Reviewing "The Shack"

Occasionally in evangelicalism there appears a book which somehow sweeps the American church off of its feet in a flutter of word of mouth and praise. Think “Prayer of Jabez” or “The Purpose Driven Life.” Sometimes such books are good, more often than not they leave something to be desired. This is undoubtedly a result of a dilution of the importance of God’s revelation in the life of the modern American church.

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Occasionally in evangelicalism there appears a book which somehow sweeps the American church off of its feet in a flutter of word of mouth and praise. Think “Prayer of Jabez” or “The Purpose Driven Life.” Sometimes such books are good, more often than not they leave something to be desired. This is undoubtedly a result of a dilution of the importance of God’s revelation in the life of the modern American church. As God’s word concerning Himself is devalued, man’s thoughts become elevated to the detriment of the body. Man therefore begins to reconfigure and reconceive God according to his own whims.

“The Shack” is a relatively new work which is becoming quite popular in the world of American evangelicalism. It has recently moved to the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list for paperback trade fiction. In addition, at least one church has taken to pass out the book to all of her members. I have heard a number of reports about the book with very contrasting analyses.

  • Eugene Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, says it “has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim Progress did for his.”
  • Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says, “This book includes undiluted heresy.”
  • Singer and songwriter Michael W. Smith says “The Shack will leave you craving for the presence of God.”
  • Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, says, “Regarding the Trinity, it’s actually heretical.”

As we have had a few inquiries about the work, I spent the last week reading it. I found the story to be quite engaging, but the theological content was very concerning. While the work does not claim to be a theological treatise, the subject matter is inherently theological in that it deals specifically with those grandest of Christian doctrines (the nature of God, the nature of revelation, the nature of salvation, the relationship of suffering to God’s sovereignty, etc.).

Due to the numerous theological inaccuracies which the book contains, I urge readers to be very cautious and critical (in the sense of active interaction) if they choose to read it.

Below is an in-depth review of the book with which I would generally agree:

http://www.challies.com/media/The_Shack.pdf