"The Shack" – A Warning

The Shack by William P. Young

The Shack is a book I had planned to just ignore, as just one more thing that needed to be trashed (or bulldozed). I had heard several critical comments and had glanced at them but was not really interested in dealing with it. Then in the course of a week, I have been made aware that a previous acquaintance has a blog with bragging about how life changing the book was to him. Then I saw another website of young moms that were thrilled about how great the book was. It was beginning to sound like the hype about A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Then CBD (Christian Books Distributors) were pushing the book on their website as a top seller. So I had to research the book in order to be able to give a good answer if questioned.

The Characters in The Shack are:

Mack is a father grieving the murder of his daughter years before.

Papa reminds me of Aunt Jemima or Mammy, an older African- American woman, who in the end becomes a pony-tailed, grey-haired man.

Jesus is a young man of Middle – Eastern nationality.

The Holy Spirit is Sarayu, a small, Asian woman.

The following quotes are from:

A Reader’s Review of the Shack   is a 17 page review by Tim Challies of  http://www.challies.com/ & http://www.discerningreader.com/

“A question worth asking is this one: does The Shack point Christians to the unfailing standard of Scripture or does it point them to new and fresh revelation?”

“Though the cross is central to the Bible and central to the Christian faith, it appears only sparingly in The Shack. A person who is unfamiliar with the Christian faith will not be able to glean from this book a biblical understanding of what the cross was for and what Jesus’ death accomplished. Nor will he understand how God saves us and what He saves us from.”

“In fact, God does not need to punish sin at all, says Papa. “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it”” (120). “Those who love me come from every stream that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions”” (182). 

“Jesus says to Mack, “I am the best way any human can relate to Papa or Sarayu.” Jesus does not say, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” as he does in John 14:6, but merely states that He is the best way.” “The book presents less than the full gospel message. It teaches that God died for the sins of the whole world and that He now waits for us to respond to this potential gift. It teaches that God does not punish sin, but that sin is sufficient punishment in itself. It opens the possibility that people can come to God in ways other than a saving faith in Jesus Christ.” 

“Quoting Buckminster Fuller, a Unitarian-Universalist who wrote a book entitled I Am a Verb, he has Papa say, “I am a verb. I am that I am. I will be who I will be. I am a verb! I am alive, dynamic, ever active, and moving. I am verb” (204).”

“… in The Shack we find a man who stands in the very presence of God and uses foul language …This is not a man who is in the presence of One who is far superior to Him, but a man who is in the presence of a peer.”

“But this is not all. The discerning reader will note as well that the author muddies the concepts of forgiveness and free will. He introduces teaching that is entirely foreign to the Bible, often stating with certainty what is merely speculative. He oversteps the bounds of Scripture while downplaying the Bible’s importance. He relies too little on Scripture and too much on his own theological imaginings.”

Christian Research Network’sarticle is titled The Shack’s False Godhead

“In The Shack ‘god’ the father is an African American WOMAN called Papa (a goddess!), ‘god’ the son is a plain looking Middle Eastern man with a big nose and ‘god’ the spirit is a small, delicate little Asian girl (another goddess!). The Shack also teaches the heresy of modalism and is chock full of other serious doctrinal errors.”

Quotes from Berit Kjos in Deceived by a counterfeit “Jesus”: The twisted “truths” of The Shack & A Course in Miracles

“That seems to be the aim of The Shack’s female “God.” Here she is speaking to the main character, Mackenzie (Mack for short):

“For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.”[p.93]”

“No one has seen God at any time,” said the true Jesus. (John 1:18) Yet, here we see all three in human form — on earth! “God” explains:

“‘By nature I am completely unlimited… I live in a state of perpetual satisfaction as my normal state of existence:’ she said, quite pleased. ‘Just one of the perks of Me being Me.’ “That made Mack smile. This lady was fully enjoying herself… “We created you to share in that. But then Adam chose to go it on his own, as we knew he would, and everything got messed up. But instead of scrapping the whole Creation we rolled up our sleeves and entered into the middle of the mess—that’s what we have done in Jesus…. When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human. We also chose to embrace all the limitations that this entailed. …flesh and blood.”[p.98-99]”

“In this new story, sin no longer separates unholy people from our holy God. It fits right into postmodern churches that ignore Biblical commands such as “Do not be conformed to the world” and “Abhor evil” (Romans 12:2,9). Chipping away at the reality of sin, guilt and God’s just judgments, this transformational process undermines any real understanding of our need for discernment, repentance or the cross. Even God’s amazing grace becomes meaningless!”

Sermon Audio has a Webcast: The Shack – This Old Heresy

 The actual discussion of The Shack starts around 30 minutes into the audio so you can skip ahead if you want then it ends abruptly at 45 minutes.

Please read this book with much discernment and “be Berean” and compare it to the scriptures.

Acts 17:11 “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the
Thessalonians,for they received the message with great eagerness and examined
the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true
.” NIV

Eve was the one deceived and we as women will often let our emotions rule our beliefs. Just because something appeals to our emotions does not make it worthy. Fiction either reveals the truths of the Bible and lines up totally with the Bible or it takes away from or adds to the Scripture and teaches falsehoods.

“In one of his first encounters with Papa, “Mack noticed the scars in her wrists, like those he now assumed Jesus also had on his” (95). Note that these scars were present on the wrists of the Father and not just the Son.”


11 thoughts on “"The Shack" – A Warning

  1. Thanks for publishing these reviews. It is the first place I have found where reviews are thorough and clear. I have friends who have been taken in by this book and now I have some good insights into this book without needing to purchase and read it.

    I have printed off Tim Challies review with sincere thanks.

    I have boomarked your sight. Will be back

    God bless you.

  2. Mr. Watkins,

    I am glad that some of this information was useful to you. I have been amazed at how easily Christians are swept up in false teachings. Here in the US, we have also had Christians claiming that Twilight is perfectly fine for their teens. Tim Challies is a good link for rather good and in-depth book reviews.

    Berean Wife

    Anonymous Reply:

    books are amazing things. filled with mystery and excitment.i agree that some books are only filled with poision. False teachings are tricky and require in depth though routing back to your faith’s foundation. However, what is truly wrong with Twilight? God is never attacked in the series nor is any other religionmentioned.

    Berean Wife Reply:


    Twilight is a book about vampires. While many might say creatures like that do not exist, the Bible is clear that there are witches, evil spirit beings and demons. We are warned to stay away from them.

    Deuteronomy 18:10-12
    10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer
    11 or a charmer or a medium or a wizard or a necromancer,
    12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.

    Psalms 106:37-38
    37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons;
    38 they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood.

    Demons are worshiped by idolaters.

    The Bible clearly points out that Blood is important and not to be shed unnecessarily. Man is warned regularly to avoid contact with blood, and specifically not to eat or drink blood.

    Acts 15:28-29
    28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements:
    29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.”

    God is attacked anytime we do those things that are displeasing to Him. He does not take that lightly.

    Berean Wife

  3. I am so relieved reading your comments on The Shack. I was devastated last evening when a dear Christian friend phonecalled me and we chatted about that book which she had read and handed over to me to read. I have the book reluctantly and will not read it. Especially after our chat when I said to her ‘well that book is just fiction anyway’ when she said that God was referred to as a woman in that book as well as a man. Then she informed me that God has no gender! I was in total shock when she said that and still am. Thus, I began searching online and was shocked by what I read. There are people out there who believe that God has no gender!! I do not see anywhere in the Bible where God is not referred to as a male. God have mercy! This woman is 71 yrs. old, is the sister of my Pastor, and claims to be a Christian. Shame on those who think this way. ‘Our Father, which art in heaven; ‘Greater is He that is within me than he that is within the world!

  4. Mrs. Melton,

    I’m glad I helped you. Did you see the additional posts about why God is referred to as male? That might be helpful to you also.

    I understand what you mean about some Christians. Just this weekend I heard a seventy-year-old lady at a church discussing Oprah and some spiritual insight she had given her! Augh! Oprah of all people. Even the people in the church are being deceived.

    Berean Wife

  5. Dear Berean Wife

    Thank you for your reply. Yes, I have taken all the posts about why God is referred to as a male and I plan on saving it for future use. It also bereaves me to see how producers and authors take it upon themselves to take the name of God and Jesus in vain. They show no respect for us believers. How would they like it if we took say a member of their family, wrote a book and/or made a movie and turned them into something other than what they believe they are. And why do they always have to belittle Jesus and/or God our Father? He was mocked once and will not be mocked again. Believers or not, ‘everyone’ will die one day and will ‘have to’ face their final judgement and stand before God. This reminds me of ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’. . . another ‘in your face Christians’ movie.
    Thank you for your website! I will visit often! Blood of Jesus on’ya all!!

  6. Indeed! We should all be like the Bereans. If we read the scriptures regularly asking God’s Holy Spirit to illumine us each time, there is no way that we can be taken in by The Shack’s many heresies. Try and get hold of a book called “Beware the Shack”.

  7. Some are missing the overall message that is love, forgiveness, and to let go and let God.

    I teach adults who are trying to get their lives together who have been through abuse, and carry with them much inner pain. One woman who was in gang, after reading this book, said I never knew I was forgiven, and that I need to forgive my mom. I know now that God does love me, and that He does not cause the abuse in this world.
    Theology is always up for debate, and so are our perceptions, belief systems, and opinions.
    However, with the Shake, even if it may not be theologically or religiously sound for some, it is a story that has many coming back to God, and also the church.
    I look forward to sharing this book with others, and will continue to remember that I am forgiven, there fore, let those who hurt me, be in God’s hands where they belong. He is control not I.
    Blessings to you all.

    Anonymous Reply:

    Yes the book is about ‘love, forgiveness, and to let go and let God.’

    But it is a thumb-suck approximation of how God loves and wants to be loved by us.

    The question is, which god does the book draw people toward? Certainly not the God of the Bible.

    ‘Let go let God’ is a lazy, misguided way of thinking that there is no responsibility placed on you to work out your salvation.

    The god of the Shack is a false god and all who follow that god imperil their eternal souls.

    Berean Wife Reply:

    Anonymous (number 7),

    That is all fine and good if the message of the Bible is “love, forgiveness, and let go and let God.”

    But that is not the message of the Bible. Forgiveness only comes through the shed blood of the sinless son Jesus Christ. All are not forgiven like The Shack portrays . The Shack portrays a different God and a different “son of God” than the Bible does. Forgiveness does not come from false gods but only through salvation by Jesus Christ.

    Sharing The Shack with hurting folks may make them feel better but it will do them no good in eternity.

    Berean Wife

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