Christians Falling For “The Shack” Must Get Back To The Word Of God

I was warning Nazarenes and other Christians several years ago about The Shack. I passed out hundreds of copies of Dr. Michael Youssef’s sermon, which is linked here. I watched in amazement as Dr. Josie Owens, a former District Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene, recommended the novel as a great resource for pastors- at a District Assembly! I wonder to this day of any pastor at that assembly dared to confront her for her lack of discernment. I saw Sunday School teachers mindlessly quoting ideas from the book. Some would try to argue with me how this book is so, so good, and I marveled a their lack of biblical discernment.

Now, the novel will be in movie form. It is mind boggling the level of deception I have seen as a result of this book. I have read the book from start to finish, and it is compelling in many ways; it tugs at your heart and emotions. Yet, it is evil; I recognized it as evil; but why are so many Christians praising this book? Why are many saying it is better than the Bible? Why is there such a lack of discernment today?

I believe it is a direct result of a growing phenomenon, in which Christians are seeking to tickle their ears with whatever makes them feel good. Emotion is not necessarily bad, but when emotions take control of a Christian’s mind, while setting aside sound doctrine and biblical teaching, then that is a bad thing. And that is what is happening today. Many Christians go crazy over the latest “Christian” movie, not seeing the false teaching in it, and instead loving the “spirituality” and the “fuzzy, warn feelings it brings. They follow after their pastor’s recommendation for anything, without being like the Bereans, who themselves tested what the apostle Paul himself preached! They praise the music of the latest “Christian” artist, not testing the words of their songs or the doctrine of that popular artist.

1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

I am afraid that many of you out there who are singing the praises of The Shack; who are falling for every word your pastor may preach; who are jumping on the bandwagon of the latest “cool” Christian song; you are being deceived, and you need to get back to the word of God. It is the only thing that will keep you from apostasy, and from damaging your own Christian life. Heed the warnings. I know some of you who are friends who love The Shack. Will you heed the warnings?

Manny Silva

A Summary of Dr. Youssef’s 13 Heresies in The Shack:

  1. God the Father was crucified with Jesus.

    Because God’s eyes are pure and cannot look upon sin, the Bible says that God would not look upon His own beloved Son as He hung on the Cross, carrying our sins (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 27:45).

    2. God is limited by His love and cannot practice justice.

    The Bible declares that God’s love and His justice are two sides of the same coin — equally a part of the personality and the character of God (Isaiah 61:8; Hosea 2:19).

    3. On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless.

    Jesus explained that only those who come to Him will be saved (John 14:6).

    4. Hierarchical structures, whether they are in the Church or in the government, are evil.

    Our God is a God of order (Job 25:2).

    5. God will never judge people for their sins.

    The Word of God repeatedly invites people to escape from the judgment of God by believing in Jesus Christ, His Son (Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-3).

    6. There is not a hierarchical structure in the Godhead, just a circle of unity.

    The Bible says that Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. This doesn’t mean that one Person is higher or better than the other; just unique. Jesus said, “I came to do the will of Him who sent me. I am here to obey my Father.” Jesus also said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit” (John 4:34, 6:44, 14:26, 15:26).

    7. God submits to human wishes and choices.

    Far from God submitting to us, Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.” We are to submit to Him in all things, for His glory and because of what He has accomplished for us (Matthew 7:13-15).

    8. Justice will never take place because of love.

    The Bible teaches that when God’s love is rejected, and when the offer of salvation and forgiveness is rejected, justice must take place or God has sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for nothing (Matthew 12:20; Romans 3:25-26).

    9. There is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell.

    Jesus’ own description of hell is vivid … it cannot be denied (Luke 12:5, 16:23).

    10. Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God, and it doesn’t matter which way you get to Him.

    Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

    11. Jesus is constantly being transformed along with us.

    Jesus, who dwells in the splendor of heaven, sits at the right hand of God, reigning and ruling the universe. The Bible says, “In Him there is no change, for He is yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 11:12, 13:8; James 1:17).

    12. There is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because everyone will make it to heaven.

    Jesus said, “Only those who believe in me will have eternal life” (John 3:15, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40).

    13. The Bible is not true because it reduces God to paper.

    The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who put pen to paper (so to speak), each from different professions and different backgrounds, but the Holy Spirit infused their work with God’s words. These men were writing the same message from Genesis to Revelation. If you want to read more about the place of Christ in the Scripture, read “We Preach Christ” (2 Timothy 3:16).



Don’t Forget Our Students On The Front Lines

I believe the Lord sent a message to me today, from an unexpected source.  I believe it was a wakeup call to me, to not forget our most precious assets at our Christian schools: our students.  For quite a while now, I have been writing about the state of our Nazarene universities, and the false teaching that is rampant throughout many of them, to varying degrees.  I have expressed my outrage as Rob Bell has been welcomed with open arms, by pastors no less.  I have been outraged as Tony Campolo continues on with his campaign of indoctrinating Christian students with his unbibical social gospel and his mystical pagan practices.  I have been angry as those who are charged with preparing our Christian students with a biblical education, instead are showing a great lack of discernment, or are themselves complicit in spreading heresies in the schools.

Well, that outrage and anger is quite justified, and many of you feel the same way.  Many of you, like me, know very well that anger is appropriate in many situations, especially when it comes to when our students are being led down a wrong way.  But today, I received an email that woke me up to something else that I have been failing to do often enough, and perhaps you may feel the same as I do after reading it.  I received an email from a student who attends Northwest Nazarene University, and I asked for her forgiveness that I have not emphasized enough the prayers and support that is needed for such as her.

I have at times suggested that perhaps we stop sending money to our schools, unless they stop going down the road of apostasy.  But tonight, I ask you to pray for our students.  Particularly for tonight, because at 7 pm, at NNU, the author of The Shack novel will be speaking on the campus, and he will also speak in chapel tomorrow morning.  There will be some there tonight, led by Matt Slick, who will be standing outside and passing out information regarding this novel, and more importantly, to wake up some folks to the things at our schools that have gone the wrong way.

So I ask those who have been so concerned about what is being taught at our schools lately, such as open theism, contemplative mysticism, and so many more false teachings, that we also not forget to focus on the many brave students who are battling within their own schools to fight off the false teachings.  They love their school, and they don’t want to see their school go down.  They are battling to help other students realize that, yes, they can trust in God’s word completely, even if some professors tell them they can’t.  When I think about who is really putting things out on the line at great risk, it not someone like me.  I don’t have a job to lose because of what I write.  I don’t have professors putting pressure on me to parrot their ideology in an exam in order to get a better grade.  All I get is the occasional knuckleheaded comment on my blog by someone who cannot defend their twisted ideology.  That is nothing.

So please pray tonight, and continue praying, for all these students who are boldy speaking truth amongst a majority who don’t care, or don’t seem to care.  Pray for students who right now are standing up to pastors and professors who have failed to uphold biblical truth.  Pray that God will use someone tonight at NNU to open some eyes to the truth.  Pray for all the students in all our campuses who take a bold stand for biblical truth.

Below is the letter I received today.  May the Lord bless and protect every single one of our kids who desire to be faithful to Him in all things.

As a student at NNU, I agree with many of your comments about the school, it has been a continuing frustration for me. I would like to say, though, that there is hope. There is a portion of the student body that is aware of the lack of fear of God in the school. We battle the theology of professors in the classroom, chaplains in chapel, and other students in the cafeteria. We host Bible studies on truth, and pray for the rest of our campus. We help teach those that have no idea what is wrong with what they are being taught.

Today Mr. Young comes to my campus. He will be speaking to my peers, and many will hail his as a wise man. My roommates, the assistant editor of the school newspaper will be there, but she will be biting her tongue the entire time. Tonight I may possibly meet Mr. Young, but I won’t feel like it has been a great honor. Instead, I will weep inside because my college, a university that professes to be a Bible teaching, God believing institution, is proud to have this man on campus. I will be weeping inside because so many of my friends do not understand the danger their souls are in. I will be weeping because this man, who thinks he is wise, is leading thousands of people astray.

While I am also frustrated with Northwest Nazarene University and its teachings, more than a warning against sending students there, I believe that encouragement for those of us who are here is needed. We have a battle ahead of us. We need support and prayer. We need encouragement and love. It is more important than anything, I believe, that a change be made in the school. This change won’t be made if all Bible-believing Christians choose to send their students elsewhere.

Please, before you write the university off as a complete flop, remember those of us who are here and are on the front lines of this battle. We often feel alone, and we need your support and encouragement. We are young and foolish in the eyes of many of our professors. However, we are serving a God who calls the young and unskilled to lead. Please, join us in this task.

Karissa Koberg

The Beauty And Wondrous Deception of The Shack

Several months ago, I promised a fellow believer that I would finally read the novel, The Shack, in its entirety. As I result, here is my review of the book.

ALERT: The author of The Shack will be speaking at Northwest Nazarene University.  Matt Slick of CARM Ministries will be there to pass out literature to people outside, this Thursday.  If you are in the Nampa, Idaho area, Matt is welcoming any assistance in distributing the literature.  Here is the press release:   Mr Young will speak at 7:00 pm on Thursday in the NNU Brandt Center, 707 Fern Street, Nampa.
Matt’s website about The Shack:

The first four chapters of the book are basically a prelude to the other following chapters.  These opening chapters detail how the main character, Mack, recounts the story of his young daughter, Missy, and how they eventually went on a camping trip where she  is kidnapped by a serial killer and murdered.  The emotions generated from these first four chapters (and subsequently the rest of the story) are powerful, and made me think more than once about how would I feel if something like this every happened to one of my three children.  It is well written, and I can see how powerful it is in affecting responses from people who read it.  No problem so far up to this point, except that perhaps what I believe has caused many to be deceived by this book is the sheer, heart-wrenching theme of this novel.

A few years after the murder, Mack is invited to visit the shack where his daughter was murdered, through a mysterious letter that was signed “Papa.”  This was a term that his wife often used to refer to God.


So things start to change once Mack meets the three “occupants” of the shack where his daughter was murdered. Here is where I see my first problem with the novel.  It is fiction, but does a fictional story give any Christian the license to change the disclosures found in Scripture of God’s character and personality; of who God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is?   Mack first meets a large, African-American woman who is God; then he subsequently meets a small, Asian woman who is supposed to be the Holy Spirit; and finally, he meets Jesus, represented by a tall, Middle Eastern man.  I already have serious problems with the depiction of God from the aspect of the feminine, something that has become popular in liberal Christian circles as well as other movements.  In the Bible, God is always referenced with the use of the masculine, not the feminine.  He is called Father, not Mother.  Therefore this is the first mistake in this book, to try to depict God in feminine terms, when He has clearly chosen to reveal Himself in the masculine, and as Father.  Please also remember that God is spirit, yet is depicted in the book in human form.  Is this a form of idolatry, of making an image of God?

There are quite a few other problems which I encountered in the book.  Let’s look at just a few more.


Early on after chapter four, “Papa” shows Mack “her” wrists and the marks similar to the nail marks of Jesus, and then tells Mack that Papa also was crucified on the Cross.  Really?


We go to chapter five, and in it we find this being said by Papa to Mack:

“When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human” and “we now became flesh and blood.”  This is unscriptural, because only the Son became human in flesh, not all three persons of the Trinity!  The Father and the Spirit did not become incarnate, only Jesus the Son.  This is very serious error (heretical , and is like the modalistic* view of God which false teachers like T.D.Jakes teach.  If this view is taught by any pastor or teacher in a church, I would recommend fleeing as quickly as possible from that church.  Why then should Mr. Young have license to depict the Trinity in such a way?


Later, Mack here recalls his seminary years and how he was taught to “listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects. It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerners’ access to God was mediated by and controlled by the intelligentsia. Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?” (65, 66)

God gave us His word in scripture, yet there seems to be an attempt here to demean the word as “only ink on paper”, as I heard a young lady say in a Sunday school class once.  When I read this passage, it immediately brought to mind the many emergents I have clashed with who have the same similar disdain for Holy Scripture.  You may have heard it too: “Jesus is the real Word of God, not the writings in a book.”   Or, “I choose to worship the real Word, Jesus, not a bunch of ink on paper.”  (I’m not making this up).

I will just give a few more references I encountered, because there are so many well written reviews of The Shack that have dissected this novel in so many ways, that I don not want to sound repetitive to those who have read them.  There are additional links at the end for further study.


Papa says to Mack: “We [the Trinity] have limited ourselves out of respect for you.”

The God of The Shack apparently is not capable of doing everything He wants to do, because he seems to be the god of the Open Theists.  No wonder they like this book.


Jesus says: “God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things . . .”
Does God dwell in all things, according to scripture?


Sarayu (the Holy Spirit): “Both evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do not have any actual existence.


Papa: “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It is not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”

I’ll finish with this, stated by the “Jesus” in the novel: “I am the best way any human can relate to Papa or Sarayu.”

This clearly smacks of universalism.  Jesus is NOT the best way; He is the only way.

Bottom line: My friends, I could go on an on, but I’ll stop here.  You will find many other dubious and heretical things in more extensive reviews.  The only thing I learned from actually reading the novel, is that it is even more dangerous and deceptive than I knew it to be.

The Shack is NOT a great missional book to be promoted to pastors at a church convention.  Books that contain heretical teachings should never, ever be part of recommended readings, except as examples of what is serious error.
The Shack is not a book to be recommended, especially for new Christians, or unbelievers who could then form a heretical understanding of God, the Trinity, and the nature of God.  The Shack is a well-written book that in a few ways is instructive: it illustrates the powerful emotions and love a parent has for a child and makes you think of how precious a child is; and it even does a fairly accurate job of defining the Trinity.  But my friends, even the Satanic bible can have some good things in it!  Thus, this is what makes this book so dangerous and deceptive.
It will cause many Christians to stumble, and bring unbelievers into accepting another Jesus, another spirit.  Why would you risk that for anyone?  Always remember that Satan’s strategy is to make things look almost like the real thing.  “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”  2 Cor. 11:14.

May the Lord give us the perfect wisdom and insight that can only come from one source: His word given to us in the Bible.  It is not “just ink on paper.”  It is God’s actual word:  “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Heb. 4:12

That is where you will find the all sufficient words of Jesus Christ our Lord, which will give you the guidance and direction you need in life.  The Shack cannot do that for you, and you will not be lacking in anything just because you did not read it.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – –

Postscript: I was very disappointed when I looked on the back of the book, and read this from Michael W. Smith, a popular Christian artist:

“My wife and I laughed, cried and repented of our own lack of faith along the way. The Shack will leave you craving for the presence of God.”

*Modalism- the view that God is an individual Person, but when He chooses, manifests Himself in three different ways, or modes.  This is clearly a hereticl view of the Trinity as is taught in scripture.


Other reviews:

Pastor Gary Gilley:

Tim Challies:

Albert Mohler: (by Wayne Elliot)

Author Of Heretical Book “Proudly” Welcomed At Northwest Nazarene

The press release reads at the beginning like this:

“Northwest Nazarene University Alumni Association is proud to welcome William Paul Young, author of The Shack, to campus Sept. 22, 2011. The Shack is one of the top 70 New York Bestsellers of all time.”

This school continues on a path of reckless invitations to just about anyone who claims that they are Christian.  A few years ago, it was universalist and panentheist Dr. Jay McDaniel promoting his version of the gospel, to the apparent delight of NNU professors and leaders.  (False Teaching In A Christian University: A Shocking Example).

There have been other very dubious speakers at the school.  Brennan Manning was a guest speaker on the college campus church. He was quoted favorably at a chapel service in 2008 by the college president.  Manning promotes contemplative mysticism, practicing “the silence”, mantras, centering prayer and other forms of New Age occultism and Eastern meditation.  In his book Abba’s Child, he refutes the Cross of Christ as the only way to salvation.  He mocks Bible-believers and calls them bibliolaters.  He believes that homosexuality is acceptable.  He is ecumenical and embraces other religions as valid.

Another false teacher welcomed in 2008 was Brian McLaren in his famous “Everything Must Change” tour.  McLaren and his friends wants to change EVERYTHING about Christianity, because in his wisdom, we have not learned a thing right in 2,000 years.  He is free to make that judgment, but then turns around says he has no clue if homosexuality is a sin.  In this video, Eric Barger describes some of the bizarre goings on at that conference at NNU with McLaren.

You can read more on the school’s bad decisions in this article I posted, Northwest Nazarene University: Symbol Of What’s Wrong In Our Christian Schools.

Will Northwest Nazarene leadership ever learn anything about proper discernment?  The Shack is one of the most heretical novels ever plied to Christians, yet so many have shown lack of biblical discernment with this novel.  If you have a pastor who promotes this book, he has a serious lack of discernment.

It promotes the most heretical concepts of God and His nature, and is blasphemous just on the basis of depicting God (called Papa) is depicted as a tall African-American woman, the Holy Spirit (Sarayu) as a small Asian woman, and Jesus as a Jewish carpenter.   It promotes the modalistic view of the Trinity that is taught by TD Jakes and other.  Modalism is the belief that God manifest Himself in three different ways, instead of what scripture teaches, that God is One, but three Persons in one.

The God of The Shack is also absolutely non-judgmental, which fits in with the ideology of the emergent church, of the ecumenical movement, of the New Evangelicals, and other aberrant movements that hold holds with just about anything.

In the novel, Jesus also tells Mack that he is “the best way any human can relate to Papa or Sarayu.” The best way, NOT the only way.

Papa also says to Mack, “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”
That is wrong.  God is a holy judge, and He will clearly punish us for our sin against Him.

In his review of the book, David Cloud notes:

In “The Shack,” Young presents traditional Bible-believing Christianity as hypocritical and hurtful. The book’s main character grew up under “rigorous rules,” and his father, who was an elder in the church, was “a closet drinker” and treated his family with cruelty when drunk (p. 7).

Young’s god is the god of the emerging church. He is cool, loves rock & roll, is non-judgmental, does not exercise wrath toward sin, does not send unbelievers to an eternal fiery hell, does not require repentance and the new birth, puts no obligations on people, doesn’t like traditional Bible churches, does not accept the Bible as the infallible Word of God, and does not mind if the early chapters of the Bible are interpreted as “myth.

Another foundational problem with “The Shack” is its denial of the Bible as the absolute and sole authority. Note the following quote:

“In seminary he [the book’s main figure, Mack] had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects. … Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?” (pp. 65, 66).

Not only is “The Shack’s” god suspiciously similar to the one described in the books of the more liberal branch of the emerging church (e.g., Rob Bell, Donald Miller, Brian McLaren), it also has a strong kinship to the New Age god promoted by John Lennon and Oprah Winfrey.

Additional quotes from the book:

“Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions. … I have no desire to make them Christian” (p. 182).

There is so much more wrong with this book, and yet NNU is proud to have William Paul Young on campus.  This is just one of the many reasons I do NOT recommend anyone to send their child to this school.  You do so at their peril.

Additional References:

The Shack’s Cool God (David Cloud)

The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment (Dr. Al Mohler)

A Look At The Shack (audio) Dr Al Mohler
Matt Slick interview the ‘Shack’ author Paul Young:​nloads/videos/MattSlickInt​erviewsTheShackBookAuthorP​aulYoung070908.wmv

Anthony Harper’s interview with the ‘Burning Down The Shack’ author Dr. James DeYoung – link below:​nloads/audio/IMCNH%2009-09​-10BurningDownTheShackAuth​orDrDeYoung.mp3