I really didn’t want to read The Shack. I only have so much time in a day.

But a number of people have asked me to make some comments on the popular novel by William Young. And because church members eventually started asking, I decided to give it a go.

I have heard people rave about this book (in a good way), and I have heard others rave about this book (in a bad way). Some described it as the best book in the past 50 years. Others described it as the worst heresy to ever hit the Christian bookstore.

In the end, I found that The Shack wasn’t nearly as good as some had said, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as others had charged. It has everything positive about contemporary evangelicalism, and yet it has all the drawbacks of current evangelical expression too.

Before we get started, let me deal with (by far) the biggest objection I have gotten when offering a critique of The Shack

 

“Don’t you realize that The Shack is fiction?”

Some Shack enthusiasts dismiss the very notion that one can critique fiction. When theologians and pastors critique the portrayal of God in this book, Shack fans quickly revert to the idea that one can’t properly judge fiction. Dan Brown has made a similar case regarding the factual errors of The Da Vinci Code. (I am not putting Brown and Young’s books in the same category, only pointing out that both authors have questioned the legitimacy of critiquing fiction.)

Of course, no one is suggesting that The Shack and The Da Vinci Code are works of non-fiction. However, fiction forms us. Violent entertainment can be labeled “fantasy.” The same with romance novels. But we would be silly to think that this type of fictitious entertainment has no formative influence upon us. Fictional stories can exert a great deal of influence on how we see the world.

Fiction is not off limits from critique. Brown speaks of actual historical figures. Young delivers a memorable portrayal of true Persons (the Trinity). When you deal with non-fictional characters, you inevitably open yourself up to criticism.

Let’s say you meet an author who wants to use your grandparents as the main characters in a novel. The author tells you that the narrative will be fictional, but that your grandparents will have the starring roles. Sounds great! you think.

But when the manuscript arrives in your hands, you discover that the story does not accurately represent the personalities of your grandparents. The relationship between them is all wrong too. Grandma berates Grandpa. Early on, they run off and elope (which is totally out of character). At one point, they contemplate divorce.

When you complain, the author responds, “Remember? I told you it would be fictional.”

“Yes,” you say, somewhat exasperated, “I knew the story would be fictional, but I thought you would get my grandparents right. The grandparents in your story aren’t anything like my grandparents.”

“Who cares?” the author responds. “It’s a work of fiction.”

“Well, I care,” you say, “because people will put down this book thinking that my grandparents were like the way you portrayed them.”

My biggest problem with The Shack is its portrayal of God. I understand that the book is a work of fiction, not a theological treatise, and therefore should be treated as fiction. But the main characters are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are actual Persons. To portray God in a manner inconsistent with his revelation to us in Scripture (and primarily in Jesus) is to misrepresent living Persons.

When people put down The Shack, they will not have a better understanding of the Trinity (despite the glowing blurbs on the back cover). They will probably have a more distorted view of God in three Persons.

The Positives

To be fair, I found a few things I liked about The Shack. Here are the positives:

  1. The story doesn’t sugarcoat evil. It takes sin and suffering seriously.
  2. The book focuses upon God meeting us in our suffering. God is not absent in our pain. When someone is in the deepest of grief and despair, God often makes himself most present.
  3. The book shows the need for a personal encounter with God. Christianity is about communion with a personal, relational God.

Now to the negative aspects of The Shack:

A very low view of the institutional church.

Jesus claims to not recognize the institution of the church as something he started. I understand the intense pain of being burned by a local church. Some readers will resonate with Young’s description of local church imperfections. But evangelicalism is already plagued with solutions to suffering that emphasize “me and Jesus” or “me and God.” We need community! The Shack compounds the problems of individualism and makes the institutional church unnecessary and irrelevant.

A low view of the Bible.

The Shack so emphasizes the personal encounter with God in Mack’s mystical experience that the Scriptures become irrelevant. The Bible is reduced to words on paper that need to be decoded by those with theological training. Instead, “you will learn to hear my thoughts in yours,” says Sarayu (the Holy Spirit). “You might see me in a piece of art, or music, or silence, or through people, or in Creation, or in your joy and sorrow…” In other words, look everywhere else but the Bible to find God. Oprah would be pleased.

The distorted view of the Trinity.

There is absolutely no sense of transcendence and holiness. It is the “God is my buddy” perspective on steroids. Compare (better yet, contrast!) Mack’s encounter with God to the final chapters of Job or the stunning vision of God that Isaiah witnesses in the temple. One can hardly imagine Young’s “Papa” eliciting the same kind of response. The God of the Bible cares deeply how he is portrayed. To tamper with the way God has revealed himself is to put forth a false picture of God.

Why is this book popular?

We should never let a cultural phenomenon go by without wondering about the reasons for its popularity. Here are a few reasons I think The Shack is so popular:

  1. Missing fathers. So many people have grown up with absent daddies or abusive father figures. For many, the mother is the rock of the home. To portray God the Father as a matriarch is bound to resonate with a good number of people.
  2. The anti-authoritarian tendency of our culture. At one point in the book, God speaks of there being no roles of hierarchy in the Trinity. God even submits to humans. This resonates with a culture that already eschews traditional understandings of role and authority. (I can picture my Romanian friends rolling their eyes at The Shack and saying, “That’s so American!”)
  3. The immanence of God. Evangelicals too often bring God down to the level of understanding, faithful friend. Ultimately, this view of God is shrunken and reductionist. Just like it is misrepresenting God to make him so other that he is virtually unknowable, it is misrepresenting him to make him so close and human that his God-ness is absent.

The Challenge for Evangelicals

It is easy to sit back and critique The Shack. (There is so much to critique!) But perhaps evangelicals who can see the problems with The Shack should instead invest some creative energy in writing stories that resonate with people in a similar way. As I have written elsewhere:

Do you ever wonder why stories often have a greater impact than debating the theological minutia of Bible interpretation?

C.S. Lewis could have written a fine theological treatise on what the world would have been like had Adam and Eve never sinned. But Perelandra worked much better. Lewis could have (and sometimes did) describe in colorful theological language the nature of the atonement, but Aslan sacrificing his life for rebellious Edmund fired up our imaginations. In his advice to aspiring writers, Lewis reminded them to describe truths vividly – not merely multiplying adjectives, but working hard to help people feel the beauty of the truths presented.

When I consider the phenomenal success of The Shack, the seminarian in me rises up and wants to make a detailed list of the book’s many theological aberrations. But perhaps the greater challenge for someone like me is to recognize the power of a good story and then to take a bestseller like The Shack as an incentive to write better stories.

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Comments:


59 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on "The Shack"”

  1. C. Holland says:

    Thank you for putting into words my frustration with people’s exuberance over a book that I just don’t believe is that amazing or well-written. The Grandparent example in reference to the “It’s fiction” argument was brilliant.

  2. Mark says:

    Trevin,

    Good review. It is always strange to me that people will defend ‘The Shack’ as a book that has helped people spiritually. Then, when problematic spiritual aspects are pointed out the book all of a sudden becomes “just fiction.” I’ve seen this around the net and at my own blog where I have almost 400 comments on ‘The Shack’ review post. It is really amazing.

    Also, it is not as if Young is not theologically educated. He knows the positions. In the audio version appendix Young’s goal is to accurately portray God’s character, etc. Yet, it is still just fiction.

    What is very disturbing too is that even though Young is not a member of a church pastors have given him their pulpits. Why would anyone give a man who seems to have trouble with the organized church who does not even attend a particular church (as far as I know) be allowed in any pulpit?

  3. Dan says:

    I’ll be honest, I’ve been against this book from the start. Now that I’ve read this post, I’m even more against it. It can stay on the shelf…I’ll pass.

  4. Mark Mitchell says:

    When a book is so filled with theological errors such as these, which are in no way minor, then the few and weak positives take a back seat to what is necessary to make known. The most dangerous information is always a big lie combined with a bit of truth. It fools way to many.

  5. RJ says:

    Trevin, first off let me say that I have not read nor do I intend to read this book. But, it appears that you are unable to take off your theologian’s vest on this one. This book does get some rave reviews from other Christians who are just happy to see anything protraying God in a positive light.

    One of your “cons” was :

    It is the “God is my buddy” perspective on steroids. Compare (better yet, contrast!) Mack’s encounter with God to the final chapters of Job or the stunning vision of God that Isaiah witnesses in the temple.

    I think maybe you are letting some of your Calivnist leanings come to light with the above statement. Of course Calvinists insist on putting God’s power/will far above his love. Others on the other hand sometimes do the reverse. From your review this book seems to go to the other end of the spectrum. I guess if I had a choice I would rather lean towards God’s love than his power.

    When Jesus said that the total message of the Law was to love God and Love your neighbor he, of course, emphasized the love aspect of God. and then there is
    1 John 4:8-9 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”.

    In summary, yeah this book probably goes overboard with “God is love” but that is not a bad place to be in my mind. Especially for those who do not have a theological tilt. Are there maybe better ways to do it? Sure there are but we have to work with what is at hand.

  6. Trevin Wax says:

    RJ,

    I don’t want to take off my theologian’s vest on this one. What we need is more people thinking theologically about things like this.

    I don’t think we need to set God’s power apart from his love. But we need to be faithful to the Scriptural picture of God and how he has revealed himself. A God of love without a sense of his holiness is just as dangerous as a distant God that is impersonal.

  7. joey says:

    I’ve never read The Shack but what interests me are the responses from the folks who have. A man in my church came up to me to discuss the book and so I was asking him a few questions. He revealed to me that for the first time he was faced with the idea that God isn’t mad at him – that God truly does forgive. I found it amazing that this man who has gone to church for 40+ years had always thought of God as a being whom he had to constantly please, the way a child might feel he must please a constantly angry parent.

    I’ve heard lots of stories like this. What also surprises me is that I have yet to hear somebody tell me how the book helped them learn about the trinity.

    I don’t doubt that the book has some theological errors in it. But love is not a theological error and is the litmus test for good theology and from what I understand this book demonstrates that love well.

    I’m sure I’ll eventually read it, much for the same reasons you have chosen to Trevin.

    Thanks for the review.

  8. RJ says:

    That is my point exactly Trevin. You do not choose to take off your theology vest. Notice that I did not say to take theology from your thoughts but simply look at something without judging it from a strict theological viewpoint. The statistics are hard to come by but the best I have found is that no more than one in four Christians has any degree of interest in “theology”. The word simply scares many and bores many others.

    So if theologians want to take a “cloaked” theology to the masses they must take off their theology vests. C.S. Lewis was able to do that in his now famous book “The Chronicles of Narnia”. It has sold over 120 million copies. (I know, some do not consider CS Lewis a theologian.) The Shack I believe has currently sold more than 2 million copies. Who buys these books? I’m sure most of them are Christians looking for some “non-theological” sources of info about God. After all theology is either scary or boring to them. The post above by joey seems to re-enforce this view. It would be great if your books, or those of other theologians, sold hundreds of millions of copies but that is just not to be.

    So, instead of critiquing authors as not having strong theology in their fictional works why can’t theologians copy C.S. Lewis and write their own. Or at the very least make their theological works more readable by the masses. I personally think that you do a pretty good job of the latter. Maybe it’s time you started writing some sound theological fiction for a change? :)))

  9. Niek says:

    Thanks for your comments Trevin.
    Has anyone considered the comment of Eugene Peterson on the cover of the book? A respected and proven Biblical scholar!
    Just a thought……

  10. Jason J says:

    After reading this review and these posts, one thought struck me. Trevin, you compared “Papa” from The Shack to Job’s encounter with God or Isaiah’s vision of God. That’s fair because it’s Scripture. But it might be more accurate to compare “Papa” to the Father in the parable The Prodigal Son. Certainly God wants us to think of Him in such light of love and forgiveness. Yet I agree with everything you have said in the review and the posts. God’s full character of love, power, holiness, etc. should be portrayed accurately together, not separated.

    Another positive that I found from the book is that it makes us think. It challenges us to form our position, our understanding of God. To be honest, there were many parts of the book I enjoyed, and many that bothered me. I would be uncomfortable attempting to write this book, or even being the publisher of the book because I think it affects people’s beliefs and understanding of God in a way that often does not line up with Scripture. Thank you for your insights.

  11. Timothy says:

    Thank you for this blog.
    I was given the book as a present and have tried to read it. I actually found it very hard going despite its apparent attractiveness to so many.
    I strongly reject that fiction cannot be be critiqued; our newspapers often critique novels. But there is an aspect of the genre fiction that needs to be recognised. To give a parallel, there is a Far Side cartoon in which a mosquito arrives home and throws down his hat and says, “What a day. I must have infected half the East Coast of America.” Some have criticised this on the grounds that it is the female mosquito which bites and not the male but this is entirely to miss the point that it is a cartoon.
    The portrayal of a character is justified by the way it enables the story to work. The danger of using a real person is that knowledge of the real when this diverges from the portrayal in the story will distract from the story. Only if the portrayal is true or accepted as true will it help the story.
    The point about the transcendence of God is very well made. To cite some fiction which conveys this very well and very movingly, CS Lewis in Till We Have Faces, The Pilgrim’s Regress and Surprised by Joy conveys the shattering experience of meeting a transcendent God. It is far more moving than anything in The Shack. I think it is the way Lewis is able to convey the experience of the presence (implying the immanence) of a transcendent (implying overwhelming distance) God. Trevin cites Job but Exodus 33:11-23 also conveys something of this paradox.
    Overall I found the Shack most unsatisfying and the objections to the book cited in the blog go a long way to explaining why I could not enjoy the book. But the blog opens up reasons why some do find it satisfying and we should pay attention to these.

  12. Trevin, Your point about the non-fictional characters used in fictional writing is dead on! And I am right along with you in the pros and cons excpet on one point which I would like your take on.

    In the book Young seems to put forth a C.C. Dodd view of sin. basically God does not punish sin directly, instead sin is its own punishment. hence the quote from Papa, “I do not punish sin.” doesn’t this run into the very heart of the gospel and Christian thought? What did Christ save us from, a bad life or the wrath of God? (and to make things clear, I affirm both, sin brings the judgement of God and its own punishment).

    So did you pick this up in the book or not? Thanks!

  13. Trevin Wax says:

    Charlie,

    You’re right. That would be another negative. Some other reviewers have pointed that out.

    I tried not to pick apart every negative aspect, but that is definitely a troubling one.

  14. Kmad says:

    Very helpful review Trevin, thank you. I did read the book about a year ago. My response then as now is that, yes, it had many annoying theological American Evangelicalisms that could mislead, but the positives you mention are good ones worthy of discussion. I don’t know if I’ve read a more pain-filled first six chapters (tough to keep reading sometimes) where God meets us in our pain, but that may just be that I haven’t read enough! God’s immanence does come through in this story, but God’s immanence without His eminence is never a healthy vision of God.

    Whenever we try (and we do often!) to separate one part of who God is from another part (love from holiness, mercy from judgment, gentleness from wrath), we get a smaller, inadequate god, in fact we are playing with idols. God is God and none of his attributes conflict with any other! In our fallenness we may have a hard time understanding that…sorry I’m preaching.

    I will add though that though I see some of RJ’s points, I never want theologians to take their hands off these topics. I don’t believe God is interested in people just getting a more ‘positive’ view of who He is. More than anything we need rather a ‘true’ view of who He is. Theology just means ‘study of God’, something every Christian needs to about. The command to use our minds in this pursuit is as much a part of the Greatest Commandment as to use our hearts. Personally, I think this is one of the reasons Reformed Theology is on the rise: folks are getting tired of cotton candy…they want some steak!

    This book for me brings two very important points to light, one from the negative and one from the positive. (1) To understand and know the Trinity, first we need to face His Holiness, something this book brings to light in it’s weakness in it (I’ve heard it said that we should be thankful for great heresies in the church because they force us to clarify), and (2) In light of that Holiness we need to understand the mercy and love of a God who owes us nothing but gives us everything (Rom 8:32), which we see Mack receive in bucketloads.

    My two cents.

  15. Hello

    Thank You for this Review it was very helpful and clarified many things about this popular book that I was wanting to know, one thing is why has Eugene Peterson and Michael W Smith spoken good about it and also Wynona Judd who has worked alongside Don Potter a prophetic musician and songwriter.

  16. Sam Harrell says:

    Reminds me of the first words of the Da Vinci Code…

  17. Starr says:

    I have often thought this book resonates well with people burned out on churches that erred in being too controlling, and folks who left church due to.. well… whatever. And that’s a big group! It makes people feel good about just “seeing God in a picture” and avoiding the fellowship of the believers. It is not so far off from Wayne Jacobsons “So You don’t want to go to church anymore.” BTW: I’d love to see a review of that.
    I do not think it ministers to those who have been through trauma, as much is at would seem to or hope to. I read this book following severe trauma myself, and mistakenly gave it to others who had struggled with life shattering hurts, and it never really touched them. Most of them, it bugged and they didn’t finish it.
    Hmmmmm. Wonder why on that, too? maybe because these individuals relied on the family of God as support and needed a BIG view of a great God in control of our lives for help and healing.

  18. When God saved me a couple years back, I go from a non-book reader to tearing through books and memorizing and knowing Scriptures well.

    That is the grace and mercy of the Holy Spirit and not me. Romans 12:2 comes to mind.

    You know what The Shack taught me? Never again will I sit and read through a bad book. If the book sucks, put it away and start another book. I don’t have time to waste on bad books.

    Now, if you don’t mind, I need to get back to John Stott’s “The Cross of Christ”.

  19. David Weese says:

    Trevin,
    I think your review misses the mark on many levels, but let me address the three specific points you make.
    1) A very low view of the institutional church.
    I have heard this criticism before, so the other day – just on a lark – I picked up my local phone book and counted the number of Christian churches (including Catholic) there were. There were 101. How is it that we all can be reading from the same book and wind up with that many different churches? It’s because we have to interpret the scriptures, and we, as fallible human beings, all interpret things differently. And then each denomination points to all the other denominations and says “You’ve got it all wrong, and we’ve got it all right. You need to believe our way or you’re going straight to hell in a hand-basket.”
    And what is theology? It is an attempt to understand the teachings of God, and God makes it quite clear that we will never understand it all until we get to heaven. If you believe “you’ve got it right and the other fella’s got it wrong, that’s just your pride talking.
    Trevin, churches are institutions of man, as is all religion. Religion and churches are nothing but mans vain attempt to reach and understand God. And the modern day church most definitely has much it should be ashamed of. Unfortunately, Young has every right to be critical of the church of today, as they’re packed full of hypocrites and pharisees.
    A low view of the Bible.
    You make this critique because you didn’t read the book very carefully. One of the main points of the book is that it’s about having a good and loving relationship with God rather than just following a list of rules like the 10 commandments. It’s about placing God at the very center of our lives, not just at the “top of the pyramid.” If we place God at the very center of our lives, He becomes like the sun, and our lives are like the planets orbiting the sun, completely dependent on His gravity and sunlight to sustain us and bring order to our lives. And if God is truly at the center, the rules take care of themselves. We will follow the rules because we want to, not because we feel we have to, or out of some unfounded fear placed on us by so-called theologians that we can only approach God if we follow all the rules. That’s such nonsense, as we will always sin, and will always be imperfect in God’s eyes. It’s not about the rules, it’s about relationship.
    The distorted view of the Trinity.
    I have to admit that your knocking the “God is my buddy” idea left me scratching my head. God is not your friend? HUH???? Where are you getting that? And don’t you realize that what you used as scriptural references were from the Old Testament? Are you forgetting that God made a new covenant with man when he sent his son to this earth? And what kind of person was Jesus? Was he some high and holy being that was completely unapproachable? Was he the fire and brimstone God of the Old Testament? Of course not! Did He not have many friends and love ones? Did He not reach out and show his love to many? Did He not touch, and heal, and love, and weep and do all the other things humans do? Did He not reach out to the children? Why do people think we must cower before God? Why must we only see him as some all-powerful and unapproachable being, like some over-glorified painting in the Sistene Chapel? Sure, God is all powerful and all that, but God is also love. God can most definitely “be your buddy” and still be God.
    So do you see what I’m saying? This is all down to your interpretation of things, and who says you’ve got it right?

  20. Marika says:

    What bothered me most about The Shack wasn’t the theology (though you highlight some of the many weaknesses there) so much as that it was rubbish fiction. Stories are supposed to be, well, stories, and the book to me felt more like a book of popular theology, shoehorned uncomfortably into a narrative framework. It’s not impossible to write interesting, thought-provoking stories that grapple with big ideas, but ain’t that. I love literature, and I thought that as literature, it sucked. I’d take Marilynne Robinson over this anyday.

  21. Gloria Bland says:

    I read it and thought its most valuable message was that of the long journey toward forgiveness. I kept thinking, oh, must he go there? Yes, he must. There was the lesson. One can get one’s other theology elsewhere.

  22. pamela says:

    I read the book with so much misgivings, but each red flag that went up was resolved by the revelation of an aspect of God’s wisdom and love that I had not recognized. (i.e. Papa presenting himself as a women).

    The biggest thing I received from the book was the issue of forgiveness. Forgiveness is so clear in the Gospels, now that it has been revealed to me. But to forgive God!!! How often have I heard God blamed for the perils of this age and this life we now live. I thought it was a marvelous presentation of God’s plan vs the realities of evil and the choices we are often presented with daily.

    Sometimes we need to think outside the box to get beyond the limitations of our preconceived notions. Just that alone was worth reading the book.

    Is it theologically sound? hummm… What I know is that it spoke to me in profound ways.

    Forgiveness. Even the prayer, The Our Father, tells us we will not be forgiven till we have forgiveness in our hearts.

    Sometimes we cleave to right interpretations, as did the scribes and pharisees of Jesus’ day, and we MISS the Christ that is right before us.

    I’m sorry if I offend, but I was profoundly impressed with this book.

  23. Reuben says:

    Trevin:
    Nice balanced discussion. Most folks either completely blast Young or defend him as a mother would her own son. I just wish that the same people who get all steamed up defending the Shack would spend equal energy defending the Bible. Knowing truth exposes falacy.

    Trevin, keep the theological vest buttoned up. Anymore, in the “Seeker-friendly” Warrenization of evangelicalism, it seems PC to approach discussions devoid of a Biblical Worldview. Some believe we can only be credible in our critiques without bringing in Biblical Theology, yet the Word clearly leads us to test all things in light of Scripture. In the end, that approach will lead to apostacy. “Sanctify us by Thy Word; Thy Word is Truth”.

  24. Gordon says:

    Hello to my brothers and sisters in the Lord
    I like the shack as it snuck around the back door of my conscious mind to teach me again what I already knew from the scripture. God is especially fond of me – I loved that thought and realised what a sin it was of mine to not believe it. Satan’s lies are everywhere and even with good teaching, I allow myself to be deceived. I need to repent of that and trust God – this was another thought in the book I knew, but need to know – if you know what I mean – lol. :)
    As an aside I loved the book by C. S. Lewis called The Great Divorce – which appears to espouse some very questionable theology – but again as a picture of a rose is not a rose, neither are either of these books God’s word. But they encourage me to examine and learn what I should already know and turn me back to the bible.
    I agree – fellowship for believers is VITAL – with each other and with I AM. I also see that what lifts the heart of one believer, may be very unappealing to others. Thanks for the wonderful reading suggestions in the blog – I cant wait to get and read some of them.
    And as a final thought can I say how much I appreciate the tenderness of the discussions here. A desire to caution about excesses in any one view of the characteristics of God, a desire to point us to the Word – both the written Word and the Word become flesh, to remind us of a Father who runs down the road to meet us, and a God who is so great we scarce can take it in. And a Helper who dwells in us, and suffers with out failings (grieving and quenching him be our sin). What a magnificent God we have, and what a blessing we have as one body in him.

  25. Drew says:

    Was kind of surprised to see The Shack still causing such a stir. But if people are still reading it, then it still needs critiqued. My only comments for those who “loved it” are Scripture: ” because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false. 2Thes2:10-11
    The Shack IS theology(theology-lite) disguised as fiction. Having any view of God that truncates a full Scriptural view of God is idolotry. Knowledge of God is not to be selected cafeteria style.

  26. Gordon says:

    “Test all things; hold fast what is good” 1 Thes. 5:21 Therefore where I see the truths of the scripture being displayed, or highlighted in this book I will hold fast to that truth. eg God LOVES us (is particularly fond of me, you, us, everyone.) God sent his Son to SAVE US from Sin. Our desire/choice for independence from God is SIN.

    What is false I will discard.

    The last comment is VERY misleading and quite a misapplication of scripture. I assure you I enjoyed the book, and I also assure you I have NOT refused to the love the Truth – quite the opposite. I needed to be saved, I called out to be saved, I was saved, and remain so in and through Christ alone. This calls for a response from me each and every day, every minute, every second, every breath. So I feel the equation proposed above falls at the fist hurdle.

  27. Gordon says:

    oops – bad typist – not “fist hurdle” but “first hurdle.” lol :)
    And the equation I am referring to is
    those who “loved it” = ”because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false.”
    i.e. If you loved this book then you just aren’t saved.

  28. Drew says:

    Gordon, Gordon. I was implying nothing of the kind. While not doing a precise exigesis of 2Thes.2:10-11, I was making the point that love of truth is important in this post-modern age,where the whole concept of being able to know truth is under attack, even dismissed as impossible. We can be in right standing with God as far as our eternal destiny is concerned, yet be decieved in terms of our correct knowledge of God (that’s where the “being saved” and “will be saved” come in.)
    We need to realize that we all victims of our culture and it’s philosphies nore than we we would like to acknowledge. We are all prone to self-deception and accepting what “feels good” regardless of the truth of the matter. And this is a supreme value, ” feeling good”, of our culture. Concerning self-deception, I just read an excellent book I told Me So: Self-Deception and the Christian Life by Gregg Ten Elshof, philosophy prof at Biola University. I highly recommend it.

    Conerning cafeteria style knowledge of God see:
    http://www.reformationstudycenter.com/BuffetLine.html

    While I appreciate the “chew the meat, and spit out the bones”, approach to all we consume, why dig thru junk food, to glean just a few morsles of nutrition?

    Keep your heart with all vigilance,for from it flow the springs of life.
    Proverbs 4:23 English Standard Version

  29. Raquel says:

    Drew, all of us enjoy some junk food from time to time. Reading the Shack was for me (as a person who works in a cross-cultural ministry, bringing God’s word to those who have never heard or understood it)a wonderful experience of thinking outside the box. Was it theology? No. Was it a “hmmm?” moment? Yes.

    I will confess to being disillusioned from time to time with all the legalism of most evangelical churches. The Shack helped me gain some perspective; to realize that so many of our church traditions are just that, traditions. They might be based in some scriptural principal, but most of the time the traditions are used to bonk people over the head and not to truly worship God, or grow in grace and mercy or forgiveness.

    I liked the Shack. I would read it again…when I have another snack attack. But I certainly don’t let it replace my time in the word. Sorry, Gordon, but you don’t know me, you don’t know my relationship with God, or my walk with him, so I don’t think you can judge whether I’m saved or not, just because I say I liked the book. (I don’t use the word “love” so frivolously…)

  30. Craig Steffen says:

    Trevin:

    Did you have a conversation with Paul Young before making such negative comments in a public forum? Matthew 18 applies here, IMO, since you have taken offense to Young’s writings of fiction.

    I’m grieved by your disrespectful treatment of a brother in Christ. I believe the Holy Spirit is grieved as well. And I believe that Jesus continues to wait for his Church to wake up to His heart as he prayed in Jn 17 for her unity.

    Have we been with Him so long, and we still do not know His heart? Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

  31. Trevin Wax says:

    Craig,

    For the record, I am not attacking Paul Young or making negative comments about him personally. I do not know him. I am providing a critique of his work. This is not a personal vendetta against Young.

    If you believe I have been disrespectful of Young personally, please show me where.

    Also, would it not have been better for you to email me personally, rather than speak negatively of me on a public forum like this? Saying that I am puffed up with knowledge rather than love?

  32. Mark says:

    Craig, in fairness to Trevin, even if he is supposed to take the Matthew 18 approach with Mr. Young, I don’t believe Mr. Young has a church to take the issue to.

    Surely it would end up there since there are many more than one or two others who would stand along side Trevin’s analysis.

  33. Kim says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful and well written critique…something I’ve desired to do, but could never have done so well. I read this , hated it (had to throw it down a few times) , but did so in order to have intelligent conversations with others over it, instead of just saying “it’s bad!!”
    Although, my other major peeve is that it claims God the Father didn’t turn his back on Jesus…guess we’re all going to hell!

  34. Dan says:

    Theological “eyeglasses” are the lens we all wear. I have found that conservative theologians dice their sincerely held Bible rooted beliefs over an interesting spectrum. Some systems of thought are rich in Old Testament, others rooted in Jesus, others in Paul. Some place high favor on forgiveness, or justification, while others see the main thing to be regeneration. Some approaches are parallel to the prodigal’s creativity and expression, and others to the elder brother’s staunch rightness, who Jesus leaves distanced by the Father.

    Of course we will have a variety of responses to the Bible, and in this posting, to “The Shack”.

    I admit to have my eyeglasses tinted more toward Jesus, and toward regeneration, and though I started out as an elder brother legalist, I am now much more loving of the Father than before, and responsive.

    I found myself deeply moved by the rich forgiveness message of “the Shack”, and was unsettled by some implications of its Trinity presentation. Many misgiving were answered as I read on.

    I pondered this by contemplating the various appearances of God in the Biblical record, which are sometimes called “Christophanies.” There seems to be a variety of thought about the physical manifestations of our immaterial God. What form was God in as Adam & Eve faced Him and heard His judgments? Was there a physical reality in God’s speaking to Cain? What about the “burning bush” and the visitors who came to Abram, or the “angel” that wrestled with Jacob, or the pillar of fire or smoke. What happenned when God passed by Moses pressed into the cleft of the rock and he saw the “hinder parts”. What happenned when Joshua met his Commander? What actually was the “chariot of fire” that took Elijah away?

    Certainly some if not most of these events portray the God Who is Spirit expressing Himself in various manifestations that could be experienced by humans in the physical world.

    Are there any limits in the way God can manifest Himself? Can He not, by merely willing it, manifest Himself to man in any form He chooses?

    I found myself with internal arguments over these things. The “Elder Brother” viewpoint was strong in me formerly and sometimes still shows up, restricting God to theological systems as if the Biblical record has exhausted His creative possibilities and nothing new from Him can be accepted.

    In the end, for me, Regeneration and Communion in Christ won out. Eternal life and love. New Covenant, New life, New relational communion with God in which He chooses to dwell in surrendered souls. It is more about relationship than law.

    So for me, if God wants to manifest Himself in a kinder-gentler-softer-relational-“Eve-like” form, I will not object. I will allow Him to exercise variety.

    But I think I understand why some do.

  35. roxanna says:

    I am a counselor who sits with people every day that find themselves in Mack’s shoes. I have heard William Young’s verbal testimony of the story being birthed out of his own soul that was torn with sin and as a christian had compartmentalized his soul into sections. I consider it a good tool for people who need deep healing from horrendous hurt. Being a seminary graduate, I know it is not a theology book. As a fellow struggler in the faith, I so appreciate the candor and rawness of Mack’s journey, now knowing it was a creative project of love to share with his children about his journey toward real and authentic faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.

  36. Lisa England says:

    Which text of C.S. Lewis’ includes the comments about helping people feel the beauty of truth through stories? I’ve tried to identify it, but haven’t been able to.

    Thanks.

  37. Stuck in Toronto says:

    Some say potatoe, some say potahtoe.
    You didn’t like the Shack? you are still my brother.
    You loved the Shack” you are still my brother.
    I believe the Mr. Wax and Mr. Young would agree.

  38. David Weese says:

    Trevin,
    While I’m not agreeing with the manner in which Craig addressed you, I am in basic agreement with what he says. Your critique came across as being written by someone who “knows more than we mere mortals do,” and thought that your opinions showed that you went into the book with pre-conceived notions of what the book was, and was about. Case in point would be that you entirely missed the main message of the book, and that is: It’s not about the rules, it’s about relationship.

    And I find it quite interesting that you chose not to respond to my post, especially when I feel I basically pulled apart all three of the basic tenants of your critique.

  39. Trevin Wax says:

    David,

    I do not have time to respond to all the comments on this blog. It takes enough of my time to write the posts themselves. I like to give people the opportunity to speak for themselves and critique my posts as necessary.

    The fact that you so strongly criticized my review could mean that you too see yourself as “knowing more than we mere mortals do.” According to your comment, I was biased, completely missed the point of the book (meaning, I don’t know how to read) and see myself as a know-it-all.

    Plus, your earlier comment implies that I don’t understand the God of the New Testament, am trapped in religion instead of relationship, and don’t see how God could befriend us.

    Some comments simply don’t need responses. Anyone who reads this blog or has read my initial review can make up their own minds. I trust that most readers who came across your comment realized that it was inaccurate.

    Thanks for reading and responding. Many blessings!

  40. David Weese says:

    Trevin,
    Nice try, but I’m not that easily brushed off, and I don’t appreciate you trying to twist my words. I did not say you don’t know how to read; I said you did not catch the main message of the book. As far as I’m concerned, you owe me an apology.

    And as far as your bias, let’s look at what you say to start your review:

    “I really didn’t want to read The Shack. I only have so much time in a day.

    But a number of people have asked me to make some comments on the popular novel by William Young. And because church members eventually started asking, I decided to give it a go.

    I have heard people rave about this book (in a good way), and I have heard others rave about this book (in a bad way). Some described it as the best book in the past 50 years. Others described it as the worst heresy to ever hit the Christian bookstore.”

    What you don’t say is what side of this argument these church members were on that asked you to write something on this book. And when you say “I really didn’t want to read the book,” it’s painfully obvious how you chose to approach the book.

    And my statement that I thought the tone of your essay came off as you “knowing more than us mere mortals” is a statement addressing your writing style, not my personal opinion of myself. I am a professional writer myself, and know a bit about writing style.

    And as to this comment:
    “Plus, your earlier comment implies that I don’t understand the God of the New Testament, am trapped in religion instead of relationship, and don’t see how God could befriend us.”
    Yup!!! I don’t think you get it on all three of those points, which is exactly why I challenged you on them.

    So I’m going to ask you again to go back and address my points, if you can …or dare.

  41. joey says:

    David, you might stand to offer a bit more charity. Trevin approached this book from a reformed view point and this is one of the most charitable reformed reviews I’ve yet read. Most of my reformed brethren just brushed the book aside as garbage without ever trying to engage the content. Either you’re a poor writer and don’t realize how snarky you’ve come off or you are genuinely trying to be divisive here.

  42. David Weese says:

    Charity? His response to me was charity? No, it was a brush off. And if all your “reformed brethren” just brush the book aside, perhaps you need to find a new church. And yes, I have every intention of sounding snarky. I tend to get that way when people try to brush me aside and try to twist my words.

  43. Trevin Wax says:

    OK, David. If you really want me to pull apart your earlier comments, I’m happy to oblige.

    But before we get there, let me clarify the manner of questions from those in my church. Some read the book and enjoyed it immensely. Others read the book and had misgivings. So my response was intended to affirm the reasons why some enjoyed it and point out the reasons why others had misgivings.

    Now to your specific critique of my book…

    POINT ONE: Institutional Church

    You say that the institutional church is simply man-made and all “religion” (therefore, bad). Where did denominations come from? From people who think everyone else is going to hell in a handbasket.

    I certainly don’t believe that only my denomination is correct and that all others are going to hell. Where did I affirm this? Either you are exaggerating or you have spoken to some people who need to better examine the Scriptures.

    You also say that theology is merely an attempt to understand the teachings of God, and it is quite clear that “we will never understand it all until we get to heaven.”

    Are you saying then that we should not engage in theology? Young certainly did in his book, which is primarily a narrative stitched together in such a way as to lead to long theological discourse.

    The question is not whether or not we will do theology; it’s a question of faithfulness to Scripture. You are right that we will not figure out everything about God. But God has chosen to reveal himself. To toy with the revelation of God to us is to create a false image of God.

    You say, “Religion and churches are nothing but man’s vain attempt to reach and understand God.”

    No… churches are at the forefront of virtually every movement of mercy in the world. Why do the hospitals have religious roots? Who rushed to the Gulf Coast four years ago when Katrina hit? How are the churches mobilizing even now to do great things in God’s name?

    Yes, the church is imperfect and flawed. But Christ died for this body and I am happy to identify with her – flaws and all, Pharisees and sinners and hypocrites. I fit right in because I’m a sinner too. I’m not above the church; I’m below the church. I am not worthy to belong, and yet God has brought me into his family.

    It is you, my friend, who has a high view of yourself and a low view of the church. I have a low view of myself and a high view of the church.

    POINT #2 – The Bible

    You say that I didn’t read the book carefully. Actually, I did. That’s why I saw so many references to the Bible as merely words on a page. Where does one find the Word of God? Everywhere, it seems, but the Bible. See the quote from Sarayu above.

    I agree with just about everything else in your second point. Salvation is not about keeping the rules. It’s about gratitude for Christ for keeping the Law in our place.

    I think we’re on the same page here. It’s just that you have not seen the negative ways in which the Scriptures were discussed and downplayed in the book.

    POINT 3 – “God is my buddy.”

    I did not say that God is not a friend. But the emphasis in both the Old and New Testament is on God’s transcendence and immanence. Get one out of whack and you miss the biblical portrait of God.

    There are plenty of New Testament references to God as transcendent too. Paul says God exists in “unapproachable light.” In Revelation, John is astounded at the vision of a holy Jesus, who later comes rushing in full majesty. We see God raining down judgment upon the earth in Revelation and see warnings to flee from the wrath of God in the New Testament as well. Jesus himself talks more about hell than heaven. How many of his parables end with people thrown out into utter darkness, weeping and gnashing their teeth?

    My critique of Young’s book was not that he portrayed God as personal and close. It was that he didn’t show the side of God we see in the Bible – that he is holy and awesome and majestic. Young only showed the immanence of God without the transcendence. I was critiquing the imbalance, not denying that God is immanent.

  44. David Weese says:

    The best way I can respond is to take this point for point. You said:

    “But before we get there, let me clarify the manner of questions from those in my church. Some read the book and enjoyed it immensely. Others read the book and had misgivings. So my response was intended to affirm the reasons why some enjoyed it and point out the reasons why others had misgivings.”

    Maybe so, but in reality, what your critique accomplished is to encourage people not to read the book. Whether you agree with the book or not, it has brought healing to many lives, and has blessed many others. God has a reason why he allowed it to become a best seller, and you really shouldn’t second guess that reason. The fact that it has blessed many lives should have been enough for you.

    POINT ONE: Institutional Church
    You say that the institutional church is simply man-made and all “religion” (therefore, bad). Where did denominations come from? From people who think everyone else is going to hell in a handbasket. I certainly don’t believe that only my denomination is correct and that all others are going to hell. Where did I affirm this? Either you are exaggerating or you have spoken to some people who need to better examine the Scriptures.

    Trevin! How did all the different denominations come about? Did they not come about because an argument over theology arose in some church, and that argument became bad enough that some members of that church left in a huff and went down the road to start their own church? And actually, I didn’t accuse you of saying that other denominations were going to hell. If you had read what I said carefully (ahem, cough, cough) you would see that’s not what I said, “‘And then each denomination points to all the other denominations and says “You’ve got it all wrong, and we’ve got it all right. You need to believe our way or you’re going straight to hell in a hand-basket.’” So I’m talking about the denominations in general, and not you specifically. But once again, my words were twisted. …That’s a shame

    “You also say that theology is merely an attempt to understand the teachings of God, and it is quite clear that “we will never understand it all until we get to heaven.” Are you saying then that we should not engage in theology? Young certainly did in his book, which is primarily a narrative stitched together in such a way as to lead to long theological discourse. The question is not whether or not we will do theology; it’s a question of faithfulness to Scripture. You are right that we will not figure out everything about God. But God has chosen to reveal himself. To toy with the revelation of God to us is to create a false image of God.”

    Yes, we should absolutely try to understand what God teaches in the Bible, but we also need to approach it with the understanding that in the end, much is down to our interpretation of things. You will read a verse and interpret it to mean one thing, and the fella right next to you will say “No, it means something else.” And that is what the book was trying to point out, and you missed. Far too much emphasis is placed on theology –which in the end boils down to “the rules” – and far too little is placed on having a relationship with God where God is at the very center of our lives. Like I said, we will never understand it all, and most of the time, our attempts to understand God only lead to divisions in the church and a whole lot of other nonsense that isn’t even close to what God wants in our lives.

    “You say, “Religion and churches are nothing but man’s vain attempt to reach and understand God.” No… churches are at the forefront of virtually every movement of mercy in the world. Why do the hospitals have religious roots? Who rushed to the Gulf Coast four years ago when Katrina hit? How are the churches mobilizing even now to do great things in God’s name? Yes, the church is imperfect and flawed. But Christ died for this body and I am happy to identify with her – flaws and all, Pharisees and sinners and hypocrites. I fit right in because I’m a sinner too. I’m not above the church; I’m below the church. I am not worthy to belong, and yet God has brought me into his family.”

    Never did I say that churches don’t do a lot of good in this world. Unfortunately, the Pharisees did a lot of good things too. But Christ died for our sins as individuals, not for the church. It’s important to remember that the Jesus was not a Christian. Churches are something we, as believers in God, established. When Jesus talks about the church, he is talking about the body of believers in the salvation he brought to this earth. Buildings and denominations and all that other nonsense that surrounds the church of today are things of our creation, and are so often far removed from what He wants from His church. He certainly wouldn’t approve of all the divisiveness that has crept in.

    “It is you, my friend, who has a high view of yourself and a low view of the church. I have a low view of myself and a high view of the church.”

    Kinda presumptuous, don’t you think, especially from one who only knows me from a few paragraphs that I’ve written? And I’m sure Jesus would have said it exactly like that too! No, my friend, I am quite the sinner, and quite unworthy of the graces and blessings God has bestowed upon me. And I have a very high view of God’s church, but a very low view of man’s church.

    POINT #2 – The Bible
    “You say that I didn’t read the book carefully. Actually, I did. That’s why I saw so many references to the Bible as merely words on a page. Where does one find the Word of God? Everywhere, it seems, but the Bible. See the quote from Sarayu above. I agree with just about everything else in your second point. Salvation is not about keeping the rules. It’s about gratitude for Christ for keeping the Law in our place. I think we’re on the same page here. It’s just that you have not seen the negative ways in which the Scriptures were discussed and downplayed in the book.”

    But the point of the book is just that. Christians spend so much time trying to figure out exactly what God is trying to say in the Bible, and so little time trying to figure out what God really wants for us in our lives. It’s about trying to place God in the very center of our lives. The way I like to explain it is this. God needs to become the sun in the solar system of our lives. Our lives need to revolve around him, and we need to become completely dependent on the warmth of his love for our very existence, and the gravity of his power to bring order and meaning to our lives. If God is at the center, all the “rules” we find in the Bible will take care of themselves. If God is at the center, we will seek his will in everything, so we will follow the rules because we want to, not because some theologian drummed it into our heads that if we don’t follow some list of rules we read in the Bible, we won’t get to heaven. So in essence, we could theoretically never read a verse of the Bible and still have a good relationship with God. “It’s not about the rules, it’s about relationship.”

    POINT 3 – “God is my buddy.”
    I did not say that God is not a friend. But the emphasis in both the Old and New Testament is on God’s transcendence and immanence. Get one out of whack and you miss the biblical portrait of God. There are plenty of New Testament references to God as transcendent too. Paul says God exists in “unapproachable light.” In Revelation, John is astounded at the vision of a holy Jesus, who later comes rushing in full majesty. We see God raining down judgment upon the earth in Revelation and see warnings to flee from the wrath of God in the New Testament as well. Jesus himself talks more about hell than heaven. How many of his parables end with people thrown out into utter darkness, weeping and gnashing their teeth? My critique of Young’s book was not that he portrayed God as personal and close. It was that he didn’t show the side of God we see in the Bible – that he is holy and awesome and majestic. Young only showed the immanence of God without the transcendence. I was critiquing the imbalance, not denying that God is transcendent.”

    And the point of my entire post was just this: Isn’t this all down to your interpretation of God? “Through a glass darkly,” remember? My take on it is this. Yes, God is all powerful. All you have to do is look at the absolute beauty and wonder of his creation to see that. And Young gives you all that in the excellent way he describes all the nature scenes and with the night scene where the angels appear. And yes, the thought of having to stand before him on judgment day having spurned him frightens me.

    But my God is also a God of love. He wants to walk beside me down the darkest, stoniest paths. He wants to hold my hand to give me strength when I’m afraid. He wants to embrace me and let me cry on his shoulder when the pain gets too bad. Yes, he wants me to remember that he is almighty God, but that’s not who he wants to be in my relationship with him. He wants to be my friend. He doesn’t want me to cower and grovel before him. He wants me to love him, not be afraid of him. If you are afraid of God, your God and my God are light-years apart.

    So this is what I’m saying. In your critique, you basically said that Young’s interpretation of who God is, and what a Christian should be and believe is wrong. Basically, you said, “I’m right, and he’s wrong.” My point is, much of what you’re saying Young is wrong about is simply down to how you interpret the Bible.

    I happen to believe as Young does, that God is more interested in having a loving relationship with us rather than having us spend our lives afraid of Him. But if you believe you should grovel and cower before God, far be it from me to keep you from it. It doesn’t sound much like a loving, nurturing relationship to me, though. But hey, that’s just my opinion.

    So I guess what I’m saying is that it’s best to let God do the critiquing, especially on something he’s blessed enough on put on the New York Times bestseller list. If He didn’t want the book there, it wouldn’t be there.

  45. David Weese says:

    oops, that should be: especially on something he’s blessed enough “TO” put on the New York Times bestseller list.

  46. debbie says:

    pamela

    your comment is the first one (so far) that spoke to my own heart about this book.
    Unlike the others, I too, came away from The Shack profoundly touched by the message about forgiveness and “going to those hard places” that we don’t want to.
    I too had a hard time in the beginning and actually put the book down several times deciding not to finish it because I found the portrayal of the Trinity irreverent –
    until I rec’d a Christmas newsletter from a couple in ministry whom I greatly respect praising the book
    I picked it up again and have never regretted it!

  47. Frank says:

    I gave my dearest Christ-brother a copy of “My Dinner With A Perfect Stranger.” I did it because I enjoyed the perspective of the book, and thought my best friend would also. When I saw him later, he handed me the book and said that he could not deal with the trivialization of Jesus. In hindsight, I missed that point, and now side with him.

    Now comes “The Shack” where one could easily make the charge that The Trinity is being trivialized. In an obvious way, it is. But, in many other ways I felt I could sense the heart of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit as they want so desperately to be so dominant in our thoughts and especially our woes, and times of lack of true deep faith. For me it was good. For my wife, she had to lay it down. I respect her as she does me, for our differing views.

    However, I am really saddened by the animosity that is shown by the reviewers and the original review. Is this what it has come to?

    Why do we believers have to tear into these issues as if we were the last to defend the Bible, and the entire Christian faith, or its “trivialization.” I am more interested in whether or not there are non-believers in our world, who we know have a temendous spiritual hunger, that might read “The Shack” and then get into a dialogue with a Believer over its content and come to faith in The Savior, The Father, and the Indwelling Holy Spirit.

    I,m sure I have added nothing to the debate, but do we not all know of believers who came to true faith in Christ in the most bizarre original ways that led to tyheir salvation. I certainly have.

  48. cb says:

    There are some real personal attacks here and I understand that this is obviously a passionate topic, but at the end of the day we have to think about the end product….CHANGED LIVES, yes they may find Christ in this most unusual way and I am all for that…but if they never go to church….because it is useless man made…etc etc, and if they never see the other side of God as a Judge a Jealous God…..and they grope through life thinking He is my buddy….and I am good, and lift their heads up to Depart from Me I Never Knew You, don’t we do them a disservice. I realize that my post is not as put together as some, but Trevin is not here to be trashed and to be belittled he is here to offer a perspective, a thought, a point to ponder, an opinion, and a sound biblical perspective. Read around this blog the man obviously has no ill intent towards anyone, he loves what he does and is passionate about it. This not a forum for attack on Young, bloggers, denominations, or you. Its a perspective….thoughts….really discouraging to me…..that in 2009 we can not have a manly conversation that doesn’t turn childish and petty, Trevin the next time your heart tells you not to respond……DONT!!!!!!!

  49. Corey says:

    I found the biggest impact i have recieved from the book is judgement and forgiveness. The most of the comments on this page are all judgement good, bad, real, fiction, personal attacks.
    The Shack i think acurately pointed out that humans are not in a position to judge. The do have the choice to forgive. Does anyone feel like they could be a judge of what a piece of someones heart and the reletionships that are portrayed will not be a benifit to someone and bring them closer to God? It may not be biblically correct and it is definatly fiction but i know when i read this book it did stir my soul. It cause me to look at the one true book and look for answers. It also caused me to look at my daily life and try a little harder to put God as the focal point. I dont read often but this book has opened my eyes a little wider to be open to a daily relationship with God. I think that is a good thing. I think we can point out all the faults and what they “may” do. I would like to see all the good things and what people have recieved from this book and how it has helped them grow in thier journey. This was the first Shack review i read when i finished the book. I am glad that i didnt read it before i started.

    I hope all of you grow closer to God, have a daily relationship with him and live to find your purpose and path with his guideance.

    God Bless you all!

    Corey

  50. Allen says:

    Dear Kim,

    I would have liked to tell more of our story about the encounter with The Shack, but suffice it to say that 18 years after the loss of our daughter God used this book to open the door for Him to lift the Great Sadness from our home.

    I would like to aim this at your last comment. You might like it, too.

    Some years ago I was stunned (because it cracked my theology) and ultimately comforted by hearing an explanation of the statement Jesus made on the cross where He quotes the first verse of Psalm 22. A messianic rabbi – one studied in the times, culture and traditions of Jewish culture in the first century – referred us to look to verse 24 (I’ll let you discover it), and then made us aware that the term “Psalm 22″ was not in place at the time of Christ.

    Jews would refer to a portion of scripture not by a number but by the first portion of that scripture. Where we would refer to Psalm 23 and thereby bring to mind it’s imagery, first century Jews would refer to “The Lord is my Shephard” and the same thing would be communicated.

    It turns out Jesus was not crying out as a forsaken son, He was crying out to the scribes, Pharisees, leaders and all who knew the scripture – calling them to recall and recognize the prophetic passage as it was being fulfilled in their site. From the cross He was still offering them love, mercy and forgiveness.

    Father, Abba – or Papa – NEVER hid His face or abandoned His child, even when Jesus became ALL of Sin. There is NO exception to His love. Neither will He ever leave us alone. It’s not in His nature – – and His nature is now IN you.

    My2sense
    I’ve also found that God is often found waiting for me on the other side of offence.

  51. Terry Chapman says:

    Trevin, I did not read The Shack, nor do I ever intend to but I find the comments almost as interesting as your critique. If God gave us His Holy Word so that we could know Him, His attributes, character, and nature, why in the world would I read a fiction book to understand His forgiveness, etc? I prefer to go to the source. Fiction has it’s place but not the place of learning about my God. Thank you for your honesty with the pro and con.
    Terry Chapman

  52. laura says:

    Thank you Trevin for your review.

    I tried to get through the Shack but I couldn’t. It was very irreverent. My God does not giggle and make remarks along the lines of “don’t look at me like you filled your pants”.

    The reason that so many are being fooled by this book is that we lack discernment. We all profess to love the Bible but we don’t study it. The Shack will lead many into a false view of God – even though HE has gone to great lengths to accurately depict HIS pure, holy, loving, just, righteous character in the Word. Let’s start reading it!

  53. Joyce Noble says:

    Laura,
    Well said.
    Joyce

  54. Joyce Noble says:

    Laura,

    Well said.
    Joyce

  55. Denny says:

    RJ

    You said that you haven’t read the book. So you shouldn’t be posting or re-posting any comments about the book because you don’t personally know how well the comments portray the book. It’s like writing a review about a car that you’ve never driven. Because you never drove it you can’t say first hand how it corners and accelerates. Maybe the person who did drive it has personal distaste for something that is actually quite good.

    I personally just got done reading the book over the last few days. It had some very good points, but also some that read to be theological trouble. It seems to be a good read for fiction, but as with all fiction the reader needs to be careful what they apply to their own life. Along with that be careful who you seek out for commentary, you don’t want to miss a book that could be beneficial for you and deepen YOUR personal relationship with Jesus.

  56. RJ says:

    @ Denny:
    Have you ever drunk a cup of arsenic? Probably not! Yet you know not to because you have heard or read enough from reputable sources that it would be fatal. Same with the things we feed our mind and soul . . . rather than wasting our time with “poison”, we can get good input from reputable sources to know what to avoid. Just because you don’t agree with my insight doesn’t give you a right on an open forum to tell me I should remain silent. I have enough information from various sources to not spend my time reading the actual manuscript. You could start your own blog where only invited guests are allowed to voice parroted comments. If in doubt, read Laura’s comments. Great perspective.

  57. DBT says:

    I’ve not read it, but my husband and many friends have. Something that bothers me about both The Shack and Da Vinci Code is that I have encountered believers who think The Shack to be non-fiction (memoir), and unbelievers who likewise think Da Vinci Code to be non-fiction (history!). Muddies the waters when trying to relate to others about the Lord.

  58. Keith says:

    Trevin, thank you for re-posting this for those of us who hadn’t yet found your blog at the time.
    I read The Shack, and when someone objects to a critique of it because it’s just a novel, my reply is: “Yes, it’s a fictional story about a fictional god.”
    And just a quick note about the tendency of some who try to pit God’s commandments against God’s love (“it’s not about rules, it’s about relationship,” etc). We do not have to choose between them. They are not in conflict; they are in perfect harmony, and you cannot have one without the other. “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” Jesus said (John 14:15). “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3).

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Trevin Wax


​Trevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, husband to Corina, father to Timothy, Julia, and David. You can follow him on Twitter. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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