Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Shack Reviewed

The Shack By William P. Young Reviewed by Kenny Gatlin

Since the release of the book The Shack and its overwhelming rise in popularity among many Christians, and since internationally known ministers are selling it on their television programs and websites, I have been asked by both pastors and local church believers for my opinion of the book. The following review is a list of just a few things that caught my attention in the book and the corresponding Bible verses regarding them that should be considered before reading this book, or recommending it to others.

ONE – The first thing that caught my eye was the ringing endorsement by Eugene Peterson on the front cover of the book. In January of 2008 I spent several weeks in concentrated study of the various translations and paraphrases of the Bible, including Eugene Peterson’s The Message. First of all, The Message is not a Bible translation at all. Peterson in an interview with Christianity Today (October 2002) stated that he was trying to put his own “take” on the Bible. In this article he admits that he does “take considerable liberties” with the text. When Peterson was asked if The Message would be suitable to use in church worship services he replied as follows: “When I’m in a congregation where somebody uses it [The Message] in the scripture reading, it makes me a little uneasy. I would never recommend it to be used as saying, ‘Hear the Word of God from The Message.’ But it surprises me how many people do.” Peterson’s The Message clearly struggles with the deity of Christ and focuses continually on His humanity. The reason this information is so significant to this review is that the representation of the God-head in The Shack and the theology represented within it comes overwhelmingly from Peterson’s The Message and not the Holy Scriptures.

TWO – Young reveals God to his readers as “Papa,” something Peterson does in The Message as well. But when Young introduces us to Papa we find him to be a woman. In the same chapter we are introduced to Young’s take on the Holy Spirit and we find him to be a woman as well. In all of the Holy Scriptures there isn’t a single verse from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 where the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are ever revealed as a female. One can only wonder why Young thought it necessary to change two members of the God-head into women and why he would want to keep hammering on that point throughout the book. Young’s “Papa” states to the character Mack that we need to get out of our “religious mindsets” about God. But if our mindset about God being a “HE” is formed by the Holy Scriptures it is not a “religious” mindset at all. It appeared to me that Young was trying to get his readers to renounce their Biblical mindset about who God is and adopt the mindset that he is introducing. In every place in the Bible the members of the God-head are always referred to as “HE.” However, there are some gender neutral perversions of the Bible available today that are designed to make God into whoever and whatever you perceive him (or her) to be. This “revelation” of the God-head that Young provides to his readers is also in agreement with Ophrah Winfrey’s new age guru, Eckhart Tolle who teaches that God is whoever or whatever you want “it, him or her” to be. But this is never, ever found in the Bible. See Genesis 1:5, 10, 16, 27, 31 where the Bible first reveals God the Father to us as “He.” Then look at John 16:13-15 and see how many times the Holy Spirit is referred to as “He” in these three verses alone.

THREE – When Young introduces us to Jesus we find him to at least be a male. Beyond that I found few similarities between the Jesus of The Shack and the Jesus of the Holy Bible. Young, like Peterson does in The Message chooses to steer clear of the deity of Christ and instead focus entirely on Jesus’, and interestingly and unbiblically, the rest of the God-head’s humanity. Jesus Christ the Son of God didn’t take on human flesh to be more like us, which is what Young seems to be indicating. He became flesh in order to be the “second Adam” who would pay the price for our eternal redemption through His shed blood. He did this to make us like Him. Young portrays the God-head in a way where God is trying to be more like us, even listening to rock music on his iPod. That’s absurd! Young’s version of Jesus tells the character Mack that he doesn’t need him or others to go out making people into Christians. He says, “I’m not a Christian.” But the Jesus of the Bible is Jesus CHRIST. A Christian is a “Christ-like one.” Furthermore, to become a Christian you must become born again, something else never mentioned in The Shack. Clearly Young is introducing us to a Jesus that doesn’t believe in getting people born again which is what a Christian is, a born again believer. The Bible refers to the Church, the Body of Christ, which are His disciples as Christians. The Jesus of The Shack is obviously not the Jesus Christ as found in the Holy Bible. Just after the Jesus of The Shack tells Mack not to get people to become Christians, he tells him that he has people who love him in all walks of life. He lists Buddhists, Mormons and several other cults as examples of this. The obvious inference is that as long as you “love” the Lord, (whatever Young means by that), it really doesn’t matter if you are a Christian or a Mormon or anything else. Be whatever you want to be is the clear message. King Agrippa said to Paul that he almost persuaded him to become a Christian. Had the Apostle Paul known the Jesus in The Shack he would have never even tried. Again, the Jesus of The Shack does not at all resemble the Jesus of the Bible.
See John 1:1-3, 12; John 3:3, 5-6; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49;
1 John 2:29; Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28.

FOUR – In addition to the heretical things I have described above, I also found some vitally important things completely left out of The Shack. For example, the devil, demons and the kingdom of darkness are never brought up even once. Why is that important? Because the character Mack has had his daughter murdered and is struggling with God over the issue. It appears as though the purpose of the book is how the God of The Shack explains things to Mack to heal his hurts. So instead of “Papa” revealing to Mack that the thief, satan, comes to steal, kill and destroy, he instead talks about his (Papa’s) goodness. And because of our inability to understand his goodness (which appears to also include evil) we can never totally grasp his goodness, especially when evil things like having a child murdered happen. The point is The Shack by conveniently eliminating the kingdom of darkness has placed all evil and all good solely into the hands of God to dispense as He sees fit. But once again, this false doctrine is not found in the Bible. In fact, to overlook this point is to ignore the entire theme of the Bible, our redemption from the hand of the enemy through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. See Genesis 3:15; Psalm 107:2; John 10:10; Acts 10:38; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 John 3:8

FIVE – Based upon statements made by the God of The Shack he doesn’t seem to mind if we have devotions or not, read or Bibles or not, or even if we attend church or not. A hit-or-miss lifestyle is okay with him, no need to get religious about it. Not only is that teaching dangerous, it completely contradicts the Holy Scriptures and the God-head revealed to us in the Bible. See Psalm 72:15; Proverbs 8:34; Jeremiah 3:15; Luke 9:23; Acts 2:46; Acts 5:42; Acts 17:11; Ephesians 4:11-14; Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 10:25 In reviewing this book I found far more things that would hurt and confuse Christians than I did that would help them. Not only can I not recommend this book to others, I would strongly urge believers not to purchase or read The Shack. Kenny Gatlin 1 Review of The Shack

No comments: