This book is a great story and has sold over 6 million copies. It was the best selling book in America for many weeks and was called Christian Fiction. The problem is too many good stories about God influence people and they begin to believe the theology is correct. The theology is definitely incorrect in The Shack, and many people are misled by paying attention to the story line and not the theology. That is to say, what is in the Bible is not the same as what is in The Shack.
Theology means to think, write, or speak about God. Theos is Greek for “God;” logos is the Greek word meaning “word” or “speak.” Hence, when we are engaged in theology we are engaged in understanding the “word of God.” When Jesus is referred to as the “Word of God” it is capitalized. When the Bible is referred to as the “word of God” it is not capitalized in this document. It is capitalized if referring to Jesus as the “Word of God.” Anyone who endeavors to understand Holy Scripture is a theologian. Therefore, we are all theologians.
According to a podcast on “Nourish the Dream” with David G. Johnson, Wm. Paul Young had a difficult childhood. His parents were missionaries from Canada. They were assigned to a tribe of cannibals in Papua New Guinea. Young stated in the interview that by age four he had been sexually abused by the men of the tribe and that by age 6 he had become a predator. When he reached schooling age he was sent to a school for missionary children and the sexual abuse continued.
As a young adult his parents returned to Canada and he entered seminary to prepare for the ministry. He moved to the U.S. and married his wife Kim. He had come to the conclusion that the institutional church was doing much harm to people and abandoned his quest to be a pastor.
In an interview with World Magazine's Susan Olasky, Young said, "The institutional church doesn't work for those of us who are hurting and those of us who are damaged. If God is a loving God and there's grace in this world and it doesn't work for those of us who didn't get dealt a very good hand in the deck, then why are we doing this? Legalism within Christian or religious circles doesn't work very well for people who are good at it. And I wasn't very good at it."
This is important information, because the book is about universalism. Universalism is a heretical theology teaching that all humans have salvation and are going to spend eternity with God Almighty: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That teaching is contrary to everything the Bible has to say about salvation.
So, as all of us do, we see Young bringing his baggage of life to his book and to his beliefs. The Bible is the final authority for life and faith, not our baggage.
The book is a very good story. Young obviously has an agenda in writing the book and it is a “slap in the face” to God and to anyone who believes the truth of Scripture. Young is a good father and husband and, no doubt, a good man. My hope is that he will come home to our Lord and find the security and promises of God to be comforting. It is not the church that brings salvation; rather it is the Cross of Christ.
THE SHACK AND ITS LIES
As I read the book a second time I noted pages and heresies. That is how we will proceed. Not every heresy is mentioned herein, but enough to get a good overall picture. My references are listed at the bottom of this document.
The book says that God the Father was crucified with Jesus. Jesus said in Mark 15:34, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,” which means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” These were Aramaic words that echoed Psalm 22:1. These words reveal how catastrophic it was for Jesus to be abandoned by his Father for our sake as he bore our sins on the Cross.
The book says, “When we three spoke ourselves into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human. Jesus said in John 4:24, “God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and truth.” God the Father did not take human form.
God the Father says, “The God who is, the I am who I am, cannot act apart from love.” Romans 9:13-18 tells us that God does not have mercy on everyone. That is God’s choice, yet God is just and cares about justice. Therefore, God can and does act apart from love, at times. In Isaiah 5:15-16 we see that God will humble whomever He will humble. Exodus 33:19 tells us God can harden the hearts of people and does. And in Romans 9:27-29 we see that only a remnant of Israel will survive.
(to be continued next week…)
Sources: (1) The Shack: Helpful or Heretical? A Critical Review by Norman L. Geisler and Bill Roach. (2) The Shack Uncovered By Michael Youssef, Ph.D. (3) Wayne Jacobsen, “Is The Shack Heresy?” (4) Tim Challes: “A Readers View of “The Shack.”tim@challies