The Shack…watch out!

The following is an article written by my dear friend, Pastor Jim Owen regarding a recent Novel, “The Shack” by Paul Young. It should be very natural for the Christian to have a deep abiding love for absolute truth which is found in God’s written word. And we should be troubled by gross error. I encourage you to heed Pastor Owens counsel and warning if you choose to read this book.


The theme of this Christian novel is forgiveness. The story centers around the abduction and murder of a man’s child while the family was on a camp out. Through a series of unavoidable circumstances the father’s little girl mysteriously vanishes and the police believe that it has all the earmarks of a wanted serial killer who has alluded them for years.

Mark, the father, not only grieves for his daughter, but cannot forgive himself for letting her be taken. His hatred for her abductor is fierce. Throughout the years he is so consumed by his emotions that he experiences a “great sadness”.

The only thing that rescues the father is his response to a mysterious note he suspects is from God. The note takes him back to “the shack” that was on the property on the camp site.

It is there that Mack meets all three persons of the Godhead and one of God’s angels. God the Father appears as a black woman; Jesus as a Hebrew man; God the Holy Spirit comes to him as Sarayu, an Asian woman. The angel is also a woman. Each of these individuals plays a part in Mack’s reclamation. As a result Mack finds forgiveness for himself and for the murderer.

“The Shack” is the latest attempt by an author to make God popular with the Church today, a Church that has in large measure left the authority of God’s Word. To make God acceptable by man’s means when God’s powerful words have not done so seems the height of arrogance or at best blindness. This is another indicator that the Church is being weaned away from the Word of God.

I will make just a few comments about what I found in the book that is either the most objectionable—or the most impressive to this reader.

The Godhead

One doubts if the old men of God who were so faithful to God’s word and who held God’s holiness in such high esteem could even imagine casting God the Father and God the Holy Spirit as women.

My first question is: Why did the author think this was necessary? Could it possibly be that use of a male father would be unacceptable to a good many readers of Christian novels today since many of them are “modern” women?

This might especially be true in light of some of the dialog. For instance, Papa, a “female” Father reacts to Mack by first saying, “My but aren’t you getting uppity an’ all. Give a man an inch and he thinks he’s a ruler

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.” Later she reacts to him by shaking her head and walking away while muttering: “Men! Such idiots sometimes.” (Page 192.)

Not only does that

not reflect the attitude of the Father, but one can only imagine what the response would be by the women readers if the Father was made to utter: “Women! Such idiots sometimes .” These along with other examples could be given to illustrate how “hip” (read worldly) much of the dialog is when the members of the Godhead speak. (Pages.104-106, 108, 191-192.)

But it is Only a Novel, right?

Yes it is only a Novel. But when it is a “Christian novel” it is bound by the truth of Scripture. How can it teach truth if in the process of telling the story it abandons the very source of truth? Man’s best attempt to describe the relationship between the members of the Godhead will always fall short of reality when one leaves God’s source of final authority and wisdom—the Bible. Thus, those who are familiar with the Bible are (should be) shocked at the liberties the author takes. Man’s attempt to make God more relational usually fails and instead it becomes cheap and worldly.

Some Good in the book

As usual there are some good parts in this book. First, on pages 197 & 198 the author does mention the essence of the Christian life. In contrast to keeping a list of rules he says “Life and living is in Him” speaking of Christ. A second area of strength is found in chapter 14. The chapter deals with the believer’s relationship to God’s freedom contrasted to the demands of the Law.

Conclusion & Caution

I could mention other objections, but in short the one who is truly in need of infallible truth would be better served going to the Bible. It is there that God offers the power to change lives for His glory through Christ. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

In Christ,

Pastor Jim Owen

(Leave your comments for Pastor Owen and I’ll make sure he gets them.)

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6 Responses to “The Shack…watch out!”

  1. Don Says:

    Forrest, thank you for this article from Pastor Owen. This book is very confusing. I recall Paul and John telling the Church to “test” or “try” the Spirits. With prayer and the Holy Spirit, Christians should be able to get instruction on these matters.

    “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

    “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

    In Christ,
    Don DeSimone
    Gal 6:10

  2. Forrest Says:

    Amen to that, Brother Don. I am burdened by the number of professed believers who fail to “rightly divide” the word of truth. I suppose many think that responsibility belongs to the “preacher” or the “teacher”. This is for all who know Jesus:

    2 Timothy 2:15-16 exhorts: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”

  3. Barbara Says:

    Dear Pastor Owen,

    Thank you so much for standing for THE TRUTH. I appreciate your heart for the Lord. I have heard a review on this book and was warned that it contained some unholy things. The reviewer did not recommend it.

    Again, thank you for your research on this book. May the Lord continue to bless you and use you for His Kingdom purposes.

    In His Hands,
    Barbara DeSimone

  4. Scott D. Andersen Says:

    Thanks for posting this. Is this the same Jim Owen who wrote the book, Christian Psychology’s War on God’s Word?


  5. Forrest Wychopen Says:

    No he is not. He is a dear Pastor friend of mine…a father in the faith.

  6. Warren Says:

    Thank you Brother Forrest for sharing this note about the Shack! This book has disturbed me and there are many Christians that I know that are flocking to this book.

    Some of the reasons that people give me as there reasons are that the book gives a new fresh perspective of Jesus and the Trinity or here is another one ’’it brings us a third world perspective of Christianity and the Bible and it makes it more relevant in this modern time ’’.

    I keep reminding my Brothers and Sisters to earnestly focus on the person and Lordship of Christ and study to show thy self approved rightly dividing the word of truth! I have read this book and though I am sure the authors intentions where well intended, it is in error…Warren