Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Shack: Making God in our own image

   Nine years ago, a very controversial book came out titled The Shack. It got rave reviews from people like Gloria Gaither and Michael W Smith, and a lot of bad reviews from others. It was THE book to read in the year 2007. I heard a lot about the book, and read the reviews of it on Amazon and Christianbook.com. People either loved it or hated it, there were not in between opinions. I seriously don't think there is another book labeled Christian that has as many consumer reviews as it has.

  I finally decided to read the book for myself and see what all the fuss was about..... and I hated it. The premise was cool..... a man meeting God at the place where his little girl was killed........but that was all that was good.

 (My reviews are here: The Shack: My review, Revisiting The Shack, and a review of it that was also on Chuck Swindoll's page.)

   First there were the curse words. I am one of those extreme Christians who believe no Christian should ever use curse words, and that no author who is writing a Christian book should include curse words... and this book had quite a few.

   Then there was the author's portrayal of God: All through the Bible, God is portrayed as masculine: He, His, Father..... There are those who argue that God has no gender, which I am not sure there is any proof of that, but regardless, God always refers to Himself in the masculine........ but William P Young does not.

  In The Shack, God is a black woman who speaks like an uneducated black woman........and man, did that rub me wrong. (and no, it wasn't the black part.... it was the woman and uneducated part).

   And then there is Jesus: Young does portray Jesus as a man, but as a blundering one who makes mistakes and has no clue about some things (and who is oddly white, and not black like His Father......mother?)

  The Holy Spirit is portrayed as a woman, which if God is three in one and uses the masculine pronouns for Himself, it would only make sense that the Holy Spirit would have a masculine pronoun.

 I have been amazed at the many Christians who love this book, have no issues with it, and will in fact defend what I and many others view as heresy. (In fact, there will be those who are offended by this blog post because they like the book so much).

   With the making of the book into a movie, The Shack has been getting a lot of attention again. As I was thinking about the book and movie, a thought hit me that didn't before: by Young's portrayal of the Trinity, and more specifically God the Father,  Young is making God in his own image, or an image he seemed to prefer for his book.

 If you study the names of God/Jesus, they cover a lot, and each name shows a different characteristic of Him: Rock, Shepherd, Father, Prince of Peace, Jehovah Jireh, and many more. The Bible is full of different names and characteristics of God. Nowhere is God portrayed as an uneducated black woman with poor speech.

   Why couldn't Young have written this book and stayed Biblical? Why couldn't he have portrayed God as the loving Father of the Bible, instead of as an uneducated black woman who can't even talk right? Why did Young feel the need to make God in his own way instead of what God is really like?

 This statement is not original with me, but I believe it with all my heart: There is a danger of bringing God down too low and making Him too common. Yes, God became a man, but not a bumbling idiot like Young portrays in his book, but God is not common........ and Young brought God down way too low in his novel.

   It isn't popular to speak up about this book and movie, but I firmly believe it is heresy, it is bringing God down too low, making Him into our own image, and should not be labeled Christian, but heresy.


  1. Mark, you might be interested to know thaat the Hebrew, Aramaic (the language of Jesus) and Greek languages use a feminine noun for Spirit. Only Latin, the language of the male dominated early Roman Church uses a masculine noun. Hence I would suggest Young's choice of a female as a metaphor of Spirit.

  2. Thank you for insights. Someone gave us that book or else it was left in a rental we own when they moved out...I don't know. We have it, but did not buy it. I have never had any desire to read it. Now I, for sure, do not want to read it. A. W. Tozer was right in what he said, "No religion has ever been greater than it's idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. for this reason the gravest question before the church is always God Himself. and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he is in his deep heart conceives God to be like. That our idea of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us." There is so much more that he says about this thought in his book "The Knowledge of the Holy."

  3. What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

    The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man's spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

    For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church....

    Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, "What comes into your mind when you think about God?" we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow...

    That our idea of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is. Only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God.

    A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.

    It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God current in these middle years of the twentieth century is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually to constitute for the professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity."

    The above passage is an extract from the book, "The Knowledge of the Holy," written by A.W. Tozer

  4. I just finished teaching a series on the attributes of God. Tozer's book was instrumental in setting the tone for the series. Excellent blog. Keep fighting the good fight, Mark