Sunday, March 14, 2010

Book review -- The Shack

This book was mentioned to me by various unrelated people, a few claiming that it had "changed their lives." I had never heard of it and was shocked to discover that it was a huge bestseller. Therefore, when a copy of it was put into my hands, I was eager to read it.

Well, now that I've read it, let me just say that my time could have been put to better use watching dust bunnies roll across the floor. The Shack is a maudlin, manipulative, meandering manifesto. It is a goofy heresy meant to appeal to CSI viewers and readers of "true crime" novels.

Any time an author tries to put words in the mouth of God--even a few words--readers' caution flags should go up. This book puts entire chapters into the mouth of "god"--and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and a personification of "Wisdom" for that matter. It would be one thing if these words were completely in line with Scripture and Christian tradition. Of course, they are not--far from it! The author mixes New Age junk in with Scripture to create a stew of half-truths which often sound good on the surface. But the author tips his hand in several places as to what his true agenda might be.

In short, we learn:
Our view of God as "Father" is a product of religious conditioning.
Jesus's life was not meant to be an example to follow.
God encourages us to "do our own thing".
Jesus did not come to build an institution called the Church
The real church is about "relationships and sharing life".
Jesus is "not too big on religion."
Jesus isn't a "Christian" and has no desire that others become "Christians."
God doesn't expect us to obey the Law. In fact, "all things are lawful."
Of all these pernicious lies propagated in The Shack, the last one is arguably the worst. It is also the most easily refuted, using the actual words of Christ as opposed to what the bogus "Jesus" of The Shack says:
"Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-19)
There's lots more airy-fairy nonsense packed into this book, but a wise reader should figure out by this point that The Shack will not lead you to anything like a true spiritual epiphany in any Christian sense.

In my opinion, this book was meant to help rich Americans reconcile a depraved lifestyle with an external embrace of Christianity. I would also bet that it was written with the express purpose that it would end up in Oprah's Book Club. It seems to be tailor made for a movie version with Oprah herself playing God. And really, nothing could be more fitting. Oprah has as much to do with God as The Shack has to do with teaching authentic Christianity.

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