Call me a heretic, but I enjoyed the novel The Shack. I have not read it until now because of all the controversy surrounding it. Some Christians promote and endorse it with great enthusiasm – while others label it as being blasphemous, heretical, misleading and unbiblical.
Having said that, I was given a copy by someone I love who knew my reservations, and was encouraged to read it anyway. I intentionally decided not to revisit any reviews of the book until after I had read it for myself, and I am quite glad that I did so. I did take a couple of precautions though; I let a friend know that I was about to read the book and gave her permission to strongly rebuke me if I started spewing false theology upon completion of it, and I also prayed before I started that God would reveal to me any parts of it that didn’t line up with his Word or what it says of His character.
If I am completely honest though, I struggled to put it down. I read it over two days and thoroughly enjoyed it. That being said, there were parts of the book that I did not agree with and would definitely not take as ‘gospel’ – and I am still not even quite sure if the book is meant to be factual or fictional.
The book itself is about a man named Mack who’s 6 year old daughter is kidnapped and murdered. Mack then receives a letter from God which says that God wants to meet him in ‘the shack’, the place where his daughter was killed. The story then goes on to describe Mack’s weekend with God. The interesting and controversial thing is that the Trinity is portrayed in an unusual way: God the Father is represented by an African American woman, Jesus is represented by an average looking Middle-Eastern man (quite normal), and the Holy Spirit, by an Asian woman.
It does sound very strange – and I personally think that it is. But I also think that the reason I was able to enjoy the story so much is because I have a (somewhat) sound theology and knowledge of God. I am able to read it moderately objectively and not be swayed by its misinterpretations of God. It is not a book of sound or systematic theology, but it is a beautiful story about a man who suffers unfathomable loss and grief, is sought out by God, and slowly starts to walk in forgiveness and healing.
One thing I will say about it though: I would not personally recommend it to a non-Christian who is seeking the God of the Bible, or even someone who is young in their faith, as I believe that at times throughout the novel the description of God does not align with the teaching of the Bible. As a Christian with a sound (but very much incomplete) understanding of doctrine and theology, I was able to relate to the character of Mack and have been blessed by reading his story.
So read it for yourself and see what you think!