I read the book The Shack a week or two after my wife and I lost an unborn baby daughter so the contents of the book were very on target to the emotions I was experiencing at the time. But though it is a highly enlightened, emotion-packed, tightly-woven, fictional treatment of deeply theological subjects, the book falls far short of being the next Pilgrim's Progress (as Eugene Peterson says of it on the outside cover) and truly has little value beyond being a conversation starter about the true nature of God. While it is true that the author's portrayals of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have a freshness that cannot be found in dead and dying "churchianity," it is also true that this portrayal contains elements inconsistent with the Holy Scriptures and there are indications embedded within the book that the author has derived some of his insights about God from demonic spirits who pose themselves as the Holy Spirit in his life.
The book is beyond simple refutation - it is a complicated conglomeration of truth and error. As such it will represent one of the more palatable deceptions of the day. Below are the major categories of errors as I have seen them: (Please note: this is a work in progress.)
- A Fictional Treatment of the Truth - a serious contradiction in terms as no lie is of the truth.
- Unmarked Precipices - the truths here have no boundary markers to indicate dangerous limits
- The King Who Gives No Commands - Jesus is portrayed as our bud, pal and comrade but not as a true King of all kings
- Where's the Meat? - Pilgrim's Progress (to which the book is compared) was chock full of spiritual meat to chew on but is hard to find here
- It's All O.K. - no matter what you do, it's all okay with God
- One Neat Package - in the end, unlike real life, it's just a novel with a neat plot and a nice conclusion
- Tainted Sources - check the list of who's endorsing this book and check the deep truths of the Scriptures and consider the source
Only those who have mistaken the shallow religiosity of "church" for the true life in Christ or those who have retained some hold on some element of false religion will find this book "life-changing," "deep" or "perfect" or even "spiritually edifying." In the end, The Shack is merely another book that pinpoints where the author was in his pursuit of ultimate truth when he wrote this book. Further along than most who name the name of Christ? Certainly. But presenting a flawless presentation and explanation of the Persons and Nature of God? Not even close.
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