The graphic artist who helped design the controversial best-selling novel “The Shack” has come forward to express his regret for being a part of the project out of his concern that it contains false doctrine.
“[O]ver 10 years ago, I was captivated by the story and felt honored to be part of the graphic creation of the book. I was so drawn into it, wanting to know the God it portrayed,” Dave Aldrich of Aldrich Design posted to social media on Tuesday. “The Shack’s story wonderfully painted this picture to me of an incredibly knowable and loving God, one full of forgiveness, but without being judgmental.”
He said that the novel led him into reading other authors such as Rob Bell and Brian McLaren, and he found himself at the edge of accepting universalist beliefs before he came to realize the danger.
“I thank the Lord that He pulled me back from that edge,” Aldrich wrote.
And while the graphic designer initially liked how God was portrayed as being non-judgmental and all-loving, he now realizes that because God is love, He must judge sin.
“The fact is that there are two inseparable sides to God. He is both love and judge,” he said.
Aldrich states that he now has “deep regrets” over his personal involvement with and promotion of “The Shack.”
“The movie release of ‘The Shack’ has brought all this back to my mind and I felt the need to apologize to all who I may have led astray by my promoting the book,” he wrote. “I look back and see how little discernment I had. And I regret and apologize also for waiting this long to publicly share this.”
And while some may argue that the book and film are just an imaginary story, Aldrich believes—based on the statements of its author—that the work is simply a means to communicate a message.
“Many will still say that the book was intended as just a work of fiction, but the author himself, William Paul Young, is quoted as saying, ‘The Shack is theology. But it is a theology wrapped in a story,'” Aldrich noted.
As previously reported, “The Shack,” released in 2007, is stated to have sold approximately 20 million copies and has been translated into 39 languages. In 2013, Lionsgate Entertainment obtained the rights to turn the book into a film.
“The Shack” tells the story of a man named Mackenzie “Mack” Phillips who faces a crisis while on a family vacation as his youngest daughter Missy is abducted and presumably killed in an abandoned shack. Years later, the grieving father receives a note from “Papa,” who tells Phillips that it has “been a while” and to meet up at the shack the following weekend.
Reluctantly, Phillips returns to the site, where he meets the Godhead—the Father portrayed as a woman named Papa “Elousia,” who later transforms into an elderly man, the Holy Spirit being a young Asian woman with the Hindu name Sarayu, and Jesus as a Jewish carpenter. Together, they seek to help Phillips deal with his faltering faith and to learn to forgive.
A number of groups have published reports pointing to concerning material in the novel.
“My words are alive and dynamic-full of life and possibility; yours are dead, full of law and fear and judgment. That is why you won’t find the word responsibility in the Scriptures,” God the Father tells Phillips in the story (page 205).
“Honey, I’ve never placed an expectation on you or anyone else. The idea behind expectations requires that someone does not know the future or outcome and is trying to control behavior to get the desired result,” Papa reiterates (page 206).
“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 or death to describe the absence of life. Both evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to light and good; they do not have any actual existence,” God the Father outlines (page 136).
“I have followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous. Some are bankers and bookies, Americans and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into My beloved,” Jesus tells Phillips (page 182).
“In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against Me, but only some choose relationship,” Papa states (page 225).
Nonetheless, as previously reported, more than 1,000 faith leaders have endorsed the new movie release based on the novel, according to the resource site for “The Shack,” which provides both written and recorded endorsements from many well-known entities.
Leaders and/or representatives of The Salvation Army, Young Life, Family Christian Stores, The Christian Post, K-LOVE, CBN and TBN, as well as celebrities such as Michael W. Smith, Joel Houston of Hillsong United, Gospel artist Tasha Cobbs and Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” show have backed the film.
The movie has grossed $54 million at the box office to date.