The Shack is the first and only book written by William P. Young. Though it may be an engaging read the theology described or what the book teaches is undoubtedly unbiblical.
The Shack revolves around Mackenzie Philips. Mackenzie’s younger daughter, Missy, was abducted during a family vacation. Her body was never found but the police did find evidence in an abandoned shack which indicated that she had been brutally murdered by a serial paedophile. On a snowy day, he finds a note inviting him up to the shack next weekend, signed “Papa.” He goes to the shack to investigate, and this is where most of the story takes place. As he approaches, the door is swept open by an African American woman who introduces herself as Papa. Behind her are a small Asian woman named Sarayu and a middle Eastern man who introduces himself as Jesus. Some of the misconception presented in The Shack ae the concept of Trinity and Universalism.
1) The concept of Trinity
Throughout the book, the triune God appears in three human forms. But God is not three separate person or that would be three gods. Portraying the trinity as three separate person is heresy. Rather, He is one in essence yet three in a person.
According to John 3:16, The Father sent the Son into the world, so the Father cannot be the same person as the Son. Again in John 14:26, The Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit into the world. So the Holy Spirit must be distinct from The Father and the Son. In other words, the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father.
An illustration of H2O might assist in a satisfactory understanding. H2O comes in three forms i.e. liquid, ice and steam. These different forms are still all H2O. Just like this the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are different but still God.
2) The concept of Universalism
Universalism is a doctrine or belief that all humankind will eventually be saved. Universalist believe that no person is destined for eternal damnation. For some who adhere to universalism, the doctrine also implies that there are many ways to get into heaven. But the truth is Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross is the only way and path to eternal salvation with God the Father. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).
Universalist do focus on God’s love and mercy but ignores his holiness, justice and wrath. God is a God of love (John 3:16; 1 John 4:8) but God hates sin and indeed throughout the Bible we see that God is also a God of wrath (Psalm 2:4-6, Proverbs 6:16-19, Hosea 5:10, Nahum 1:2-6, 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12; Hebrews 10:30-31).
The Shack may be an engaging read but it’s filled with errors. Read it with utmost caution and consideration, critically evaluating the book against the unchanging standard of Scripture. We must always be like the Bereans, who “examined the Scriptures” (Acts 17:11) rather than readily accepting what we have heard as Truth.