Title: The Shack
Author: Wm. Paul Young
The Shack, a novel by Wm. Paul Young, is a story about Mack, a man who is suffering over the loss of his youngest daughter and the guilt that haunts him. Apparently, God has invited Mack to the very place where his daughter died a tragic death. Mack wonders if the invitation is a cruel joke or if God really did send the invitation. Mack cautiously accepts, and heads into the woods where the shack is located, and he finds a world that is both familiar and, at the same time, strange.
Essentially, Mack has an encounter with God, who manifests as a theophany of three individuals. There have been some books and reviews written that question the theology portrayed in the novel; however, the focus of the story is not on theology. The focus is on relationship between God and one particular man who needs his soul to be healed from guilt and loss. Some might find it blasphemous that God the Father, known informally in the story as Papa, appears as a woman. The dialogue clearly states that God is neither male nor female, and Papa appears to Mack as a woman because that is more comforting to Mack and what he is going through. In addition, the story alludes to Mack having a very broken relationship with his earthly father, so it makes sense that God would appear as a women to help Mack feel more comfortable. Papa later appears as an elderly man because at the time, Mack needs a father figure. Jesus appears as authentically Jewish in appearance, and the Holy Spirit appears as a female who seems to flutter around just as the wind would do. This appearance is also consistent with the Spirit being compared to the wind. Although there is much speculation on how God might appear physically and communicate to a human being in this tale, I don’t see any contradiction to how he has revealed himself in Scripture, which must be the standard that we judge theological positions. Critics also need to remember that this is a work of fiction and not a theological dissertation.
Overall, The Shack is a wonderful story of God’s loving relationship within the three persons of the Trinity as well as love for individuals. The story’s focus on relationship, love, loss, grief, forgiveness, brokenness, and healing make this novel one of the best Christian novels that I have read in several months. I highly recommend the book, and I look forward to seeing the movie.
My rating is 5.
Guest review by Cleve Johnson
Note: I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book. The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility. Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ . Also follow me on Twitter@lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457