Arts and Culture

Is The Shack Worth Your Time?

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 06/24/2008

I'm becoming increasingly depressed by the weak and empty Christianity that's being peddled out there. What's even sadder is that I see people happily eating this stuff up with no idea of what they're missing. Please don't sell yourself short. We have a great and glorious God; seek Him in all His satisfying weight and depth!

The latest craze among Christians is a book called The Shack, and judging by its popularity, you've probably already heard of it. I haven't read the book, but Tim Challies posted a very detailed review online, and it would be a good idea for you to look through it. The book is a fictional story about a man wrestling with the problem of evil, the nature of God, the Trinity, the church, etc., in the midst of a family tragedy. And as Challies points out:

Though The Shack is not a textbook for theology, and though it may not appear on the outside to be theological, as long as it discusses the nature and the plan of God, it must be so.

Challies goes on to explain and give examples where The Shack's view of the Bible, salvation, and the Trinity fall woefully short. (For example, the Father is revealed to the main character "in the form of a large, matronly African-American woman" who asks him to call her "Papa.") The end result of its shortcomings is a very low view of God:

When we look to the Bible's descriptions of heaven we find that any creatures who are in the presence of God are overwhelmed and overjoyed, crying out about God's glory day and night.

But in The Shack we find a man who stands in the very presence of God and uses foul language...(140, 224), who expresses anger to God (which in turn makes God cry) (92), and who snaps at God in his anger (96). This is not a man who is in the presence of One who is far superior to him, but a man who is in the presence of a peer. This portrayal of the relationship of man to God and God to man is a far cry from the Bible's portrayal. And indeed it must be because the God of The Shack is only a vague resemblance to the God of the Bible. There is no sense of awe as we, through Mack, come into the presence of God.

Gone is the majesty of God when men stand in His holy presence and profane His name. Should God allow in His presence the very sins for which He sent His Son to die? Would a man stand before the Creator of the Universe and curse? What kind of God is the God of The Shack?

Don't waste your time on these things, but instead make an effort to seek the books that intensely glorify the true, Trinitarian God and the cross. This probably means you'll have to read some books that are more than 50 years old (at least), but you'll be so grateful you did. If you're interested in the Trinity, try Bruce Ware's Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If you'd like a story of redemption and God's care, take a look at John Newton's An Authentic Narrative (only 100 pages). It's possible there are a few good things about The Shack, but why spend your time on it when there's so much out there better than this?