I recently read "The Shack" by William Paul Young. It's the latest big-selling Christian novel. I will admit I am repelled by any maudlin, pie-in-the-sky sort of Christian stories and I began the book skeptically. I was suprised when the first half was quite realistic and did not paint all the characters as unflawed goody-two-shoes. The narrator is Mack, a father of four. He tells of his family being torn apart by the abduction and murder of his 4 year-old daughter. He descends into what he calls "the great sadness".
Then Mack gets a written invitation in the mailbox from God to meet him in a shack in the Oregon wilderness. God signs the note "Papa". The shack is where his daughter was murdered and her blood still stains the floor. There he also meets Jesus and the Holy Spirit who, of course, appear to him as a diverse group of human beings - probably to break down any silly stereotypes we may have about what the Trinity actually looks like. (Can you sense my deteriorating interest in the book?)
The rest of "The Shack" gives Young's interpretations of God and all His mysterious ways. Here's where I have a problem. A mere human who has decided that he has it all figured out or to, in effect, speak for God, not to mention Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The words of the Big Three are very straight forward in their explanations. I think we would all like to have a complete understanding of God, but I do not believe that is possible here on Earth and I am wary of a person who thinks they do.
You may be surprised when I say that I wouldn't necessarily discourage anyone from reading this book. There may be some nuggets of wisdom or inspiration that hit home with you. But when I started looking up articles on the Internet about this book I found the words "dangerous" and "subversive" time and again.
Without a doubt the author's primary message is that God loves us unconditionally and He does not interfere in the free will that creates evil in this world. I do have a problem though with all the answers to life wrapped up in a neat 250 pages, because if we knew it all we wouldn't need any faith, would we?
Those who oppose the book have found many biblical misinterpretations and disturbing explanations. Have you read it? I'd like to know what you think.