By Jennifer P.
Used with permission.
I finished reading my copy of William P. Young’s, The Shack and had something happen that I want to share for those who are interested. While reading The Shack, I rented a movie that came out last year that also, like The Shack, involved some controversy. The movie was called, The Seeker, and it’s based on a book titled, The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper. The Seeker was said to have New Age undertones and was also, like The Shack, being marketed to Christians. Because of my interest in cults and also in the New Age movement, I decided to watch the movie to see if indeed the claims were accurate. This is where it began to get interesting.
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 won’t go into the plot too much but what I will say is, in 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. Later on that day I remembered where I had heard it … The Shack.
Beginning in Ch. 9 in, The Shack, which is titled, “A Long Time Ago in a Garden Far, Far Away,” we read about how the character Sarayu (who represents the Holy Spirit) has created a garden, and we learn on page 129, 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.”  Then we continue reading through the rest of Ch. 9, which is filled with ideas that are not only relativistic, but are also panentheistic, which means that God is in all.
After noticing that “fractals” were mentioned in, The Seeker, and in The Shack, and remembering that the movie and the book were touted as having New Age undertones, I decided the common term found in both was a coincidence that needed to be further explored. I began to read many critiques about, The Shack, to see if any of them mentioned the significance of the word “fractal,” only to find that none of them approached the subject. So I decided to do a search on the Internet using the words “fractal” and “New Age”… bingo!!!
What I discovered was a widely held belief in New Age philosophy known as “Fractal Theory” also known as “Chaos Theory.” There is a phrase spoken among New Agers in which they say to one another, “As above, so below.” In the New Age movement, “Fractal Theory” or “As above, so below,” means that macrocosmos is the same as microcosmos. The universe is the same as God, God is the same as man, man is the same as the cell, the cell is the same as the atom … and so on.  New Agers claim that “Fractal Theory,” or the phrase “As above, so below,” comes from something known as the Emerald Tablet, and embraces the entire system of traditional and modern magic. According to New Age philosophy, the phrase “As above, so below” was inscribed on the tablet in cryptic wording by someone known as Hermes Trismegistus. The Emerald Tablet is one of the most revered magical documents in Western Occultism. 
So, how do “fractals” or “Fractal Theory” play into the phrase “As above, so below?” In New Age thought, “Fractal Theory” and “As above, so below” are synonymous. They attempt to explain the origin and meaning of the universe. “Fractal Theory” says that in looking at the big picture of nature, we see an evolution of consciousness from small systems of consciousness, to progressively larger and more complex systems of consciousness. Basically, conscious beings are like fractals evolving to ever greater scales of magnitude. Along the way, we follow the same basic patterns, but at each stage of consciousness we find unique variations in this evolving process. These variations can easily lead to confusing chaos if you don’t know the underlying patterns, or “fractals,” which are the basic laws. New Agers say if you know what to look for, which are the key fractal structures, it’s analogous to looking beyond millions of individual trees and realizing that what you really see is a forest … the unity behind the great diversity of nature.  To sum it up, “God” is both our origin and our aim, thus the core belief of the New Age movement which says we need to have a self-realization that we are all gods.
After doing more Internet searches to get a handle on the term “fractal” (I also ran searches with the term fractal combined with popular New Agers such as Eckhart Tolle, Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Alice Bailey), I came to realize that “fractals” and “Fractal Theory” are not only a core belief in New Age thought, but are the very foundation of what defines the New Age which states that we are evolving from the Age of Pisces, represented by a mess or a chaos, and are moving into the Age of Aquarius, represented by the “fractal” or the self-realization that we are all gods. The term “fractal” was coined by Polish mathematician, Benoit Mandelbrot.  But, as is typical of the New Age movement, they latched onto Mandelbrot’s theory, spiritualized it, and then made it their own. 
Now for those of you who have a copy of The Shack, turn to page 138 and read where the character, Sarayu, tells the main character, Mack, that the garden which Mack described as “the mess,” is his very soul. Sarayu proclaims to Mack, “This mess is you! Together, you and I, we have been working with a purpose in your heart. And it is wild and beautiful and perfectly in process (evolving). To you it seems like a mess, but to me, I see a perfect pattern emerging and growing alive – a living fractal.” 
Another interesting fact about the New Age phrase, “As above, so below,” which is synonymous with the term, “fractal,” in New Age thought, is that it’s also used in the popular paraphrase of the bible known as, The Message, written by Eugene Peterson. In, The Message, Matthew 6:9-10 where we find the Lord’s prayer, it reads, “Our Father in heaven, reveal who you are. Set the world right, do what’s best – As above, so below.”  Eugene Peterson’s recommendation of The Shack, is found not only on its front cover, but also on it’s first page beneath where it says, “What others are saying about The Shack.” Peterson’s comment states, “When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize the result is a novel on the order of The Shack.”  I disagree and would suggest that what’s being “cross-fertilized” is a biblical world view with a New Age world view.
After studying New Age philosophy by breaking out my old copy of Kingdom of the Cults, by Dr. Walter Martin , going to the library to check out a New Age book titled, As Above So Below, by Ronald S. Miller, and continuing to scour New Age sites on the Internet, it became obvious to me that The Shack is filled with New Age thought and Eastern mysticism. I did not come to this conclusion by reading critiques, but found it by doing my own homework. It is my opinion that somewhere along the way, William P. Young has been deeply influenced by New Age thought. This naturally leads to my next question … is William P. Young a New Ager, or is he himself a Christian who’s been deceived? I have no way of knowing the answer to that question, but what I do know is, after all of my studies, and listening online to William P. Young speak at Mariner’s Church , along with reading The Shack for myself, what Mr. Young teaches when he speaks, and the message his book conveys, is not orthodox biblical teaching, but in fact is New Age thought and Eastern mysticism interspersed with some Christian terms.
My encouragement to everyone is to listen to the warnings of the late Dr. Walter Martin. His call to Christians was to know the word of God so we would be able to spot counterfeits.  Walter Martin’s heart was so heavy because of the lack of discernment within the Christian church. His call to Christians took place back in the 1980s. His fear was since the New Age had already infiltrated our society through books, seminars, and business philosophy, that it was only a matter of time before it would infiltrate the church. Dr. Martin hit the nail on the head and was right to sound the alarm. Now 25 years later, the New Age has indeed infiltrated the church, so much so that what is orthodox Christianity, and what is New Age philosophy, is becoming blurred. It is so important that we heed Hebrews 4:12-13:
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
Only by studying and knowing God’s word, which is truth, can we as Christians gain biblical discernment to spot the counterfeits.
 The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media 2007, p. 129.
 As Above So Below-Paths to Spiritual Renewal in Daily Life, Ronald S. Miller & The Editors of New Age Journal, Penguin Putnam, intro. pp. xi-xv.
 The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media 2007, p. 138.
 The Message, Eugene Peterson, paraphrase of Matt. 6:9-10.
 The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media 2007, inside cover.
 Kingdom of the Cults, Dr. Walter Martin, Bethany House 1997, Ch. 11.
The Shack and Its New Age Leaven by Warren B. Smith