Book Reviews, Life in Ministry, Thinking Biblically

A Disastrous Failure of Evangelical Discernment

This morning, I read Al Mohler’s newest article.  Then I immediately posted a link to it on Twitter – which, I was surprised to discover, lost me a few followers!!  On to Facebook – where it may have caused a few to “unfriend” me, I don’t know.  Let’s see who I can alienate here, shall we?


Have you ever heard of a book called The Shack?  Yeah, me too.


Like many people, I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve been told to read it.  And, because some of those recommendations were coming from trusted sources, I did consider it.  But, then I read several glowing reviews, absolutely praising Young’s depiction of God, and our relationship to Him her…  Wait? What?!  That’s right, her.  But, instead of peaking my interest, all these positive reviews accomplished was to send up one red flag after another about the theologically questionable content of this book…and quite honestly, the discernment of those so highly recommending it.


I later found several lengthy reviews on the opposite end of the spectrum.  Each one, carefully, and point-by-point, denounced the numerous doctrinal and theological problems contained within this book. 


For the record, no, I have not read it.  At one point, early last year, I had planned to.  Not because I had any real desire to do so, or because I thought I would enjoy it, or benefit from it.  But, because I wanted to be able to knowledgeably respond to “fans” of the book, who were so quick to buy in to this mistaken theology. 


While I respect and appreciate so many of those who did take the time to read this book, and to honestly, and thoroughly critique it, I realized that I did not need to fill my mind with this “fictional account” in order to converse about it intelligently, or to deepen my relationship with God.  What I really needed to spend my time doing was filling my mind with God’s Word.  Because that is where we are going to encounter God…where we will discover God’s character, and His holiness, and His plan for us…In the Truth of His Word, not in some work of fiction.


Whether you have read this book for yourself – liked it or hated it, or had it recommended to you ad nauseum, or if you are simply wondering what on earth I am babbling on about (fair question!), then you need to go and read why Al Mohler calls The Shack “A disastrous failure of evangelical discernment.”


  1. Totally agree. I was close to reading it a while back because a cousing of mine was a huge fan of the book. I’m glad, now, that I have yet to read it. I was just listening to a podcast of a radio show recorded this weekend about the book where they addressed the dangerous theology in the book; theology that sounds nice but is far from Biblical. I posted a couple of videos on my Facebook feed this morning addressing the lies of this book. I did partly expect to loose some of my friends with those posts but I think that they are use to me making controversial statements…well…controversial for non-Christians & liberal Christians.

    Here are a couple of the videos I found that I liked. My favorite is the one by Dr. Youseff (the first one).

  2. Katy E

    I’m still with ya. Not sure why a fictional book would cause such friction.

  3. Deborah

    What or who does it matter how a person worhships? Would the world not be a happier peaceful place for all to live if we didn’t all hold so rigidly to what or who we think is the Almighty? Wars are fought over this way of thinking. Why have one ‘right’ way. Why not all love and worship who we want without drawing lines. Doesn’t that make more sense?

    1. Deborah,

      It does matter who we worship.

      “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” (1 Tim. 2:5-6)

      We, as people, do not draw the lines. God does – in His Word. This isn’t about “my” way of thinking. It is His. Why have one “right” way? Because God said in Scripture that there is only one way – Jesus. “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)

      Does it make more sense to worship whomever we want?

      No, it does not. Quite frankly, it makes no sense at all.

  4. Jennie Kay

    Thanks for posting this link, Veronica!

  5. Kat

    Enjoyed your post – my thoughts exactly.

  6. Susie

    I wish you would read it – I believe the entire Bible to be the inspired Word of God and I almost always agree with Al Mohler, and I adore that book. It is a novel, not a theological treatise, but it is very sweet the way it portrays the love of God. The woman thing is really overblown, as you will see if you do read it.
    Now that I think about it, I did NOT want to read it but a friend bought it for me as a gift so I had to, to be polite 🙂

    1. Susie,
      I would be open to reading it IF (and only if) a friend asked me to do so for the purpose of genuine discussion, and was open to an honest critique of the contents. I have done this with a number of books in the past…not simply to be polite, but to help them exercise biblical discernment as they read. But, as I said before, God’s Word is where we encounter Him…where He has invited us to meet with Him. If I want to know God better, or deepen my relationship with Him, that is where I will go.

      Yes, the book is a novel. However, it is “theological fiction” which can make differentiating between what is said and what is meant extremely difficult. Often, people get lost in a good story (I do!). But we cannot forget to test the “story” against the standard of God’s Word. And, even if it is a story, if it is (and, by the author’s own admission, this book is) trying to teach or explain truths about God, then a discerning reader MUST turn to God’s Word to ensure that what is being taught (or “presented”) is accurate. (Acts 17:11) We as believers are called to “test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21) As good as this story might be, from the numerous reviews I’ve read and heard, the theology that this book does not seem to pass that test.

      The woman thing… God refers to HIMself as Father, as does Jesus, throughout Scripture. When authors portray God as female, or try to extol what they feel are qualities many typically associate with women – mercy, grace, love, gentleness, and tenderness – they give an incomplete picture of Who God is. Yes, He is all these things – perfectly so! But, not at the expense of what many characterize as more “masculine” attributes – justice, strength, and wrath. So, no, I don’t think those who find fault with the “woman thing” should be accused of exaggerating the issue.

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