Modern Reformation Reviews "The Shack"
March 24, 2009
"The shack is William Paul Young's metaphor for the heart housed by hurts, lies, and secrets. His aim in the story is to offer an approachable God of relationality and love through whom his protagonist can make sense of tragedies, failures, and disappointments. However, there is another task threaded throughout the book. Young means to dismantle preconceived notions about God and all religious conditioning (93, 119, 179, 205). In so doing, however, he creates false antitheses between faith and life, belief and practice, doctrine or religiosity and the experience of God, all of which in his view are mutually exclusive.
"The book is useful in that Young makes a number of assertions and arguments that serious Christians should consider. He is an engaging storyteller-even if the plotline is prosaic at times-and the themes tackled (namely, how we think about God) matter a great deal. However, Young has little regard for the way in which God has revealed himself in Scripture, as when Papa tells Mack, "If I choose to appear to you as a man or woman, it's because I love you. For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning" (93).
"This misses an important point, namely that God reveals himself to us by accommodating our creatureliness. God names himself and describes himself in ways that are graspable to humans; he gives us metaphors and analogies that are readily understandable. Although God is spirit, and thus neither anatomically male nor female, he identifies certain pronouns that conform to the way of redemption itself (God sends his Son, who becomes man in order to make satisfaction for sin, so that we might become children of God, Abba, our Father). It is no small thing to challenge God's self-revelation the way Young frequently does and play fast and loose with the names, titles, and designations we find in Scripture. There is, therefore, a more fundamental issue at stake in The Shack: the act of naming and the authority that goes with it. By renaming God, Young subverts the authority of the One to whom the act of naming belongs in the first place."
Read the entire review HERE.
Read Tim Challies excellent review HERE.