Disclaimer: I have not read The Shack. I had it in my house for a short period of time, and I returned it because I was disturbed by what the story was said to reflect. Now with the release of the movie, the blog posts and articles are everywhere. The Shack is the “inspirational” book/movie currently tearing apart the Christian community, arguing over its scriptural accuracy.
I very much dislike fiction that claims to be inspirational in the Christian sense and thus mistaken for “Christian.” Honestly, I don’t know the author of the story. I don’t know what he claims. However, I am easily upset when Christians begin to justify the reading of such a book by declaring it Christian, making it a stumbling block for some Christian brothers or sisters. Sometimes, I wonder if Christians have taken a good look at the “Christian” or “Inspirational” bookstore aisles (in most case they are the same section) and what most publishers considered “Christian” and “Inspirational.” Trust me, while all Christian fiction should be inspirational and sound in Scripture, the world’s understanding of “inspirational” is not always “Christian.” I’ve seen non-fiction books on the art of satanic worship and witchcraft in a “Christian/Inspirational” aisle.
In my reading, I have found plenty of books by Christian publishers that definitely work hard at misconstruing Scripture. The Edge of Grace created a world in which homosexuality is not a sin and those who think it is and would speak truth in love to an individual in that lifestyle are compared to those who killed Matthew Shepherd because of his homosexuality. I was sickened by the book. I noted that the person in the sinful lifestyle was the one with the New Testament on his bed, the one who read the Bible nightly, but he was also the one who left his female bride at the altar and ran off and took his honeymoon with his male lover. (Try that with a heterosexual couple and not show it as wrongdoing and see the fit a Christian publisher will throw–including the one that published The Edge of Grace). The character’s actions left me thinking how many other verses of Scripture the author refused to accept so that the book could be written. In the story, the man’s sister, who had trouble accepting his homosexual lifestyle, is the one who in the end needed to ask God for forgiveness and for the ability to accept her brother and his lover’s lifestyle. And that was the very untruthful lesson of the novel. If you want to read inspirational Christian fiction that treats the issue with love and uses scripture truthfully, try Ryan’s Father by June Foster.
What about The Da Vinci Code? Do you know that readers of that book of fiction swear it as truth. They see a grand conspiracy in the Catholic Church and believe Dan Brown’s fictional precepts are gospel. Dianetics, the book that appears to be a bible for Scientologists was actually L. Ron Hubbard’s take on the work of a science fiction writer, and it has brought a grossly false religion into the mainstream of Hollywood, which is seeping into the real world outside of fantasy land. This is the danger when Christians pronounce a book “Christian Inspirational.”
Personally, I don’t care if you read The Shack, The Da Vinci Code, or any other book that might not have a true grasp of scripture. My problem is not in the works themselves but with those who want to make it a spiritual issue so that they can justify reading the works and passing it along to Christians who may not realize what is truth and what is not. For me, it’s like a reader shouting to the world that she’s reading Fifty Shades of Grey because even a Christian wife or woman needs spice in her life.
My advice is to stay far away from Fifty Shades of Grey if you value your marriage. I didn’t have to read that book either to know that it depicts a lifestyle that shows bondage as healthy when, in fact, the world is trying to save hundreds of thousands of people, many of them children, who live the real-life horror of sexual slavery.
If you realize that you are not theologically grounded, for any reason, or if you are a new Christian, I would suggest leaving The Shack on the shelf or reading it with pencil in hand, writing questions you might have. Then find some sound Biblical teacher or mentor who can help you reason with the precepts the book presents.
Whatever you do, though, read the book as it is intended: as fiction. The story might be an inspirational one. The story might be an excellent read, but don’t confuse it with Scripture. Don’t try to find Scripture that allows God to appear to you in any form except Himself–and that appearance will be through His word.
Realize that when Jesus revealed Himself in the Old Testament, those who saw Him recognized Him. Sometimes, they would worship an angel, and they would be corrected, but when Jesus appeared, He was recognize and received very due worshiped. In the New Testament, Jesus never changed, not in His righteousness or His message. While the Lord has many roles in our lives: our Father, our Brother, our Friend, our King, our Protector … He deserves the utmost respect. The Shack doesn’t offer Him that respect.
There’s a song that I love: I Could Only Imagine, but the precept is inaccurate when it asks if I will stand or will I fall before Him. I think that question has well been answered in Scripture. We will fall before Him with our faces to the ground, and we will worship Him. And not in a shack.
I still love the song I Could Only Imagine. I simply accept the inaccuracy in the wording. Someone can love the story behind The Shack and still understand its scriptural inaccuracies.
Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories that remind the reader that God is always in the details. Three of the four books in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series, are available: Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, and Everybody’s Broken. Hope is the third book in The Ties that Bind Series, which also includes Charisse and Libby. Fay’s adventurous spirit has also taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.
Future releases from Fay will be: Frozen Notes, Book 4 of the Amazing Grace series, and Delilah, Book 4 from The Ties that Bind.
Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook and on Goodreads. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor.