I’ve heard Christians are going ga-ga over The Shack. I haven’t read it. I’ve read reviews of it and I’ve listened to Mohler’s radio program about it. But more recently, I’ve become alarmed at the number of women who’ve read this book and are encouraging other women to read it. Many Bible teachers and Christian musicians are endorsing it, however, the theologians and teachers I look to for solid biblical teaching say The Shack is very bad theology, some go so far as to call it heresy. Christians are buying it up, passing it on to their friends, and testifying as to how it has changed their relationships with God. How can this be? Something is seriously wrong here.
Two things: First, I would not say, “Don’t read this book,” or “Good Christians wouldn’t read this book.” Nor would I say that a Christian is bad for reading it, or good for not reading it. I will not make a new rule. I believe we are free to make choices under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You know I read lots of books. In fact, I am in the middle of one of Eckhart Tolle’s books, and I think we’d all agree that it’s fit for the garbage can. The difference is that the Christian community seems to be in an argument about The Shack.
Second, I have no desire for my blog to become one of those “watch-blogs.” However, I am going to compile a list of links regarding The Shack. Like I said, I have not read The Shack, but I have viewed, listened to, or read each of the following resources. I hope this proves beneficial to God’s people.
This is an interview with William Paul Young on The 700 Club.
OK, so this is a book about the trinity. Does the book convey the truth about the trinity? Should Christians be so excited to pass along a book that does not tell the truth about God?
Mark Driscoll on The Shack:
Take about 30 minutes to listen to this episode of the Albert Mohler Radio Program.
Read Tim Challies’ review of The Shack. He offers two important points to consider when reading a book of theological fiction:
There are two things I would like to note about this type of book—theological fiction. First, because of the limitations of the genre, it is sometimes difficult to really know what an author means by what he says. There is often some question as to what comes from the author and what comes from the characters. The author cannot always adequately explain himself; nor can he provide footnotes or references to Scripture. It can be challenging, then, to turn to the Bible to ensure that what he teaches is true. This makes the task of discernment doubly difficult, for one must first interpret the fiction to understand what is being said and then seek to compare that to the Bible. We will do well to keep this in mind as we proceed.
Second, we must also realize that, because of the emotional impact of reading good fiction, it can be easy to allow it to become manipulative and to allow the emotion of a moment to bypass our ability to discern what is true and what is not. This is another thing the reader must keep in mind. We cannot trust our laughter or our tears but must allow our powers of discernment to be trained to distinguish good from evil (see Hebrews 5:14). Discernment is primarily a Spirit-empowered discipline of the mind rather than an emotional response.
Tim has gone the extra mile to compose a 17-page review/analysis of The Shack that includes information about the author, an in-depth review, a synopsis of the book, a couple short essays, “What is theology? And why does it matter?” and “Suffering and the Glory of God,” and recommendations for what you can read instead of The Shack. You can download it here.
Michael Spencer, the iMonk, reviews The Shack. He has a very different opinion of this book, writing,
Those inclined to look for emerging church error or general heresy won’t be disappointed, and I am sure Young enjoys some of this theological and traditional mischief. I’d recommend putting up the doctrine gun for the duration of this book, and letting the story entertain and explore. This isn’t a confession or a catechism, but it is something a lot of people will read and absorb. It is difficult to not be drawn into the central character’s “Great Sadness,” and the transforming experience that sends him back into the world a changed man is one all readers will find themselves envying. If you can read this book as what it was meant to be, and not as a chapter of someone’s Systematics, it will work on the level we most need such a story: our own sense of intimacy with God.
An interesting discussion at Parchment and Pen regarding The Shack.
Read Is The Shack Heresy? Here’s a snippet:
Let me assure any of you reading this that all three of us who worked on this book are deeply committed followers of Jesus Christ who have a passion for the Truth of the Scriptures and who have studied and taught the life of Jesus over the vast majority of our lifetimes. But none of us would begin to pretend that we have a complete picture of all that God is or that our theology is flawless. We are all still growing in our appreciation for him and our desire to be like him, and we hope this book encourages you to that process as well. In the end, this says the best stuff we know about God at this point in our journeys. Is it a complete picture of him? Of course not! Who could put all that he is into a little story like this one? But if it is a catalyst to get thousands of people to talk about theology—who God is and how he makes himself known in the world—we would be blessed.
The emphasis is mine. I’m going to show my bias against this and go ahead and say that that kind of humility(?) is a trademark of the emergent “conversation.” Truth exists and we can know it!
I’ll add to this list as I become aware of more articles and reviews.