I’ve heard a lot of different views on the book The Shack over the years. Now with the release of the movie version, I thought I would put my two cents in.
Some of the people I most look up to, Mark Driscol, some people at Stand to Reason and a few others view the book as being so dangerous doctrinally, that they tell people not to read it. So what’s so wrong with it?
For one God the Father and the Holy Spirit are portrayed physically, as a large black woman and a young woman. Another problem is Gods love overemphasized and Gods wrath seems nonexistent.
There are several other things that I have heard are the doctrinal problems within the book and movie, but those are the main issues. I have not seen the movie, but I will just say that I actually quite enjoyed the book.
I understand the danger when there are doctrinal issues, but I think it’s important to keep in mind that The Shack isn’t meant to be a systematic theology. I think the overall message of the story is that God is there even when we don’t see him, understand what he is doing, or how he allows bad things to happen. It tries to break down some of the stereotypes we have of God for instance of him being a tall, blonde haired, and blue eyed. Perhaps it goes to an extreme and undoctrinal point to establish this but again, this isn’t systematic theology.
Some say this is heresy or at least misleading, but I don’t think we take the same scrutiny with Christian literary classics. In Narnia, Jesus is a lion, do we call out ‘heresy’ because, biblically speaking, Jesus is a man and not a lion? Even comparing The Shack to Narnia I believe is unfair. C.S. Lewis is in my opinion the greatest storyteller, theologian, apologist, and Christian writer of the past 500 years. We shouldn’t expect William P. Young to reach that same level. Furthermore, even C.S. Lewis other stories, like Paradise Regained, or the Space Trilogy, don’t level up with the likes of Narnia, nor does the great J. R. R. Tolkein in The Lord of the Rings. There is bad doctrine with those if we try to find our doctrine in those books as well.
In the end this is how I see it. We should never be getting our theology from story literature. Our doctrine should be based on the Bible alone. As we read books like, Narnia, Lord of The Rings, or The Shack we should be filtering it through the lens of Biblical doctrine. We will find doctrine in any of those which doesn’t fit Biblical doctrine, but though everything may not fit we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. If there is fruit to be reaped it may be worth wading through the mud.
If you’re interested in the movie here is a little preview: