From the first page till around chapter five (5), page eighty-two (82), the book appears to resemble a dramatic story with a terrible loss in the life of a man with a family. Trying to refrain from giving too much of the story away, because of circumstances written within those pages, Mack (a man of shaky faith) returns to a location somewhat expecting to meet God there. Oddly, what he finds is ‘a large beaming African-American woman.’ Now, I would ask that the reader pay close attention to what I write here, so there will be no attempt at any accusation regarding racism.
I have no problem with the author having Mack (a Caucasian) meeting a friendly African-American woman at a cabin, but having a female represent the masculine Holy Creator God is a bit disturbing. The author even goes so far as to have this female tell Mack that she likes to call herself Elousia, but that he may call her Papa; the name Nan (Mack’s wife) called God. Then there is the casting of an Asian woman assumingly as the Holy Spirit (named Sarayu), and a Hebrew man whose common name is Jesus (but whose mother had called him Yeshua, while others had also called him Joshua or Jesse). So, in short, the author has the Almighty Father casted as an African woman and the Holy Spirit of Promise as an Asian woman, but at least he gives some similarity to our Lord and Savior with portraying Him as a Hebrew male.
One may like to call me sexist, but there is no doubt that the God of Heaven and Earth is represented as masculine throughout the entirety of Scripture. To have such a Father portrayed as a female – even though a fictional novel – is absurd. Please note, I am not attacking the author’s sincerity of his faith, ideals, or hopes for his book, I am simply pointing out that I disagree totally with the judgment of character types used for the Godhead, along with some of the human characteristics given to such. And though the author uses the following pages to seemingly explain and make light of the appearance he chooses to portray of God – with those who profess Christianity already desiring to removed the masculinity of God from the very Scriptures in new translations, along the struggle against the feminism takeover – I believe a little more discernment may have been considered regarding the Persons of the Trinity even in a fictional writing.
I must admit I cringed quite a bit as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit became more and more human as the story continued from the end of chapter six (6) into chapter (7). Things like them all laughing at Christ for dropping things with his slippery fingers, along with the Father telling Mack that even though Christ proclaimed, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ at the cross, Jesus only felt like He was forsaken but wasn’t. So, Christ was deceived by His emotions? Maybe I’m confused. When Mack explains his conclusion that the recorded miracles performed by Christ in the Scriptures proved that He was God, ‘you know, more than human,’ the Father says, ‘No, it proves that Jesus is truly human.’ As I, Mack questions this response. God answers, ‘Although he is also fully God, he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything.’
At this I must further question the author’s premise and to what point he desires to take us. If Christ never drew from His nature as God, then is it within the power of every human being to do that which Christ did? Do we too, as professing Christians indwelt by the Spirit, have the supernatural ability to perform also the miracles of turning water into wine; casting out evil spirits; multiplying the loaves and fish; healing the blind, lame, and dumb; and walking on water? What about the forgiveness of sins? Christ proclaimed, ‘the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins.’ Did the forgiveness of sins come from the human or divine of Christ? Did not even John the Baptist (no greater born among women) say, ‘one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose.’ Was it also human for Christ to declare, ‘I lay down my life, that I might take it again… No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again?’
If the above did not make me hesitate to read further, chapter eight (8) appears to dismiss the Scriptures by dismantling the structure of both the Godhead and the family. Among the Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), the god of The Shack tells Mack, ‘we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. We are a circle of relationship, not a chain of command…’ No final authority within God? Such sounds strangely familiar from the Atheists and those who profess Christ yet live as though they do not. In fact, Mack questions the ‘no hierarchy’ bit, mentioning even its use in marriage; whereby, God declares, ‘Such a waste…Hierarchy imposes laws and rules and you end up missing the wonder of relationship that we intended for you.’ Then this god goes on to basically try to explain that there cannot be a relationship if there is final authority or hierarchy, for that would be independence and ‘you become a danger to each other.’
Does the author forget the hierarchy of the Godhead, whereby the Son was obedient to the will of the Father, and the Holy Spirit obeyed the voice of the Son? What then of the hierarchy of the establishment of marriage, whereby the man is head of the wife, even as Christ is of the Church? Such cannot be so easily explained away by the telling of a fictional book, though sold as Christian literature. In chapter ten (10) the author future sews tares among the wheat of Scripture by having his jesus state to Mack, ‘The world, in many ways, would be a much calmer and gentler place if women ruled. There would have been far fewer children sacrificed to the gods of greed and power.’ Does the author honestly dismiss the reality of feminism, abortion, and the fact that attitude and climate of many women prisons surpass the filth of those of men?
The further this chapter (8) goes, the slicker the mudslide seems to become. Even here do we see god telling Mack that He (yes, the Trinity) ‘respects your [man’s] choices.’ I can’t help but ponder the conclusion of the author concerning this statement within the context of this chapter and the book as a whole. For if respect is not enough, the author bows his jesus further unto man by having him tell Mack that the Trinity is submitted to one another equally, and further states ‘In fact, we are submitted to you [man] in the same way.’ Even Mack has to question this, as most honest Bible believing Christians would, ‘How can that be? Why would the God of the universe want to be submitted to me [man]?” The author’s god’s answers, ‘Because we want you to join us in our circle of relationship.’ In Scripture, man is told to submit to the LORD, God, one another, a wife to her husband, those that rule over us, and the younger to the elder, but never once do I find God submitting Himself unto man to have a relationship. Man is always told to come on God’s terms, which is through submission and faith in Jesus Christ.