Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thoughts on "The Shack"

I remember when "The Shack," by William P. Young had not been released yet, but it had already received many accolades and endorsements by familiar Christian names. Fast forward several months, and it seemed that several of my friends were really talking it up. Claiming it was "the best book I've ever read..." When I heard that, because I've read quite a lot myself, I figured, this book has to be good.

I managed to borrow a copy from a coworker and took it along on our cruise back in January, figuring it'd be a quick beach read. (Aren't those great?) Well, at one point while reading it very early on, a fellow cruiser asked me, "How do you like it?" I explained I had just started it, but it was okay. She said, "I thought it was challenging..." While she didn't go into detail, as to whether challenging was connoting either positively or negatively, I began to understand her observation. In fact, my summation is, "I felt uneasy..."

Several concepts in the book sent up red flags. Since the book focuses on the Holy Trinity, I'd say as an author, you're already treading into some perilous waters. Anyway, one of the first things that alarmed me was the author depicting God the Father as an overweight African-American woman. (!!!) Jesus was depicted as a young man of Middle Eastern descent, while the Holy Spirit was a wispy Asian woman named Sarayu. Okay, if you can stomach that, several conversations occur between the three of them that seem a little too humanistic for me. These include, "Papa (God) was fully human in Jesus" and "we all submit to each other." Really? Show me some Scripture to back that up, please.

Confession time: I have yet to finish "The Shack," and I know it's practically a cardinal sin to write something off before you've even given it a full chance to redeem itself. It is still lying on my nightstand beneath other books, but I am now fully convinced that I don't need to waste any more time than I already have by completing the last few chapters. I admit, most of my reason by even trying to finish it was because several good friends have praised it so. Now I'm learning to trust and obey when the Holy Spirit sends us red flags. It is to alert us, be on guard, and check everything against Scripture. Discernment is a believer's best friend.

Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church does a great job of explaining some of the major heresies of "The Shack." (link courtesy of Voddie Baucham) Please take the time to listen, he truly clarified my thoughts and articulated my uneasiness. What scares me most is how many Christians are fully buying into Young's views about the Trinity. Worse yet, there are seekers and non-believers whose doctrinal understanding will be horribly flawed.

In the book's foreward, Young serving as a conduit for "Mack" the protagonist, writes something to the effect of, "if you don't understand the story, then sorry, it wasn't meant for you."

Agreed; it wasn't meant for me.


Anonymous said...

I haven't read The Shack, but I do not understand why you are so appalled by the idea of the Trinity. And there is support for the idea of the Trinity - e.g.,
"[T]here are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." (1 John 5:7).
Can you really say that there is irrefutable evidence that that there is no Holy Trinity? I don't think you can.

Kelly said...

I haven't read it but I heard some women in my Sunday School class say they picked it up, too, to see what all the fuss was about and that it has no basis in doctrinal truth. My SS class has just completed a series on spiritual gifts where I learned that the Lord has given me the spiritual gift of discernment. Through this I have been amazed at how easily Christians, even strong, church-going ones, are deceived. Trust your discernment and don't waver, discernment is so crucial in these times where there are so many false prophets in the forms of teachers, books, movies, etc.

Megan at My Heart, My Home said...

Anonymous: I apologize if you misunderstood my thoughts regarding the Trinity. I wholeheartedly believe in the Trinity, comprising of co-equal, three distinct Persons: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Lots of scripture affirms this even though the word "trinity" literally never appears.
The point where I disagree most with "The Shack," is the concept of there being no hierarchy within the Trinity. While all three are co-equal, Jesus clearly submits to the Father (John 4:34). Hierarchy as the book claims, is the result of sin. Yet in the Garden of Eden before the Fall, Adam was the head of Eve. It is not to say that Adam is more valuable than Eve, both are equal in God's eyes. There is simply a concept of roles within relationships.

Kelly: Thank you for your encouragement :) I do need to trust my discernment more. I have heard from friends that some churches are even doing it as a study! (And I don't think they were doing it as a form of apologetics, but actually using it to learn more about God). No doubt that 2 Timothy 4:3-4 was right about there coming a time when people refuse sound doctrine and instead prefer their ears to be tickled.

Deanna said...

Thanks for this post. It seems like everyone I know is reading this book, and I have no desire. I too saw a few red flags. Someone joking told me the other day I only had a few days left to read it before they took my 'christian' card away. I think when it was named the next 'Pilgrims Progress,' I decided I didn't want to read it. It couldn't compare.

Megan at My Heart, My Home said...

Deanna, the press/PR truly made this book out to be the next big thing. I heard the same thing about likening it to Pilgrim's Progress, yeah..riiiight. Trust me, don't waste your time.

Susan said...

Hi Megan,
Just found your blog through Making Home (your comment on games there). Love your thoughts on idolatry and also the Shack, which I also just finished... and had similar views to yours. I heard Mark Driscoll's comments on it too and found them valuable.
Also it seems our babies our due at the same time (mine, our 3rd, is in Aug) and I cloth diaper as well... Is it your first?
So clearly we have plenty in common. I'll be back!
I'm at heartpondering.wordpress.con - new blog - if you want to check it out.