Summary: An In-depth look at the theology of the "The Shack"

The movie version of the best-selling book “The Shack” will be in Theatres just before Easter 2017. “The Shack” depicts one man’s spiritual despair and rebellious struggle with God after suffering the personal loss in the murder of his daughter.

A movie trailer recently hit Facebook along with hundreds of positive comments about the book such as:

“I have read this book 4 times I can’t wait to see this movie!”

“Oh I got chills and flash…. from the reading the book. I can’t wait!”

Some people acknowledged it was a work of fiction but rationalized the teaching in the book by saying:

“even though it's fiction, this is how I want to believe that our God is like this“ or that it is “more of an allegory to get us thinking and not put God in a box.”

“It's not meant to take the place of the Bible. It's a story of fiction but because he used the main characters as the trinity it got people upset. Who says God can't show up in our lives any way He sees fit? He appeared to Moses as a burning bush.”

“As with any book or movie, this is a story. Not to be taken as reality, or Biblical basing....It is no different than any other story we loved that was created in someone’s mind..and there are plenty! No one questioned E.T., or Star Wars, or 100 others I could name! Good grief, folks, just enjoy a good story!!”

In response to those with a negative view of the book some people wrote:

“even though it did not align with my personal interpretation… there were some beautiful messages that I think transcend all spiritual thinking. Hoping they can pull it off!”

“I become all things to all... men that i may win some...the book is a fiction with wonderful one said it is straight from scripture! Always judging what you are afraid of!”

“The author”…“makes it clear that God is whatever you need him to be just like the bible, what description of God does your bible give, the whole point of the book is showing people they can't stick God in a box or a picture of a blond haired, blue eyed god”

“I've read this book many times and for me, it was a story of how God will go to any lengths to reach His children. While it is fiction it was written in. Such a way that reveals the heart of God for His kids. Why can't it just be what it is... a story of hope and redemption and forgiveness. It's not the Bible it's a story woven out of tragedy and shows God's unending mercy and love. Why is that a bad thing?”

It is true that the Author says the story presented in the book is a work of allegorical fiction. That is very clear to any discerning literate person who diligently reads and studies the Bible. “The Shack” does not honestly present the God of the Bible, nor will a person find Him in “The Shack,” or gain a whole new perspective of God. “The Shack,” says that God is whatever you need Him to be. The Bible says God can only be known through Jesus Christ because He is the Creator God of all things and Lord of the Cosmos.

An allegory is a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one. There are indeed hidden meanings in “The Shack” which are, in fact, considered heresy by traditional historical orthodox biblical Christianity. The author intentionally chose to present ‘god’ in a way that is totally contradictory to the Scriptures and more akin to a god that human beings created rather than the God who created us in His own image and likeness.

The biblical description of the Triune God is diametrically opposed to the hermaphroditic goddess that the author conjured up which borders on blasphemy. There is even a fourth person added named Sophia, the Greek goddess of Wisdom. There are also a number of theological issues historically considered heresy within "The Shack" such as Modalism, Panentheism, Universalism, Gnosticism, Patripassianism, Necromancy, Catabolism, Anthropomorphism, Cabbalism, and Subordinationism.

The author clearly infers that the Bible is not true because he reduces God's voice in the book to just paper. “The Shack” also presents the belief system of New Age universal spiritualism, which says that everyone will make it to Heaven because there is no need to acknowledge personal sin and God’s mandatory requirement for repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). It does matter which way a person gets to Him. Jesus said, “Only those who believe in me will have eternal life” (John 3:15, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40).

The Shack repeatedly conflicts with the Bible which says that because God is both love and just, His loving justice must prevail. As a result, He will judge people because of their sinfulness and rejection of His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ alone (Matt 12:20; Rom 3:25-26). Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.” “The Shack,” says there is no eternal judgment and torment in a place called Hell, yet Jesus Himself spoke of it (Luke 12:5, 16:23).

“The Shack” infers that God will submit to human wishes and choices. However, the Bible declares that God is absolutely holy and cannot look upon sin. “The Shack” also says that God the Father was crucified with Jesus yet the Bible says that it was Jesus alone who willingly chose to become human and took upon Himself the sins of all human beings when He hung on the Cross to be the final sacrifice for sin (Hab 1:13; Matt 7:13-15, 27:45).

"The Shack" says that God is constantly changing and being transformed along with the Christian, yet, the Bible says, “In Him there is no change,” for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 11:12, 13:8; also James 1:17).

In spite of the book begin contrary to the written Word of God, I am sure that in the emergent, spiritualist / New Age and the seeker-sensitive / post-modern churches of today, there will no doubt be “The Shack” Sermon Series and Small Group Study Guides coming out soon.

“The Shack” is simply not a new allegory of Scripture such as Paul Bunyan in the book “Pilgrim’s Progress” or the writings of C.S. Lewis, who took the theological teachings of Scripture and allegorized them. “The Shack” is a fable that has taken heretical teaching and rejected the teaching of the Bible.

To teach doctrine is the purpose of writing theological fiction. However “The Shack” creates doctrinal confusion about the Trinity, the character and nature of God, the absolute balance of His love and holiness with His justice and the reason for the atonement. Christians don't need a book of allegorical fiction to help them understand the character and nature of Almighty God - Jesus Christ. They just need to read and study His written Word, the Bible, because it is the only reliable source to know Him personally and hear His voice!