Thursday, July 30, 2009

Revisiting The Shack

I unintentionally got into a debate on the book The Shack today. I went back and read my review of it, and had forgotten how really bad of an opinion I had had of the book. Since I am doing more book reviews now, thought I would post the review again, and add something to it.

On (CBD), there have been 1376 reviews of the book by customers so far. For CBD, that many reviews is about unheard of. A lot are positive 5-star reviews, but there are enough negative reviews that it has an overall rating of 3.5 stars.

It is amazing so many people who call themselves Christians can overlook the bad and rave about how wonderful the book is. I feel so strongly about the book that I don't think CBD or any Christian bookstore should sell it, but evidently money talks, and as long as it's a big seller, who cares if it has heresy in it.

Anyway, here is my humble opinion again, and below it, some comments from the site of CBD. I personally appreciate comment #5 a lot.

Well, I have finally done it. I have read the "life-changing" book that everyone is raving about. Surprisingly, I have to say the book had some good in it, but don't think I would recommend it to anyone. I promised a review, so here it is. I will try not to be too long or wordy, and to make my ideas as brief as possible.

A brief synopsis: Mack, the main character, loses his youngest daughter, Missy, in a kidnapping by a man whose victims are never found, just proof that he has killed them. Proof of her death is found in an abandoned shack. A few years after the incident, Mack received a note in his mailbox from Someone called "Papa" that He wants to meet him in the shack.

First the bad. :-) God is represented by a poor-grammar speaking black woman named Elouisa. God is referred to interchangeably as He or She. In the Bible, God never takes on the form of a woman, and always refers to Himself in masculine pronouns, so I take issue with this. There are people who don't want to call God He, mainly brainless feminists, and there is even a gender-neutral Bible, but when God always refers to Himself as masculine, I don't think we should mess with that.

Mack is also surprised that God has a "questionable sense of humor" - the author's words. This comment is made after God says to Mack "don't stand there gawkin' with your mouth open like your pants are full!"

Next up: The Holy Spirit is portrayed as a somewhat flighty Asian woman named Sarayu. Again, this rubbed me the wrong way- no I am not anti-woman, but God has His reasons for portraying Himself as masculine, not feminine.

Jesus was portrayed surprisingly as male, and somewhat like you would expect Jesus to be like, though the author carried that a bit too far also: Rough type, country bumpkin, even clumsy - would the Son of God be clumsy? What really bothered me about the Jesus in the book, the author portrayed Him as 100% human while on earth, and even in the book as 100% human. In the book, Mack was told that Jesus had no power except what He drew from God - just like we would have had to do. I totally disagree - if Jesus is God, then He had His own power.

The human part was portrayed so strongly, that at one point, Jesus drops a bowl of food, breaks the bowl, and makes a mess. God and the Holy Spirit laugh uproariously and comment "you humans are so clumsy!"

Another thing I didn't agree with: God, as the black woman of course, had scars on His/Her wrists also. Not exactly Biblical. Jesus hung on the cross, God the Father did not.

The author gives the idea that since we are under grace, we don't have to obey the rules anymore, cited especially in reference to the 10 commandments.

In my opinion, and in my friend Kimmy's (we have been emailing back and forth now that we both have read it) - the author bashes the church, quite a bit, and even knocks the idea of being a Christian - does say afterward that we are to become children of God.

Another weird thing: Mack goes into a cave, and there is a woman names Sophia talks to him. Not sure what the author's deal is with God as a woman, but this woman is an aspect, or something along that line, of the Holy Spirit.

Outside of bad theology, there are a few occasions of cursing in the book, which you may agree with me or not, does not belong in a Christian book, especially when the main character is talking to God. A couple uses of the "d-word", and a use of "son of a b....".

Overall, I don't feel the book was that well-written, and was not the riveting page turner that it has been hailed as. I read it in a few settings, as opposed to one setting for a really good book of that size.

I did say I had some good to say about it. The author did come across pretty well of why God lets us suffer. He also brought out a new idea to me: that when we are struggling with issues of God loving us, and feeling He is out to hurt us, and things along that line, we are judging Him.

This book has raving review everywhere you go, with the exception of a few sane people. I would not buy this book. I would not recommend it to anyone. I definitely don't think anyone not firmly grounded in their theology and relationship with God should read it - it could confuse some people and lead them wrong.

If I could sum up in one idea why I don't like the book, it is that the author humanizes all 3 parts of the Trinity, and goes way to far in doing so. God is way beyond our understanding. He wouldn't have poor grammar, He wouldn't have questionable humor. I believe the author treated the whole idea and character of God with irreverence in the book, and I found it offensive.

So, is the book heresy, or life-changing? I have to say it leans all too much toward at least being Biblically and theologically incorrect. The idea of the book was good, and were several things done differently in the book, I would have loved it and highly recommended it. It is sad that so many Christians are raving about the book, and overlooking its many flaws.

And now, the opinions of some others:

1) The Shack was well written, creative, and to a small degree, enjoyable and engaging. However, the book clearly distorts the character and nature of God. I was also uncomfortable with the manifestations of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit as women, and found this book overall to be touchy-feely and predictable. The story in The Shack basically removes God's perfect holiness righteousness and justice from His Essence. It also removes the eternal fact that sin is an offense to God that needs to be judged. God cannot just ignore sin and let people in the back door of heaven as this book seems to imply. The story also gives the false impression that if one chooses to not have faith alone in Christ alone, that God won't put them in the Lake of Fire, which according to the Bible is not true. In short, The Shack does not properly depict or explain the Biblical description of the Triune God or what it means to have a true relationship with Him through faith alone in Christ alone.

2) I agree with all of the 0 star reviews. This book is full of HERESY. For it to get 5 stars from people that consider themselves Christians is beyond me. For true hope and direction seek the Bible.

3)A great fictional novel but in no way biblically correct. There is no way I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to draw closer to God or to learn more about Him.

4)Unscriptural and misleading. Unfortunately, I think this book will lead many weak Christians and non-Christians astray.

5)As a new believer, I really struggle to understand why so many "strong" Christians think this is such a good book. What exactly is the good part? I had to force my way through this book. And I only did so so that I would be able to argue against it. How can so many people be so blind?

6)New Age, "all paths lead to God" garbage. About the only time in my life I have ripped up a book in disgust.

7)NEW AGE concepts!! More like the devil's version of the Pilgrim's Progress. Not recommended for those who are not grounded in the Holy Bible. There are way too many errors to list here. This author should be shaking in his boots!! Please read the Wikipedia on this author. It'll help to get some insight before making him into a hero. I feel very sad for his wife!!