Shack Attack: and now it’s all gone wrong…

The Shack THE SHACK has now gone from multi-million copy bestseller to multi-million dollar legal-disaster-in-progress as its original author and publishers have gone from being best buddies to opponents bickering over royalties. Very sad.

Full story in the LA Times, The flak over ‘The Shack’, and some helpful reflections for wannabe writers from Steve Laube of The Steve Laube Agency, The Shack Gets Sued: when it comes to splitting the proceeds, a handshake is not enough, even amongst Christians.

h/t Liz Babbs for the Steve Laube link.

Reports and Reflections Elsewhere

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13 thoughts on “Shack Attack: and now it’s all gone wrong…

  1. I am not surprised that it all seems to be going wrong. God is surely speaking into the situation. He highlighted this book to us earlier this year and I wrote to the Christian Bookseller’s Group as follows:

    “Greg Haslam did the keynote talk at the Prayer Day we organised for the trade at Westminster Chapel. He mentioned The Shack and said what troubled him was the feminising of God the Father. He was very troubled by the distorting of the nature of the Trinity and he was deeply troubled by the limits the author puts to God’s sovereignty. He said, “If you’ve not read the book you won’t know what I am talking about but I don’t stock it in this shop. It’s a mixture of truth and error. And sometimes error can be more powerful and influential than truth. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the book but I don’t want people who can’t discern what they are reading, reading it.”

    Some time ago the Evangelical Times published an article about this book, which can be found at
    http://www.evangelical-times.org/Website_Pages/ArticleDetail.php?articleID=3743

    A USA Today article carried the following thoughts about the book:
    Albert Mohler, a leading theologian of the Southern Baptist Convention, which takes the Bible literally, trashes The Shack in his weekly radio show, calling it “deeply subversive,” “scripturally incorrect” and downright “dangerous.” Says Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle: “If you haven’t read The Shack, don’t!” Driscoll, whose multi-campus non-denominational church is packed with 6,000 people each weekend in the least-churched corner of the nation, says he is “horrified” by Young’s book. He says “it misrepresents God. Young misses the big E on the eye chart.” To Driscoll, doctrine is essential, like a fence the Almighty erects to safeguard the saved from error.

    Another website that takes exception to The Shack, and we would particularly draw your attention to its conclusion:

    http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001788.cfm

    In 2009 The Shack sold hundreds of thousands of copies.To the shame of the Christian booktrade, of all the Christian books that had been published last year, The Shack was voted by fellow Christian booksellers as the Christian Book of the Year 2009. After Greg Haslam pointed this book out to us, those present felt the need to repent on behalf of the trade for this whilst at Westminster Chapel. Would the CBG committee be willing to recommend to the rest of the Christian booktrade to follow our lead in repentance.”

    Sadly, this was not even discussed at the Annual General Meeting of the Christian Booksellers’ Group as I had asked. God is still waiting for our repentance.

    • With all due respect, Paul, I have to disagree with you very strongly.

      The Shack is a work of fiction, not a doctrinal thesis, and those such as Driscoll, Haslam and yourself do neither yourselves nor the gospel any favours by condemning and attacking it. True, some of the ideas it puts forward don’t meet the litmus test of orthodoxy as laid down by conservative evangelicals/fundamentalists such as yourself, but I’d say that most if not all of the doctrines you hold on to so tightly are human-made barriers that do more to keep people out than to protect “the saved”.

      If being challenged about our beliefs, if daring to believe that God’s grace is bigger than the narrow confines of conservative evangelicalism, is dangerous, then bring it on! If repentance is called for, it is called for by those fighting over their cut of the proceeds of a book that has done more to raise the profile of Christian thought in the popular imagination than any other in recent history.

      May we continue to be challenged and shaken out of complacency!

      • I’m not arguing for The Shack as a great book, personally I’m not that fond of it as literature but I have found the conversations I have had with people over the shack to be incredible, illuminating and most of all spirit led and in my book that must surely mean something?

        In regards to Paul’s thoughts as set out above, I first commend and uphold him for his devotion and commitment to serving the Lord and while I can appreciate some may not agree with the book and argue it’s theology, I would like to raise the point that none of us uphold it as scriptural truth and doctrinally sound or as good dogma surely?
        But then surely we don’t do that with the Narnia books either??

        I’m pretty sure that though the bible referenced the Lion of Judah in point of fact Jesus didn’t really look much like a large majestic lion in reality did he?
        The image was a metaphor surely and as such one Lewis used to good advantage to sow seeds that might germinate and if not just made for good storytelling and discussion, that fired the mind and caused thought to happen and in turn mayhap caused change at heart?

        I do have to admit that I do have issues with the line where Mr Haslam speaking about The Shack ‘said what troubled him was the feminising of God the Father.’ after all in The Book (by The Book I mean The Bible not the Shack!) God is feminised plenty and would seem to have no problem with it.
        In truth I have a word we might want to consider if we are putting a picture to God that can only be of a certain image etc and that’s Idolatry, a harsh word I know but in the second commandment we are given fair warning of it:
        “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
        I take this to mean insisting on God being a definite male in the form of human gender and looks! That’s not to say God is not God the Father, indeed he is in every way that counts. However in the bible we also are shown and told that God is also as a Mother, as an Eagle, as a Shield, as a Fortress etc etc etc
        Is God any less or more these things than a father? or are we guilty of fixing Gods image when we insist on the one more than the other?
        Given God uses in His books all these things to describe what God is, how can we claim to hold one more than the other? One thing we do know of God is that when asked how he should be described (after all that’s what a name is – a descriptor, a designator) was his reply was a definitive ‘I Am that I Am’ or alternatively stated as ‘I Am who I Am’ or ‘I will be what I will be’.
        To me that’s a definitive statement that points out we can’t box God in to our defined notions and was what in the commandments he tried to warn us off doing.
        God is so much beyond our ken how can we even think we can possibly know what that looks like or is?
        We have small people minds and we can understand metaphor and simile and use these to describe God’s attributes but what we can’t do is define God by these.
        Something worth considering surely.

        Is The Shack right in most of what is says? No I don’t think so, but then it’s fiction not fact, not biblical commentary.
        However has The Shack served a Christian purpose or better yet a God driven purpose if it raises our own heresies to light and in turn brings others closer to knowing the God we think we do but sometimes seem not to? Then to my mind yes it has and I’m not sorry in this instance for stocking this book on my shops shelves.

        My God uses cracked vessels and old wine skins daily, and I thank him for this daily as well when I repent for all the good I didn’t do that I could have and all the times I thought I was acting in His name and wasn’t.

  2. As Mark Driscoll himself is widely known for his dodgy doctrine (e.g. women were created to give men sexual pleasure — a sort of dildo theology), he’s not one to be talking.

    But it is always the dodgy ones who do the most ranting about others.

  3. The main problem with The Shack is that it works on the premise that the biblical revelation of God in Jesus Christ is insufficient – which is why Mack needs to meet ‘God’ in a way that does not reflect the biblical narrative. This being the case, it is hardly surprising that those involved in writing/publishing it are clearly not taking 1 Cor 6:7-8 seriously.

  4. I follow the blog and podcasts of Wayne Jacobsen ( http://lifestream.org/blog ) – one of the men behind publishing The Shack. He hasn’t mentioned about the lawsuit on there, but it’s all very sad. We don’t know what’s really going on though – they might still be friends. The media just project onto the situation that they must be bickering. Maybe just wishful thinking on my part…

  5. I see a lot of people attacking “The Shack” for it’s content, and very few here addressing the real issue, that, in fact, this controversy has nothing to do with the content of The Shack (everyone involved still seems to be standing by the work itself) but rather the sad state of affairs that even Christians can’t work together when big money is involved.

    To quote Ally Simpson (Better known as supersimbo round these parts)

    I have seen, experienced and know ‘Christians’ who turn into assholes when money is at stake! The reason?

    “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

    Actually he made a really good post about this a few days before Phil posted this one

    http://supersimbo.com/2010/07/its-kicking-off-in-the-shack/

    And i think he hit the nail right on the head.

    It’s sad that when dealing with Christian brothers it is no longer good enough to:

    “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matt 5:37 ESV)

    Clearly, when it comes to these sorts of agreements, much more was said than yes, or no.

    It is such a shame that the Christian community now needs to resort to legal routes to resolve disputes between Christian Brothers.

    • Well spotted and well said Luke: thanks. Adding a supersimbo link to the main post.

      Have to confess I’m now at something of a loss as to where to go next with the Kingsway situation. What is it with Pacman that he’s slammed the doors on dialogue? Do we need to shame the entire Christian trade by calling in the OFT or presenting the case to BBC Watchdog before Kingsway will wake up?

      Am I turning into one of Ally’s assholes because I won’t let go of the situation?

      Challenging times for us all…

      • I do think that there are quite significant similarities between the Shack and Kingsway situations here.

        It’s not about whether the products, content etc are good or bad, I’m sure we all love a lot of the kingsway stock, but rather how, as Christians, we go about dealing with one another.

        I don’t know. Perhaps we should just turn over control of our larger christian organisations to secular leadership, and avoid much of this conflict. Perhaps Christianity and business are fundamentally incompatible.

        It does seem that, in general, companies who are primarily secular, or owned by secular groups are often a lot easier to deal with than those which exist as “ministries”. I know that Christians can forge really brilliant partnerships, but i am starting to come to the conclusion that sometimes it would make my life much easier if my faith and my business were not related.

        How cynical do i sound right now!

        • Grinning here!
          No more cynical than most of us on the days that just don’t turn quite right.

          Mixing faith and business is hard work, especially when determined to do it with faith as the foremost integral value, it’s always going to be hard – after all man cannot serve two masters as the book says.

          However if we can’t blend faith and business and make it work then somewhere we are probably in trouble, because at the end of the day we would be conceding that there are parts of our life where God doesn’t work.

          I figure there must be a way to do it, but it probably is darn hard, after all it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom than a camel to pass through the eye of the needle, and though none of us may be rich the intent is much the same.
          However I remain convinced we can do it if we really try, I know it can be done – afterall there are longstanding businesses in the Jewish community where they have and do follow the biblical principles of a much more rigorous life than ours. Though perhaps that’s part of it, perhaps in some ways that’s a boon and not a hinderance as we are often led to think these days?

          I do concede with you though that it is hard, and if it can’t be done by some then it would be better to be honest and opt out of the ‘Christian’ banner and just work to good secular principles as at least this way we don’t bring the community into repute.

          One things for sure it’s not something with an easy answer because at the end of the day we are all just less than perfect people trying to live a better life – but sometimes we just miss the mark – by a long mile ;0)
          Luckily we have a forgiving father who understands us and allows us to actively repent and try again.

    • Fear not, Ally: we understand. I’m told the Pope has one, so we’re all in good company. Your use of the term is hereby awarded a Papal Imprimatur 😀

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