The Shack

The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young ★
I was given this book by a dear friend, who encouraged me to read it and then discuss the book with him. It apparently has been significant in his life. The book is essentially mostly conversations between Mack, and a large black lady, a small Oriental lady, and a blue-collar working man, representing “god”. Mack has a traumatic childhood, followed by the awkward loss of his youngest child, and expresses anger at ‘god’ for his life. ‘God’ then encounters Mack at the shack where Mack’s child Missy was murdered, and Mack engages in a lengthy psychobabble exchange about ‘god’s’ love for everybody, and how  ‘god’ is fond of us.
The book fails in many ways. 1) It attempts at gender-neutrality of God in a way that God never ever described of himself, 2) it is oblivious to the true character of God, his wrath, his morality, his offense at sin, 3) it diminishes mans’ sinfulness, not even speaking of sin, 4) it diminishes God’s authority, making it an interchange between God and man, with a massive Arminian theological flavor 5) it completely misunderstands the nature of Gods’ judgment, assuming that it would represent an angry god or judgmental god. 6) it assumes that relations are the highest good in life, rather than holiness, 7) it expresses distaste for anything institutional or orderly as diminishing Gods’ true expression. In all, the book is a complete failure. The fact that it has achieved such great popularity is quite concerning to me, as many who read it will see God in a new light, a light which is not the God of Scripture at all. There is almost no talk about Scripture in this book, as the relationship doesn’t require a book. It relishes in antinomianism, assuming that Paul’s injunctions about the law suggest that we live by no law at all. Historical movements against “dead” theologizing have usually swung far too far toward completely trashing theology,, but this trend is unfortunately still quite popular if not growing among Christians. It is incomprehensible and saddening how thoroughly the possibility of a theology of God has been abandoned by the new “conservative” Christian. If there is any virtue in this book, it is that it essentially fights a straw-man. It creates a quasi-Christian in Mack who has many false thoughts about God, and anger with God. The weakness of the book is the inability to offer true insights into the nature and character of either man or God. One might ask if the ‘god’ of The Shack is a kinder-gentler ‘god’. In this book, he (she) is, but when looked at with a discerning eye, Young’s ‘god’ ends up as confused as we are. It is only the God of Scripture, described well by the Reformers, that gives us a God that is truly worth loving and giving one’s life to.