My local Christian bookstore: Leaping from one great heresy to another.

RelaxOne expects to see Osteen, Warren, Jakes, Meyers, Bell, Driscoll, and Schuller on the shelves of their local Christian bookstore because they will sell whatever people will buy (regardless if it’s damaging to the soul, detrimental to the Christian’s walk or out right heretical). But I was shocked to discover what my local “Christian” bookstore was selling now .

I walked into the bookstore and (once I passed all the Jesus trinkets) lo and behold staring at me from the bookshelf was none other than The Shack. This tome of doctrines of demons was prominently displayed eye-level in the number one spot on the best seller’s bookshelf.

This, if you recall, is the same bookstore I previously posted about in regards to the owner’s reasons for selling books steeped in rank heresy. In that post (you can read it here) I asked the question if Christian bookstore owners are responsible for what they sell? In a post prior to that on the same topic I inquired of whether or not the readers of DefCon support their local Christian bookstore? You can read it here.

There is absolutely no excuse (other than the desire to make money) for any supposedly Christian bookstore to sell The Shack. And claiming ignorance will not suffice.

For those wondering what the stink about The Shack is all about, allow me to quote a description of the book from the January 2009 Writer’s Digest magazine (a secular periodical) who wrote a favorable piece on William Young’s book:

In Young’s story, Jesus is a dark-skinned Middle Eastern Jewish man who thwarts Mack’s expectation of a hunky blonde Jesus. God isn’t a white-haired wizard figure, but rather a matronly black woman who calls herself “Papa” in an attempt to challenge Mack’s preconceived notions. The Holy Spirit is a transparent creature named Sarayu who can’t be seen directly.

What business does a “Christian” bookstore have selling this rank heresy?

30 thoughts on “My local Christian bookstore: Leaping from one great heresy to another.

  1. Dear Dana:

    Thanks for stopping by.

    The problem at hand is not Jesus’ skin color, His nation or origin, or His Jewish descent (these are all acceptable to any student of the Bible).

    The issue with The Shack is its depiction of God being “a matronly black woman who calls herself ‘Papa’” and “The Holy Spirit is a transparent creature named Sarayu.

    This is an issue to any student of the Bible because it is heresy.

    – The Pilgrim


  2. Dana asked: You mean Jesus WASN’T a dark-skinned, Middle-Eastern, Jewish man??

    “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I The Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My Commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-5) This commandment extends to the thoughts of our minds, not just to physical objects.

    But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) The One True and Living God of the Holy Bible isn’t concerned with melanin levels, he’s concerned with desperately sinful hearts.

    Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. (2 Cor. 5:16) Jesus Christ’s physical appearance during His incarnation is never once described in the scriptures. Surely if this were important to Him the One True and Living God of the Holy Bible would not have omitted the information.

    “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2) The only reference to Christ in the flesh is Isaiah’s prophecy declaring that Messiah would be physically undesirable.

    Since it is the clear and consistent teaching of inspired scripture that the One True and Living God of the Holy Bible cares nothing about outward human appearances, and that He is no respecter of persons, and given the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ came to seek and save sinners from every kingdom, tribe, tongue, and nation perhaps our time would be better spent looking to His Word than imagining how He might have looked.

    Yet happily the Bible isn’t completely silent on the subject of granting us glimpses of His glorified appearance in majesty. For example the holy prophet of God Isaiah was utterly mortified by his awareness of his own repulsive sinfulness when given a vision of the pre-incarnate Christ:

    In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:1-5)

    Likewise he holy prophet Ezekiel was also granted a glorious vision of the pre-incarnate Christ:

    Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man. Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him. As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking. (Ezekiel 1:26-28)

    And finally the blessed Apostle John, the beloved Apostle who lived and walked with the Lord during His earthly ministry, who laid his head on Christ’s bosom while reclining at supper; the Apostle to whom the Lord lovingly gave charge of His own mother as He hung bleeding and dying in agony upon the cross – this John whom was so well acquainted with Jesus Christ fell as a dead man on his face when confronted with a vision of the risen, glorified King of Kings and Lord of Lords:

    I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. (Revelation 1:10-18)

    And the most amazing part is that He’s returning to gather His own, and to righteously execute judgment upon His enemies!

    Then I saw heaven standing open, and there was a white horse! Its rider is named Faithful and True. He administers justice and wages war righteously. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many royal crowns. He has a name written on him that nobody knows except himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God. The armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, follow him on white horses. A sharp sword comes out of his mouth to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod and tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and his thigh he has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11-16)

    Are you ready to meet Him face to face?

    In Christ,


  3. Again an excellent post. Thank you.
    In Australia our “Christian” bookshops are obviously similar and have no qualms in selling what is rank heresy for the sake of $$$.

    It is posts like these, among others, that lead to DefCon just moments ago being being awarded “The Champion Website Award” over at The Narrow Way.



  4. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. “Christian Book Stores” have been selling worldly stuff for years. sigh A dear friend of mine used to own a couple or three Christian stores and people who shopped there didn’t understand why he did not carry some of the heresy they were accustomed to seeing. Highway construction put him out of business before the Great Apostasy had a chance.


  5. There is a bigger issue here: some christian brothers and sisters are so thirsty, they’ll drink dirty water.

    Why is that? I wonder whether its because the churches aren’t teaching good biblical theology, but just giving people the equivilant of ‘bubble-gum’ every week, or worse, trying to make them ‘religious’ by external behaviour.

    These do not satisfy, as we know – so some untaught christians are scrabbling around trying to feed themselves. Unfortunately, the Christian Bookstores are not very discriminating and perhaps our brothers and sisters think that anything they buy will do them good.

    I know of one case where a lovely christian man, who was dying, read The Shack, enjoyed it, recommended it to all his church friends and then died…. So the whole church is now reading it, partly because he recommended it and everyone loved him. It breaks my heart…..

    I think this is symptomatic of a very ill church. Ultimately, church leaders that have not fed/protected/warned their flock will have to answer to Jesus.


  6. This is something I’ve had a real problem with for a long time. My local Christian bookstore has bestsellers, erroneous or heretical books in the most prominent spots while you have to hunt down any books on doctrine, Bible study and the evangelism section is pitifully small indeed.

    I once wanted to work in such a bookshop but I couldn’t stomach the idea of letting someone buy “Good Morning Holy Spirit” without saying why it’s a bad idea.


  7. Good post, Pilgrim. It seems like going into a Christian bookstore, or even a church for that matter, is like going into a “spiritual minefield” as I call it. It’s actually one of the things that has caused me grave concern for those who are undiscerning. I believe there’s already a problem of what I call “Biblical illiteracy” (that professing Christians don’t know their Bibles). But, as a close friend and dear brother-in-Christ told me just a few minutes ago, an increasing number churches are like “Sunday clubs” to begin with.


  8. Here’s a video for C28 bookstore that I just found so much wrong with. Pay attention to the girl wearing the “I heart JC” shirt. If how she is wearing that shirt doesn’t tempt men who see that then I don’t know what to say. (I am sure this will have to be moderated and I am fine with that. Would rather you all see what it is about.)


  9. David,

    Your comment about that one young woman is on target. The Lord has spoken: “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
    In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;”

    The rock concert scene struck me – they slogan is “Not of this world” and they are very worldly in how they communicate it.

    Now I am IN FAVOR of PROPER messaging on some clothing, bumper stickers on cars, etc. I have reflective decals on my motorcycle that say “Fear God!”, for example. These can prompt people to ask questions that we are to be ready to answer.

    But no saint of the living Lord should be worldly in communicating anything of Him. (That’s not a screed against technology – being worldly is a cultural value statement, not related to technology – such as the Internet.)


  10. Manfred~

    I agree about the proper messaging. I have a sticker that has Psalm 43:10 on it on my car. Have been asked a few times about it. (The rock concert scene got me also. Was wondering what the letters were saying).

    As someone who has struggled with sexual sins, seeing what the young lady was wearing would never have been good for someone like me to go in there and see it. I had to cover my eyes after that first glimpse of her in that video.

    One thing that got me is when she said that she got the man, just out of prison who said he wanted to be right with Christ, to say the “sinners prayer”, gave him a Bible, and now has him attending the Church she attends. If she gave him the sinners prayer like what Todd Friel commented about in the 10 reasons post then I worry for that man.


  11. David,

    A live male human who has struggled with sexual sin? Show me a man who hasn’t and I’ll show you a liar. My story was broadcast on the 700 Club about 10 years ago – before I knew much about those people or reformed theology 🙂

    Yeah – that comment about the “sinner’s prayer” stuck in my craw as well. I went through about 5 years of discussions with the pastors of my former church about such man-centered practices. My wife and I praise the Lord for moving us to our new church. Not a week goes by that we aren’t convicted of sin and humbled by the grace of the Lord Jesus.


  12. LOL don’t get me start on The 700 Club. I gave money to them with not knowing too much about them. It was just a “well what they are doing sounds good” kind of deal. After doing more research on what Robertson believes, I knew I could no longer support them.

    I am in the process of finding a new Church. I live in a town of about 13,000 in Oregon and it has been tough. The Church I had been attending associates themselves with Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill. I asked the Pastor what he thought about the things Driscoll has said from the pulpit and he saw nothing wrong with it. Just saw it as reaching the Seattle culture. That’s when I knew I had to get out of there. So right now my Sundays are spending time outdoors and indoors also in prayer and in the Word.


  13. We only need to look into the mirror at ourselves if we are to blame Christian bookstores for some of the content in the stores. This is not to say that the product is or is not argument on that front proves to be pointless as any and all can make claims as to why it should or should not be there shelf and all, even those who we say are heretics will use scripture to support their reasons for stocking the product others deem unacceptable.

    Scripture has consistently been used to defend all types of barbaric and despicable acts, later to be proven incorrect.

    If more evangelical Christians would have supported their local Christian Bookstore 10 years ago, rather than going on line and shopping amazon, barnes and nobles and other companies to save a few books, maybe so many would not have closed or would have made the decisions that you deem as heretical. Have you checked your local online store to see what they are selling and yet you would have no problem giving them your money in the name of saving yourself a couple of bucks!

    It is much easier to write about the store in your area than it is to go in and be a catalyst for change in that store. Maybe it would require more of your time and much more of your Christian love and compassion.


  14. Dear Kingdom Retail Solutions:

    Thank you for your comment and I will attempt to address your points below.

    You said, “Scripture has consistently been used to defend all types of barbaric and despicable acts, later to be proven incorrect.”

    This is true. But are you saying the problem is with the Scripture or man? You failed to clarify that it was the misuse of Scripture that has contributed to barbaric and despicable acts. This is why it is so vitally important to expose and stop the false teachings of false teachers from spreading whenever and wherever we can. And in this particular case, it’s the Christian bookstores that are allowing themselves to be the conduit for the spreading of heretical, soul-damning doctrines of demons.

    You said, “If more evangelical Christians would have supported their local Christian Bookstore 10 years ago, rather than going on line and shopping amazon, barnes and nobles and other companies to save a few books, maybe so many would not have closed or would have made the decisions that you deem as heretical.”

    So according to your argument, prior to 1999 Christian bookstores never sold anything from false teachers and they never lined their walls with demeaning little Jesus trinkets that trivialized the Savior of the world.

    I think you know that this is not true. Unless of course your definition of false teachers and heretical doctrines does not include the vast majority of what the Bible would condemn as such. And based on your comment, I get that feeling that that’s the case. But for the rest of us, we know very well that such wolves as Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Robert Schuller and the likes adorned many a Christian bookstore shelf prior to 1999.

    Secondly, to argue that it was because Christians purchased their books elsewhere other than in brick and mortar stores, that this somehow forced those stores to stock their shelves with every false teaching and passing fad is a little disingenuous. It is a very weak argument to blame others for the active participation of bookstores selling such titles as The Shack. When these sellers of false doctrine stand before God and have to give an account as to why they advanced the kingdom of darkness with the products they sold, their simple finger pointing to those who bought books on Amazon is going to suffice?

    You said, “Have you checked your local online store to see what they are selling and yet you would have no problem giving them your money in the name of saving yourself a couple of bucks!”

    As a matter of fact I have. I even provide a few links to online Christian bookstores (to the right of this page) which are sound in their doctrine and only sell Christian books, not anything and everything with the label “Christian” smacked on it (and some that’s not even trying to pass as Christian like The Shack). I even dropped one bookstore that I used to endorse, link to, and even purchased from because of a book my wife discovered they were selling. I published a post about it here.

    You said, “It is much easier to write about the store in your area than it is to go in and be a catalyst for change in that store. Maybe it would require more of your time and much more of your Christian love and compassion.”

    You’re painting with a pretty broad brush. It is much easier to write a negative (and even condescending) comment about those who write about a store in their area that’s selling books that–if a reader takes to heart the teaching contained within–will potentially shipwreck their faith and cause them to be cast into Hell, than it is to examine what we are saying here and reconsider selling these types of books.

    Jesus and the Apostles were serious about false teachers and their damnable teachings. They gave many warnings and admonitions, most of which is lost on the vast majority of Christians in America who think God is only love (the mushy gushy kind) and whose favorite verse is “Judge not” (wrested from its intended context of course).

    I encourage you to take a moment and read the post Are Christian Bookstore Owners Responsible For What They Sell? In this post I relate a conversation that I had with a bookstore owner (what you hastily assumed in your comment was not done). You will see that your hope of me being a catalyst for change fell on deaf ears. And furthermore, if you’re admitting there needs to be a catalyst for change in these places, are you not conceding that these bookstores are in error . . . necessitating the need for a change? If so, why are you defending them?

    I see (based on the link to your business) that you have a vested interest in Christian bookstores. I ask that you seriously reevaluate your position in this matter and ask if your business is causing you to compromise when it comes to truth and the integrity of the pure, unadulterated Word of God.

    When you have a book like The Shack teaching that God is a woman who calls herself Papa, and you have more of an issue with those who call foul than you do with the book being sold in what claims to be a “Christian” bookstore, I have to seriously question your loyalty to the Savior.

    I also find it disappointing to try to couch your objections in the claim that somehow one who speaks out about this stuff is not loving or compassionate. I strongly encourage you to take this simple six-question test to gauge whether or not you’re loving.

    In conclusion, I have no problem with these bookstores selling The Shack, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Rob Bell, Joyce Meyer, and any other strange wind of doctrine that comes down the pike. All I ask is that they quit advertising falsely that they’re a “Christian” bookstore. You cannot sell doctrines antithetical to the Christian faith and still retain the title “Christian.” It’s oxymoronic.

    You see, when we set out to intermingle the Kingdom of God with our Retail businesses, and we lose sight of Who it is that truly gives and takes away, our two masters quickly come into conflict and we end up serving one of them . . . and it’s usually not the eternal God, but the temporal pocketbook.

    – The Pilgrim


  15. I just finished reading The Shack (picked it up at a Barnes & Noble). I loved it so much I was curious what other people thought about it.

    Stupid me. I forgot how much Christians bicker with each other. How semantics are used passive- aggresively. How “professional Christians” don’t judge, but simply “point out” and regurgitate Scriputre as if The Living Word was meant to be memorized and not applied.

    I know better. I’m a “baby Christian”. I shouldn’t join the debate over this book. Just like my 13 year old shouldn’t have explained to me the pitfalls of socialized health care. His mom and I are employed by the U.S. government (30 plus years combined). I wonder if he will think the same once he moves out. I’ll ask him after he graduates college and falls off my insurance plan.


    Oops. Add an “s” to aggressively and a “t” to Scripture. I hate typos.


  16. Dear Kady:

    Can you please provide me with Scriptural support for The Shack’s assertion that God is a “matronly black woman who calls herself ‘Papa’?”

    And as one who professes to be a Christian, could you also provide any Scriptural examples where any Christians in the early Church viewed God as a “matronly black woman who calls herself ‘Papa’?”

    One would think that in order to call yourself “Christian” you would have to believe in the essential Christian doctrines.

    Mormons would doubt anyone who claimed to be a Mormon who thought Joseph Smith was a “matronly black woman who calls herself ‘Papa’.

    And Muslims would laugh at (or perhaps kill) anyone who claimed to be a Muslim who believed Allah or even Mohammed was a “matronly black woman who calls herself ‘Papa’?”

    – The Pilgrim


  17. Kady,

    Can you also show, from Scripture, that God does not punish sin (a claim made by “Papa”)?

    Because I can show you that HE (not “She”) does indeed punish sin.


  18. The Shack is the ultimate definition of the word “heretical” and is a very blasphemous book too. I don’t have to have read the book (like some friends of mine say they have done and say I need to do to judge it) to know that it is a heretical book.

    I do have a question for everyone though….

    I have books by Bill Hybels and other off the deep end authors and am looking at getting rid of those books but don’t want to give them out to where someone can get them and fall into their false teachings. Any suggestions?


  19. To David:
    Suggestion 1: If you have the room, stamp it as heretical, store it, and use it (along with other heretical works), as documentation the next time an honest person wants to know what’s wrong with the guy’s teachings.

    Suggestion 2: Tear the cover off, and send it to the local landfill along with the other trash. It will biodegrade over time.


  20. David,

    I have a copy (it was given to me) of “Purpose Driven Life” that I keep for reference, as in DavidW’s first suggestion. I also have “The Prayer of Jabez” and a couple other best selling bits of trash that claim to be Christian.

    I did, however, recently rid my home of the “Left Behind” series – gag.


  21. David,

    “Any suggestions?”

    Toss ’em:

    Acts 16:17-20
    “17And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.

    “19And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”

    Same thing as if you had Harry Potter books, and then became saved – toss ’em!

    – Jeff H


  22. Keep them in the trunk of your car. If an open-air preaching revival breaks out, you can make sort of a little platform to stand on, so you can see the preacher from the back of the crowd.


  23. Burn em David, burn em lest they fall into someone else’s hands. Or, keep them in a separate location for reference as Manfred noted.

    As far as Christian bookstores, most are CBINOs – Christian bookstores in name only.


  24. To David:
    I must disclaimer my previous suggestion 1 with the understanding that any and all heretical books and materials are dangerous. If the inquisitive, undiscerning person got ahold of it, they could be led astray. Spiritual warfare is dangerous work. I wholeheartedly agree with Jeff H that those books and materials which instruct on forbidden practices should be destroyed. I don’t see where we need to document that kind of Satanic stuff in detail for anyone. Any book that you are uncomfortable having around should be destroyed. But as far as keeping some stuff around to warn others about, I believe that should be according to prayer, the Lord’s direction, one’s spiritual maturity, one’s spiritual gifts, and what your ministry is. I’ve known lots of pastors, and discernment ministry guys, who keep certain books on file for the express purpose of quoting the actual statements from these guys, to show how they clearly deviate from Scripture, and thus warn the gullible and ignorant so they do not fall prey. The purpose being, of course, to defend the truth of God’s word and expose error. That said, there is also a simpler way of just lifting some quotes (in context and with page references) to a file along with Scripture to the contrary, and recording it that way, then destroying the book.


  25. Thank you everyone. I decided to store the books away to use as evidence of their false teachings against people who defend them. I won’t open them up except for the very reasons to prove they are heretics. Besides, with having Bill Hybel’s “Volunteer Revolution” and Richard Foster’s “Celebrations of Discipline”, I will have plenty of stuff to show from them that is heresy.

    I wish I had known then what I know now about these authors when I got these books while attending a so-called Christian College over in Central Oregon.


  26. The subject of reading material from false religions is one that must be entered into prayerfully. Many of us here at DefCon understand what we do about Mormonism or JW’s or Catholicism from reading their own materials (or even being an ex-member). In fact, on my Internet Explorer I have an entire “Favorites” folder filled with Mormon websites. Another with JW websites, one with Catholic, etc. I do this for one simple reason: so that when I talk to such an one I can know what they actually believe and can quote their own sources. We are often accused of simply believing “anti-Mormon” or “anti-Catholic” websites. So to quote someone they respect is much more effective. That said, it is not something I would recommend to everybody, especially the weak or immature believer.

    When communicating with, say, a Mormon, you don’t want to start out by quoting Sandra Tanner. You don’t want to start a conversation with a Catholic by quoting James White (that would actually bring about an end to that conversation). In these kinds of conversations, it is better to use their own material, or at least material from people who are sympathetic to their beliefs (such as Jeff Lindsey for Mormons or Tim Staples for Catholics).


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