How "The Shack" is Like Coffee

(note: this applies, I think, to any book written by human hands, and was originally a response to my fellow blogger Mark)

“test everything; hold fast to what is good.”-Paul, 1 Thessalonians

"A common theme amongst the advocates of the book is to read it with your heart and not your head, It’s a bit of a mantra... but here’s the catch: this book cannot be read with just one’s heart and not one’s head because the story is transparently a metaphorical wrapping for the author’s true intent: a presentation of God. Who He is. How He acts. And how we should react to Him." -Mark
I feel that "The Shack" has been so divisive because it has been read wrong.

I believe Mark is correct. I surely don’t agree with that mantra of reading with heart instead of head, because there is a filter you must use with this book; that of holding fast to what is good.

It’s like my coffee press. I let the grounds mix freely with the water for a little while, but to have properly drinkable coffee, I must then push the grounds down, leaving only the brewed coffee.

What is sad is, it feels like I’ve heard only from those who would either have us chug the ground/water mixture straight up, or those who would leave the coffee out altogether and simply drink the hot water (all figurative, I assume you get what I mean).

Surely scripture alone is our basis, the nourishing water our souls thirst for, Jesus in book form.

Books like The Shack are simply things we flavor the water with from time to time, like a coffee or a tea, to get a new taste. Our thirst is still quenched, and there is a pleasant new flavor (which I think we also get from talking about God to others).

Obviously some didn’t like that flavor of coffee, finding it either too strong or too weak, or simply unpleasant to their palette, and that’s okay. As long as we are all still drinking the water, we will live.

It is, in fact, the coffee drinkers who must be sure to keep including water, rather than just eating the grounds and assuming they will be quenched.

Now with that caveat, I offer my opinion of the book. I recommend this book to anyone with the spiritual fortitude to not take it as inerrant truth in and of itself, because more than being a theologically flawed presentation of God, it is a story of the healing power of an encounter and relationship with God.

And that, my friends, is a "good" that we can all hold fast to.


Shark Bait said...

"I recommend this book to anyone with the spiritual fortitude to not take it as inerrant truth in and of itself"

And there I believe you've hit the head on the nail.

I have had many Christians quoting concepts out of this book as being 'gospel' truth, because it is easier to swallow than the Gospel.

Robert Tewart said...

Problem is Shark, when you have pastors saying things like "this brought me so much closer to God" and the such, it becomes apparent that even though it is fiction (a defense many are using). My response to a pastor who would say something like that is "What in the world does it offer you that the inspired, infallible word of God does not? What's a flock to think.

Richard said...

Well, you don't have to worry about that Mr. Tewart, because apparently this is no longer your "flock". You left.

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

I haven't read The Shack, but your analysis sounds good. I'll have to get my wife to read it and tell me what she thinks, since I don't have time to do so!

Robert Tewart said...

Yes Richard, but there are those there that I love and have concern for. I did spend nine years there--a significant part of my family's life. Believe it or not, there are those in leadership there in various positions that are miserable and many more in the pews that are facing difficult choices about staying there.

Shark Bait said...

Robert, Richard, play nicely. There are children watching. :-)

Robert, my original post was intended to echo what you are saying. The Shack is not The Truth. It is one man's interpretation, and where it differs from the bible... well we all know who wins in that debate.

But I ask you this? What can YOU or YOUR BLOG offer that the inspired, infallible word of God does not offer? Because unless you are just printing bible verses everday, you are adding to or challenging our understanding of that Word.


Richard said...

It's hard to play nice with this particular type of commenter. I will try, though.

Just a regular ray of sunshine, aren't you?

There are problems in every church, Robert. God obviously uses jerks... look at the way Peter and Paul butted heads, or Paul and his friends (maybe Paul was the jerk). Just because you or your friends have had a less than stellar experience, 1. it doesn't mean you aren't at least partially to blame, and 2. it doesn't disqualify the ministry of this church or the "jerk" involved.

You can have whatever opinions you want, but don't go attacking the leadership and their "flock" in order to win people to your "side" as if this were some sort of war.

Your words strike me as poisonous and cancerous to the core, and while I hope I'm wrong, I will begin comment moderation if you continue to be one to stir up dissension rather than simply discussion. This is MY blog, not yours.

I mean, seriously, what would you have me do? Agree with you? Realize the error of my ways in supporting this ministry, and begin trying to destroy this evil from within? There is no actual point to what you are doing, just way too much time on your hands. And I've spent enough time on this.

Once again, don't force me to comment moderate. Bring to my discussion table an honest point, without the nefarious intent, or bring nothing at all.

Robert Tewart said...

Okay Shark, I will answer that directly. The Shack uses idolotry and blasphemy to make its point. If you want to study that out, go read what Chuck Colson, Mark Driscoll, Michael Youseff and others have to say about it. That is the essential difference. When the church-any church, or a leader, any leader uses material like this, the less mature, non discerning members will be at risk. This particular work truly flys in the face of the scriptures and their sufficiency. It's nuances are subtle but far reaching. I know I won't change Richard's mind, that is between him and God. I have read much more eloquent and studied people (jon in particular) over at tommorows reflection argue thisi much more inteligently than me to no avail.

Robert Tewart said...

BTW. Jared left an interesting post about the scatalogical references in scripture over at tomarros reflection as well. I would have responded to it, but Jeremy booted me before I had a chance. Another blogger on my team posted at my blog that will appear on Friday morning at 6:00AM.

Robert Tewart said...

Richard, You may want ot add and email contact on your profile page. I found you one, but assumed you might not check that one over the weekend. Anyway, sorry to contact you here for this, but yo may want to check out in the AM for a post I think might give you a new insight into what we actually do in evangelism encounterss.

Richard said...


The point of this post, which you apparently missed, was to end discussion on this matter.

This is not Jeremy's blog, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't even read it very often. I am a worship leader in training and a friend to many people, and I would recommend this book to those who were mature, and have them come to me when they have questions. I would not recommend it to a brand new believer, but I wouldn't try to warn them against it without ever having read it myself.

I am not impressed that you heard from this person or that person that this book was "heretical" or whatever else. I, the owner of this blog, have read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. When you can say at least the first part of that statement, then you will find my eyes more than willing to read what you have to say.

In the meantime, I ask you to please read my post... notice even which particular sentences are highlighted in the original format. If you are going to comment on this post and not be moderated out or deleted, then comment on the contents of THIS POST.

I am officially through with the other stuff. Jeremy can take care of himself, and I won't be relaying any of your thoughts to him. The arguments at stay there, where they in fact belong.

And no, you are not going to change my mind (as you stated to Shark), but I do thank you and Jon for helping me to solidify my stance on this book... if I did not have a sound basis for my beliefs and arguments, I surely would have been persuaded by both of you.

Robert Tewart said...

Sorry Richard, but I think I was responding to Shark concerning the comment you just posted. Surely you're not suggesting that comments can only be addressed to you and what you write are you? as far as your pastor goes, I'm not trying to reach him via this blog. I could just call him if I was that upset. Enough on the shack. I just wanted to post some evangelism encounters and the only way I could communicate to you was through this blog.

Richard said...


You can address concerns to others, that is just fine. It is when you bring a tired, week-old argument back into play, as you did at the end of your post, that it is no longer okay. If you talk about "changing my mind", you have begun to address me.

Address the post, or heck, just what Shark actually said. He asked you what YOUR BLOG could do, not what was wrong with The Shack.

I'm sorry to be hyper vigilant about this, but once again, the only alternative is comment moderation, and I find that quite an unsightly alternative.

Robert Tewart said...

Richard. Please take a listen to my latest post. three audios about six minutes each and tell me what you think. I believe much of what has been said about this model of evangelism has been based on Hellfire preaching, not what my team does. anyway. take a look. I would like your take.