Posted by: Heather | January 5, 2009

The Shack

I have never been one to get too caught up in the current Christian fads. I have never worn a WWJD bracelet. I didn’t go to any Promise Keepers rallies (Dad and some of my brothers did). I didn’t really get into the whole Prayer of Jabez thing (I did read the book). I don’t live a Purpose Driven Life (I read this book as well).

Some would say it is because I am a stick in the mud, or that I am boring. Others might say that it is because I just don’t get it. Perhaps it is just because I tend to resist the urge to be “different just like everyone else” It isn’t that I don’t like to think of things in new ways, it is more that I am somewhat suspicious of everyone looking at something in the same new way. That usually feels to me like group think or falling for some clever packaging.

I became aware of what may be another of the Christian fads about a month ago. It happened like it usually does. Someone I enjoy being with and truly care about wanted to share something with me that was meaningful to him. A friend of mine told me about a book he read, and actually gave me the money to go buy one myself as a Christmas present. I went home and looked the book up on Amazon. In the process I read some reviews, and then realized it was on the best seller’s list. (this is always a red flag for me – if everyone likes it, I probably won’t) Then I found out that a family member already had the book, so I borrowed it from them and read it. (I need to return my friend’s money – I hope he isn’t upset – I am glad he shared with me, and I don’t want to hurt him)

Let me be very clear here. This person is a dear friend of mine, and I really appreciate that he shared with me. I am not looking down my nose at him here in any way. I am very grateful to him as a friend that he shared this with me. (as I was when my Dad would share about Promise Keepers and the Prayer of Jabez, and my co worker when he loaned me “The Purpose Driven Life”)

Now it is not my intention to make this blog site a book review site, but I would like to post what I thought after reading it.

The book is titled “The Shack” and was written by William P. Young. It is the story of a man named Mack who meets God in a shack. This isn’t just any old shack, it is the same shack Mack’s daughter was brutally murdered in a few years back. Mack has some questions for God. God and Mack sort some things out. This is a very emotional book, and deals with some very powerful topics. I don’t want to belittle anyone who enjoyed the book, because the book was well written, and in fact I did enjoy the read. I am glad my friend suggested it, and I do want to talk to him about it.

After reading the book, I sat down and typed up a word document with my thoughts while they were still fresh. I have copied and pasted them here, rather than type them again:

My thoughts on “The Shack”

1) I felt it dealt with the subject of where we spend our mental and emotional energy very well. We tend to live in the past, or worry about the future, rather than live today. God doesn’t give us grace to wallow in the past. It is to be dealt with (1 John 1:9) and then we are to move on. The book didn’t mention how to deal with it, and 1 John 1:9 wasn’t mentioned, I added that. God doesn’t give us the grace to handle the future either. Often times we worry about the future, but our worry doesn’t include God’s provision, it assumes we will have to deal with it ourselves. Our imaginations don’t tend to match up with what really happens very well. This aspect was dealt with in the book very well I think.

2) I felt it had some very key truths for dealing with sorrow, pain, loss, and forgiveness.

3) I felt it did a good job of helping us to (sort of) grasp in 3-D the idea of how God’s sovereignty works alongside man’s free will, and how it is that a sovereign God allows evil in the world. The arguments were a bit over my head, but maybe worth considering. They were well presented.

4) I feel that I “got it” as far as what the book is about.

5) I enjoyed reading “The Shack” and was emotionally moved by the experience.

6) In the book the God character (actually the whole trinity) seemed to claim that there is not supposed to be any hierarchy in the Godhead or in the world in general. Specifically not between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, or in governments, families, and churches. The assertion seemed to be that these are things man invented to insulate ourselves from relationships, and that relationships are what it is all about. Mutual submission. – I find this aspect of the book disturbing, and misleading.

1Co 11:3 But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

Eph 5:21 submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of God.

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Rom 13:1 Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God.

Rom 13:2 Therefore he that resisteth the power, withstandeth the ordinance of God: and they that withstand shall receive to themselves judgment.

Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. And wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same:

Rom 13:4 for he is a minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him that doeth evil.

Rom 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be in subjection, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.

These texts say that there is in fact a hierarchy in the Godhead, and that the hierarchy of the family is based on this. They also say that governments derive their authority from God. In this area, “The Shack” is directly opposed with Scripture.

7) I find the overall portrayal of God in this book disturbing. First of all, God the father is originally portrayed as a woman. If this was isolated, I would probably chalk it up as literary license and overlook it. However, Jesus is portrayed as a rather goofy man who is still clueless. Philippians chapter 2 talks about how he emptied himself. I understand this is Biblical. However, “The Shack” portrays him as still being empty. This is not Biblical. (does not match the Jesus of Rev. chapter 1.) The Holy Spirit is portrayed as an unpredictable and flighty woman. This overall portrayal of the Godhead seems to me to be a continuation of the lack of hierarchy mentioned before. It also flies in the face of James 1 where we are told that God is always the same and in Him is no shadow of turning. The Godhead in this book also seems to enjoy messing with Mack’s head.

8) The Godhead in “The Shack” doesn’t direct Mack to Scripture. Except for a discussion of the 10 Commandments there is no reference to God’s Word at all in any of the teaching.

9) Mack meets God after throwing a temper tantrum and then telling God that he is through with Him and walking away. I do not see Godly sorrow or repentance at all in the exchange. God meets Mack on Mack’s terms essentially. There is no repentance, only healing and understanding.

So in Summary, while there are some helpful nuggets of truth, the very foundations of true faith are systematically undermined in “The Shack”. There is no authority in God or anywhere else. There is no Scripture, and there is no saving Gospel. Because of this, I feel that the book is dangerous. It deals with real pain and the problem of evil in the world very well. It speaks some profound truth about relationships and God’s love. But there is no Gospel, no repentance, no stability in who God is, and no direction to desire God’s Word like a newborn babe desires milk. So while in the short term this book may be helpful to those who are wrestling with unexplained pain in their lives, it directs them away from the God of the Bible rather than to him. I don’t think this is just misguided. I feel instead that this is very dangerous.

I think reading the book could be very helpful in learning to combat the relativism so prevalent in the church. However, this book should be read carefully and with Bible in hand in order to check each teaching to see if it is true. I do not recommend it to anyone who is not mature in Scriptural doctrine, and even they should read it prayerfully if at all. After all, in Scripture we have all we need for life and godliness.



  1. You are a 2nd born, aren’t you?(:Sounds just like Jude: if everyone else likes it, he will NOT, thank you very much!Interesting.I’ve been wanting to read this myself, out of curiosity. I always like a good read…though it’s always important to remember that it’s JUST a novel…nothing more.Thanks for sharing your notes!

  2. Yes, I am a second born; but I never bought into that order of birth stuff either . . wait a second, I’m proving you right aren’t I. . . oh well. . . Sort of hard for us second born to laugh at ourselves.He he he. . .But seriously, I don’t think this book was intended as just a novel. It is teaching a certain point of view. If you read it, be very careful. Have a Bible on one side of you, and a box of tissues on the other side. You will need both.Craig

  3. My point exactly!No matter how it’s intended we must always be careful…Sounds like a rather strange book to me after hearing what you had to say about it.

  4. I havent read it but am aware that it is a ficticious novel. When I just googled it now, it came up with a bunch of reviews for both theological and literary reasons. You would probably like this review here- he mentions several of the same things you commented on. I think (and hope) most Christians dont equate the doctrine in any kind of man made book, with the truth in the living Word of God. I dont know anyone that weights the “Left Behind” series as better than the Bible’s teaching on the end-times, or anyone whose spiritual warfare doctrine is based solely on Peretti’s novels- despite the success of these works of fiction. I do know Christians that never gave ‘end times prophecy’ and ‘spiritual warfare’ a great deal of thought or study until reading these novels challenged them to seek truth in Gods word.I have always been impressed with the way you guys critically evaluate the ideas and concepts around you. I appreciate that you dont swallow ideas or products without asking questions, and most importantly, without seeking truth in God’s word. And I appreciate your ‘warning’ in regards to this book.Without reading the book, its hard to make any kind of informed comment. Thanks for your post!

  5. Great post. I also read the Shack, and had the same issues with it you did, but you did a much better job of critiqing it than I did. It is scary how many people are buying into the book.

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