Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Shack

So many people I know have read The Shack, but I'm opting not to because I can't get past the blasphemous depiction of the Trinity. I've heard people say, "It's only a fictional book", as if that makes it all okay. I've also had a friend tell me recently that reading it "changed her life". Which is it? A harmless work of fiction, or a palatable twisting of truth?

Here's a good review Kevin found that I want to share.

If you do choose to read the book, be like the Bereans:

these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11


Anonymous said...

I don't want to read it, either, for the same reason as you. In my opinion, someone who is grounded in their theology (like the Bereans), wouldn't be harmed by it, but someone who is confused about their theology could be led astray. Rightly dividing God's Word can lead a person closer to God, so why ignore truth and try to find it in fiction? Many lack a confession of what they believe about God's Word, and in my opinion seek solace in things such as The Shack.

Franck Barfety said...

Weird. A customer gave me this book a few weeks ago. Will have to read it to see what the fuss is about.

Chris said...

Hi Candice, I've put my reply into a blog post of my own which I hope you'll read and comment on - either in your blog or as a comment on my blog. Thanks!

Chris said...

Erm... The link in my comment didn't work! Sorry.

Here's another attempt to link to my blog post.

Candice said...

Hi, Chris. I'll respond to your post here and paste onto your blog, too.

My husband and I enjoy movies, and we are really grateful for movie-reviewing sites that give you an overview from a Christian perspective. Yes, you can always exercise your right to use the remote, but it's really nice to not have to waste time/money on an unredeeming movie or accidentally see what you don't want to see or hear what you don't need to hear on your way to retrieve the remote. I don't feel like I have to sit through two hours of yuck to have an opinion that it's yuck. If you want a book analogy, I don't read Joel Osteen books because I've heard and read the kind of stuff they contain, and so, why would I read them? This is basically why I'm not reading this particular book. (Not to mention, having six kids forces you to be choosy about what you put on your nightstand! Time is short!)

Because the response to The Shack is so powerful, there must be something very impacting and beautiful about the story. I have no doubt that there are good elements and themes contained in it. I just can't (won't) get past the problems I've read that the book contains. In my opinion, when a book (however subtly) denigrates the holiness of God and His Word, it's not fitting for me to think on.

Another great review from someone I respect is found on Search the book title and you'll find it.

Thanks for your comment and for the respectful tone you've exercised.

Chris said...

I'll do the same.

Thanks for your reply, Candice. I've taken a quick look at Tim Challies' review of 'The Shack' (mentioned in your comment above). Obviously I haven't read it thoroughly yet but already he's expressed some views on the nature of revelation that seem to me to be fundamentally flawed.

As soon as I can I'll post another item on my blog about that. I'll let you know when it's done in case you have further comments to make. But in the end it may be that you and I will have to agree to disagree. If so, it will surely be with mutual respect and good grace.

Thanks again,


Anonymous said...

Check out the interview (link below) with author Young here. He's a clear modalist, and so is very very confused about the Trinity. Young also flatly denies substitutionary atonement.

Listen and you'll hear just how out front about it he is. He even contradicts himself from one minute to the other at one point in the interview. I think it's around the 17 to 24 minute mark if you're impatient. The interviewer is very gracious, but Young is pretty fringy, imho. Here's the link:

Many people who attend churches today are modalists without realizing it and The Shack furthers that error: Understanding the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit to be three modes or forms of ONE divine person.

The correct teaching of the Trinity is one God in THREE eternal coexistent persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

William P. Young's modalism throughout this work of "fiction" is not the orthodox biblical doctrine of the Trinity that Athanasius fought so hard to protect in the 4th Century and is just ~one~ of many serious problems we should have with this book ... whether it's beautifully written or not.

- Boyd

Candice said...

Boyd, thanks for the link. That's the first time I've heard an interview with William Young. All I can say is....Wow. I'm confused. How scary that this man is shaping people's views of the gospel, instead of the Holy Scriptures.

Ann said...

Candice I'm with you on this one. I have intentionally not read it for a number of reasons. What really nailed it for me though was watching and interview with the author on the Today show when they hype surrounding the book was at it's peak. His response to theological questions was enough for me to know I did not want to entangle my mind with it.

I feel similarly about the Twilight series that is circulating so wildly now. While certainly not professing to be books about faith, they are powerful stories. I have found even my fellow Christian moms and daughters drawn into a love affair that requires a young girl to give up her salvation. Not quite the message I want to share with my daughters.

I applaud your willingness to stand firm when it is easier by far to be silent on these types of issues.

Anonymous said...

Candice - You bring up the 'material' point - SOLA SCRIPTURA ... ! It is by scripture ALONE that we are to be ultimately informed about God's character, our sin, His son and our redemption.

Another comment (about The Shack) that comes to mind is, "I don't have to drink the whole gallon of milk to know it's sour".

On a serious note, though, people are drawn to The Shack because it attempts to answer the thorny question of Theodicy - "How does a loving God tolerate evil in this world?". I'd submit there are much better sources than this book to aid in that study, such as from John MacArthur (Grace to You) or R.C. Sproul (Ligonier).

But people read this book (and books like it) because it plays to their emotions and romances (and deconstructs) their (previously-held) ideas about God.

Young clearly takes a neo-gnostic approach - one that deflects accountability for sin and evil and asks us to look *within* ourselves to imagine a God we can shape and control vs. looking *outside* ourselves to a God that is Holy and not altogether "safe" (to pull a C.S. Lewis reference about Aslan). The God of Gnosticism is not the one about whom Isaiah said, "Woe is me, for I am undone!" (Is. 6:5); or Peter, "Depart from me I am a sinful man" (Luke 5:8).

Two more links:

Blogger Stephen Yuille reviews The Shack

His summary:

The Shack is

- irreverent in its description of God
- flawed in its formulation of theodicy
- cynical in its depiction of the church
- ambiguous in its articulation of theology

Finally, here’s Al Mohler’s radio show (5-26-2008) on The Shack: