I know writing a post about The Shack now seems a little outdated but today I finished reading it.
I started reading The Shack nearly a year ago but put it down when uni reading became more of a priority, I picked it up today and finished it.
This book is such an emotional roller-coaster... and the emotion it brings is wonderful. I really like a book that brings me in and The Shack certainly achieves that.
The story is beautiful.
While it is beautiful and emotive and a wonderful piece of written work, sadly it has had a lot of controversy around it.
After The Shack was published it received an immediate response from the Christian community praising how amazing the book was and how it would be an amazing tool for evangelism. In fact, the cover of the book quotes "This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his. It's that good!".
However, after the immidiate hype came a somewhat longer lasting criticism of the book as theologically incorrect. Some of the issues include the portrayal of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Another is that of the 'logistics' of forgiveness.
Reading this book, I must admit that, as the writer states will probably occur, I am left with a greater desire for close relationship with God. Despite possible theological inaccuracies.
I think there are a couple of important things to remember when reading The Shack;
1. It was written by a non-Christian as a fictional book... he is not a theologian.
2. We should always question what we read. There are many books written which we, the Christian community, will priase simply because it is written by Wayne Grudem, John Piper, John Stott etc. We still need to question what we read and come to conclusions for our selves. This works in two ways. Firstly, we engage in what we are reading greater and therefore take away more. Secondly, we are not naive when discussing 'hot topics' such as the theological correctness of The Shack; I have had too many conversations about The Shack with people criticising it without having read it themselves.
The issue of the portrayal of God the Father ('Papa') in The Shack firstly as a woman I know has caused many to react. I would like to state however that God is outside gender. Our God is greater than our imagination and our understanding. Also, in The Shack, 'Papa' later appears as a man, a Father, He explains that Mack's issues with his father led to his needing to see God as outside of gender, and approach Him first as a big black woman to break down his stereotypes and his problems with "fathers". This, I believe, reveals God greatly! God reveals Himself understanding of our needs and difficulties, and in a way best restoring our relationship with Him.
How beautiful is that?!
I would urge anyone and everyone to read The Shack. It will bring you to tears, make you laugh, and leave you with a greater desire to know God personally. I have never read such a beautiful and challenging story... other than that of Jesus of course...