A review of ‘the Shack’

theshackThe 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

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One thought on “A review of ‘the Shack’

  1. One of the reasons I quit my job and went to a Christian college when I was 34 years old was to not have to depend on anyone, including my pastor, to tell me what the Bible says and how to intepret it.

    The best thing that happened was that I am not challenged by any other religion and can witness to anyone regardless of their background. I usually state, “Great, so you believe in God…” and then share how Jesus Christ paid their sin debt.

    My father didn’t get saved until he was 58 and I lost a son in a tragic accident when he was 17. The Shack challenged me to separate my understanding of the attributes of God that I derived from my father, and it helped me to finally grieve the loss of my son Corey.

    I literally would be laughing my head off and then sobbing out loud from one page to the other. I understand that the book is a fictional story and not the Bible.

    Calvin Miller’s Triology – The Singer, The Song and The Finale also allowed me to see God from a different perspective. He wrote: Institutions have a poor safety record. The guillotines of orthodoxy keep a clean blade that is always honed for heresy. And somewhere near the place where witches die an unseen sign is posted whose invisible letters clearly read:
    WE ARE PROUD TO REPORT 0 WORKING DAYS LOST TO INJURY OR ACCIDENT – THE MANAGMENT. Let us pray.

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