Below is a reprint of a book review I did of The Shack a few months ago. I am reposting here today because I've noticed several folks finding my blog by a Google search using the search terms "Review of the Shack". If this review causes one person to decide NOT to read the book, I will feel that I have done my job.
One time, while watching an NFL preview show on HBO, I saw a comedian named Wanda Sykes do a short monologue on one of the games for the upcoming weekend. She said, “I have never been to Cincinnati, and I don’t ever plan on going, so I can say this with complete boldness—the Bengal’s stink”. I suppose that I would have to say the same thing about the pile of tripe that is The Shack. I am never going to meet the author and I am never going to read the book. However, I feel totally comfortable saying that I regret calling The Shack garbage in my previous post where I reprinted a review of the book. That was not the right thing to call it. I was wrong to call it that.
Calling it garbage was being far too generous. If I have garbage in my house, I can wait until the next day or so to take it to the dump (we have no city trash collection service, go fig). If my children walked into the room where we keep the trash till we’re ready to take it to the dump I’d be like “Come on, now. Get out of there.” If I found a copy of The Shack in my home I would probably burn the place down. If my children got their hands on the wretched thing I’d get industrial strength hand cleaner to wash their hands with. You know, the kind mechanics use after they’ve worked in grease. I mean, the things this man writes in this book go so far beyond heresy that it’s hard to believe that he actually wrote them. I’m not saying he’s not a Christian, or that he’s a bad husband or father. Heck, as far as I know he may be the Michael Jordan of the bar-b-que grill and give 10 hours a day volunteering at the local charity. But his book makes the Purpose Drivel Life (that was not a misspelling, I meant for it to look like that) look like Matthew Henry’s Commentary. I am going to take just a few quotes from the book and give page numbers. If you can in good conscience read the book after you see what’s in it, well, just make sure you don’t leave your copy on my doorstep when you’re done. I’d rather not have to take a jackhammer to my front porch because it had been polluted with that filth.
On page 120, the character who is written to represent God, a woman called Papa, says “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.” Huh? Do what? God doesn’t need to punish people for their sin? Ok, I must really need new glasses because the Bible I read says in Psalm 1 that the wicked will not be able to stand in the judgment of Almighty God but instead will be blown around like chaff. In Matthew 7, Jesus says that some people who thought they were all religious will be told to depart from Him because He never knew them. Time and time again He mentions that those folks will be in eternal punishment “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. The book of Revelation spells it out even clearer. In chapter 20 verse 15, it says anyone who is not found with their names written in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire. This fire, it says in that chapter, brings torment forever and ever. While it is true that God provided the perfect cure for sin on Calvary in the vicarious substitutionary death of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is also true that God punishes sin. Therefore, what is written in The Shack contradicts clear biblical teaching. Regardless of any good anyone might find in there, reading the book is not worth it. I mean, who would look in a pile of cow manure to find a diamond. Boy, if I was going to do that, it would have to be a really big diamond.
Oh, but wait—there’s more. On page 182, the character meant to represent Jesus says “Those who love me come from every stream that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don't vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions”. Mack asks for clarification. “Does that mean...that all roads will lead to you?” “'Not at all,' smiled Jesus...'Most roads don't lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you'”. Jesus then goes on to say “I am the best way any human can relate to Papa or Sarayu (the character who plays the Holy Spirit).” Here is the problem with these two quotes. The first might not be something that would make you go “Eek” upon first reading. I believe God can save anyone anywhere. You don’t have to be a part of the right group to be saved. Could God save a Mormon? No doubt if that Mormon confessed with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in their heart God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9). I mean, they’d need to get out of their LDS cult and all because you can’t be a Christian and stay there. That’s a rabbit trail for another sunny day. However, what the character doesn’t do is say that there is only one way to heaven. In fact, the next quote from the character playing Jesus says “I am the BEST way any human can relate” (emphasis mine) to God. “Best” isn’t exclusive folks. When I’m at work, I have quite a bit of control over how I do my work. There are times where, when I have finished an assignment, that my supervisor will review it and say “Let’s do this”. Sometimes I find that what I did was good but their way was better. There may be a way to do the task even better than what my supervisor had suggested and that way might be best. So, if Jesus is the BEST way that suggests by the very way that it was worded that there are other ways that are not as good but would still do the job. Saying Jesus is the BEST way is a far cry from saying He is the ONLY way, which is what the Bible teaches.
Oh, but lest you think I’m finished, check out this little nugget from the author. On page 99, the character who is supposed to be God says “When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human. We also chose to embrace all the limitations that this entailed. Even though we have always been present in this created universe, we now became flesh and blood”. Dear reader, God the Father did not take on flesh and dwell among us. That was God the Son-the Word of God (John 1:14). Nor did the third person of the Trinity take on flesh—I mean, He’s called the Holy Spirit, right? Further, Jesus says in John 4:24 that God is a Spirit. Again, what we see is the clear distinction between the heresy written in The Shack and the truth written in God’s word.
In the end, you and I have to make a choice. Where do we stand? Do we stand with what Scripture plainly teaches or do we allow ourselves to entertain thoughts that obviously contradict scripture. My prayer is that you will decide to fill your mind with things that edify you and build you up as a believer. The garbage that is between the covers of the Shack will do neither.