ignore scriptural commands such as, “Do not be conformed to the world.” and “Abhor evil” (Romans 12:2,9). The Shack blurs the reality of sin, guilt and God’s just judgments. Worse, it undermines any real understanding of our need for discernment, repentance or Jesus’ shed blood on the cross. Even God’s amazing grace becomes unmeaningful!

The Shack’s false “God” mocks our true God by minimizing His sovereignty and judgments:

“I’m not a bully, not some self-centered demanding little deity insisting on my own way. I am good, and I desire only what is best for you. You cannot find that through guilt or condemnation . . .” (p.126)

But the Bible disagrees. It says our One true God offers a different kind of hope:

John 8:31-36 “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

There is simply too much doctrinal error mixed into this book to recommend it as something beneficial.

2 Tim 1:14 “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”

Bill Perkins

Bill Perkins is the founder and Executive Director of Compass International, Inc.
© Copyright 1993-2014, Compass International Inc. www.compass.org / 800-977-2177

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