If you want to read a treatise on theology or religion then do not read this book. If you want to read a fictional account of one believer’s journey from religion to an intimate relationship with God, then maybe you’ll enjoy The Shack. Maybe.

I wanted to know what all the hype and controversy was about. I like to read the reviews of others but I won’t base my opinion on them. “Don’t let someone else think for me” is one of my mottoes. In my opinion I don’t think the book warrants either- the hype or the controversy. There has been so much discussion on this book that I’m not going to post all my thoughts, nor will I dissect the book. It’s been done to death. Just do a google search on it and you’ll see what I mean. (Then again maybe it would be quicker just to read the book- it’s easy reading.)  However, I wanted to read it myself. So I did. I asked my husband to read it also. We thought about the possibility of having Miss A read it but decided that it wasn’t really necessary for her to read. She has a relationship with the Lord-her relationship with Him is not based on rules and we didn’t believe she’d really benefit from reading it. However, she is reading another book called “CCM: Why I left”

Yes, there are much better books out there- both in literary style and theology. Is the book the work of the devil and to be avoided at all costs? Well, if your faith rests on your own doctrine and upholding all the rules to perfection (having all your theological ducks in a row) then yes, you should avoid it. Otherwise, read it. But read it as it was written. It was not written as a theological treatise. It’s a work of fiction! (Some people seem to forget that at times). What I find weird is that some people will go on about the evil of this book yet not bother looking too closely at the theology within the Narnia series! Yet if the theology paralleled in the Narnia series doesn’t agree with your own, then it too, is harmful- even more so because parents often put it directly into the hands of their children and then pull it to pieces with a unit study! Now I’m not using Narnia for any other reason other than to say it is fiction also…treat the book as such.
‘The Shack’ was endorsed by Eugene Peterson and put ‘up there’ with Pilgrim’s Progress.

“This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good.”

Wow, bold claim but I remembered that this was Mr. Peterson’s statement and not that of the author. In fact, it’s a bizarre statement- one I don’t understand. John Bunyan wrote the Christian classic Pilgrim’s Progress while in prison for the sake of the Gospel. Every word was rooted in the Scriptures. John Bunyan never took propositional truths of Scripture to mould/modernise/paraphrase then into a modern, easy-to-read fictional book. I believe there will always be much room for error when we attempt to portray a dialogue between God and man, aside from text straight from the Scriptures. Some people believe this book will damage the Church. Well I’m not so sure of that. The book generates a lot of discussion, a lot of Bible study and surely has pointed many people toward a deeper and real relationship with The Father. However, if any book is going to do global damage to the Church maybe it is more so Eugene Peterson’s work, “The Message”…or Rick Warren or the Emerging Church…but that’s my 2c worth, for another post, maybe, one day. 😉  The book does not cover every doctrinal teaching of the church- although some think it should and other think it did, by mere omission of any concrete statements or references. I wonder if some people read more into it than what was actually written?

The author desires to teach the reader about God and God’s relationship to his creation. He labours some points but this is obviously something he did purposely, to the exclusion of other points. I didn’t agree with everything…but then again, who do I agree 100 % with? 😉 Not even my favourite authors! I’m not about to take the superior attitude that all my beliefs are right therefore you are all wrong! 😉

The book will be helpful and beneficial for some…for some that had/have a skewed image of God…of God as Father and Creator. As a believer for over 20 years I didn’t have issues with the book. I chewed on the meat and spat out the bones.  However, I believe that I am learning to be more discerning…trying to develop that skill (when in doubt I ask my husband). I won’t recommend the book to anyone and everyone though.

Throughout reading this book, I was driven to the Scriptures to search out various issues. This was a good thing! For in the analysing and comparing it with scripture and then learning to articulate my position (striving for discernment) I grow in the knowledge and understanding of God.

I was blessed, encouraged and strengthened to read of the relationship between the Godhead. I enjoyed seeing how God and the Holy Spirit were portrayed. People who have an issue with God being portrayed as a dark skinned woman may really have a few issues that God wants to deal with- in the area of Himself and His nature – His sexuality – True sexuality. Many people have this view of God as male – 100% male and are totally horrified to think of God in any way, as maternal or nurturing. God presents Himself to us in the Scriptures as male but he created us in His own image

Why does God allow evil?  Why doesn’t He intervene in a real, tangible way?  How can God be three yet one?  What does it mean that Jesus lived here as fully God and fully man?

The book shows me that I can have a real relationship with our Father…shows me that The Father desires it!  I don’t see the big picture…I certainly don’t see how anything evil can ever fit in with or be a part of the fulfillment of God’s plan. But I am learning to trust in God more…to trust in the faithful Father of the Bible. Even when I can’t see it or am not experiencing the feeling or sense of His love I am trusting In Him. I don’t have to understand it all but I can trust in Him and His heart.

How can I presume to know what God does and why? I do not know the whole Truth…I know God but I don’t know all the mysteries and truths of God. What I do know is that He is a just God, a righteous God, a loving God who rules over all with omnipotence and in omniscience.

That, I know from the scriptures…but as to anything else, I do not know. I don’t know much. I don’t understand much. I don’t have all my theological ducks in a row…and for what it’s worth I’ve met people who have seemingly had their theological ducks in a row and then been affected by personal tragedy and their theology has not held them – this is where relationship comes into play. God desires relationship with us- not strict adherence to a set of rules, or a prescribed way of living but a relationship – fellowship with us – communion with us, His creation.

This is my theology- when I don’t understand God’s ways or His doing, I look at trusting His heart. ( I remember reading that quote years ago- it’s a Spurgeon one from memory)

Ultimately if you choose to read it I pray that it will drive you to the Scriptures to seek more clearly the God of the Bible…that you will desire a closer walk with the Father. If you choose to not read it, then buy or listen to Pilgrim’s Progress or better yet, grab a pen and paper and your Bible and get into The Word. My relationship with my God was strengthened and deepened by reading The Shack…but again, that’s my opinion from my perspective. Your mileage may vary. It’s fiction. God’s word is not. Read The Shack if you want to…read it alongside your Bible. Line it up with the word…but don’t be scared of a book. It won’t turn you away from God- it will point you to a deeper relationship with Him. Go to Him. run to Him. Hide in Him.

“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
(1 Timothy 4:4)