The Shack – An Abomination?

I recently saw this clip from a Pastor in the Seattle area named Mark Driscoll. He’s a pretty credible leader within the larger scale of the church and has a wide stroke of influence nationally. I’ve actually visited their church in Seattle and they are doing some AMAZING things in that city. Mark also has some brilliant things to say about leadership, vision and the local church.

I watched this clip and for some reason it just didn’t sit right with me. Honestly, I’ve never read The Shack (and I probably need too), but, I did watch an interview that Jarett Stevens did with the Author of the book at 7:22 back in the fall. Personally, I enjoyed the interview with the Author and I thought he explained the premise on which he wrote the book and did that pretty articulately.

I’m curious what your thoughts are on Marks perspective regarding The Shack. Have you read the book? Is it, truly, heretical as Mark calls it? Do you get the sense that William Paul Young is simply utilizing a story to paint a picture or is he really making a ‘false idol’ for us to try and contain? Watch the clip and post your thoughts!


27 responses to “The Shack – An Abomination?

  1. I also love Mark as a pastor, teacher, etc. But as far as this book is concerned, I think he’s off. In any blog by the author you can find out why he wrote the book. This explains some of it well:

  2. The Shack is a fictional work that is very inspiring.
    There are Christian allusions in the book that a Christ follower should be able to identify with.
    The book presents some interesting thoughts and probes some ideas that are un-traditional.
    But the book is a wonderful work of Fiction that will inspire you to show the love of Jesus.

  3. I really liked the book. I feel like if you don’t agree with something… read it. It’s best to understand something for yourself. Never really resonated with people who tell you that something’s wrong because they can prove to you why it’s wrong. I kind of feel like he missed the point of the book…

  4. It seems kinda lame to me to make an entire service to bash it. I mean when someone wants to know about counterfeit dollar bills, they study the real thing! They don’t go on and on about the counterfeit to prove it’s fake… they analyze the real bill to then use that as a standard for truth. I don’t know much about The Shack, but I think it’s far more important to, instead of rip apart something, show the truth and how that something doesn’t necessarily line up with it.

    I just get a little turned off when someone is so adamantly against something like that, to the point of public slander… even if I agree. I understand about Moses going nuts on the Israelites about the golden calf, but in my opinion, this is nowhere near that.

  5. I read The Shack and thought that there were statements and concepts that I wasn’t sure if I agreed with and was pretty sure that there wasn’t any Biblical evidence for. I didn’t have a huge problem with that though. I think that if we demand that Christian authors (especially of fiction) make use of ideas that can only be proven by scripture really limits their abilities to inspire and provoke thoughts and discussion. But the problem is that for the most part we are poor readers who do a terrible job of testing things like books and music especially if we initially like the way it sounds. As an artist it is one of the toughest questions that I have to ask myself: where does my responsibility to communicate end and the reader’s/listener’s responsibility to interpret begin.

  6. at first listen, I couldnt help but feel like Driscoll was reaching a bit on the “no graven image” argument… his point on the Shack promoting modalism is a bit more serious; i would be interested in seeing if he grabbed that from one line in the book or if it was a major point the author was trying to make about God the Father’s relationship to the Son… I’ll eventually get around to reading it…

  7. Man this video bums be out. I feel like he didn’t even read the book. The whole point of painting the picture the way Young did was to break open the box that a lot of us have God in, not to give God a new identity.

    That is displayed the most in the fact that God the Father is portrayed as a black woman named Papa. The whole point is that He is more than either male or female, or any race for that matter, that he is not restricted the way we are. He appears to Mak that way because that would be the farthest from Mak’s expectations.

    And the fact that there is no hierarchy between the Father, Son, and Spirit does not mean there is no deference. The book talks at length about the idea that The Son and The Spirit submit to God the Father out of relationship and love, not because they are subject to Him.

    I’m just bummed out that Mark Driscoll would take things so out of context to prove a point.

  8. He is missing the point. I think he is taking this too extreme. I loved The Shack. I even have a quote on my Facebook. I disagree with his argument that to read this Christians will get a better understanding on the trinity. I got more confused…and loved it! You can’t figure out God!

    Do you know why I loved the book most? It challenged me to dismantle all of my preconceived notions about who I thought God was. I agree that we will be utterly surprized! The trinity, God the father, but He is also determined to be neither male nor female, isn’t He? That is the beauty. It makes you ponder, consider your ideals in how you place God in a cookie-cutter, gift wrapped box, with bows tied around. The book was just an allegory with healing through someone’s brokenness.

    So…should we throw away the Chronicles of Narnia? I mean God is a lion in the book. Yes, He is refered to that in Scripture. But again, isn’t He also neither male nor female? – sometimes referenced as She like in Proverbs. Mmmm….

    I do not believe the author of The Shack was making idolatry through his characters depicted in the book. Again, you can’t figure out God. He wasn’t claiming God was an African American female either. His point was – you can not put limits and labels on God.

    The Shack allowed me to enjoy the beauty of His mystery that much more.

  9. Wow, I haven’t read the book either but I’ve had several people tell me that it is a great book, but definitely shouldn’t serve as a source of doctrine. He’s talking about the book as though the author wrote it in order to promote his own doctrine of the trinity when in reality it’s a fictional story. I think Mark is assuming that just because the Christian community praises the book that they are somehow being swayed to believe that the trinity is something that it’s not. Being someone who has known of and heard about the trinity my whole life, I look forward to reading the book and hopefully it will inspire me to take the time to truly consider what the trinity means to me personally but it certainly won’t change the foundational truths I already know and trust about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This makes me want to read the book even more!

  10. Good points Davey and Chris!

  11. Let’s not forget that Young wrote the book initially in an effort to explain God to his children. Of course it’s not going to line up on every theological level, that wasn’t the intention. If you remove any book from its intended context, it’s bound to be misinterpreted.

    That doesn’t just go on Driscoll, but rather on the hype that the Christian community at large has put into the book. By elevating the book to be something that it was never intended to be, fans of the book have created the backlash from those like Driscoll and Colson who don’t want to see it color people’s faith.

    If we all take the book for what it is, I think a lot of this back and forth could be avoided.

  12. i love matt’s comment, “I think that if we demand that Christian authors (especially of fiction) make use of ideas that can only be proven by scripture really limits their abilities to inspire and provoke thoughts and discussion.”

    and i love rachel’s thought, “I think Mark is assuming that just because the Christian community praises the book that they are somehow being swayed to believe that the trinity is something that it’s not.”

    and i agree with lisa, that it doesn’t really feel like he read the book, and if he did, i don’t think he “got it”, or i don’t think he “wanted” to get it. i often get the sense from driscoll that he is looking to pick fights… that may be overly simplistic and critical, but it feels that way at times.
    i’ve read the shack, and thought it was okay… however, i did think “wow, in the hands of the right people, this book could do some amazingly healing and restorative work!”
    even more so, after hearing the author give a presentation at a conference i was at three weeks ago, wherein he spoke about his own story and how the book is an outpouring of his own story, i now feel even stronger about the book and what it means.
    i think mark is wrong when he talks about the book being “about” the trinity. i think any nods toward a doctrine of the trinity are merely a byproduct of what william was trying to do, which i think was to help people get past some of their hangups and misconceptions about god, and really let him come into their lives and change and heal and renew and rebuild. the book is about healing and hope, not a systematic look at trinity.
    i felt mark’s first 3 points were pretty weak:
    1) graven image? really?? i can think of a whole lot worse examples of potential graven imagery… i think he’s kinda missing the point of this 2nd commandment
    2) goddess worship?? hmmm… sure… not really following. the book is pretty clear about the father’s non-sexuality… and like mark said, it wouldn’t have been any better had the father been portrayed as an old white man. so we’re left with what? a voice in the dark? the smoke monster from Lost? how might the author help his main character, Mack, interact with the father “without” using something that he/we can relate to? i have no problem with this… and i cannot see why one would label it as goddess worship. if anyone read the book and started praying the father as a mother, then they too probably missed the point.
    3) modalism? i don’t remember the part he’s talkign about exactly, but the quote by papa, “i am truly human in jesus” does NOT have to be representative of modalism. that sentence/sentiment can just as much mean that “I”, as the eternal, good, creator god, “am truly human”, incarnated, took on flesh, “in jesus” the man from nazareth. what is wrong with that? that’s not modalism… now, sure, a modalist could say a sentence like that and MEAN to say that “I” as god the father “became human in jesus…” but again, i fell mark is looking for ammo, looking to pick fights and be critical when he doesn’t really have to.
    4) deference in the trinity? this may be the only point where i think mark has some helpful thoughts. i don’t remember all the talk in the book about this, but it is important that we remember the subjection of jesus to the father and spirit to the others… yes, i’m with you. again, i’m not sure william young with disagree with mark on this, it may be another case of mark reading in to it what he wants.

    and wow, since when does art need to fit some sort of finely tuned, systematic theology before it can be a beautiful agent of change in the world? must we throw the whole baby out with some of the stinky bathwater? cannot we assume that we have it “wrong” in some areas, and pursue truth together with honesty and encouragment… allowing good art to shape and change people along the way if god so sees it fit?

    sorry brian, this was long… i’m out.

  13. Brian,
    It was a huge highlight to spend time with Paul Young. That Dude is the REAL DEAL.
    Despite his sincere faith, some people have gotten all freaked out about him and the book.
    Here is the response that I sent out about 48 times this past summer.

    :: The Shack is a work of Fiction. This is his creative and artistic telling of a story. Yes, a story about us and God, but it is a story none the less. One that is intended to “wake us up” as Mack needs to be woken up in his experience with the Trinity.

    :: Despite some of the conventional christian envelopes that Young pushes in the book, our hunch is the one that disturbs people most is that Young refers to God as a Black Woman. An interesting image to say the least. However, there are enough verses in the Bible that point to the Feminine / Motherly attributes of God, that this point becomes moot. Especially in light again of the fact that this book is Fiction.

    :: Finally, from everything I know of William P Young – his relationship with God is both real and sincere. He has a powerful and important personal storyto tell, what led him to write the book, and why he made the creative / controversial choices that he made in writing it.

    We believe that we grow when we hear from Jesus followers who have different opinions, convictions, and practices than our own. And we believe that if he was the Anti Christ…we would know.

  14. BTW – Brian, you def need to get off your arse and read the book. It’s really a beautiful little piece of fiction and reflection and a holds a place in publishing history.

    I can read it to you over the phone each night before you go to bed if that will help.

  15. your WAY OFF here, Mark! I read the book. Loved it. Read it with a critical mind.

    I Like Pastor Driscoll… but he likes to rock the boat. He’s anti-trendy.

    I know many believers who have read this book. NONE of them have altered their Doctrine because of this book… none!

  16. it’s a fiction novel….what this video (and what I’ve heard from Driscoll so far on this) reflects is poor usage of one’s influence. I know people who will not read this book because of what Mark is saying. I say understand that this is fiction, and gain an opinion that is your own and not Mark’s.

  17. Mark Driscoll is a good teacher but often puts his foot in his mouth, like the time he called Brian Mclaren gay because he was questioning status quo on church treatment of homosexuals. Also my understanding of the trinity is that the three are one while simultaneously separate. So if the character “papa” in this book says “I am truly human in Christ” I don’t see any blasphemy there. The three exist apart from one another but also in one another. Inability to read into subtlety found in art is often one of the things that makes Christians miss the point. Assuming that all pieces of literature, painting, music and other art forms should contain excerpts from theology books in order to attain holiness or reflection of God’s glory is stupid. It’s the mistake of someone that thinks the key to God’s heart is loads of knowledge. Also, even if the book is contrary to our theology, being a fictional account Christians shouldn’t even be threatened by it. Rejoice Christians that there is a top selling book that is getting people interested in the Trinity, don’t be stupid Mark.

  18. IMO, once again, Mark Driscoll inserted his foot into his mouth while trying to start the Anabaptist Inquisition. I was done listening to anything he had to say the day he called Rob Bell a heretic from the pulpit.

  19. hmm. WOW. i havnt read the book either but i feel like he is in a high intensity debate. not sure i even agree with the attitude in the delivery of the message. He is taking the book really literal. Sounds like there was maybe some parable type illustrations in the book… If I remember right i think jesus had illustrations that wernt literal. Am i tottally off with that? i didnt read the book.

  20. funny thing is that he is motivating a bunch of folks to finally go buy the book & read it!
    I think that might be the ‘law of unintended consequences’ of his message. Seems his ‘message’ was really more of a ‘rant’ than anything . . . disappointing from a really bright, gifted leader.

  21. Mark Driscoll delivered this message to his church because he was hearing a lot of people question it, be theologically swayed by it, etc. He delivered the message because he felt it was a need for his congregation. As a shepherd for that flock, he did what he thought was best for their well-being. You’ve got to respect that.

    Sure, his points of view are a bit harsh or skewed, but let’s not be so quick to make judgements about the man, or even take his past statements out of context as well. God is using Driscoll in some big ways…book reviews may or may not be one of those areas. 🙂

  22. it just makes me so sad.

    first of all, i have never heard someone say, “i read the shack, now i have the trinity figured out.” have you ever actually heard someone say that?

    here is the thing, when Young wrote this… he wrote it for his kids… he never intended for this to be published, let alone a best seller.

    i have the utmost respect for Driscoll and the ministry that God has allowed him to be a part of in Seattle… he is just a man. he isn’t perfect.

  23. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. ”
    “Test everything. Hold on to the good.”
    -I Thessalonians 5:21

    I’m not all that into Driscoll but I think he’s taking the book out of context and abusing a piece of work intend to stir discussion (like art tends to do) not one hoping to build a new foundation of belief (like theology tends to do)
    There’s a part of me that thinks his whole dig with this book has to do with his views on women, but that’s another post…

  24. darinmcwatters

    I was too bored by the writing to even notice the theology.

    There are well written and engaging theology books, and incredible, captivating works of fiction out there. This book was neither.

    I say, don’t bother. Read Neal Stephenson instead. His theology is whacked, but the exceptional prose is a better representation of the brilliant creativity of God himself than anything in Young’s goofy book.

  25. I think Mark is trying to be cool and relevant! Not sure if he it the mark – pun intended! The book is fiction – I think it brings people to ask questions about God and their faith! Would I use “The Shack” as a reference for building a sermon – no! Mark Driscol should take a chill pill and talk about something that matters!

  26. I AM SICK of hearing people say, “Mark Driscoll is a good teacher BUT…”

    How many times does Driscoll have to spout his unfounded, misinformed drivel before people see it for what it is?!

    All of this stems from Driscoll’s view that God is God because God has a bigger penis than every man in creation and that women are less than men because they don’t have penises at all.

    Driscoll thinks art is feminine, and therefore a lesser to hard facts. So the fusion of God and art (although scripture fuses these things repeatedly) is, in Driscoll’s mind, heresy.

    Honestly, Driscoll’s defamation of this book has been the biggest catalyst propelling me toward reading it.

  27. I go to Mars Hill Church and was running sound the day this video clip was recorded. I think many of us cringed when Mark spoke about The Shack in this way. I believe there are some definite areas of the book that need to be handled with caution, but the same could be said with the works of JRR Tolkin and CS Lewis.

    Shortly after this sermon, we had Scott Lindsey post a review on the book on our Resurgence webpage. I think he hit the nail on the head with his review. And although I love Mark and know his heart, it’s my opinion that he was a bit off with his words and opinion on this one.

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