Generation Cedar

What's Wrong With The ShackI’m sure to get some virtual tomatoes thrown at me for going here, but such is always the case when the truth of God’s Word is exposed.  The Shack is a New York Times Best Seller (can anyone say “HUGE red flag”?)  and churches and Christians everywhere (some of my own friends) heavily endorse it.  These 13 heresies about The Shack were noted by Dr. Michael Youssef (he’s not the only brave, solid Bible teacher willing to speak against it), so if you’re angry, at least know that I didn’t write these 😉

If you liked the book, be willing to be a Berean and look at it carefully in the light of Scripture. Don’t be carried away by every wind of doctrine (which includes reading and embracing the whole counsel of Scripture)…but be sober-minded, pursuing sound doctrine.  Feelings can not dictate whether a book is truthful or not.

13 Heresies in The Shack

1. God the Father was crucified with Jesus. Because God’s eyes are pure and cannot look upon sin, the Bible says that God would not look upon His own beloved Son as He hung on the Cross, carrying our sins (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 27:45).

2. God is limited by His love and cannot practice justice. The Bible declares that God’s love and His justice are two sides of the same coin — equally a part of the personality and the character of God (Isaiah 61:8; Hosea 2:19).

3. On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless. Jesus explained that only those who come to Him will be saved (John 14:6).

4. Hierarchical structures, whether they are in the Church or in the government, are evil. Our God is a God of order (Job 25:2).

5. God will never judge people for their sins. The Word of God repeatedly invites people to escape from the judgment of God by believing in Jesus Christ, His Son (Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-3).

6. There is not a hierarchical structure in the Godhead, just a circle of unity. The Bible says that Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. This doesn’t mean that one Person is higher or better than the other; just unique. Jesus said, “I came to do the will of Him who sent me. I am here to obey my Father.” Jesus also said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit” (John 4:34, 6:44, 14:26, 15:26).

7. God submits to human wishes and choices. Far from God submitting to us, Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.” We are to submit to Him in all things, for His glory and because of what He has accomplished for us (Matthew 7:13-15).

8. Justice will never take place because of love. The Bible teaches that when God’s love is rejected, and when the offer of salvation and forgiveness is rejected, justice must take place or God has sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for nothing (Matthew 12:20; Romans 3:25-26).

9. There is no such thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell. Jesus’ own description of hell is vivid … it cannot be denied (Luke 12:5, 16:23).

10. Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God, and it doesn’t matter which way you get to Him. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

11. Jesus is constantly being transformed along with us. Jesus, who dwells in the splendour of heaven, sits at the right hand of God, reigning and ruling the universe. The Bible says, “In Him, there is no change, for He is yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 11:12, 13:8; James 1:17).

12. There is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because everyone will make it to heaven. Jesus said, “Only those who believe in me will have eternal life” (John 3:15, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40).

13. The Bible is not true because it reduces God to paper. The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who put pen to paper (so to speak), each from different professions and different backgrounds, but the Holy Spirit infused their work with God’s words. These men were writing the same message from Genesis to Revelation. If you want to read more about the place of Christ in the Scripture, read “We Preach Christ” (2 Timothy 3:16).

To watch the message by Michael Youssef on The Shack, click HERE.

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89 Responses

  1. Kelly.. thank you for this link. I am so pleased that leading, respected teachers such as Michael Youssef are alerting Christians to the heresies of this book. Everyone at my church seems to be reading the Shack and singing its praises. I have spoken to leaders and raised concerns but they see nothing wrong with it..his theology is a bit off but its only a fictional book I have been told. I guess the movie will follow and that really concerns me.

  2. You bring up the word “heresy”, but your points #1 and 6 veer very close to a heresy call Arianism. In a nutshell it wash a big reason why Nicene creed was written. You might want to look it up. God was too righteous and perfect to appear on Earth, so He created Jesus. That’s why in the Creed we say:

    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;

    You may or may not like Creeds, but they came out of this very sort of conversation, as a way to put up a sort of “hedge” between acceptable and unacceptable doctrine. The notion that Jesus is subordnatinate in the Trinity is a big No-No, as is separating the justice-bearing God the Father from the Mercy-bearing God the Son (that’s more closely associated with Montanism, but as Arian aspects also).

    I’ve not read this book, not because I’m afraid of it but because I’ve read it’s sloppy fiction writing. I do think that we have to be careful using words like “heresy” in a hyperbolic way, since so many of our forebarers died and were tortured for the appearance of heresy alone.

    1. Jesus always existed along with the Father and the holy spirit. Jesus (God) became a man when He was born through a virgin.
      Let’s not forget why Jesus came into the world. The Bible does not state that the father was to holy to be present in the world, it was that God did in fact fulfill what he said to Satan. ” I will put enmity between the seed and the seed of the woman. You will strike his heal but he will crush your head” because he deceived mankind through a woman which brought sin into the world, through a woman God would redeem mankind. Not just any woman, but one with a seed. Only man has a seed, so this is clearly a reference to a virgin. God himself became a man. The second Adam because he will start a new line without sin. He that had no sin became sin. Not just any sin, but all sin. The father
      Had to look away from Jesus for the first time in all eternity. This is partly if not all the reason he sweated blood in the garden at Gethsemane because he dreaded the separation. This is why he said I thirst. And also why he said “my God why have though forsaken me. So while he (Jesus) put his diety aside, yet did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. He was fully man and fully God.
      While he was the son of man he only did what pleased the father. And he always waited on the Holy Spirit. Confusing to most. However consider how Grand almighty God is in all his slender. The grandeur of all that exists with its laws and design.
      He is all. And this movie and book mocks how great our God is. He is not dependent on us. He is not impatient. He is just.

  3. You can listen to Al Moeller on an online audio on this one, as well. He, too, labels the book heretical. I’ve read excerpts, and plan to read the whole thing when I get time…just to have first-hand knowledge about the book. The Thirsty Theologian is also a good source for a sound review.

    As I commented on another blog, if a book is a best-seller among Christians, and non Christians alike, that should be the first sign that should give you pause. Actually, I used the words “red flag” in my comment, but didn’t want to take the words right out of Kelly’s mouth (see first paragraph).

    It’s grievous that even at our church, a church that is doctrinally solid, there are people who read the book and tout it as being a life-changing experience.


  4. Interesting that you removed my previous comment about how a couple of your “heresies” sound a lot like an actual heresy of the early church, Arianism. God the father is not superior to God the Son, and God the Son is in his nature fully God and fully human, not sent to in some way insulate “God” from humanity.

    You’ve always been very open to respectful difference, and I’m wondering what has changed.

  5. Made,

    Oh, I just found it…before you go accusing, you may not be aware that I recently posted that many of the comments go into my spam filter by default–I usually have at least 2 an hour, that I just have to check and release. I had not yet seen your comment–lighten up, please.

  6. Hi Kelly,

    I just found your site a few weeks ago and I really love it. I like that you talk straight and so far truthfully. You are not affraid to say what needs to be said and should be said. You do not come from a view of attutide, but one of love for others to see the truth. Thank you.

    As for this book. I haven’t even heard of it, but I try not to read to many “fictional” books.
    As for the “creed” that one lady talked about. I would be careful what one considers more accurate. I think the creed is good, but it was written by men many years after Christ died. I will keep the Word OF God as my main source for discernment and understandings of the scripture!!

    Thank you again,
    Cathy in Colorado

  7. Thank you for posting this!! I have not read The Shack, but know enough to know that it is full of incorrect doctrine. I have several friends who tout the book – this will give me a good outline to go off when I say I disagree.

  8. Sorry for jumping to a conclusion. I checked back a half hour or so after my first post and it wasn’t there.

    The heresy is thinking that God the Father is superior to God the Son. That’s what you say the book DOESN’t do. You also argue that it is somehow heretical that “God” is crucified with Christ. The traditional Christian viewpoint is that Jesus is fully God and through Christ God suffered with us fully. There was lots of confusion around Christology in the first and second centuries, and that’s why the Nicene Creed was developed.

    Light of Light. . . .begotten not made. All that in the original language articuated very clearly to those who struggled with this doctrine that Jesus and God were of the same essence and being, and of equal status in the Godhead. It’s a tricky point, and Christians continue to struggle with it.

    Lots of these other points are not points that are clearly articulated in scripture or tradition, and are points about which Christians of good faith dialogue and disagree. I’d just be careful making this sort of fine point “heretical”

  9. madge,

    I’ll think on these points…be aware those, that these aren’t MY points…I copied these from Dr. Michael Youssef but so far, I agree with his and many other solid biblical teachers that The Shack espouses quite a few heresies/untruths.

  10. When it comes to “tradition” or the Bible, I’ll take the Bible. When it comes to some pretty sounding “creed” written by man or God’s Word, written by God, I’ll listen to God. I don’t really give one rip WHAT the Nicene Creed has to say, I don’t live by the Nicene Creed, I live by the Bible. Thanks anyway Madge.

  11. I don’t want to get into a debate over whether the “points” are valid. But had some thoughts. While there is unity within the Godhead, and Jesus is authoritative as God, the Bible does describe a sense in which Jesus (while on earth, at least) somehow took on the limitations of man in order to be able to do the work that needed to be done. Jesus’ life example to us was obedience to God’s will. It carries the concept of being “subject”. Check out 1 Corinthians 15!
    Matthew 27:46 indicates to me that God the Father did somehow turn away from God the Son when He was on the cross. For Jesus it was excruciating. I have often considered that it was the anticipation of that moment over which Christ agonized in the garden. Should it not cause us to pause and consider the warning to us concerning the truth that God is unable to tolerate sin in His presence? The agony of eternal separation from Him should not be taken lightly.
    I cannot find anyplace that describes how the Father felt, but I cannot imagine it was any less horrible. How God managed to accomplish this awesome thing is well beyond my scope of understanding. I know that is what the Biblical account adds up to, so I believe it. We have Scriptural accounts and because of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we can grasp at understanding…It is true and reliable as God’s Word to us. He reveals His truth to each as He sees fit. But I think our human minds are not fully capable of comprehending what exactly it all means. I heard Brother Paul Washer say once that even after ten thousand years in heaven, we will never fully understand the Gospel. I tend to agree with that. Isn’t that an amazing concept to think that God is so vast and powerful, creative, just and loving that we could be with Him for eternity and still learn new things about Him every day?

    Concerning The Shack itself–(personal experience here, not telling others what to do). I agree with you, Kelly. Wildly popular usually means “red flag”. If the “masses” are eating it up, I think it is wise to use extreme caution before jumping on the bandwagon.

    When I first heard of the book, I wasn’t able to readily access a copy, so I talked to a couple people who had read it and did some online research. Many of the Amazon reviews seemed favorable. But the fact that it was something like #7 on the bestseller list cooled my jets a bit. Then I came across a couple of other reviews such as the one posted here and I really felt that I did not need to read that book after all. That is kind of “odd” for me because I am a reader and have always been on the lookout for quality literature. My spirit just felt that God did not want me to read that book regardless of whether I was super curious or “everyone else” had read it. So, I let it go.

    A week or three later someone asked my husband to read it and give some feedback. He borrowed a book, read it and contemplated. And the book sat around,taunting me to crack it open and find out what all the fuss was about.

    So, I did. Sort of. With every new page, I felt just a little more uncomfortable. And it wasn’t the plot or content that initially caused my conscience to burn. Halfway through the book, I had to stop, but had read enough to get an idea of how dangerous it can be to the undiscerning reader.

    My husband and I discussed what we had read and His observations ran more in line with those of the above review. He also didn’t like how Jesus was portrayed as a bumbling “dork” and the Holy Spirit as a flighty “happy hippie”.

    Not having read the whole thing, I was stuck with two very strong (and nasty-tasting) impressions.
    1.In the book, God was willing to meet with angry, rebellious man on the angry, rebellious man’s terms. That is absolutely not Scriptural and a dangerous concept to promote. I wonder how many people who read the book now feel justified in shaking their fist at God rather than falling on their face in recognition of how wrong we are to demand things of Him.

    2. God the Father as “Aunt Jemima” and the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman. Some people might be able to overlook that, but that is classic pagan goddess worship in Christian clothing. Period. Nowhere in Scripture does God allow for us to see Him as a “kindly or fun loving female persona”. Yet two of the three “Shack” personalities are unquestionably feminine.
    The concept that God had to show up as a woman in order to be able to communicate with someone whose father was a bum is ludicrous. In fact, the Bible says that God is the Father that many of us never had: “In His holy dwelling God is the father of the fatherless, and the judge of the widows.” Psalm 68:5

    God is spirit, But he always describes Himself to us in masculine terms. And the physical manifestation of Jesus is male (and the Bible does not indicate He was clumsy or “dorky”). No room there for “gender neutral” or “feminine” portrayals. Should we consider the Shack’s description to simply be poetic license or is it actually blasphemy? Consider carefully…

    I don’t need to read the whole thing to be able to say that the book is a far cry from being theologically/doctrinally correct. When two such blatant misrepresentations leap out in just the first half, it casts a blanket of suspicion on everything else the book teaches. And regardless of whether the author claims to be “teaching”, he has set forth a perspective which readers are LEARNING.

    Not trying to sway others’ decision to read the book, but if you do/already have, PLEASE beg God to grant you discernment of the spirits–and DO NOT build your understanding of God on this obvious work of fiction.

    1. I discerned the Holy Spirit all over your response, and I thank you for being obedient to share it. But I do caution you (based on what the Holy Spirit revealed to me because I often did the same thing), that if you are not able to move under God’s anointing to offer His truth without the constant spirit of apology and disclaimer, then please wait to give it. It undermines the authority of God’s Spirit and Word.

      Remember that speaking the truth in love is not about speaking in a kind manner that gives a lot of qualifiers in the hopes not to offend anyone sensibilities. Speaking the truth in love is about speaking truth with loving intention and with loving purpose–for the best interest of one(s) being loved and for God’s glory.

      Of course, I am not advocating rudeness–just directness. Again, God has also dealt with me as a woman about learning to speak without codifying truth (“Now i’m not trying to tell you what to do . . .”) because it begins to take on the spirit of this world which says, “You have your truth and I have mine, but they are equally valid.” No, only what is in agreement with God is valid.

      It is written:

      2 Corinthians 10:4-5
      The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We DEMOLISH arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

      So sharing God’s truth isn’t about you defending YOUR opinion, but you contending for the faith which was originally given to us in light of God’s Word. In doing so, you are actually battling the powers of darkness behind the lies. You indeed gave us God’s truth, so there need not be apology or disclaimers attached to it that make that truth seem “optional” or “less authoritative”.

      When there is heresy involved, God doesn’t want us to receive it. Period. We are to avoid it and those who promote it according to Holy Scripture. Beyond reading the book for the specific purpose of gaining the insight to speak to its specific heresies (which is what you did), I can see no biblically acceptable reason why any Christian would choose to read it. So there- I will go out on a limb and say “DON’T READ IT” except for the above stated purpose.

      I don’t believe God sanctions reading it for pleasure or curiosity because the spiritual lies can indoctrinate us on a subconscious level.

      It is written:

      John 15:20-21
      Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

      Now if someone decides to ignore God’s revelation through His messenger, so be it. But it’s not our responsibility to keep assuring them that we are not leading them one way or the other (because we definitely are when speaking spiritual truth), but the Holy Spirit’s job to appeal to their heart to do what is pleasing to God.

  12. The Nicene Creed, while written by men in the council of Nicea, is certainly taken from the New Testament ad gospel ideals. I’d challenge the folks bothered by it to take a moment to read through it and see if there are aspects they disagree with? I don’t mean to jump to conclusions, but the creed outlines most of the standard beliefs we hold in Christianity today and was also aiming to refute heresies, so I don’t quite understand the need to negate it simply because it’s not found in the Bible (though it includes quotations from the NT).

  13. I’m really just referring to when someone says that “the Nicene Creed says” when it seems to differ from what the Bible says. I’ve read the Nicene Creed, can’t remember if I had much of a problem with it or not, but I still don’t care what it says, I don’t need to know what it says, because the Bible is my guide.

  14. I’ve known a few people who run to the Nicene Creed above the Bible, who say things like “that person can’t be saved, he doesn’t believe everything in the Nicene Creed.” There’s a problem there…

  15. I just wanted to say thank you Kelly for posting a warning about the Shack. We need to be Bereans for sure!

  16. I definitely agree the Bible is the ultimate authority. But when we pray, we aren’t always quoting scripture, right? I can only speak for myself when I say that the words of my prayers are unique to the moment in which I pray them. In the protestant church I attend, the Creed is indeed used as a moment of prayer, reflection, and examination of what we believe as Christians.

    I also agree that it’s not a profitable thing to look at other people and judge based on the creed, of course. But we can’t simply ignore all of the writing apart from the Bible. We’d miss thought-provoking, faith-inspiring works of theologians throughout the ages who have prayerfully interpreted scriptures (much like our pastors do), and have written important and worthwhile books, etc. It would be a shame to ignore them. Check out some Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Martin Luther if you’d like to know what i mean.

    Lastly, this is a link to a prayer i really like. It’s not in the Bible, but it’s something I say almost everyday. I just want to make the point that simply because it’s not in the Bible does not mean it’s garbage. (Sorry to go on a tangent, Kelly!)

  17. “Feelings can not dictate whether a book is truthful or not.”
    You are right about this and this is exactly what the author based the book on… his own feelings (I heard him say this in an interview about the book).
    Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

    That’s why anything we read must be examined through the lense of Scripture.

  18. Mission St Clare is a great website–it’s what I use for my daily prayer.

    The Creed teaches us so much about the struggles of the Christian faithful through the years. I do think it is arrogant to think we can “just read the Bible” without considering those who have gone before us and the implications of some ways of thinking about God, etc.

    Of course it is important to listen to current teachers too, but increasingly they have been formed without rigorous understanding of the history of the early church. Yet another negative complication of too much emphasis on “just reading the Bible”.

    I should add that I’m not defending this book. I’ve not read it, and I heard from people that have that it’s sort of interesting theologically but the writing is sub-par. I’ve got too much other stuff to read, frankly 😉

  19. I did read The Shack, without much thought to it being anything other than the usual fictional story. It is certainly, at best, lazy theology. I would have some concern for “new” Christians who are often subject to being swayed off track by their zeal. I felt the same way about The DaVinci Code.

    My biggest concern about The Shack was really the subject matter. I am increasingly sensitive to the lingering imagery found in a lot of these “sensational” novels. I’ve put down more than one book this summer because I realize that as much as looking through the lense of scripture, it wouldn’t hurt to look through the eyes of Christ, and ask myself is this subject matter/content/message pure enough and worthy enough for the eyes of Christ? Would He spend his time on this? With The Shack, I would say probably not. I’m not a prude, and I certainly read secular books and go to movies, but I don’t feel the need to expose myself to violence or tradgedy by virtue of “spiritual” media in order to be closer to God. It just doesn’t smell right, if that makes sense.

    I love the Nicene Creed by the way. I KNOW it’s not the same as the Bible, but it’s funny, it makes me want to read the Bible carefully and closely. Sometimes I think these discussions are infiltrated by the enemy just to see if he can get us girls bickering. I can’t help but sense that sometimes these types of books serve the same purpose. It’s the fluffy, comfy,soft-sell that gets us to turn away from the Bible, rather than toward it and its Author.

  20. I don’t think it’s an issue of the Nicene Creed OR the Bible. The Creed was formulated to define an orthodox interpretation of Scripture, against those who were themselves using Scripture to argue for a false view of the Trinity and the nature of Christ. And while I don’t think it’s right to make definitive statements on whether or not a particular individual is a Christian, I think the motivation behind using the Creed as a measuring stick for that sort of thing is the idea that the Creed summarizes the absolute essentials of Christian doctrine; that is, the line between out and out heresy and error/disagreement which may arise among Christians. For instance, whether or not you believe Jesus is fully God is definitive of Christianity as such, but whether or not you believe in free will is disputed within Christianity and doesn’t make you a heretic either way.

  21. I am very glad to see there are people raising “red flags” about this book. Last year sometime an older lady visited my church, being a friend of someone there. In Sunday School she spoke up about THE SHACK and proclaimed it was such a blessing to read. The teacher knew nothing about it, and therefore, could respond with no warning. The lady said that it was supposed to have a far reaching and profound effect compared to Pilgrim’s Progress.

    Later in the year, my mother-in-law brought the book to me for a present. I was leery just from the review on the cover, but I thought I would read it so that I could know how to refute it when my mother-in-law asked. She is not a believer, but very religious.

    The first part of the book is engaging because it tells of the experience of how his youngest daughter was kidnapped and murdered. A sad story, really. But then it opens up into his experience at “the shack” and how this has a profound effect on his view of God. This, in turn, helps him to cope with the loss of his daughter.

    Not long into the part of “the shack” my bristles were up. I was so upset that these blasphemies and heresies were written of God and it was supposed to be so widely accepted. Those thoughts ran a sense of fear and a greater burden than ever for the countless drifting churches and individuals, especially if it will have the effects of Pilgrim’s Progress. The truth is being watered down bit by bit. Discernment is greatly lacking.

    Several times I put the book down and walked away because it was all I could take. When I was a little more than halfway done, I put it down sure that I couldn’t finish the book. A few months later I came across it and just got it done. I am glad I finished it, but I wondered if there was anyone else so alarmed by it. I plan to give it to my pastor so he can be aware of what it is.

    Lisa M.

  22. Thank you so much for posting that! Many people at my church are highly recommending this book. With the little bit of research I had done, I knew this was not a book I needed to be reading! Thank you so much!!!!

  23. Well, I haven’t read the book, but if what you’ve got here is true about it, then I couldn’t agree more. Of course, I consider “The Shack” to be what it is (a work of fiction), so I’m not really angry about it, just as I wasn’t angry about Dan Brown’s books and the subsequent Blockbuster movies though they make an absolute farce of Catholic theology. Sadly, though, people today will believe anything–even what they read in a novel.

  24. Thanks, Kelly. I did read it…got it as a gift. I was less than thrilled and more than sickened. So many parts can lead new Christians, milk fed Christians and unbelievers down a dangerous, very wide path. But it sure makes you feel good that God, or should I say god (since it does not reflect the nature of the one true God), takes you wherever you are. It must be a great comfort to those who are wallowing in sin to know that sin is fine with god, he isn’t going to punish you with justice, and he just wants to make you some breakfast in the morning. There is only one entity out there who wants us to feel comfortable in our sin: the enemy of our souls. Thanks for alarming The Body; it certainly has not been done enough.
    Bethany, you are too right. I talked to a friend who was trying to witness to a person. They cited “The DaVinci Code” and its “evidence” as reasons they could not believe in God. ARGHGH!

  25. Kelly,

    ***There is only one entity out there who wants us to feel comfortable in our sin: the enemy of our souls.***

    This one point you made seems to be the sweeping heresy of the emergent church movement. It sounds wonderful to our human ears, but it is absolutely unbiblical. (So much Scripture to back that up!)

    Voddie Baucham did an INCREDIBLE message on “Brokenness” where he addresses this very thing, and talks about “The Shack”–I may be posting his message soon.

    Bottom line…God’s love REQUIRES His justice and until we are broken before God over our sin, and willing to repent, He does not want to make us breakfast. He wants us to repent.

  26. Sorry, it’s Know-It-All again. I neglected to include this edict from Scripture in that last post.

    “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16


  27. My husband was going to a Christian counselor awhile back for depression and she recommended this book. It was a very “feel good” book, yet there were many things in it I was uncomfortable with. My discomfort with it was confirmed in this critique, which also compares it to “A Course in Miracles.”

  28. Kelly (WW),
    I am not sure you read my post accurately…it was a tongue in cheek commentary on the book. Also, I am not sure by what you mean by:
    “This one point you made seems to be the sweeping heresy of the emergent church movement. It sounds wonderful to our human ears, but it is absolutely unbiblical. (So much Scripture to back that up!)”

    My point was that only Satan wants people to feel comfortable in their sins, to feel like God takes you wherever you are with no repentance and simply wants to serve you regardless of your love and obedience to Him. The verse I recall is when Jesus said that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Christ Jesus came so that we may have life and have it more abundantly.
    Please re-read my post. I do value your opinion. If you feel I said something unbiblical, I really would like to know it. Only a fool rebuffs correction. I know, I used to be one. ;}
    Maybe I just was not eloquent in writing what I thought I was saying….sorry for that.

  29. If anyone is interested in the development of the creed and the relationship of that process to trinitarian thought of that time, the Wikipedia article on a word very relevant to that process, Homousian, is pretty good (even if they spell it incorrectly ;)). (I know this is a source that isn’t always good or helpful, but it might help clarify the connections here.

    This word was used sort of like a political slogan between groups of Christians. Code language, if you will (Christians have tons of that today that will be difficult for future people to decipher because it is so culturally specific–I’m sure each of you can think of words you use in your own churches that outsiders would struggle to understand)

    Here’s the link:

    I agree that a lot of this pop “Christian” writing is at best mindless and at worst dangerous (Any one remember Prayer of Jabez? Ick. Ten dollars worth of nothing.) At the same time, when it is fiction, I find it best not to take too heavy a hand. I almost left the church as a teenager when we were asked to ban books no one in the congregation had read. It seems to me there is a balancing act between protecting people (and ourselves) from false teaching and spinning our wheels in places that aren’t really fruitful given all we have to do in the world. Perhaps it is my rebellious spirit but I’m somehow more tempted to read a book if someone is all upset about it–and I nearly always find in those cases the book was not worth getting all worked up about. DaVinci Code would have probably been another pulp novel had there not been the huge religious controversy about it.

  30. I left a comment before I posted the passage from Matthew, but, apparently, it didn’t go through.

    I’ll sum up what I wrote earlier by saying that books like The Shack and Blue Like Jazz are examples of the kinds of “doctrine” the emergent church espouses. Experience and feelings (I do well when I remember my husband’s mantra, “feelings lie”) contribute to their belief system in an inordinate way.

    While experience plays a role in our lives, our experience matters not one whit if our beliefs are not rooted in Scripture. If it doesn’t jive w/what the Bible says, then your/my experience (or the author’s) is inconsequential, particularly if our attitude about God becomes skewed. We must view everything that we read (or hear) through the prism and sieve of Scripture.

    To do otherwise, will lead you to a slope that is not only slippery, but downright dangerous, and may send you careening over the edge.


    PS Hey, Kelly, if my other (longer) comment shows up in cyberspace, would you mind shredding it?! I’ve opened my mouth one too many times today.

  31. Kelly L.

    Oh no, I was agreeing with you. (I think I understood you 😉 God is NOT OK with the complacency many seem to put on sin…that we can just stay where we are with no life-change that He brings…isn’t that what you were saying? I agreed with that if it was your point 😉

    The emergent church seems to be teaching the same doctrine from The Shack that our sin doesn’t really matter to God. Wrong.

  32. Kelly L,

    After re-reading my comment, I understand why you thought I was disagreeing–sorry. I was agreeing with your point, and saying that the emergent church wants us to think that God is comfortable…anyway, confusing, sorry. I was in a hurry.

  33. Um, totally off-topic, but I just wanted to say “thanks” to Dose of Joy for the link – I’ll be exploring that site more soon. 🙂

  34. Cathy,

    Sorry about the comment thing…still can’t figure out why comments randomly wind up in my spam–I had 6 when I checked–only 3 were spam??? Just know that I’ll release them as soon as I can.

  35. Thanks, Kelly. I probably didn’t read as carefully as I could have. Thanks, as always, for your posts. and YIKES about your poor husband and Canada.

  36. The reference used to critique one of The Shack’s claims was this:

    4. Hierarchical structures, whether they are in the Church or in the government, are evil. Our God is a God of order (Job 25:2).

    Actually, that is a different interpretation than most of the Bible listed on blueletterbible and

    It’s the NIV version, I believe, and it wrongly translates the word “peace” and turns it into the word “order”.

    See for yourself:

    shalowm from H7999 in the Strong’s concordance means:

    1) completeness, soundness, welfare, peace
    a) completeness (in number)
    b) safety, soundness (in body)
    c) welfare, health, prosperity
    d) peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
    e) peace, friendship

    1) of human relationships

    2) with God especially in covenant relationship
    f) peace (from war)
    g) peace (as adjective)

    The KJV, a pretty reliable translation, states for Job 25:2

    “Dominion and fear [are] with him, he maketh peace in his high places.”

    The NASB, ESV, NKJV, and most of all the other Bible versions use the word “peace” instead of “order”. So, the use of Job 25:2 to support some kind of hierarchal argument in the Church or government (and especially if used for the Trinity) is misapplied and presuppositional, at best.

  37. Hi, Kelly (author)-
    I was wondering if there was any way that I could print this out as a reference to show my friends why I do not agree with reading The Shack as a tool of edification and why I believe the book is heresy. May I print your article out, and if so, how do I give you the credit for your work?

  38. I think it is slightly ironic. I’m watching a CBN thingy where Young was featured on the 700 Club. He talks about how “we’ve had a lot of bad theology that has created a God [who isn’t on our side]”.

    He also says he wrote it “out of obedience… To [his] wife.”

    I apologize if this has been mentioned.

  39. I just read this book. It is absolutely horrible!!!! Every point your brought up is true. How this has become a “christian” book is beyond me. Thank you so much for standing for truth.

  40. Excuse me, but I wish to point out what I believe to be some misconceptions on, basically, each of the 13 points in the article:

    1)God the Father wasn’t crucified with Jesus, nor did the book say so. But, I’m pretty sure God did suffer in that He knew He was taking out all His wrath on His own Son. The scars in the book, I believe, were meant to be symbolic of God’s heart for those who suffer – even and especially His Son.

    2)Love does not limit God, nor does the book say so. God has no limits, which the book does say. In fact, God “holds back” in a way, otherwise we’d all be sitting in Hell – after all, it’s technically what we all deserve, yeah? So, it’s out of love that God is not only Just but Merciful.

    3)God did forgive all – Jesus Himself actually interceded on our behalf not just on the cross but also in what He said: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) The book said nothing about it being okay if they decided to not accept the forgiveness, though – it said nothing about going to Heaven without repenting and accepting His grace and forgiveness first.

    4)I believe the book is actually referring to how we, like the Pharisees, can become too religious, too “certain” and proud of our “certainty”, and neglect loving one another first and foremost. After all, the two greatest commandments as Jesus Himself said were to, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Luke 10:27) God isn’t about religion – we created that. God’s about relationship – He always has been. He didn’t bring our religious ancestors out of Egypt out of His desire for religion, but as a result of His abounding love for His Creation.

    Before going on, I just want to note that these arguments, thus far, aren’t holding up too well for me, as I’ve just read this book myself. I would give them far more credit had they actually been statements straight out of the book, rather than what I perceive to be inaccurate paraphrases. But, I will continue, as I said that I wanted to clear misconceptions:

    5)The book never said God will not judge – in fact, Mack’s character is even put in the place of judge to see an inkling of how difficult it really is for God to judge at all. No, this point is outright false, and I believe the misunderstanding comes from how gently the incarnations of God in the book relate so gently to the rough and rebellious Mack. But gentleness is not to be confused with a lack of God’s supreme judgment and sense of justice. 1 Timothy 6:11 says that a man of God should pursue 6 traits, the last being gentleness. And if we’re pursuing that which is of God, then of course that means God has “that” – “that” being “gentleness” in this case.

    6)This 6th argument hardly needs arguing, as the explanation for it even says that the hierarchy doesn’t mean the Son is less than the Father or the Holy Spirit is less than either (or greater, for that matter), but that they’re simply unique and distinct from one another and at the same time being one and the same God. I believe that, too, is what the book was trying to convey. There is a part in the book where “Papa” compares the three characters in the book portraying the Trinity to a man who is a father, husband, and worker all at once – the point isn’t that there is or isn’t a hierarchy, but that the Trinity makes up and encompasses the different facets of God’s character.

    Again, before going on, I think I just want to note how people seem to be going on and on about the female representations of God. I believe this and other arguments about the book to simply be petty and beside the point – God is not a man. God is not a woman. God is God, and there is no other quite like Him. He is unique, and He is beyond gender. You’ll have to forgive me French when I say, “Get over it.” Whether I agree with you guys or the author or whoever, I think we can all agree that God has shown Himself to us time and again in the Bible in a way that we might be able to perceive Him when He wanted us to perceive Him. Think burning bush – can you imagine how things might have been different if Moses had seen a talking mountain instead? Consider the possibility that God spoke to Moses through a burning bush specifically because He knew that that was just the right and personal way to get Moses’ attention –> “So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight–why the bush does not burn up.” (Exodus 3:3)

    7)I’m willing to say that God did submit to us. Now, I agree that He doesn’t submit to how /we/ want things to be. But, nonetheless, are we so easily forgetting that Jesus Himself came to serve? (Matthew 20:28) And, of course, how could we forget that He washed His disciples’ feet Himself. Now, if the argument is that we’re telling God what to do and He’s actually submitting to us – that’s another false accusation. Rather than Mack demanding that God show up on His terms, “Papa” led Mack on completely, only requiring Mack’s permission to intervene in his life. Did “Papa” and “Sarayu” and Jesus stoop down to Mack’s level so he could actually understand the specific message God was trying to convey? Oh yeah. Yes, He submitted in that sense. But did He grant Mack’s every wish – was God at any time in the book ever /not/ in control? Nope. That’s a false accusation.

    8)Once again, the book never says this. I believe this is a misinterpretation of what the book was trying to emphasize about God’s character – His great love for each and every once of us. Is there judgment to be had? Yes, of course! But is there grace in the midst of that? Well, Jesus didn’t die on the cross for nothing! But, more importantly, can there be judgment within the scope of Love? Yes, everything God does is out of His great love for us. This is particularly attended to in 1 John 4:8 when God is, in a matter-of-fact statement, as /being/ Love. It is, in fact, out of Love that He will allow us to be separated from Him for all eternity in Hell, as He is simply respecting the independence He also allowed us to have – an independence to choose, and a choice between Him and separation (aka, Hell).

    9)This I am completely unaware of. Where in the book did it even say this? I am sorry, but I cannot really address the argument, as I’m unsure as to where it came from.

    Before going on, I want to note something important that might be assumed as the tensions of the reader (aka, you) may or may not be rising and you may or may start feeling defensive: I do not use _The Shack_ as personal doctrine, nor do I see it as infallible. Are their holes? Probably. In fact, the 9th argument very well may be one of the /huge/ holes, if it’s ever proved that this book insinuates that. The real reason I am writing all of this is because I come from a side of hearing /only/ bad things about this book from people who I perceived to simply be afraid and insecure in their own belief of God, holding ever-tightly to their traditions which aren’t always indicative (at least, to me) of a personal relationship or personal belief in a /loving/ God. It is also true that I defend the position that has no defense – in this case, many people aren’t even picking up the book to get a first-hand understanding of whether it’s really “bad” or “good”. I think it is both foolish and could possibly lead to being judgmental (which is for Jesus alone) to, in a manner of speaking, “not touch it with a ten-foot pole” for two reasons: 1)if you’re always trusting everyone else’s opinion without doing your own research (if it’s, indeed, even possible to), then you’re really just as ignorant as you were before, since opinions don’t equate to facts and 2)if you think something like this book is “heretical”, then you just might start thinking anyone who reads or talks about it to be a heretic. And, tell me, how do we usually treat heretics? Do we try to correct them first? Or do we try to /love/ them first? Think about it.

    10)This is another twisting of the book’s words. This is why we need to be intelligent readers, and not just objective thinkers (though, the latter is rather important when you start debates over articles like this, of course). Here’s what the book said, “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims…. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters.” Let me point something important out – “They /WERE/ Buddhists or Mormons, etc.” You are all right to say that Christ is the only way and also that Christianity is about Christ. Yet, is it important to emphasize a religion, or the god behind the religion? Even in pagan religions, just going through the motions isn’t worth a hill of beans to them – you have to be /devout/! It is the same in Christianity – what’s more important: taking communion or taking in the meaning of communion? What of singing praises or actually praising? What of bowing your head in prayer or actually praying? And so on. The Jesus character in the book is purposefully emphasizing a lack of interest in Christianity (or any religion, for that matter), and, with even more purpose, emphasizes the relationship with Him (who already acknowledges, presumably via biblical common knowledge of anyone reading, that He is the Way and the Truth and the Life).

    11)This is, again, another twisting of the book’s words. Jesus doesn’t change. And the book doesn’t say He does. It does imply that He is with us wherever we go and however we are, no matter what change we’re going through. It is for these sort of word-twisting instances that I so wish that the arguments had contained direct sightings from out of the book itself so as to avoid this misrepresentation.

    12)This is an outright lie – the book never once says Mack, the killer, or Missy would ever be reconciled to God without them picking up their end of the relationship. It never once says that everyone goes to Heaven, but “Papa” herself actually speaks specifically to Mack about how They (the Trinity) have already done their end of the bargain (which, one has to admit, Grace is quite a bargain for us!) and that they’re simply waiting for us to do our end – accept.

    13)Lastly, the Bible is de-emphasized the same way religion was de-emphasized. The book doesn’t say the Bible’s not true – it blatantly recognizes that God gave it to us somehow (via divine inspiration, I mean) and that He didn’t lie to us. I believe that the way it’s talked about in the book, the perspective is that the Bible serves three purposes: it shows us what we need to do, what we can’t do and what we ought to do instead. We need to carry out all the laws God gave to us in order to be holy and clean and free of sin in His sight. We can’t do that because we’re independent thinkers, inevitably sinful by our very nature to choose, and because (as the book covers time and time again) we can’t see the big picture, thus always thinking about ourselves. We ought to just accept Jesus’ grace, since He, the Father, and the Holy Spirit as the one God love us and desire relationship with us. I think that’s what the book’s emphasizing – but it’s not discounting the importance of religion or the holy Scripture. The book talks in-depth about how we use structures to stay “in control”. I think I agree. Do I think we should trash government and religion and all the laws of society, though? Nah. I just like to think of the structures as a necessary evil of the fallen state our world is in, currently. Maybe one day, when Christ comes again, He’ll abolish such hierarchical thinking. And maybe He won’t. Oh well – guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    For those of you who made it through all 13 of my rebuttals (as well as all the side notes), I so very much value the time you put into considering my different response. Thank you.

    To Word Warrior, thank you for considering the posting of this. I’ll check back in a week or so – if this isn’t posted yet, I’ll re-post as a reminder. It is certainly not my intention to attack anyone, but to correct as gently and lovingly as I possibly can, God-willing.

    My last thought is this – there are two bandwagons: there’s the one where everyone goes nuts over this book and reads it because the best-sellers list tell ’em too, and there’s the one where everyone goes nuts over this book and practically burn it because the other extreme side of those who are ravenously reading it are scaring them half to death with their compliance. And then, there are those who simply walk on their own, unhindered in thought or guidance from the Spirit by either bandwagon. Good luck.

  41. I would warn you of the dangers of proof-texting. As a college professor of Bible and Theology it amazes me that people proof-text verses to fit their beliefs. I would also appreciate citations for said heresies in the book. I bet I could take a lot of your blog out of context and interpret it in my own way and represent you to be a closed-minded conservative, which I would gather it is perhaps not the case.

  42. Thank you Kevin for your very thoughtful rebuttal of the 13 points. It is to easy to get lost in in the paranoia of different things. I thank you for your perspective on the article. It saves me the time of deconstructing the 13 arguments. 🙂

  43. Absit, Sir, it is truly an honor to receive affirmation from someone who claims to take up theology as his profession. If this is, indeed, true, then I am so very honored indeed, for I am only a lowly college student, searching for answers that aren’t driven entirely by emotions.

    Word Warrior, again, I thank you for posting my comments, as well as everyone’s comments thus far (that we know of, haha), as it shows the quality of your respect and integrity when relating to those who read your articles, whether they agree or disagree.

    I suppose I just want to conclude this comment by saying that I recently “re-learned” this lesson: just because Christians don’t agree on secondary and tertiary doctrine, doesn’t mean they’re not Brothers and Sisters in Christ. It’s the core doctrine that counts, and so long as we can all agree on the fundamental Christ-centered-ness of our faith, I’m more than ready to accept that we may disagree – even strongly – on many different things, especially super-tertiary “doctrine” like whether _The Shack_ is a healthy read or not! 🙂

  44. Kevin,

    Hate to burst your bubble, but I am actually a woman. Don’t worry I get that a lot. I am in field right now that is slowly beginning to include other voices, and I am optimistic for the future.

    Keep up the good work as an undergrad.

  45. Absit, though you told me not to worry, I wish to apologize anyway, lol. I am so sorry – I should have looked up the gender behind the name before responding, since I was unsure.

    But, rest assured, you didn’t burst an important bubbles – I was actually afraid you were going to follow up that phrase with something like, “You totally missed my point, and I was actually arguing against you” somehow. 😛

    Well, anyway, the original intent was this: thank you for the support!

  46. My name is Aram and I just finished reading The Shack. I then went online and happened across a bunch of people arguing about it, for what looks like a few years now. People are calling this a heresy, a dangerous book, and warning people not to read it.
    I normally never comment on these things, but being an unbeliever – yes that’s right, I am not a Christian – I thought it might be useful for some of these theology spouting authorities to take a moment and look at what I, not a churchgoer in any way, have gleaned from this little book. And then ask yourself – because I really don’t know much about the Bible – is anything I learned leading me in the wrong direction? Perhaps all the way to this burning lake of fire so many Christians love trying to scare non-Christians with? If this is the case, then I guess you’re right, and based on what you believe people shouldn’t read this book.
    For me, I don’t believe fear and rules to be the answer, I never have. This has been the main reason for my avoidance of the church. However, when you preach love and forgiveness, through whatever means conveys it the best, whether fiction or otherwise, well now, my heart begins to open a tad. It makes me actually want to pick up a Bible perhaps and maybe read a little further.
    Teach love my Christian friends, because people like me, we don’t respond well to fear tactics. And we definitely don’t get turned on by arrogant church leaders who think they have it all figured out.
    Below are 57 new ideas I took away from this little book. Many are direct quotes from the book itself.

    1. The different appearances of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were used to help Mack break his religious conditioning.

    2. You don’t get brownie points for doing something through obligation; only if you want to.

    3. Life takes a lot of time and a lot of relationship.

    4. How free are we really? – family genetics, social influences, personal habits, advertising, propaganda & paradigms etc. Freedom is an incremental process that happens inside a relationship with Jesus Christ.

    5. When all you can see is your pain, perhaps then you lose sight of God.

    6. Pain has a way of clipping our wings, so we can’t fly. After awhile we forget we were ever created to fly.

    7. When Jesus became a man he gave up his own ability to heal people and do miracles. His miracles were accomplished by Jesus’ (a man, a dependent limited human being) trust in the Father God. We are all designed to live like that, out of God’s life and power.

    8. God exists in three persons so we, his creation, can also live in love and relationship, just like God does. If God didn’t, we couldn’t. “God cannot act apart from love.”

    9. Relationships are never about power, and one way to avoid wanting power is to limit oneself – to serve.

    10. Sin is its own punishment, devouring from the inside. It’s not God’s purpose to punish it; it’s God’s joy to cure it.

    11. When people choose independence over relationship, we become a danger to each other.

    12. If people learned to regard each other’s concerns as significant as their own, there would be no need for hierarchy. God does not relate inside a hierarchy; God wants us to trust him because he will never use or hurt us.

    13. When Christians don’t trust God it’s because they don’t know they are loved by him. They think God is not good.

    14. Mack says: “I just can’t imagine any final outcome that would justify all this (pain, suffering etc).” Papa replies: “We’re not justifying it. We are redeeming it.”

    15. The choice of God to hide so many wonders from man is an act of love that is a gift inside the process of life.

    16. For any created being, autonomy is lunacy.

    17. When something happens to us, how do we determine whether it is good or bad? By whether we like it or if it causes us pain. This is self-serving and self-centred.

    18. We become the judge of good and evil; so when each person’s good and evil clashes with someone else’s, fights, even wars, break out.

    19. Eating of the tree tore the universe apart, divorcing the spiritual from the physical. All of us died, expelling the very breath of God.

    20. We play God in our independence. The only remedy is to give up the right to decide good and evil and choose to live in God and trust and rest in his goodness.

    21. God is light and God is good. Removing ourselves from God will plunge us into darkness. Declaring independence will result in evil because apart from God, you can only draw on yourself. That is death, because you have separated yourself from God, from Life.

    22. This concept is difficult for us because the good may be the presence of cancer or the loss of income, or even a life. Sarayu answers: “Don’t you think we care about these people who suffer too? Each of them is the centre of another story that is untold.”

    23. About having ‘rights’: “‘Rights’ are where survivors go so they won’t have to work out relationships.”

    24. Jesus gave up his rights so his dependent life would open a door that would allow us to live free enough to give up our rights.

    25. Each of us is wild, beautiful, and perfectly in process when God is working with a purpose in our hearts. We are an emerging, growing, and alive pattern – a living fractal.

    26. We tend to live either in the past or the future; dwelling on the pain and the regret of the past, instead of a quick visit to learn something from it. Or fearing the future, letting our imagination run wild with worry, and forgetting to see the future with Jesus. This happens when: a. we don’t really know we’re loved and b. we don’t believe that God is good.

    27. Apart from Jesus’ life, we cannot submit one to another. Jesus’ life is not an example to be copied. Jesus came to live his life in us; so we will see with God’s eyes, hear with his ears, love with his heart, and touch with his hands.

    28. Some say love grows, but it is the knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it. Love is the skin of knowing.

    29. We human beings are constantly judging others because we are self-centred.

    30. We say: “Predators deserve judgment, their parents, too, for twisting them, and their parents, and on and on, until finally we go right back to Adam, and then, why not judge God? He started it all…isn’t God to blame for our losses? He could have not created, or he could have stopped the killer, but he didn’t.” If we can judge God so easily then, of course, we can judge the world. We must then (e.g.) choose two of our five children to go to heaven and three to go to hell, because that’s what we believe God does. Mack could not choose any one of his children because he loved them no matter what they did. So instead, he begged that he could go to hell for his children. This response is exactly what Jesus did. Mack judged well. He judged his children worthy of love, even if it cost him everything. This is how Jesus loves. ‘And now we know Papa’s heart.”

    31. God’s love is so much larger than our sin could ever be.

    32. Evil was never a plan of God’s. We must return from our independence, give up being his judge, and know God for who he is.

    33. When we receive God’s love and stop judging him we let go of the guilt and despair that had sucked the colours of life out of everything.

    34. God never abandons his children. We are never alone. God could no more abandon us than he could abandon himself.

    35. “Live loved.”

    36. When we leave the light of God and retreat to the darkness all alone, the darkness makes our fears, lies, and regrets bigger in the dark. Sometimes, as a kid, doing this is part of survival, but now we must come to the light.

    37. Jesus will travel any road to find his children. But only one road leads back to heaven.

    38. Stories about a person willing to exchange their life for another reveal our need and God’s heart.

    39. Even though God can work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies, it does not mean God caused it. Where there is suffering, you will find grace in many facets and colours.

    40. ‘Love’ bothers to keep trying to touch people and never gives up.

    41. Sometimes we hide inside lies that justify who we are and what we do.

    42. Ask for forgiveness and let the forgiveness heal you. Take the risk of honesty. Faith does not grow in the house of uncertainty.

    43. Our transformation is a miracle greater than raising the dead.

    44. All evil flows from independence.

    45. God’s purposes are always and only an expression of love. God works life out of death, freedom out of brokenness, and light out of darkness.

    46. Emotions are neither good nor bad. They are the colours of the soul. They are spectacular and incredible.

    47. The more you live in the truth, the more our emotions will help you see clearly.

    48. Trying to keep the law is actually a declaration of independence, a way of keeping control. Keeping the law grants us the power to judge others and feel superior.

    49. Responsibility and expectation are dead nouns, full of judgment, guilt, and shame. Our identity becomes wrapped up in performance. The opposite is when God gives us an ability to respond that is free to love and serve in every situation, with God in us; and expectancy is alive and dynamic with no concrete expectation – only the gift of being together.

    50. To the degree we live with expectations and responsibilities is the degree we fear and the degree we don’t trust or know God.

    51. If God is the centre of everything, then together we can live through everything that happens to us.

    52. Forgiveness is big.

    53. When bad things happen, what God had to offer us in response is his love, goodness, and relationship with us.

    54. God doesn’t do humiliation, guilt, or condemnation. They don’t produce one speck of wholeness or righteousness.

    55. Forgiving isn’t about forgetting; it’s about letting go of another person’s throat.

    56. Forgiveness does not create a relationship; it simply removes them from your judgment.

    57. Because you are important to God, everything you do is important.

    I gotta tell you, this book made me want to explore the idea of God a little more, and I just can’t see how that is a bad thing.

    1. Aram, it’s all well and good that you found notable, worthy things from that book. I haven’t read it and given my lack of time – I probably won’t and so, have no opinion on it.

      I would like to ask though – since you found something worthy contained within it and since you indicate an interest in picking up the Bible – have you actually done so? Has the book in any way encouraged you to weigh your decision about God and His Son Jesus Christ? Has the book helped you to understand that all of us have sinned, that God is a Holy God and therefore cannot tolerate sin? Has the book helped you come to a Biblical knowledge of our Creator, Sustainer and Saviour? If it has not then I submit that the book is useless. If you haven’t gleaned true Biblical wisdom from the book what is the point of reading it? For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. The wages of sin is death. Yet Jesus died for all of us and our belief in Him and our Confession of Him as our Saviour will indeed save us from hell. Whether you want to believe in hell or not is irrelevant because we will all be judged by the same standard. If your interest is in being saved please feel free to ask me how.

  47. Aram,

    I thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to post 57 good points that you took away from this book. I hope it was as encouraging for you as it was for me, and I do hope you will continue searching for the Truth. I happen to believe you’ll run right into Jesus if you do, but I’m not worried if you don’t. I also happen to believe that God’s always in control. 🙂 Peace be with you, and have a great day.

    – Kevin.

  48. “I happen to believe you’ll run right into Jesus if you do, but I’m not worried if you don’t. I also happen to believe that God’s always in control”

    What is that supposed to be, some obnoxious “I’m not worried if you don’t find God because that’ll be His will” comment?

    1. Jennifer, what’s happened to us??? We’re agreeing far too much lately! 🙂 🙂
      I wondered if anyone else felt that way.

    2. Hmm, I was also wondering what Kevin means by that comment…”don’t worry if you don’t find Jesus, because everything will be OK anyway?”

      “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.” I Timothy 2:5

      “Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

  49. Since this thread is up and hopping again, I wanted to ask if anyone here heard of a book called “The Journey Home” by Lee Carroll, something about “Kryon” also in the title. Possbly New Age. Anyone know anything?

    1. Never heard of it but I just looked it up on Amazon and it is definitely New Age, metaphysical type of book.

  50. Thanks, Jane. I saw it myself on Amazon and wondered if anyone knew anymore.

    How could I know Grace, if I haven’t read it yet?

  51. “We’re agreeing far too much lately! I wondered if anyone else felt that way”

    That we’re agreeing too much? 😛

    1. Ha! Not what I intended but I get it. 🙂
      How’s sunny Florida? It’s hot here in Tennessee – it’s a good time to start school until it cools off a little. Not that my students like the idea too very much heh, heh!

  52. 🙂 It’s actually pleasant here in FL, thanks. God’s given us storms! It’s been so balmy that I’ve actually seen three cool, breezy sunrises. That’s a miracle down here! Father’s Day had some weather casualties however, even though it was mostly great; I still have the pink splotches from sunburn on a boat outing and later that night, during a gigantic storm, both our DVD players and the computer’s modem got struck by lightening! It split the wood on our dock and frayed the wires, too. We fixed the computer weeks ago, and today we’re FINALLY gonna try to replace the machines.

    I’d love to visit the mountains in gorgeous Tennessee again!

    1. Lightning is something else, it’s amazing how destructive things like water, lightning, fire and wind can be. Lightning took out my MIL’s HAVC during this heat wave. She was miserable for a couple of days but we got it fixed.

      I bet it’s cooler in the mountains and yes, they are gorgeous. I hope you get that trip.

  53. I want to please/be in a deeper and deeper relationship with God all the time. It is my motivation.

    I read The Shack, and it made me feel kinda warm and fuzzy inside. But because of my first statement, I, like Kevin, began to research to see if what I was reading is heresy. “Heresy” is a very strong word, you have to admit.

    I found the 13 heresies and rolled my sleeves up and went to work. I think a Dr. wrote them and I expected, because of his notable title, that I would find them to be factual.

    It is as Kevin stated: The 13 heresies are either twisted or completely false statements. C’mon, someone has got to be offended by someone else trying to manipulate you! How is this not like political advertisements and mudslinging? I believe we are busy, busy people. But we need to do our due diligence and look this stuff up ourselves.

    Here is an example: Heresy #9 “There is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell (p248).” I would like to post the content of that page for you to read, but wow! What a typing job. So I am going to type the paragraph that could be the only text the heresy is referring to (because the rest of the paragraphs are regarding the story line of the murder).

    Before I type this out, please remember that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Doesn’t this mean to NOT BLINDLY listen to people we esteem – to not fore-go the research ourselves. That is what I think the issue is here.

    The text from the second to the last paragraph: “If you ever get a chance to hang out with Mack, you will soon learn that he’s hoping for a new revolution, one of love and kindness–a revolution that revolves around Jesus an what he did for us all and what he continues to do in anyone who has a hunger for reconciliation and a place to call home. This is not a revolution that will overthrow anything, or if it doesn’t, it will do so in ways we could never contrive in advance. Instead it will be the quiet daily powers of dying and serving and loving and laughing, of simple tenderness and unseen kindness, because if anything matters, then everything matters. And one day, when all is revealed, every one of us will bow our knee and confess in the power of Sarayu (the Holy Spirit – my words) that Jesus is the Lord of all Creation, to the glory of Papa (God, my words).”

    Romans 14:10-12 KJV “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

    To me the paragraph referenced doesn’t deny that there is an eternal judgment at all. In fact, it paraphrases Romans 14:11.

    BTW, the entire chapter of Romans 14 is so good. Read it!

    Finally, because I can appreciate the possibility that I can be wrong, please show me. Warning: I may argue back but I will do it with Grace.

    1. Linda,

      I appreciate, admire and agree with you about testing things for ourselves. I have not read the book. I have read excerpts that make my stomach turn and send red flags shooting in every direction. I have also read many, many reviews and commentaries from solid, godly teachers whom I trust and admire, and that gave me the confidence to post this.

      Regarding your example of the heresy: “There is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell (p248).”

      The paragraph you quoted doesn’t expressly state anything about “eternal judgement or torment in hell”. Bowing every knee before the Lord is something separate from the actual judgement of those who have rejected Him. So unless there is some other evidence, this one doesn’t hold up.

      There are more direct statements from the book that DO support the heresy in question:

      p 120

      “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.”

      That sentence alone is enough to make me throw the book out as heretical, notwithstanding all the other crazy things I’ve read from it. Anyone who reads and believes the Scripture cannot reconcile this idea with the Word of God.

  54. Thank you Word Warrior, for your response. I read that text on page 120, also. I pondered it for quite awhile.

    I believe Scripture is without fault and that there is no need for any other books to interpret it. I just wanted to get that out there. And I have to say that I believe the path is narrow. It is through Jesus alone. I believe that if a person doesn’t accept Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, they are not saved while in that state of non-belief. Matt. 7:13-14 and John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

    “I don’t need to punish people for sin.” Well, I know that sin requires that blood be spilled in sacrifice for it to be forgiven. Heb 9:22 “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” kjv. He punished Jesus for our sins.

    I agree that this statement doesn’t match what I know from the Bible. But in my relationship with God, and I have struggled long and hard with this one, I find that God disciplines me. I don’t feel like He punishes me, though. To me there is a difference.

    We are burdened by a problem that we made years ago. It is the second time we have made this error. The consequences have been going on for years even though we finally quit making the mistake that originally caused this.

    I believe that God has not stepped in like Santa Claus and taken it all away because He is disciplining me.

    Wouldn’t the quote above be true if he was talking about Christians and if there is a difference between discipline and punishment. Please, if I am wrong here, show me. I just ask you to back it up by Scripture.

    I thank you for bearing with me!


  55. Oh, I absolutely agree with you about the difference in punishment and discipline, and yes, if he were talking about Christians, that statement might bear truth.

    I don’t believe he is talking about Christians. For one, it isn’t specified and that’s an important oversight if it was meant. Secondly, by saying, “it’s my joy to cure it” insinuates that he’s referring to “all people and all sin”. The cure has been supplied; but that cure is only effective in the regenerate, repentant heart, and we know not all are or will be regenerate.

    Therefore, as Scripture has made clear, God’s judgement requires him to “punish” the evildoer/sin/the wicked on judgement day. It is a popular shift (as seen in this book and many others) to deny this part of our holy God because it seems so horrible that our loving God will and must punish sin in the end. But, to say otherwise is, in fact, heresy.

  56. Thanks, Jen. The subtle nuances (and not so subtle) of some of these new “best seller” books are very dangerous in my opinion. By the way, I saw “Conversations with God for Teens” at a local thrift store and was foaming at the mouth after a few pages. That a Christian publisher would even publish such nonsense is appalling.

    1. No kidding. My mom liked “The Shack” and I’m guessing some seasoned Christians might appreciate whatever truths it has. But for many, it can be dangerous. The point about how sin destroys the self was valid, but to say God doesn’t punish us as well? Very incorrect, and dangerous. Besides, there are those who are fallen enough to enjoy sin and God often has to punish them while they still live, in order to stop their deeds against others if nothing else. As for “Conversations”, it is indeed appalling. I’m still reeling at the diatribe a teen girl who loved it gave me; just trust your heart? Especially as a TEEN? I noticed that the book for teens had far lower ratings than the “Conversations” book for adults on Amazon; I’m guessing even liberal adults couldn’t help seeing the consequences that lifting parental authority from teens would have. There’s a book for small children too, “The Little Soul”, telling children that nobody actually does any wrong, at least not on purpose. I had no idea the book has a “Christian” publisher.

  57. Hello everyone,

    I just finished “The Shack”, last night, and as usual, I take the approach of eating the meat and spitting out the bones. While I’m not prepared to address all of Dr. Youssef’s points, I do think that quite a few of them appear to be taken out of context or inferred.

    However, I would like to address one statement from the book that I see being roundly condemned:

    “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.”

    Parents truly understand that there are two forms of punishment – positive punishment and natural consequences. If I see my son sneaking a cookie from the jar, I could say, “if you eat that cookie, I’m going to give you a spanking.” That’s positive punishment. If I say, “if you eat that cookie, it will ruin your appetite for dinner.” That’s a natural consequence.

    I believe that Young is right in asserting that sin carries its own natural consequences and even the ultimate punishment, eternal separation from God, is the natural consequence of a free-will decision to reject God. However, he goes too far in asserting that God never positively punishes. I think it’s rare, but it is certainly within God’s purposes (see Nebuchadnezzar, Ananias and Sapphira, etc.)

    One would have to refute several scriptural passages to assume the belief that God is not a God of punishment as well as a God of mercy.

    There is a great danger in elevating or emphasizing any of God’s attributes above all the others. In doing so, we actually create an idol — a monster that is undeserving of our worship.

    Just my $0.02.

  58. Hi. I very much appreciate your and the author’s(of these 13 points) viewpoint, but I think you are overreacting in some ways. Absolutely there is some content in this book that is inaccurate, BUT it is a FICTIONAL book, billed as such, and I think the overall message warrants as much credit as the underlying problems.
    This book spoke to my soul!
    I agree with all your biblical arguements here, except that I think really some are moot as the book didnt come out and SAY straight up some of these things but I guess they could have been inferred. all are moot in that it is fiction. Of course it is a pastors or teachers responsibility to protect their flock and sometimes doing so requires taking an unpopular position, BUT this book has stuff in it that you cannot deny, through the mastery of this authors ability to tell a heart wrenching and at the same time warming story, is real soul searching and speaking stuff!
    Please give credit where credit is due!
    Of course there must be doctrinal related warnings with this reading, but to discredit the entire novel based on these is a mistake that I think a lot of folks are making.
    I am forever changed by this book, but not because of the heresy in it.
    I find that we as Christians are sometimes too tight around the collar to accept any good, if we can find something questionable in it. and that is NOT how God works in our lives!

    Blessing always to you for your faith and expression.


  59. Wordwarrior I don’t see any comment to Aram’s response to your article. He has made my day by taking the time to point out so many wonderful things in this book.

    No rebuttal?

    1. No, sorry. This is a really old post and I probably didn’t read all of Aram’s response. I just had a baby and am the mother of 9 children…it’s all I can do to keep up with current posts and comments 😉 Furthermore, I’ve read enough excerpts and commentators from people I trust to know that I don’t agree with the premise of The Shack, regardless of those who do. At this point, it’s more a matter of differences in theology which requires more time than I have right now.

  60. Excellent blog post, yet hey I got this problem we cannot appear to be able to register this rss feed, I’m making use of google and yahoo reader FYI:) Anyway did you hear mid east wonderful announcement! Kudos ! Rob Rasner YouTube

  61. Um, some of these things are simply not in the book. From what I remember:

    Jesus submitting to the desires of man. That simply does not happen in the book. Throughout the book, God rejects Mack’s ideas about Him and corrects him. The only time God does anything to pander to a man’s desires is when they go and find Missy’s body, but that is done as a favor to Mack and a comfort to him, not in pandering.

    No hierarchy thing. Yes, God says there isn’t hierarchy in the Trinity, because there is unity and equality and relationship. That is truth and in as much as we Christians believe in Trinity, it MUST be true. Papa explains it by saying “A bird walking on the table” is not weaker or less a bird, but has “submitted itself” to gravity to be on the ground for a while. The philosophy here is that Jesus, coming to Earth, does NOT become less God, but submits himself to the constraints of humanity for a very limited time. God can choose to fly or not, but that does not make him less God. This is a metaphor, of course.

    God was crucified with Christ. That is NEVER said in the book. That claim is never made. Jesus said that he would do it, and do it again, for one person, but the idea that God was crucified with Christ was not spoken. Then again, given the nature of the Trinity (and mystery thereof), God WAS crucified with Christ.

    The judgement, sin, and hell. Those things are not really talked about in this book. Unforunately. As I read it, I wished Young had addressed the nature of Hell and sin and all that. However, the book does address the idea of love corresponding with judgement and the way God can be good and have people going to Hell at the same time. Papa says that, in Jesus, He’s done “his part” in “reconciling the world.” That’s true. Jesus died so any who believe in him can go to heaven and be with him. But the nature of reaching heaven is not the avoidance of Hell, and we’re not trying to go to heaven merely to be there, but to have eternal and universal communion with God. In the book, God says there are people who choose NOT to have relationship with him, and that is true, in the sense that people choose to accept or reject God and therefore be with him or go to hell (I presume, though again the book does little to really address Hell). HOWEVER, all that being said, God is supposed to love everyone, even the vilest offender, and so He does not actively reject anyone who seeks to love Him. Does He?

    As to the judgement more specifically. God doesn’t claim not to judge in the book. Instead, He makes it clear that Mack should not judge. He makes it clear that it is not a human’s place to judge anyone, not even himself. Another unfortunate turn in the book is when Mack asks about whether or not there are rules, and the Trinity responds that “no, there aren’t.” Young does not delve deep enough into this concept and makes it seem like EVERYONE gets to heaven, regardless of their beliefs.

    The hierarchy thing is absolutely true and biblical. It is in humans’ attempts to overtake and subjugate others that the greatest harm has been done. Jesus said, in the Bible, not to call anyone ‘father’ but the heavenly father. God tells people consistently in the Bible to submit and become a servant to other people, not to seek to rule them. In the Old Testament, God refuses the Jews’ desire for a King, but they keep asking for one. Typically, the only people truly threatened by the death of hierarchy are those who stand to lose the most from its downfall. We are all supposed to know and read the scriptures and understand them together.

    FINALLY: This book really helped me a great deal. It helped me trust God a bit more again. It helped me separate the awful things that have happened in my life a little more from God’s will for my life. God is not to be blamed for my daughter’s death and He is still good and loving. It made me feel much better to stop judging myself so harshly and stop trying to judge others as well. I am still digesting it, but this is a good book, which should be studied and understood. Some of the “heresies” listed above are simply NOT found in the book and misrepresentation of a piece of fiction is not helpful in parsing what is useful and good from what is heretical and dangerous.

  62. I don’t plan on reading the book or watching the movie but there are a few things that Dr. Youssef said right off the bat from his pulpit that bother me. First, according to Scripture there is only one Body of Christ. Not this body or that body. There is ONE Body to which all true believers belong. Secondly, there are no under shepherds mentioned in Scripture by the Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul. And thirdly, the Lord Jesus Christ is not our King(then we would be his subjects) nor our shepherd. We are not His sheep. The sheep were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to which He came. He is the Head of the Body. We are members of His body, the Church. Thank God forevermore! You may not agree with this but be a Berean and check it out and ask God to open your heart and mind to this wonderful truth!

  63. I have jut read The Shack thoroughly and then I read this article. I found NONE of those 13 assertions made in the book. If someone saw those 13 Heresies, they read something more into the book than was there. I have not watched the movie but I am sure Hollywood has made some alterations. I think it is shameful to villify a Christian brother who so obviously knows and loves the Lord Jesus by tearing him and his book down with lies. I am just so sorry that anyone felt it needful to do this. Every Christian ought to be free to read and decide for him or herself whether it is good & helpful or not. Are we babies that must have someone else discern good and evil for us, or is that supposed to be the Holy Spirit’s job? May the body of Christ grow up and get their senses exercised to discern good and evil and most of all may we grow up into Him who taught us to love and not to become Pharisees. I highly recommend the book to those who have been wounded by life’s tragedies and need godly insights to help them forgive and heal. I have lost 10 people I loved in the past 20 years and I found a great deal of help in reading it. PS I am an ordained minister of the Pentecostal variety and this book did not harm my doctrinal beliefs at all. It is admittedly a work of fiction and not a doctrinal handbook. I found nothing heretical about this book.

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