The Shack: Book Review

The Shack

A friend gave me a book called The Shack a while ago. I was told that it was an interesting book that shares a unique perspective on the trinity of God and that many Christians were buying it. In fact, as I sit here writing this post, it is the number 7 book in Amazon sales, is number one in mystery and Thrillers, number one in Religion and Spirituality, and has produced almost 600 reviews – of that, 508 give the book at least four stars. For such a small book, you would think that the phenomena wouldn’t be as big as it is, but it is continually growing. So – what’s the big deal? What is it about? How do we review it fairly and can we recommend it to others? That is the purpose of this post.

The basic story centers around this guy named Mack, who gets a letter from God and God wants to meet Mack at the Shack (The Mack Shack – I never realized how ridiculous that sounds). This is the basis of the book. This guy Mack goes to the Shack and meets with God – The Trinity and has a conversation with them. From a unique standpoint, I found that part of the story interesting. What would it be like to sit down with God while you are alive and be in communication with Him? What kind of questions would you ask if you were given that opportunity? If I were to start writing them down now, I probably would have at lest 20 pages of questions I would love to ask about life, sin, death, creation, heaven, etc… I don’t think I would ever feel like I had enough time to ask all the questions I would have. So, from the very beginning, the book caught my attention.

It is from this point on in the story though, where my concern began to arise and continued to grow. God the Father is portrayed as an African-American woman named “Papa.” Jesus is a “typical Eastern man” who might look like He works on a farm or in the fields The Holy Spirit is portrayed as an Asian woman with a very strange name. There is no reason given why the name of the Holy Spirit is what it is but it is very mystical in nature. As I sit back and think about how the Trinity is viewed, I can only say that this book is heretical. How can anyone say that this makes sense? The more I consider how this man has made the Trinity to look, the more I wonder if he realized what he was doing when he wrote it. I hope he will plead ignorance. God has decided to show Himself to creation as a male. It is not a sexist thing. It is not a power trip issue. The image of God given is very pagan in nature. Those who endorse this book have accepted a lie for the possibility of the truth. For all the respect I have for Michael W. Smith, I can only shake my head. I can’t understand how he could endorse these things. The book does not stop there though. This is only the first issue I have regarding the book.

The second problem I have come up with regards how God the Father is viewed in light of this book. In a real sense, we are providing goddess worship if we are to take God the Father and make Him god the mother. The thought of actually saying that is absurd yet those who endorse this book and say that it is a great book, and that they understand the trinity, are actually saying that they want to worship God the Father as a woman and not in Spirit, as John 4 tells us. This also includes the Holy Spirit, seen as a woman in this book. The Holy Spirit never took on the form of flesh – only Jesus did. And, for a span of 33 (plus or minus) years, came in the form of flesh as a man and then returned to the Father in a glorified body. Let us think critically about what this book is saying if we are going to endorse it (remember 508 people gave it at least 4 stars). Can I just say, that this is wrong?

The third and final problem that exists for me regarding this book is the heretical view of modalism that is displayed through out the conversations Mack has with God the Father. In one point of the book, “Papa” says, “I am truly human in Jesus.” This is a heretical view of modalism; God the Father was not born to a virgin named Mary. The Father did not die on the cross. Modalism basically means that the Father became Jesus and the Father became Spirit. We believe though that the Father sent the Son to die for humanity and after the resurrection, the Holy Spirit was sent by the Son to be a comforter for us.

My final thoughts about this book revolve around an implicit statement that is made. The trinity says that there is no hierarchy among the trinity because that doesn’t make sense unless there is sin. That is basically saying that the trinity is sinful – which we must believe is not true. There is no sin within the trinity and that there is hierarchy among the trinity. God sent the Son and the Son sent the Holy Spirit. Though they are equal in respects to their nature, they ultimately choose to be subservient to one another. Jesus makes statements like, “I only do what the Father tells me to do” and other statements in that respect.

Here’s my point. Several hundred Christians from all walks of life are endorsing this book. Pastors, teachers, school friends, and even famous musicians all state that it is a great book for people who are struggling to understand the trinity. The problem is that God cannot be understood like these people want to understand God. You and I must come to grips with the mystery of God. We must embrace a God who is approachable and yet not understandable in many respects. We must embrace what we know about God as well. We must embrace what the Bible teaches and not allow “popular Christian books” to dictate our thoughts and beliefs concerning our faith or serious doctrinal issues. Lastly, we must embrace the truth of the Gospel and the truth of God’s Word. When we do that, we grow into maturity with Christ and with God the Father.

So. Would I recommend this book to anyone? I probably would not. Why would I want to give a skewed view of God to others when they could embrace the God of the Bible? I can only hope that we would spend more time knowing the Bible rather than reading the latest book on the Christian bookshelf. These are my thoughts anyway.


6 Responses to “The Shack: Book Review”

  1. The Shack: Book Review Says:

    […] sgdavid wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptWe must embrace what the Bible teaches and not allow “popular Christian books” to dictate our thoughts and beliefs concerning our faith or serious doctrinal issues. Lastly, we must embrace the truth of the Gospel and the truth of God’s … […]

  2. Tyson Says:

    Hello Timothy I enjoyed reading your blog and was quite pleased with your disagreement of this book. Our enemy is always busy trying by any means he can to deceive people. My name is Tyson I recently started my own blog in hopes of reaching people for Christ, the world as we know it is soon at an end and those who are left here will endure much pain and suffering because of there own willingness to avoid the truth. My blog is called “So you think you’re saved” there I want to help people who are not sure or who have been deceived into believing that all the world is a stage and were just playing it out. I think people should know about God and who he is and what we have to do in order to be saved. If I might add one thing to what I think I read in your post about the trinity it would be that there is no trinity, the Father Son and Holy Ghost all have One name, Jesus. Please check out my blog and let me know what you think, it’s especially nice to see someone at least interested in what the truth is, keep searching for Christ he’s never far. God bless you Timothy.

  3. Greg Says:

    Hi Timothy, I too enjoyed the blog. Thank the Lord there are people like you that have courage to stand up and point out a detailed look at the flaws of this book. Too many Christians today are worshipping the pagan God of popular culture and not the true God.

  4. Anne Says:

    I found that this book to very very insightful! I liked the simpicity of it in the way that it enables us as humans, that may find the Bible to be very complicated to interpret, I am not a theologian, to realize that it is very easy to have a conversation with the trinity and that we as humans make it complicated to pray and converse with the trinity!! As for papa being a women, well I liked that fact that God can be whatever we need him to be to encourage us in our faith. Because of Macks history with his father a mother figure was easier for him to talk to untill he could forgive his father and himself. As for the Holy Spirit, Mack visualized him as a women, however, always described her as being there but not competely human as he could see thru her and she was more of a flighty spirit like the wind.

    There were a lot of good analogies in this book that gave me a better understanding of what faith is and what a true relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit can be like. To me it basically captured the messages of the bible into laymans terms. The fact that when I talk to anyone of the trinity I convers with all of them, that true forgiveness means forgiving others as well as myself in order to be in relationship with God.

    What I find ironic is the fact that the people that hold higher positions in some of our Churches are the first to pass judgements on others! When did they become God!

    Just because I enjoyed the book does not make me less of a Christian! Actually, I would say that it has helped me have a better relationship with God and has helped me to find peace within!! If this book can help even a handful of people have a better relationship with God and Help them to understand the teachings in the bilbe, isn’t that that many more that God has won over to help spread the word of God!!!!

  5. Lynn Sheldon Says:

    I have not read the book. But I have heard enough about it that I would not read it. Any attempt to make God a woman, when He is Spirit, but Jesus calls Him Father, makes no sense to me.

    The reason some may like this book, because they have trouble with the Bible is one of two problems. One, they do not have the Holy Spirit. Or they do have the Holy Spirit, but they need a mentor to teach them the Word.

    Finally, I remember another book passed around by many believers. It had to do with Purpose. The scriptures were not referenced and you had to go to the back of the book to find the verse. Then I had to find the Word to view it in context. Once I read the scriptures in context and saw how liberal His exegesis was, I cried. I could not believe a pastor could mislead people the way he did.

    I talked with a woman who read the book. And as she described to me some of the ideas she came away with, all I could say was the author’s teachings were in direct conflict with the Word.

    My point is this, if you have trouble with the Word, then you are not going to know whether this writing is in line with scripture. The same thing happened with the other book. People didn’t know.

    This is what makes this book so dangerous. It plays to those who know very little scripture. They do not have anything to compare the truth with and so they see this as truth, when it probably is not, based on what I’ve heard.

    Will I read it? No. I have the Word. I don’t mean to sound arrogant. Anyone who portrays God as a woman and calls Him papa, I don’t need. God is a Holy God. He is to be feared.

    God Bless,


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