Saturday, May 31, 2008


For the Shack review - scroll down to next blog

We are doing well. It has taken me a long, long time to get adjusted to this new life.

Getting out 3 or 4 times a week. Going out for dinner tonight. Routines are working and my spirits have been very good. Wonderful to see summer come. Our book club meets next week. Going to Vancouver next week to Regent college where the author of The Shack is having a discussion with the Regent faculty. I am taking tomatoes. I will report the outcome.

Thanks Ira for the long letter and to Dan for the several emails.

Our two new grandkids are a continual joy. They were here all day Friday doing yard work.

Will share our discussion at Book club after we meet Friday.

Don and Barbara

Monday, May 19, 2008

review of a book The Shack - a runaway best seller

The Shack - A very critical review.


Mackinzie Allen Phillips (Mac), who has had his young daughter murdered in a shack during a camping trip, is invited by God to revisit the shack four years later. At the shack he is met by the Trinity in the form of a large African woman (God the Father), an Asian woman (The Holy Spirit) and a Jewish man (Jesus) He has apparently been invited to the shack by God to help him deal with the pain of the loss of his daughter. (P.92) There is some attempt by God to help Mac deal with a variety of theological questions.

What do we know about Mac?

1) He was raised in a rather harsh Christian home.

2) Family devotions were tedious and boring.

3) His father had a drinking problem

4) He has been to seminary

5) He is a rather superficial thinker as he never faced up to the problem of the evil in the world until he experienced the loss of his own daughter.

6) He has some familiarity with church and with church beliefs.

The author of the book has declared on a web site that the Mac in the book is really a picture of himself. He has also stated clearly that the book is a book of fiction.

The book, in many ways, is a theological disaster. The first and most glaring error is the feminization of the Trinity. The biblical writers, from cover to cover, all seem to think that the masculine image is the most appropriate image to represent the Trinity. Nobody suggests that God is a man -- only that the masculine image is the best image to represent God. C.S. Lewis says that the whole universe is feminine before God. God gives and the universe receives. Even in sex, the male gives and the woman receives. What justification do we have to declare that the Biblical writers and 2000 years of church history are wrong in preferring the masculine image to the female image to represent God? Any religion that puts the feminine at the heart of the universe rather than the masculine would result in a religion very different from historic Christianity. This is important. (See C.S. Lewis - 'Priestesses in the Church' in God in the Dock.

A second error is the clear assertion that there is no hierarchy of office within the Trinity (p 121-123). The whole New Testament speaks of hierarchy of office. The Father sends the Son, not the other way around. The Son prays to the Father, the Father doesn't pray to the Son. The creeds say that the 'Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son', the Father does not proceed from the Holy Spirit. The author of this book boldly puts words in God's mouth that don't square with the Biblical record. The whole tone to the relationship of the members of the Trinity the each other is annoying. They kiss each other all the time, They call each other and Mac sweetie and honey.

Odd things about the story:

1) God twice refers to the possibility that Macs pants might be or get full of poop (p 88, 121).

2) All three members of the Trinity became human in the Incarnation (p. 99)

3) Suggests that Jesus is physically ugly. (p. 113)

4) States that God the Father has scars on her writs that match the scars on the wrists of Jesus. (p 95)

5) God loves everyone equally but he especially has love for Missy (the dead daughter p 92). He is also especially fond of everybody (119). The word especially loses its meaning if it applies to everyone. Verbal confusion.

6) God is bigger than the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Why?)

7) God cries (p 95) (the author does not seem to realize that there is a strong theological support for the idea that God is impassible)

8) The attempt to discuss the problem of free will is very superficial (p. 94-95)

9) “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” God explains this to Mac by saying that Jesus was wrong, He was not forsaken, He only felt forsaken. This complex problem is explained away quite simply - too simply.

10) “When all that humans can see is their pain, perhaps they lose site of Me” (p. 96). This is only true if humans have not had good teaching in church. The whole point of the book of Job is that a man can suffer terribly without losing his faith in God. Suffering should not have any effect on a person's belief system.

11) When God tries to tell Mac that He is more than just a large human, Mac says that His explanation does not make much sense. (p. 98) Why not? It’s not that complicated.

12) “When we three spoke ourselves into human existence as the Son of God we became fully human - - we became flesh and blood.” (p.99) Where in the world did the author get this idea?

13) Mac seems to think that we learn truth from our experiences (p.102). This is true if by experience he means thinking but not true if he means his feelings. Mac is a bit weak on thinking.

14) Jesus is clumsy (drops a bowl of batter) (p.104). God calls him ‘greasy fingers”.

15) Mac is very impressed they way the members of the Trinity treat each other. (p 105). “How different this was from the way he (Mac) treated the ones he loved” How?

16) There is a frequent subtle hostility through out the book against theology, seminary, rules, law, obedience, religion, authority, power, judgment, repentance, guilt, responsibility, expectations (p. 112, 123, 148, 158).

17) God uses slang. “Those things will give you the trots if you ain’t careful (p.121). “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet’ “(p 203).

18) Jesus and God the mother are so dense that they can’t understands Mac’s questions about hierarchy within the trinity (p. 121, 122).

19) God is very disparaging of human's ability to determine what is good and evil (p.147). This is theological and philosophical nonsense ( see C.S. Lewis - Abolition of Man and the book of Romans)

20) “power in the hands of independent humans - - does corrupt” Maybe often but not always

21) God is critical of Mac for judging the actions of other people (p. 158). This is contrary to common sense. We are not to judge motivations but are compelled to judge actions.

22) God says that judging requires that you think yourself superior over the one you judge (p. 159). More nonsense. All we need to judge the actions of others is common sense. We don’t need to think our selves superior.

23) Jesus loves people who he had judged worthy of His love (p.163). This is a flat contradiction of God’s grace. We are not loved because we deserve it. He loves us in spite of the fact that we are not worthy of it.

23) Jesus says that he has no desire to make non-Christians, Christians (p.182). What kind of nonsense is this. He has no desire to make people his followers?

24) Mac asks ‘why didn’t you tell me about Missy (the killed daughter) before?’ (p. 176) What has he learned at the shack about Missy that he didn’t know before? We are never told.

25) All the evils of the world are all related to religion, politics and economics. (p. 179) A silly assertion.

26) The Bible doesn’t teach you to follow rules (p. 197), yet Jesus said, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments’.

After Mac’s encounter with God in the Shack the great sadness of the loss of his daughter was gone. Is this a good thing? How would anyone want this kind of sadness to be gone?

Why is this book receiving such a positive response? Because it presents a very mushy and undemanding God, one that satisfies our emotions and makes no demands on our minds. If laypeople were better educated theologically this book would be a colossal flop. If people are being ‘blessed’ by this book, it only means that God can use even bad teaching to a good end.

Apparently the author went to seminary. I wish he had stayed awake in class and would have avoided writing this awful book.