‘The Shack’ is heresy

May 12, 2008

by Pastor Daniel Runke, former pastor at Albion Evangelical Free Church, rural Cokato

There is a Christian fiction book that is becoming a big hit called, “The Shack” by William P. Young. It is labeled as “our generation’s Pilgrim’s Progress” – but it is not. Instead, it is heresy, or at a minimum, far closer to heresy than it is to any kind of orthodoxy. It is not worth reading.

In order to write a review for my church as a warning for our members, I have read about 3/4 of the book so far, and I find myself having to disagree because it is not what the Bible says. I know of one church where this book has already caused a huge division among its members.

The author claims he is writing fiction, but the problem is that at the same time, he also puts his experience at the shack above what has been called the traditional Christian faith. He also gives no scripture support for anything he teaches.

The following is the conclusion of a lengthy book review written by Tim Challies (http://challies.com).

“Many other topics receive less attention, but also raise concerns. For example, Jesus comments on religion, politics, and economics saying, ‘They are the man-created trinity of errors that ravage the earth and deceive those I care about.’ But Young offers no Biblical proof that this is something Jesus would teach. In other places, God seems to gloss over sin, judging certain sins as almost inconsequential. And so it goes.

“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.

“Eugene Peterson says this book is as good and as important as ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress.’ Well, it really is not. It is neither as good nor as original a story, and it lacks the theological precision of Bunyan’s work.

“But really, this is a bit of a facile comparison. ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress,’ after all, is allegory – a story that has a second distinct meaning that is partially hidden behind its literal meaning. ‘The Shack’ is not meant to be allegory.

“Nor can ‘The Shack’ quite be equated with a story like ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,’ where C.S. Lewis simply asked (and answered) this kind of question: ‘What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world, as He actually has done in ours?’

“‘The Shack’ is in a different category than these more notable Christian works. It seeks to represent the members of the Trinity as they are (or as they could be) and to suggest through them what they might teach were they to appear to us in a similar situation. There is a sense of attempted or perceived reality in this story that is missing in the others.

“This story is meant to teach theology that Young really believes to be true. The story is a wrapper for the theology. In theory, this is well and good; in practice, the book is only as good as its theology. And in this case, the theology just is not good enough.

“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.”

You can check out the complete book review online at:www.challies.com/archives/book-reviews/the-shack-by-william-p-young.php

Or you can check out a video on it from a pastor in Seattle, Mark Driscoll.