Excerpts from

A critique of The Shack



By Julie Klassen -- January 4, 2008




Emphasis added in bold letters below



""This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress' did for his. It's that good!"  Eugene Peterson, author of The Message (Front cover endorsement)

I bought and read The Shack a few days ago on the emotional recommendation of a friend who admitted that while he was not an avid reader this book moved him to tears.

The Shack is a book written by William Young that is flying off the store shelves. People are buying a copy, then coming back to buying several more to pass out to family or friends. The emotional reaction triggered by The Shack seems almost unprecedented and the book is enthusiastically endorsed by Christian bookstore staff as THE book to read !

But wait !!

I don’t know if you have read the book yet or not… if not, it is only a matter of time before someone hands you a copy or encourages you to run out and buy your own....

We are called to be discerners of good and evil, of truth and error. We are called to test all things and to be on guard.
“Prove (test , examine) all things.. hold fast that which is good !” (I Thess. 5:21)

And we are warned that we need to be even more on guard as the end approaches when "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables...." ( II Tim. 4:3,4)

These are frightening words and should stir us up to be doubly careful and take to heart the admonition following in verse 5.."But you be watchful in all things"!!

Is this book what it is hailed to be? A book on par with John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress -- or is there something dangerously deceptive lurking in its pages?

Have you questioned what you read in light of scripture ?

To be honest - I am very troubled by the book…. not because there is nothing good in it …the best deception has the MOST truth in it…. but because the foundation on which the truth is laid is not the same as the foundation we find in the pages of our bibles.

Is God ever pictured to be like a large black woman in an apron swaying to funk music?

No, of course not…and I know the defenders of the book will be quick to say that the author was employing his analogy to break people loose from a false preconceived idea of who God is....


So also - to present a God so contrary to the God of our scripture is not setting anyone on a solid rock.

The Papa of the Shack is God stripped of His majesty, His glory, His Holiness. I personally am not attracted to the playful, at times silly god of The Shack, the god that would laughingly feed his child a dish of greens that would make him sick.

The God I know is Holy and Righteous and One to whom I gladly bow my knee… but how I love Him, knowing that He is my Father and I know I can run to Him any time , sit at His feet with my head on His knee and listen to His amazing Words of truth and comfort.
".... and Holy is His name!" (Luke 1:49)

The god of The Shack winks at sin and the consequences of sin, reassuring Mack that there is not one child of her’s that she will send to hell…but all will be brought into relationship with her in the end. And then she shows Mack that his abusive, cruel father who died in a drunken stupor after drinking his poisoned liquor -- is indeed enjoying the delights of heaven.

“Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor DRUNKARDS, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (I Cor. 6:10)

The Shack also takes license to change the Words of scripture. When Mack accuses Papa of deserting Jesus at the cross, Papa reassures Mack that this was not so. She insists that at no point did Papa ever turn away from Jesus on the cross but was there with Him the whole time. Really? What does William Young know that Jesus did not?

“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” is Jesus cry from the cross. (Matt.27:46)

Papa also teaches Mack that she does not require anything of him other than relationship. She has no intentions of turning any one into a Christian. Expectations and responsibilities are only part of a dead relationship …be it between you and God or in a marriage relationship.

Consider, my friend! Think of your best relationship…be it marriage or friendship. Is it free of expectations or responsibilities? Does a wife not expect certain things of her husband? I know I do .. I expect my husband to be faithful to his marriage vows “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health” , I expect him to care for me, I expect him to react in certain ways in certain circumstances .. I expect him to be true to how I know him to be., I expect him to be home for dinner. … And yes , he has responsibilities as well. It is his responsibility to make sure our vehicles are in good repair, his responsibility to fix whatever goes wrong in the house, his responsibility to take out the garbage.

What Young seems to have overlooked is that expectations and responsibilities are not wrong in themselves… they can become bondage only when the LOVE dies in a relationship. Where love is strong, expectations and responsibilities are fulfilled with joy!

“You are my friends, IF you do whatsoever I command you !” (John 15:14)
"He that says, I know Him, and keeps not His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in Him." (I John 2:4)

In the writing of The Shack, William Young employs a couple of clever literary tactics.
A foreword of a book is usually written by someone other than the author for the purpose of introducing the author and speaking for his credibility. Young writes his own foreword to introduce and give credibility to the main character of his story, going so far as to explain why he himself is part of the story. Because a foreword is expected to be factual, I know of several people who were convinced that this book was the real experience of a real person....

If this book was meant to be nothing more than a well written piece of fiction with a clever and entertaining plot… then why is it having such a deep spiritual impact on its readers?
What is the power in and behind this book?
Is it the power of the Holy Spirit?
Or is it an example of the ‘winds of doctrine’ we are warned against? (Eph.4:14)
Does this book align itself with scripture or is it presenting another Jesus, another God?
These are questions that must be asked.

Truth is never threatened or offended when questioned.

"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free !" (John 8:32)


One of many comments -- and a Julie's response to the comment:


The comment below was posted by Wayne Jacobson "who is obviously a friend of William Young and was involved in the publishing of The Shack. You can find his own book advertised and endorsed by William Young on the last page of The Shack:"

"I actually helped put this book together for publication and I am sorry that you've chosen to post comments from someone else about a book you've never read.

"While I think the person you quote means well, she has distorted and misinterpreted a lot of what is in THE SHACK. People are free to read and question it, enjoy what helps them see God more clearly and toss out those things that don't.

But casting aspersions on an author she doesn't know simply because parts of this book challenged some of her religious preconceptions seems a bit unfair. Maybe she missed the point, rather than the author being from the pit.

"This is an excellent look at a relational God, but anyone can take the analogy too far and see something in it the author or publisher never intended.

"Let people read it for themselves and decide. It is connecting with people in a powerful way..."



Dear Wayne….

I understand that you would want to defend your friend, William Young, (author of The Shack) especially since you have endorsed each other’s books.
I am quick to defend my friends too… but I am even quicker to stand in defence of God when I see that He is ill spoken of or falsely represented.

You said about The Shack, ”People are free to read and question it, enjoy what helps them see God more clearly and toss out those things that don’t”

I did just that... I questioned and tossed out!!
Did it offend you that I did it in a public forum? The author made his thoughts public …. Does that not give me the right to respond publicly? Or give Nicki the right to post my thoughts on her blog if she trusted my opinion?
I learned from your site (http://www.lifestream.org/LS.Reading.html) that “The Shack” was rejected by religious publishers and ‘Windblown Media’ was ‘birthed’ for the purpose of getting the book out. I think that says something about the content of The Shack – publishers are usually willing to go a fair distance into controversial material … The Shack was obviously beyond their comfort zone.

You also said “This is an excellent look at a relational God, but anyone can take the analogy too far and see something in it the author or publisher never intended “ What did I see that was not intended? Where did I take the analogy too far? If the analogy doesn’t work except in the author’s mind… why did he use it?

And “my religious preconceptions”? It was not my own religious views that were challenged by the book but its very conflict with the scriptures themselves! Show me where in my post I represented the Word in an erroneous fashion.

You also said, “Maybe she missed the point!” What point did I miss? Or as you say “She has distorted and misinterpreted a lot of what is in The Shack” -- what did I distort and misinterpret?? You gave no examples, nor did you specifically refute anything I said. I was careful to represent as clearly as I could what I saw that offended me.
I am not the only one to be offended … and I wrote my review to give those who have or will read the book and be disturbed by it, some support – as I articulated in my post.

People are of course free to read the book and decide for themselves – but I think I have a responsibility to raise an alarm if I see there is need for one. If I come across a washed out section of highway around a curve... I’m not going to say “Oh well, I’ll let the next vehicles just find out for themselves..” No, I will put up flags or signs to warn oncoming traffic of danger ahead…so that they can proceed with caution.

I stand by my original concern with this book and I think the simple fact that ”it is connecting with people in a powerful way “ is not a good enough endorsement. So does the “The Secret” (Rhonda Byrne) connect with people in a powerful way.

See also Deceived by a counterfeit "Jesus" - The twisted "truths" of The Shack & A Course in Miracles

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