The Shack by Paul Young is a publishing phenomenon, it is a best seller that started life as a fathers novel to his children. Starting with a publishing budget of a few hundred dollars it has gone on to sell shed (or shack) loads.
Much of the Christian world has gone mad for it. Eugene Peterson reckons it’s the new Pilgrims Progress, J John thinks it’s the only book you should read this year, and Michael W Smith raves that it will send you ‘craving for the presence of God’. Smith speaks more accurately than he realises – because this book has absolutely NO presence of God in it and you become increasingly desperate for the true God revealed in the Bible with each chapter.
Indeed, the Shack is a systematic theology of heresy hidden in an average (but extremely emotionally manipulating) story. The story itself seems to be an excuse for the author to explain his views of God to his children. And that it it’s greatest weakness and danger – the majority of its doctrine is purely fictional. Let me give you a taste:
-The Bible is repeatedly maligned, and disparagingly described as something ‘reduced to paper’ (p65).
-The Fatherhood of God is not important. Indeed, God can be revealed as a woman if he wants. It just depends on your personal needs (p93).
-The Father did not forsake Jesus on the cross (p96).
-God does not need to punish sin (p120).
-God the trinity submits to us (p145).
-Jesus is not an example for us to follow (p149).
-At the cross, ‘mercy triumphs over justice’ (p164).
-Jesus says in view of non-Christians, ‘I have no desire to make them Christian.’ Indeed he explains how he has children in Buddhism and Islam (p182).
-Jesus effectually dies for the whole world (p192).
I could go on and on.
Because the book is endorsed by Christians, and has a very moving story, many Christians (amazingly) are not spotting the heresies. Indeed, a quick view of reviews on Amazon show that people are letting it transform their view of God. Yet they are adopting a god created in the image of the author.
So, should Christians read it?
Obviously we are not going to try and ban books. Rather, I think it would be best to help people understand the underlying theology of the book. In my church I will hold a book club on it.
For a fuller review check out challies.com