Monday, July 21, 2008

The Shack is a devilish deception

Undoubtedly you are aware of The Shack, the runaway bestselling "Christian" book by William P Young. I discovered it because it is discussed, reviewed and endorsed on Ken Davis 's blog (Davis of Lighten Up! ministries). Davis puts it up there with CS Lewis's work, and writes that if you read it, "It will change your life." It may just do that. Change it for the worse.

It is being sold through LifeWay (albeit with a very weak warning). It was even touted at the Christian Booksellers Association as the next great thing, but this book is dangerous heresy. It is doing its part to help water down biblical theology, impose wrong thinking, and ushering in Apostasy.

I give this book no quarter.

I had heard heard Davis preach a solidly biblical sermon at Praisefest, so on that strength I bought The Shack. Its first 80 pages are a literate person's thrill, well-written, sensitive, and extremely readable. However, the moment the main character opened the door to The Shack to where he has been invited by "God," the open door of invited trouble began. I continued to read for a while, but was increasingly uncomfortable with the un-biblical teachings in the book and eventually threw the book n the trash after the last straw at around page 130. A bare list of but a few heretical statements and principles in this book:

That God is represented as a woman
That a man can see God's face and live
That the Trinity is equal, all three operating in equal in part, none subservient to GOD
That the Holy Spirit is represented as a woman
That, when asked if Jesus is the only way to heaven, a reply "Jesus is the best way"
That when asked about sin, God replies, "I don't punish sin, sin itself is punishment enough"
Pantheism: ‘God is in all things’
And many more!

A concern is also in the sly ways the book chips away at solid biblical principles with craftily written statements such as, "the dusty old King James Bible" or church attendance is "religious conditioning" or that the term "Christian" is outdated, as uttered by the book's "Jesus", "Who said anything about being a Christian? I am not a Christian" that people may not even be consciously aware of haveing read but are influenced by them anyway.

The book has many examples both overt and covert of biblical un-theology, and I don't care that it is represented as fiction. It is touted as a Christian book, is sold at Christian outlets (Lifeway and CBA among others) but it holds UNchristian teachings, fiction or not. And it is affecting a great many of millions. The author was even interviewed on BBC America Friday night.

My concern is the terrible sweep this book is making over the world, more than even a Course in Miracles. At least with a Course in Miracles, Christians railed against it, readily identifying it as New Age cultism and occultism. However The Shack has gained the acceptance of previously solid (or perceived as solidly) Christian outlets such as LifeWay and the CBA.

This book is a Satanic deception that is now infiltrating even among our own!

Here is a recap about the reception of the book's author from a Christian bookseller who attended the CBA:

"William Paul Young, author of the runaway bestseller, The Shack, attended and spoke to convention attendees at a breakfast on Wednesday morning. You might be aware of Young and his book: the novel, which details a man’s search for emotional healing after the brutal murder of his daughter, has generated controversy due to its odd depiction of the Trinity (for example, “God” is a large black woman; Oprah Winfrey and Queen Latifah are rumored to be in the lead for the inevitable film role)."

"Young didn’t reveal much about his theology during a discussion format. Instead, he talked about his own narrative, something vastly popular today. No longer do religious speakers present theology and doctrine to audiences. That’s considered hopelessly outdated."

"Instead, one’s own life journey is all the rage. And Young’s poignant story of suffering sexual abuse as a child moved the audience to collective tears. Nothing else mattered, not the questionable elements in the book or Young’s ties to liberal thinkers. The real bottom line is the bottom line. Christian stores are struggling against the giant retailers, who can offer deep discounts for books. Therefore, whatever nominally Christian book which sells big is treated like royalty."

"When Young finished speaking, he left the stage and was embraced warmly by CBA President Bill Anderson. Several attendees rose and applauded." Ugh


Here is a link to a solidly theological review by Christian reviewer Tim Challies. Challies' review is gaining acceptance as the go-to review for many online pastors who recognize The Shack as a deception and simply link to it. Challies made his review into a .pdf, it's 17 pages and downloadable. I have a copy and it is worth reading in its entirety. It is is on Tim's web page here.

I worry for unsaved people who read this book and believe that Jesus is only the best way to heaven and that there are others. There aren't. I worry for our saved friends who may taste this book only to open the door to a satanic deception that is sweeping the country and deceiving non-Christians AND Christians. I advocate for a public warning and an exposure against this book from among all who would be so inclined, so I am doing my part. It is obvious that radio pastors, the CBA and Lifeway cannot be trusted as appropriate gatekeepers.

We must hold the gates of the Truth of the bible firmly shut against creeping deceptions, and help each other remain firmly aware, forewarned, and on guard.


Anonymous said...

Do you get the humor or is this also heresy?

Christianity = A cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his fleshand drink his blood; while telepathically tell him you accept him as your master so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

I think Christians are strong enough to take a joke and strong enough to read a book and decide if it is fact "Christian" or not ... give us some credit.

Elizabeth Prata said...

Well, I do give credit, but I also gave credit to a nationally known, biblical pastor who has enormous influence through his ministry, his radio show, and his blog, but who is obviously deceived.

I am not laughing nor not laughing at your reformation of my faith RE the above joke. But I wonder if Jesus is.

Anonymous said...

The reason it is funny is because it is true. It is like Pastor Doug (in Gray) says about the watermelons. If you hold up a seed and say put in the dirt, add water and sunshine, and you will get a pink juicy fruit. Sounds incredible. Where does it come from, the dirt and water? But it's true. It just grows despite all logic to the contrary. So no I think humor is funny and not at all faith-crushing. Someone who has faith cannot lose it by reading a book; it defies logic; it just "is". Peace.
PS - I think Jesus would laugh.

Anonymous said...

Dear Quiet Life,
If you click the link from Ken Davis's blog it takes you to Amazon. Amazon sets up accounts and they can tell the book is being recommended from his site. Ken Davis will receive $$ for each book sold this way. Not only is he recommending it, he is making money from it.

Christie said...

I just read they are starting pre-production for transforming this book into a movie.

If it's meant to be some sort of self-help/spiritual book with claims to authenticity, then I can understand getting upset. But if it's touted as fiction, it should be approached as such and any offense should be excused.

Also, maybe the endorsements of others comes from the idea that they'd rather have folks read this book - with the Christian messages and such - over some ordinary Stephen King-like pulp fiction. For this reason, they are more able to overlook the liberties taken by the author. (Just a thought. Wish I had more time to read it myself.)

Anonymous said...

Good for you for having conviction in your faith and the willingness to share it with others, even those who would be far less forgiving if you mocked their faith.


Elizabeth Prata said...

thanks Chuck!

Thanks also to all who read the entry and thanks to those who commented.

Well, I believe what I believe and will defend it vigorously.

Sue Dent said...

The Shack was never marketed as a Christian book, at least not by the definition of Christian that the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) and ECPA(Evangelical Christian Publishers Association)cling to.

Yes, The Shack was written by a Christian but it was marketed to the general market of Christians. The readers of the genreal market read it and enjoyed it to the point of making it a best seller.

The Shack was self-published because, like many first time authors, no "real" publisher would look at him.

What's important about that?

No CBA or ECPA affiliated publisher would look at him either thus meaning he should never have ended up in any Lifeway or Family Christian or any other CBA affiliated Christian Bookstore.

All affiliated Christian Bookstores pull from CBA and ECPA approved stock. You have to pay to be CBA or ECPA affiliated. Mr. Young did not. Therefore Mr. Young can not be held accountable for offending the readers of this very unique and targeted market.

His work was not written for them to enjoy. CBA and ECPA were set up to protect this market and they did not do it in this case.

Why then is he in CBA affiliated Christian Bookstores?

Because after the book started selling hand over fist, because the general Christian market loved it, they put their stamp of approval on it.

I'm not sure that was such a smart move based on all the reviews CBA and ECPA core market readers have left.

I only have one question for CBA and that is this. With all the grand non-affiliated Christian books out there that your market does approve of, why do you only allow the ones in that your core market is bound to rake across the coals?

It must be the money because it sure isn't the market. CBA and ECPA core market readers didn't make this book what it is. In fact, I don't know of one CBA or ECPA core market reader who will say this book is anything but hearsy.

As a Christian who writes fiction myself, I'm just in awe of this move.

Ken said...

Just read your post on The Shack. I guess that shows how far behind I am in keeping up with my own cyber- world.

It always amazes me how people who hold to so many common truths can be so divergent in their view of a singular issue.

You and I have much in common. I am a political and theological conservative and though I wouldn't call my self a theologian, I studied theology extensively. I am an artist and writer. I also love photography

In regard to our divergent views of "The Shack" I have two major comments. One you will likely find debatable the other cannot be argued.

First, I don't see "The Shack" as heresy at all. I see it as a fascinating piece of fiction with questionable theology. Had it been a theological treatise I would have been one of the first to cry foul. But it is fiction.

As I read, I recognized not only bad theology but some bad writing. If Young's rendition of the "holy spirit" had twinkled with iridescence one more time, I might have lost my cookies.

Whether his literary attempt to leave a legacy of his struggle for his children can be labeled as dangerous and heretical may be debatable. However my next point is not debatable.

After reading the book, in spite of the books weaknesses, I was moved to recommit myself to Christ and to the work to which he has called me. Several of my unsaved friends have been driven to the "non fiction" life changing truth of the scriptures as a result of reading the book. None of them showed the slightest move toward heretical belief. Non of them saw "The Shack" as anything more than fiction that ignited their interest in Christ.

Frankly, throughout my life God has used the truth found even in secular writings as a catalyst to seek his face. Even an incredible sunset over Las Vegas.

I don't know you, but because of the commonality of our interests and belief, I find it interesting that we fall on opposite sides of this issue. If we ever find ourselves in the same space. Let's talk. I'll buy the coffee. Until then keep making us think.

By the way, My recommendation of the book was inspired only because of what happened in my life.

I am unaware of the Amazon money making connection. If I am suppose to be getting some kind of check, it hasn't arrived. Now that's heresy!

Elizabeth Prata said...

Hi Ken,

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate it so much. I am also glad to hear about your recommitment and your unsaved friends' gravitation toward more substantial theology as a result of reading The Shack. All this is good.

I question the billing of the book with partners like Lifeway as "Christian fiction." Many people I speak with say that it's just fiction.' But it's 'Christian fiction' and if the book is sold as such, in my opinion, it should line up with Christianity.

For me, that means what is in the bible, and the bible only. So when Jesus says "I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me" and the book says that "Jesus is the best way to heaven but not the only way', well, then, it's not Christian. Fiction totally, but not Christian.

I fear for the unsaved who read this and being in the end times now, the prevalence is to prefer tickled ears and not solid doctrine. They may read that statement about Jesus being the best way to heaven but not the only way, say "I knew it!" and go their merry way over to Oprah’s site thinking they will end up on clouds in heaven after they die. Not so.

And also, my irritation extends to Lifeway and the Christian Booksellers' association, esp. Lifeway, who started out by yanking it, then re-stocked shelves when they saw a market and thought they could get away with a pitiful little sign that says, "your mileage may vary." The reception the author received at the CBS was sad to me, but indicative of the times of tickled ears the bible says will come.

Your comment about the twinkly Holy Spirit made me laugh! Again, I thank you for the comment and reply. I wish you the best