The Shack: A Limited Review

by John E. Werhan
shackbook.jpgOf recent, several people have asked me to comment on William P. Young’s book “The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity”. Because of these requests, I decided to invest the time to read the book and give a few thoughts on its contents.
The first and foremost thing one must understand about this book is that it is fiction (made up by men/not real or within the realm of reality). This book is not a theological thesis on the truth found within the inspired word of God but a story that should encourage those who are hurting and struggling with life’s difficulties to seek comfort from God.
From my research, it is evident that different people get different things from this book. From the wide view of seeking comfort from God — to changing Christianity to fit their own perceived needs and desires. There are even some who are forming a new concept of Christianity around their personal understanding of this book.
This is where the danger lies. This book is so emotionally captivating that the theological content can be absorbed without one thinking about it. Because of this danger, I will note just a few of the theological concerns found in this book.
Please, get your Bible and study the passages noted in this listing. It would take another book to deal with the theological fallacies found in “The Shack.”
Page 31 teaches that the God of heaven is the same as “the Great Spirit of the Native American” religion (Study: Ephesians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Exodus 20:30).
Page 65 the author promotes the idea of modern revelation and that the Bible is not the complete revelation of God (Study: Jude 3; 2 Timothy 1:13).
Page 102 the false doctrine of Patripassionism is taught when the author notes that God the Father suffered on the cross with Jesus the Son (Study: 2 Peter 2:22-25; 1 Timothy 2:5-6).
Page 110 teaches that Jesus is not the only way to salvation but the “best” way, noting the author’s postmodern understanding of salvation (Study: John 14:6; 10:9; 11:25).
Also, within the pages of this book the author suggests that non-Christians will be saved (p. 182) (Study: 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). He says that God does not punish sins (pp. 119-20) (Study: Revelation 20:10-15; 21:8).
The author goes so far to promote that God has already forgiven everyone’s sins and only desires a relationship with them (p. 225). The list goes on and on of the unscriptural and apostate teachings found within the pages of this book.
This book is powerful, emotional, and attractive and a good read if kept in the realm of fiction! The problem arises when people trade such a work of fiction for the inspired word of God. I enjoyed reading the book from the wide view but the apostate theology found within the pages is of great concern. Let us all remember the words of John:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world (1 John 4:1-3).


John preachers for the The Northeast church of Christ in Sentinel, Oklahoma.

6 Replies to “The Shack: A Limited Review”

  1. Hi John,
    I haven’t read this book, and have no desire to, but I too had heard of other’s comments. I appreciate very much your taking the time to spell it out!
    Love you,
    Don Wood & Family

  2. John,
    I read this book this summer and agree with all your comments. I found it to be highly emotional (playing on every parent’s worst fear)and interesting. Having a solid foothold in the Bible certainly helps to sort out things, but the book did make me think about things and that thinking is always productive for me. It led me to a better understanding (after studying deeper) of Free Will. It is too bad that people will take this work of fiction as “gospel” and run with it. If only these folks would put the same energy into reading the Bible…
    Thanks again for taking the time to review.

  3. I found your review rather perplexing. How can one say this is a ‘good read’ and then point out all that is wrong with it? I started the book last year, and finally decided it was not worth reading. Personally, I found it too full of misleading ideas.
    Not a book I would recommend to anyone.

  4. A novelist can write a compelling, interesting story and it can contain material that you disagree with. The skill with which it is written and the arguments presented are two different things.
    Thanks for reading Forthright, Denise.

  5. I agree with the theological problems listed and others, but it isn’t only a good story with bad theology.
    I was challenged to not allow my relationship with God and Jesus to be solely about rules. A concept of Christianity as rules, or I obey Him and He blesses me like a business contract without relationship is just as bogus as a relationship with God trying to avoid/deny/disobey the rules.
    We are often afraid of emotions and intimacy with God, and prefer a good Bible study on Him.

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