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Monday, January 12, 2009

The Shack Revisited


How many of you have run into someone who has read, or is reading the book called “The Shack”? We've posted on this before but now we're seeing some churches in Abilene teaching it in their Sun Schools. One such church is actually fighting over it right now and we got a request to repost some info on the whacked Shack...here it is.

You can go to the Shack's website and read about the book and all the wonderful endorsements…but notice that you’ll not see many theologians or pastors endorsing the book…but here is the one of the couple and the first on the list…

“When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize the result is a novel on the order of The Shack. This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!”
[Eugene Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, BC]

What I hope to show you is that in this case the result is heresy! Why are we studying this?

Listen to the warnings of Paul:



  • 2 Timothy 1:13- “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. ”

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:21 “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

  • 2 Timothy 3:13 “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”

  • Ephesians 5:6- “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” This one is especially poignant!

Besides the fact that Scripture warns us about this type of false teaching, why are we going to briefly look at this tonight? Several reasons…

A. It’s popular- we need to know what’s out there and be able to engage those we run into on what’s being discussed theologically. Here’s what the Shack website said:

April 8, 2008- In the past week The Shack has climbed to the #33 on the USA Today Top 50 Books, and has risen as high as #7 at Amazon in all books and #6 at Barnes and Noble for instore sales. We are blessed at the wide-ranging success of this title as we have distributed almost 500,000 books in 11 months, mostly by word of mouth. We are now in discussions with major New York publishing houses that will help us release the book to its widest possible audience as well as helping with Windblown’s other titles and future ones we want to develop. We have also begin the pre-production phase of transforming The Shack into a feature-length film”

B. It is growing by word of mouth- That means that if this book is whacked…many, many Christians are not discerning enough to know they are spreading heresy.

C. It’s not over! They’re going to make a movie out of this!

What is “The Shack”...a 248 page book.
o Book written by William P. Young- a son of a missionary, Canadian by birth
o Undergraduate degree in “Religion”
o Shack was a story for his 6 children
o Characters of Mack and Willie are both him in the book


The Seductive Shack: So what’s all the fuss about? What is the lure of this particular book all about? Why are so many people falling for it? I think it can be summed up in 3 ways:

1. The Desire for an intimate relationship with God – the Shack is providing supposed answers to people who long for a deep, personal relationship with God…in their own terms. Who wouldn’t want to hear the voice of the LORD God as He walked with you in the garden in the cool of the day? (Gen 3:8)

This is the idea that religion is NOT relevant today- here is what the back of the book said, “In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant THE SHACK wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?”

2. The severe lack of Theological discernment abounding today- with so many buying off on this w/o blinking an eye…theological discernment is at an all time low. It’s easy to fall head over heals on this kind of writing and bad theology when you don’t know anything about how God has already revealed Himself.

3. The lure of an emotional attachment- this is the one that grabbed me…and I think Jason too! The first 80 pages of the 248 page book were very intriguing…they lured you into a story of a father whose young daughter is kidnapped and brutally murdered from his very grasp…while he is saving the life of a young boy. It’s about his anger and “Great sadness” as he loses the young love of his life and struggles with the God he is now angry with…and he struggles with life itself and his other daughter who is basically blaming herself for the young daughter’s death.

4. The non-fictional mask- The book is portrayed as a true story...but it is NOT. The author admits this and yet he writes it as if it really happened- this is deceptive!

The Overview of the Wacked Shack: Now…what’s wrong with this book? Just about everything! This is a grossly unscriptural book that will mislead a lot of people. After reading and noting all the problems, here are the scriptural problem areas:

A. Attack upon the Sufficiency & Authority of Scripture
B. Unscriptural Portrayal of God:



  • God the Father and Holy Spirit as women

  • Modalistic

  • A sin-tolerant (and sin loving) God

  • Flippant Portrayal of a Holy God

  • Complete Denial of God’s Sovereignty

  • Denial of Sin Nature & Judgment of sin

  • Borderline Universalism

These are the main points. I’m only going to cover three tonight (Attack upon Scripture, denial of sin nature/judgment, universalism)…the rest I’ll probably post on the Blog for everyone who wants to look at more. These rebuttals will in no way be exhaustive…we’ve only got a little time so I’ll touch on the Scriptural answer to each briefly. We’re going to look at all these areas in two parts…first we’ll let THE SHACK speak…and then we’ll let God, through His Word, speak…

The Shack on the Scriptures: Like the Puritan Catechism, let’s take a look at what the author is teaching the masses about the Word of God itself:

A. The Shack Speaks: Let me read you a few sentences:



  • “the thought of God passing notes did not fit well with his theological training. In seminary he had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication…preferring them to only listen to and follow sacred Scripture…God’s voice had been reduced to paper” (p. 65).

  • “Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book” (p. 66). Interesting that at the bottom of the same page it says, “Mack wanted more” (more than just a book and a religious club?) Mack wants more than the Bible!

  • “part of me would like to believe that God would care enough about me to send a note” (p. 71)- YES, it’s called the Bible!

  • "None of his old seminary training was helping in the least” (p. 91)

  • “So was there an actual garden…Eden and all that?” Holy Spirit- “Of course” Mack- “There are lots of people who think it was only a myth” HS- “Well, their mistake isn’t fatal” (p. 134) So it’s not fatal to think the Bible is a myth?

  • "what about your wrath?...weren’t you always running around killing people in the Bible? You just don’t seem to fit the bill” to which she says “you’re going to find this day a lot easier if you simply accept what is, instead of trying to fit it into your preconceived notions [i.e. the Bible view!]. Mack then says “aren’t you spilling out great bowls of wrath and throwing people into a burning lake of fire?” she says “I am not who you think I am Mackenzie. (p 119-120)

  • “how will I hear you? Sarayu (Holy Spirit)- “You will learn to hear my thoughts in yours” Mack- “What if I confuse you with another voice? What if I make mistakes?” HS- “Of course you will make mistakes; everybody makes mistakes, but you will begin to better recognize my voice (p. 195-196)

  • “Be willing to reexamine what you believe. The more you live in truth, the more your emotions will help you see clearly. But even then, you don’t want to trust them more than me” (p. 197)

B. The Word Speaks: Wow! Here are the major problems I see:

1. Denial of Sola Scriptura- Telling people that the Bible reduces God’s voice “to paper”…that the Word confines “God in a box…or in a book” that you will progressively learn to hear God speak in your mind/thoughts…to recognize Her voice amidst many mistakes is a complete denial of Sola Scriptura.

Here is Dr James White’s definition of Sola Scriptura:

“The Bible claims to be the sole and sufficient rule of faith for the Christian Church. The Scriptures are not in need of any supplement. Their authority comes from their nature as God-breathed revelation. Their authority is not dependent upon man, Church or council. The Scriptures are self-consistent, self-interpreting, and self-authenticating. The Christian Church looks at the Scriptures as the only and sufficient rule of faith and the Church is always subject to the Word, and is constantly reformed thereby” [taken from his 1993 debate with Patrick Madrid]

2 Timothy 3:13-17 “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

Acts 17:2, 11, 18:28; 2 Thes 2:10; Rev 2:2, 22:18-19

2. Denial of the Inspiration and Truth of Scripture- there are some statements in this book that are a flat-out denial of Scripture.

Remember the quote I just read, when Mack questions Papa [female black lady] about her wrath that he’s read about in Scripture, what does she say?

o “you’re going to find this day a lot easier if you simply accept what is, instead of trying to fit it into your preconceived notions [i.e. the Bible view!].

Simply accept what is, not what’s written in Scripture! The conversation goes on…

o Mack then says “aren’t you spilling out great bowls of wrath and throwing people into a burning lake of fire?” she says “I am not who you think I am Mackenzie. (p 119-120)

Saying “I am not what the Bible says I am is a flat-out denial of Scripture- its validity, its authenticity, its inspiration.

3. Total Reliance on Extra-Biblical Revelation: The last two quotes from the book are the really scary part. When Mack rightly asks the female Asian Holy Spirit, “how will I hear you?
Here’s how the conversation goes…

o “You will learn to hear my thoughts in yours” Mack- “What if I confuse you with another voice? What if I make mistakes?” HS- “Of course you will make mistakes; everybody makes mistakes, but you will begin to better recognize my voice (p. 195-196)

And then a page later here is what’s suggested by the author;

o “Be willing to reexamine what you believe. The more you live in truth, the more your emotions will help you see clearly. But even then, you don’t want to trust them more than me” (p. 197)

Don’t trust what you’ve heard in God’s Word, don’t rely on Scripture alone, just listen to your inner voice which won’t always prove reliable, listen to your emotions instead…but even then you can’t trust them more than me.

So it’s a toss-up between the inner voice that you won’t always recognize…and the emotions that rise and fall like the sea!


God’s Word says the following:

o Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Peter seems to trust in the Word of God even more than a mountain top transfiguration experience!

o 2 Peter 1:19-21 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Proverbs has an apt warning to end this section on:

o Proverbs 30:5-6 5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

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> posted by Jim Leavenworth at

2 Comments:

Blogger written.word.lady said...

Thank you for this excellent analysis from a scriptural standpoint. I knew when I read the book that it was not scripture-based, but had some trouble dealing with the specifics. You have done this in a very helpful way.

June 21, 2009 at 7:41 AM  
Anonymous Jim Leavenworth said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I too was not at all happy when I read it...even though everyone was going "Great book!"

Glad that there are Christians out there that smell heresy when they hear it. What's sad is that soooo many "believers" have absolutely no spiritual discernment to identify the book as heretical.

Thanks again for the encouragement.

Jim

June 21, 2009 at 8:19 AM  

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