What’s in “The Shack”?

May 5, 2008

Maybe you’ve heard the rumble about the new fiction book, The Shack. People call it “life changing” and celebrate its liberating view of the love of God. It’s a story about a man who experiences a terrible tragedy, and four years later is called to confront his past at the scene of the crime – the shack. The invitation and proceeding conversation comes from God the Trinity. Sounds intriguing, huh?

Step back for a moment before you enter this shack, because it may be a very dangerous place. I sympathize with authors of “theological fiction.” It is simply hard to get it right. Compounding the problem is our tendency to get emotionally attached to the story, leading us to defend the story’s claims…even if they are more fiction than theology.

I was first urged to read the book about a month ago. It sits near the top of the Amazon sales list. I now have friends in local churches who are wrestling with this book getting passed around like it is the lost book of the Bible. The problem is this – it disagrees with the Bible on several crucial points. I’d encourage anyone considering this book to read Tim Challies’ review first. I always appreciate his discernment as a reader. A few of his thoughts:

It is clear to me that The Shack is a mix of good and bad. Young teaches much that is of value and he teaches it in a slick and effective way. Sadly, though, there is much bad mixed in with the good. As we pursue his major theological thrusts we see that many of them wander away, by varying degrees, from what God tells us in Scripture.

Because of the sheer volume of error and because of the importance of the doctrines reinvented by the author, I would encourage Christians, and especially young Christians, to decline this invitation to meet with God in The Shack. It is not worth reading for the story and certainly not worth reading for the theology.

Some will choose to read it in order to be conversational about it, as they did with The Da Vinci Code.  I understand this desire, but I encourage you to be a discerning reader in what you read as well as how you read.  Otherwise, it seems wise to avoid this Shack.

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