The Ungodly Truth About “The Shack” – A Short Book/Movie Review


Ephesians 4:14 

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”

This article is addressing the so-called “Christian” aspect of the story.

The verse above, unfortunately, describes far too many professing Christians (including pastors) who open themselves up to unbiblical doctrine by means of an emotionally driven storyline. A book/movie like The Shack by William P. Young will succeed in increasing ungodliness because the truth of God the Father, the Trinity, and the Christian life in general is nowhere to be found. What is claimed to be “Christian” is nothing short of blasphemous.

The success of this movie will also be due in part to the use of well-known, well-liked actors—a factor that contributes to the viewers’ desire  to watch. Whether knowingly, or unknowingly, just these two things in conjunction with a heart-wrenching storyline goes a long way in people’s minds to accept what is being presented as truth.

Those who know little or nothing about the true nature of God, and are trying to decide what they believe, are at a fork in the road. If they take any of the so-called “Christian” aspects of this story to heart, they will undoubtedly follow the wrong road.

A large crowd going in the same direction does not mean they are going the right way.

Matthew 7:13, 14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

If the endorsements of the book are an indication of what I touched on above, then the movie will prove Eph. 4:14 (God’s word) all the more true. I say this because people tend to take to heart what they see even more than what they read. If those who read the book, and even some who simply heard a synopsis of the story were so moved by it, then it stands to reason because of the visual connection, a greater volume of people will accept the deception with open arms.

The author is being lauded as an authority on the person(s) of God. His Gnostic beliefs are far removed from Biblical teaching. This book/movie not only profanes God the Father and His deity, but blasphemes with almost every word.

Aside from attempting political correctness by the mention of more than one ethnic descriptions of the Trinity, the author is seemingly trying to appease everyone ecumenically as well. Young not only used his imagination writing this book/movie, but borrowed from other cultures and religions which is exactly why this book/movie should not be taken seriously. While reading the book, I got the impression that Mr. Young, through the various uses of other religions and occult practices, doesn’t know what he believes; maybe that explains why he pushes love and relationships so hard, not that there is anything wrong with either; if in accordance to God’s principals. Mr. Young’s god is clearly from his own imagination and contrary to a quote you’ll see later, our imagination does not “…make us so like them” (i.e. the Biblical Trinity).

The Shack is a story centering on a man named Mack, who four years earlier, lost his youngest child Missy to murder. One day Mack checks the mail and pulls out a note written by God—signed Papa—telling him to come back to the shack where Missy’s bloody dress was found. Once there, Mack eventually falls asleep, weary with grief and shivering from the winter cold. Next thing he knows he’s meeting Papa, Jesus and Sarayu. They take turns helping him through his emotional roller-coaster ride. Mack is then given the choice to stay with them and his beloved Missy, or return to his life with his wife and remaining two children. Mack chooses to go back and is awakened to find himself where he originally laid on the floor (by the blood stain that was his daughter’s). Mack gets in an accident on the way home and is nearly killed. Ironically, Mack’s wife Nan, the spiritually strong one in the family, is initially skeptical of Mack’s experience at the shack, but their love and relationship get them through and they live happily ever after.

Because there are numerous things in contradiction to God’s word, this will be an attempt to focus on the most obvious errors.

This is just a partial list of errors and blasphemies:

Young introduces his version of the Trinity with a variety of ethnic descriptions as well as two of the three being female pg 82-84, “…a large African-American woman…”(Papa God the Father), “…a small distinctively Asian woman…virtually transparent and hard to see…”, (Sarayu Holy Spirit), a man “…appeared Middle Eastern and dressed like a laborer complete with tool belt and gloves…(Jesus as a carpenter).

Nowhere in the Bible is God or any part of the Trinity described as female. Young, assigned them names stemming from Eastern religion and Greek mythology; Papa and Elousia (God), Jesus’ name is the same but certain aspects of his character are not scriptural, Sarayu (Holy Spirit), Sophia (a personification of God’s wisdom).

Pg 92 Papa is telling Mack, “Honey, there’s no easy answer that will take your pain away. Believe me, if I had one, I’d use it now. I have no magic wand to wave over you and make it all better. Life takes a bit of time and a lot of relationship. [bold emphasis mine]

This is bringing God down to human level. Young’s god can’t take the pain away and doesn’t have an answer except that time and relationships is all that’s needed to heal the hurt he is feeling. This is what you get in a false god, and worldly psychology. The one true God of the Bible says:

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Pg 95 Papa bears the same scars of the cross that Jesus does. “…Mack noticed the scars in her wrists, like those he now assumed Jesus also had on his.” Jesus, not God the Father, died on the cross—the reason for the scars.

Matthew 27:46-50 “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.”

God the Father is omnipresent (ever-present). He forsook his sinless Son because he cannot be in the presence of sin. It was our sins which Jesus bore on the cross for our sake—to save us from eternal damnation. There is no reason, and more importantly, no scriptural support for God the Father to bear the same scars as his Son.

Pg 96 Papa: “Don’t ever think that what my son chose to do didn’t cost us dearly. Love always leaves a significant mark,” she stated softly and gently. “We were there together.”” Mack: “At the cross? Now wait, I thought you left him—you know—‘My God, my god, why hast thou forsaken me?” Papa: “You misunderstand the mystery there. Regardless of what he felt at that moment, I never left him.” “…When all you can see is your pain, perhaps then you lose sight of me?”

In this paragraph Young denies the finished work of the cross! God the Father allowed this to happen for a divine purpose and Jesus knew it.

John 19:28-30 “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

God the Father turned away that the scriptures be fulfilled. Holiness does not look upon unholiness. Jesus had to die in the manner He did for our sins to be crucified with Him. So in that, we who believe and accept the gift of salvation may also live in eternity with Him. Rejecting Christ’s finished work on the cross is the worst sort of blasphemy. Young completely distorted part of the foundational message of the Gospel of Christ and created another god!

Pg 141 Jesus tells Mack, “You imagine. Such a powerful ability, the imagination! That power alone makes you so like us. But without wisdom, imagination is a cruel taskmaster.”

This “power” of imagination is not that of a simple child’s game, but more like today’s New Age practices: Transcendental meditation, spirit guides, certain forms of yoga, etc., all of which come from Eastern religions. Much like the ones Young grew up around.

Romans 1:18-23 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteous-ness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse; Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man…” [underline mine]

Pg 148 Mack asks Jesus the question, “But you came in the form of a man. Doesn’t that say something?” “Yes, but not what many have assumed. I came as a man to complete a wonderful picture in how we made you. From the first day we hid the woman within the man, so that at the right time we could remove her from within him. We didn’t create man to live alone; she was purposed from the beginning. By taking her out of him, he birthed her in a sense. We created a circle of relationship, like our own, but for humans. She, out of him, and now all the males, including me, birthed through her; and all originating, or birthed, from God.

This is a perfect example of the latter half of Ephesians 4:14 “…by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” This passage is just begging for someone to say “it’s just semantics” to those who would attempt to correct the error.

I’ll say it now, this is my attempt! Eve was not hidden within Adam. There is no circle of relationship. God the Father created Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed life into him. HE then took a rib from Adam and created Eve, and they were fruitful and multiplied. End of story!

Genesis 2:21, 22 “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

Pg 152 Mack describes Sophia as, “…a tall, beautiful, olive-skinned woman with chiseled Hispanic features…” and continues on pg 153 with Mack thinking she is “Everything that sensuality strives to be, but falls painfully short.”

Webster’s dictionary defines sensuality as, “The quality or state of being sensual; devotedness to the gratification of the bodily appetites; free indulgence in carnal or sensual pleasures; luxuriousness; voluptuousness; lewdness.” Why is it necessary to sensualize wisdom? Young’s fixation on the woman smacks more of a pagan love goddess!

Pg 171 Sophia is named and defined on the one hand, “..a personification of Papa’s wisdom,” and on the other “She’s part of the mystery surrounding of Sarayu.” The conversation between Mack and Jesus concerning Sophia is as follows with a few inconsequential details left out (such as Mack stopping to tie his shoes):

Mack asks if she is God too, making four of them. Jesus says no, there are only three of us. “Sophia is a personification of God’s wisdom.” Mack says, “Oh, like in Proverbs, where wisdom is pictured as a woman calling out in the streets, trying to find anyone who’ll listen to her?” Jesus: “That’s her.” Mack: “But…she seemed so real.” Jesus: “Oh, she’s quite real.” “She’s part of the mystery surrounding of Sarayu.”

Though it is not specifically stated, the picture is thus; Papa is a large African-American woman whose wisdom is personified by a sensually beautiful, olive-skinned, Hispanic woman; who is also the mystery that surrounds Sarayu—the female equivalent of the Holy Spirit. If “wisdom” is only a personification and a mystery then why assign a name, physical attributes, and a completely different ethnicity? Mack asks if Sophia (a.k.a. wisdom) is God too, and is given the answer “no.” But later, he is told she is real, and we just read that she has a physical description.  Either Young’s Papa has a multiple personality disorder, or there is major contradiction going on here. But, the red flag that screams at me is the underlying theme—feminism is the authority. A person can rarely turn on the television anymore without seeing this theme in just about every storyline regardless if it’s real-life or fiction. Even several kids shows and movies have the girl character as the lead, and, or smarter with the sarcastic lines that demean the male character.

Biblically speaking, wisdom is metaphorically referred to as “she”—minus the physical description and name. As stated at the beginning of this article; no female, or characteristics of a female have ever had anything to do with the Biblical Trinity.

Ch. 15 opens with Sarayu and Papa taking Mack on a journey of sorts in his mind. When Mack opened his eyes he was blinded by the light emanating from Sarayu, to which she responds, “You will find it very difficult to look at me directly” “…or at Papa. But as your mind becomes accustomed to the changes, it will be easier.”

The Holy Spirit of the Bible is never described as having a blinding light emanating from “him”. The rest of the chapter tells of Mack’s clarity of vision. He is now able to see as the three god figures see, and everything is illuminated with halos of light: Nature, animals, angels, sentinels, and of course people have an aura about them—more New Age philosophy that flows right into Necromancy. This is the second time in this book that Mack will have contact with a dead loved one. The first, being with Missy when he was with Sophia and he saw his daughter through a waterfall. Missy knew her father was there and motioned as if she was hugging him. Now, in his mind with Sarayu and Papa, Mack sees a commotion of agitated lights which are coming from his dead father. This time Mack actually embraces his father; they forgive each other for various things while Mack’s father was still alive, and all is well.

A quote from Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer pretty much sums it up:

So often people think that Christianity is only something soft, only a kind of gooey love that loves evil equally with good. This is not the biblical position. The holiness of God is to be exhibited simultaneously with love. We must be careful, therefore, not to say that what is wrong is right, whether it is in the area of doctrine or of life, in our own group or another. What is wrong is wrong anywhere, and we have a responsibility in that situation to say that what is wrong is wrong.  (Schaeffer, Francis A. The Mark of a Christian. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1996, c1982)

Article by Kathy Beardsley – 12/4/2016

Other reviews worth reading on the “The Shack” :

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