OK, now that my title has compelled you to read on, I will start off by saying that I have NOT read “The Shack” and nor do I plan on reading it! Why would I or could I say something so strong about a book without even reading it? Well, because I have it under strong and reliable advisement that it is not theologically sound! The sad thing is that many Christians have read this book and have not “caught on” to the heretical teaching that it portrays. The reason most Christians aren’t theologically in tuned is because they don’t read their Bibles, or they do not read their Bibles the right way AND our churches have thrown out theology as something that is too “heady”. Well, because of this, thousands of Christians are reading “The Shack” and have no clue as to what they are reading, and to make it worse, they think it’s “just great”. This is also due to an overall lack of uncritical thinking on the part of most people these days.
So what is so bad about “The Shack?” Does the term heresy mean anything to you? The heresy that is portrayed in this book is called “modalism”. Modalism denies the distinctiveness of the persons of the Godhead. Challies, from Challies.com explains it very well (much better than I can)…
Young teaches that the Trinity exists entirely without hierarchy and that any kind of hierarchy is the result of sin. The Trinity, he says, “are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or ‘great chain of being’… Hierarchy would make no sense among us.” Now it’s possible that he is referring to a kind of dominance or grade or command structure that may well be foreign to the godhead. But a reading of the Bible will prove that hierarchy does, indeed, exist even where there is no sin. After all, the angels exist in a hierarchy and have done so since before the Fall. Also, in heaven there will be degrees of reward and there will be some who are appointed to special positions (such as the Apostles). And the Bible makes it clear that there is some kind of hierarchy even within the Trinity. The Spirit and the Son have submitted themselves to the Father. The task of the Spirit is to lead people to the Son who in turn brings glory to the Father. Never do we find the Father submitting to the Spirit or to the Son. Their hierarchy is perfect—without anger or malice or envy, but it is a hierarchy nonetheless.
There are other teachings about the Trinity that concerned me. For example, Papa says “I am truly human, in Jesus.” This simply cannot be true. God [the Father—a term that the author avoids] is not fully human in Jesus. This melds the two persons of God in a way that is simply unbiblical. Some of what Young teaches is novel and even possible, but without Scriptural support. For example, he teaches that the triune nature of God was an absolute necessity since without it God would be incapable of love. His reasoning is not perfectly clear but seems to be that if God did not have such a relationship “within himself” he would be unable to love. But this is not taught in the Bible.
Overall, I had to conclude that Young has an inadequate and often-unbiblical understanding of the Trinity. While granting that the Trinity is a very difficult topic to understand and one that we cannot know fully, there are several indications that he often blurs the distinct persons of the Trinity along with their roles and their unique attributes. Combined with his novel but unsupported conjectures, this is a serious concern.
If you want to read Challies entire review of “The Shack” I highly recommend it, you can find it here. If you have read “The Shack” I recommend reading something that will give you a Biblical view of the Trinity and will even give you some sound theological teaching. The Christian Doctrine of God, by Thomas F. Torrance is highly recommended by my hubby! :-) Enjoy!