This review was written in 2007 however with the resurgence of the hollywood movie, it is still very relevant to today
In May 2007
'The Shack' was available to the market. A self published book, (because the regular Christian publications didn't feel that evangelical Christians would like the book) it has become a phenomenon in the secular and Christian world. Despite the book’s popularity among Christians, believers are divided on whether this book is biblically sound.
Some time ago I had been asked to provide a review of William P. Young's The Shack, however, I kept putting it off. From what I had heard about it, I knew it had some theological problems and I really didn't want to read yet another seemingly innocent, but yet heretical book that was taking the Christian church by storm. Now that I have read the book, I can not help but speak out against it. In my previous quick article on this subject I mainly referred people to a review done by a fellow named Tim Challies. We have retained a link to that review at the end of this article. We provide it as an additional resource.
More times than not, when people ask me about The Shack, I am asked for my opinion on the fictional nature of this book. Mr. Young wrote it as a fictional story and therefore, maybe we shouldn't be so critical of a book that isn't portrayed as something to be taken literally. While that might be true in concept, you will find upon some research that many people are indeed taking the book literally. Even if the author says he wasn't presenting new theology, the end result has still been the same. Let me expound on this further.
Young says he wrote the book at his wife's prodding, to explain his 11-year journey of healing with God to their six children. The "shack" in Young's story represents deep personal wounds, both suffered and inflicted. The book is spiritual autobiography (in one web interview, Young says Mack is"basically me") cast in an alternative world, an imaginative attempt to condense 11 years into a weekend of conversations. These are words offered bya 53-year-old father to his children, a fictionalized tale of his relation ship with God mended in deep darkness. 1
It is because of statements like these that many people have said that we should not look into The Shack's theology; as a fictional autobiography, it is not meant to be a book teaching us about the things of God... or is it?
We should take careful note here that Mr. Young has at no time rebuked anyone for using his 'fictional' book to teach new spiritual truths. Even though he might have originally stated that the book was not to be taken as theology, he has since recanted thanks (I'm sure in part) to its unprecedented success in Christendom.
“I absolutely am convinced that this is a God-thing that God is the One stirring this all up, challenging us to rethink and entertain growing deeper in a relationship with Him rather than pursuing our independence,” 2
My friends, this book is indeed about theology and has impacted people as such.
Take a look at some of the reviews on the book. On Amazon.com you read things like:
"People know about the Trinity, but they only have a vague understanding of the relationship between The Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus. "The Shack" gave me a greater understanding of how God can be the Trinity at the same time. I also gained a greater of understanding of what "God is love" really means."
"I am changed... refreshing, timely, powerful new voices, gifted storytellers God has raised up to speak to those who need to hear His voice, feel His love, comprehend God''s presence today in their lives. This book pierced dimensions of my soul in ways that defy explanation through the written word ---it''s just that powerful."
The book itself contains endorsements that read:
"The Shack is a one of a kind invitation to journey to the very heart of God. Through my tears and cheers, I have been indeed transformed by the tender mercy with which William Paul Young opened the veil that too often separated me from God and from myself. With every page, the complicated do’s and don’ts that distort a relationship into a religion were washed away as I understood Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for the first time in my life."- Patrick M. Roddy, Emmy Award Winning Producer of ABC News
"Finally! A guy-meets-God Novel that has literary integrity and spiritual daring."The Shack" cuts through the cliches of both religion and bad writing to reveal something compelling and beautiful about life''s integral dance with the Divine. This story reads like a prayer--like the best kind of prayer, filled with sweat and wonder and transparency and surprise. When I read it, I felt like I was fellowshipping with God. If you read one work of fiction this year, let this be it."- Mike Morrell, zoecarnate.com
"When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize the result is a novel on the order of The Shack. This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!"- Eugene Peterson, Professor Emeritus Of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, B.C.
People are being changed by this book and are saying that they now see God in a whole new way! This should greatly alarm any student of the Word of God. You have to ask the question - "A whole new way compared to what?" The answer is 'the Bible'. The Bible reveals to us who God is, or what God chose to reveal about Himself to us. Therefore, woe to any of us, who would dare ''add'' or diminish from the scriptures in this regard.
GOD THE FATHER
A disturbing fact throughout the book is how God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are manifested in various forms of 'human' likeness.
God the Father in The Shack is represented as a "large, beaming African-American woman" named 'Papa'. At least, that's the way he(she?) is portrayed at first. Later we find out her favorite name is 'Elousia', which means 'tenderness' in the Greek. Near the end of the book, God the Father is transformed into an elderly gray haired man with a pony tail.
The second commandment reads.
Exo 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
The word likeness in the Hebrew means: embodiment, or manifestation.
To make a graven image or likeness of God, means to take an invisible God and try to make Him visible. It is taking the Creator God and trying to represent Him with attributes of the creation.
John 4:24 also reads, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
A.W. Tozer once wrote: "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Idols arise out of human imagination. Human nature causes us to make a god however we want him/her/it to be. We take the attributes we like and remove the ones we don't - to make a god more pleasing and acceptable to ourselves.
In describing the sin of idolatry, the Apostle Paul wrote:
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God,neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man”. - Romans 1:21-23
Imagination creates images — even idolatrous images — and the images can either be material or mental, actual or verbal.
Now this discussion on idolatry would differ somewhat in the representation of Jesus. Jesus did indeed come as a man, therefore, to represent His form as a man couldn't necessarily be deemed idolatrous, although we would still need to be cautious. For instance it would be heretical to put words into Jesus mouth, that He in fact never said. This would be a form of idolatry as we have made God say what we wanted Him to say.
GOD THE SON
"He admitted to himself that he liked Jesus a lot, but he seemed the least godlike of the three"The Shack, pg 117
The Shack describes Jesus to be quite human in personage; a relatively unattractive Middle Eastern Jewish man with a "big nose" who functions as the shack area handyman (pg. 111). In regards to Young''s portrayal of Jesus' humanity, there are a few problems presented. Although, the portrayal of Jesus in a literary symbolic sense seems sometimes reasonable and maybe even within the bounds of Scripture (Matt 1:1-17; Rom 1:3; Isa 53:2; Mk 6:3), there are many instances where lines were crossed in literary blasphemy.
One specific instance is found on page 104. At this point in the story we see a scene where Jesus is being portrayed as clumsy fellow, when he drops a bowl and the other members of the Trinity laugh at Him.
Although Jesus did come to earth as a man, He always retained His Godhood. As Hebrews 13:8 tells us, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Christ was and is the creator, the all powerful, the co-equal to co-eternal one. As He was, is and will ever be God the Son, he can at no time be viewed as anything other than perfect. Jesus is God and nothing less. The Jesus that William Young portrays in the book is at times made to appear less than perfect. This confusion in Mr. Young's Christology is a very disturbing part of the book. 1 John 2:22-23 makes it clear that if you have the wrong understanding of who Jesus is, that is... if you don't know Jesus, then you don't know the Father either.
Mr. Young also leaves the door open for the idea that Jesus originated from"Papa-mama." In explaining the derivation of woman from man, The Shack's Jesus tells Mack: "We created a circle of relationship, like our own, but for humans. She out of him, and now all males, including me, birthed through her (Eve), and all originating from God"(pg, 148).
The words 'all originating from God' combined with the words 'including me' would seem to suggest that Jesus' birth was just as irreverent as the rest of humanity. The dialog muddies the waters of the understanding of Christ's Godliness and would seem to challenge the scriptural statement that He is the one and only "begotten of the Father" as we know from John 1:14.
As eluded to earlier, a portion of the dialog in the story would seem to reject the attribute of Jesus being co-eternal with God the Father. The mere suggestion "all originating from God…including me" suggests that the Jesus of The Shack was/is not eternal in the past. The Bible's truths declare otherwise:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. - John 1:1-2
These disturbing notions were further expounded upon when it appeared that The Shack's Jesus wanted to join all humans in "their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved." (pg, 182).
Christ was never transformed into God's son. He always was and is the son. He always was and is God. As mentioned earlier, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." - Heb 13:8
Another very noticeable and disappointing theme in The Shack is that never once is Jesus referred to as "Christ". Only His human name is mentioned and never the self given name of 'Christ' as he did so in Matthew 16:16-17. Missing from The Shack is this vital concept of the salvific work of the Christ, and instead we see a Jesus more interested in relationship (Which although is not entirely wrong, misses the true nature of who Christ is, and what He did for us).
I started this section with a quote from The Shack
"He admitted to himself that he liked Jesus a lot, but he seemed the least godlike of the three" - The Shack, pg 117
Before we leave this discussion on God the Son, I wanted to leave us with a sense... a true sense... a Biblical sense... of who God the Son really is.
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God...Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. - Rev 19:11-16
The Jesus of The Shack is unquestionably NOT the Christ of the Scriptures.
GOD THE SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit manifested as a 'wispy', ghostly Asian lady named 'Sayaru' (meaning wind) is also idolatry. The novel's impersonation of the Holy Spirit as female contradicts Jesus' clear statement in John 1:13 that the Spirit is neither an "it" nor a "she", but rather a "He". It is also clear from John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit does not speak of Himself, but He brings all remembrance unto the Son and what Christ taught.
FATHER, SON AND SPIRIT: THE TRINITY
A major theme throughout The Shack is a man's discussion and relation to the Holy Trinity. Therefore, if the book misrepresents the Trinity, then we have a book with serious theological ramifications.
I think through the last couple of sections I have demonstrated quite clearly that the Trinity, that is the triune Godhead represented in The Shack is in fact erroneous on several points.
The most disturbing factor in all of the hype surrounding the book is not so much that Young wrote the book, but rather it is the fact that so many evangelical Christians are now accepting the triune godhead as presented by Young, and are discarding the truths that God's Word declares.
In all honesty the 'Trinity' that William Young portrays is completely heretical when compared to the Scriptures. Evangelicals should not be teaching, recommending, or practicing theology from this book.
Some would still say this isn't a theological book. However, when people read it they do in fact find themselves immersed in theology. The very word 'theology' means 'speaking or studying about God'. The word comes from the Greek: 'Theo' meaning God and 'ology' meaning to speak of; or the study of.
THE REST OF THE STORY
With these primary concerns clearly laid before us, I wish now to provide a 8 point list of major theological issues with The Shack. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but it is a list that was born out of my own reading and resulting marked-up and ear-marked pages of my own copy of the novel. Within this list you will find some points that we have already discussed, and some that we have not. It is my hope that you will find the 8 point list useful in passing on the message that The Shack isn't what is all cracked up to be.
1. The Idolatry
We spoke at length about this issue in the first part of this article. The Shack presents an idolatrous view of the Triune Godhead. The god of The Shack was made into the likeness of William Young's imagination and is not the God of the Bible.
2. Can man see God?
An interesting premise in the book is the fact that we have a man named 'Mack' who is able to see God the Father. We know from scripture that this is an impossibility, and yet nowhere in The Shack is it explained how it can be that Mack is afforded this special privilege that no man has ever had; including the likes of Moses, David, or anyone recorded in Scripture.
The closest thing is when Scripture records an event between God and Moses wherein Moses, upon his request to see God's glory, was only allowed to briefly see God's back but not His face for "no man shall see Me, and live." (Exodus33:18-23)
It is clear also from John that no man has seen God except the Son.
"No man hath seen God at any time; the onlybegotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." - John 1:18
William P. Young apparently holds a lower view of God's holiness and the absolute inability for anything sinful to be in His presence. Scripture conveys to us that God is so Holy that any wickedness is destroyed at His very presence.
Man is wicked. And even as a Christian our mortal bodies cannot dwell in or see the Glory of God or we too shall perish. The translation of our bodies as described by 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 is therefore a necessity for us to stand before God in any sort of bodily form.
3. God the Father was crucified with Jesus
In one part of the book the main character Mack sees the nail scars on Papa's hands as well (pg 95). This would assert that William Young sees God the Father as being crucified with Christ. Biblically this is incorrect and there is almost a sense of Modalism in this statement - but not quite.
'Modalism' is a false belief that God is only one and he chooses to manifest Himself in three forms. Truly the Bible presents the Trinity as one God in three distinct persons.
The Bible teaches that God the Father was not with Christ on the cross. Christ hung on the cross and God the Father poured out the wrath deserved of us upon the Son. Christ bore all our sin upon Himself and the Father looked not upon the iniquity He bore.
The Shack says, "We were there together... Regardless of what he felt atthat moment, I never left him" (pg 96) This coupled with the indication from page 95 that God the Father had nail scars on His hands, would seem to suggest that God the Father also actually hung on that cross. But, the Bible indicates that God the Father was not on the cross with Christ, and yet Christ also did not give up His Godhood as he hung there.
As we read in 1 Peter 2:24, Christ "bore our sins in His own body".Christ called out from the cross as documented in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34, " MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"
Christ at that moment was experiencing the despair that resulted from the outpouring of divine wrath on Him as a sinless, sin-bearer… the pure, perfect, sacrificial, passover lamb. It would seem that God the Father turned his face from the sin that was borne on the cross by God the Son. But there is also a significant meaning to that statement. The cry of Christ at that moment was a reference to Psalm 22:1 which was a prophecy of the Messiah's death and rejection. Even then Christ's words proved to serve as a sign to those who heard, that he was indeed, the long awaited Messiah.
4. As a Result of the cross, God forgave everyone, regardless of repentance or faith.
We see in Scripture that the forgiveness of sins only comes to a person who repents and trusts in Jesus. That is, a person who is 'saved' obtains forgiveness. (See Luke 5:32; 24:47; Acts 20:21; 26:17-18; 2 Cor 7:9-10; 1 John1:9) There is indeed a condition for our personal sins to be forgiven. We must repent, turn from our sin and trust in Jesus as Lord, and then and only then is forgiveness given.
Conversely, let us read what The Shacksays on this issue:
“Honey,” says Papa, “you asked me what Jesus accomplished on the cross; so now listen to me carefully: through his death and resurrection, I am now fully reconciled to the world.”
The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?”
"The whole world, Mack. All I am telling you is that reconciliation is a two way street, and I have done my part, totally, completely, finally. It is not the nature of love to force a relationship but it is the nature of love to open the way.”
I'm sure you'll agree this dialog is less than clear on what it was that Christ accomplished on the cross through His death and later through the resurrection.
Young only mentions reconciliation. What does it mean to be fully reconciled? Young doesn't clearly tell us however, what we do find is a disturbing dialog from the god of The Shack (Papa) in reference to the propitiation (or in this case the lack of) afforded by Christ for sinners on the cross; which happens to be my next point.
5. God Won't Judge People for their Sins.
The god of The Shack says,
“I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it”
Friends, this is heresy. The Bible says clearly that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). This means that the cost of sin, is our death. The god of William Young is a god who could not have poured out his justifiable wrath upon the Son because it is apparent that William P. Young does not believe that Christ died for Him.
Conversely, the God of the Bible, is a God who did exactly that.
Heb 9:28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Rom 3:25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,
Even Isaiah foretold that this would be the role of the savior.
Isa 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
And Peter reiterates this very fact.
1Pe 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own bodyon the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
The Word of God repeatedly invites people to escape from the righteous judgment of God by repenting and calling on the name of Jesus Christ, His Son (Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-3)
In The Shack the subject of the fall and the Biblical teaching of how sin separated man from God is cast aside as a subtopic to seemingly greater things. On page 99 the fall of man is stated simply as, "Adam going it on his own" On page 94 creation was merely "broken"
No where in the discussions with the god of The Shack is found the Biblical concept of sin and separation. Never are these facts deemed important enough to mention.
As I do deem it important to mention, I would be remiss if I didn''t take thetime to explain this truth from a Biblical standpoint.
My friends, one cannot be saved unless they truly understand what sin is, and why they need to be redeemed from the effects of it. Sin in itself is not its own punishment as The Shack would have us believe, but rather it is merely the result of us breaking God's Holy law. The apostle Paul said, "I would not have known sin if not for the law".
The only way that 'justice' can be appeased is if someone pays the fine or punishment for our sin. The Bible says that "without shedding of blood there is no remission." (Heb 9:22). This is what Christ did for each of us. You will glorify God in one of two ways. You will glorify God when you repent and trust the Savior so that you can demonstrate His mercy, grace and loving kindness, OR I'm afraid you will glorify God when he gives you exactly what you deserve on judgment day… and the smoke of your torment rises before the throne of the Lamb of God… you will give Him glory in your torment because justice will be satisfied.
Now you might want to cry out, "but I thought God was love?"
And He is!... and that’s the best part.
Jesus Christ came to earth, lived by the law, a sinless life, and died for our sins. Isaiah tells us that it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, and when Christ broke bread the night before He told the disciples He looked forward to this time, because of HIS LOVE. Christ knew He was going to die for us and HE LOOKED FORWARD to suffering in our place. Christ died and bore the wrath deserved of us upon Himself, so that we could be set free from our violation of the law. When Jesus Christ paid our fine a legal transaction occurred and justice was satisfied through His Death on the cross. But He didn't stay dead. He rose again and so with it is the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
When you respond to the true gospel message… that of repentance and faith, God will save you. You'll know it, you'll be on fire, and you'll never fall away. You'll never be snatched from His hands because He'll seal you with the Holy Spirit. You will inherit eternal life, not because you're a good person, but because you're a wretched person (Romans 7:24) who has been forgiven by a Good, Gracious and Loving God.
Now that's life changing! And not some carnal words of a fiction writer, who by the testimony of his words in The Shack, has obviously never really understood this crucial and Biblical gospel.
6. Many Roads to God?
Let's go back for a moment to a previous quote we looked at from the god of The Shack:
“Honey,” says Papa, “you asked me what Jesus accomplished on the cross; so now listen to me carefully: through his death and resurrection, I am now fully reconciled to the world.”
"The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?”
“The whole world, Mack. All I am telling you is that reconciliation is a two way street, and I have done my part, totally, completely, finally. It is not the nature of love to force a relationship but it is the nature of love to open the way.”
Now based on the Biblical gospel that we just looked at in the previous point, this passage begs the question - According to the god of The Shack, who can be reconciled to God?
Young perhaps give his answer on page 182.
“Those who love me come from every stream that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don''t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions”.
“Does that mean...that all roads will lead to you?”
“'Not at all,' smiled Jesus...'Most roads don't lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you'”
Universalism is the position that all of mankind will ultimately be saved through Jesus whether or not faith is professed in Him in this life. It claims that God's qualities of love, sovereignty, justice, etc., require that all people be saved and that eternal punishment is a false doctrine. Salvation is not from hell, but from sin. Although the words in The Shack do not conclusively align with the universalism heresy, they do not necessarily deny it either. In fact, after reading the book, I'm still left with an uncertainty as to what it is that William Young truly believes.
This lack of clarity is truly concerning when considering how clear the Bible truly is on this issue.
Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but by me" (John14:6) and the apostles preached, " Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."(Acts 4:12)
7. There is not a hierarchical structure in the Trinity
“Mackenzie, we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or ''great chain of being'' as your ancestors termed it. What you''re seeing here is relationship without any overlay of power. We don''t need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us” (page 122).
"You humans are so lost and damaged that to you it is almost incomprehensible that relationship could exist apart from hierarchy. So you think that God must relate inside a hierarchy like you do. But we do not” (page 124).
But what does Scripture actually say:
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” - 1 Corinthians 11:3
Read the words of Tim Challies from his review of The Shack as he sheds more light on this point.
It is critical that we look to the Bible to properly define the roles carried out by each member of the Trinity. When we do this, we see that while the members of the Trinity work together in perfect harmony, each has unique functions. Thus in creation we see that each of the members of the Trinity was active, the Father speaking the words that brought the universe into being, the Son carrying out the work of creation and the Holy Spirit sustaining it or manifesting God''s presence over it. The Trinity is active also in redemption, the Father planning redemption and sending His Son as redeemer; the Son being obedient to the Father and accomplishing the work of redemption; the Holy Spirit being sent by the Son in order to apply redemption to God’s children.
One thing stands out. In each case we see that the Father is the one who takes the lead. Much as a father relates to a son, the heavenly Father relates to His Son. The Father leads and directs and exercises some degree of authority over the Son. The Son is obedient to the directives of the Father and submits to Him. Just as the citizens of a nation are subordinate to the authority of the President, and just as the difference is not in their being or worth but in their role, in the same way, the Son is subordinate to the Father. This is the way it always has been and, according to 1 Corinthians 15:28, the way it always will be. Theologian Bruce Ware says rightly that “the most marked characteristic of the Trinitarian relationships is the presence of an eternal and inherent expression of authority and submission.” From this we learn that both authority and submission are good, for both are expressive of God himself. And we must then affirm that equality of essence does not conflict with the distinction in roles. The Son may submit to the Father and the Spirit may submit to the Son and the Father, even while maintaining absolute equality in worth and essence. 3
The Bible clearly says that Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. It is important to realize that this doesn't mean that one Personage of the Trinity is higher or better than the other, just unique. Jesus said that He came to do the will of Him who sent Him. (John 4:34, 6:44), and he also said that He would send us the Holy Spirit (John 14:26, 15:26). This type of dialog clearly indicates a role structure within the Trinity recognized and revealed through the words of Christ Himself. (See also John 5:20,30,43; John 6:39)
8. The Bible is not the final authority on how we can Know God.
“In seminary he had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects. It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerners’ access to God was mediated and controlled by the intelligentsia.Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges”
Ack! I really hated this part of the book. It made me just about weep. To describe and mention the Word of God with such disdain and dislike was truly heartbreaking. And to round off the description with a pithy 'guilt edges'... very, very sad indeed. Again I offer Tim Challies words on the subject at hand.
The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who putpen to paper (so to speak), each from different professions and different backgrounds, but the Holy Spirit infused their work with God’s words. These men were writing the same message from Genesis to Revelation. (2 Timothy 3:16).
There are few doctrines more important to settle than the doctrine of revelation. It is this doctrine that teaches us how God has chosen to reveal Himself to human beings. While every theistic religion teaches that God chooses to communicate with humans, they vary radically in the ways He does so. Christians are known as being a people of the book, people who cling to the Scripture as the revealed will of God. The Bible, we believe, is a unique gift given to us as an expression of God's love—as an expression of Himself. Christians hold to the belief that the Bible is the only infallible source of God’s revelation to us. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.
Clearly the Bible demands for itself a place of prominence and pre-eminence. It demands that it be held as God’s most important revelation to us, Some people believe, though, that the revelation given to us in the Bible needs to be supplemented or superseded by fresh revelation. This is especially a temptation in an age like ours where we tend to value what is new more than what is ancient. A question worth asking is this one: does The Shack point Christians to the unfailing standard of Scripture or does it point them to new and fresh revelation? 4
The Word of God is precious to us. The scriptures are God breathed and God inspired, and at no time is it acceptable to add to, or detract from the Word of God. The Words is perfect in presentation, meaning, verse and prose. If we desire to know the heart of God, we desire to read His Word and not the words of a New York Time's best seller who clearly hasn't a clue who God is.
How many of us would be dismayed if we wrote 66 love letters to our loved one only to find out that they never read them. God wrote 66 letters through 40 different authors over 2000 years for us to learn, live and grow in the Knowledge of Him. How dare a supposed Christ follower would ever pen such words of disdain for the Word of God.
I closing of this point, I am reminded of the words of Spurgeon:
"There is enough dust on some of your bibles to write the words 'damnation' with your fingers"- C.H. Spurgeon
I think we can clearly see from the previous pages that The Shack unashamedly introduces 'new revelations' into the things of God. The Bible tells us clearly that those who claim to speak for God, or who would put their own words into God's mouth, are false prophets and are condemned unto death. (Deu 18:20).
In essence, and by the literal interpretation of the Word of God, the words on the pages of The Shack are the words of a 'False Prophet'. By attempting to speak for God, even if the intent is fictional, William P. Young has indeed cast himself into a category of travelers on a road on which none should ever tread.
Because of this book, and an apparent lack of Biblical discernment, people are casting aside traditional Biblical views on issues such as creation, the fall of man, sin, wrath and salvation. They are being made to question the authority and truth of the Word of God. And worse than any of these things, they are accepting a view of God and the Trinity that is not based on the holy and God-breathed Truth of the Scriptures, but rather the inward beliefs and fictional thoughts of a mortal and carnal man.
Could there be any greater Tragedy?
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. - 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Serving the King,
1. DerekR. Keefe, Reading in Good Faith,Chrstianity Today,
3. Tim Challies, "A Reader''s Review of The Shack", 2008, pg 13
4. Tim Challies, "A Reader''s Review of The Shack", 2008, pg 7
For extra reading we provide a review of The Shackas done by Tim Challies the author of"The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment" - a book heralded by JohnMacArthur as, "The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment is a trulyimportant work-one that should be required reading not only for church leaders,but for all sober-minded laypeople as well."
It is the desire of Mr. Challies that everyon download it, read it, print it, email it, and pass it along however we see fit.
We extend our thanks to Tim Challies http://www.challies.comfor this excellent review by a fellow Berean.