A new book offers a new kind of critique of the novel and movie, The Shack. My articles here on Brothers of John the Steadfast have been transformed into a book that the Steadfast Lutherans are distributing to you for free on this page. This book packages five articles together into a handy, single resource useful for reference and sharing.
What is new and different about this critique contrasted with others? While I sympathize with nearly all the concerns expressed in other, Reformed and Arminian critiques and agree that many of their concerns are serious, for a confessional Lutheran, the primary concern is the chief article of faith upon which the church stands or falls. The chief article is justification and the redemption we have in Jesus. The way of salvation – this is the main thing. Jesus asks, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?“ (Matthew 16:26) This is the focus of a confessional Lutheran critique.
Looking for healing for his Great Sadness, the author of The Shack missed the consolation provided by Lutheran faith and ministry. Instead, he hit upon a particular strain of thought from the renaissance of Trinitarian theology that happened worldwide in the 1980s and 1990s. This theology has much to be commended. Tragically, however, it departs from the teaching of Scripture about the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for us on the cross. It denies the wrath of God on sin, and denies that Jesus bore that wrath for us. The Shack teaches a different theory of the cross that springs from perichoretic speculations about the Trinity.
In the novel, the shack comes to symbolize the mess inside of us sinners. But The Shack changes what the Christian faith says this mess is. It substitutes a different problem, and thus fails to deal with my actual problem. The Shack fails to deal with the true shack – the shack of actual sin, wrath, and forsakenness, which Jesus bears in the place that was mine, the cross. Contrary to The Shack, Jesus came all the way to me where I really was, under the wrath of God, in my real shack, and saved me.
There is no bigger deal than this. This is not a picky criticism about unimportant matters. This is not just a failure to allow for some fictional fantasy or poetic license. This is about the difference between salvation and damnation. The Shack embodies a loss of the Gospel, and to believe what it teaches is to lose the Christian faith.
Download your own copy of The Shack: A Journey from Pain to Truth to Error in PDF format. Feel free to share either electronic or printed-out copies of it with family, friends, and church members. “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)