Is “The Shack” Heresy? Part 1 – “Before you burn us at the stake…”

//Is “The Shack” Heresy? Part 1 – “Before you burn us at the stake…”

Is “The Shack” Heresy? Part 1 – “Before you burn us at the stake…”

“Before you are tempted to burn us at the stake, will you at least do me the favor of allowing me to stand in front of the firing squad and answer any questions that they might have.”  That’s what I said to one of the head executives of  Lifeway Christian Bookstores when he called to say that “he” might be in need of a job.  In short order, we had become wonderful friends, but in the latest brouhaha, his head was on the chopping block as well.

Is the shack book heresy Lifeway ImageOver a month or so prior, he called one afternoon to introduce himself and congratulate us on our success with The Shack.  Sales had begun to snowball, and it seemed like over night, everyone was talking about The Shack.  Our little book that had been turned down by 26 different publishers had become quite the phenomenon.  So much so, “they” were calling us.  

After the brief exchange of pleasantries, here came the opportunity: “We’d like to make The Shack our Lifeway presents ‘Book of the Month’.”  Sounded great to me, so I said: “Fantastic, you go right ahead.”  That’s when I was informed, “That’s not exactly how this works…” Supposedly this honor is something that publishers normally pay thousands of dollars to enjoy as the bookstore chain mounts a big, front of store, promotional campaign to drive sales.   I said, “That’s great, but you called me.  If that’s something Lifeway would like to do, I’m happy to sell you some books.”   That wasn’t the kind of response they were used to.   (But hey, when you don’t know what the rules are, it’s not like you can be guilty of intentionally trying to break them.  Just seemed goofy that if it was their idea, why did I have to pay for it.  Right?)

After a couple more calls, and I wouldn’t budge—I guess they liked the book enough on its own, to go through with their desire.  They made The Shack their celebrated “Lifeway Presents ‘Book of the Month’.”  How cool is that!  It was UNTIL…

Lifeway proudly championed The Shack throughout their bookstore chain.  Sales continued to soar, but as with all things that garner a measure of success, it soon attracts its own set of detractors as well.  Little did we suspect that we would become the center of a raging controversy taken before the Southern Baptist National Convention.

southern-baptist-conventionAccusations of “heresy” surfaced; suspicions of deception and error were being whispered abroad.  When such things were voiced by one of their respected seminary presidents and complaints made by other prominent pastors, orders were handed down and The Shack was pulled from their shelves.  Though it was by Lifeway’s own initiative to make us their “Book of the Month,” the promotional campaign was abruptly ended.  The charges of potential heresy would be discussed and ruled upon at the national convention.   

It didn’t take long for the rumor mill to kick into full gear, and my phone lit up.  At first, I couldn’t believe any of it could possibly be true.  But, when I got a call from the Lifeway — sure enough, it was for real!   It came as a total shock to him as well, along with the very unsettling realization that he could well be out of a job.  Afterall, this was all his idea—to put such contraband on full display at the front of the store, nationwide!   I thought he was kidding—he wasn’t.

Really?  This is a work of fiction.  It’s a novel for goodness sake.  Yes, it’s about God, about how God can meet us in the middle of the most horrible tragedy, and love us to a place of healing—able to bring forth good even out of the most despicable evil.

For two weeks, they met, discussed, debated, scrutinized.   The one request that I voiced was that before they concluded their deliberations that I be allowed to speak on our behalf, to answer any questions or accusations they might have, and have a chance to explain and/or defend, if necessary, what we had written.   

I knew The Shack was edgy and provocative—that was on purpose.  But we were profoundly careful about what was said and what words, be it dialogue or questions, were put in whose mouth.  As a fully trained seminarian, a passionate junior theologian in my own right, I was well aware how close to edge on some subjects we were traveling.  But as a committed, Bible-believing Christian who absolutely cares about the nature and character of God—I also know exactly what we were trying to reveal and why.   Asking provocative questions that we know would cause people to think and force them to go search out the answers for themselves, we knew would go much farther than would our doctrinal treatises or sermonizing at them.   

For nearly sixteen months, undergoing four major rewrites, we chiseled and hammered on this boulder of a story, and fashioned with God’s incredible help, what we thought was an endearing story whose primary mission was to unveil God’s incredible heart of love—the heart of the One, each one of us had come to know in our darkest moments of pain and adversity, the God who will never abandon us.  

But, this wasn’t a “PR” effort.  None of us had the patience for a religious sales pitch.  We wanted to wrestle with real pain, the real conundrums of life for which there are no easy answers.  And having all suffered the trite, ridiculous, albeit perhaps well-intentioned empty platitudes others trafficked in, we longed to steer clear of seeking to tie the messy parts of life off with a fake, perfect, little bow.  That’s not the world we live in.   

There are no easy answers to deep pain and suffering.  There is no magic wand or some miraculous “formula” to employ.  Life takes a bit of time and a lot of relationship.   And if you are going to love deeply, you are going to be hurt badly – but it’s worth it!   That’s the kind of story we could crawl inside and feel at home within.  Something honest.  Something messy.  But real, and yearning for truth.  

Do we have all the answers?  Nope – not even close!   Do we know pain and hurt?  Yep! – who doesn’t?  Have we met God … in spite of all that?  In the midst of all that?  Yep, and that’s where we each found the strength and the desire to get back up, flap our wings, and give it another shot at learning how to live as someone deeply loved by an incredible God!   It isn’t so much our trying to trust, as it is our being won to a place of trust by learning just how much God loves us.   Trust is the fruit of a relationship wherein you know that you are loved.   Something most people don’t know very well.

In a world steeped in pain and hurt, that so often feels rejected and abandoned, knowing that it doesn’t measure up very well to the impossible standards of perfection that only Pharisees strive to master—we figured it might be helpful to dethrone the notions of that “mean ol’ Angry God” that so many people have been pickled in.  That seems to be the only character of God so many have known—the awful terrifying Judge ready to hurl lightning bolts at them.   

God is a Righteous Judge!   There are not “many” ways to heaven—only one, and that’s found in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.   But when all the world can see, looking through the knothole of their pain, is a very disfigured charicature of God, how might we help clear away some of the dirt from off the lens, and enable people to catch a glimpse of the God who really is?  — A God, “the” God, who is knowable, but not fully able to be grasped by any of us.   Could we pose the “possibility”—not impose the demand or the agenda to believe—just pose the possibility:  “what if there was a God who really does love you?”  What if … ?

Could we wrap all that up in an engaging story, a mystery, thriller of sorts, that asks the questions of life that we all struggle with and wonder about?  And offer that as a gift for others to enjoy?  Wrap it up in a story that they could keep at a distance if they needed to, or be able to crawl into as close as they might want, if they dared—one that might just allow them to feel something before they were asked to “believe it.”  Could we give people a “taste and see” approach to the things of God, and sidestep the often contentious argued about things of dogma or doctrine, that seem to be best left to the so-called expert swordsmen of religion?   And yet, could we wade into the deeply spiritual issues of life, just do it like normal people, with everyday language that anyone could understand?   Or do we need to quote chapter and verse, and provide proof texts for everything we say.

If we sought to write the definitive systematic theology, a doctrinal treatise or some religious textbook, then I could understand being taken in front of the expert tribunal and being utterly put to the test, but this is a story, a very messy human drama – a fictional one at that.   And for the sake of a compelling story, we did not have the time, nor the inclination, to slow it all down and utterly explain each and every part, as if to leave no room for the reader’s own interpretation of what is more a work of art than it is some factual, historical documentary.   Stories aren’t meant to tell the reader what they are supposed to think.  Stories, good stories, are meant to make you think.  And great stories, much like secure people, let you decide for yourself what you think.  That’s part of the gift.

Does truth matter?  Absolutely! – especially when one dares to venture into the realm of theology and God, so we did not take our task lightly.  But did we think we were in-scripturating gospel?  No – at best we were providing an incomplete analogy, crafting a metaphor, playing in the realm of allegory.  We are telling a story.   Not a “true” story in the sense of events that really happened, but it is a story that engages Truth.   But the “Truth” we were trying to reveal is a Person!   It is a daring attempt to make the God of the universe, perhaps a little more accessible and a little more knowable to those who might be curious enough to pick up book and find Him in pages of a novel, made a little more real in the conversations between characters that you can relate to.   

The Shack is our attempt at that—you can be the judge of whether or not what we wrote is helpful, enjoyable, moving, impactful, and/or illuminating or … not.   Do what the Scriptures admonish us to do:  test everything and hold fast to that which is good.

Do I believe what we wrote and sought to reveal about God, the God of the Bible, is true and accurate?  I think so – it is to the best of our present ability, to grasp those things and put them into intelligible, relatable words.   Are they free from error?  I doubt it.   I’m not sure I can name many things of whom that is ever the case.  

No analogy I know of holds true of all things in all ways of what it is trying to reveal.   If it did, it wouldn’t be called an analogy—that is the realm of approximating things, likening aspects of things, drawing comparisons and parallels in attempt to provide better understanding.   That’s what telling stories are about – it involves the imagination.   It’s not the same thing as math or science, or the realm of apologetics and debate.  It’s creativity.  It’s art.  It’s drama.

engueneI do however takes some solace in our efforts that someone like Eugene Peterson, the Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology of Regent College, Vancouver, B.C., would comment:   “When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize the result is a novel on the order of The Shack. This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his.  It’s that good.”

How does that get you burned at the stake, accused as a band of heretics bent at deceiving the masses, dragging them into damnable error?!   I don’t know.

So what was the outcome of those two weeks of discussion and theological debate at the Southern Baptist National Convention?

Happily I can report that their conclusion was:  ‘There is nothing within the pages of The Shack that is inconsistent or in violation of orthodox, Biblical Christianity.  It is provocative and challenging—but perhaps it is exactly what we as Southern Baptists need to wrestle with.”   And they ordered The Shack back on the shelves, allowing the promotional campaign to be resumed.  (How cool is that!)

Did all the Lifeway bookstores embrace those findings?   Well… not exactly.  Some did.  Some chose not to put it back at the front of the store.  Others kept them in the back, and only sold them upon request.  I was told that a few even discreetly put them in brown paper bags, presumably to guard against exactly what, I’m not sure.  ( I don’t remember there being any pictures of naked ladies on the cover—but hey, to each his own, huh?)

What I found so wonderfully hilarious in all this is now if you want to draw up charges of heresy against The Shack, we can refer you to the esteemed theological panel of the Southern Baptist National Convention and invite you to take up your argument with them.   They gave us a clean bill of health, consistent with orthodox Biblical Christianity.    (Others still think we are a bunch of hindu, New age worshippers peddling a feminist religion of universalism – who knew?  ☺ )

As for me and my house:  we passionately love Jesus, believe and enjoy the Bible everyday, and are continuing to learn and grow and experience Papa’s incredible love.  We love, because He first loved us.     



May you know just how “Especially Fond of you” Papa truly is.

Brad Cummings
Producer, Publisher, Co-Author  The Shack

P.S.  That’s me with Papa! (Octavia Spencer)  — she was absolutely amazing.  You will be blown away by her – she gets it!!


STAY TUNED for the next installment , a “Part 2” of “Is The Shack heresy?” that shares very insightful article full of practical wisdom and perspective written by Wayne Jacobsen, one of the other co-authors, that addresses more specifically some of comments and major issues of concern raised by critics and various detractors.

By |2017-03-03T02:28:04+00:00December 8th, 2016|Shack Questions|81 Comments

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  1. Jon December 8, 2016 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    This is exactly why I left the baptist chruch 30 years ago. They are so fixed on dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on theology, they miss completely the simpleness of the Gospel. It’s all about love, not knit picking

    • Marel December 31, 2016 at 1:28 pm - Reply

      Arctlies like this make life so much simpler.

  2. LARRY TAYLOR December 8, 2016 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Hello, I was treated to a very interesting book…The Shack. I liked it enough to by numerous copies to give out to friends and customers. My wife was equally excited about your book. I asked our evangelical bookstore if they would like some copies of what I thought was fabulous. But no… may confuse some of our newer Christians. (I go to a huge church) I understand where they are coming from, they’d rather teach from our pastor(s) words, and I understand their concerns. But a lot of us who are firmly grounded have found, including most of the church staff have found it to be a compelling novel, of the hope, faith and love of Jesus. Best, Larry

    • Carly December 31, 2016 at 2:01 pm - Reply

      Big help, big help. And sutivlapere news of course.

  3. Mary Ann Mann December 8, 2016 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    Well , In simple words I am forever grateful to THE SHACK , it reminded me of Papa’s LOVE! Your book truly got me through the darkest time in my life, the loss of my Son, Adam. The SHACK will be my favorite book! You toped my fav from my youth, To Kill a Mockingbird! I will always own your book as I do Mockingbird!
    Thank you , The Shack Matters!

    • Digger December 31, 2016 at 1:46 pm - Reply

      Taking the ovwvriee, this post hits the spot

    • Stacy June 19, 2017 at 11:10 pm - Reply

      I too lost my son, Adam, this past January. I read THE SHACK obsessively last month, wishing the story to be true and not fiction. So much of what I read is what I believe. Our God is a loving God who does not punish us by taking our loved ones away or having some hidden agenda to make us suffer on earth. Our relationships with those around us bring healing in the midst of the pain this life can deal us, and my son is joyful at the side of Jesus, waiting for me to come to him someday. Thank You! You give me hope when my grief makes me falter.

  4. Barb Heller December 8, 2016 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    I read The Shack when it first came out. I shared it with my elderly mother who was facing so many losses in her life – independence, her eyesight (she was a passionate artist) mobility, her home and almost all of her friends who had passed before her. Although she was always a spiritual person, she had not been to church for many years and had no church family. I shared this book with her and it provided an opening for conversation about God, salvation and the meaning of having Jesus in our life. I will forever be grate full for the opportunity to share such important conversation with my mom before she passed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • Marty December 31, 2016 at 1:46 pm - Reply

      Ya learn sotmheing new everyday. It’s true I guess!

  5. Allan Lat December 8, 2016 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    As for me, The Shack changed me into a better follower of the one who loves me the most. Thank you and thank God for showing up as I experienced how He loves in mans words.

    • Kindsey December 31, 2016 at 2:00 pm - Reply

      Great inhsigt! That’s the answer we’ve been looking for.

  6. Carol December 8, 2016 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Brad, this is an absolutely wonderful mind-blowing, dust bunny removing story! I’m sure Bunyan and Hannah Whitall Smith had plenty of detractors, too. That alone should tell you that you’re on the right track. I have read theology books that are steeped in error and positively harmful, but you rarely hear a peep about them. Go figure. Don’t let the whiners get you down. We seem to have a country full of them and how it must break Papa’s heart. Keep up the good work!! And THANK YOU for this story and it’s courageous departure fron organized religion (I think that’s an oxymoron).

    • Dany December 31, 2016 at 2:17 pm - Reply

      You’re on top of the game. Thanks for shnarig.

  7. Robert Wetzel December 8, 2016 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    There are tears of joy streaming down my face as I read this. AMEN!

    • Jetsin December 31, 2016 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      It was dark when I woke. This is a ray of suhnisne.

  8. Linda Munn December 8, 2016 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    I absolutely loved this book. I never considered myself a religious person, I was brought up catholic but it never felt right to me. I picked up the book “The Shack” when I had lost my only son to suicide, I started to read the cover in the store and thought I would try to read it. Let me tell you I could not put this book down and I felt this is how I see God and Jesus, they are loving and I felt lifted. I gave this book to others who like me who felt organized religion was not for them and they loved the book and passed it on to others. I feel this book had me believing in the goodness of God and his son our savior.

    • Avari December 31, 2016 at 1:40 pm - Reply

      I’m imssepred you should think of something like that

  9. James Wakefield December 9, 2016 at 12:16 am - Reply

    I’ve been defending The Shack against its nay-sayers almost from the beginning–since September 2008! I’ll be happy to share my “A Behind the Scenes Guided Tour of William Young’s The Shack” with folks who ask for it. The book is a wonderful conversation starter… Claiming “The Shack is heresy ” says far more about the narrowness of the claimant’s world view than it does about the book itself. Christ have mercy!

    • Wood December 31, 2016 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      Me dull. You smart. That’s just what I nedeed.

  10. Walter Folds December 9, 2016 at 12:18 am - Reply

    It continues to amaze me the steps Satan will take to thwart the expansion of the Kingdom of God. I am now and will remain a devoted follower if The Shack. I understand that the book is fiction, but if you look there are some profound biblical truths within those pages the overriding one I see throughout the book is “God loves us and he is GOOD! Thank you Paul for The Shack

    • Emberlynn December 31, 2016 at 2:18 pm - Reply

      That’s 2 clever by half and 2×2 clever 4 me. Thnksa!

  11. Maurice Pelchat December 9, 2016 at 12:56 am - Reply

    I’m a french speaking person, so I’m going to try to express as clearly as possible in English.

    I have mixed feelings toward the book. I read it all. The book shows interestingly how God want to have a deep relation with us, that’s great. The only very sad thing that could happen after one read it, is to start ignoring some part of the scriptures to know God.

    If for some reason someone feels God differently by reading the scriptures he should not reject that. God perceives more deeply was is the human life that we will never know, and he acts accordingly. God attitude toward man also has to be perceived also as a mirror of what we are. This relation has many facets, and we can’t keep to one that pleases the most to us and start ignoring the other. This is the real problem.

    • Paulina December 31, 2016 at 2:22 pm - Reply

      That’s cleared my thoughts. Thanks for coinributtng.

  12. Mary Der December 9, 2016 at 12:56 am - Reply

    Interesting……I went to a LifeWay to purchase several copies of The Shack as Christmas presents for my daughters and daughter-in-law. I was led to read another book which was NOT what I was looking to share with the women in my family that year. But after giving the recommended book a chance, I returned and was pleased to be able to give the girls the best novel I had ever read. I am looking forward to the movie!

    • Latisha December 31, 2016 at 1:44 pm - Reply

      Short, sweet, to the point, FR-EEexactly as information should be!

  13. Bob December 9, 2016 at 1:47 am - Reply

    It’s been awhile since I read the book, as I recall it was implied as a true story which for me was the cause of concern. I’m just a simple follower of Jesus and the book’s story seemed to me to not follow the Triune God in scripture. I saw the book on one of my bookshelves a few days ago, maybe I’ll read again with your article in mind.

    • Vicki December 31, 2016 at 1:32 pm - Reply

      This has made my day. I wish all potisngs were this good.

  14. Dean Witt Jr. December 9, 2016 at 2:41 am - Reply

    I read The Shack as I was going through the most difficult trial of my life. I didn’t take it literally and I don’t understand how anyone could.

    God used The Shack to minister to me at a time of great personal / spiritual need.

    • Tracen December 31, 2016 at 2:20 pm - Reply

      Frankly I think that’s abeolutsly good stuff.

  15. Jim Overway December 9, 2016 at 3:43 am - Reply

    “The Shack” was instrumental in bringing me to the Lord in real life. After 60+ years of living with spiritual indifference, this book piqued my interest and sparked a pursuit that brought me to love The Lord. Whether or not the book is “Biblical” in the strict sense of the word, I find myself looking back on my first reading of “The Shack” as a starting point. In one way or another everyone comes to The Lord as they are. Then they grow in maturity as they begin to trade in their milk for solid food. Those who criticize The Shack remind me of politically correct politicians who fancy themselves as better suited to look after us than we are to look after ourselves. We can grow to be discerning even if we start with “The Shack”.

    • Melly December 31, 2016 at 2:04 pm - Reply

      That’s what we’ve all been waiting for! Great potsnig!

  16. James Penz December 9, 2016 at 3:45 am - Reply

    Thanks for the article, I read the Shack; loved it.
    Religious folk will always try to get noticed by what they approve of, and in the process they condemn themselves again before God. May we all experience the revelation of Christ that it took to make a book like this possible. Keep hearing Jesus, jim

    • Coltin December 31, 2016 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      This is an arictle that makes you think “never thought of that!”

  17. Denise Watson December 9, 2016 at 10:42 am - Reply

    Brad, thank you for sharing this with us, I have read The Shack three times and plan on reading it again before the movie comes out which I will be going to see the first day it hits theaters!!!! I have also reccommended it to everyone and given the book many times as gifts to people. I believe you put such a human spin on the relationship we can have with God, we can meet him in many forms each and everyday if we are willing to hear his voice, he speaks to us all the time, we just need to listen. The book was an amazing way of showing that even in the most horrific experiences God is with us and will help us through each and every circumstance good or bad. Some things are so awful they cannot be rationally explained and maybe we will never understand them until the life after, but we know we can always trust in the Lord to carry us through and you did a wonderful job in showing us that in your book. Thank you for that and God knew your intent when you all wrote the book and that’s really all that matters!

  18. Pippa Duffy December 9, 2016 at 11:25 am - Reply

    As a couple who thoroughly enjoyed The Shack, my husband and I were delighted to attend Paul Young’s meetings in Adelaide Australia several years ago when we were there visiting family. We gained a greater understanding as to how and why this book had to be written. As not everyone had this privilege, I made copious notes which I then typed out and sent to the various critics that came across my path. I was delighted to be contacted by email….several years after this ministry…with the news that a film had at last been made. There will always be critics…those unable to embrace imagery and allegory…but I sincerely hope and pray that those people will be enlightened and understand that the Lord use many different ways to reach different people. I look forward immensely to seeing the movie.

    • Magda December 31, 2016 at 1:43 pm - Reply

      This could not polibssy have been more helpful!

  19. Katherine Hutto December 9, 2016 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    I have been a Southern Baptist my entire adult life and I am saddened to hear the stance that was taken by the Southern Baptist Convention. I read The Shack several years ago and was so moved that I bought 20 books and gave them out to friends.

    • Tangela December 31, 2016 at 1:58 pm - Reply

      That takes us up to the next level. Great postgni.

  20. Cheryle W Sissel December 9, 2016 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    I read the book and found it extremely thought-provoking, but not heretical in any way! BTW, I am a graduate of a Protestant Bible College! I am looking forward to seeing the movie when it comes out next year!!!

    • Charl December 31, 2016 at 1:51 pm - Reply

      Such a deep anerws! GD&RVVF

  21. Marie Carlisle December 9, 2016 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    I lost my daughter to cancer when she was 28. I have read this book several times and have even bought it for several family members. It brings me peace even though I know it is a work of fiction. If people don’t want to read it, the solution is simple. Don’t buy it. I would love to read more books with an uplifting message like this one.

    • Chris Wood April 4, 2017 at 6:07 pm - Reply

      I wasn’t sure my sister would read it. but she did and it was a tremendous comfort to her. She had a lot of loss in her life and was indifferent to the LORD before but she has since had a yerrible loss again. Losing her grand daughter (age 4) I wasm’t sure what to expect when I mentioned the movie was coming out. She wanted to see it. I will be buying a copy for her when it’s availableon dvd

  22. Ed Williams December 9, 2016 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    You have no idea what The Shack has meant to my family. The story came into my life at a time my Baptist faith had so beat me up (I was saved at five years old) that I was reading Chris Hitchens and trying to become an atheist. Thank you for your faith in the story to push by 25 or so rejections and persevere on. I would have gave up long before. I am 57 years old and can’t wait for the movie to be released I am worse than my daughter was at 13 and was waiting for Titanic and Leonardo DiCaprio. It is sad and so wrong that some have to try and make a name for themselves trying to discredit such a blessing and hope for so many.

    • Rosalinda December 31, 2016 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      It’s a plaeruse to find someone who can think so clearly

  23. Kendra Mott December 9, 2016 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    I read The Shack a few years ago based on a recommendation of. Good friend I knew to be a solid Christ follower. I knew reading it that it was in fact a novel based on imagination and good writing skills. About half way through I put it down and just felt it was a little to weird for my taste. Yet a month later I picked it up again and finished it. I’m glad I did. The ending revealed the healing that is available when one releases his or her pain and struggles to a loving triune God. I’ve been a Christ following believer for 45 years and have read the Bible from cover to cover many times. No heresy comes to my mind. A novel is a novel. A theological textbook is a textbook. People need to learn the difference.

    • Snow December 31, 2016 at 1:53 pm - Reply

      Mighty useful. Make no mistake, I appecriate it.

  24. Leslie Stevens December 9, 2016 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this. I loved The Shack and could never understand what made people be so against it. Its good to know that it was “clear” by the Southern Baptists.

  25. Rhonda Tumlinson December 9, 2016 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    I read “The Shack” when it first became available and was challenged, entertained and made to look for myself at my “idea” of God. Happy to say that I agreed with most of how God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit was presented. Thank you for being faithful to write and stand by what you had written. I also have participated in 2 Bible Studies on “The Shack”. Always fun to listen to others and their own personal struggles with grasping that God really does love them.

    • Katherine December 31, 2016 at 1:47 pm - Reply

      I can’t believe you’re not playing with me-ha-tt was so helpful.

  26. Barbara December 9, 2016 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    This was a wonderful representation of faith and a powerful novel. How anyone would try to criticize it as “heresy” is beyond my understanding. I have shared this book wit many people and everyone loved it! I am looking forward to the movie, but must admit I always love the book more than the movie version.

    • Reno December 31, 2016 at 1:56 pm - Reply

      This is what we need – an insight to make evernoye think

  27. Stephen Koschella December 9, 2016 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    When I first began reading The Shack I was at first, like many, unsure whether it was a novel or a testimony. However once it became clear that it was indeed a novel, I was able to relax and appreciate the wonderful use of allegory, parable and analogy in the story to convey some difficult truths and God’s amazing provisions. Sad to see that some can’t abide this story telling method when it comes to biblical themes, yet the bible itself does the same. Is God really a mother hen who protects us with her wings?

    • Pebbles December 31, 2016 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      Now that’s subtel! Great to hear from you.

  28. Di December 10, 2016 at 2:55 am - Reply

    I have been a committed active Christian all my life ….this book changed my life, it helped me to change attitudes, it helped me see that expectations do not help me in living my life, it showed me how God loves, it validated my “outside the square” beliefs. It’s a book that can be read over and over again. Theologically is not the only way to believe….heart matters. Xx

    • Danice December 31, 2016 at 2:04 pm - Reply

      It’s great to read something that’s both enjoyable and provides pramiatgsdc solutions.

  29. daniel kaminski December 10, 2016 at 4:47 am - Reply

    this book has broght tears to my eyes…i didnt think God cared about me enough to love me.. thank you for giving me another way of looking at God

  30. LISA F MACON December 10, 2016 at 9:00 am - Reply

    Jesus was the greatest story teller of all times, that is how He taught His followers, He engaged them in stories so they could understand and know The FATHER. If The Shake awakened anything in me it was my desire to sit in the center of the Holy Trinity’s Love. I begged and pleaded with God to show me more of Him, and that is exactly where this story took me. I was a Bible teacher and devout believer in Jesus, but there was something missing in my spiritual life, it was the power of knowing the sweet relationship of the Trinity. The Shack plainly presented that beautiful relationship to me….in me and through me. I now sit daily in the center of the Holy Trinity’s love. This book is for people like me who can know the word of God but not be able to visualize what it looks like in real life situation.. Maybe Jesus knew what He was doing by using stories?

    • Ziggy December 31, 2016 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      You’ve really imressepd me with that answer!

  31. Cathy December 10, 2016 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    The Shack was one of the most inspiring, beautiful and thought inspiring books that I have ever read. Sometimes when I’m feeling lonely or down I pick it back up and re-read it. I’ve bought six copies, each time I bought a copy I have it to a friend after reading it. The 6th copy I kept for myself and have brought it to Spain with me, a little Spanish isle that I’ve relocated to. When I miss home and all that’s familiar to me I take this book out, curl up with a cuppa and read.
    Unfortunately, those who find fault with this book don’t have the vision to see that this book has helped many return to God in their own way. Those who find fault can’t see the beauty contained in this book, they’re too busy with their rules, maybe some excerpts hit a nerve with them. The first time I read it I was so lost and very much broken. The Shack made me reevaluate my own life, my own story and also to see the blessings of each day with new eyes. I can’t wait for the film to premier.

  32. Melody Rucker December 10, 2016 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    I loved the shack so much that I bought 30 copies and give them to friends and family for Christmas. This is one of my favorite books and is very thought-provoking. Thank you so much to the writer of this incredible journey.

    • Alex December 31, 2016 at 2:01 pm - Reply

      Didn’t know the forum rules allowed such brlaniilt posts.

  33. Carla December 11, 2016 at 12:42 am - Reply

    The Shack had a profound impact on my husband and I. I have shared it with family, friends, our womens group–and am STILL ordering more books to give out. I had to laugh when I read the churches having heart attacks over the implications of what you are suggesting. This book is so raw, so real–it took what we knew of ‘religion’ and threw it out the window. And what we have found is a God of Love. Because of this book I can put my arms around people of different thoughts and feelings and truly love them. We teach that God loves us just where we are, then then we teach them to hate those that are different than we are. I can’t imagine ‘Papa’ acting like this. I pray the tenor of ‘The Shack’ resonates the ‘Christian’ world, and we are ALL changed. God bless.

  34. Dianne Loraas December 11, 2016 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Love The Shack and am presently in a book club while reading it again…and preparing for the movie. Hearing Paul Young share his personal testimony and journey many times on YouTube as well as a chance to hear him personally has made the book come even more alive. Paul has a great story to tell and he shares it with humility and passion…I would highly recommend it to anyone. I love his out of the box thinking…it is a stretch we all need.

    • Louise December 31, 2016 at 2:08 pm - Reply

      A little rationality lifts the quality of the debate here. Thanks for congtibutinr!

  35. Kate Prasek December 12, 2016 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    I was so happy to see the trailer! When the book first came out several years ago, I bought a copy (not yet on the best sellers list) and thoroughly enjoyed reading it — so much so, that I ordered 20 copies for my family, and anyone who seemed to be having a dark time in their lives. I also gave a copy to our priest, to be sure I wasn’t giving out something contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. He gave me a full go-ahead, so I ordered 15 more copies. All of them are gone — even my original one, and a friend is re-reading my present copy. Even my mother, a hard-core, Catholic only reader was moved by it. Everyone I have talked to about it has been touched in ways unique to them, which tells me that God is using it to speak to all of us where we are! I can hardly wait for the movie to come out! For those who seem to be dismayed by the Baptist Church’s caution, be assured they, like the Catholic Church are careful to be sure that there is no misleading the faithful. We all want to teach what is correct.

  36. Nancy Haygood December 20, 2016 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Christ spoke in parables — the Shack is an exquisite parable, that speaks of loss, of fear, of self-condemnation, and of the overriding and all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing love of the Lord God in all His facets. He is like a mighty diamond, with many, many facets. And I can only see so many of them from my perspective — it takes learning from and sharing with others who are also seeking a glimpse of His wondrous character, to allow us a view o more and more of this awesome Father God/Lord and Savior/Holy Spirit. Thank you, for widening my view!

  37. Roe Antinore December 31, 2016 at 3:22 am - Reply

    My sister was kid napped sodomized and brutally murdered in 1979 when she was one month short of her 21st birthday. The murderer brought her to a cabin in the woods that was owned by his parents. It was much like the shack you described in your book. While your story is fiction, mine was real. I found enormous comfort in your descriptions of Our Lord & Savior, our loving God the Father & the Holy Spirit. I always knew Jesus was with her on that horrible last night of her earthly life but you made it more descriptive & more real for me. I will always cherish your words. They are a great comfort to me.

    P.S. The murderer was found, tried & convicted & eventually died in prison of cancer. He had been released in June 1979 from prison in Alabama after he had raped a woman in front of her 3 year old child. He had served only 8 years of a 30 year sentence for rape & was paroled. He murdered my sister in September 1979 just three months after being released. My sister lived with my mother & brother in Eldred, NY. The murderers parents lived in Port Jarvis. After he got out of prison, he came back to NY to live with his parents.

  38. Lotta December 31, 2016 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Your thikinng matches mine – great minds think alike!

  39. Leigh January 2, 2017 at 1:07 am - Reply

    I was touched the first time I read/listened to The Shack. It was the God, Jesus and Holy Spirit I had been looking for since leaving the church in 1981 because of the doctrinal constrictions and restrictions that are preached that keep us from understanding a loving, caring, all-encompassing God. I cried with joy for hours listening to this book. As you explained, this is an allegory, an analogy that brings the concept of God into the aspects of a real, living, modern-day human being. This novel gives God characteristics that we can understand and accept. It is difficult for the human mind to understand an eternal, Omni-present being.

  40. TONI January 17, 2017 at 12:52 am - Reply


  41. Angela January 19, 2017 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    I heard about this book when it came out and heard it was very good. In early December while helping move things to our new church building, I saw “The Shack” being carted away into a vehicle. I inquired about the books and they were going to be donated. I asked her if I could have that one (and a couple more). I started reading it a week ago and it has blown me away! I realize that God is not who I think He is. That is the first of many “realizations” that I had while reading this book!! I just got through reading it today. A great story line with heart provoking truths! A phenomenal work of art!

  42. Laura Zielke February 9, 2017 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    In anticipation of the movie’s release next month, I finally read “The Shack.” When I saw this article on the blog, I was not shocked to see who the accuser was. Sadly, the SBC has gotten a big head over the years and is the self-appointed guardian of what is considered “true” and “false.” They have done a lot of damage with false accusations over the years, and I’m so glad to learn that they reconsidered their decision to pull your books from their shelves. “The Shack” is brilliant, challenging, and intriguing. The scenes are painted so beautifully and the emotions are captured so well that they literally create an experience for the reader unlike anything else available these days. Thank you. Thank you for not only writing the book, but for taking much care to avoid heresy while pushing the limits of our preconceptions.

  43. […] As a side note, I was surprised/not surprised to learn of a kerfuffle a few years ago with LifeWay Christian Store. At first, they decided to feature the book in their stores; however, after accusations of “heresy,” they removed it. Then, after review from a number of conservative theologians—who found nothing unscriptural within it—LifeWay brought the book back to its shelves once again. Meh. You investigate the controversy here. […]

  44. Yolanda Lee February 16, 2017 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    In all of my years of reading books, this book is by far the best. No one has ever had the guts to bring God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost to life, in the way that you did. You made them touchable, relatable! I have laughed, cried, wandered, and pondered the things that you brought forth in this book. I received my book on Monday night, and was finished reading it by noon on Wednesday. This book taught me something about forgiveness, judging others, and about love. I would like to thank the Author Mr. Young, and to the publisher, for having the guts to publish this awesome book.

  45. Thomas March 1, 2017 at 2:59 am - Reply

    Your article is very misleading. LifeWay has not carried The Shack in years now. So, no, you can’t direct anyone to the SBC to validate the “orthodoxy” of it. However, you can buy Burning Down ‘The Shack’ at LifeWay.

    This really calls into question your integrity.

  46. Donna Compton March 5, 2017 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    When I finished reading the book (read it right after it was on the market) I knew that my life had not been spent struggling with my image of the “Father heart of God”, but with the “Mother heart of God”. It made all the difference in my walk of faith. I began to allow God to “nurture” me and began believing that He really loves me! The movie is powerful and you could hear almost everyone in the sold out matinee audience sniffling and searching for tissues. I’m so sorry others are offended – I believe if they’ll open their heart and ask God He will say “I’m especially fond of you.”.

  47. Bud Ahlheim March 9, 2017 at 12:13 am - Reply

    Thanks for your post. I am curious if you would provide the source for the quote from the SBC which you cited, “There is nothing within the pages of The Shack that is inconsistent or in violation of orthodox, Biblical Christianity.” I hope you can help me with that.

  48. Clod Hopper March 10, 2017 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    I consciously resist the herd mentality. I waited a long time to view Mel Gibson’s, The Passion. It was til years later that I found out that Gibson drew parts of his story and inspiration from the transcribed and published visions of catholic nun who had died over a hundred years ago.

    Does that make Gibson a heretic and his movie a heresy?

    I have read The Shack and I have seen the movie.

    The only criticism I have is the actor cast to portray Jesus is too handsome.But at least he is not a blue eyed, blonde haired, fair skinned, effeminate sweetie pie. I have been on a lot of job sites and I have never encountered a carpenter, male or female, who fit that description.

    The Shack is the most non-religious portrayal of the triune GOD that I have ever encountered. The movie is how I imagined the book as I read it. It is an excellent movie in every aspect. The producers did an excedíingly excellent job of condensing the book into a time manageable movie with a negligible loss of content.

  49. Joann March 18, 2017 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    Thank you for writing the book, it really helped me. I had to give my daughter back to god almost 4 years ago and didn’t understand how God could do that to us and not cure her from aggressive cancer at the age of 22. Life didn’t make sense. How could God not help? I now have seen the movie twice in less than a week and really want to see it again. It brought me such peace. Thank you for taking a chance to help all of us accept God’s plan a little.

  50. paul wheatman April 20, 2017 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    For all of my life I’ve wondered if The Bible meant anything at all. I don’t do religion and never will . I first encountered a god at my Catholic primary school and my young mind immediately labelled him as a very nasty piece of work. Apparently I could live a life of perfect behaviour and be damned to hell at the last moment for some accidental transgression OR I could live a life of evil and apologise at the last minute and all would be well. So it all came down to timing, right ?

    I’ve had a pretty chaotic and hedonistic life but no peace : never found anything on this planet that made sense or gave me any lasting peace.

    I’ve been in psychotherapy for many years.

    I read The Shack and I didn’t just shed tears – I’ve shed many in psychotherapy – It tore me apart.

    I’m still torn apart now, some days later : that’s fine. I am at peace. This Book is the greatest force for good I have ever encountered.


  51. Beth June 5, 2017 at 1:32 am - Reply

    Some lines from The Shack truly impacted me, such as *Love forced is not truly love.* It’s difficult to accept when someone you love
    such as a family member rebuffs you, but Papa created us as FREE, and we can’t blame ourselves for their responses. Plus, trying
    to independently change things – of course, after any necessary apologies have been made – isn’t the way to go.

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