The Shack: Fictional Work Leading to a Fictional God

11 03 2010

Read any comment section about the bestselling book, The Shack by William Young, on bookseller websites and you’ll find those who say they came to a new understanding of the trinity and the nature of God. Then you’ll find those pointing out the many doctrinal errors portrayed in the book. Those who enjoy the book dismiss doctrinal issues by emphasizing that the book is a work of fiction. Is this an effort to eat the cake and have it too?

They are right in calling it fiction; nevertheless if someone is deriving a “fresh” or new understanding of who God is based on this work, they are treating it as scripture and developing new doctrines. So, this fresh understanding is not new insight, but new confusion about the nature of God. If you ground your theology in The Shack, you’ll end up in a fictional relationship with a God.

Fictional works can act as something like a parable, but for them to lead to any insight into the nature of God, the portrayal of Christian ideas must be biblical. Many commentators have documented that the “fresh” ideas people are deriving from The Shack are unbiblical. Even if some other fictional work happens to present biblical ideas, there is still a need to discern the fact from the fiction. To do that, you must study the Bible.

If your view of God has grown a little “stale” there is a better way to restore that freshness than reading a work of fiction that stirs up the emotions. 1) Examine yourself. Is there sin that is keeping interfering with your relationship with God? If so, repent. 2) Read the Bible, looking for the attributes of God. 3) Pray, asking God to illuminate His word. 4) Praise God for the attributes about Himself revealed in scripture. 5) Worship Him and give thanks.

There’s nothing fresh or new in these instructions. They’re tried and true. Yet, they do yield the desired result of a growing and exciting life with God.

For specific information of about controversial ideas found in The Shack see:


An Open Letter to Christians Trapped in a Mystical Delusion

11 03 2010

Dear Mystical Christian,

I’m not someone from the outside looking in. I’ve been there. I’ve believed many of the things you have. I’ve believed many things I now see as wrong. I’ve had to examine my heart as to why I chose to believe the things I believed. I know that even though I thought I was pursuing God, I wasn’t pursing God in a way that pleases Him.

2 Corinthians 11:4 speaks of those coming who preach another Jesus. When I believed the Dominionist, Gnostic (always needing a new revelation or insight, valuing it more highly than scripture), mystical, contemplative, deliverance, purpose driven, new apostles and prophets gospel, I was not following the real Jesus. I was driven by what I thought was hunger and thirst for the deeper things of God. Yet, Jesus said if we drink of the living water we will never thirst again. He said blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. I was simply seeking power and authority in my flesh, and that was a hunger and thirst that could never be quenched.

When we follow the true Jesus, we are in a state of continual satisfaction. The only thing that can cause us to be dissatisfied is sin. The only solution is repentance. Confession and repentance work so incredibly well to draw us into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God.

I’ve chased the secret meanings of signs, dreams, and the mystical meanings of numbers and in retrospect everything but the plain and simple truth that can be found by just reading the Bible without hunting and pecking to come up with justification for our formulas and interpretations. The written, revealed word  of God  is amazingly clear when we set aside our preconceptions and just approach it with an honest desire to understand and believe whatever it says. The Holy Spirit can instruct us when we are teachable and submitted to the one true source of his revealed knowledge, the Bible.

I am not trying to put God in a box. Deuteronomy 29:29 says the secret things belong to our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. It’s not about putting God in a box. It’s about God putting us in a sheepfold. It’s a place of God’s safety and protection.

When we seek all this secret knowledge or enter into mystical experiences we are leaving the sheepfold. Sure there is spiritual knowledge that is not revealed in scripture. But all the spiritual knowledge that we need and can handle is found in scripture.

We’re no better off than Adam and Eve eating from the tree of good and evil when we seek knowledge that God has chosen not to reveal to us. (2 Corinthians 11:3) God revealed what was helpful and hid what was dangerous.

Many of the ideas that I pursued in the past did not come from the Bible. Where did the ideas that so many popular teachers in the new apostles and prophets and deliverance ministries come from? They can be found in spiritist teachings, Gnostic literature, occult, theosophical, Enochian magic (directing and releasing angels), witchcraft, Satanism, paganism, mystery Babylon religions, New Age, New Spirituality, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufi Muslim teachings. Just because we put on a veneer of Christian terms does not make them safe for a Christian to practice. There are several warnings in scripture that tell us not to learn from other religions. (see Deuteronomy 18:9-14) It’s been said that all of the pagan religions are simply imitating the “real thing” God has for us. But, if these are unbiblical practices and are forbidden by God, who is imitating who? It is actually deceived Christians being imitators of false religious practices.

In researching the infiltration of the new age movement into the church, I discovered that new age writers such as Alice Bailey, who channeled a spirit called Djwal Khul, tell how their goal is not to replace Christianity, but to redefine it. It’s fine with them if you enter into a mystical experience and encounter Jesus. It’s fine if you say you believe in Jesus and pray to him. This is a false “Jesus” they want you to follow. This is their strategy. They even say so. Redefine worship, redefine the relationship, and you’ve led people to another Jesus.

If they can turn Christianity away from a system of faith in the revealed, objective word of God (the Bible) and into a system of subjective experience, the new agers win. It’s a funny thing about the human mind. Suddenly, the Bible seems dull and lifeless, powerless to give us meaning in comparison to what we are experiencing. These subjective experiences rarely convict us of sin.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. I believe God allows this deception to set in. It’s a test. (1 Corinthians 11:19) Do we want the truth or do we want what feels good and feel right, whatever makes us happy. The walk of faith often runs counter to our feelings and experiences.

Can’t you see how self-centered and self-seeking mystical and contemplative experiences can be? It’s all about pleasing the flesh. Just lay back and let God tell me how wonderful I am. Is that worshiping Him? Does that fit any description of worship in the Bible? I don’t think the Israelites sacrificed a lamb or calf at the temple because it felt good. It costs them something. They could see the pain and death of the animal and know that they were responsible for it. It represented their sins, and their shortcomings.

I remember leading worship and being told on a few occasions “that was really good worship”, yet I wonder if God sees it that way? The tempo, the songs, even the emotional response of the worshipers can’t define the quality of worship. Only God can judge that. Cain worshiped God, but not in a manner that pleased God. Cain tried to worship God on his own terms. How can you pursue God in a manner that is not defined in the Bible and be confident you are pleasing God?

Just because it feels right or you get some spiritual insight does not mean it was from God or pleased God. People in the eastern religions pursue God the same way. People in the new age feel they’ve found the truth, too. They feel good. They feel they have met with God, some would even say they met Jesus. People in various cults feel inner peace and excitement.

If you won’t submit to the ultimate and entire authority of the Bible how can you know you’re walking in truth? The word of God is not only inerrant, it is complete. Adding new revelation is a very risky and unnecessary proposition. Have any of us successfully walked out all that is plainly written in scripture? Shouldn’t we master that first?

I know you can pick this letter apart and defend every little point with some bit of logic, past personal experience or scripture used out of context. It wasn’t written as an airtight, complete defense of the truth. But, please research it. Dig into it. It’s that important. Be a Berean. (Acts 17:11) To all those who are caught in this boiling pot of mystical deception, you are in my prayers.


Hot Frog Ministry