A few months ago while our class was discussing potential material for Sunday School, the topic of the book, The Shack, came up--to look at it critically would've been one thing, but that wasn't the direction taken in our discussion. It wasn't long before I felt it necessary to say something. Admittedly, I've never read the book in it's entirety, but my point is there are good reasons for that. When The Shack came out, my older sister insisted that I read it, even though EVERYTHING I'd heard about it to that point advised the opposite.
After recommending against studying The Shack in Sunday school, someone asked why. At the time my sorry response was limited to, "I don't remember why, but I know that it's not a good book and it's not worth our time in Sunday School." I'm thankful that someone asked me for a good reason why. That's exactly the way they should've responded, and that kind of inquiry is always to be commended. The fact that I did not have a legitimate answer at that moment (after all, the book was released in 2007) pressed me to renew my understanding on why I felt so strongly against it. In other words, I knew it was important to respond with more than mere personal opinion, and this was one of those moments when the Lord graciously allowed me to hold my tongue instead of responding like some faux expert, absent of at least some level of biblical discernment.
With that, following our class's Sunday morning discussion, I researched and renewed my understanding of why The Shack is not worthy of our study time. Several good sources answer well all the "why" questions. Google The Shack and you will find biblical discernment presented by solid, well-respected, and trusted leaders like John Piper and Michael Youseff, among others.
Interestingly, only a short time after that Sunday School discussion, news came that the book was now going to be released as a film. The thing I found distressing about this is that many from the Christian community are not only supporting the movie, but they are touting it. Hillsong is supporting it with their music, Christian bookstores are stocked with the movie's products, Christian radio stations can't stop broadcasting accolades, and as a result, Christians and churches by the droves have been caught up in the marketing current that has swept us into dangerous waters with many unseen sandbars just below the surface. I do not mean to sound overly dramatic, my aim in writing is simply to "contend for the Faith" (Jude 1:3).
The list is many, but here is one of the critical dangers lying below the surface in The Shack, and one of the reasons why it is worth avoiding by the Christian community as a whole:
Universalism: A Perilous Pardon. This is the 2nd problem of six that Michael Youssef mentions in his blogsite article: Six Major Problems with The Shack. (www.ltw.org) "Problem #2: Another theme in The Shack that doesn't square with the Word of God is the idea that God forgives all of humanity, regardless of whether or not they repent and believe in the redeeming work of Jesus. It is an idea rooted in universalism--the belief that all roads lead to God and that Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God, whether they call Him Jesus or Buddha or Allah. In fact, Young [The Shack author, William P. Young] asserts that there is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because all people will make it to heaven."
Youssef writes, "The Bible is very clear that only those who call on the name of Jesus will be saved: 'Salvation is found in no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved' (Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5; Romans 10:9). Universalism is a dangerous and malicious lie. It leads people to think that it doesn't matter what you believe, sin is not really a problem, and there is really no need for a Savior. Universalism single-handedly destroyed Christianity in much of Europe, and universalism is working hard to destroy the faith of believers in the American church today."
"Jesus is not the same as Buddha or Krishna; He does not hide behind such false and impotent gods. He became flesh and dwelt among us that we might know Him. He wants us to know the one true God. He wants the glory that He deserves, for He alone is God: "I am the Lord; that is My name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols" (Isa. 42:8).
Are you willing to risk your eternal future on feel-good fluff? Sin is real. It is rebellion against God, and it requires justice. God's justice and wrath were poured out on Jesus Christ to reconcile us to the holy God (see 1 Peter 2:24-25). But we must have faith in Jesus, confessing His lordship and believing in His resurrection." (Source Link: http://www.ltw.org/read/articles/2017/03/six-major-problems-with-the-shack )
Universalism is heresy. Heresy is defined as: A belief or teaching opposed to the official belief of a church and that is considered wrong; opposed to biblical doctrine. Universalism is only one of several heresies in The Shack.
Now, I know several who have read the book and many who have gone to see the movie; my hope is that you found it to be a poor presentation of theology. Still, this writing is not so much about dissuading anybody from taking in The Shack either through book or film, as much as it is to encourage critical thinking coupled with biblical discernment.
Last Sunday, (April 9) my oldest son and I went to see a newly released movie at the theater, after which the first words out of his mouth were: "That was the best Christian movie I have ever seen!" I couldn't have agreed with him more. What movie did we see? It wasn't The Shack! We went to see The Case for Christ. It is a phenomenally well-done movie recounting the personal testimony of Lee Strobel.
Many of you have probably read Lee's book The Case for Christ. Again, though I'm an avid reader I have to admit that I have not read that one in it's entirety either; I've only used it as an apologetics resource. But I can now say that I've seen the movie and I would go see it again right now! Who wants to go?
Lee's story in the book and film tells of how his wife became a believer. He hated the changes in her life. He believed she was brainwashed by the church. He was desperately (often angrily) opposed to everything about her faith in Jesus Christ. He had even asked a Christian colleague at the Chicago Tribune how to get his wife out of the church. His colleague's response was essentially that the one thing Lee had to do was to disprove the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, since that is the foundation of Christianity. This was the Apostle Paul's conclusion too, as recorded in the Word of God. Here are a couple of things he had to say about it in 1 Corinthians 15:
"...if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is in vain" (v.14). "...if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins " (v. 17).
By the way, just as 1 Corinthians 13 is referred to as "the love chapter," chapter 15 is referred to as "the resurrection chapter." It is indeed a must-read chapter and worthy of our studies.
Lee Strobel set out on a journey to disprove the Resurrection of Christ, and with his experience as an investigative reporter and legal editor at The Chicago Tribune, you would guess that he very literally left no stone un-turned. He investigates the claims of Scripture and interviews lawyers, doctors, atheists, and even theologians. The book and the movie are an account of his in-depth investigation and his wrestling with the facts--the truth--which he finds. What he found culminated in Lee Strobel becoming a believer! He surrendered to the truth and gave His life to Christ as his Savior. The Case for Christ is a remarkable film featuring the very details of his investigation and findings. IT IS A MUST SEE! His investigation will sharpen your own sword of truth.
In the end, this is not a book review or a film review. And while I have a say concerning what we study at church, who am I to say what anyone should or should not read or go see at the movies; neither are my job. But I do have this blog as a bit of a platform to share my thoughts with you as your shepherd and as one contending for the faith.
So I'll leave you with this recommendation: Skip the heresy of The Shack and go see The Case for Christ.