Book Review: “The Shack” – William P. Young

With the movie version of the widely popular book “The Shack” getting geared up to hit the big screen, it is safe to assume that based on the extraordinary success of the written version, the movie version of this fiction will also be well received in the professing church. It SHOULD then also be safe to assume, I believe, that Christians will be obedient to the very word we base our faith on and “test all things” (2 Thess. 5:21) and no matter how emotionally charged a story like “The Shack” is, or how it may “speak” to us, we will be ready and vocal in dismissing it if it contradicts scripture in its portrayal of the person, character and work of God.

In a review, Greg Rice says:

I guess what I am trying to say is that I find this book not only theologically inaccurate, but totally unnecessary. We already have a book to tell us how God deals with tragedy in our lives. It’s called the book of Job. Here we see God actually suggesting to Satan that he afflict Job. It was God’s idea! Why? We can’t know all of the reasons, but God certainly does and if He does not share them, He absolutely has the right to do so. My guess would be to show Satan that when God’s Holy Spirit controls a man, that man will never turn away. Consider Job’s word in Job 19:25-26:

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God,”

Jesus tells us in John 8:31-32 that it is the truth in God’s word that sets us free and Paul affirms in 2 Tim. 3:16-17 that scripture is sufficient in training and equipping us for “every good work”. If this is true, then any teaching that contradicts scripture, no matter how it makes us feel, is not freeing, but rather works in enslaving us if we believe it. In Matthew 16:15, Jesus himself asks of his disciples “…who do you say that I am?” It is important to him what people know who he is as revealed in his word (vs. 16-17). What we believe about Jesus – and by extension, God – will determine our eternal destiny (Who Do You Think That I Am?). We must then turn to the very revelation given by God himself as to who he is, in his word.

The question to ask ourselves then, if the God portrayed in “The Shack” is not the true God, why then are Christians so enthralled by this God? As one reviewer put it: I have never felt so close to God as when I read this book! Think about the implication of this for a minute – a professing believer, one redeemed by God and indwelt by the very Spirit of God (Rom. 8:11) that leads us into truth (John 16:13), has never felt closer to God than when reading a false portrayal of God?

In an article called Thirteen Heresies in The Shack, written by Michael Youssef, he lists 13 doctrinal concerns along with what the Bible says about them:

1. God the Father was crucified with Jesus.

Because God’s eyes are pure and cannot look upon sin, the Bible says that God would not look upon His own beloved Son as He hung on the Cross, carrying our sins (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 27:45).

2. God is limited by His love and cannot practice justice.

The Bible declares that God’s love and His justice are two sides of the same coin — equally a part of the personality and the character of God (Isaiah 61:8; Hosea 2:19).

3. On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless.

Jesus explained that only those who come to Him will be saved (John 14:6).

4. Hierarchical structures, whether they are in the Church or in the government, are evil.

Our God is a God of order (Job 25:2).

5. God will never judge people for their sins.

The Word of God repeatedly invites people to escape from the judgment of God by believing in Jesus Christ, His Son (Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-3).

6. There is not a hierarchical structure in the Godhead, just a circle of unity.

The Bible says that Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. This doesn’t mean that one Person is higher or better than the other; just unique. Jesus said, “I came to do the will of Him who sent me. I am here to obey my Father.” Jesus also said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit” (John 4:34, 6:44, 14:26, 15:26).

7. God submits to human wishes and choices.

Far from God submitting to us, Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.” We are to submit to Him in all things, for His glory and because of what He has accomplished for us (Matthew 7:13-15).

8. Justice will never take place because of love.

The Bible teaches that when God’s love is rejected, and when the offer of salvation and forgiveness is rejected, justice must take place or God has sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for nothing (Matthew 12:20; Romans 3:25-26).

9. There is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell.

Jesus’ own description of hell is vivid … it cannot be denied (Luke 12:5, 16:23).

10. Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God, and it doesn’t matter which way you get to Him.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

11. Jesus is constantly being transformed along with us.

Jesus, who dwells in the splendor of heaven, sits at the right hand of God, reigning and ruling the universe. The Bible says, “In Him there is no change, for He is yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 11:12, 13:8; James 1:17).

12. There is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because everyone will make it to heaven.

Jesus said, “Only those who believe in me will have eternal life” (John 3:15, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40).

13. The Bible is not true because it reduces God to paper.

The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who put pen 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. If you want to read more about the place of Christ in the Scripture, read “We Preach Christ” (2 Timothy 3:16).

**here is a link to a video sermon where Michael Youssef teaches through these 13 concerns: The Shack: Uncovered

With that being said, I’d like to offer some resources that can help in researching the doctrines taught in this book… but please, always return to scripture, for it is the final authority for all things pertaining to Godliness! The first and most indepth review, by Tim Challies, would be first I’d recommend on this topic. May the Spirit of God bless us as we seek to know Him as revealed in His Holy Word.

A Readers Review of The Shack – Tim Challies

Book Review: The Shack – Southern View Chapel

“The Shack” and What It Says about Evangelicalism – Josh Buice

“The Shack” Blasphemes God – Dr. Voddie Baucham

The Shack – CARM.org

The Shack, a short article – CARM.org

The Shack – Berean Examiner

The Shack: The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment – Albert Mohler

Critique of “The Shack” – A Christian Theologian’s Perspective

The Shack is only fiction – CARM.org

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