Our journey continues through the Christian section in the local bookstore. We have encountered nothing but heretical writings thus far, and unfortunately our next book, The Shack, is no different. There have been a lot of controversies surrounding this book, and rightly so. The imagery used to portray God would be evident enough, but the people that flock to defend this book now turned movie seems to be endless. This book has sold over 20 million copies and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for almost two years. To say that The Shack has a cult following is an understatement, and these individuals will pounce the moment they hear anyone make “judgmental” statements on the book. While the list of heresies is long, we will focus on just a couple of the more glaring issues that this book presents.
Problem one: The imagery of God. While we can discuss that God is portrayed as an African American woman named “papa”, I am not going to dwell to much on this. The bible is clear, God is referred to in the masculine pronouns, He, Him, His hundreds of times. Not once is God referred to in the female pronoun, yet this has been a big push from the feminist movement in recent years. Trying to change the gender of God. This however is a topic for another day. Let’s focus on the actual imagery of God. We meet this version of “God” as Mack comes to a shack in the forest on the anniversary of his daughter’s death. God appears to Mack with scars on her wrist, indicating that God suffered on the cross and was crucified with Jesus. This is an absolute blasphemous statement. The Bible tells us that God’s eyes are to pure and cannot look at sin; God could not look at His Son as He hung on the cross, Habakkuk 1:13. The very notion that God the Father had to suffer counters the biblical narrative of God begetting His only Son. The purpose of Christ was to be our atonement, He had to die, separate from God. That is why in Matthew 27:45 we see the darkness over the land after Christ dies on the cross. Then the very next verse, Jesus says, “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani? That is to say, My God, My God, why hast though forsaken me?” Moving on; the revealing of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in this book have no connection to the Biblical portrayal of the Trinity. The Shack appears to support “a Trinity”, by having three individual persons but differs when the author encourages relationships with each of the “godhead.” This thinking moves against the biblical teaching of the Bible. The Bible indicates that while the Trinity has three separate persons, they have the same essence. The Trinity each complement each other and does a collective will. Looking at the imagery of God used in The Shack, it is evident the author created a fictitious god using the principles of the Bible.
Problem two: The Universalism of the book, stating that God forgave all of humanity of their sins no matter what happens. A quote taken from the book, “I am not who you think I am, Mackenzie. I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It is not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.” To the ignorant Christian, this may be comforting, and even welcoming. Thinking that we have this whole “god” thing wrong. He really wants everyone to be saved and free from sin… This is just a glaring contradiction to what scripture sins. We see time and time again, His selection of His people, from Matthew 1:21 to John 6, Romans 8 and 9. Not only do we see election as glaring doctrine, but we see those unrepentant souls still in sin must be punished. “The wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23. Paul adds more, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19. By saying that all sins were forgiven on the cross in The Shack, we see this as an insult to the Bible. We see this “god” in the Shack as all about love, and no justice. Even though the Bible says that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead, 1 Corinthians 15:1, the Shack does not play into this separation of humanity. The “god” of the shack is a universal all loving falsehood, much like the “god” sold by Oprah Winfrey. Sadly, this teaching has seeped into some of the emergent churches where they declare the atonement of Christ to be nothing more than a “form of cosmic child abuse.” When theology is twisted and written into a fictional book and sells millions, many false teaching churches want a piece of the action. We see that behavior in this book, as “jesus” says, “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They are Buddhists or Mormons, Baptist, or Muslims…and many who are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institution…. Some are bankers and bookies, Americans and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians. I have no desire to make them Christians, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa….’ ‘Does that mean…that all roads will lead to you?’ ‘Not at all…. Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you’” This is just a heretical statement at best. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
Problem three: A wrong view of Salvation. At the end of problem two above, I noted a section from the book that indicates universalism, but it also tries to dismantle John 14:6. In the book, Christ is described as the “best” way to the Father, not the only way. As the “jesus” in the book says, he desires all people from all religions to know his “papa”. The Jesus of the Bible says things differently. “24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-16. We are to deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Him. Not a secular religion, or our emotions, but follow Jesus. He, Jesus, is the ONLY way to God. Paul declared: “There is one God and one mediator between God and Men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). There is no other way, despite what this book is trying to tell us.
The shack has been exposed by many before me. There are countless articles online that show the top 13 heresies of The Shack or break down various issues with the book. Websites have been dedicated to warning people of this book. While some claim its just a work of fiction and we should go easy on it, to me that is equally insulting to God and Christianity. With books like this floating around, people may read and get the wrong idea of the sacrifices needed to be a Christian. The concept of carnal Christian comes to mind, where they think that Jesus died for them no matter what, so they can go on living their life. Unfortunately, as I laid out above, that is all false. We must renounce this heresy and study our Bibles. Find a Bible preaching church and get involved. We must stand boldly proclaiming the word of God and expose the evil that has filled the Christian bookstores.
Written by Alex @reformed_lifestyle