The Shack - An Attack Upon The Bible and The God of The Bible

Few books reach blockbuster status, but William Paul Young’s The Shack has.  By 2009 it had sold more than 10 million copies and been translated into over 30 languages.  It is one of the best-selling paperback books of all time. Its readers are enthusiastic.  A movie adaptation of The Shack was released March 3, 2017.

It is a fictional story, originally written by Young to teach the doctrine of “universalism” to his own children.  We are told it is an attempt  to answer the question  of evil and the character of God by means of a story.  In the story, the main character (Mack) is grieving the brutal kidnapping and murder of his seven-year-old daughter when he receives what turns out to be a summons from God to meet him in the very shack where the man’s daughter had been murdered.

In the shack, “Mack” meets the divine “Trinity”

“Papa”,  an African-American woman who is supposed to be God
“Jesus”,  a Jewish carpenter
“Sarayu”,  an Asian woman who is supposed to be the Holy Spirit
  (Saráyu- means "air, wind", i.e. "that which is streaming".)

The book is primarily a series of discussions between Mack, Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu.  The “story” is used as a vehicle to attack the Bible and inform everyone that God is really very different from the God of the Bible.  And the writer(s)  MIGHT have had good intentions - like many do who attach God and his word....

“Papa” is absolutely non-judgmental, basically affirms all humanity is already redeemed, and corrects Mack’s idea that God is judgmental by asserting,  “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.” .... …  “Your understanding of God is wrong.” I’m not one who will “condemn most to an eternity of torment”.   The Bible does teach that God takes no joy in punishing the wicked, but also plainly and consistently reveals God to be the holy and righteous Judge, who  will indeed punish sinners. The idea that sin is merely “its own punishment” fits the Eastern concept of karma, while contradicting Biblical truth.

This book openly denies basic Bible teaching about judgment:

2 Cor 5:10  For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 

Matt 25:31-46  … … 41  Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: …… 46  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Rom 14:10  …. we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God. …… 12  So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God. 

Act 17:30  …. God …. now commandeth all  men every where to repent:   31  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

2 Thess 1:7  And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,   8  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:      Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;   >   and many other Bible verses…… 

                                                This book provides what MANY want – No Judgment!

“Papa”  tells Mack about the 3 persons of the Trinity:  “When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human”.   Nowhere in the Bible is the Father or the Spirit described as taking on human existence. The three did not become “fully human”.   Again, The Shack contradicts the Bible…

“Papa” tells Mack that, though Jesus is fully God, “he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being.”   When Jesus healed the blind,  “He did so only as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone.” 

This false position, that Jesus gave up all his divine attributes when he became a man, dates back to the 1st century.  It has been and still is espoused even by some brethren.   Truth: Jesus was BOTH God and Man at the same time, and he did not divest himself of the attributes of deity.










 The concept of authority, submission, and obedience as taught in  the Bible  are attacked and rejected:                      We are told, “The first aspect of God is never that of the absolute Master, the Almighty. It is that of the God who puts himself on our human level and limits himself.” ....     “Papa” explains that “we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity.”   and  Jesus  tells Mack:  “Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way.”     God/Papa  says:  “I am not who you think I am.”

So, “submission” does not involve obedience and according to The Shack,  God is  “submitted”  to human beings. The essence of idolatry is self-worship, and this notion that the Godhead submitted (in any sense) to humanity is inescapably idolatrous.  Just more false teaching….

Note a few verses on authority, submission, and obedience:

1 Cor 11:3 - I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.  

Phil 2:5-11 - Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: ….. taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men  8  and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,  becoming obedient  even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. ……

Matt 7:21-27 -  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. …… 24  Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: (it stood during judgment)…. 26  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: (it fell during judgment)….

2 Thess 1:7-9 - Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  9  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, ...

1 Pet 1:22  Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth..     >    etc…

The Shack directly contradicts plain Bible verses on Authority, Submission, and Obedience  [The author also rejects “wives submit unto own husbands” – Eph 5:22-f & 1 Pet 3:1-f......  I just didn't deal with those quotations.]

              Again, this book provides what MANY want, which accounts for its popularity,
No  AUTHORITY  to which man  must  SUBMIT  and  OBEY.
                   This goes right along with and supports its declaration of NO Judgment!

Jesus tells Mack that he is  “the best way any human can relate to Papa or Sarayu.”    Not the only way, but merely the best way.   Again, contradicting the Bible:  John 14:6 – “I am the way… no man cometh to the Father, but by me.”

This coincides with their false concept of universal redemption and ultimate reconciliation.  Jesus tells Mack:  “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions.”    Jesus  adds,    “I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved.”

Believers, non-believers, religious, non-religious… -- all are accepted.  So, the Bible must be wrong > there are no false ways and Christianity is not important to Jesus....

Mack then asks the question - do all roads lead to Christ?  Jesus responds,  “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.”   and    “Papa”  tells Mack that he is now reconciled to the whole world.   Mack retorts,“The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?”     “Papa” responds,  “The whole world, Mack.”   This fits right in with Young’s “documented” belief that the cross and resurrection of Christ accomplished  then and there  a unilateral reconciliation of all sinners (and even all creation) to God.  [Same concept as Calvinism’s “limited” atonement, except is “unlimited” (universal) atonement.]

With all the rambling back and forth, it all fits together:  No Authority to which one must submit/obey, therefore no judgment, because everyone (“the whole world”) is already saved (reconciled) by the cross… “Universal atonement”

The Bible says a“Christian is a disciple” (Acts 11:26),   Jesus said  “a disciple is one who abides in my word” (John 8:31),and Jesus commanded we go“make disciples (Christians) of all nations” – baptizing them (Matt 28:19)   >  Yet The Shack says Jesus has “No desire to make Christians”.   Just another contradiction of what the Bible says.

The Shack also condemns all human institutions and falsely contends that the church, governments, and marriage are human institutions: Every  human institution is the matrix, a diabolical scheme”  ....  ….  Papa   tells us, “I don’t create institutions - never have, never will.”   The institutions of the church, government and marriage are the “man-created trinity of terrors that ravages the earth and deceives those I care about. . .  It’s all false”.

The Bible tells us Christ’s church, governments, and marriage are institutions (established relationships or organizations) which God ordained.

God ordained marriage  (one man and one woman) from the beginning:  Jesus said,“…. he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?  So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”  (Matt 19:4-6, from Gen 1:26, 2:21-24).

God ordained governments  (powers, rulers, kingdoms….):  “for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God. …. For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. …. for he is a minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him that doeth evil. …. For this cause ye pay tribute also; ….”  (Rom 13:1-7).

God ordained and Jesus built HIS church  (kingdom, body of the saved):  Jesus said, “I will build my church….”  which “made known the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ…”  which is   “the fullness (completeness) of him (Christ) …"   (Matt 16:18, Eph 3:10-11, 1:22-23).

The Shack shows its contempt for these institutions/relationships which God DID ORDAIN by saying they (marriage, governments and Christ’s church) are a “diabolical scheme” created by man to “ravage and deceive” mankind.

It is true, men have corrupted these institutions/relationships which God ordained.

Men ignore and reject God’s marriage laws….
Rulers/powers/governments fail to do and be what God intended….
Men have build many churches (false ways) which claim to be Christ’s….

But we can’t let this cause us to reject and not accept what God  DID  ordain!

Many, even among  more conservative  “believers in God” - in the churches of men,  are drawn,  not just to this story, but to the theology presented in the story which conflicts with their traditional teachings, many of which are based on basic Biblical truths.

Concepts in this book are rooted in the liberal and radical ideas from the 1970s and 80s which produced the New Age movement and has influenced present day feminist and liberation ideas, which “these believers” have traditionally opposed.

The Shack has introduced and popularized these liberal concepts among these more conservative “believers”, and many of the more liberal minded are thrilled that these “progressive theological ideas” are now “trickling into popular culture by way of The Shack.”

                                                    [Personally, I think it’s more than a “trickle”…..]

Remember, The Shack is  NOT  JUST  a work of fiction, a story about a man depressed and saddened by the lose of a child.   First and foremost  it is a sustained theological argument to which many readers are drawn, and fail (or refuse) to see that it is an attach on the Bible and the God of the Bible.  [Plus, it is a money making enterprise with lawsuits over who wrote what and who all gets part of the multi-millions of dollars generated by The Shack.]

The popularity of this book can only be explained by a lack of basic Bible knowledge and actually a rejection of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Many do not want to submit to any authority which condemns many things they want to do, and many of those who claim to believe in God want to “mold” him and his word into what they want  Him  and  IT  to be. They reject the Gospel as  “the power of God to save” (Rom 1:16),  the means whereby we are able to “discern good and evil”  (Heb 5:14).  They reject the need to obey the teaching/doctrine of Jesus, therefore they flock to preaching and books like  The Shack  which "tickles their ears" (2 Tim 4:3-4) guaranteeing atonement/salvation regardless of how they live…..

Beware, The Shack is truly an attach against the Bible and the God of the Bible.


church of Christ - Bryan, Tx
“abiding in the teaching of Christ” - 2 Jn 9

We have a Study on this Subject. We'll get it ready and also put it on this website. Watch for it.