Why The Shack Isn’t for Christians

Check out our podcast episode on The Shack & Christian Discernment

The book The Shack has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and has been translated into numerous languages, so it’s not a surprise that Hollywood has decided to cash in on its popularity with a blockbuster movie. While the book is marketed as a “Christian novel” and the movie is marketed to Christians, it simply isn’t based on Biblical Christianity. In fact, it’s full of heresy. The number of Christians who are singing its praises is evidence of the lack of discernment prevalent in American Evangelicalism. What’s even more concerning is that many Christian pastors and teachers are endorsing the book and movie.

The Shack was written and self-published by William P. Young and gained popularity with very little marketing. It’s the story of Mack (Mackenzie) Phillips after the abduction and murder of his daughter while on a family vacation. While her body is never found, evidence of her murder by a notorious serial killer is discovered in an abandoned shack. Years later, in his great sadness, Mack receives a mysterious note from “Papa”  that seems to be from God, inviting him to the shack. While he is there, the shack is supernaturally transformed into a beautiful scene and it is there he has encounters with manifestations of the Trinity, who communicate with him through much of the book.

While The Shack is a work of fiction, it points to ideas based in Scripture and attempts to answer questions about God and why He allows evil. The Shack endorses ideas that are not Biblical and at points are even heretical, including its portrayal of the Trinity. It also uses actors to represent the persons of the Trinity, which is a violation of the second commandment (Exodus 20:4-6). This simply is not a book or movie that Christians should watch or endorse.

Discussions of the upcoming movie may offer opportunities for conversations with friends and family about Biblical Christianity. Several trustworthy Christian sources have offered reviews and commentary on the book, along with a more detailed analysis of the theological errors and heresy within it. These resources should offer help in understanding and discussing with others why the book and the upcoming movie is not something Christians should get behind.

 

1. The Shack: Its dangerous theology and error (full documentary) by Paul Flynn

In his documentary, Paul Flynn discusses in detail the theology in The Shack and where it is not consistent with Scripture, including the heresies which it promotes.

2. The Shack vs The Bible (Video) WWUTT (YouTube video)

This video from WWUTT (When We Understand The Text) is a short summary of the Biblical issues in The Shack. This is a great resource to share with believers who are planning on seeing the movie.

3. The Shack by William P. Young by Tim Challies

Tim Challies has written a longer, more detailed article about The Shack. He explains in detail the Biblical issues with the book, including on the Trinity, salvation and forgiveness. This is one of the most thorough reviews of the book and discussions of its theological errors.

4. Why I Won’t Be Seeing (or reviewing) The Shack Movie by Tim Challies

In this article, Tim Challies explains why he’s decided not to see the movie The Shack, even for the purpose of reviewing it. His biggest concern is “its visual representation of God.” He explains that “To watch The Shack is to watch human actors play the roles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I take this to be a clear, serious violation of the second commandment.” He also reviews some of the same concerns from his earlier article.

5. Is the Shack Christian? by James B. DeYoung

James B. DeYoung, author of Burning Down “The Shack”: How the “Christian” Bestseller is Deceiving Millions argues in this article that the “novel and the movie are becoming the greatest deception to blindside the evangelical church in the last 200 years.” He also discusses Pilgrim’s Progress, another Christian allegory which some have tried to compare to The Shack.

6. The Shack: The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment  by Albert Mohler

Albert Mohler points out several theological issues with The Shack arguing, “The popularity of this book among evangelicals can only be explained by a lack of basic theological knowledge among us.” Along with showing several things in the book which are contrary to Scripture, he also spends some time talking about why The Shack is so popular among Evangelicals, not just the storyline, but even the theology, when it’s so obviously not Biblical. He argues that we desperately need a “theological recovery” and that this should be a “wake up call for Evangelical Christianity.”

7. Shack Ebola Virus Outbreak 2 (audio) Fighting for the Faith with Chris Rosebrough

During the first hour of this episode of Fighting for the Faith, Pastor Chris Rosebrough talks about “Cru’s (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) Nonendorsement/Endorsement of The Shack.” He also gives “an Overview of the Theological Errors and Dangers of The Shack and Wm. Paul Young.”

8. “The Shack” to be the next blasphemous blockbuster [VIDEO] Berean Examiner by Amy Spreeman

In this article, Amy Spreeman talks about blasphemy in The Shack and lists the book’s heresies which Michael Youssef has identified. She also points out that, “Everyone gets into heaven in Young’s story. No sin or repentance, no need for a savior, and no need for a Gospel at all.”

9. William Young, Author of The Shack, Outright Denies the Penal Substitutionary Atonement (starts at the 45 minute mark) Fighting for the Faith with Chris Rosebrough

Pastor Chris Rosebrough plays an interview with William Young, author of The Shack, where Young denies penal substitutionary atonement. Young also embraces other unbiblical theology, such as aspects of pelagianism.

 

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3 Comments
  1. Paul 2 months ago

    One of your readers asked me to comment on a segment of this blog. The statement in question is “It also uses actors to represent the persons of the Trinity, which is a violation of the second commandment”. To clarify, second commandment refers directly to idols, which is different than representing the Trinity.

    Also, from a story telling perspective, it is not possible to show this type of interaction without using actors. It would be very difficult to have an audible conversation with God and the Holy Spirit without actors — especially on the big screen.

    Keep in mind that movies are designed to be entertain; They were not intended to teach biblical doctrine, nor should they ever be used for that purpose. If you are looking for sound theology, I would start by reading Matthew, Hebrews, or 1 John. If you are looking to be entertained for the night, then you can go see a movie. But it is important not to confuse the two, and I have noticed that many blogs do just that.

    Theology must come directly from scripture, not from any movie, song, or Christian book.

    • WallBreaker 2 months ago

      You underestimate the Power of Film and Music then my friend. 80% of professing Christians don’t read their Bibles daily and 60% believe there are other ways to God then through Jesus. Film and Music is practically shaping our very culture and has so for decades now and when you add to the fact that many professing Christians just believe whatever their favorite pastor or preachers are telling them along with the Statistics I just gave you it would be foolish to assume this Film is not harmful. Deception is rarely ever obvious or quick, its usually slow and subtle. On top of this Movies and Music engage 5 parts of our brain while reading engages 1 maybe 2 parts. Also to claim Movies and Music can’t and shouldn’t have Theological truth is ridiculous. If it possible to communicate Unbiblical and New Age believes and thoughts than how is Theological Thoughts or Believes any different?

  2. Billie 3 days ago

    I personally agree. If people haven’t read the bible, and really studied it. With the Holy spirits help, a person can get a false understanding and perspective. It was a cute movie, but I didn’t appreciate the part where Jesus says, hes not a christian. Whats the meaning than?

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