The Shack

EDIT:  So no one has a comment or opinion on the part that I have bolded below?  I thought it was an important question.

Okay, who else has read it?  I just finished The Shack by William Young, and then I went to look up all the reviews that I had only skimmed before.  I guess I find it interesting that so many people had such a strong reaction to it.  Many people (including at least three who I know personally) simply loved it and found it life-changing.  Many others thought it was heresy.

I actually thought it was a neat little story, very readable, with lots of interesting thoughts, but certainly didn’t find it life-changing in any way.  As for the heresy, yes, I saw a few things that bothered me.  Pretty much any book has some things that I don’t like, but this one did have several spots that I would definitely say were wrong.  I found a good blog that covered most of those, if anyone is interested, at http://igniteuk.net/2008/04/29/the-shack-harmless-allegory-or-deadly-heresy/ 

I enjoyed some of the dialog about the trinity, though there were definitely some wrong ideas in it.  I loved one scene toward the end where emotions flow as colors–it sounded so artistic.  There were several amusing and quirky scenes that I really enjoyed, which I probably shouldn’t spoil for you if you haven’t read it yet.  You just have to sift out the bad theology, and I admit there is quite a bit.

I do think that it’s interesting that there is a huge amount of criticism against portraying God as a woman.  Some people seem to be pretty concerned that this is softening us up for goddess worship, which is possible, but most of them don’t seem too worried about the even more basic idea of assigning specific images to God the Father.  I had to wonder if vivid word pictures are perhaps just as much of a problem with God as an actual graven image?

I’m certainly not going to tear it to pieces and evaluate it all.  For one thing, that’s been done many times before, and I doubt I’d have anything new to add.  For another, I don’t think it’s worth the time.  It’s just a story.  It does have some dangerous territory, but if you read it, read it lightly.  Don’t swallow it whole.  There are nuggets of good, and sorting out the bad stuff is good practice.  I don’t really think it rates all the publicity it’s getting, though.  Contrary to the blurb on the cover of the book, I wouldn’t call it a second Pilgrim’s Progress, but I guess I didn’t take it seriously enough to call it a deadly and dangerous heresy, either, as some have. 

Perhaps I’m just not deep enough to appreciate the danger, though, who knows?  I’ll be interested to hear what others think.

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About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
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19 Responses to The Shack

  1. QMTJ says:

    Since you asked.  🙂  I don’t want to get into a deep discussion about it ’cause it’s just not worth my time….and I could write PAGES about why I disagree with it.  But I will weigh in with others who HATED it and had a strong reaction against it.  I did read it.  And, I can’t for the life of me imagine anything like THAT promoting a spiritual life-changing experience in me or anyone else.  It gave me a chill…..down to my bones.  I’ve read lots of books that I don’t agree with various things.  I’ve been able in those instances to sort through and blow the chaff away.  But this book did not agree with my spirit AT ALL.  So, there’s my 2 cents.  🙂  Q.’

  2.   My doctor recommended this book to me…Before it had hit Amazon or any other bookstore.  I had to order it from the publisher.  So, it’s been awhile since I’ve read it.  My doctor is actually mentioned in the book…a thanks at the end I believe.  He is the author’s best friend.  My doctor is a wonderful, Godly  man.  A TRUE treasure to the Christian community and specifically to the pro-life community…he has done much work for the local Crisis Pregnancy Center free of charge. He’s the real thing..very solid.  That said I don’t know the author but I DO know his best friend and have known him for 25 years.  I think people have taken what he wrote  and turned into a lot of things he never intended.  The attacks have been rather vicious from what I’ve read.  Us Christians are such a fun bunch.  I read the book and loved it.  Sobbed my way through parts of it.  I grew tired of some of the banter back and forth between the characters at times. I, like you, didn’t feel the need to try and figure out and pick apart what some folks have turned the symbolism into.  We have a friend who lost a child…and they loved the book also.   I can tell you that my doctor has very little good to say about the “institutional version of the church”.  And you can see that a bit in the book also…and i have to say…I agree.  My sister in law who doesn’t get “outside the box” well hated it. Sometimes we get the weebeegeebee’s over stuff we don’t need to. I’m an expert at that..ha-ha.  I say read it for what it is…a story to his kids.    So, I’d say we agree ..just thought I”d give my perspective.I saw there’s a new book titled “Finding God in The Shack”.  I’ve wondered how they go at it.

  3. lglavy says:

    i’ve not read it, but certainly have enjoyed hearing the controversy over it.  I guess i am most concerned with the people who call a book like this life changing because i then wonder what else they are overlooking.  We have been watching the truth project video series and it is really driving home to me the fact that we take things way too surfacy (is that a word?) and don’t find the (often hidden) message that is slowly eroding the basic truths of God.  We think we live in a Christian culture so every ‘christian’ book we read is just that.  There are many ‘christian’ authors who are NOT writing Christian books, even if they ARE published by Tyndale House or whatever.  It sounds like you were able to read it for what it is…. a good story but not life changing the way the Word of God is!  Only HE can change our lives!

  4. strype53 says:

    I heard about this book in a Seminary class.  It was a good read, I read it thought in one day.  I however think that is should just be read as a book, and not having truth.  There are some concepts in it, but I do not think people should take it as being truth.  If it causes them to think then it has done it’s job.  I blogged about this a while back.  I did not go into to much depth though.  If you want to read about it go here http://www.xanga.com/strype53/?uni45251142-direction=n&uni45251142-nextdate=1%2f13%2f2009+21%3a29%3a18.530#module-45251142

  5. I think the controversy over this book is absolutely astounding. It seems that those in the Christian world are completely divided! (And satan rejoices) I found this book to be very interesting. I definitely agree with your comment about it NOT being “A Second Pilgrims Progress”. I didn’t think that at all, but I did find some interesting discussion with my husband, as well as with myself about my beliefs. This book challenged me to reshape my thinking about God. Not that I think He portrays himself as He does in the book, but more that I limit how He COULD portray himself. He can do ANYTHING, and I personally place Him in this nice little box of who I think he is and what I think he should be able to do…etc, etc. Reading “The Shack” just helped me to take the box away and be willing to believe a little deeper than I had before.There are so many things “wrong” with the shack, but I think that was sort of the point of the book. The guy who wrote it did not write it from personal experience. It is fiction. Just like “Piercing the Darkness” and those books by Frank Pereti about spiritual warfare. Personally, I can take something away from the book, (the idea I mentioned above) and be able to reccomend it to someone else. There might be certain people that I wouldn’t recomend the book to, because they may take it to litterally. But overall I think most people can read this book and come away with a new idea, as long as they don’t feel the book is supposed to be truth.Wow, sorry this ended up so long. I just wanted to throw my 2 cents in. 🙂 

  6. And I just wanted to add….You know how we can read a scipture in the Bible one day, knowing we have read it before and it suddenly touches us in a new way? I think that books are like that too.(I am in NO way equating “the shack” with the Bible! ) Some people may just read this book at the wrong time in their life and that is why it disturbs them so much….I get why it is disturbing. Some of the things done/said go against scripture and I would not deny that. (though at the moment I can’t think what.) Anyway…

  7. homefire says:

    @ProdigalChild – Thanks so much for your input!  I have had really mixed feelings about this book, partly because of the people who recommended it to me.  Three different people I know went totally gaga over it and told me it was life-changing.  I think their main point was that it taught them to see God as a loving father (and a couple of them did have a pretty rotten home life) so maybe it shouldn’t bother me, but I keep wondering whether I should be pointing out to them all the really wrong theology, or just let it ride.  I know that it’s pretty easy to just read without being critical and mostly miss that stuff, so maybe that’s what they did.  And you’re right, maybe it just happened to be the timing that made it strike them so strongly.I loved what you said about putting God in a box.  I have really worked to change that in myself, and honestly I didn’t have a problem initially with the portrayal of God as an old black woman, since I believe that God has no gender.  But as I thought about it later, I realized that there was one problem with it.  A woman, according to Corinthians, will be under her husband’s authority, so picturing God as a woman could be a problem in that way.  Even though he has within him all feminine attributes (as well as masculine) he is always in control.  That was another problem with the whole trinity thing–they kept saying that they just all agreed, and that none of them was the boss, and when I think of Jesus submitting his will to the Father’s in the garden of Gethsemane, that just isn’t right.Thanks for helping me discuss–I am finding that it needs some talking over. 

  8. Anonymous says:

    @QMTJ – I agree with you.  That’s why i’ve kind of avoided this subject.  I normally get raked over coals for it, and i have too much else on my plate right now.  Haha!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Obviously God has a real problem with graven images as these become the object of the worship itself.  And by so doing attention and glory are not directed where they should be, to God.  I would have to say that if a person assigns a vivid image to God in his or her mind it probably would not become a problem unless that person started to worship the image itself.  I know that sounds crazy and I am having trouble conveying my feelings on this.  But I would have to say that anything, whether real or imaginary, that takes away from directing worship to God Himself is idolistic.

  10. BooksForMe says:

    I’m just sticking to my rules…if I can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.  This book inspires much too many not nice thoughts.  

  11. deyoderized says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on The Shack.  I, too have several friends who told me that I just have to read it, and how much it changed their thinking.  It seems that those who are going through really hard times love it.  I haven’t read the whole book, but did skim through and read enough to know that I wouldn’t agree with everything, and more importantly that it wouldn’t all agree with the Bible. And concerning your question in bold; That’s a really good question.  One which I don’t really have an answer for.  But I’ve thought about that same thing in movies portraying Jesus.  It just seems like such a weighty thing to do.  I would think tho, that portraying God (the Father) would be even harder, since Jesus lived on the earth as a man and Scripture says that no man can see God and live.  And as far as the gender…. it seems to me that if in His Word, He refers to Himself in the male gender, and Jesus clearly called Him Father (not Mother), that if we do make attempts at portraying Him, we should let Him be Him.  I’ve also thought about the brevity of putting so many words into ‘God’s mouth’.  And while this book may provoke us to think ‘outside the box’, in my way of thinking, it has just created another box to put Him in. 

  12. homefire says:

    @deyoderized – “it has just created another box to put Him in”  Oh, that is a VERY good point!  @BooksForMe – @Papillon_Mom –   that’s fine.  I understand!@Hecalmsthestorm – I think I’m having the same problem–it all gets sort of fuzzy.  Thanks for responding.

  13. deyoderized says:

    @deyoderized – oops.  I should’ve said gravity instead of brevity.

  14. I’ve read the book and I did really like it. I’m always hesitant about recommending it though because of all the controversy. I don’t know if I’d call it life-changing, but some of the parts were very touching, and I did enjoy the portrayal of God. I like things that are “out of the box”. =)

  15. PS. I agree with what deyoderized said about those who are going through a hard time, liking it. I think that’s part of the reason I loved it so much. i think I’d have to read it again with a more critical viewpoint to find things that I don’t agree with. Just what that link to the review you posted opened my eyes a lot. I have this naive mindset of reading a book and pretty much picking out all the good and not even noticing the bad. So that review was pretty good for me. =) Thanks for this post. Love your way of looking at it…I pretty much agree. =)

  16. homefire says:

    @maripositas313 – I’m the same way.  Some of the things he mentioned I had breezed right by at the time, with hardly a thought, and it was good to go back and examine them a little.  Thanks for commenting!

  17. lookin4Jesus says:

    I haven’t read the book although I have read critiques on it and heard a man speak on it, so I will just use some of your comments to make a few comments. “As for the heresy, yes, I saw a few things that bothered me. Pretty much any book has some things that I don’t like, but this one did have several spots that I would definitely say were wrong. I enjoyed some of the dialog about the trinity, though there were definitely some wrong ideas in it. It does have some dangerous territory, but if you read it, read it lightly. Don’t swallow it whole. There are nuggets of good, and sorting out the bad stuff is good practice.” Isn’t God all truth and who is untruth? Didn’t the Deceiver use part truth in the very beginning to deceive Eve? There are immature Christians or even those who aren’t yet believers reading this book believing it to be true and that is very sad to me. I certainly don’t want to be guilty of misjudging, but I find this a little scary. I think part truth is what the Anti Christ will use to deceive people into accepting the Mark. It just seems best to try to stick to the truth.

  18. Wow, I guess I really DON’T get out much! I had no idea there was all this controversy. It has been months since I read the book. I remember crying about every other page. Why? I have always had a problem of viewing God as some stern Father, just waiting for me to do something wrong so He could punish me, that I had to be “perfect”. The overwhelming sense of failure I feel all the time is crushing. This book helped me view God as a friend. Somone who truly cared. Someone who wanted to help me grow, not beat me down. The part that impacted me the most was when he was going to be allowed to be the judge. Oh that could be me!!! Did I think everything was “right” about this book? No way. I read it as a piece of fiction and nothing more. Maybe I need to go back and read it again Blessings,Renee

  19. Just wanted to read others views on The Shack.  I didn’t particularly care for it myself.  The only part I did like is the part that you mentioned about the colors and communicating.  It looks like you read a lot.  Check out http://www.paperbackswap.com  A pretty cool site.

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