Objection Part 3 – The Shack
“In seminary he had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects…Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?” – Page 62
The quote above sums up the entirety of this book that has taken “Christian” circles by storm. This book declares itself to be Theology wrapped in fiction, yet I have no idea where this theology comes from, since it’s most definitely not the bible. It might be inspired by the bible, in the same way Rambo is inspired by Romance novels.
1. The Word of God is just paper
There’s a couple major problems with this book and we’re going to take a look, but first we need to address the first one. The one from the above quote. We need to measure The Shack against the bible, but now because the author has dismissed the Bible, we need to know WHY we need to measure it against the Bible.
The Bible is not simply the rantings of a group of madmen who wanted to control the world, as much as many atheists will try to convince you of that. This is a collection of letters and accounts of many different authors from all sorts of walks of life. But let’s take a look at one of them quickly.
The Gospel of Luke is a unique account of the life of Jesus, in that Luke wasn’t an eye witness. And he states it right at the beginning. But look at his introduction:
“Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.” – Luke 1:1 – 4 (NLT)
Do you see that last line? Luke wrote an accurate account based on eye witness accounts so that those reading it could be CERTAIN of what they had been taught about Jesus. Luke wrote it as a historical account, affirming the other Gospels.
Nothing in the Bible is of madmen, or self centred wealth seekers. These men and women were persecuted and hunted, not always just for what they believed, but for what they saw and witnessed themselves.
“For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw His majestic splendor with our own eyes…” 2 Peter 1:16
The Bible was written by eye witnesses, and those who collected the accounts of eye witnesses. This is not a fictional book. It was also divinely inspired:
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” – 2 Timothy 3:16
I could go on for pages and pages on how the Bible is the unaltered, inerrent Word of God. But there’s some other, I believe more pressing issues in The Shack, that need addressing.
2. The Crucifixion
This doctrine teaches that God the Father was crucified with Jesus on the cross, and denies the basic teachings of the trinity, that there are three distinct persons within the trinity, but one God. Let’s take a look at how Paul describes it:
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” 2 Corinthians 5:21
God the Father was not crucified with Jesus. It’s never stated in the Bible, and what it does is deny the doctrine of the trinity, which is an essential doctrine within the Christian faith.
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three distinct persons within the Godhead, but there is one God. This is a core teaching and doctrine within biblical Christianity, something that The Shack therefore denies. And yet this is a book being hailed across the world as “The new Pilgrim’s Progress”. The Christian book that will bring millions to Christ.
This book presents a different God than the God of the Bible. It is not a christian book.
But, I find there is one other major flaw in this book. A flaw which surpasses the previous two. Yes it gets worse. I only briefly touched on the previous two flaws because this last one is the one I wish to spend the most time on. It is much more subtle and devious, and therefore much more dangerous.
3. Trivialising of sin
“I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it” – Papa, The Shack
I believe this is the core of The Shack’s so called Theology.
What happened on the cross? Why do we make such a huge deal about it? Well let’s take a look at what the Bible says.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;” – Romans 1:18
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood…” – Romans 3:23 – 25a
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin…” – Isaiah 53:10a (KJV)
I want anyone reading this to realize something, God doesn’t get slightly upset at the sinfulness of man. He does not shrug it off as something of no consequence. Our sin was the reason for the death of Jesus.
The wrath of God is a real thing. No matter how badly the new age preachers and teachers want to dismiss it or ignore it, God is a God of grace and mercy, and at the same time, He is a Holy God of wrath, and His reaction to sin is not to shrug it off, but of anger.
And that’s exactly where you and I were outside of Christ. We were under the wrath of God. Sin wasn’t our punishment, it was our crime. I was accountable for my own sin. The wages of my sin was death, and I was under God’s eternal judgement.
But on that cross, Jesus took the wrath of God in my stead. He fulfilled God’s wrath against sin and took the full might and right arm of God’s punishment upon Himself that you and I may be saved.
What The Shack does, is that it trivialises sin. It takes what is evil in God’s sight, what caused The Father to bruise his own Son, to crush and kill His Son, and removes all responsibility of man from it.
“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” – Psalm 51:5
This was said by David, the godliest man in the Bible. The man after God’s own heart. He knew His own sinfulness, and He knew His need for a saviour.
The Shack doesn’t emphasize this. What the Shack emphasizes is “friendship with Jesus because He’ll make you feel better about yourself”. Not once throughout the book is Mack confronted about His sinful state. He is told he’s a glorious mess, and built up to have an unrealistic view of how wonderful he is.
Not once is Jesus presented as a true saviour, but as a happy go lucky buddy that just wants to hug everyone.
Folks please do not misunderstand me, I am not trying to paint a different picture of Jesus as the kind of God who’s just waiting to smite you at the drop of a hat, but He’s not a hippie either. He’s the captain of the armies of heaven, He is my saviour, He is my King, He is my friend that sticks closer than a brother, He is the Lord of Lords, and He is the rider on the White Horse.
He is all these things and so much more. He is loving, patient, gracious and merciful, but He is ALSO wrathful and Holy. You cannot build up your own picture of Jesus, because then you’re preaching a different Gospel to the Gospel of the Bible. And Paul says something terrifying about those who wish to preach their own version of Jesus:
“If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” – Galations 1:9
This book is not simply having a different opinion. The theology contained within its pages are putting souls at risk for one man’s selfish desire to make excuses for God, and attempt at ignoring his own sin.
As always, if I have made any errors, please feel free to correct me in the comments below. I am but a man after all.
Author: Justin Berrisford