The following is a critique of some of the doctrinal errors of William P. Young’s best selling book, The Shack, which has become a movie and is set to be released on March 3, 2017.
Before you pay your money, please be informed. William P. Young (the author of the Shack) is a friend of C. Baxter Kruger, whose theology is similar to that which is taught in The Shack. Kruger is the author of, The Shack Revisited, with the forward written by William P. Young.In addition, Kruger and Young have appeared in interviews together, advancing a form of universalism. Kruger is associated with Grace Communion International, formerly known as the Worldwide Church of God, which was founded by Herbert A. Armstrong, whose ministry distributed a magazine known as The Plain Truth.
The World Wide Church of God (aka WWCOG) was considered by many to be a cult. In 2009, the name of the WWCOG was changed to Grace Communion International to reflect the doctrinal changes from that of the WWCOG.
However, Grace Communion International has much concerning theology. Allow me to share with you a statement from their web site regarding the judgment. I have capitalized certain words for the sake of emphasis.
God judges all humans through Jesus Christ AS THOSE WHO BELONG TO GOD THROUGH HIM. Therefore, ALL HUMANS ARE, in spite of themselves, loved, FORGIVEN, AND INCLUDED IN JESUS CHRIST, who IS THEIR LORD AND SAVIOR. God’s love will never cease or diminish even for those who, DENYING THE REALITY OF WHO THEY ARE IN HIM, refuse his love and consign themselves to hell; they will not enjoy the fruit of his salvation but rather will experience HIS LOVE AS WRATH. God disciplines those he loves SO THAT THEY WILL RETURN TO HIM AND LIVE; he stands at the door and knocks, urging them to open the door to his everlasting love. GOD’S JUDGMENT IN CHRIST MEANS THE ULTIMATE END OF EVIL AND THE RENEWAL OF THE EARTH AND ALL CREATION.
In the statement above, every person is considered to be already forgiven and in Christ, and God’s wrath is really his love continuing to persuade those who rejected him after they have died (while they are in hell). In the end, everyone will be saved.
This is the sort of theology that I have heard William P. Young affirm. Young has described himself as a “hopeful universalist.” In fact, in his latest book, Lies We Believe About God, he affirms his ideology as a universalist. The following is an excerpt from chapter 13 – You need to get saved.
So what is the Good News? What is the Gospel?
The Good News is not that Jesus has opened up the possibility of salvation and you have been invited to receive Jesus into your life. The Gospel is that Jesus has already included you into His life, into His relationship with God the Father, and into His anointing in the Holy Spirit. The Good News is that Jesus did this without your vote, and whether you believe it or not won’t make it any less or more true.
What or who saves me? Either God did in Jesus, or I save myself. If, in any way, I participate in the completed act of salvation accomplished in Jesus, then my part is what actually saves me. Saving faith is not our faith, but the faith of Jesus.
God does not wait for my choice and then “save me.” God has acted decisively and universally for all humankind. Now our daily choice is to either grow and participate in that reality or continue to live in the blindness of our own independence.
Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation?
That is exactly what I am saying!
Here’s the truth: every person who has ever been conceived was included in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. When Jesus was lifted up, God “dragged” all human beings to Himself (John 12: 32). Jesus is the Savior of all humankind, especially believers (1 Timothy 4: 10). Further, every single human being is in Christ (John 1: 3), and Christ is in them, and Christ is in the Father (John 14: 20). When Christ—the Creator in whom the cosmos was created—died, we all died. When Christ rose, we rose (2 Corinthians 5).
If we support The Shack, this is what we are endorsing; and according to the Word of God, we are bidding it Godspeed and have become a partaker of an evil deed.
A CONGLOMERATION OF FALSE DOCTRINES
The Shack advances a conglomeration of false doctrines and each one of them is a subtle undermining of the revelation of God according to the Bible. Among the many false teachings which are subtly advanced within, The Shack, is the notion that true relationship with God is not found through adherence to the teachings of scripture.
In The Shack, Mack ( the main character) finds true relationship with God in contrast to those who have traditional Christian beliefs based on the Bible. This subtle message qualifies as a wind of doctrine as mentioned in Ephesians 4.
There is an undertone within The Shack, that relationship with God is something independent of the written word of God, and nothing could be further from the truth.
There is no sweeter, no more assuring, no more real and living relationship with God than knowing him through his Word, especially when the Word is mixed with a prayerful heart. Earnest and heartfelt time in the Word of God, is time spent with God.
Relationship with “the god of The Shack” is not true relationship with the Living God, because it is relationship with someone other than the true God we fellowship with in the scriptures.
It is through the knowledge of God revealed in his holy written word that we grow in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and as we grow in the Lord we embrace sound doctrine and good biblical theology which makes us spiritually healthy.
Yet those who defend The Shack, often make the argument that it is not teaching theology: this simply is not true.
The Shack is indeed a book filled with much theology, and it is very bad theology to say the least. In The Shack, the beliefs of the main character, Mack, take center stage as his views of the God of scripture are repeatedly challenged.
The subtle deception is not that Mack’s views are challenged to more fully understand God as he is revealed in scripture, but rather, his views are challenged to go contrary to the revelation of God in scripture.
If The Shack is not advancing a theology about God as some claim, then why is there so much theology about God challenged within the book?
There are multiple false doctrines within The Shack, and each one of them ought to be very concerning to any believer who embraces this fictional story. Below is list of twenty-five concepts, which are in opposition to the Bible, and advanced by The Shack:
1. God is not a Father of authority, but a Papa with no rules.
2. Every person is a child of God.
3. Every person’s sins are already forgiven.
4. Everyone will be saved.
5. Repentance is not necessary for relationship with God.
6. Personal faith in Jesus for salvation from sin is irrelevant.
7. God does not punish sin.
8. God’s wrath is an expression of his love.
9. No divine order within the God head, only a circle of love.
10. God ordained authority among men treated with contempt.
11. A God of authority and holiness cannot be a God of love.
12. No need to fear God.
13. God is a fan of all people.
14. God is reconciled to all people.
15. No one will be eternally punished.
16. Jesus doesn’t want people to become Christians.
17. Jesus is the best way to God, and not the only way.
18. Evil and darkness do not really exist.
19. Jesus no longer draws on his divine attributes. He continues to live as a limited human.
20. Each member of the Trinity became human.
21. The Trinity was crucified.
22. The crucifixion put God at rights with man, rather than man being made right through his faith in the finished work of Christ.
23. God submits to human beings.
24. The bible is just a religious book which reduces God to paper.
25. Adam fell because he sought his independence from God. Instead of disobeying a specific command.
The Shack has made claims about character and nature of God which are contrary to scripture, and it is incumbent that we hold those claims accountable to the scriptures and reject them.
While God may certainly speak to us at times, in different ways – in prayer, in prophesy, through the encouragement of others, through dreams, etc. – we must hold every revelation about God accountable to the truth revealed in scripture.
The scriptures are authoritative, and divinely inspired by God. The Shack is not.
But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:13-17)
Supporters of The Shack claim it is only fiction and that it is story about the love of God. The problem with this assessment is that The Shack diminishes the Biblical revelation of God, because a God of authority, holiness, and supremacy, cannot be a God of love.
However, God is who he is, and God’s love is one of the glorious attributes of his majestic person. The God who is love, is holy, and just, and pure, and righteous, and all wise, all knowing, and glorious beyond human comprehension.
In the Bible we have the story of a man who lost his children and wife. He also lost his possessions and was physically plagued. His name was Job. In Job 38-40 God made himself known to Job. God did not coddle Job by diminishing his sovereignty, holiness, and justice, as the portrayal of God in The Shack has done.
God’s love does not bring a diminished view of the glory of his person. Rather, God’s love brings about a true reverence for God within the heart of those who encounter his love.
When we refuse to accept the full revelation of God as revealed in scripture, because we only want a God of love, we create an idol after the lust of our own imagination, and what we think is the love of God, is our own lust and deception.
Consider the words of the apostle Paul:
For the time will come when they will not endure SOUND DOCTRINE; but AFTER THEIR OWN LUSTS shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from THE TRUTH, and shall be turned unto FABLES. (2 Timothy 4:2-4)
The word fables also means fiction.
FATHER OR PAPA?
In The Shack, God the Father, takes on human form as an African American woman who is referred to as Papa rather than Father. Unlike the biblical record of God the Father, the woman named Papa in The Shack, decries authority and downplays the importance of obedience in relationships.
However, the Bible declares that it is, Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3) and that God the Father dwells in inapproachable light whom no man hath seen, nor can see (1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 1:18; 1 John 4:12).
In The Shack, Jesus is not the one through whom The Father is revealed. In the Bible Jesus is. And the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus, who brings us near to God. In The Shack, God is revealed independently of Jesus, through a woman named Papa.
Consider the significance of this.
In The Shack, Jesus tells Mack the following: “Those who love me come from every system 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.” Jesus adds, “I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved.”
Notice, the subtle deception here. He doesn’t say, “I want them to join me as heirs of God and be transformed by God’s power through faith in me.” Rather, he says, “I want to join them.” In other words, Jesus comes along and joins you in your journey with Papa, no matter if you are a Buddhist, Mormon, Baptist, Muslim or what ever.
The Jesus of The Shack is not the one who sanctifies you, he is not the mediator, intercessor, or high priest, through whom you have access to God. Instead, he is one who comes along as you enter relationship with Papa.
The Shack brings its readers eerily close to the edge of universalism with it’s message of inclusion: the belief that all people will be saved.
In The Shack “Papa” is revealed and known independently of Jesus as a woman who is “all accepting” and completely approachable, even with irreverence.
In scripture, God is our Father, and not Papa as portrayed in The Shack. As Father, God is the one who is the authority whom we must obey and reverence. Consider the following from Hebrews 12:
And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. (Hebrews 12:5-10 TNLT)
God is a Father who disciplines his children, he is the one we are to obey, and we can only approach him through the personal mediation of Jesus Christ.
This is not a description of Papa in The Shack.
DIVINE ORDER WITHIN THE GODHEAD
Not only does The Shack portray God as a friendly -buddy, Papa, rather than a Father with authority, the Shack also portrays God as being opposed to any sort of authority.
According to The Shack, there is no hierarchy within the God head. In the Bible there is.
Jesus was sent by God the Father (John 5:23-24, 30), and he came to do the will of the Father (6:38), and was obedient to the Father (Philippians 2:8; Romans 5: 19; Hebrews 5:7-8).
Jesus is referred to as God’s righteous servant (Matthew 12:18-21) and Jesus walked in the authority given to him by the Father (John 5:26-27).
Jesus said, my Father is greater than I am, and the apostle Paul speaks of the submission of the Son to the Father in 1 Corinthians 15:26-28.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
GOD’S ORDAINED AUTHORITY AMONG MEN
In The Shack, all three members of The Shack’s trinity, decry the concept of final authority. (page 122-124)
Final authority within the Godhead is rejected and The Shack’s father god (who appears as a woman) refers to authority among men as “such a waste.”
According to the false Jesus in the Shack, the reason why the main character, Mack, was having such a hard time experiencing true relationship is because of the concept of final authority and hierarchy. The shack god even condemns rules and laws that protect.
Yet the Bible is filled with the truth of God’s authority, and the institution of authority as an ordinance of God among men.
In scripture, God is enthroned as the one who is to be honored and worshipped. He is also the righteous Judge. Jesus is seated at God’s right hand with all authority in heaven and earth given to him. Jesus commissioned his followers, to go in his name and exercise authority over the kingdom of darkness.
In Romans 13, Paul says, Let every soul be subject to the higher powers, and tells us that power (authority) is an ordinance of God.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (Romans 13:1-2)
The apostle Peter says, Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men… (1 Peter 2:13-15)
In the old testament, God raised up leaders and Kings to govern his people. In Genesis, God promoted Joseph to second in command in Egypt, and God raised up men like Moses and Joshua to be the leaders of his people, Israel. In Israel’s armies and in the daily life of the Israelites, there were authorities and chains of command.
The people of Israel were not left without government. They had rules and regulations they were to follow as ordinations of God. Israel’s spiritual life was governed by authority as there was God ordained authority and hierarchy within the priesthood: first the high priest, secondly the priests, and thirdly the levites.
In the new testament, we have God ordained authority within ministry, in work, and in the home where wives are to be submissive to their husbands and the children to their parents.
Authority is all throughout the Bible as an ordination of God! The repudiation of authority by The Shack god, is yet another lie promoted by Shack theology.
THE SHACK GOD IS ESPECIALLY FOND OF EVERYONE
In The Shack, Mack asks, “Are there any who you are not especially fond of?” Papa responds, “Nope, I haven’t been able to find any. Guess that’s jes’ the way I is.” (page 118 and 119)
On the contrary, the true God revealed in the Bible is not fond of everyone. Jesus certainly wasn’t fond of the Pharisees and scribes when he rebuked them in Matthew 23.
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. (v. 13-15)
Teaching that God is especially fond of everyone, is very much contrary to the truth revealed in the Bible. Consider the following texts.
For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. (1 Peter 3:12,)
The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. (Psalm 34:16)
The perverse are an abomination to the Lord. (Proverbs 3:32)
Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord. (Proverbs 16:5)
The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just. (Proverbs 3:33)
God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. (Psalm 7:11)
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (Psalm 5:5)
God is not “especially fond” of the proud, the wicked, and those who do evil in his sight.
THE BLOOD OF JESUS, THE MISSING GLORY OF THE SHACK
The Shack fails miserably in it’s message, in that it fails to give glory to the blood of Christ.
In The Shack, there is no mention of the blood of Christ for the atonement of sin. The Shack god, Papa, lavishes herself on all people, being their biggest fan.
In the Bible, God is revealed as a holy God, and all who enter into his presence must be clean. This is why God gave Israel the tabernacle and the temple: to sanctify the people so that he could dwell among them.
In Exodus 25, God said to Moses, “let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” This was a foreshadowing of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which Jesus entered in the Heavens (Hebrews 8:1-2; 9:11-12, 24), when through his own blood, he entered into the presence of God for us, to make intercession for us.
Under the Law, the tabernacle and all that was in it had to be first purified by the atoning blood before it could be put into service for the Living God to dwell among his people.
On the annual Day of Atonement, the tabernacle and everything that pertained to it, had to be purified again with the atoning blood because of the sins of the people. All that was associated with the presence of God had to be holy and purified by blood.
This was a foreshadowing of what Jesus would do to bring us near to God. The writer of Hebrews tells us the following in Hebrews 9:21-24.
Moreover he (Moses) sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us…
After he shed his blood on the cross as the payment for our sins, Jesus entered into the very presence of God for us with his own blood to purify for us access to God, so that we may live in his presence.
This is why the author of Hebrews tells us to enter with boldness into the holiest (the presence of God) by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)
The Shack god, requires no cleansing from sin or consecration by blood to be in her presence, but the Living God does.
While the overriding message of The Shack focuses on relationship, there is no true relationship with the Living God without the precious blood of Jesus.
In The Shack, the false Jesus says, “my life was not meant to be an example to copy. Being my follower is not trying to be like Jesus. It means for your Independence to be killed.”
In the Bible, however, the real Jesus says, I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15).
And the apostle Peter tells us that Jesus is our example to follow in his suffering (1 Peter 2:21).
And the apostle John said, He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked (1 John 2:6).
THE BEST WAY OR THE ONLY WAY?
In The Shack, Jesus tells Mack that he is “the best way any human can relate to Papa or Sarayu.” Not the only way, but merely the best way.
Yet in scripture, Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
The apostle Peter preached in Acts 4 saying: Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12)In 1 Timothy 2:5, the apostle Paul tells us, there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
In The Shack, Jesus is the best way any human can relate, not only to Papa, but also to Sarayu (the Shack’s representative of the Holy Spirit). Yet in the Bible, the Holy Spirit draws us to Jesus, testifying of him and glorifying him (John 15:26; 16:7-15).
The Bible doesn’t teach us to have independent relationship with the Spirit. The Bible teaches us that our fellowship is with the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.
In, The Shack, Jesus, (who not the true Jesus of the Bible) says he has no desire to make people Christian.
Yet in the Bible, the followers of Jesus were first called Christians at Antioch and the apostle Peter (who knew the real Jesus personally and walked with him and was ordained by him) says, “if any man suffer as A CHRISTIAN, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (1 Peter 4:16)
While the Shack Jesus (who again is not the real Jesus, but another) doesn’t want to make people into Christians, the Bible associates Christians with “glorifying God.”
THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS
According to the theology of The Shack, God has already forgiven all humanity of their sins. “In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship.” ( page 225)
This is wrong, because the Bible does not teach that God has already forgiven everyone’s sins.
Consider Acts 8. The apostle Peter confronted Simon the sorcerer because he had offered money in exchange for empowerment to give people the Holy Ghost.
In response, Peter said: “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. REPENT therefore of this thy WICKEDNESS, and pray God, if perhaps THE THOUGHT OF THINE HEART MAY BE FORGIVEN THEE. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” (v. 20-23)
Notice that Peter did not tell Simon the sorcerer that his sins were already forgiven and that he just needed to chose relationship with God.
In the book of James, we read: Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and IF HE HAVE COMMITTED SINS, THEY SHALL BE FORGIVEN HIM. (James 5:20-21)
If God has already forgiven all sin, why would James say, “if he have committed sins, they SHALL BE forgiven him?”
In 1 John 1:9 we are told, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just TO FORGIVE us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Notice that forgiveness is contingent on the confession or repentance of sin. Also notice, that cleansing is needed. The Shack, speaks nothing about the need of cleansing from sin.
In 2 Corinthians 5, when Paul says that God was in Christ reconciling the world (this is one of the scriptural texts that the author of The Shack has wrongly appropriated in his theology) Paul’s intent is not that all humanity is reconciled to God, but rather, in Christ, God has provided atonement so that all who will believe the gospel will be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. In Christ alone there is the forgiveness of sins for those who humble themselves in repentance.
While, provisionally all are included in the work of Christ, for Jesus died for all, all will not be saved because it is required for man to do something, namely, repent and believe the gospel, and follow Jesus.
In Acts 2, Peter preached the gospel to the Jews who were gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost.
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, WHAT SHALL WE DO?
In response, Peter said, REPENT, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Peter did not tell them, “you are already included, you are already saved, you just need to have relationship.”
In Acts 16, the prison guard asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, WHAT MUST I DO to be saved?”
Paul did not tell him, “you don’t have to do any thing because you are already included.” Instead, Paul said, “BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
The salvation of the prison guard and his house was contingent on their faith in Jesus.
Salvation for every man requires that we turn to God and embrace Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and that we trust in him and follow him.
When Jesus appeared to the apostle Paul he told Paul that he was sending him to the Gentiles “…to open their eyes, and to TURN THEM from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, THAT THEY MAY RECEIVE FORGIVENESS OF SINS, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts 26:17-18)
Jesus sent Paul to the Gentiles so that they might receive the forgiveness of their sins through faith in Jesus. Forgiveness of sins is conditional upon repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
THE SHACK DISTORTS THE INCARNATION AND DEITY OF CHRIST
In The Shack, the character representing God the Father (Papa) has scars on her wrist, indicating that she too had died on the cross (page 95). Yet according to the Bible, God the Father did not die on the cross. Instead, his Son Jesus died on the cross.
The woman, named Papa, representing God the Father also 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.”
The Father, and Holy Spirit did not take on flesh and blood as the Son of God. Only the Son (the second person in the Godhead, the Word of God) took on flesh and blood (Philippians 2:5-9; Hebrews 2:9-17).The Bible says, Jesus of Nazareth, was a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him (Acts 2:22) And, How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Acts 10:38)
If the truth be told, the message of The Shack is contrary to the biblical revelation that Jesus is the Messiah (the one anointed by God to save his people) .
Jesus is the one who took the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men. Jesus was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, and by God’s power, performed miracles.
Earlier on page 192, Papa claims that in Jesus the Trinity is now fully human: “in him we are now fully human.”
This is erroneous doctrine because the Father and the Spirit never took on flesh and blood. A similar falsehood can be found on page 99 & 100 where Papa says the following to Mack about Jesus:
He has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being. He is just to do it to the uttermost—the first to absolutely trust my life within him, the first to believe in my love and my appearance without regard for appearance or consequence (page 99/100).
Interesting that the author would use the words “to the uttermost” to promote such heresy. The Bible uses this phase to say the complete opposite: Wherefore he is able also to save them TO THE UTTERMOST that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and MADE HIGHER THAN THE HEAVENS… (Hebrews 7:25-26).
According to the author of Hebrews, it is the exalted Christ in his Heavenly glory who brings us near to God. According to The Shack, he is not intercessor, but just another dependent soul that we should emulate.
Later on page 109, Jesus is admiring the stars with Mack and the following is said:
“Incredible!” whispered Jesus, his head near Mack’s in the darkness, “I never get tired of this.” “Even though you created it?” Mack asked. I created it as the Word, before the Word became flesh. So even though I created this, I see it now as a human. And I must say, it is impressive!”
The Shack promotes the ideology that once Jesus came in the flesh, he is from that point onward, LIMITED and functions ONLY in human nature and ceases to do anything according to his divine power and nature. This completely false.
In John 17, Jesus prayed the following:
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (John 17:4-5).
In Hebrews 1, the author of Hebrews expounds on the superiority of Jesus Christ as God’s Son in comparison to the angels who are said to be greater in power and might than mere humanity (2 Peter 2:11). In declaring how superior to the angels the Son is, the writer of Hebrews records the words of God the Father spoken to His GLORIFIED SON!
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O GOD, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, LORD, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but THOU REMAINEST; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but THOU ART THE SAME, and thy years shall not fail. (Hebrews 1:8-12)
In Hebrews 13, the writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Jesus did not become limited as a human for ever. Jesus is fully God in the flesh and fully glorified with God. He is the God-man.
The apostle Peter tells us that Jesus Christ is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. (1 Peter 3:22)
In the book of the Revelation, the resurrected and glorified Christ, said to the apostle John, ” I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, THE ALMIGHTY.” (Revelation 1:8)
In Revelation 19 Jesus, after his ascension is called the Word of God.
Jesus did not cease to be the Living Word of God when he took on flesh and blood. Nor did he permanently lay aside his God head attributes. God glorified his Son and restored to him the glory he had with the Father before the world was.
THE SHACK GOD DOESN’T PUNISH OF SIN
Among the many misleading concepts about God portrayed in The Shack is the ideology that God does not punish people for sin. This can be found on page 120. On the contrary, there are hundreds, and I’d dare say thousands of verses in the Bible which reveal that God does indeed punish sin.
In the new testament, the apostle Peter tells us that God turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes and condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished (2 Peter 2:6-9)
Notice that Peter tells us that the Lord reserves the unjust unto the day of judgement to be punished. Again, the god of The Shack does not punish sin.
The apostle Paul tells us that Jesus is coming in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus rebuked the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they did not repent.
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon atthe day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. (Matthew 11:21-24)
The god of The Shack isn’t concerned with dealing with sin. On the contrary, the author of Hebrews tells us that ETERNAL JUDGEMENT is one of the foundational principles of the doctrine of Christ (see Hebrews 6:1-2) and in second John, we are instructed not to welcome anyone who does not bring the doctrine of Christ:
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine (the doctrine of Christ), receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 1:9-10)
Eternal judgment, or punishment, is a doctrine of Christ, but not a doctrine of the god of The Shack.
THE SHACK DISTORTS THE WRATH OF GOD
Quote from page 119:
“…but that anger- especially for me – is an expression of love all the same, I love the ones I am angry with just as much as the ones I am not. ”
Whereas The Shack god claims that his wrath is an expression of his love, this is not true in the Bible.
In scripture, God’s mercy is the expression of his love, and God’s wrath coincides with his righteous judgment against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who rebel against God and refuse to repent (Romans 1:18-32). This is why John the Baptist ask the Pharisees, “who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come.”
The Bible reveals that there are specific things which cause the wrath of God to come and the Bible reveals that there are specific things which cause the wrath of God to be turned away.
Throughout the scriptures, the wrath of God comes because of such things as unbelief, rebellion, loving sin, rejecting the truth, worshipping false gods, and forgetting God. On the other hand, the wrath of God is turned away by things such as obedience, intercession, atonement, zeal for righteousness, the fear of the Lord, and repentance.
BIBLICAL REASONS THE WRATH OF GOD COMES
- UNBELIEF (John 3:36; Hebrews 3:7-19; Deuteronomy 9-11; Psalm 78:17-33).
- REBELLION (Hebrews 3:7-19; Romans 1:18-32; 2:5,8; Leviticus 10; Numbers 11:32-34; Deuteronomy 9-11; Psalm 78:17-33; Joshua 22:20; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6; 1 Samuel 28:18; Kings 22:13-17).
- LOVING SIN (John 3:17-21; Romans 1:18-32; 2 Peter 2:15; Numbers 11:32-34; Psalm 78:17-33; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6).
- REJECTING THE TRUTH (Romans 1:18-32; 2:5, 8; Deuteronomy 10; Numbers 11:32-34; Psalm 78:17-33).
- WORSHIPPING FALSE GODS (Romans 1:18-32; Deuteronomy 29; Numbers 11:32-34; Psalm 78:17-33; Kings 22:13-17; Kings 23:1-27).
- FORGETTING GOD (Deuteronomy 6:10-15; 8:10-20; Romans 1:18-32).
BIBLICAL REASONS THE WRATH OF GOD IS TURNED AWAY
- OBEDIENCE (Deuteronomy 10-11).
- INTERCESSION (Isaiah 53, Exodus 32:7-14, Numbers 21:5-9; John 3:14-17; Deuteronomy 9).
- ATONEMENT (Romans 3:25; 5:6-11; Numbers 16:46; Numbers 18:1-5; Numbers 25:11).
- ZEAL FOR GOD (Numbers 25).
- THE FEAR OF THE LORD (Jeremiah 32:40).
- REPENTANCE (Acts 13:39-41; Kings 22:18-20; Kings 23:1-27).
The Shack’s distorted view of the wrath of God is part and parcel to the ideology of universalism within The Shack. God’s wrath towards the ungodly and wicked in scripture, is never an expression of his love towards them. It is always an expression of his condemnation of them for rejecting and despising him.
FAITH IN JESUS FOR SALVATION IS IRRELEVANT IN THE SHACK
When Papa claims that he (or she) is now reconciled to the whole world. Mack responds, “The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?” “Papa” responds, “The whole world, Mack.”
This is contrary to the God of scripture. Consider the words of John the Baptist.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)
They are also contrary to the words of Jesus in scripture, who said to the Jews “if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24)
The theology of The Shack is that everyone is saved because “Papa” is reconciled to everyone and has already forgiven all their sins and will not punish them.
EVIL AND DARKNESS
According to The Shack, evil and darkness do not have any actual existence (page 136). According to the Bible they do.
In John 7:7 Jesus declared that the world hates him because he testified of it, that the works thereof are EVIL.
In John 17, Jesus prayed to the Father, I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from THE EVIL. (v.15)
In Colossians 1:13, the apostle Paul tells us that God has delivered us from THE POWER OF DARKNESS, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
The Shack promotes the idea that evil and darkness is just the absence of good. Yet. Ephesians 6:12 says, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
And 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…
THE CHILDREN OF GOD
In The Shack, there is no distinction between the children of God and those who are in darkness. In Shack theology, all people, regardless if they are believers in Christ or not, are the children of God.
This is complete error and violates the Word of God on so many levels. Consider the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:14- 18)
In universalism, which the Shack promotes, there is no difference between the godly and the ungodly. There is no difference between the children of God and the world. Therefore the world, rather than the church, is sanctified and made holy.
Someone defending the theology of The Shack actually told me recently, “Jesus made the world holy.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
According to Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 6, we are commanded to come out from among them and be separate, AND THEN, we will be received by God, AND THEN, we will be the sons and daughters of God.
If all people are already reconciled to God, and all people are going to be saved, because everyone is already forgiven, and no one will be judged, there would be no differentiation made between God’s people and those who are not God’s people in the scriptures.
There would be no differentiation between those in the light, and those in darkness. There would be no differentiation between the church and the world. Yet the Bible repeatedly makes a differentiation.
According to 1 John 2:15-16 we are instructed: love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
In 2 Peter we read that through our union with Jesus Christ we have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:4)
Peter then tells us that if after having escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, people are again entangled therein, and overcome by the world, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. (2 Peter 2:20)
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that the devil is the god of this world and has blinded the minds of them which BELIEVE NOT, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
1 John 5:19 tells us: the whole world lieth in wickedness. And in Ephesians 2:2, we read that the prince of the power of the air (Satan) is behind the course of this world.
We can see from these references above that the world is in opposition to God, and in opposition to the the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In 1 John 2:17, we are taught that the world, along with its lust is going to pass away, but those who do the will of God will abide for ever. John also says the following, contrasting the children of God from those in the world: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)
John also tells us to “marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” (1 John 3:13)
In 1 John 4, the apostle John tells us how that many false prophets have gone out into the world, having the spirit of anti-Christ. John tells us that we have overcome them because we have the Spirit of God.
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:4-6)
The world is not holy. The world is under the influence of the wicked one, and is the spirit of error. Only those who know God, through faith in Jesus Christ, have overcome the world.
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5)
The new testament writers make a clear distinction between those who have the Spirit of God and those with the spirit of this world.
Consider the words of Paul from 1 Corinthians 2:12: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
In John’s gospel, Jesus made a clear distinction between his followers and the world in his prayer in John 17.
For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I PRAY NOT FOR THE WORLD, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. (John 17:8-9)
Jesus also says: I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:14-17)
James tells us that pure religion and undefined before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)
James rebuked the recipients of his epistle for their wordiness, saying: Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4)
If God has made the world holy, how does friendship with the world make one and enemy of God?
The world is not holy, on the contrary, Jesus gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father. (Galatians 1:4)
In Titus, the apostle Paul tells us that the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts:
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ… (Titus 2:11-13)
Through Jesus Christ, God has called out a people from the world. Only those who obey that calling – believing on Jesus and following him – are made holy. Through the cross of Jesus Christ, God has revealed that the world’s wisdom is foolish, for through his wisdom, God has chosen to save those who believe through the preaching of the gospel (see 2 Corinthians 1:20-21).
THE SHACK AND “a god” OF WORLDLINESS
The Shack desecrates the nature and character of God, presenting a worldly view of God rather than presenting him as a holy God. In the narrative of The Shack, two members of the Shack’s trinity (Papa and Sarayu) can be found dancing to worldly music.
The god of The Shack refuses to offend sinners, and is a compromiser rather than the high and lofty one Isaiah saw. No one bows in reverence at the feet of the god of The Shack, no one fears or trembles in his/her presence, no one cries holy when they encounter him/her.
The god of The Shack would never have judged the two sons of Aaron (Nadab and Abihu) for offering strange fire on the altar of the Lord, but the Living God revealed in the scriptures did: He is to be sanctified in them that come near to him (Leviticus 10:1-3).
Also, Moses was forbidden from leading the children of Israel into the promised land because he had failed (at the waters of Meribah-kadesh) to sanctify God before the people.
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
12 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. (Numbers 20:10-12, see also Also Deuteronomy 32:51-52 )
God is glorified when he is sanctified in those who come near him, and when he is sanctified by those who represent him.
The apostle Peter tells us to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear…” (1 Peter 3:15)
God is to be sanctified in our hearts with “meekness and fear.”
The author of Hebrews, in telling us that God is a consuming fire, says, “let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”
God is a holy God, and we are called to sanctify him in reverence and godly fear.
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? FOR THOU ONLY ART HOLY: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest. (Revelation 15:4)
PREYING ON EMOTIONS
The god of The Shack is not a holy God who is to be feared and held in reverence. He/she is instead an idol god of the feelings and emotions. There is no need to fear the god of The Shack because there is no accountability for sin or wrong doing with him/her.
The Shack “god” would have never delivered the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, because she would have been to ” especially fond” of the Egyptians. The children of Israel certainly did not know the god of The Shack.
Israel’s God delivered them for their oppressors (Pharaoh and the Egyptian taskmasters) and punished those Isrealites who chose to serve other gods, after he had delivered them.
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (Jude 1:5)
To study more, follow the links provided below:
THE CROSS AND THE WISDOM OF GOD
IS EVERYONE SAVED?
THE LOVE AND WRATH OF A HOLY GOD
GOD IS A JUST GOD
NOT WITHOUT BLOOD
REFUTING UNIVERSALISM: ARE ALL PEOPLE IN CHRIST?
DOES GOD HAVE A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE?
UNMASKING THE DECEIT IN THE GOSPEL FICTION Written by James B. De Young