Mark Alan Williams
Warning - Stay Out Of The Shack!
Bad things happen in there.
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Please stay out of The Shack. Both the novel and now the movie. The novel is theologically dangerous. The movie, opening Friday March 3, 2017, is an extension of the novel. Be careful.
Please understand, I love good stories and good movies. I wouldn’t be advising you to stay out of The Shack unless there was significant cause for concern.
Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15 ESV)
1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Christians are told to be discerning. But it seems that many Christians lack discernment.
Others have analyzed and written about the many misleading aspects of The Shack. So, I don’t need to write more—you can read their great articles here:
Albert Mohler, “The Shack – The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment”
Randy Alcorn, “Reflections on The Shack”
Tim Challies, “The Shack” by William P. Young
Tim Keller, “The Shack–Impressions”
What I’d like to do is answer some of the reasons I’ve heard for why it’s OK to read, watch and recommend The Shack:
1. For heaven’s sake, The Shack is just fiction.
This argument is that the misleading theology in The Shack shouldn’t be taken seriously, since everyone knows it’s just a story.
The problem with this argument is that stories are some of the most powerful ways of teaching. Jesus used stories (parables) constantly to make His points.
Stories are so powerful for teaching that we read in Matthew 13:34 “Jesus used illustrations to tell the crowds all these things. He did not tell them anything without illustrating it with a story.” (GW)
One of the most popular Christian books of all time is Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. That book teaches through the story of Pilgrim and his progress on a spiritual journey. It’s a wonderful book that teaches great biblical truth through story.
Stories are great teaching tools. Unfortunately, The Shack teaches untruth through story. Stay out of The Shack.
2. But many have been spiritually helped by The Shack.
Christians also argue that The Shack is a great book because people have found it spiritually helpful and encouraging. So, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, they say. People like it better than anything they’ve ever heard about Christianity.
The problem is that it’s more palatable than the Bible because it dilutes Biblical Truth.
Watering down spiritual truth to make it more appetizing is exactly what we’re warned about in 2 Timothy 4:3: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” (ESV)
Please stay out of The Shack and help others to know about the errors also.
3. Mark, you’re just a spiritual nitpicker.
This argument is that people like myself are just too uptight. We just need to relax a little.
If The Shack had problems with minor doctrines, I would certainly not be concerned. The problem is that it misleads relating to major doctrinal areas such as salvation, the eternal state, and the nature of God.
I would not be doing my duty as a Christian leader if I didn’t sound an alarm: “You will be doing your duty as Christ’s minister if you remind your church members of these things (false teaching), and you will show yourself as one who owes his strength to the truth of the faith he has absorbed and the sound teaching he has followed. But steer clear of all these stupid Godless fictions. Take time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.” (1 Timothy 4:6-7 ESV)
Note the interesting phrase in verse 7 of this passage: “But steer clear of all these stupid Godless fictions.”
4. It promotes Jesus and that’s got to be a good thing.
Promoting Jesus is a good thing, if the Jesus promoted is the Jesus of the Bible. Unfortunately, the Jesus and theology of The Shack is often not that of the Bible.
All cults promote Jesus. But they are false cults devised by false teachers. They lead people to spiritual destruction.
Promoting Jesus is not always a good thing, when the promoting is done by false teachers.
Let’s be aware of the warning of 2 Peter: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.” (2 Peter 2:1-3 ESV)
Just because something has Jesus or God in it, doesn’t mean it is good. Stay out of The Shack!
5. Some Christian leaders have reviewed and endorsed it.
Please don’t imagine that anything produced by a “Christian publisher” or endorsed by a “Christian leader” must be OK. Unfortunately, that is not true.
Christian leaders make mistakes. Christian publishers publish books that have errors and mislead.
Some “Christian leaders” leave the faith. Others begin to believe doctrines that are not biblical. Follow Christian news and you’ll see this happening frequently.
You might ask, “But Mark, why should I believe you and not this other Christian leader?”
Actually, I’m not asking you to believe me. I’m asking you to read the articles by other discerning Christian leaders listed above. Study Scripture, pray and ask for spiritual discernment.
In studying for yourself, you’ll be like the commendable Bereans: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11 ESV)
Please examine the Scriptures for yourself and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you.
In conclusion, this is not a small issue. It’s a big one because it goes to the heart of the Gospel: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8 ESV)
The bottom line: Stay out of The Shack!
Note: There are many ministries I can enthusiastically endorse. For a list, see my Recommended Resources page.
Additional resources about related subjects on this site:
Video vlog: Twisting Scripture
Podcast: Does salvation come only through faith in Christ? (exclusivism)
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