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Book Review: The Shack

When William Paul Young’s novel The Shack was published, I managed to avoid reading the book and participating in the controversy surrounding it.

For a long time, I did not get around to reading the book, but I did keep tabs on the internet discussion of Young’s book, his theology and the debate between those who saw it as heresy and those who saw it as reflective of Jesus and His love for His kids.

Eventually, I read that book for myself.

And, what has stuck with me is the image of God’s faithful, unending, persistent love for His own.

The story is told from the perspective of Mac, a man who tragically lost his daughter after she was kidnapped by a serial killer. He finds himself going back to the shack where his little girl was murdered…and that is where he begins to heal from the tragedy and learn about the heart of God.

I cannot understand what it is like to lose a child (and I hope I never do!). But I understand what it is like to feel alienated…from God as well as others.

I emailed the following to the author some time ago:

Your book made me tear up a few times, because through it I felt as if God really did care for me, care about me.

I long to hear “Brian, I AM especially fond of you.”

His voice, as I’m sure you know, can seem faint against the screaming backdrop of skeptics and those who would demean and diminish you.

When you go out into a cold, cruel world such a word from God, whether from Scripture, or a Christian friend can be invaluable. Like cool, life-giving water to a parched plant.

In that I glimpse what the Kingdom of God is on this earth: the revolution of God on this earth creating glimpses of the world to come.

If this world is a shadow of things to come….and your book a glimpse of the Trinity and the afterlife…I can’t wait to get there. I long for it and hope I make it.

Paul, thank you for this book. May God bless you and your family abundantly.

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  1. March 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Brian,

    I’m glad you read it! It has had a very similar impact on me, and I thank God for his witness in this book. Not everything is perfect, but the main thing is the main thing – God’s love for us.

  2. TonyP.
    March 1, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    I have seen it a few times but have always avoided it. Seems that I may have to give it a fair shake. THanks for the review Brian.

  3. BrianD
    March 2, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Guys, thanks for your kind words.

    Scott, I struggle with Young’s presentation of God. I still see the stern father who’s ready to punish you for the slightest transgression, and make you make amends somehow (plus be sincerely sorry) in order to receive his forgiveness. Maybe we can talk about that this week.

    Tony P., I’d encourage you to read it…get it from the library if you don’t want to spend any money. Then you can blog about it and get people mad at you đŸ™‚

  4. March 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Brian,
    I just finished re-reading The Shack for a class in seminary and it brought me to tears over and over again, how Young presents God using the worst events in our life for His redemptive purposes. Blows me away when I think of it. Like you, there were some things I could have done without but as far as story-telling goes and Young’s ability to get his reader to understand that God does everything for us out of His love, I thought he did a great job.

  5. Scott
    March 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Brian, I struggle with that too, brother. Slowly, I’m starting to grasp that the god (lower g) that is always angry at us and demanding a perfect performance is a religious construct, made by our own wounded corrupt minds in response to trying to manage life for ourselves. Sometimes it’s imposed upon us from others too, which is where religious abuse often happens. The God of the Shack is not a perfect representation of the God of the Bible, but it gets right the main points – that he’s all about love and relationship, and that it’s all about Jesus.

    The main power of the book for me is the imagery of it all – God meets Mac at the core, symbolic source of his pain – The Shack. The very source of Mac’s pain and anger is transformed into an intimate garden of fellowship with a loving God. So many people miss that.

  6. James
    March 29, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Dear friends,
    You can’t fix real pain with fictionl This book was dead to me whenYoung introduced the Father and The Holy Ghost as women, and Jesus as a wimpy “man” who can walk on water but can’t even catch a trout three feet below him. Later “papa” shows up as a “man” (a hippy with a pony tail) who loves to kiss Jesus on the lips. This gender confused god is a blaspheme against God’s true nature and revelation of Himself. No work of fiction is worth being slobbered on by a gender confused spirit guiide. Young’s theology is deadly poison.

  7. James
    March 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    My point is, Mack don’t exist. Missy don’t exist. The shack don’t exist! — all that is left is Young’s theology, which is: Universalism, Antinomianism, Anti-holliness, goddess worship. A god of no terms, no expectations, no hell (except a kind of purgatory of Her love which will “burn every vestige of the corruption out”). A god who promotes despising dominions. A god who gets Her kicks from listening to Bruce Cockburn sing, “if I Had A Rocket Launcher.” This god teaches that nothing is truly evil.– hence the lack of the mention of Satan in the book. This god teaches that She only wants to get to know you not change you.– to entice you to join “their circle”. Any religion will do. Young’s Jesus does not want you to be a Chiristian. Your choice of “paths” don’t matter! He will come down any road to find you, or your children, the perp, Jack the Ripper. If you couldn’t send one of your children to “eternal hell” ,even if they committed a heinous crime; why should you think the ‘Father’ should send one of his human sons there? The Holy Bible is mocked by this peice of f-i-c-t-i-o-n. It is not just harmlessly latitudinarian, but turns grace into “lasciviousness” [un-bridled living].
    What part of, “…God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” do you not understand? What makes you think you need a new Bible based on fiction? Don’t read “The Shack,” read God’s Word.
    No wonder today’s Christianettes love this stuff. God just like me, no requirements, no responsibility, no godliness, no walking after the Spirit, just crass carnality. hey! Look who god is!–the man (or woman) in the mirror.

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  1. March 2, 2011 at 2:56 am
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