Since its debut, The Shack has been an extremely popular book, and has made it to several best seller lists. Reactions to it are quite diverse; some think it spiritually helpful, others believe it to be gross heresy.
Its opening storyline—a young girl being abducted by a serial killer—builds a compelling plot and makes the character of Mack, the girl’s father, easy to sympathize with. In an age where shows like CSI top the viewer ratings, it is easy to see why this plot would attract readers. Three and a half years after his daughter’s murder, a bitter and grieving Mack receives a mysterious note in the mail–ostensibly from God—asking him to return to the shack where her torn and bloody dress was found. Bewildered, Mack makes the journey back to that painful place and there encounters the three persons of the Trinity in a miraculous way that brings healing to his life.
Many objections have been raised about Young’s portrayal of the Trinity—his persons seem hardly orthodox. But you can give grace to the author; there is room for a little artistic latitude in this area. And though the relationship between the members of the Trinity is theologically suspect, even here this aspect of the story doesn't present as big of a stumbling block as others more central to the author’s goals.
Young seems focused on vindicating God in the age-old "problem of evil," and to establish the boundlessness of God’s love for us. These goals are both very worthy. Unfortunately, the author pays little attention to what the Bible says on the matter. He posits love as contrary to justice and in essence disregards God's words: "If you love Me, keep My commandments."
The Shack is an interesting insight into modern evangelical Christianity. And in many ways, there is no novelty in the doctrinal errors of William P. Young’s story. God cannot control evil, God loves everyone no matter what, the revelation of the Spirit is distinct from the revelation of the Word, God values relationship and hates religion and ritual–these are the current doctrinal errors that beset the majority of Christians in America. No wonder this book is a best seller.
(Adapted from a much longer review by Roseanne Spears)
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