"Jesus... said to them:
'Take heed that no one deceives you. For many
will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive
Two books (one new, one old) have suddenly
grabbed public attention and captured the hearts of multitudes. One is
long and instructional -- a dictation from a channeled spirit guide.
The other is a fictional testimony full of tear-jerking dialogue. A
Course in Miracles (ACIM)
is obviously occult, while the more subtle message of The
Shack by William P.
Young has been widely accepted in postmodern churches.
The two books share a common message. I
saw a stark preview of it back in 1992. Skimming through a magazine
Journal, I noticed this
New Age "insight" from the
author's "inner guide:"
"Many people believe in evil, sin, and
dark forces. It is your
purpose to teach the opposite which is the Truth:
there is no devil, no hell, no sin, no guilt except in the creative
mind of humankind."
I heard similar deceptions at Gorbachev's
of the World Forum. At the time, keynote speaker Marianne
Williamson was touting
Course in Miracles (ACIM).
While those New Age "insights" would fit both, they are best expressed
through ACIM, which
Williamson is now popularizing through Oprah Winfrey's weekly radio
The Shack calls
for a similar denial of reality. Yet countless pastors and church
leaders are delighting
in its message. By ignoring (or redefining) sin and guilt, they
embrace an inclusive but counterfeit "Christianity" that draws crowds
but distorts the Bible. Discounting Satan as
well, they weaken God'swarnings about
deception. No wonder His armor for
today's spiritual war became an early victim of this spreading assault
Roger Oakland, author of Faith
Undone, hinted at this transformation in his article "My
Trip to the Rethink Conference:"
"For nearly two thousand years, most
professing Christians have seen the Bible as the foundation for the
Christian faith. The overall view at the Rethink Conference,
however, is that Christianity,
as we have known it, has run its course and must be replaced....
Speakers insisted that Christianity must be re-thought and re-invented if
the name of Jesus Christ is going to survive here on planet earth."
No room for the historical Jesus? Must we reimagine God
to make Him fit the rising universal church?
That seems to be the aim of The
Shack's female "God."
Here she is speaking to the main character, Mackenzie (Mack for
"For me to appear to you as a woman
and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix
metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your
"Religious conditioning?" Is that how Mr.
Young views Biblical Christianity?
It's easy to be persuaded by his clever
arguments. The Shack is
written as a personal testimony that draws readers into virtual
dialogues with a playful, culturally relevant "God." In contrast to
the dry, occult lessons in ACIM, The
Shack leads readers
into vicarious experiences in
a world of revelations and sensations. The only sin-like issue here is independence --
what ACIM calls
-- a refusal to accept universal oneness with "God" and man.
Unhindered by Biblical guidelines, The
Shack offers no
standard for right or wrong, so there's no real need for Biblical
repentance. It fits right into the popular vision of a unifying,
"So how do I become part of that church?"
"It's simple," answers the fictional
"Jesus." "It's all about relationships and simply sharing life...
being open and available to others around us. My church is all about
people, and life is all about relationships."[1,p.178]
That sounds partly true, as do most
spiritual lies! For example, Jesus criticized the Pharisees who
"searched the Scriptures" but refused to "come" to Him. Today's
postmodern seekers are just as foolish. They ignore unwanted
Scriptures, and then flock to the culturally attuned "Jesus" of their
Shack, readers meet a permissive "God" that "submits" to their
human ways. They look through the veil between life and death, see the
joy beyond, and communicate with loved ones -- subtle examples of "calling
up the dead," which the Bible
18:11). Mack "sees" the colorful
"auras" that show spiritual maturity among the dead-but-alive. He even
practices astral travel --
what The Shack calls
-- a word popularized by Maharishi Yogi long ago.
"Such a powerful ability, the
imagination!" said The
"Jesus." That power alone makes you so like us."[1,p.140]
Here the boundaries of the church are
broadened to include almost everyone. The only exception seems to be "independent"
folk who refuse to "come" to this universal "God." This isn't Christianity
-- and this false "Jesus" would agree. When Mack asks him what it
"means to be a Christian,"
“'Who said anything about being a
Christian? I’m not a Christian.' The idea struck Mack as odd and
unexpected and he couldn’t keep himself from grinning. 'No, I
suppose you aren’t.'"[1,p.182]
Of course, he's not! The word
"Christian" refers to Christ's followers -- not to Jesus -- and it has
always clashed with trendy cultures. Even when 'the
disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts
11:26), that word was a derogatory label used by enemies of the
Church. But that didn't keep faithful Christians from joyfully
claiming that name and sharing His Word!.
The Shack opens
in the context of tragedy. Four years have passed since the cruel
murder of Missy, Mack's precious six-year-old daughter. Enveloped in
grief, he receives a strange invitation. "I've missed you," it says.
"I'll be at the shack next weekend if you want to get together. Papa."
What could it mean?
Doubtful, but drawn to the meeting,
Mack heads for the Oregon wilderness and finds the dilapidated old
shack. "God" miraculously transforms it into a cozy cottage, and Mack
meets his supposed maker:
"...the door flew open, and he was
looking directly into the face of a large beaming African-American
woman. Instinctively he jumped back, but he was too slow. With speed
that belied her size, she crossed the distance between them and
engulfed him in her arms...."[1,p.82]
"Just as she turned... a small,
distinctly Asian woman merged from behind her.... He then glanced
past her and notices that a third person had emerged... a man. He
appeared Middle Eastern."[1,p.84]
"When they finally stopped giggling, the
large woman... said, 'Okay, we know who you are, but we should
probably introduce ourselves to you. ...you could call me what Nan
[Mack's wife] does: Papa.'...
“'And I,' interrupted the man, who looked to be about in his
thirties.... 'I am Hebrew....'
“Mack was suddenly staggered by his own realization. “Then, you
"Mack stood dumbfounded.... Just as
he was about to crumple to his knees, the Asian woman stepped closer
and deflected his attention. 'And I am Sarayu [the Holy Spirit,
Creativity].' she said...
"Thoughts tumbled over each other as Mack struggled to figure
out what to do.... Since there were three of them, maybe this was a
Trinity sort of thing.... 'Then,' Mack struggled to ask, 'which one
of you is God?'”
“'I am,’ said all three in unison.'"[1,p.86-87]
Their ongoing dialogues reinforce this
new view of God. They immerse Mack in spiritual re-education,
for each comment contradicts his previous understanding of God. For
example, this new "Jesus" never returned to heaven. Was there no real
resurrection? Not according to the female "God":
“Although by nature he is fully God,
Jesus is fully
human and lives as such. While never losing the innate ability to fly [which
he demonstrates in the book], he chooses moment-by-moment to remain
grounded. That is why his name is Immanuel, God with us...."[1,p.99-100]
Bible tells us that
Jesus did return
to His heaven after His crucifixion. Besides, neither God our Father
nor the Holy Spirit made themselves finite or visible to man. "No
one has seen God at any time," said
the true Jesus. (John
here we see all three in
human form -- on earth! "God" explains:
"'By nature I am completely
unlimited... I live in a state of perpetual satisfaction as my
normal state of existence:’ she said, quite pleased. 'Just one of
the perks of Me being Me.’
"That made Mack smile. This lady was fully enjoying herself...
“We created you to share in that. But then Adam chose to go it
on his own, as we knew he would, and everything got messed up. But
instead of scrapping the whole Creation we rolled
up our sleeves and entered
into the middle of the mess—that’s what we have done in
Jesus.... When we
three spoke ourself
into human existence as the Son of God, we became
fully human. We also chose to embrace all the limitations that
this entailed. ...flesh and blood."[1,p.98-99]
guilt and God's authority
Unlike the true God, this false trinity
exercises no authority over man. That should please today's postmodern
church leaders! They seem to shun words such as "sovereignty"
After all, a reigning God who sets the moral standard for all time
could cause division. He could impede their mainpurpose: inclusive
No wonder Mack is confused when he
asks, "Why would the God of
the universe want to be submitted
"Because we want you to join us in our circle
of relationships," answers "Jesus." [1,p.145] Together
the "trinity" explains:
"Authority, as you usually think of
it, is merely the excuse the strong use to make others conform to
what they want.... We carefully respect
your choices...." [1,p.123]
"'Are you saying I don't have to follow
"'Yes. In Jesus you are not under any
law. All things are lawful.'
"'You can't be serious! You're messing
with me again,' moaned Mack.
"'Child,' interrupted papa, 'you ain't
heard nuthin' yet.'...
"'...enforcing rules [says Sarayu] ...is
a vain attempt to
create certainty out
of uncertainty. And contrary to what you might think, I
have a great fondness for uncertainty. Rules cannot bring
freedom; they only have the power to accuse.'"[1,p.203] [ACIM
uses the word "attack" instead of "accuse."]
Are God's guidelines really "a
vain attempt to create certainty?" Of course not! To impress God's
unchanging values in the minds for faithful believers is no "vain
attempt." But there's plenty of uncertainty for
those who believe in evolving Truth and adaptable Scriptures. Such
"uncertainty" can lay no firm foundation for either peace or confident
faith! In fact, many "Christian" pastors today suffer from agonizing
doubts -- even about the existence of God! Small wonder, when they
build their ministries on the shifting sands of people-pleasing
"truths," not on the solid Rock of God's Word.
In this new story, sin no longer
separates unholy people from our holy God. It fits right into
postmodern churches that ignore Biblical commands such as "Do not be
conformed to the world" and "Abhor evil"
(Romans 12:2,9). Chipping away at the reality of sin, guilt and God's
just judgments, this transformational process undermines any real
understanding of our need for discernment, repentance or
Even God's amazing grace becomes
Notice how The
Shack's false "God"
mocks our true God by minimizing His sovereignty and judgments:
"I'm not a bully, not some
self-centered demanding little deity insisting on my own way. I am
good, and I desire only what is best
for you. You cannot find that through guilt or condemnation...."[1,p.126]
"You don't need me at all to create your
list of good and evil. But you do need me if you have any desire to
stop such an insane lust
forindependence.... Mackenzie, evil is
a word we use to describe the absence of Good, just as we use the
word darkness to describe the absence of Light. ...evil and
darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do
not have any actual existence."[1,p.136]
That's a lie! Though the wonders of God's
love and promises are vastly beyond our comprehension, He has told
us His standard for good and evil -- and He will punish those who
minimize sin (and thus the need for the cross) or reject His
ways and warnings. :
"They are foolish;
for they do not know the way of the Lord, the judgment of their
"You thought I was
altogether like you, but I will rebuke you..." Psalm
"...the wrath of God
is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness
of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.... Professing to
be wise, they became fools..." Romans
"Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people— the fruit
of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words...." Jeremiah
A Course in
Miracles [ACIM] echoes those views of authority, sin and guilt:
"Sin is insanity....
Sin is the home of all illusions.... There is no
always totally insane,
and has no reason...."
"The Holy Spirit never
commands. To command is to assume inequality, which... does not
"...you have let the belief in
darkness enter your mind and so you need a new
light.... The voice of the Holy Spirit does
not command, because it is incapable of arrogance. It does not
demand, because it does not seek control." [2,p.76]
"There is no guilt in you.... Your only
calling here is to devote
yourself, with active
willingness, to the
denial of guilt in
all its forms.... We are all joined in the Atonement....
So will the world of separation slip away.... For peace is the
acknowledgment of perfect purity, from which no one is excluded.
Within its holy circle is
everyone whom God created as his Son."[2,p.282-283]
These absurd claims remind me of Ray
Yungen wise words, "Satan
is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus
evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between
himself and God, between good and evil, altogether."
But God says, "Do
not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship
has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with
'Come out from among them and be separate,' says the Lord.” 2
command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not
add to it nor take away from it." Deut.
Both books demonstrate
a perverted kind of forgiveness -- the world's way of promoting unity
and healing apart from the cross. Not only does Mack learn to
"forgive" all who have hurt him, he also forgives "God." As
if God had done something wrong!
Following the same reasoning, ACIM's "Jesus"
offers this bit of twisted theology:
"Forgive, and you will see this differently.... These are the
words which end the dream of sin, and rid the mind of fear. These
are the words by which salvation comes to all the world."
It may sound loving to claim universal
salvation through human forgiveness. But it's not Biblical! This
counterfeit "Jesus" has totally divorced himself from God's Word --
the living Word which is the
true Jesus. (See
Our God is Judge as well as Love. And since He is also sovereign
and holy, he must deal with the reality of sin. It can't simply be
dismissed or justified. His salvation is only through
the Biblical cross,
in spite of ACIM's denials
and The Shack's deceptions.
We partake in His atonement
(not a New Age atONEment) through Biblical faith,
not positive presumptions.
"...if anyone preaches
any other gospel to
you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now
persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still
pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." Galatians
process hides the unchanging truth
"There is a new world emerging...." writes Tamara Hartzell, author
the Name of Purpose. "This
new world stands against the truth, against the Lord Jesus Christ, and
against God. Its rise is coming about in the power and authority and
deception of the god of this world (angel
of light), who will easily lure the spiritually-prepared
masses into worshipping
him and his Coming One."
report on "The
New Age Ark of Oneness" gives us an overview of
this spreading deception:
• relativism is replacing truth
• worldliness is replacing righteousness
• the New Gospel of peace with the world through Oneness is
replacing the original Gospel
of peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ
• the New Spirituality is replacing the true faith that comes from
the Word of God
• the unity in diversity of Oneness is replacing the salvation of
the Lord Jesus Christ
• unity-seeking dialogue and spiritual experiences are replacing the
Word of God.
It's not surprising that so few Christians notice or resist this
process. Ever since John
Dewey and Julian
Huxley began to replace factual
learning withsubjective socialization,
our ability to discern error has been undermined. As Donna
Garner said, "We now
have twenty years of