My initial discernment seemed obvious enough to me. God the Father was being portrayed as God the Mother. In an age of sexual perversion and gender confusion, this lack of truth in the depiction of God was enough for me to question the benefits of reading the book, and even wonder about the true source of its spiritual persuasions.
In the Bible, the God of Abraham is portrayed as Fatherly. Yeshua Himself refers to God as His Father countless times. Too many times for me to even site. (Just a few: John 5:18,John 6:27, John 6:46) The Father heart of God is part of who He is. Its one of His strongest attributes and language describing Him as such is pervasive through out the entire bible. Since Young challenged this as truth, in my opinion, it seemed like enough evidence to be weary of the controversial novel.
For me, it was simple. The Shack presented a personification of God that came against His word, and I wasn't going to invest the time in reading it.
However, after hearing about how many oodles of people were incredibly moved by it, I wondered, "Am I not allowing for enough creative liberties here?" After all, I am am artist myself, and like Young, I have spent time serving the Lord in cross cultural settings. I know first hand the complexities that can arise between the two. I know the need to keep the truth of the bible relavent to eastern and indiginous cultures, rather than imposing "Western Christianity." I know the feelings of being misunderstood, and I know the pain of an artists heart being struck down by a religious spirit.
I took the matter to the Lord again in prayer, and my answer about whether or not I should give it a chance was a consistent "No." Upon receiving some new information from my highly discerning mother-in-law, I'm glad I didn't read it.
Simply the fact that The Shack portrays God the Father, a biblical truth concerning His character and nature, as God the Mother should be enough in itself. We shouldn't need actual evidence that this is a pagan idea. The word of God should stand alone. But for anyone who remains unconvinced, consider this:
Papa, the name and personality of the woman character Young uses to portray God the father, is also the name of the Hawaiian Earth Mother and Goddess of femininity.
Perhaps Young isn't writing about the God of the Bible at all. Instead, Young's "Papa" appears to be some confused syncretic version of the God of the Bible and this goddess of pagan origin. The problem with sycretism is that just as oil and water doesn't mix, neither does light and dark, or truth and lies. Its simply unbiblical and opens up doors to all sorts of spiritual strongholds.
I can understand that my challenge of the novel could be hard to accept, especially since I'll out rightly admit that I haven't read it. My encouragement is that you take the matter before the Lord, and weigh Young's words against God's word.
Also, consider the differences between The Shack and other creative writings such as C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe as well as John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. Both of these embody a mature artistic expression while remaining consistent with the truth of the bible. It is possible to achieve and something we should be actively doing. We should be creative in our acts of worship and pursuits of knowing God, but we should also have a high standard for accurately handling the word of truth.
I'm interested in your thoughts, so write and let me know!
Reimagining God in The Shack by Mary Kassian of The Counsel on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Earth Worship and Child Sacrifice