Mark Driscoll points out several heresies of The Shack, and explains why the book promotes goddess worship. (We disagree with Driscoll’s view that images of Jesus incarnated in human form are permissible. See number 6 in the first post.)
This is the second in a series of posts contrasting the dangerous teachings of The Shack with the Bible.
This chart explores “The Shack”’s denial that man must submit to God, its denial that man is obligated to follow God’s commandments, its denial that sin must be punished, its attempt to reduce God to a verb, its denial that Jesus is the only way, and its denial that God’s commandments inform the heart.
Danger 7: Denial that man must submit to God
|The Shack||The Bible|
|The Shack opposes man submitting to God.
The Shack Jesus says,“Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way.”
After the character Mack was surprised to hear this, the Shack Jesus adds,
“[W]e want you to join us in our circle of relationship. I don’t want slaves to my will; I want brothers and sisters who will share life with me” (p. 146)
|The Bible requires man to submit completely to God.
“ Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,” (Ephesians 6:5)
“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” (Romans 6:22)
“take every thought captive to obey Christ …” (2 Cor. 10:5b)
|True submission to God is obedience, “with a sincere heart.” Contrary to the false Jesus of the Shack—who denies the relationship between obedience and submission, and who says he doesn’t want slaves to do his will—Christians must obey the true Jesus as slaves “with fear and trembling.”
Christians must be slaves of obedience to Christ.Thus the Shack teaches heresy when it denies the need to obey, and become enslaved to, Christ.Only those who are obedient slaves to Christ are true Christians, since enslavement to Christ is “the fruit you get” that “leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”
(This doesn’t mean that Christians are saved by their works; it just means that those who come to true saving faith in Christ will become a new creation that will naturally produce good works. Good works from the heart are the fruit of salvation, not the root. “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.” [Matt. 7:17])
The Shack also teaches heresy in separating love and obedience. Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
God’s commandments are particular applications of love:
“‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’” (Matthew 22:36-40)
Danger 8: Denial that man must follow God’s commandments (Antinomianism)
|The Shack||The Bible|
|The Shack teaches against obedience.
Sarayu says,“The Bible doesn’t teach you to follow rules” (p. 197)
|The Bible requires obedience.
Jesus says,“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)
“Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, ‘Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.’ He answered them, ‘And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, “Honor your father and your mother,” and, “Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.” But you say, “If anyone tells his father or his mother, ‘What you would have gained from me is given to God,’ he need not honor his father.” So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:1-9)
|The Shack, in teaching that the Bible doesn’t teach us to follow rules, is opposed to the Lord Jesus, who says God’s law remains in effect until heaven and earth pass away. (Again, as we noted in the previous chart, this does not mean man is saved by his works.)
Thus the Shack is heretical. It, like the Pharisees and scribes, denies that God requires us to follow rules. This makes void the Word of God for the traditions of men. Those who do so may honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far away from them.
Danger 9: Denial that sin must be punished
|The Shack||The Bible|
|The Shack denies that God must punish sin.
In the Shack Papa says,“I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it” (p. 120).
|The Bible teaches that God must punish sin.
“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:22-28)
“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:11-14)
“The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:41-42)
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41-46)
|Thus the Shack, in denying that God needs to punish people for their sins, opposes the Bible, which says “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
Animal sacrifices could never remove the sins of God’s people, so Jesus came to be the perfect sacrifice Who would cleanse His people from their sins.Those whom Christ did not die for will (those who will not have faith in Christ) will suffer everlasting torment in Hell.
Thus the Shack is heretical since it denies the necessity of the blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and the necessity of eternal torment in Hell for those who do not have saving belief in Christ. It also makes a mockery of Christ’s sufferings on the cross, because if sin doesn’t have to be punished, then there was no reason for Christ to suffer.
Danger 10: Attempting to reducing God to a Verb
|The Shack||The Bible|
|The Shack attempts to reduce God to a verb.
The Shack god says,“I am a verb. I am that I am. I will be who I will be. I am a verb! I am alive, dynamic, ever active, and moving. I am a being verb” (p. 204).
“And as my very essence is a verb … I am more attuned to verbs than nouns.” (p. 204)
“Nouns exist because there is a created universe and physical reality, but if the universe is only a mass of nouns, it is dead. Unless ‘I am,’ there are no verbs, and verbs are what makes the universe alive” (p. 204).
|The Bible uses nouns to describe God.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’” (John 14:6a)
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13)
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
|The Shack irreverently describes God as a verb.
According to Tim Challies (p. 15), in the first quote from the Shack god above, “I am a verb. …,” the Shack’s author actually quotes from the Unitarian-Universalist Buckminster Fuller, author of I Am a Verb.Regarding the Shack’s quote, “If the universe is only a mass of nouns, it is dead. Unless ‘I am,’ there are no verbs, and verbs are what makes the universe alive,” Challies writes (p. 15), “By implication this would seem to indicate that God is not a person or a being, but a force.”
Challies is certainly correct, since the god of the Shack says that his “very essence is a verb,” and because the Shack rules out nouns prior to the creation of physical universe: “Nouns exist because there is a created universe and physical reality.”
The latter statement is clearly refuted in John 1:1-3, which says that the Word (a noun) created all things, the physical universe included.Thus the Shack is heretical since in reducing God to a verb it is irreverent , and since it considers God a force by implication (whether the author intends this or not).
And, the Shack sins in adding to God’s words by inventing attributes about God that the Bible doesn’t teach:
“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5, 6)
Finally, in denying important descriptors of God that are nouns, the Shack denies God.
Danger 11: Denial that Jesus is the Only Way:
|The Shack||The Bible|
|The Shack denies that Jesus is the only way to salvation.
The Shack Jesus says,
“I am the best way anyhuman can relate to Papa or Sarayu.” (p. 110)
The Shack Jesus also says,
“Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian” (182).)
“Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions. I have followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous, some are bankers and bookies, Americans and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want them to join in their transformation, into sons and daughters of my Papa, and my brothers and sisters into my beloved” (182)
Mack asks, “Does that mean…that all roads will lead to you?”
The Shack Jesus smiles and says,
“’Not at all … Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you’” (182).
|The Bible affirms Jesus is the only way to salvation.
“Jesus said to him,‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11, 12)
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5)
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:18)
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13, 14)
|The Shack teaches that Jesus is the “best way,”and since the word “best” assumes more than one number, the Shack is saying that Jesus is not the only path to God.
Thus the Shack teaches that many gates lead to life. The Shack says Jesus “will travel any road to find” people, and not to make Christians.This is contrary to the real Jesus, who said “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6a). Jesus says only one gate—the narrow gate—leads to life.
Thus the Shack is heretical because it teaches that Jesus is not the only way to salvation. Such is the teaching of blind guides, and, as Jesus teaches, “if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:14b). The Shack widens the gate that leads to destruction.
Danger 12: Denial that God’s commandments inform the heart
|The Shack||The Bible|
|The Shack denies that God’s commandments inform the heart.
“It is true that relationships are a whole lot messier than rules, but rules will never give you answers to the deep questions of the heart and they will never love you” (p. 198)
|The Bible teaches that God’s commandments do inform the heart.
“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)
“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4)
“The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.” (Psalm 37:30, 31)
“Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.” (Psalm 119:2-7)
|Thus the Shack, in teaching that rules never give answers to the deep questions of the heart, opposes the Word of God, which says that Gods rules do give answers to the deep questions of the heart.
God’s law brings the “knowledge of sin,” which means it exposes the sins within one’s heart (of course the law does not save man, man is saved by grace, through faith). And, the Bible defines sin as lawlessness, that is, breaking God’s law.
So those who regularly ignore God’s rules are unrepentant—and unsaved—practicers of lawlessness. Jesus will say on judgment day to such people:
“I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23b).
Whether we are practicers of lawlessness or not relates to the deep questions of the heart.Moreover, those saved through faith in Christ have God’s law in their hearts, which helps keep their steps from slipping. God’s law also allows God’s people to praise God with upright hearts.
Thus the Shack is heretical since it denies the role God’s rules (the law) has in exposing sin, defining sin, as well as in helping Christians not to stumble and aiding them in praising God. To the Shack we reply with Isaiah 8:20:
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (KJV).