Scripture or The Shack?
by Keith Hassell | February 15, 2011
2 Timothy 3:16–17 (NKJV) "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
A novel called The Shack written by Willaim P. Young (Wind Blown Media, 2007) has been a New York Times best seller. Christians from everywhere are reading the book. The Shack is a Christian fiction that tries to answer the questions about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, salvation, if Jesus is the only way to heaven, the question of God and evil, and what happens after we die. Obviously the book has touched a core hunger for answers in hurting people, especially in regard to the tragic loss of a loved one--what the book calls "The Great Sadness". Not only are millions reading the book, but many Christians are insisting that others read it. A common testimonial from those who read this book say it has forever changed their view of God. I am concerned. May I remind us all that this book is classified as Christian fiction. According to Young, the book was formed around his own personal conversations with God, family, and friends (p. 258-259). Young's quest in the book seems to be aimed at dismantling the historic and the Scriptural views of God in order to reconstruct another view of God that makes sense to him and that he hopes makes sense to others. Based on the number who have read the book, he has succeeded--at least for the moment. Although this book has brought comfort to many who have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one, we must not settle for an illusion of hope that the truth of Scripture alone can bring: "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." (Romans 15:4 NKJV) The concern I have with the book is that Young does not turn people to the Scriptures for hope or to Christian brothers and sisters for comfort, but encourages them to run to an isolated shack where they are introduced to subjective experiences (fictional experiences by the way) as the basis for discovering a new view of God. What makes this even more dangerous is that the characters used to communicate Young's often unorthodox ideas are God the Father who is presented as "a large beaming African-American woman", Jesus who appears to be "Middle Eastern and was dressed like a laborer, complete with tool belt and gloves," and the Holy Spirit, who is named Sarayu, "a small, distinct Asian woman" who together are called the Trinity. If you are a Christian who has read the book, may I challenge you to read a critical review of this book called "The Shack: Helpful or Heresy?" by a highly respected apologist (defender of the faith), Norman Geisler. I understand that questioning the legitimacy of The Shack will not be popular. I am also aware that Christians today are growing more intolerant of doctrine and those who challenge error and defend the faith. At the same time, if there has ever been a time when the church needed faithful watchmen on the walls who know the Scripture, who recognise and understand the danger of error, and who defend the Christian faith, it is now. Error is like a cancer that seeks to destroy the faith and scatter the flock. The danger of error is real and the cost for silence is too high. Before you run to The Shack for answers, take time to run to the Scriptures.