Question: I'm confused by a book that is very popular among my circle of Christian friends. It's titled The Shack, and although it is endorsed by some leading evangelicals, I was freaked out by it and couldn't actually finish it. I don't understand how anyone thinks he can put God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in a fictional situation and then have them speak the words out of his own imagination. Isn't this dead wrong?
Response: Yes. It's also blasphemy. Here is a definition of that word from Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language: "[It] is an injury offered to God, by denying that which is due and belonging to Him, or attributing to Him that which is not [true to] His nature." The Shack's author, William P. Young, conjures up God the Father as a hip-talking, now-and-then crude black woman referred to as "Papa," Jesus as a sometimes inept good ol' boy enamored with His humanity and creation, and the Holy Spirit as a wisp of a woman from Asia, who gardens and collects tears. Shouldn't that be enough to turn off or offend those who profess to truly know the God of the Bible? Evidently not. Christians have pushed sales of The Shack to beyond one million copies at this writing.
Idolatry is another major abomination of the book. Young manufactures out of his own imagination an image of God and the Holy Spirit. That is condemned (Exodus:20:4) by God for understandable reasons. Any attempt by finite, fallen man even to hint at a material image of Deity would result in an absolutely false representation, let alone an offensive caricature of Almighty God. Furthermore, these two Persons of the Trinity are Spirits, who never appear in physical form, certainly not as females (nor in drag, which the Scriptures condemn!), nor are they ever referred to as female.
The Shack is clearly the work of a false prophet. The sense in which we're using the word "prophet" here is not that of declaring forthcoming events but rather speaking forth the words of God (2 Peter:1:20-21). The dialogue Young has created for his fictional God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is heretical and a defamation against the character of the Persons of the Godhead. For example, Papa declares to the central figure, "Well, Mackenzie, don't just stand there gawkin' with your mouth open like your pants are full." Jesus, who can't seem to restrain his giggles and chuckles, after receiving a kiss from Papa and loving "her" earthiness, declares, "She's a riot." "Mack's" interaction with his "trinity" is part-time funfest, part-time inner healing methodologies and catharses, and part-time God explaining Himself (which He left out of the Bible!), and all of it intermingled with hugs, kisses, and other displays that reveal them to be so much like us.
The audacity of anyone putting his own words in the mouth of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit (under the guise of fiction or not) is beneath contempt. Incredibly, that hasn't deterred conservative evangelical leader Gale Erwin, charismatic leader James Ryle, Emerging Church writer Jim Palmer, and evangelical celebrity Michael W. Smith from endorsing The Shack, and many Christians can't seem to get enough of its "make me feel better about myself and God" talk.
Cultists have written volumes claiming to speak for God; now we have it in the church! Ravi Zacharias wrote three supposedly apologetic books not too long ago featuring Jesus in conversation with Buddha, Oscar Wilde, and Confucius. Eugene Peterson, whose The Message Bible majored in substituting his own words for God's, is the featured endorser 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!"). No, "this book" is one more instrument of Satan's grand scheme to undermine the Word of God for this generation, the basis of which began in the Garden of Eden with his seductive words to Eve: "Yea, hath God said...?"
Space prevents me from further exposing the rampant heresies, psychobabble, and the pervasive denigration of God, His Word, and His church throughout The Shack. But then, if what has been presented above isn't reason enough to reject the book, or an appeal to be a Berean, it's unlikely that a few more pages of input will be either convincing or convicting, especially for the many who claim their lives have been forever changed by this work of antibiblical fiction.