I want to quote people anonymously from The Shack Facebook group and add some commentary to each to show that this book is not viewed as a mere work of fiction. I believe these quotes are very instructive as to what the book is actually doing in culture and how it is indeed changing people’s understanding of who God is and how He relates to us. It seems many people’s understanding is actually changing based on Young’s understanding and portrayal of God.
Emotional responses aside to the story itself (not critiquing that at all), if it is an unbiblical portrayal of God and His work to save us in Christ, is that really and truly a good thing? Is that true spiritual progress in terms the Bible prescribes? If people become more religious and emotionally struck as a result, is that necessarily conversion by the Gospel work of Christ, or is it merely becoming religious and “dead in trespasses and sins?” I’m not talking in any way about the story’s plot line being good or not and loving the story in itself and/or identifying with it to some degree. I’m asking, is an unbiblical picture of God a positive thing? What do you think?
“My mom always told us god comes in many forms … i read it, she read it, my sister and brother in law have read it, now my brother is reading it i could not put this book down.”
So clearly this book affirms what this person was already taught: God can appear in all different forms, implicitly affirming the postmodern dogma that says, “Who are you to say you have the only way? There are thousands of ways to God.”
“I read this book and it is outstanding. I am only 13 and I have had my own views on our Lord. This book has changed my understanding about the Trinity, and i think it has been a good book to read. It was great and it is very strong. It really gets to you, too.”
Hear that again: “… changed my understanding about the Trinity.”
“I always thought maybe I had a strange idea of how i thought God is. Until I read this book. i couldn’t put it down. It showed me i’m not the only one that sees God as a friend,or papa, not someone to fear. This book brought me closer to God and I can’t wait to read it again.”
As this person says, “I always thought maybe I had a strange idea of how i thought God is.” All men conceive of God how they want by nature. Yet is this not the very essence of idolatry, with us being the starting point for our conception of God? And the Bible then comes in to reveal to us who He actually is? Yet The Shack is coming in extra-Biblically to make God more understandable than Scripture has made Him? I can’t buy that. As to the other statement, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7)
“I finished the book in one day! Awesome. It brought healing to me. I think this is a book to change lifes. It takes the legalism out and makes the trinity understandable. I am so moved by this book! I will be reading it again with a highlighter and page markers.”
Again, it made the Trinity “understandable.” What is more understandable in this particular book than what Scripture has already revealed? I’m missing something.
“I finished this book last week and can’t stop thinking about it. I am ready to re-read and have been talking about it to all my friends. I have even passed it on to a few of my closest friends in hopes that they are as touched and moved by it as I am!! Definitely one of the best books I have read in a long and truly enjoyed a different view on God. It touched my heart more than I would have ever thought it would!!”
A different view of God. Other than which view? The Scriptural one?
“All I can say is EVERYONE needs to read this book. It has changed my life and I am learning so much about our God’s wonderful love and grace. I never realized so many things about life, love and where I need to fit in with Him.”
That’s great, but which definition of love and grace? The author himself denies substitutionary atonement. That presents a huge problem for his own understanding of God’s love toward sinners, in that when you ask the question, “How has God loved us?” the Bible answers, “God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:21-26) Young apparently denies this. BIG problem.
“I just finished the book. WOW! I have asked my wife to read it. It made the Trinity easier to understand. I will read it again. To my friends…please read this book.”
Again, the Trinity is now easier to understand because of this book. Hmm. Fictional or truthful portrayal, I ask?
“This is an amazing book. Thats all I can say about…it changes your views on alot of things and puts things into everyday terms. It helps you understand why “HE” is the way “HE” is and works the way he does. I was truley encaptured by this book.”
So it helps you understand the attributes of God, but from an unbiblical and distorted picture. Not sure I get that.
“Finished the book yesterday…..amazing! Putting the trinity in a humanistic light makes it more tangible….easier to wrap your brain around. I WILL read it again. I couldn’t put it down.”
Note: if the Trinity can be made “easier to wrap your brain around,” we should be very leery of the teaching itself.
“My young children were concerned watching me read this book because I couldn’t stop crying, but it was wonderful. I shared the images of the Trinity with them and they were fascinated, even telling their cousin about it. Pretty neat!”
So parents are teaching their children these portrayals of God as truth? Excellent.
“I am disappointed that some pastors are against this book. It is not meant to be be a theology text [Really?]. It is an allegory, a vision. C.S. Lewis was that kind of writer.”
All portrayals of God are theological. Question is, are they truthful to Scripture? There is no way to escape the use of theology in reality, just as it is impossible not to use language when you talk to someone. Based on these quotes, clearly this is a book in which people see it as theological truth, not just fiction.
Wanted to add some more:
“Great Book! Makes reawaken and rearrange beliefs you had about God,Jesus, and The Holy Spirit.”
“I was raised Christian, and coverted to Islam after college. I love this book. In a world so confused with material possesions and gaining control over things that are always out of reach, I recommend this book to all. The pillars of life will never change, only the perception.”
More affirmations of presupposed postmodern dogma lying at the foundation of their beliefs. Only the perception changes? Rearrange beliefs? I don’t think so. Either God has or hasn’t revealed Himself to us clearly and truthfully. In addition, if this last person is still insistent in holding onto their Islamic faith, then what has the book truly accomplished? Even Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet from God. Just not the Son of God, God in the flesh, who suffered, died and rose from the grave for sinners. You see why these things matter and how if we’re not clear, we’re doing no service to anyone?
I just don’t know how much clearer all of this could be that books like this DO change people’s theology. It’s the same thing with the Da Vinci Code. “Oh but it’s just fiction!” Yet within the fictional story are propositional truth claims that are either right or wrong, truth or flat-out lies. As James White has said over and over again, “Theology matters.” Yes it does. This is a fantastic case-study of why.