The Shack Is Only Fiction?

I wanted to take a few moments to respond to some of the comments from one of my posts The Shack Review.

Interesting review. Unfortunately, I think it not only misses the point of the book but seems to find criticism for the sake of criticism. Advice to Christians to be discerning is excellent. However, understanding must accompany discernment. The review seems short on understanding.

Criticism is found for the sake of being accurate as to how God has revealed Himself through Scripture.  It seems that those promoting and praising The Shack seem to be short on understanding discernment.  Even a friend of mine who enjoyed the book admitted there are things in the book to be cautious of.

The overall theme of the book is the incredible love that God has for us and his desire to bring us into a close relationship with Him. That is a very powerful message and one that all Christians should let sink deeply into their soul.

The “message” might be good overall, but just “who” is this message portrayed as being from?  The God of the Bible?  It sure doesn’t seem like it.  Such a powerful emotional message may be fine, but if God is not represented accurately then all that’s left is a a “powerful message” based on self.

Secondly, this book is a story intended to convey that and other concepts. It is not presented as a complete theological exposition nor a factual account. Reading it literally misses the thrust of the story and paves the way for misconceptions.

There are stories in the Bible that are not to be taken literally, however, they do expound upon and help explain who God is.  It may not be a “complete” theological exposition, but it is a theological exposition none the less.  It certainly covers some of the major themes as to who God is, how He works, His omniscience, omnipotence and sovereignty.  For such an incomplete theological approach it certainly covers much ground.

No, it’s not open theism. In the context of the story, God is simply saying that his majesty was being limited at that time so that there could be interaction with Mack. Do you not think that God limited his majesty in His interaction with Moses, Abraham, Paul, etc.? Nothing really novel there.

First, it is a form of open theism see this article from Banner of Truth.  God doesn’t need to limit Himself to interact with us.  This could lead to a very passive, impersonal god, but we know the only God (of Christianity) is a personal God who interacts with His creation.  So if we applied this limitation of “majesty” to God then we’d essentially have a personal, interactive yet powerless God.

Of course God respects our choices. That’s called free will. God never forces his will on us. He respects (or allows) our right to choose. He then works with our choices, whether good or bad. Did God not respect Adam and Eve’s choice?

Respects in what way?  We are free to do what we want and what we want is to sin as we are born sinners.  If God respected our choices as the commenter claims then we’d have no grace to be saved by since we don’t ask for it.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t be grace.  Do you think Nebuchadnezzar freely lived like an animal?  Adam and Eve had consequences for their choices, but they weren’t respected in a way that God just let them do what they wanted.  Besides, the crucifixion was planned from the foundations of the world so there was no surprise their for God in the self-limiting way.

Is black a color or is it the absence of color? We know from science that it is the absence of color, which in a sense means that it has no independent existence. It’s existence can only exist in relation to color. I think what Young is getting at here is the perplexing question of why did God create evil. Perhaps He didn’t….That concept is what I think Young was conveying. The reviewer, in my opinion, completely missed the depth of the thought there. [Emphasis mine.]

We aren’t talking about what science says.  And notice that the commenter doesn’t seem to be sure what Young was saying, builds his argument on what he thinks and then tells us Bro. Wayne is wrong.

Do you think it is God’s “purpose” to punish for sin? Young is correct. Sin does eat away at a person to such an extent that it will devour the person who lives in it. Reading the book as a whole, I didn’t find the implication there at all. No, Young doesn’t say in the book that if one does not accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they will burn in hell for all eternity. Neither does he dispute that.

A just God requires punishment for sin.  Sin doesn’t eat away at everyone, but many people love their sin.  For example, do you think Hugh Hefner’s sinful life experiences are eating away at him?  Provers 16:4 tells us that even the wicked have a purpose.  I’ve not quite figured out where Young stands on salvation of everyone vs. only those who believe.  Just listen to his interview with Matt Slick.

I believe Young was trying to expound on the nature of the relationship among the three persons of God and that relationship to us. That relationship is one of perfect love. God is perfect love.

God is not just love.  Young says different things concerning the relationship of the Trinity.  He said as much in the interview with Matt above such as the Father being on the cross with Jesus and having nail marks just as Jesus does.  And thinks like when “We” incarnated when only Jesus was incarnate.

Why are more of us not as balanced as Mike. What are we so afraid of? We act as though we need to defend God and close him up in our neat little [theological] boxes, and in so doing cause friction and strife among believers. All this negative flap about THE SHACK feels like a territorial battle to me.

We are afraid of offending the very God we serve by redefining Him.  We could say the same about Young who is coming out presenting God in his own theological book (box) and, therefore, causing strife.  All this positive flap about The Shack feels like Young wants to worship God on his personal territory.

Jesus is the best way any human can relate to God. He is not the only way humans can relate to God. We can relate to God through the Holy Spirit. OT humans related to God without knowing Jesus. Persons today who have never heard of Jesus, or the God of the OT, but have a belief in a one almighty being, are relating to God. Jews are relating to God.

I guess it depends on what we mean by relate.  If we are not relating to God salvifically then we are relating to Him through His judgment.  I don’t believe most people would appreciate nor accept that they were relating to God through His judgment.

I just don’t see this in the book. Young doesn’t emphasize scripture; neither does he say that it’s worthless or can be added to. The Shack is a fictional work about a visit and conversations with a man and God. In the course of those conversations, many scriptural concepts are validated.

Scriptural concepts of God aren’t validated as many have many pointed out.  As our friend, Tim Challies, pointed out in his review about what Young says about Scripture, “In seminary [Mac] had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects… Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?” Does this sound like an uplifting of Scripture?  Just look at what supporters of The Shack are saying about those who are critiquing this book.  Why shouldn’t those of us who want to defend the Bible have a similar attitude?

I may have missed it, but I didn’t see any “grievous distortions about the nature of God, the nature of the Trinity, the authority of God’s Word, God’s hatred of sin, the requirement of repentance, and the nature of conversion and salvation”. For example, Papa said that what the murderer did was terrible and very wrong and that Mack had a right to be angry about it. Yet He also said that the murderer is one of his children and that He loves him also. Is that bad theology? Not based on my reading of scripture.

The Shack uses anthromorphisms for God in a way that Scripture never uses.  Yes, it is bad theology.  Did not even Jesus tell us that some were of their father, the devil?  The murderer who has not repented and believed is not adopted as a child of God.

I believe it’s really a question of emphasis. Obviously, Young is emphasizing God’s infinite love and mercy, not his wrath and judgment. Does not Paul do the same thing in some of his letters and not others? Is a sermon in error that speaks only of God’s love and desire for relationship but does not add the caveat – you’ll go to hell if you don’t enter into that relationship? If so, I’ve heard a lot of sermons from solid Christian pastors in my years that would be considered a “grievous distortion”.

It is a question of emphasis.  Understanding God how we want vs. understanding Him how He’s revealed Himself in Scripture.  The problem is that The Shack is a complete life journey which people are praising and looking to for spiritual growth, not just one sermon or letter.

It is very interesting to see such division among believers. Reminds me of the ” religious” Pharisees who also accused Jesus of blasphemy and heresy. God does not call us to legalism but to love…His love through the gift of salvation in Jesus. This love will always prevail…hence the message of The Shack!

It should remind one of the Pharisees to some extent, but to the opposite of what this commenter states.  The Pharisees rejected Jesus as He revealed Himself to them.  This comes back again to the question of which Jesus?  The Pharisees did not grasp Jesus as revealed in prophecy nor in person as we read about in the New Testament.  They did not want the real Jesus.

…it is refreshing to know someone “gets it”! The Shack is for the believer! It is not meant to replace scripture, however, we are humans trying to understand God and all He is and with every book ever written fiction or non, we will never fully grasp Him until we see Him in Glory!

How can we try to understand God in Scripture if we set our view of Him up in opposition to what He’s revealed to us?  I posit we will have a much harder time grasping Him when we are clouding our own vision.

We are saved by grace through faith and that faith must have an object, Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.  The positive reviews I’ve read seem to support The Shack from the position of feelings and experience.  Those feelings and experience need to be grounded in Who God is as He’s revealed Himself in Scripture.  If they are not grounded as such then what is the basis for true spiritual growth through any experience or feeling?  It seems as though many people are trying to divorce theology from….theology.  Or to put it more clearly.  We cannot divorce our relationship with God from theology for this position is itself theological.

As Bro. Wayne said about this book and it’s lack of theological grounding, “Why encourage confusion in the presentation?”

For what it’s worth,

Mark

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Simple Mann September 14, 2008 at 11:15 pm

Amen, Brother. Thank you for taking the time to respond to the various comments in the post, johnMark.

I’m sharing a portion of a post from my own blog that I wrote a couple of weeks ago. It was actually inspired by another emergent influence (Rob Bell) but I think it is just as applicable to William Young and his book, the shack…

(From Faith, Fenceposts, Bells, and Whistles)

I know several well-meaning Christians who would say, “Calvinist, Baptist, Methodist, Arminian, Charismatic, conservative, postmodern–who cares!? All that matters is belief in Christ!” And while in one sense, “All that matters is belief in Christ” is right, it is absolutely crucial to believe in Him rightly. If I believe Jesus was just a man like any other, perhaps maybe one of the most impressive and influential men who ever lived, does that belief in Him constitute saving faith? If I believe that He was God incarnate and that His death on the cross saved *everyone* without any requirement or responsibility (meaning therefore it is acceptable to continue in sin), does that constitute saving faith? If I believe Jesus is just one way to get to Heaven, and not the ONLY Way, the True Way, is that saving faith?

Clearly Scripture denies every single one of those arguments, and so many more that twist and distort the true nature of who He is. In the 12-step program of Alcholics Anonymous, one of their steps of recovery is identifying with a Higher Power. But that higher power can be anything–even a fence post. This seems like a rather obvious error to most self-professing Christians; this is a form of idolatry, placing something that is clearly not God in the throne of our worship. But the problem is that many who call themselves Christians might as well worship fence posts because the conception they have of Jesus Christ is not Who He has revealed Himself to be–not the person of the Son that God made manifest–but something man has made and put in His place.

If we were to take a name tag of the sort we often don at conferences and seminars, write the name of Jesus on it, and then walk around for a little bit until we found some other person or thing that we felt best represented our concept of Jesus and apply that name tag to it, would that make it Jesus? Absolutely not. When we put in those terms, it seems so ridiculous it’s almost laughable. Yet, that is what so many people do. And because they have taken their little label that they scrawled “Jesus” on (in their own handwriting) and affixed it to some object of their own imagination, they think that they believe in Jesus and thus that they are saved. This, of course, is foolishness. It is but one lane on the wide road to destruction.

If we are listening to people who have a wrong understanding of Jesus–who have only written His name and attached it to ideas and objects of their own making, not what He has revealed about Himself through Scripture–and accepting their teachings, then what we are believing in is NOT the Jesus of the Bible who draws sinners to Himself, bears the burdens of their sins, takes their death in sin and gives them His own life in righteousness. If we are bowing down and worshiping fence posts that simply have a name-tag on them and trusting in them for salvation, we are no less lost than atheists who deny Christ outright. And if we say we believe in Jesus, but we have not received a new heart that longs for the Truth we find in Him and in His Word–if, in fact, there has been no regenerating work in our hearts to draw us like moths to a porch-light–then may our eyes be opened to the Truth of our error and may all our false notions fall away. But if we are worshiping Him rightly, may we boldly proclaim His Name and stand against those who promote deception by their improper use of it, regardless of the judgment and the persecution we may draw.

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.
John 15:19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.
John 15:20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave 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.
John 15:21 “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.
John 15:22 “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
John 15:23 “He who hates Me hates My Father also.
John 15:24 “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.
John 15:25 “But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’

Peace & Blessings,
Simple Mann

2 johnMark September 15, 2008 at 8:04 am

Bro. Simple Mann,

I appreciate your comments and support on this thread and the other.

Blessings,

Mark

3 Wayne Elliott December 18, 2008 at 11:08 am

My brief review of The Shack, posted above by my friend John Mark, seems to be accomplishing what was intended – encouraging believers to exercise Biblically based discernment. Many on this blog seem determined to prayerfully and thoughtfully discern the Lord’s revelation of Himself in scripture, not relying on their own imagination or projections to create a god in their own image. Thank you for engaging the battle, brothers. And thank you, John Mark, for your work in defending the revealed Truth.

4 kim July 25, 2009 at 9:50 pm

I am sick!! I have told many of my friends about this book, and have asked them to read it. The author NEVER

5 kim July 25, 2009 at 9:54 pm

I am sick!! I have told many of my friends about this book, and have asked them to read it. The author indicates that he is telling the true story of a friends experience. God is not a joke!!! I am so sad!!! My heart was full of joy when I finished this book, but now I feel like a fool!!! I regret asking friends to read this!!!
Why would you do this???

6 sher0830 August 12, 2009 at 12:30 am

So now the joy you felt is/was “false”, and you feel foolish because of someone’s opinion or interpretation you’ve read about the book that brought it to you? I read it, too. God gave me my brain. I passed the book on to a friend I care about. Both of us can think, both of us can feel. God made us that way. I don’t know what he will think or feel after he reads it, but I’m sure he’ll tell me. And whatever he thinks or feels won’t make this work of fiction right or wrong, nor influence the joy it gave me. Because God gave us some intelligence; plus, the right to choose what we will do with what is presented before us; instinct is a pretty strong gift, too~. A rose is a rose…a skunk is a skunk…be nice if it were all so clear, huh? I reckon therein lies the problem with this work of fiction. Then, there is the Bible. Sometimes, the skunks can be admired. Sometimes the roses are the ones that sting! For most, it is basic instinct to be able to tell right from wrong. To go higher than that, dig deeper!…or have deeper roots? I don’t know. I wasn’t there when they crucified our Lord. But, I believe it, and believe He arose. Nor was I there when God created man…but here we are. I’ll use what He gave me, it’s not too hard to sort out. Kind of black and white, really…like the skunk. And a rose by any other name…

7 Christie_Williams December 5, 2009 at 3:16 pm

I am a fifteen year old girl and in MY opinion, I believe that God did not CREATE evil, he created us (humans) and our free will. Through our free will we “created sin” by disobeying God’s original plan. But that does not go to say that I do not believe that God did not ALREADY know that we (humans) were going to disobey Him. It is because He knew of our upcoming disobedience that He already had in motion the plan for Jesus Christ to die on the cross and take all of our sins. BUT Jesus can only take our sins if we REPENT and TURN THEM OVER TO HIM. He does not have to “respect” us. He simply works through our free will to obtain it as His, the ultimate re gifting to Him of the bodies and souls that HE gave to us.
Yes sin does eat you from the inside out, UNLESS you are so comfortable in your sin that you have numbed your conscious to the fact that you are indeed doing the wrong thing. Many humans are comfortable in their sin, so the fact that it no longer bothers them should come as no surprise to us, afterall it is only through the Holy Spirit and God the father and Jesus convicting our hearts that we even acknowledge or recognize our sin.
Personally I have no problem with The Shack, but I am only reading it from a fictional standpoint, NOT something to base my life off of. I did not read it to “get saved” or to further my relationship with God, nor did I read it to understand theology in any aspect. I do however completely agree with everything that you have stated above in reply to the comments to your last article.

I understand that some will look down on me as a 15 year old girl commenting on something so theology ridden that you can’t even see through it, but I felt that maybe my opinion might be worth something. Thanks for taking the time to read my comment.

“Think before you type, write, or speak. It helps to slow and maybe even stop an argument.”

8 Michelle Reynolds June 16, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I am really disappointed that this much energy has been put into a FICTIONAL story! I am a “meat eating” Christian with strong faith and was really moved and impressed by this FICTIONAL story. My time spent reading this book was not intended to move me any closer to God, but to see what the buzz was all about which was probably the purpose of other readers as well. The beauty I found in the story is knowing from personal experience that the God I serve will meet you where you are in order to get you where you need to be. Just for the sake of conversation, if this WERE a true story and it missed the details that are inclusive in the bible, it shows God meeting Mack where he was. He was battling with his beliefs and God used referrences in which Mack could relate to in order to bring him into the relationship and understanding neccessary at that particular point and time. God uses people and instances everyday for such purpose. New believers and / or “milk drinking” Christians are not always able to understand and interpret the wording that more mature believers are able to which is why parallels were frequently used in the NT of the bible. Do you honestly think God would miss an opportunity to communicate and save one of His children based on what and how WE think He should do it? NO, His ways are not our ways. He approaches us based on how we’re able to understand it at that moment. After that, we are held accountable to study to show ourselves approved. He will not limit His power nor our growth by continuing to operate in the small realms of our lives because we choose not to get a better understanding. The Good News is that He is just that full of grace that He’s able to reach the big and the small as well as the smart and the ignorant; all without losing His GREATNESS and POWER. It was a great book and hopefully it encourages the lost, confused or curious to pick up the bible and learn more about this awesome Trinity in which The Shack spoke about. It will be at that point true discernment, conviction, growth and salvation will begin to take place. This type of back and forth confuses the HECK out of people and keeps them comfortable NOT getting to know the NON-FICTIONAL God!

9 Mark June 16, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Hi Michelle,

If you looked through the comments in the Shack Review post you will find that people felt that this “FICTIONAL story” brought them closer to God. This is why I wrote this post. If this book is only fiction why use it to understand God better, especially, given its biblical inaccuracies about God?

You said

This type of back and forth confuses the HECK out of people and keeps them comfortable NOT getting to know the NON-FICTIONAL God!

I believe what confuses people is the promotion of a book like The Shack which pretends to explain God to its readers. The author was not theologically inept. He knew what he was writing and the book even went through some revisions due to certain theological issues as I understand it.

Would you mind showing me biblically what you mean by saying the God will “meet you where you are in order to get you where you need to be.” I asking if you could show me a biblical example of what you mean by that statement.

I do appreciate you dropping by. It’s good to think on these things.

10 Michelle Reynolds June 16, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Hi Mark,

In response to your post, I did read the previous posts and I think it’s a wonderful thing that others used this book to become closer to God! The way this world is these days, I say do what ever it takes. I also said, “He approaches us based on how we’re able to understand it at that moment. After that, we are held accountable to study to show ourselves approved.” Who ever was drawn closer to God through their reading of this book will be held accountable to STUDY the Word to show themselves approved if they choose to follow Christ. When I was fresh in my faith walk, me picking up the bible reading it took me “nowhere real fast” simply because I had not been drawn into the intimate relationship with God yet, therefore, what I was reading made no sense. It wasn’t until I was able to put personal referrences with God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost that I was drawn into getting a bigger scope of deeper knowledge that we learn through the huge, not so easily interpreted bible. Speaking of the bible, if you recap my post, I said, “The beauty I found in the story is knowing from personal experience that the God I serve will meet you where you are in order to get you where you need to be.” Personal experience being the key words, I never said it was in the bible. I feel that your approach and support on this book is geared towards the conviction of those readers that are familiar with the non-fictional God and the teachings of the bible, not those that are not. You are responding to the many posts with comments that mature believers should know better…AND WE SHOULD…keeping in mind that this is a FICTIONAL story. To the readers that don’t know God, your wording and way of explaining your point of view, in my opinion, is a turn off because you’re speaking as if THEY should know better…AND THEY SHOULDN’T if they have no clue who the Trinity is and its representation. If the book spoke about a blue fish, would it make this story any more non-fictional? Of course not considering there is a such thing a blue fish in real life. If a person is interested in learning more about blue fish and what it can do, they can go to the source in which the non-fictional information is provided. Until then, the reader shouldn’t be discouraged to read and have a greater liking to the fish simply because the story says the fish can walk and we know in real life that it doesn’t….IT’S FICTIONAL!

11 M Burke June 16, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Michelle,

You should listen to the author’s own words on the subject. While yes, it was a work of fiction, he seems to believe it to be a helpful devotional… We believe that the gods of other religions are also fictional, but people pray to them just the same.

12 Simple Mann June 18, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Michelle,

You wrote that God “approaches us based on how we’re able to understand it at that moment. After that, we are held accountable to study to show ourselves approved.”

Like how God approached Abraham, Moses, Noah, Job, Isaiah, Hosea, Mary, Zechariah, Paul, the Twelve, and so on?

🙂

13 Simple Mann June 19, 2010 at 1:07 am

I just came across an article where William Paul Young talks about how The Shack changed his life. The article is entitled, “‘The Shack’ author William Paul Young tells how book changed his life”. (Couldn’t help but note the irony here since, as others have mentioned there are many that have claimed their lives have been changed as a result of this book. I’ve already commented on that previously, so won’t do that again.

One of the things that bothers me about this book, in addition to the theology of it, is the manner in which it is presented. First, there is the putting of words into the mouth of God that God has never said. It is one thing to talk about God and to talk about what God has said. And there was definitely a place for the prophet, men to whom God gave his very words to speak. But it is quite another thing entirely to make a “god” to “speak” the words you really want to say. It seems to me that here William Paul Young has turned the gift of prophecy completely on its head.

The second thing that really bothers me is the complete disregard of the second and third and fourth commandments in portraying the invisible God, in the likeness of a man… or in this case, a large, jovial black woman as Yahweh and a young, attractive Asian woman as the Holy Spirit. And should this book be made into a movie, these commandments will only be more perverted by having real actors in those roles. I’m sorry, but that just repulses me.

In fact, that’s what led me to the quote by Young I’m about to share. I actually did a google search to see if The Shack was indeed going to be made into a movie, and it appears that it probably will. At the beginning of the article, though, is a quote that I think underscores in Young’s own words the total lack of reverence I sense in his book about the character and person of God. This is the very beginning of the article:

When the author of “The Shack” travels the world to talk about his mega-selling novel, the emotional and spiritual depths of responses he gets from audiences make him feel as though he were listening to God.

“When people ask me what I do, I tell them I hang around burning bushes all day,” William Paul Young said, referring to the biblical story of how God spoke to Moses from a burning bush.

Now, is it just me? Or is Young totally undermining the glory and majesty of God here, making men like God and God like men? This seems to be his theology, and it is one that I just cannot stomach.

14 Michelle Reynolds June 20, 2010 at 10:01 am

Simple Mann,

In response to your question to me regarding the many that God approached from Abraham on through the many generations listed in the bible, my answer is absolutely yes :-). As noted in the bible, the people that God presented Himself to had in one way or another, deep beliefs and / or personal relationships with Him. I don’t think today God would approach us as He did in the Old Testament in ways such as speaking through a burning bush. Not because He can’t, but simply because of the level of relationships we have with Him in this present century. There were specific purposes in God approaching the many and they were given specific directions….in most cases, for the sake of others. In studying and meditating on the words in the bible, one can see the transformations that took place by the obedience of them that followed the instructions that they were given. We as believers of instances in the bible that could very well appear fictional to some, begin to take on inner changes and emotional revelations with the hopes that God will “show” Himself to us in a way that we’re able to discern Him in spirit and in truth and not as a “fence post” as you referenced in one of your previous comments.

The bible which you and Mark have so purposefully drawn scriptures from is an account, for those who choose to believe, of true and documented events and descriptions of the Holy Trinity operating as one or separate entities in the lives of many, many people. As much as I respect your ability to draw those scriptural addresses for such a purpose as this, I see A LOT of it displayed in a manner that we as Christians and not just believers in God or a “higher power” don’t see it as nor follow it to be. We walk by faith and not by sight, so what may not be seen by the skeptic or non believer does not void out the fact that it happened just because they didn’t see it or that it doesn’t have an address in the bible. God didn’t stop coming into the lives of others because the pages in the bible ended.

The writer and readers of The Shack should be allowed to feel whatever they want while reading the book without judgment. So what if they were drawn closer to God by it? The bottom line is they will be held accountable for their actions and worship based on the Trinity as it is in the BOOK being the bible and not the book being The Shack. The need to make FICTIONAL writing synonymous with NON-FICTIONAL writing is a non ending journey keeping in mind that one is required to list and support FACTS and the other is NOT. In reading Clifford, the Big Red Dog to my daughter the other night, I noticed profound inaccuracies about the Bloodhound described in the book. The beauty is, she really enjoyed the story and the visualizations worked well, BUT, this particular breed of dogs that are in the homes of and loved by many families is not red and will not grow larger than your house in about two days. If a person buys one without learning of the breed first under the impression that’s what’s going to happen to theirs…well shame on them because the wealth of information is out there. Same applies to the writer and readers of The Shack. I would like to end this loooong comment with your own words from a previous post because it’s true, very well worded and supports what I’ve been consistently trying to convey in all my comments, “And if we say we believe in Jesus, but we have not received a new heart that longs for the Truth we find in Him and in His Word–if, in fact, there has been no regenerating work in our hearts to draw us like moths to a porch-light–then may our eyes be opened to the Truth of our error and may all our false notions fall away.”

15 Simple Mann June 21, 2010 at 10:25 am

Michelle,

I appreciate your thoughtful and respectful reply. Very much. And I hope that I can respectfully disagree with you. I am sure if you overheard your daughter arguing with someone who owns a bloodhound that they do not really have a bloodhound because it does not look anything like Clifford, you might feel it is time to take her aside and explain some things about the real breed and the dog in the book, and why and how they aren’t the same. 🙂

Having said that, I simply do not see any evidence from the Scripture that leads me to believe that God is going to reveal Himself today like Aunt Jemimah whipping up pancakes in someone’s kitchen rather than the holy and terrifying Lord of Creation who commands respect. My point is this – God did not approach the people that are on record in the Bible by “meeting them were they were”, but rather He obliterated where they were and brought them to their knees with His awesome presence. These people were terrified before Him, which seems to be a natural response (“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” -Proverbs 1:7).

Consider this perhaps somewhat poor illustration. Imagine you are an ordinary civilian in Iraq or Afghanistan — not a soldier or militant, but someone who was sympathetic to your leaders and you were opposed to the efforts of the American government and US forces deployed in your country. Although you are not a terrorist or involved in the militia efforts to overthrow the “enemy forces”, you have several brothers who are and you have provided them with information from time to time to help them in their efforts. You are just going on about your business one day when a team of US soldiers kicks down your door, overpowers you and takes you into custody. They take you to a base where you are surrounded by soldiers, armed with automatic weapons, and there is a high ranking officer standing before you with a whole lot of knowledge about who you are, who you know, what you know, and what you’ve done. He is asking you a whole lot of questions that you’re terrified to answer. Are you scared? If you say no, you’re lying.

Although I know this is not the best analogy, this I think is far closer to what a sinner experiences when the Living God that he is in open rebellion against “approaches” him. When God reveals Himself to a sinner, it isn’t like some large, jovial grandma archetype showing up to whip up some pancakes. It is like the leader of the enemy forces showing up and exposing you for who you really are. Now I understand, that is not the God most people want, but that is because most people are in the camp that rejects that God. People want a god who will approach them on their terms, not on HIS terms. Who will meet them where they are, reward them for who they are, and let them continue to be who they are. But I just don’t see this god in Scripture. I do see this god all over The Shack, though.

I have also heard several people claim that The Shack changed their lives. I even asked in a very pro-Shack forum a couple of years ago for testimonies about their changed lives. I wanted to know how reading The Shack had turned them from their sins and what specific sins they had repented of. ZERO response. Now, I am a simple man. This is the conclusion I have come to. Although I’m sure there can be exceptions, for the most part most people have had their *minds* changed *about* God as a result of reading The Shack, but not had their *lives* changed *by* God.

Incidentally, I found out just a couple of weeks ago that the woman who sent this book to my wife two summers ago–along with a note about how the book had changed her life–recently left her second husband (a truly decent and godly man) to pursue some high school sweetheart she ran into at her last class reunion. Curiously, that was the exact same reason she left her first husband and married the second (before he was converted).

The reason that I even bring this up is because I think it is relevant. I think many people read The Shack and it resonates with them because it presents God in a way that removes His fearsomeness. And that’s because–in The Shack–“she” is powerless. This completely undermines His character, and the God in The Shack is definitely not the God of the Tabernacle in the Bible.

My hypothesis is this: people who say their lives have been changed by The Shack have only had their minds changed about God. Their lives haven’t changed; their mind has. Their conscience has been appeased. And they like that. “I’m okay, you’re okay.” But I fear that there is a great danger for the people who find their comfort in a god like the one that is found in The Shack… and who continue to live a life of rebellion and unrepentance toward the one true God who is found in the Bible.

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)

I know this is a really long post, and I will try to wrap this up. Obviously, I do feel that God is misrepresented in The Shack, and that people’s minds might end up being changed by reading this book, but their lives probably won’t. The real problem with this book as I see it, being that is a book that is written (fiction or not) to be a theological statement — that is, to offer people a way of understanding God, and specifically the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — it does not bring anyone closer to the SAVING God of Scripture. Please tell me where in this book I can find the real truth about sin, the Cross and the atoning blood of Christ. It simply isn’t there. The God who pours out wrath on sin is absent from the book, as is the sacrifice and atoning work of the Cross, which nullifies the true need for a true Savior. Without these things, there is no real hope of peace with God. Don’t take me to a doctor who, when I am rife with cancer, tells me all is well. It is the sick who have need of a physician… but if they don’t they are sick, they will never make an appointment. And in the words of Paul the Apostle, we preach Christ crucified:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Blessings!
Simple Mann

16 Simple Mann June 21, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Type O positive – I meant to say It is the sick who have need of a physician… but if they don’t KNOW they are sick, they will never make an appointment.

Thanks!

17 Michelle Reynolds June 21, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Hi Simple Mann,

I am going to finalize my comments in this post. All that I have read from the previous postings have been very well thought out, interesting and supportive points. Although I don’t’ agree with most of what you’re conveying, I understand where you’re coming from and I see the need in your intent to veer readers in a different direction.

My argument is and will continue to be after all that has been researched, “scriptured” for lack of a better word, and provided…this is a fictional book. The definition of a fiction (The Shack) is an imaginative creation or a pretense that DOES NOT represent actuality but has been invented. The “Aunt Jemima making pancakes” that you in my opinion, stereotyped and disrespectfully referenced twice is the act of inventing such a creation. Non-fiction (the bible) on the other hand is an account or representation of a subject which is presented as fact. If the definitions are opposite to one another, then why are the two books that we continue to speak of required to be synonymous? The Shack cannot take the place of the bible; I don’t care what the simulations are. And in that same tone, if the bible as great as it is can’t stop a person from sinning simply by a person reading it, The Shack DEFINITELY shouldn’t be expected to. You speak as though you are not only a simple man, but also a man without sin. I’ve only heard of one that walked the earth who without sin and that was 2000 years ago!

In closing, If God showed up at either of our doors today, out of fear we would drop to the floor…either trembling like cowards or worshiping His holy Presence. Our reaction would be based on what one has only read and argued about Him OR what was read, studied, felt and personally experienced through His Spirit that remains with us everyday; not just showing up out of the blue. If God showed up in the lives of us who were born in sin and shaped in inequity every time a commandment was broken as you seem to think He would, the earth as we know it would be completely wiped out. We are given the free will to follow God, He doesn’t MAKE us by forcefully bursting into our face like lightening when we fall short. Because of His grace and mercy, he approaches us at times with His gentleness in order to bring us into His courts. If and when He does approach us in whatever manner He chooses whether by ways documented in the bible or personally witnessed, we are expected to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our evil and wicked ways in order to be heard and be forgiven for our sins. The Shack didn’t represent God in a manner that implied it was okay to CONTINUE to sin. Mack was met where he was because clearly he didn’t realize he was lost or “sick” so therefore was not headed in the direction of God on his own. He was fictionally approached by this trinity and offered an opportunity to enter into a personal relationship. In this case, “the physicians” came to him in order to help heal his sickness. If we continue to describe the Physician as a pain inflicting maniac, the sick will die off without a chance of knowing His tender mercy and loving need to heal. It is both the sick AND the healthy that need a physician…one to BECOME healthy and the other to STAY healthy. Healing is day to day progression because wounds re-open just as temptations continue to lure in the easily broken. This has been a healthy discussion and I pray God as I know Him will continue to rightly divide the word of truth by using us and others to bring for the Good News!

18 Simple Mann June 21, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Hello again – thanks again for your reply. I know you’ve said all you intend to say. I just want to respond to a couple of points. You said, “You speak as though you are not only a simple man, but also a man without sin.

I can assure you I am not a man without sin. My life resonates with the words of the Apostle, “Who will free me from this body of death!?”. I am a man who daily and desperately needs a Savior. And I truly believe that there are many others who need Him as well, but who because of the hardness and deception of their own hearts refuse to turn to Him.

I would like to share a little bit of my testimony with you. I was 27 years old when God opened my eyes to the truth of sin and salvation. up to the point, I wandered the roads of atheism, agnosticism, mysticism, esotericism, and the occult. I was lost… blind… dead. I was convinced in my own mind that I was seeking God and discovering “truth” all the while I was rebelling against Him. I mocked the God who would save me, scorned the Word of God, thinking myself wise, and I persecuted the bride of Christ if not outright and openly, certainly privately with every fiber of my being. I wrote “I am not the AntiChrist, just an AntiChristian” in a journal entry just two weeks before God miraculously brought me to my knees, shaking violently and weeping harder than I’ve ever wept in my life when He miraculously opened my eyes to the truth of my sin and my need for a Savior. The man who witnessed to me the day God gave me a new heart was a struggling sinner, too… a gay Satanist hairdresser who, while still struggling with his own sin, pulled no punches in sharing the gospel with me. He didn’t sugarcoat the truth about sin or that there is only one name under Heaven by which we must be saved. He spoke the truth to me unwaveringly and hours later I was brought to my knees in a heap, an experience I am still amazed by today. I can tell you with complete honesty that I do not deserve the gift I have been given. I wasn’t seeking a Savior. I was a relativist who didn’t even believe in sin. There’s no way I would have embraced Christ if the Holy Spirit hadn’t CRUSHED my heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh. I can truly say that salvation is ALL of God, but there was nothing in me that was “seeking” what I found. And yes, my first encounter with the real Living God did put me on my face before Him. There was nothing in me that wanted to go to the Cross. It was GOD who took me there!

Do I expect everyone’s experience to be like mine? Of course not. Clearly, many will walk a different path TO THE CROSS, but here’s my concern–if someone does not end up at the Cross at some point, broken before our crucified King, conscience of their own sin who put Him there, I genuinely fear for their soul. And because I walked a long time and a long way down a road of rebellion–all the while clearly rejecting the God of the Bible and yet convinced in my own mind that I loved the “true God”–I have real and grave concerns for the lost who think they are saved. Because of the road I’ve traveled, I am especially sensitive to those who preach or teach “another gospel” — one without a cross, one that brings God down and lifts man up, that makes light of or avoids our sin. Any “path to God” that diminishes our sin diminishes our Savior and His saving work. So, while I do understand and appreciate your defense of this book, please understand that my offense at what is taught in it is because I really believe it is leading people away from the truth. I would have probably loved this book 11 years ago… and still hated the church, the very inheritance of God. That is hard for me to say, but I know it’s true.

You also said, “If God showed up in the lives of us who were born in sin and shaped in inequity every time a commandment was broken as you seem to think He would, the earth as we know it would be completely wiped out. We are given the free will to follow God, He doesn’t MAKE us by forcefully bursting into our face like lightening when we fall short. “

I am not real sure what you were responding to or what you understood me to say. I do not recall making any kind of statement to that effect, although I am guessing it was with regards to my rather poor analogy of the soldiers and the militants since you reference a “pain inflicting maniac”. I told you when I wrote it that it was a poor analogy. It wasn’t intended to portray the office and function of the Holy Spirit, but the natural reaction of the sinner when the true gospel is presented. It is an offense! No one wants to be captured by the enemy, nor do they want to find out that they are the true enemy, the one who is in the wrong. If I somehow insinuated that God was going to throw bolts of lightening in your face every time you sinned, then I failed terribly to communicate my point. Please forgive me. That is not what I think at all. Indeed, it is quite the opposite… I think far too often we sin and are completely oblivious to it. Or even worse, we make excuses and attempt to “justify” our own sins that we fail to see our great need for Jesus. But what you were right in what you said… there will be a day where we stand before God–all of us: sheep and goats. Nothing will be hidden from Him, nor will He be hidden from us. And as you said, in that day the earth will be completely wiped out… there will be a new heaven and a new earth. And the glory of His presence will be restored as it was before this earth was tainted by our sin in the Fall.

Peace & Blessings ~
Simple Mann

19 Michelle Reynolds June 23, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Simple Mann,

I just wanted to respond to your last post by saying how phenomenal your testimony is and how really moved I am by your sharing it. I hope through ALL of our back and forth, that someone will read IT and be encouraged by a non-fictional testament 🙂 This exemplifies what I have been trying to remain consistent with in my posts, “That God will meet you where you are at that particular time to get you to the point He wants and needs you to be.” Regardless of the package the message is delivered in, God can use anyone one and anything to speak and change people, situations and circumstances.

God bless you!!

20 Providential1611 December 18, 2010 at 10:16 pm

This book is heretical blasphemy. But the deception within it, the Satanic anointing is clearly seen in all the people being duped by it, and how they dismiss the grievous misrepresentations of the Holy One with excuses about how they knew it wasn’t a systematic theology and the like. So what? To even suggest the triune God would appear in three human forms, two being WOMEN with New Age Eastern names is blasphemy right there! Go no further!

Paul Young is a Universalist. He is not sound. His book can’t really “help” anyone unless LIES help people. Jesus Christ the Lord said we must worship the Father in spirit and IN TRUTH. The Father seeks such to worship Him. Therefore, people are have experiences with lying, deceiving spirits-1Tim 4:1-3, 2Thess 2:8-13.

21 Bill Brown December 30, 2010 at 1:04 am

Well, well, if it isn’t the loud-mouthed Pharisee and King of Condemnation, Ante Nedlko Pavkovic of Operation (En)Slave America. This pompous hypocrite has made quite the infantile name the past decade (that’s Prov1611 fwiw), talking out his colon & condemning anyone to Hell whom he hates, which is pretty much everybody. Simply click my website for documentation of his lies & hypocrisy. Maybe lame-brain needs to remember when he points his hypocritical finger of judgement at others there are 3 pointing back. What a lying sack of dung.

22 Goradana March 18, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I am disapointed :((( All the time i thought that this is a real story,i thought this happend,and i was so happy when i read it. I now i find out that is a fiction…but he has made up friend and his life an the beganing of the story and in the end he has wrote about him,an his WHOLE life….how can this be possible?how can he made up some things like this…i’m sooooo saad :((

🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁

23 Goradana March 18, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I am disapointed :((( All the time i thought that this is a real story,i thought this happend,and i was so happy when i read it. I now i find out that is a fiction…but he has made up friend and his life an the beganing of the story and in the end he has wrote about him,an his WHOLE life….how can this be possible?how can he made up some things like this…i\’m sooooo saad :((

🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁

24 Providential1611 July 31, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Why thanks Billie. You are so Christlike in your attitude and vocabulary. Stalking me on the internet, as usual, looking for anywhere I might post so you can come in, slander and lie and poison the waters. How pathetic your life must be.

Notice Bille has nothing to say about Young’s book–because I am his intended target.

Anyone can see that I condemned NO ONE in particular. Paul Young indicated he is a universalist of sorts when he came and spoke near where I live. Also, Biblically informed and enlightened people who have read his book KNOW that what is contained therein is serious error and blasphemous. I am discussing what the man believes and what he wrote.

So go ahead and keep frothing out your hateful lies Billie. Its all you have in life. Your profession of Christianity is a sad joke. You are about as Christian as a screaming Muslim Jihadist. You sound just like one.

.

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