Book Review

Author:   William P. Young 

Book Review by:  Pastor Mike Welte

Why would men like Warren Wiersbe and Gayle Erwin endorse a book like "The Shack?"
Answer:     I have no idea and when you become familiar with the book, you will probably ask yourself the same question.

Pastor Mike's Opinion:
     "A cart ride into chaos."  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but in this book, one can hardly see at all.
It might be considered, "An interesting bit of fiction with Trinitarian overtones" but, if you don't have strong foundation in "Authentic Biblical Understanding", look out!

Look at the following quote written by Eugene Peterson:
“This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ did for his. It’s that good!”
–Eugene Peterson, author of The Message (Front cover endorsement for The Shack)

Pastor Mike's Opinion:     Seeing what Eugene Peterson did with his, "The Message" translation of the bible, it's not hard to understand why he might offer such a glowing review of "The Shack." By the way, his "The Message" is not a translation but a paraphrased version.

The most troublesome line in the book:
“Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims…. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters.”
–The Shack’s “Jesus.” [1,p.182]
Written by William P. Young

Pastor Mike's Opinion:
In regard to Eugene Peterson's endorsement of "The Shack" and it's potential, it has potential, no doubt about it, but potential to do what? This book, at the very least, will cause confusion in the mind of the reader in regard to some very important God concepts. Readers who are without the benefit of sound biblical training could be enticed to believe that all roads lead to heaven. At least, that's what the author of "The Shack" sets forth in his book. I'm sure there are issues that pose far greater danger to believers than the "The Shack" but when books like this appear in popular Christian literature, believers should be alerted. This book presents troublesome, non biblical philosophical & theological concepts.

Having read portions of "The Message", by Eugene Peterson, I am not surprised that he has endorsed "The Shack." It seems his creative offering, "The Message" does it's own fair share of redefining traditional God concepts.

I would now like to say something positive about the book. I realize the book is fiction and I actually enjoyed the way the author delved into topics like "free will", "heart motivation", "performance based Christianity", etc. but I have never seen or read such a (confusing if not irreverent) description of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The mature believer who, keeps in mind, this is only a work of fiction will find within it's pages an interesting story. From beginning to end I did not feel my theological "underpinnings" were threatened in any way. I don't want to seem arrogant but thirty years of bible study and ministry should give one a certain degree of discernment.

It wasn't until I got the the end of the book and realized the whole scenario, (the vision, which is central to the book) had taken place in the mind of a man who is in a comma as a result of a horrible auto accident. Near death and under the effects of morphine based sedation, the main character of the story, Mack Phillips, experiences strange visions. As a pastor who has had numerous bedside conversations with those who survive similar situations, their reports of trauma induced dreams and visions are equally unusual.

My concern, in regard to this book, is that people will read it and think it is an attempt to communicate biblical theology. That would be a huge mistake but some will certainly make the association and will suffer confusion as a result. In spite of this possibility, the God I know and love has been able to help mankind through various kinds of confusion and make Himself known. In the end, we must place all of these things under the watchful eye of God although we should not forget the clearly communicated biblical admonitions that we should guard ourselves and others from those things that confuse rather than clarify.

If nothing else, the book could serve as some kind of tool to see how deft you are at discerning which concepts are biblical and which are not. That's how I used the book "Your Best Life Now" by Joel Osteen but that's another story.

Throughout both Old and New Testaments, God forbids us to distort His Word.  Additions and deletions are strictly forbidden in Scriptures like Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Galatians 1:8-9 and Revelation 22:19. Acts 17:11 exhorts us to learn from the Bereans who "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."

Written by Pastor Mike Welte

Pastor of Calvary Chapel Meadow Mesa
N. Las Vegas, NV  89030