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The Shack by William Young

Posted: Thu May 15, 2008 9:23 am
by Canuckster1127
This is my Amazon Review of this book. It is currently one of the best selling books on Amazon and is generating a lot of attention as well as some controversy.

Well Written. A Worthwhile Read., May 14, 2008
By B. Breen "Canuckster1127" (Sterling, VA USA) - See all my reviews

The Shack is a book that people appear to love or hate as evidenced by the disparity of reviews. Most are 5 stars and those who give it less appear to invariably give it 1 star. To stand out from the crowd, I've decided to give it 4 stars although I easily could have given it 5 stars.

While the book is written as fiction, it clearly is both a theological and psychological book intended to counsel and direct people toward a more personal relationship with God. Difficult concepts are illustrated in a way that make them easier for the reader to understand. This is the book's strength as well as its weakness. Calvinistic theologians appear to take offense at some of the concepts which is not surprising. Calvinism is more about approaching God intellectually and coming up with an answer for every question you can think of, and then some that you probably wouldn't.

It's evident to me that the author takes care in presenting the pictures and conversations with God and seeks to do so in a manner that is helpful. Clearly, it is impossible to present something, such as the Trinity, in a manner that doesn't fail at different levels. In that sense, I can understand the concerns of those who naysay the book, apparently afraid that refrigerator magnets of a black woman, Jesus and an asian women will appear in kitchens across the nation and possibly even replace Gideon Bibles in motels. The horror! Seriously though, there's good room here from some concerns and cautions to not take the message of this book beyond what I believe the author intended.

More than a theological treatise, the message I took away from this book, is that God is personal, accessible and big enough to stand up to our anger and judgment if we want to bring it to Him along with our pain and accusations. Most of us carry deep wounds in our lives, many inflicted by those we love or whom we trusted. Some from Churches and other Christians. Some, deep down, if we're honest we have to say it is God who perpetrated or allowed these wounds and we're afraid that punishment and pain will come if we dare to voice it. Young's book not only gives permission to bring these concerns but seems to indicate that God is not whom most of us believe Him to be. I think that's a positive thing even if the idea, even in fictional literary license of God being a black woman threatens my theological and cultural sensitivities.

More than anything this book and the reaction by some illustrates the divide between purely rational Christianity, ala Calvinism, and that which thrives on an element of the mystical and relational that I believe is necessary if we're going to see God as He has revealed Himself to us. It's more than a mind thing. God want us to interact with Him as a whole person, mind, emotions and will, or Spirit, Soul and Body if you will. That threatens many. Some retreat to the constructs of systematic theology to comfort themselves and remove the mystery. Some simply run to the emotional experience and exuberance. In between lies an element of Christian Mysticism where there is personal embracing and interaction and a sense of worship, wonder and awe that is heart and soul of what a relationship with God can be, if we're willing to dump the baggage we're carrying.

So 4 stars. Yes you need to consider the theological implications of some of what this book says. But it's worth the read and the effort. This book has the power to touch you deeply if you need it and will let it.

Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 8:48 pm
by Joshua
The Shack is a great book. It left me wanting to cultivate a more intimate relationship with God, and the people in my life.

Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:59 am
by Silvertusk
I have just finished reading this book and it is a beautiful book. It really turns things on its head about how we view the trinity and "religion". I would definately recommed this.

Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:49 am
by obsolete
My wife read this book and said that it was very good. She also read two books by Anne Rice, who became a Christian not too long ago, and said they were very good as well. I just can't remember what they were called.

Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:20 am
by catherine
I popped into my local Christian Bookstore on Friday and spotted this book and decided to buy it to see what all the 'fuss' is about. I'll give you some feedback when I've read it... :)

Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:43 am
by jlay
I made it about a 3rd of the way through and realized this book may be one of the most dangerous books out today. About half way I couldn't bring myself to continue. It is very subtle in introducing heretical ideas about God. It is cloaked in feel good emotionalism, and "relationship."

God is not a jovial black woman, baking biscuits in the kitchen. This book plays to our emotional immaturity and tendencies to want to create a god in our own mind that we are more comfortable with. Idolatry of the imagination is still idolatry.

The most dangerous lie is one that is veiled in a truth.

I know so many Christians who have fallen pray to this book, and I can see why. Many have since repented and condemned the book as well. The common response you hear, as if programed, is "it's fiction."

This book represents a false image of the God Head. False.

Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:49 am
by Canuckster1127
Metaphors can be difficult for many people.

Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:22 pm
by jlay
Sorry but this is not an issue of not understanding a metaphor. Pilgrim's progress is a good example without being heretical.

Quite frankly I'm sick of people trying to justify this book.

Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:29 pm
by Canuckster1127
jlay wrote:Sorry but this is not an issue of not understanding a metaphor. Pilgrim's progress is a good example without being heretical.

Quite frankly I'm sick of people trying to justify this book.
Demonstrate that it's heretical and be sick of me then. I'm equally sick of seeing it attacked by those who haven't read the entire book and leap to conclusions or absorb those of others without examining the book.

Pilgrims Progress is an allegory and it was indeed considered heretical in its day by many.

Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:28 pm
by jlay
If I am eating rotten food, I don't need to finish it to know it is rotten. It doesn't use a metaphor. It says, "this is god," and then puts words in this god's, jesus', holy spirit's mouth that are contrary to the scriptures.

Geisler does a much metter job, than I can.

Here are his points.
Problem One: A Rejection of Traditional Christianity
Problem Two: Experience Trumps Revelation
Problem Three: The Rejection of Sola Scriptura
Problem Four: An Unbiblical View of the Nature and Triunity of God
Problem Five: An Unbiblical View of Punishing Sin
Problem Six: A False View of the Incarnation
Problem Seven: A Wrong View of the Way of Salvation
Problem Eight: A Heretical View of the Father Suffering
Problem Nine: A Denial of Hierarchy in the Godhead
Problem Ten: Ignoring the Crucial Role of the Church in Edifying Believers
Problem Eleven: An Inclusivistic View of Who Will be Saved
Problem Twelve: A Wrong View of Faith and Reason
Problem Thirteen: It Eliminates Knowledge of God


I know the book provides warm fuzzies. i admit experiencing them myself. And thus the danger. How can something that feels so right, be so wrong. Sound familiar. This book does not cut it under examination. Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. Test the spirits.

I started reading the book before I ever read or heard one negative analysis of it. I was eagerly looking forward to reading it, because so many were lauding it as being this big Christian breakthrough. It was the spirit within me that gave me pause. Then I began researching and found I wasn't alone.

My negative feelings towards the book, were not initiated because I first heard negativity. In fact the opposite was true. I had heard nothing but positives. In fact my mentor was the one who told me to read it. He has since, very sorrowfully repented of this position. That is what was so tough. A man I dearly admire and count on had endorsed this book, and so I jumped in with great enthusiasm, only to be met with great grief. I withheld my objections from him. Without my input the spirit guided him back to his senses.

Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:53 pm
by Canuckster1127
You missed a few that you could have put up as well.

Most of the charges of heresy are catalogued here: ... -book.html

I encourage people to look at the charges of heresy. Test those spirits. Smell that fruit.

If you're interested in listening to the other side, then these two threads at the Official Web Site of The Shack may be of interest to you.
Resources to better Understand "The Shack's" Message and Common Criticisms
and here for a commentary I've been doing on the Book that isn't finished yet.

There's really not much else to address in your post. I accept that is your opinion. I reject your assessment of the book and there's very little in your post that comes from you that requires any further response especially since you admit you didn't read the entire book and further that you read it as something other than a fictitious parable. If you choose to read it as something that the book doesn't claim to be, I see that as reflecting more on your point of view and approach than much to do with the book.

Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 7:06 pm
by Gman
Canuckster1127 wrote:Metaphors can be difficult for many people.
Good advice Bart... I haven't read the book yet but I'll give it a try. There are many metaphors and parables in the Bible that is for sure. Not to mention Christ's parables.

Thanks for the review.

Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:13 am
by jlay
I guess you guys need a lesson in metaphors.

Try Aslan the Lion in Chronicles for a good example.

The shack is not a parable, or written in the sense of a metaphor. It says, God is Papa, Jesus is some handy man, and the Holy Spirit is some hippie chick floating around. How is that metaphorical?????

The bible does use metaphors and parables, which should give you a good idea of a definition and appropriate use. Recognizing their use in the scriptures is even better evidence that the Shack is neither. And comparing the Shack to Jesus' use of parables is nothing short of disturbing.

The shack is a book that very intentionally draws you into a heart tugging, emotional story, only to subtly start weaving in ideas about God (theology) that are heretical.

This isn't my first rodeo with the shack. I've read the arguments from both sides. One thing I know is that I can not read the Word of God and make it fit with the Shack. The shack attempts to redefine the Godhead as Mr. Young has imagined in his own mind. It is not metaphorical or a parable. That idea shows a complete lack of the understanding of those words.
The reality is that people have been uncomfortable with God as He has revealed Himself in the scriptures. And this is just another attempt, in a long line of examples, to shape a God that we are more comfortable with, which by the way is idolatry.

Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:32 am
by Canuckster1127
So far you've not given a lesson in anything except claims without backing.

The entire approach I observe of those in general who attempt to approach The Shack literally, without imagination and with a pointed desire to claim motives and representations of the author and publishers ties in quite well with what I observed and experienced when I was younger in these types of churches and these types of teaching. It ties well into the types of approach of some in the YEC movement as well and I'm in agreement with Rich Deem when he describes some of these elements as "cult-like." Those who claim New Age, Black Madonna allusions, universalism etc and that sort of thing don't strike me as any more exciting or credible than the garden-variety conspiracy theorists one can find with little effort under any internet rock.

I've examined The Shack and in fact I find that there are a great deal of ties directly to the themes of Christ's metaphors and parables. It's a work of fiction. Check the back cover of the book if you need evidence of that and the title page where it states it is a novel. Nevertheless, fiction doesn't mean that there isn't deliberation and intent through that vehicle to deliver truth and I for one greatly appreciate the book while not ascribing to it any sense of anything more than a well written fictional metaphor or parable that illustrates a great deal of many elements of relational truth that sadly has been lost in many people religious settings today.

Since you appear to "know" better than those who wrote and published The Shack as well as the vast majority of people who have read and loved the book, I will leave you to your knowledge and assumptions and give them all the weight and respect that they deserve.



Re: The Shack by William Young

Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:15 am
by jlay
Are we debating whether it's fiction? Come on. Many of the parables of Jesus were fictional, but they are still doctrinal teachings for the truth contained within, and work to establish theological understaning. Is the shack not attempting the same? Are people not running around giddy over having their "eyes opened" about god???? Are they not claiming that this book has impacted them spiritually??
So far you've not given a lesson in anything except claims without backing.
Because you don't agree. I provided a link to a very well written explanation of specific problems in the book and how they contradict sound doctrine, by a very renowned Christian thinker and president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte. And you say claims without backing?? Accusing someone of something when you are doing the same thing is called hypocrisy. I listed the points of contention in the book, and provided a link to a detailed breakdown of specific passages in the book.

Perhaps you'd like to actually discuss those, instead trying to chase rabbits like "the book is fiction." Duh. That is a weak excuse. This book hides behind the "fiction" label, and is the common argument regurgitated ad-naseum by Shackers, in attempts to derail specific criticisms about the books content. Folks are not claiming that this is good fiction. They are claiming spiritual enlightenment, and reshaped theology. Is that true, yes or no?
well written fictional metaphor or parable
Again, you are only demonstrating your lack of understanding regarding those terms. Please describe how the book is metaphorical or a parable and then maybe we can debate that.