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The Shack by William Paul Young
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May 28, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction

Everyone is buzzing about this book, it is the hot book right now in some circles. I found the story to be well-told and engaging. The author draws us into the pain of the father, Mack, whose youngest daughter is kidnapped and murdered; we experience Mack's pain as he struggles with her loss, with forgiving himself, and eventually with having to forgive the murderer. Just the story alone gives much food for thought on forgiveness.

The controversial aspect of the book is that Mack goes through much of this soul searching as he spends a weekend with God who appears to him as the Father (an African woman called "Papa"), the Son (Jesus, a middle eastern man), and the Holy Spirit (Sarayu, an Asian woman). The author is careful to note that though all three appear in human form, only Jesus has become human flesh (the Word became flesh). It appears the author is attempting to stay true to orthodox trinitarian theology with three persons who share one being. The way they appear is to intentionally shock Mack: he expected God to be a gray-haired white man so he gets a large African woman. If God is going to appear to someone in a fictional story, the appearances in this way do not seem to be heretical.

Overall I think there is good and bad in this book. Those who denounce it as evil should slow down and find the truths in it. On the other hand, those who embrace it as one of the best books ever should also slow down and realize that the Shack's image of God falls short when critiqued in light of Scripture. Think of Isaiah's vision of God in Isaiah 6 and John's vision of the throne room in Revelation 4-5; the majesty and the grandeur of these visions is a long way from the easy-going God in The Shack. That presents a problem for the theology of The Shack: how do we reconcile Papa with the Biblical Father God? God is certainly loving, as the Shack emphasizes, but there is also judgment and awe-inspiring majesty, which there is no hint of in the Shack.

Basically, my opinion is that The Shack is a decent book to read and to drive us to think on forgiveness, reconciliation, God's purpose in the world, evil, and love. Maybe it can help us correct some false images of who God is: the distant, uncaring, almost Deistic deity that many Christians in America seem to believe in. Conversely, we need to realize The Shack offers a skewed version of God more in the image of what humans desire God to be than what Scripture shows God to be.
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message 1: by Ray (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ray Young is presenting a refreshing aspect of God which could heal many who deem Him as an old, insensative, judgmental, mean tyrant with a big stick-divorced from our pain and in some cases, causing it. Despite some awkward sentences and obvious theological loopholes, the work is riveting. I love the message of forgiveness which I believe is a universal problem with most people-save and unsaved alike. It is FICTION- so that covers the many Biblical misinterpretations- and is vastly creative. Young really kicks down our sacred cows in this work. A work of equal value is "A Step Into Deliverance" by Toni Pugh. Its autobiographical content about a pastor's spiritual journey with God is a real page-turner!


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