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Deceived by a counterfeit "Jesus" - The twisted "truths" of The Shack & A Course in Miracles

Role Reversal in The Shack (Part 2): The Divine-Human Relationship

The Shack's Wayne Jacobsen Resonates with Contemplative/Emerging Writers

Tolle's New Earth  fuels New Age revival | From God's Truth to the "New Spirituality"

New Spirituality for an Emerging New Earth



Relevant Scriptures: Don't Be Deceived! | God's unchanging Word | "Other gods" | Our Holy God | His Victory

From by Teresa Morris:  Jesus consistently called God, "Father." When His disciples asked Him to teach them how to prayer, Jesus taught them to address God as "Our Father which art in Heaven..." When God Almighty became incarnate as a human being, God became a man -- not a woman.

Today's "gender neutral" so-called "Bibles" that both add to Scripture and take away from Scripture. They remove references that are clearly male, and they add statements that imply a "father/mother" God. The Bible warns us not to add to Scripture or take away from it.

"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." (Proverbs 30:5-6)

"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Revelation 22:18-19

But in spite of that, many Christians accept the female "God" of The Shack.One reason is the prevalence of goddess-related themes in entertainment, the media, and video games. Images of goddesses permeate our culture. (We even have "goddess dresses" for sale in department stores.) [more here]

From Bernie Goolsby: I recently read the book "The Shack".  I was unable to read the entire book because something in me said "Papa is NOT the God of the Bible". Everybody I know has, or is, reading that book...and they love it. It is extremely popular in the Christian community.

 One dynamic born-again believer told me that she really liked it. I couldn't believe my ears. I asked, "Didn't you have any misgivings?" "Well yes, I guess I did about God being a woman called Papa."  

When I talk to people about the book, many have little niggles about it, but don't question it. What is happening? Why are born-again believers being duped by the book? I know church leaders in my congregation that like and recommend the book.  I have honestly felt so alone in my reservations about the book.

 I do have one friend that read it and the only word she used was blasphemy. I couldn't agree more.

From a Christian reader: There is such a mess of counterfeits out there, and I was getting swayed -- and I know the Word! The allure is so strong in the spirit of this age, especially evident in higher education, even sadly so called "Christian" education. As far as my experience goes, I just graduated with my masters at a purportedly Christian university, well, it is anything but that, at least in its graduate programs. I had to FIGHT for my faith throughout: against Post Modernism, against acceptance of homosexuality as a valid, 'loving' lifestyle, against moral relativism... I had to FIGHT for my right to hold to God's Word as the final and ultimate TRUTH.

I had "Christian" professors ARGUING with me in my papers that I should refer to God's truth, his Word w/ a little t for 'my own truth,' not a big capital T for ultimate Truth because that was "so exclusive"! I fought back. I said, "God's Word IS ultimate TRUTH!" Ugh! If this had been the state university I would have expected it, but not from a 'Christian' University. It really blind-sided me and stressed me out for three years while in that program. I felt very alone there as a Bible believing Christian. I could have saved myself a lot of money and heartache had I gone to state!

My husband and I have been reading The Shack over the past two weeks and I have shared with him why portions trouble me so much, "And it sounds just like what I was hearing in that crazy Episcopal church and at school! And here are Scriptures which refute this... where is this author going?!"

I haven't finished it, but in the part where it subtly suggests that Buddhists and Muslims are His kids and believers -- and the part where "Jesus" is saying, "I'm not a Christian either" -- I was like NO WAY! Feeling really irritated and deeply grieved. This is the kind of craziness I just escaped from! So your critique of The Shack in light of God's Word and comparing it to the blasphemous New Age Course in Miracles was very helpful.

I am deeply grieved that so many Christians, including pastors, just do not get the gravity of how misleading and dangerous The Shack is! I had a pastor and a couple of Scripturally grounded Christian friends tell me, "Well it's not meant to be a theology book, it's a novel, it's fiction." And I said, "He talks about theology throughout. He is answering a lot of theological questions, not w/ Scripture but w/ New Age ideas, so it IS a theology book. Besides, story is powerful, that's why Jesus spoke in parables." Lord, please wake your people up, get them back into your word, and come quickly--deliver us from this evil age.

From a pastor: We have to meet people where they are.

The Shack doesn't make people hungry for God; it distract them -- even as it presents “another god.” Have we forgotten that "other gods" are forbidden in the 10 commandments and throughout the Bible. The reason why so many “Christians” can’t understand the Bible is explained in 1 Corinthians 2:9-14. False imagined images of God only increases their blindness. "As it is written,"


      “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
      Nor have entered into the heart of man
      The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  

"But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God....  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. ... But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

From Lindy: I just finished reading The Shack two nights ago, and when I was finished I felt very uneasy and upset. All through the book were lies and distortions of biblical truth that I just could not accept.

I wanted to thank you for your writing, as I hope people will begin to read more into this book and realize it is not truth, but mere lies and falsehoods. I pray my church does not promote this book. My husband felt so called after reading your site to talk to the Pastor about this book and it's falsehoods.

My Aunt and Grandmother enjoyed the book and felt it was "amazing". It scares me to think of how many churches are promoting it to their congregations.

It scares me, too, Lindy. I hear the same concern from across America.

From the owner of a Christian store: "Several months ago customers began asking for the book The Shack and I immediately ordered it but didn't get around to reading it myself until later. I could not finish it and sent the rest back to my supplier."

I thank God for your discernment and convictions. So many others would rather sell lots of the books than take a stand on His Word. It reminds me of what Jesus said,

“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."  Mark 8:34

From Maria: I was interested in your review of the book The Shack.  I don't agree with you but I think my experience as a believer is much different from yours.  Does that make me something other than a true believer?  Certainly not!  But is does take me out of your box and allow me to rest in the hand of God where I am free to know him as he knows me (as much as I can in this mortal flesh, that is).  I wait and serve until I can see Him face to face.

I can tell from your comments that you are very steeped in mainline denominational Christianity. 

Actually, I'm not, Maria. I'm steeped in God's Word :)

I don't doubt your faith or sincerity but I do question your experience.  Have you witnessed any other cultural expression of faith in Jesus?  Worshiped with believers from other countries or cultures? Seen their faith and commitment to Jesus and their honesty, minus the benefit of seminary (or cemetary as I like to call it)?  God is there in all His glory!  Basking in their unfettered, untrained expression of love and joy for Him. 

Yes, of course, I have! Andy and I have traveled around the world (by trains across India, busses in Africa, share-taxies through Middle East, mail boat up the Nile through the Sudan). We were invited into the poorest of homes and the most joyful of "churches" and delighted in the oneness we share with other believers -- in spite of language differences -- because we are one family in Christ!  Together, we all knew and loved the true God -- our wonderful Lord who is the living Word. I have to smile as I think of some of those wonderful times and of our precious brothers and sister in distant lands.

Do you think that having the words to the choruses splashed on the wall of a building, which by the way takes a lot of money to keep up, is a better, more true expresion?  That the message from a well trained pastor is more correct than that of a simple man who only knows that he loves God and trusts him? 

God is holy, righteous, omnipotent and worthy of all praise, glory and honor.  However, do you think He would rather sit with His children in joy or stand over them with a rod?  Do they need correction from time to time?  YES!!  Do they need guidance!  Duh!  But think of how you treat your own kids.  Would prefer that they listen to your instructions or endure them.  Love is the difference.  Jesus slammed the pharises because they were usurping His place.  They were not encouraging the faithful but deceiving them, stealing from them.  Pride, greed, envy, lust, these were in the things in their hearts, not love for God.  They worked very hard to follow the law to the letter but lost their relationship with the One who led them out of bondage.  They were the rule keepers who labored in vain because their hearts were far from him.  But then there came Jesus.  He loved the unlovable, He ate with sinners, He broke the rules!  He broke out of the box and taught us that it is not the rules that define us but our relationship with the Father that transforms us. 

He never broke the God's moral law, Maria. But He did both announce and demonstrate that He would fulfill the old Levitical laws by becoming a sacrifice for us -- once for all. And the rules He "broke" were the merely man-made additions to God's holy and eternal law. (Please ponder these Scriptures)

I say all of this to encourage you to open your heart and, yes, your mind, to seeing God from a fresh perspective.  Ask Him to reveal to you a new side of Himself.  Be willing to go deeper, beyond the rules, to the very heart of God.  What does He have to show you there?  Out of your comfort zone of the American church.  Past all your studying and training, deeper, deeper still.  As curious as a child with his father on a walk.  What is this daddy?  Why does it do that?  How high is the sky, daddy?  How big is the universe?  Be like a child, open and eager to hear His words.  God will not lead you astray if you put your trust in him.  Read the hymn "Some Children See Him".
Let us pray to our Savior, who will lead us into all truth, that His will be done.  Let us love one another as God loves us and love our neighbor as ourselves as He has commanded us.

Amen! I can certainly agree with that last paragraph! :)

From Todd Roberts: Tonight I read your post concerning the popular book, The Shack. Unfortunately I believe the criticism in this post is un-warranted.  As with most criticism of the Scriptures, your post picks and chooses statements from the book and does not consider them in context or in the spirit of the story.

While the book does stretch the conventional, stereotypical view that we have of the Holy Trinity, it does so to challenge the main character’s deep-seeded, negative views.  This is artistic and should not be considered as reducing the divinity or holiness of the Trinity.

 The following quote from the book, (listed first in your critical review)…  [“Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims.... 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” -The Shack's Jesus] is apparently included as an example of false teaching.  Let’s look closely at this quote:

 "Those who love me come from every system that exists -  the author of The Shack spends a great deal of time denouncing man’s institutions.  While Muslims, Mormons, etc. do not believe in the one true path to Christ, it does not mean that they cannot COME to Christ from those backgrounds.

I agree, and I didn't rebut that. But in your response, you demonstrate the main problem with the book: it's supposed to be fiction, but many readers equate it fictional Trinity with the Biblical Trinity. For example, your reference to "Christ" in your last sentence seems to be pointing to the real Christ of Scriptures rather than to the Shack's "Jesus!" 

By calling it fiction, the author is free to create his own version of "God" -- a fictional deity. But the reason the book has become so popular is that this imagined "God" seems designed to be more comforting that the God who revealed Himself through His Word. Therefore, it alters His holy image and character in the minds of many readers, prompting them to shift their trust from the God of the Bible to Young's feel-good counterfeit. 

They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims.... – the key here is the tense of the verb – WERE – it is very clear that the author is not claiming that there are multiple paths to Christ.  In fact later in the book, the author clearly addresses this when Mack inquires about multiple paths to Christ.  The book states there are not multiple roads to Christ, but Christ will follow any road to find his family.

 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.”  -  Now more than ever, calling oneself a Christian means very little.  Nearly ½ of Hollywood claims they are Christian.  Once again the author is clearly stressing the personal relationship with Christ, not adherence to a man made denomination or set of rules.

My point was the statement about “no desire to make them Christian.”  Your argument is that “Christian means very little.” I agree that it has become a very confusing word among those who have accepted the world's criticism of Christianty.  So have the words “God” and “Jesus.” But the new twisted meanings don’t free us to reject Biblical words – especially those that are central to our faith.

  • [Todd's response] I believe the most essential point in this passage is – “I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa.”  The portrait of the family relationship with God, as sons and daughters is spot-on with the biblical record.  Throughout scripture we find multiple “names” for God.  Jehovah, Abba Father, Yahweh, Rose of Sharon, and simply Father, in Second Samuel 7:14.  In a fictional work, reference to God the Father as “Papa” does not seem to me to be a rejection of our faith.

 We were created in the image of God.  Genesis 1:26 KJV – “And God said let us make man in our own image, after our likeness…”  This “image” does not apply on the physical form.  The picture of God painted in The Shack is of a God who loves us, enjoys humor, is passionate and compassionate.  These are traits that we have from being created in his image.  We know that God will judge, and this book clearly holds Mack accountable for his faults, while painting a picture of Hell and eternal separation, but I believe it is wonderful to think of God as someone who really cares for us, in everything we do, every day.  He is always near.  Just as the author of The Shack stresses.

Yes, this fictional “God” does seem to share some of “God’s” positive characteristics. But it leaves out – even mocks – many others, which are key to our understanding of the cross, the redemption, God’s mercy, etc. For example, His wrath, judgments, readiness to destroy evil and punish sin are not included. Readers gain a false understanding of who are true Lord is. In fact, His nature is more like today’s New Age angels than the mighty God of the Scriptures.

  • I am unable to find any of God’s attribute’s that are mocked in the book.  Please be more specific.  Judgment, and the agony it brings is clearly portrayed in Mac’s conversation with Sophia (SOPHIA: "The Wisdom of God," referring to Christ, refers back to Proverbs (I Cor. 1,2

Please read my article again.

In your critical post concerning this book, I find it interesting that you omit many of the powerful messages it delivers.  When Mack is forced to make a horrible choice, one no parent should ever face, readers can feel his agony.  In his watershed moment, Mack makes the same choice that Christ made, and readers are overwhelmed with the picture of the sacrifice Christ made for us.  What a beautiful portrait of His love for us.

Since the Shack's "God" appears to be a fictional distortion of the Biblical God, I can't attribute any of his fictional “good” actions to my Lord. That doesn't make sense. God's Word is absolute -- not to be revised to fit our wants or culture. Click on His Word.

  • To say that the “nature of God” is distorted seems to be an attempt to apply non-fiction standards to a fictional work, and is contradictory to your comments in #2 above.  The portrait of God, and the attributes the author chooses to use are accurate, and appropriate for the story he is telling.  I do not believe the intent of The Shack was to be an exhaustive study of the character and nature of God. I am disappointed with your response to this point as it does not address the overwhelming portrait of Christ’s love, and his sacrifice for us.  To love man enough to accept our sin penalty on the cross, and the sorrow and pain felt by God the Father.  To say that you “can’t attribute any of the supposed “good” actions or words of this man-made God to the Biblical God” despite this gripping representation is unfortunate.

Your post also makes the following argument –

 The Shack is written as a personal testimony that draws readers into virtual dialogues with a playful, culturally relevant "God." ... It fits right into the popular vision of a unifying, non-judgmental church.

 Cultural relativism, while dangerous when used to make Christ mold to our satisfaction, is also very necessary for effectively spreading the gospel.  Styles of worship, daily challenges, music, apparel, etc. have all changed repeatedly through history.  The way we worship, dress, sing and struggle are culturally very different than those from the 1700’s, 1400’s, and even those in the early churches in Ephesus, Corinth, etc.  For that matter, the body of Christ is culturally very different around the globe today.  To criticize this book for presenting God as culturally relevant is a mistake.  Our Savior, while always the same, is always culturally relevant. We need ever changing ways to spread a never changing message.

I don’t “criticize this book for presenting God as culturally relevant.” I criticize it for presenting a fictional God and prompting people to imagine that its the true God. Remember, He told us repeatedly not to add or take away from the written Word. Changing His written revelation of Himself to fit our culture becomes heresy.

  • Please specify how this fictional work adds or takes away from scripture. 

It doesn't since it's fiction. It's in a different category. But it's written in such a way that many readers will equate its message with the Bible. That's why it prompts many to receive this popular imitation as Biblical truth. (See the next letter -- from Holly)

Look at the comment that follows yours. That person assumes that the The Shack presents the Biblical God. All those who read it from that perspective will embrace a distorted view of the Bible -- one that leaves out large portions of the Scriptures.

 Concerning the “non-judgmental church,” are we not commanded to not judge one another.  God will judge, there is no ambiguity in The Shack concerning this.  To say that our church today should be judgmental is an error.  We are commanded to love and to serve.  To not be respective of the person or their faults.  Our man-made systems, over-reaching denominational conditions and lists of do’s & don’ts encourage judgment of one another.

Please click on this page on When to judge -- and when not to judge -- from our go to our Topical Index of Scriptures.

 Christ took the penalty for our sins on the cross.  Forgiveness is available to anyone (The Shack is clear on this) who accepts Christ.

But Todd, now you're talking about this fictional "Jesus" as if he is the real Christ! You can't have it both ways! A fictional book has fictional characters! Our God has nothing to do with fiction! He is real, unchanging, absolute and holy. He is the resurrected Savior, the King of kings and the living Word! The Shack's message represents man's imagination. It's not like His Word!

The relationship is what matters.  This is the theme of the book. Our man-made perceptions, processes, patterns and paradigms too frequently become stumbling blocks and points of distraction. LOVE for our God, our Savior, and love for one another is something we need more than ever in this broken world. This love produces the relationship we need with Him and with those around us.

But our love must be focused on our wonderful Lord, not on "man-made perceptions," Todd.

From Holly Donato: You have obviously not read The Shack carefully. There IS evil called  out very plainly--it is responsible for Missy's death, it inhabits her killer. God does not have a gender. Both male and female humans derive from his nature. He chooses to appear to Mack as a woman (just as he  appeared to Moses as a burning bush, Elijah as wind, etc.) to begin dialogue and to avoid calling up negative memories of authority established by his abusive father. There is no denial of Jesus, but a constant and repeated pointing to him as the way to life, and the only way to life because of his sacrifice on our behalf. The main character is asked to imagine sacrifice one of his children to atone for evil, and he can't imagine it...then he asks God to take his own life instead. Then the light dawns--this is exactly what Jesus has done.

When the main character questions how God could allow human suffering, God shows his scars (his entering into our suffering to redeem it. This is all highly biblical and is helping people find the true God and salvation in his son, Jesus. People are getting over the biggest obstacle to believe: evil and suffering. God is using the author and this book to do this. You are taking excerpts out of context and not seeing the big picture of an allegory. Jesus used parables, and this man is using a parable.

From Jodi Helm NC:  I know a few people who are seriously promoting this to many people. I found something wrong on practically every page, as I'm sure you did too.

What is interesting but not too surprising is, I went to his website and was going to post my opinion [a critical one] -- so I typed it all up  and clicked 'submit". Well, right away I got back a long convoluted error message saying my post didn't go through. I was immediately suspicious, so I went right back and posted under a different name and email with just the words 'This book is great!' and it went right through and showed up the page immediately. Imagine that.  Thought you would find this interesting. Please continue to pray for all those who call themselves christians but who are so enamored of this garbage."

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