One of the things that consistently struck me as distasteful in The Shack is the idea that it was presenting all this great new truth about God that no one had heard before. All the characters consistently mock and parody traditional Christianity, as though the church (which is, of course, not perfect) isn’t getting anything right, the poor fools. The book seems to assume that Christianity is (and has always been) joyless, legalistic, un-heart-moving, cold theological fact– but that’s OK, because now William Young and The Shack are here to lead us into the light of day.
This comes out even more fully in “Is The Shack Heresy?“, a response posted on Windblown Media’s website by Wayne Jacobsen, one of the book’s co-publishers. This response isn’t helpful. Jacobsen doesn’t really respond to criticisms of the book, except to say they are unwarranted and come from “self-appointed doctrine police” who are “either threatened by its success, or… want to ride on it to push their own fear-based agenda.” Well, thanks for that. But two comments were especially revealing:
This is not the angry and tyrannical God that religion has been using for 2000 years to beat people into conformity and we are not surprised that this threatens the self-proclaimed doctrine police.
We realize this would be a challenging read for those who see no difference between the religious conditioning that underlies Christianity as it is often presented in the 21st Century and the simple, powerful life in Christ that Jesus offered to his followers.
These comments suggest two things:
- No criticism of The Shack could possibly arise from a sincere believer having legitimate questions about whether the content is in line with the Bible.
- After 2000 years of Christians getting Jesus’ message wrong, The Shack finally gets it right.
That kind of arrogance raises a huge red flag with me, as I’ve noted on another subject.