The Shack and Its New Age Leaven written by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The booklet tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of The Shack and Its New Age Leaven, click here.
The Shack & Its New Age Leaven
A little leaven leaventh the whole lump.—Galatians 5:9
Described as a Christian novel, The Shack, written by William Paul Young, sat on the New York Times bestseller list for over 172 consecutive weeks (including 52 weeks at #1), and over 10 million copies of the book are in print.1 Many Christians have purchased multiple copies and given them to friends and family.
The Shack reads as a true story, but is obviously allegorical fiction. The book conveys postmodern spiritual ideas and teachings that challenge biblical Christianity—all in the name of “God” and “Jesus” and the “Holy Spirit.” Author William P. Young’s alternative presentation of traditional Christianity has both inspired and outraged his many readers. All the while his book continues to fly off the shelves of local and online bookstores.
Much like New Age author James Redfield’s book The Celestine Prophecy, The Shack is a fictional vehicle for upending certain religious concepts and presenting contrary spiritual scenarios. Allegorical novels can be a clever way to present truth. They can also be used to present things that seem to be true but really are not. Some books like The Shack do both.
I was drawn into the New Age Movement years ago by books and lectures containing parabolic stories that were not unlike The Shack. They felt spiritually uplifting as they tackled tough issues and talked about God’s love and forgiveness. They seemed to provide me with what I spiritually needed as they gave me much needed hope and promise. Building on the credibility they achieved through their inspirational and emotive writings, my New Age authors and teachers would then go on to tell me that “God” is “in” everyone and everything.
I discovered that author William P. Young does exactly the same thing in The Shack. He moves through his very engaging and emotional story to eventually present this same New Age teaching that God is “in” everything.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me first provide some background material concerning this key New Age doctrine that “God is in everything.” A good place to start is with Eugene Peterson, the author of the controversial Bible paraphrase The Message. After all, Peterson’s enthusiastic endorsement of The Shack is featured right under the author’s name on the front cover.
Ironically, it was Peterson’s endorsement that caused me to be immediately suspicious of The Shack. Through his questionable paraphrasing of the Bible, Peterson had already aligned himself in a number of areas with New Age/New Spirituality teachings. One obvious example is where he translated a key verse in the Lord’s Prayer to read “as above, so below” rather than “in earth, as it is in heaven.” “As above, so below” is a term that I was very familiar with from my previous involvement in the New Age movement. This esoteric saying has been an occult centerpiece for nearly five thousand years. It is alleged by New Age metaphysicians to be the key to all magic and all mysteries. It means that God is not only transcendent—“out there”— but He is also immanent—“in” everyone and everything.
But, as I found out just before abandoning the deceptive teachings of the New Age for the Truth of biblical Christianity, God is not “in” everyone and everything. The Bible makes it clear that man is not divine and that man is not God (Ezekiel 28:2, Hosea 11:9, John 2:24-25, etc.) In my book Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose Driven Church, I quoted the editors of New Age Journal as they defined “as above, so below” in their book, As Above, So Below:
“As above, so below, as below, so above.” This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one.2
My concern about Peterson’s undiscerning use of “as above, so below” in the Lord’s Prayer was underscored when the 2006 bestseller, The Secret, showcased this same occult/New Age phrase. In fact, it was the introductory quote at the very beginning of the book. By immediately featuring “as above, so below” the author Rhonda Byrne was telling her readers in definite New Age language that “God is in everyone and everything.” Towards the end of the book, The Secret puts into more practical words what the author initially meant by introducing the immanent concept of “as above, so below.” On page 164, The Secret tells its readers—“You are God in a physical body.”
Most significantly, in his book The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom, New Age leader Benjamin Crème reveals that a New World Religion will be based on this foundational “as above, so below” teaching of immanence—this idea that God is “in” everyone and everything:
But eventually a new world religion will be inaugurated which will be a fusion and synthesis of the approach of the East and the approach of the West. The Christ will bring together, not simply Christianity and Buddhism, but the concept of God transcendent—outside of His creation—and also the concept of God immanent in all creation—in man and all creation.3
New Age matriarch Alice Bailey, in her book The Reappearance of the Christ, wrote:
. . . a fresh orientation to divinity and to the acceptance of the fact of God Transcendent and God Immanent within every form of life. “These are foundational truths upon which the world religion of the future will rest.4
In a November 9, 2003 Hour of Power sermon—just two months before he was a featured speaker at the annual meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals—Crystal Cathedral minister Robert Schuller unabashedly aligned himself with this same New Age/New World Religion teaching. The man who claims to have mentored thousands of pastors, including Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, stated:
You know in theology—pardon me for using a couple of big words—but in theology the God we believe in, this God of Abraham, is a transcendent God. But He is also an immanent God. Transcendent means up there, out there, above us all. But God is also an immanent God—immanence of God and the transcendence of God—but then you have a balanced perspective of God. The immanence of God means here, in me, around me, in society, in the world, this God here, in the humanities, in the science, in the arts, sociology, in politics—the immanence of God. . . . Yes, God is alive and He is in every single human being!5
But God is not in every single human being. God is not in everything. One of the many reasons I wrote Deceived on Purpose was because Rick Warren presented his readers with this same “God in everything” teaching. Quoting an obviously flawed New Century Bible translation of Ephesians 4:6, Rick Warren—whether he meant to or not—was teaching his millions of readers the foundational doctrine of the New World Religion. Describing God in his book, The Purpose-Driven Life, he wrote:
He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.6
Compounding the matter further, “immanence” has been taught as part of the Foundations class at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. An ill-defined reference to immanence in the Saddleback Foundations Participants Guide plays right into the hands of the New Spirituality/New World Religion by stating:
The fact that God stands above and beyond his creation does not mean he stands outside his creation. He is both transcendent (above and beyond his creation) and immanent (within and throughout his creation).7
All of this discussion I am giving about “God in everything” immanence is to explain why The Shack is such a deceptive book. It teaches this same heresy. This book ostensibly attempts to deal with the deeply sensitive issues surrounding the murder of a young child. Because of the author’s intensely personal story line, most readers become engaged with the book on a deep emotional level. However, the author’s use of poetic license to convey his highly subjective, and often unbiblical, spiritual views becomes increasingly problematic as the story line develops. This is most apparent when he uses the person of “Jesus” to suddenly introduce the foundational teaching of the New Spirituality/New World Religion—God is “in” everything. Using the New Age term “ground of being” to describe “God,” the “Jesus” of The Shack states:
God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.8
This false teaching about a “God” who “dwells in, around, and through all things” is the kind of New Age leaven that left unchallenged could leaven the church into the New Age/New Spirituality of the proposed New World Religion. And while many people have expressed a great deal of emotional attachment to The Shack and its characters—this leaven alone contaminates the whole book.
Clearly, the “Jesus” of The Shack is not Jesus Christ of the Bible. The apostle Paul chided the Corinthians and warned them that they were vulnerable and extremely susceptible to “another Jesus” and “another gospel” and “another spirit” that were not from God (2 Corinthians 11:4). In the Bible, the real Jesus Christ warned that spiritual deception would be a sign before His return. He further warned that there would be those who would even come in His name, pretending to be Him (Matthew 24:3-5, 24).
Without ascribing any ill motive to William Young and his book The Shack, the author’s use of spiritual creativity seems to give a “Christian” assent to the New Age/New Spirituality of the proposed New World Religion. His mixing of truth and error can become very confusing to readers, and God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Dr. Harry Ironside, pastor of Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church from 1930-1948, emphasizes the fact that truth mixed with error results in “all error”—a direct refutation of the Emergent Church teaching to find “truth” wherever it may be found—including books like The Shack. Ironside wrote:
Error is like leaven, of which we read, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.9
The Shack has touched the hearts and emotions of many people. While there are many other examples of the author’s unbiblical liberality, introducing the heretical New Age teaching that “God dwells in, and around, and through all things” is in and by itself enough to completely undermine any value the book might otherwise have for faithful believers. To allow yourself to get carried away by this story, while disregarding the book’s New Age/New Spirituality leaven, is to fall prey to the “truth-and-error” mixture that pervades The Shack. And as Dr. Ironside warned—“God hates such a mixture!”
Before Christians buy one more copy of this book, they need to come to terms with what this author is ultimately teaching and what it is they are passing along to their friends and fellow believers.
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:4)
Fractals, Chaos Theory, Quantum Spirituality, and The Shack
A fractal . . . something considered simple and orderly that is actually composed of repeated patterns no matter how magnified. A fractal is almost infinitely complex. I love fractals, so I put them everywhere.10—Sarayu, The Shack
Fractals reveal a hidden “order” underlying all seemingly chaotic events. The fractals are intricate and beautiful. They repeat basic patterns, but with an infinity of variations and forms. The world-view emerging from this scientific research is new, and yet at the same time very very ancient.11—The Sovereign Court and Order of the Ancient Dragon
A few years ago, when I was speaking at a church service, a woman named Jennifer approached me and told me she had discovered something interesting in The Shack and had written a short article about it. She asked if I would be willing to read her article. I told her I would.
Back home a week later, I found Jennifer’s paper in my notebook. I was intrigued by the title—“Fractal Theory in The Shack.” In her article, Jennifer explains that during her research she had rented a DVD movie, which she had been told had New Age undertones. She then describes something she discovered in the movie:
In the movie The Seeker a young boy is a chosen one who is to find signs hidden throughout time, which will help fight against the encroaching darkness. . . . [I]n the movie, each sign that the boy is to find is known as a fractal. When I heard the term fractal, right away I realized that I had heard that same term somewhere else recently. . . . I remembered where I had heard it, The Shack.
Beginning in chapter 9 in The Shack, which is titled, “A Long Time Ago in a Garden Far, Far Away,” . . . Sarayu (who represents the Holy Spirit) has created a garden and we learn that the garden is a fractal. We learn about fractals from Sarayu when she says, “A fractal is something considered simple and orderly that is actually composed of repeated patterns no matter how magnified. A fractal is almost infinitely complex. I love fractals, so I put them everywhere.”12
Curious about the term “fractal” that was showing up in both The Shack and The Seeker, Jennifer did some research. What she discovered is that the term “fractal” is directly related to what are being called the “new sciences” of “Chaos Theory” and “Fractal Theory.” What was of particular interest to me was her finding that fractals are directly linked with the occult phrase “as above, so below.” Given my previously expressed concern about Peterson’s use of “as above, so below” in The Message, I found it interesting that “as above, so below” was apparently related to the term fractal in The Shack.
As Above, So Below and Fractals
After reading Jennifer’s article, I made sure a copy was sent to an Indiana pastor who had sent me articles regarding Norman Vincent Peale. Because he had been currently writing articles exposing The Shack’s errant theology, I knew he would be interested in Jennifer’s article—how she had discovered a direct link between The Shack’s multiple references to fractals and the New Age term “as above, so below.”13
Later, as we talked by phone, the pastor searched the Internet for the word “fractal.” The first website listed was called “Fractal Wisdom.” The site featured an article titled “Fractal Chaos Crashes the Wall between Science and Religion.”14 Under that heading was a box containing a fractal design, and underneath the fractal was the saying “As Above, So Below.” Underneath the occult saying was a quote from New Age pioneer and mystic Aldous Huxley—the single most quoted person in Marilyn Ferguson’s best-selling New Age book The Aquarian Conspiracy. Huxley is also quoted by Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life.15 Huxley’s quote on the Fractal Wisdom website addresses the dual subjects of chaos and “purpose”:
At any given moment, life is completely senseless. But viewed over a period, it seems to reveal itself as an organism existing in time, having a purpose, trending in a certain direction.16
The online article titled “Fractal Chaos Crashes the Wall Between Science and Religion” goes on to state:
New discoveries in the science and mathematics of Chaos research are revolutionizing our world view. They reveal a hidden fractal order underlying all seemingly chaotic events. The fractals are intricate and beautiful. They repeat basic patterns, but with an infinity of variations and forms. The world-view emerging from this scientific research is new, and yet at the same time ancient. With a little thought, and the help of this web, you can better understand the significance of Chaos and Fractals. You can see how to use these insights in your life to create a bridge between Science and Spirituality.17
As the mystic sages of long ago put it, “as above, so below.”18
But what is being presented as “science” is actually an occult/New Age worldview, which presents the New Age belief that much of the “chaos” in the world is the result of people not properly perceiving the “interconnectedness” of all things. In other words, what appears to be “chaos” is often just “the observer” not seeing the “as above, so below”/God “in” everything/“fractal order” that defines all creation. This postulated fractal order is directly related to Teilhard de Chardin, Matthew Fox, and Leonard Sweet’s quantum spirituality/Creation Spirituality. The Shack’s references to fractals—references I had overlooked when I first read the book—immediately explain why author William Young capitalizes the letter “C” in the word “Creation” at least twenty times in The Shack. The capital “C” reflects what his “Jesus” is teaching—that God is “in” all things—including “Creation.”
From the perspective of the New Age/New Spirituality, it makes perfect sense that the “Jesus” of The Shack states that God is “in” all things. Mack—the main character—is seeing his life as “a mess” rather than as a “fractal” part of “God.” This is because he is not seeing the “as above, so below” fractal order of “God in all things.” From this perspective, it also makes perfect sense that The Shack’s “Holy Spirit” told Mack that his life only seems chaotic and “a mess”—that in reality, he was actually “a living fractal.”19
Also, from the “Fractal Wisdom” website, I could see the deceptive New Age ploy regarding the word fractal and its relationship to “as above, so below.” If all of capital “C” Creation is “God” and thus composed of “God” atoms and energy, then any fractal part of that “God” energy is therefore a part of God. Man is a fractal. Man is God. That is why Mack is told he is “a living fractal.” That is why Mack is told that God is “in” all things.20 The word fractal is being used as a pseudo-scientific synonym for the belief that God is “in” everything—everything being a fractal or a fractured part of the whole, a fractured part of God. Taken a step further, The Shack is indirectly presenting the notion that “chaos” is simply the result of people not seeing the “God in everything” fractal order in the world—“as above, so below.”
Thus, The Shack subtly introduces the New Age/New Spirituality as a worldview that puts forth the notion that “chaos” can be significantly overcome when humanity stops seeing itself as “separate”21 but rather sees itself as “One”—as a part of the “God” who is “in” everyone and everything. However, the Bible teaches that humanity is not “God” or “One” with God (John 2:24-25; Ezekiel 28:2; Hosea 11:9, etc.). The Bible teaches just the opposite—that man is actually separated from God by sin (Isaiah 59:2). It is because of this “separation” that we need to acknowledge our sin and repent (Acts 2:38). Everyone must be born again (John 3:6-7)—born again from the God who is “above” (John 3:31), and not “below.” Born again from the one true God—not by the “as above, so below” god that the Apostle Paul described as “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Bible states that we are only “one” in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). And we are only “one” in Christ Jesus when we repent of our sins and accept His death on the cross for our sins (1 John 2:2)—his finished work on the cross of Calvary (Colossians 1:20).
“Chaos” is not created or furthered by humanity’s denial of its so-called fractal divinity. Rather, “chaos” is the consequence of Adam’s fall resulting in sinfulness and the subsequent decay of all things and our separation from a holy God. It is not “as above, so below.” Fractals do not point the way to salvation. Genesis 11:6-8 warns about a deceptive and spiritually dangerous imagined “oneness”:
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. (Genesis 11:6)
Acts 17:26 informs us that humanity is “one blood” and that we are connected to one another in that way. But humanity is not one Spirit. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). The Bible states that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50). Jesus said, we “must be born again” (John 3:7).
God’s creation is indeed intricate and wondrous. And in many countless ways it is beautifully and harmoniously interconnected—but it is not divine (Romans 1:25). Man is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), but he is not a part of some divine fractal order. We are sinners, and we need to be saved from the sin that separates us from God. It is as simple as that. Repenting and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and as the one and only Savior who saves us from our sins is the “narrow” and only way to eternal salvation (John 14:6; Matthew 7:13-14). The introduction of fractals in the story line of The Shack is a deceptive device to unsuspecting readers. It is an entry point into the pseudo-scientific notion of “fractal Oneness”—“as above, so below”/God “in” everything.
To order copies of The Shack and Its New Age Leaven, click here.
1. Windblown Media’s website, January 2012 stats, http://windblownmedia.com/news-releases/56-the-shack-continues-at-1-on-the-ny-times-best-seller-list.html.
2. Warren B. Smith, Deceived on Purpose (Mountain Stream Press, Magalia, CA), p. 32 citing from As Above, So Below, p. xi.
3. Benjamin Crème, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom (London, England: The Tara Press, 1980), p. 88.
4. Alice Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ (New York, New York: Lucis Publishing Company), p. 88.
5. Robert Schuller, Hour of Power, November 9, 2003.
6. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), p. 88.
7. Saddleback Foundations Participants Guide, p. 46.
8. William P. Young, The Shack (Newbury Park, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.
9. Harry Ironside, (quoted in The Berean Call newsletter, April 2008).
10. William P. Young, The Shack, op., cit., p. 129.
11.The Matrix@dragoncourt.net (http://www.dragoncourt.net/06.html).
12. Jennifer Pekich, “Fractal Theory in The Shack” (unpublished article; used with author’s permission), quoting in part from: The Shack, op. cit., p. 129.
13. Referring to Larry DeBruyn. Visit his website at http://guardinghisflock.com.
14. “Fractal Chaos Crashes the Wall between Science and Religion,” http://www.fractalwisdom.com.
15. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, op. cit., p. 248, quoted in: Warren Smith, Deceived on Purpose, op. cit., pp. 108-109.
16. “Fractal Chaos Crashes the Wall Between Science and Religion,” op. cit., quoting Aldous Huxley.
19. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 138.
20. Ibid., p. 112.
21.For a more complete explanation of separation versus oneness see Chapter 9, “The New Age Doctrine of Separation” in False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? by Warren B. Smith.
To order copies of The Shack and Its New Age Leaven, click here.