If you have been keeping up with this blog for any amount of time, you know that there are some books out there in the Christian market that I have spoken (harshly at times) against.
One of these is The Shack by William P. Young.
Wait, please don’t stop reading now… this is not going to be another attack on my part, recently, some things have been revealed to me about this book, and they are (can I even say it?) good things… we’ll cover those first:
One of the central themes to this book is the fact that the main character (Mac) is highly favored by God. God loves us. This is important to know, and indeed Young does a somewhat decent job in showing this love, in however unorthodox ways.
There is a scene in the book that shows Mac’s dead daughter on the other side of eternity waiting for him. He is floored with greif, and she wonders why he is like that. She feels no pain, no regret, no sorrow, and no tears well up in her eyes. This is utterly true of heaven- except in heaven, Jesus is always there with us, and that is why there is no sorrow.
So, no, the book is not all that bad. If you only take these things as truth and reject the rest.
I will still say that there are some heresies in there that should have been left behind.
Tim Challies does a great job covering many issues here. But if 17 pages is too long for you, see his shorter one here. Both of these are great reviews that are worth reading if you feel inclined to read this novel.
So is there anything that Challies left out? This is dangerous ground when dealing with a mind as great as his! So, to avoid reinventing the wheel, I will simply point out and expand on two points that he alluded to.
There are those who have felt that they are able to forgive people better now that they have read The Shack. Challies handles that in the shorter review, but what about God and forgiveness? Can we forgive God? Do we have to? Do we even have the right? It has been two months now since I read it, but I remember one line perhaps better than all the rest. During his conversation with “Papa” (the “God the Father” woman figure) Mack curses at her and accuses her of being cruel et cetera. “Papa” follows this accusation by saying, “I’m sorry that I had to do that to you.”
I’m sorry? God saying I’m sorry?
He’s God! He has no need of apologizing to anyone!
If God ever needed to apologize to anyone for anything, it would carry two negative connotations for our lives as believers:
- That God has done something wrong- which goes completely against the teachings of Malachi 3:6, James 1:13, and Titus 1:2.
- That he owes us something- which would contradict Ephesians 2:8-9 by saying that we are so good and deserve good things from God.
But I suppose if you have already replaced the truth of God with a lie, then these are easy things to say about His character.
There is another section of the book where “Papa” says something that is awkward and, well, not something God would ever say. He (she?) says thankyou because Mack has complemented her (him?) on something. Would that happen? I understand that this is fiction, but it is theological fiction. God does not thank people. If He did it would again imply that He needs us and we would not have a great and powerful, almighty, sovereign God.
And again, to avoid reinventing the wheel, John Piper is much more eloquent about this here.
Again, there have been harsh things said about this book. Mark Driscoll has rightly said that “regarding the Trinity, it’s actually heretical.”
When you look at the points on eternity and how God loves us, there are rays of truth that can be found. However, I have found a book that is much better at explaining all of this.
It’s called the Bible. And we, as God-fearing Christians, should be pointing to the Word of God instead of other books (even if they are truthful) in order to show true love and forgiveness towards others in our lives.