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About the Shack Bible Project

My name is John Stonecypher. When I first picked up THE SHACK, my expectations were not particularly high.  In my experience, only the crappiest Christian books make it anywhere near bestseller lists.  I was surprised to find it was a book of unparalleled depth, simplicity, and beauty.  I’d spent the last several years studying ancient (pre-Augustinian) Christian theology, with its emphasis on the dynamic relationality of the Triune persons. And in Paul Young’s book, I found that same theology being played out in an imaginative and playful way that spoke deeply to my heart.  And to my shock and delight, it seems it has spoken to the hearts of millions.

Still, in talking with people about the book, I heard one thing over and over again: “Wow, THE SHACK’s vision of God is awesome!  Too bad it doesn’t sound much like the God of the Bible…”

I got tired of hearing that, so I decided to do something about it.   That ‘something’ is The Shack Bible Project — my way of suggesting that Jesus, Papa and Sarayu are a faithful portrayal of the One whom English-language Bibles call “God.”  By speaking the Scriptures in the language of THE SHACK, I intend to show that the book’s vision of God jives nicely with the Bible’s vision, not to mention the vision of ancient Christianity.

When the early Jesus-followers sat down to write down a summary of the Bible’s message, they produced the ancient ecumenical creeds — documents that don’t have much to say about a faraway solitary pissed-off elderly white dude.  Instead, they speak of a man named Jesus, the one he called Father, and the elusive third one he called Spirit.  The creeds speak of a life of love shared by these three, a life that is transforming the universe by incarnating itself within it.  In other words, when the creeds look at the Bible, they see what The Shack sees.

I think our culture’s way of reading the Bible is skewed.  Our unacknowledged assumptions form a lens which distorts our interpretations of the biblical text.  In The Shack, Paul Young gave us a new lens through which we might see God more clearly.  In The Shack Bible Project, I am trying to read the Bible afresh through that lens.

As I do that, I am seeing wonderful things that I never saw before.  I hope you will find some benefit from my attempt to put what I see into words.


[NOTE: My work here builds on the work of Paul Young (the author of The Shack), but when my writing ends up being crap (Let’s face it, sometimes it does), it is in no way Paul’s fault.  This blog is in no way endorsed by Paul, his book, his publisher, his cousin Frank, or his pet hamster.  The words here are strictly mine, and I bear full responsibility for them when they come out wrong.]


27 Responses

  1. Enjoy reading The Shack version of the Bible. Keep up the good work.

  2. I got the book but I’m scared to read it! I understand a brutal kidnapping & murder of a child occurred & those kinds of things leave indelible wounds on my mind. I did begin reading it at chapter five like you suggested.

    • Cool! You should be fine then. And I’m HOPING you can hear the message of the book, even if it’s distracting for Papa to show up in the form of a woman. If it helps, Papa takes the form of a man about 2/3 of the way through.

    • what you fear is only a 1/3 of the book….the rest of the book is the miracle healing of Papa….

  3. I loved the Shack and like all those other people you got tired of hearing them say…if only God was really like that…I kind of thought the same. In my mind papa was always my God. A loving, kind and caring God. I never much thought of the Holy Spirit to be honest. I loved how she played into the story, so peaceful. I wanted to tell you that I have gotten out my bible (The Life Recovery Bible) and from all of the scriptures you posted I went and studied my bible along with the recovery themes and keeping The Shack in mind and it has opened up a new world for me. Please don’t stop what you are doing. It is a wonderful thing and has brought me closer to Papa!! I can’t wait for your next post, it makes it easier to read the bible this way, otherwise who knows where to start when you don’t know much in the first place! Thank You!!

  4. You and I are kindred spirits more than I realized. I consider myself a student of and follower of Jesus in the way of Celtic spirituality (by way of Patrick, Columcille, Brigid and Hilda), which was all influenced by pre-Augustinian thought, and informed much by the early desert fathers.

  5. If you like the Shack you will love No Mercy. http://prestongillham.com/no-mercy/

  6. […] some very, very mixed things about it.  This morning, I came across a website entitled, “The Shack Bible Project.”  The website’s author claims that The Shack’s portrayal of God is compatible […]

  7. […] I’d spent the last several years studying ancient (pre-Augustinian) Christian theology, with its emphasis on the dynamic relationality of the Triune persons. And in Paul Young’s book, I found that same theology being played out in an imaginative and playful way that spoke deeply to my heart. (Online source) […]

  8. Even during the Apostle Paul’s time, many were teaching false doctrines, so I’m not sure how studying men claiming to be Christians after Paul’s time lends credibility to one’s “ultimate lens” by which we should understand God’s Holy Word. Why use men to understand God when we can simply go to the source? God’s Word makes some serious claims concerning its authority, exclusivity, and sufficiency so why make the writings of a man who, at best, is a christian universalist, i.e. Wm Paul Young, to build a framework for understanding the Book of Truth?

    What you have said above, in essence, is that you are using the same reasoning expressed by “ancient (pre-Augustinian)” “Christians” and Paul Young as a filter or lens by which to understand God’s Word. This is similar to saying I use the commentaries of Stalin to understand the history of the Soviet Union. Why not just go to God’s Word to understand His Word? After all, any born-again believer in Jesus Christ, has the Holy Spirit to teach him. At least that was Jesus’ promise in John 16:13, “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” If this is true and we actually believe that God’s Word is sufficient for all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), then there should be no desire or need to stray to man’s teachings to build or supplement our understanding of God. Jesus said in 1 John 5:20, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”

    Jesus came to give us an understanding of the true and living God. Would it not only stand to reason that Satan’s main desire is to give men a false understanding of the true God, the Creator and Redeemer and coming King?

    Regarding your comment above, “In The Shack, Paul Young gave us a new lens through which we might see God more clearly.” I must simply share Jeremiah 6:16, “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” First of all, Paul Young’s ideas are not new, they as old as the lies to Eve from the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. Secondly, God’s Word never calls us to look for something new, rather the thing which is True! God’s Word is neither old, nor new, rather it is true. And truth will never go out of style.

    Only a clever salesman knows that he must continue to promote the “new” thing if he’s to get people off the old. Unfortunately Satan is the best salesman of them all, and we too often stand in line to receive his “latest and greatest” lie only to find that he is no friend to mankind. He has come to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1Peter 5:8. Only the truth of God’s Word can set men eternally free. (John 8:31-32).

    I would seriously ask you to research The Shack and it’s author more thoroughly, laying your love for mysticism and early “Christians” aside. What harm could there be in this? And, if after searching God’s Word apart from the lens of sinful men, you are lead to the same conclusions, then please take the word “Bible” off this book! At best it is a commentary, not God’s Word. You have all but admitted you have chosen to start with men’s ideas to understand, not God’s Word. Your decisions will have eternal consequences. According to the Scriptures God is not just love, He is also Just, and He will not be mocked. (Isaiah 45:21, John 3:18, Galatians 6:7)

    • AGREED! To claim that Gods Word is not clear enough and week need someone new to explain the Word is a cult. Gods word says thats it is of no private interpretation and that truth is truth. By claiming that we can interpret it ourselves is claiming that we have authority over God and can tell Him what is right. This clearly is not Biblical. We are to submit our opinions and hear what God says! Never does He give us permission to take our own meaning of what He says and create a mockery of it. His Word has always tested and proven 100%accurate and never contradicts itself so we must evaluate if what we think aligns with His Word!

    • If you are working with the belief that you can read the Bible without interpreting it, then I can understand how my project would seem pretty awful to you. May God richly bless you on your walk with Him.

    • You are obviously a religious person – trapped in repeating the “traditions of men which make the word of God of no effect.” I respect your sincere desire to “save” others, but that is not your job… it is God’s.

      Because of your fear of Satan, you reveal your lack of faith in God. You believe that Satan’s deceptions will steal many souls from God, for you have forgotten that “Christ was manifested to destroy the works of the devil.”

      No one’s decisions – except God’s – will have “eternal consequences.” He sent His son to be the savior of the world. Why don’t you believe that He will succeed?

  9. Have you had any contact whatsoever with Mr. Young? Do you know what he thinks about it?
    Just curious.

    • It’s important I’m clear that this project is not endorsed by Paul Young in any way. This is totally my thing, and none of my bone-headedness should get blamed on him.

      That said, I have contacted him about it, and asked if he minded that I was using his words like “Papa” and “Sarayu” and “Shack.” He replied that I should probably check with the publisher who owns the copyright. So yes, he’s aware of all this, but he hasn’t commented on it. Very nice man!

  10. And another thing: Are you planning a complete NT version?

  11. I personally intend to take note of this post, “About the Shack Bible Project |” on my own web page.

    Do you care in case I reallydo it? Thx ,Blanche

  12. No problemo, Blanche. Take note all you want! Peace out, – John

  13. I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but great topic.

    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding
    more. Thanks for magnificent information I was looking
    for this info for my mission.

  14. Hey, thanks homeimprovementtips.co.za. If you want to look into these ideas in some more depth, a good place to start is Baxter Kruger’s THE SHACK REVISITED: http://www.amazon.com/The-Shack-Revisited-There-Going/dp/1455516805

  15. 1 Timothy 1

    3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

    We must be careful to avoid new words and new concepts that are not in the Holy Scriptures, but rather to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). New words tend to lead to new doctrines, myths, and speculation. We have enough work already to be stewards of God’s Word and truth. All that God has had to say concerning His Kingdom and righteousness he has already revealed in His word. There are not nor will there be new doctrines or new teachings.

  16. No matter if some one searches for his required thing, so he/she wishes to be available
    that in detail, thus that thing is maintained over here.

  17. […] It presents a very different Jesus, and a very different Gospel. Even a very different Bible! (see: The Shack Bible Project) Scripture tells us that anyone who deceives the sheep in this way are accursed. (Galatians 1:8 and […]

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