The Shack is only fiction

Paul Young | CARMPeople defend the book The Shack, written by Paul Young, by saying it is only fiction and that we shouldn't be too concerned with everything it says.1  Fair enough.  On page 225 of The Shack, we are told by God, “In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship.”  So this fiction story says that all people are forgiven of their sins.  Is this true?  No, it is not.  In fact, it is a direct contradiction to scripture that says there are people whose sins are not forgiven (Matt.12:31).  So for those who love the book, appreciate its warmth, see great things in it, and say it is only fiction, to them it isn't that big of a deal.  It's excusable.

On page 206 Papa (God the Father) says, "Honey, I've never placed an expectation on you or anyone else.  The idea behind expectations requires that someone does not know the future or outcome and is trying to control behavior to get the desired result."  So, The Shack tells us that God has never placed an expectation on anyone?  Really?  What about 1 Pet. 1:16, “You shall be holy, for I am holy."  Or Matt. 10:38 where Jesus expects the Christians to pick up their cross daily and follow him.  But, since The Shack is only fiction and makes people feel good about God, don’t worry about this little insignificant problem that contradicts scripture.  It's okay.

On page 205 God says to Mack, "My words are alive and dynamic-full of life and possibility; yours are dead, full of law and fear and judgment.  That is why you won't find the word responsibility in the Scriptures.”  The word ‘responsibility’ occurs in the NASB 4 times (Num. 4:16; 1 Chr. 9:31; Ezra 10:4; 1 Tim. 5:22).  It does not occur in the King James, but the NIV has it in 13 places.  I guess this nitpicky point doesn’t matter since The Shack is only fiction.  But heck, you’d think the author would have done more research before making such a glaring mistake.

On page 145-146 we find, "Mack was surprised. 'How could that be? Why would the God of the universe want to be submitted to me?'  'Because we want you to join us in our circle of relationship.  I don't want slaves to my will; I want brothers and sisters who will share life with me.'  Wow, God submitting to people!  Is there anything in scripture that says God wants to submit to his creation?  Nope!  But it’s okay to say otherwise when its fiction, isn’t it?  James 4:7 says that we are to submit to God.  But again, since The Shack is only fiction, this small, insignificant point isn’t that big a deal and we theologians should lighten up and just go with the flow of enjoying the book's great message.

On page 136 The Shack says that evil has no actual existence: "Mackenzie, evil is a word we use to describe the absence of Good,  just as we use the word darkness to describe the absence of Light or death to describe the absence of Life.  Both evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do not have any actual existence."  So, are we to conclude that, according to The Shack, Satan doesn’t exist?  After all, Satan is evil, and The Shack says evil doesn’t actually exist.  Is this important?  Of course not!  We don’t have to worry about New Age teaching in a Christian fiction book, do we?  Remember, it is only fiction, so it's okay.

On page 95 we see that God the Father (who’s a woman) has crucifixion scars (heresy of patripassionism).  Well, sorry, only the Son has crucifixion wounds.  The Father and the Son are not the same person according to scripture, and it was not the Father who was crucified.  But hey, in fictional writing this isn’t important either.  It is okay to combine the Father and the Son’s personhood so that what happens to one actually happens to the other (heresy of modalism).  But it makes me wonder, did the Father also change water into wine at Cana (John 2), wash the disciples’ feet (John 13:5), and ride a donkey into Jerusalem (Mark 11:7-8)?  He didn’t, but that isn't important.  That's why it is okay to say the Father had crucifixion wounds (even though he didn't really).  Isn’t Christian fiction great?  You can do so much!

I was thinking, perhaps if I wrote a book about you; filled it with nice things and a few false things, maybe accused you of some crimes, of saying things you never would say, and misrepresented your finances, job, and family commitment, but I called it fiction, would that be okay?  Sure it would.  Fiction doesn't need to be accurate.  You can lie in it, and that's okay, right?

So, considering everything, The Shack is a warm, enjoyable book that is only Christian fiction and we Christians shouldn’t take those areas where it directly contradicts God’s word to be a serious issue.  Why?  Because it is only fiction.  It isn’t real.  It's okay.  Lighten up.  Just enjoy the book and stop being so picky about stuff and stop comparing it to Scripture so much.



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  • 1. Note:  This article is meant to be sarcastic in order to get the point across.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.