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Mark Driscoll takes The Shack to the Woodshed

May 6th, 2008 · 35 Comments

I haven’t heard much about this book yet… The Shack … but it sounds like it is getting pretty popular. It is currently #10 on Amazon.com of ALL books.

When a Christian book gets to be that popular… alarms should be sounding all over the place… see The Prayer of Jabez and Left Behind for examples.

I haven’t read it… but I like what I’ve seen of Mark Driscoll (for the most part) so his warning here might be valuable…

Be careful out there…

Tags: Bible · Education · General · Ministry

35 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mark // May 6, 2008 at 8:15 am

    I have a copy someone gave me a few months ago, but haven’t opened it. Thanks though for piquing my interest!

  • 2 Mark // May 6, 2008 at 8:27 am

    P.S. I also strongly agree with your statement that exceptionally popular Christian books should raise flags…

  • 3 Phil Nicholson // May 6, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Hi Scott,

    I discovered your blog on taiwanfeed – didn’t realise it was you. I have read a couple of other very critical reviews of this as well.

    I like what Mark Driscoll has to say too – he is pretty out-there but not afraid to speak the truth.

  • 4 Cahleen // May 6, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Hey Scott! I totally agree with you that we should be careful of extremely popular Christian books. Although I’m definitely not a Mark Driscoll fan, I still listened to what he had to say and thought it was interesting. This guy also has a pretty interesting review of The Shack (if you want a bit of the other side):

    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/recommendation-and-review-the-shack-by-william-p-young

    I haven’t read it, and I’m not sure if I will. We’ll see!

    Cahleen’s last blog post..New Heart

  • 5 jake // Jun 29, 2008 at 5:21 am

    i have it from reliable, trustworthy sources that at the time Mark gave this speech, he had not even read the book.
    so therefore…his opinion is invalid.

  • 6 Alan Richardson // Jul 7, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    If he is quoting the book accurately, why would this make his opinion invalid? Not sure I understand that point of view…

    Alan Richardsons last blog post..What DON’T you believe?

  • 7 josh b // Jul 15, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    I stumbled upon your blog after hearing from a friend that mark d. ripped the book pretty hard.
    a couple of things I would like to comment on.
    #1 – I understand your being cautious when a “christian” book is very popular. But we need to be careful not to automatically discount all books because of that. (the Bible is the most popular book in human history)
    #2 – I am currently reading ” the shack”, and I am almost done with it. I must admit that I really enjoy the book, and it has helped me greatly in my relationship with God. I reccomend you read it, even if you disagree with some thoughts presented.
    #3 – Mark Driscoll has really struck a bad cord with me. I heard him give a talk to seminary students. In this talk he ripped Rob Bell (whom he has never personally met), Brian McLaren, and Doug Pagitt. For a pastor, especially one as well known as Mark, I think he should have handled the situation very differently. I question his character.
    #4 – Young made it clear in the book that when God revealed himself to Mack as an African-American woman, He did so to break some of Mack’s preconcieved notions about who He (God) was.
    #5 – Because Driscoll disagrees with Young, does that mean that he should use his platform to rip the book and spend all of that energy to “disprove” a fellow believer. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    I would encourage you to read the book yourself and see what you think.
    Also, be careful to take Mark too seriously.

  • 8 jake // Jul 20, 2008 at 10:02 am

    did mark attempt to contact young? no.
    does the bible command us to go to our brother first? yes.
    so….
    Alan Richardson also defends mark not having read this book, as if this wasnt/isnt a problem.
    how can anyone intelligently talk about a book you havent read?
    how does he know he is correctly quoting it?

    idiots

  • 9 Roy // Jul 21, 2008 at 3:02 am

    I have read The Shack and agree completely with Mark Driscoll. The book is full of poor theology and offers nothing for the Christian in regard to their understanding of God and His nature.

    Roys last blog post..A Disciple is Disciplined

  • 10 Alan Richardson // Jul 21, 2008 at 10:33 am

    I don’t know if he read the book or not – and this is only the second time I’ve heard Driscoll speak. If he’s misquoting the book, it would be helpful if someone could point out the innaccuracies. It is possible he’s quoting correctly but taking passages out of context… again, specifics would be helpful.
    On the other hand, if his quotes are correct (perhaps he skimmed the book?) and his understanding of what the book says on those points is correct, then his points are worthy of consideration. We shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss what he says just because it doesn’t agree with our take on things.

    I would, however, agree that this excerpt is far from the best critique of The Shack. Al Mohler spent one of his radio shows tackling some of his concerns with the book, and we will likely see more in depth treatments in the days ahead – the book makes some bold theological statements, and is being widely read.

    Alan Richardsons last blog post..What DON’T you believe?

  • 11 jake // Jul 26, 2008 at 6:15 am

    THIS IS NOT ABOOK OF THEOLOGY.
    Would you criticize C.S LEWIS for saying God is a lion?
    Paul Young did not write a book to make theological statements.
    You all greatly misunderstand the role of the artist.
    It is to say “what if” and “maybe” and “what about…”
    Young at no point makes “this is truth” statements.
    Do you criticize Warner Sallman for painting Jesus with caucasian features? No.
    Do you criticize Mel Gibson for having an american man , tall and handsome, portray Jesus?
    Does Flannery O’ Connor get pushed aside for connecting biblical themes to southern life in her stories?
    Are we not allowed metaphor?

    It seems to me that you would equally criticize a poet for saying
    GOD IS A ROCK
    which we know is not in reality true, but it tells us about God. Because some things cant rely on normal language, so we rely on poetry and metaphor and analogy and story.
    God is a rock is not a lie. its true.
    but is is also not true.

    I think those on this blog deny beauty, don’t understand story and poetry and would love to have things spelled out, dumbed down and obvious.
    when an author/artist comes along and tells us a beautiful metaphor they call it heresy because God is not a …rose, woman, lion, sunset, storm, mother hen.
    Why allow King David to do it?
    Why allow TS ELIOT, William Blake to explore.
    Why do you accept Lewis’s lion but not Young’s woman?

    because its difficult and makes you think and ackownledge that somethings dont fit in a box and you hate that,

  • 12 In case you didn’t notice… // Jul 26, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    […] It is happening over in the comments on this post about Mark Driscoll’s words about the popular book, The Shack. […]

  • 13 josh furnal // Jul 26, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    I just finished reading it a few days ago. I liked it and would recommend it to people to read.

    I thought it was going to be an Oprah book, but all in all, I was really impressed with how well it accomplishes things that several other books have tried and failed at. I thought the “Here comes da Judge” chapter was especially good with the encounter between Sofia and Mack. Also I thought the final chapter addressing forgiveness really reflected a lot of Miroslav Volf’s thinking and was explained in a succinct and powerful way.

    I only teared up a few times 😉

  • 14 Alan Richardson // Jul 27, 2008 at 10:44 am

    I’m not sure the issue is one of metaphor, although I think it is always wise to tread very carefully any time we try to give God substance beyond what He has already given. God is pretty clear that divine imagery and idolatry are pretty closely related. This, in and of itself, is a subject worthy of much thoughtful discussion and study. Suffice to say that I think the author employs metaphor somewhat casually.

    To think, however, that this novel has no religious meaning (or “theology”) is to ignore the author himself. Young has made no bones about the fact that he is trying to convey something of God’s dealings with himself and therefore man in general. One of his 2 co-authors has said the following:
    “Scriptural teachings and references appear on almost every page. They are reworded in ways to be relevant to those reading the story, but at every point we sought to be true to the way God has revealed himself in the Bible except for the literary characterizations that move the story forward. At its core the book is one long Bible study…”
    http://lifestream.org/blog/2008/03/04/is-the-shack-heresy/

    I’ve yet to see a quote where the authors back away from the theological implications of the book – to their credit they have not tried to hide behind the cover of fiction. However, this leaves the propositions (and that they are) in play… and all Christians ought to weigh those against the propositions of scripture. To not do so is, frankly, un-Christian. That sort of anything-goes mentality is considered dangerous by Jesus’ own Apostles.

    From that perspective, I think it is only right for a pastor to address these issues with those entrusted to his care. You may disagree with Driscoll’s conclusions, but he is not out of line when he calls attention to things that don’t appear to be consistent with scripture.

    Alan Richardsons last blog post..What DON’T you believe?

  • 15 Peter // Aug 1, 2008 at 4:22 am

    I am not going to say much about this other than this. I saw Mark Driscoll’s talk too and wondered what you are wondering. Then I read the book. Driscoll is not being fair with this book. He is taking this beautiful narrative and trying to turn it into a systematic theology book. Driscoll’s critic makes me think he read the cliff notes instead of the book. I would love to talk to you about this book on skype, but I don’t want to write you an essay defending this book. Driscoll is doing what Christians did with J.R.R. Tolkien, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter series, and… popular recent books. The Shack is not a narrative systematic theology book. It is a book that ministers to pain done from sin communicated through narrative. It isn’t perfect but its not heresy either. It just is what is it. A great book that is not inerrant, yet it is very valuable for what it is. Read it for yourself and see.

  • 16 Peter // Aug 1, 2008 at 4:23 am

    looks like I stink at keeping things short and sweet.

  • 17 Peter // Aug 1, 2008 at 4:28 am

    I found this when I followed Allan Richardson’s link. “Is this a feminist God?

    The book uses some characterizations of God to mess with the religious stereotypes only to get people to consider God as he really is, not how we have reconstituted him as a white, male autocrat bent on religious conformity. There are important reasons in the story why God takes the expressions he does for Mack, which underlines his nature to meet us where we are, to lead us to where he is. While Jesus was incarnated as man, God as a spirit has no gender, even though we fully embrace that he has taken on the imagery of the Father to express his heart and mind to us. We also recognize Scripture uses traditional female imagery to help us understand other aspects of God’s person, as when Jesus compares himself to a hen gathering chicks, or David likens himself to a weaned child in his mother’s arms.”

  • 18 Stephanie // Aug 4, 2008 at 4:15 am

    I agree with Peter’s assessment. It’s funny that when I went to watch the video that it is “no longer available” and I wonder if Driscoll decided to read the book. I’m close to finishing “The Shack” right now and I’ve found it an easy, interesting read. Like all fiction, or any book other than scripture, it is foolish to swallow everything without comparing it to the Word, but I think “The Shack” is a really imaginative narrative of how God will use any means to draw people into a better understanding of who he is. In this case, a woman figure would put up less of a guard from Mack based on his past history with a poor father-figure. I think the author does a pretty good job describing that. since I didn’t get to watch the video, is that the only “controversial” part people are finding with the book?

  • 19 ed // Aug 7, 2008 at 10:35 am

    I would have to say as a Pastor who has wrestled with the question of why did God allow________.? asked by desperate people, this book attempts to answer that. The idea of accusing William Young of trying to define trinity, to me seems a bit presoumtous. I think what william was saying was the God is all about relationship and He reveals relatonship through the trinity and that is the message God has been speaking to men through the trinity. He appeared to Mac as a women becase that was the way that Mac needed God to be revealed to him. Lets admit God revealed himself to men through out scripture in language and symbols that they could understand. He was a burning bush to Moses, a Pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day to the Isrealites he was a wheel in a wheel to Ezekial,YHVH Nissi – The LORD My Banner: (Exodus 17:15), to Abraham he was a shield Do not be afraid, Abram.
    I am your shield, Gen 15:1. Just to name a few. If you really read from the context of the setting i think we would see that God met Mac right where he was at. He removed the barriers that obstructed Macs view of the love God had for him. A father for Mac was, at that time, offensive,brutal, mean uncaring. God had to convince Mac that he was not like that at all, so he revealed his love to Mac in a language he could understand, because that was the most important thing to God his message of Love to humanity. The Book is about removing the obstacles that stop us from seeing that God Loves us and desires relationship, that is constant through every valley and mountain of life.

  • 20 David Boss // Sep 12, 2008 at 10:09 am

    I read the book and I saw Driscoll’s video bashing of it. Driscoll totally misses the point and he gets caught up on metaphors just like every Pharisee in Jesus’ time did.

    The book never promised to teach us theology. Everyone I know who has read this book, walks away wanting a closer relationship with God. Not one single person walked away thinking God was a black woman and the Holy Spirit is an Asian woman. These things are metaphors.

    Driscoll is the Nicodemus of our time. While he sits and scratches his head trying to figure out how a full grown man can crawl back up into his mothers womb, the rest of the world got the HEART of the Shack. The “take away” from this book for most people is a desire for closeness with God and a deeper knowledge that God adores them; NOT a theological stat sheet on the Trinity.

    Driscolls commentary is sad and comical at the same time. If we are going to raise red flags anytime a book becomes really popular I think we should raise those same flags when a man develops a large following like Driscoll has. His commentary came off to me sounding like he was jealous that people liked the picture of God that the Shack gave them better than they liked Driscolls picture of God. If Driscoll has to tell “his people” NOT to read any book; is he not in the same breath admitting that his people are weak and prone to going astray because their present teaching is sinking sand? Why can’t he leave it up to the people to make their own decision?

  • 21 Sam // Oct 30, 2008 at 10:07 am

    The Bible (Romans??) talks about some people who can handle some things and others for which the same things are sin.
    I understand if Mark and others could feel that reading it for themselves is sin – it very likely is. But just like playing cards, watching tv on sunday, and wearing anklets – it may not be wrong for others.
    Having been brought up with a deep disgust of the blasphemous, i read wearily.
    NO, i did not finish the book and say ‘oh yay, i now understand the trinity.’ Just as i did not finish reading ‘the great divorce’ by C.S. Lewis and think, ‘oh wow, that must be wat heaven’s like.’ Neither, might i add, did suddenly believe The Almighty God was a woman! But as for that, if any of the criticizers were young girls with father’s like mine, they might have seen it a little differently. Who needs another father figure after what we’ve had.
    I hope they all have read it before criticizing it though. Because Papa explains the reason He showed himself as a woman and eventually takes masculine form when mac can handle it.
    Don’t be so quick to judge …

  • 22 howie // Nov 11, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    those of you who think that Driscoll didn’t read the book before critiquing it, I hope you asked him personally before assuming because that guy reads like there’s no tomorrow.
    I have not read the book, so I am not going to comment about it. I have, however, been a Driscoll follower for some time now and would simply warn those of you who criticize his character. Yes, his style is rough at times but his consistent service to God and the church, as well as his success as a pastor gives him every right to criticize a book that, in his view, is dangerous to the Christian. He is looking out for you. Don’t jump to criticize and assume things unless you are sure.

  • 23 Joseph // Nov 15, 2008 at 2:00 am

    Ultimately, it is not our feeble minded opinions that matter. We as Christians are to pray through these types of issues. I do think books like the shack and Harry Potter can be dangerous (bring on the attacks). This is the 1st blog post i have ever done in my life. Mainly because i see little to no fruit associated with blogging, and think it is another way for us to gossip (otherwise know as sin) about those who God has placed in authority (like Mark Driscoll, Barrack Obama, or whomever else).

    Too many times we as believers voice our opinions against certain issues (or pastors in this case) because we individually don’t like the idea that something we’re doing is wrong. It’s called pride. It corrupted the very heart of both Adam and Eve.

    SO, why i don’t blog? because most likely someone will after me post a rude or arrogant remark concerning the words i have brought to the table. We as Christians need a hell of a lot more discernment. We need to quit doing what others do or suggest, and pray about our decisions. Why?

    Because it is commanded of us in scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This verse instructs the christian to continue in prayer as to EVERY decision they face…..including the reading of some book.

  • 24 Jory // Nov 18, 2008 at 8:32 am

    ok that video is ******** excuse my language but this is a book of FICTION he was writing for hes KIDS to show HIS OWN views of god. he isnt trying to explain the trinity or anything he was just trying to explain to his kis what his view is. This Driscoll Guy is a joke he may have read the book or whatever but maybe he should read up on the facts. it was for his kids! for god sake people give it a break, W.P. paul young had no intentions of ever publishing a book. it was just a hobbie of his. you can think what you want but i think it was an amazing book that opens your eyes to a broader horizon. It helps you TRY to understand the trinity of god. Driscoll said its in the bible that its wrong to portray a image of god. Well what about the bible. it itself is a image of god protrayed in itself. god didn’t write the bible, sinners did. there are so many versions of the bible because there are so many different versions or ways people have portrayed the story of god. its been passed down for thousands of years so your preachin to the wrong choir.

    edited for language by SQJ – I don’t care what language you use in private but that language is certainly NOT excused (as per your request) when used here. I’ll reluctantly post your comment, but I’d like to note that this conversation has been VERY civil and productive up to this point.

  • 25 Mike Dixon // Nov 20, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    I agree with those who think Driscoll has missed the point about a book of fiction. Art can be a great medium to reach people with basic ideas of love and truth and forgiveness. I see no graven image here, artistic images, but not graven images. And as it has already been noted, Driscoll does not mention the “manly” image of Papa later in the book. Also, it appeared to me that Papa was the “greater among equals” in Young’s trinitarian images. Afterall, Papa seemed to be the one who controlled the situation for the most part. I do wonder, however, if Driscoll was also reacting to the “free will” that is described in the book, which certainly counters his Calvinism? To say the least, I am very disappointed in Driscoll’s reaction, both in content and in presentation.

  • 26 Tim Bicknell // Jan 5, 2009 at 3:41 am

    The best book i have ever read. Fantastic. So was the Lion the witch and the wardrobe. Is Jesus a Lion? Can kids walk through wardrobes? I am going to give a copy to my neighbour. Its the first thing I have found that I feel I could give to them. Lets embrace creativity if it gets the message of Gods love across. I have a better understanding of Gods Love and Grace now than sitting in forty two years of sermons!

  • 27 G Man // Jan 30, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I’m almost done with the book and I find it “entertaining” but I’m never going to base what I believe in in a book of FICTION. C’mon Christians get a grip! It’s only when a book/movie is popular that the Christian community feels threaten. What’s next Nacho Libre?

  • 28 Gerry O'Brien // Feb 4, 2009 at 10:54 am

    The Shack is a good read, no doubt about it; however, if we are looking for something that is scripturally correct, it belongs in the woodpile.

    What convinces me even more about Driscoll’s take on it is that Chuck Colson is of the same opinion as Driscoll. Now, Colson has got my attention for a long time as a solid one to listen to when looking for scriptural correctness.

    A friend of mine is even more convinced now that God is a Woman…….go figure. While none of us know what God looks like, Scripture does say that man was created in HIS likeness.

    Don’t we have enough twisted religion in North america now without more fuel being added to the liberal minded?

  • 29 stephy // Feb 5, 2009 at 3:02 am

    This was interesting and all the comments too. Thanks.

  • 30 Jason // Mar 9, 2009 at 2:36 am

    i love how he says it’s a sin to make a graven image while this huge cross and three trinity rings are behind him…this dude is a joke with his gap getup, hip hair, and another graven image around his neck.
    i thought the book was a total bore, but if it moves someone to salvation, so be it.

  • 31 Travis // Mar 17, 2009 at 6:33 am

    I’ve read this book a few months ago, and even more recently; my wife and I have started on a journey with God on our own. We’ve been in cults, we’ve been in regular churches, we’ve been all over the religious community. Seriously. And alot of the things that Wayne Jacobsen has been saying makes alot of sense.

    I just find it funny. I gave a friend this book, and she completely discounted it. Which is her right; but her fall back when I asked; why don’t you like this book? Was simply to say “Chuck Colson and other respected religious leaders said it’s bad.” and sent me a bunch of links to their stuff.

    Why do we need to listen to those “respected” leaders to make a decision our heart and souls should be able to sense ourselves? Even pharisees and angels can lead you wrong. Your relationship with God is your responsibility.

  • 32 robert moss // Mar 22, 2009 at 10:47 am

    I like mark driscoll. He is very sound doctorinally. I am not reformed like mark, yet he is teaching basic bible truths to a very unchurched people group in seattle washington. He is very protective of his people when it comes to hersey. He abaddoned the emergent church doctrine after he found out what it was all about. the people in seattle are very unlearned about bible truths and have been growing in Jesus as a result of Mark Driscoll being used by the Lord.

  • 33 Nevin Lambert // Aug 31, 2009 at 12:45 am

    I Think Mr Driscoll must not have understood the book, Or choses too.
    Has no one written a book with some errors and yet still create a great book?
    If you are a beautiful creatue in God and have a mature and strong faith then yes looking for the errors in this book would be a lesson. But if you are distant to God this book may help you gain access again.

  • 34 JONATHAN // Nov 21, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    I agree with Mark Driscoll. Since the original context of the book was to be written to be geared towards children it should contain accurate “theologican” depictions in it’s pages. A child can grow up with some distortions. That’s my opinion. The original intent of the book was for the author to write a story for a child a young girl who was in his life, which remained unpublished for several years. I’ve read some of the book, but not all the way through. I also donot agree with making any image of God the Father in the Earth. That’s to any author.

  • 35 Linda Lee // Feb 14, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Whether he has read the book or not is irrelevant as long as his knowledge of the book is enough to refute it.

    I am so disgusted with hearing so many people talk about the shack and how they are using IT for their Christian “life reference” when they should be using the Bible.

    Just like anything else in life – the litmus test is how it lines up with the Bible and Biblical principle. This book DOES NOT.

    If you see garbage lying on the ground, you don’t have to pick it up and eat it to know that it is garbage. This book falls into this category for me.