Wednesday, October 22, 2008

the shack

So I finished reading Paul Young's "The Shack". Others have reviewed the book with more skill then I could muster (I'll suggest one review here), but I will offer a few thoughts.

First, I have a tendency to get engrossed in a good story.  The writing at times is not as polished as some novels but I found the main character and his journey compelling enough to oversee them.  

While I am still processing some of the things in the book I will say this, it made me think.  The story, for me anyways, elicited even an emotional response.  This is a book that has theology in it.  Is God good?  That is a theological question and it is the one that Mack struggles with throughout the story.

I'm not sure I agree with everything that is presented in the story.  There was at least one thing that bothered me by it's absence, and that is the role of scripture in the book and in the life of the Christian.  This is a book to provoke thought and introspection.  I imagine it will help many to start to see more 'big picture' about God and free will.  

I can recommend that you read the book (if you haven't already), but, while it is distinctly theological, in that it deals with questions of God, free will, evil and the relationships all the way around; I would recommend that you use the book as a springboard to fuel some digging into other sources for more complete answers to some of the questions raised.  

I am, like many I know, sometimes skeptical of 'phenom' Christian books.  I think there is some excellent stuff in here, some good thoughts, some good perspective, some excellent imagery and a (in my opinion) compelling narrative.  Yet this book should not be a destination, if you take my meaning, it should be a springboard to search out these answers in the Scriptures themselves.  


Vinny said...

My concern is with his purposefull promotion of universal reconciliation. By even introducing the topic he's providing a security blanket for those who may be lost or struggling with their relationship with Christ. There's no need for Christ and his death and ressurection if everyone is going to heaven anyways Satan included. He's telling people they can live however they want and in the end it will be OK. I read a good review and I don't agree with everything but the author made some really good points. click on shorter reviw to the right of the page.

Colin Toffelmire said...

Ben Witherington III also has a very thorough review on his blog. I'm too lazy to find it and link it, but a little googling will get it for you for sure.

Regarding Vinny's comment, it's important to realize that a great many of the brightest Christian theologians of the 20th century were (and are) Universalists in one sense or another. Even C.S. Lewis is very clearly a Universalist of sorts, and he's evangelicalism's darling theologian. You imply in your statements above that not going to hell is the primary reason for being a Christian. Though I'm not a Universalist myself, I do take very strong exception to that implication. Christianity is much, much more than a "get out of hell free" card, and the life, death, and resurrection of Christ is not even primarily about heaven and hell but about relationship with God. A belief in Universalism is not, in my mind, a reason to disregard or dismiss an author's work out of hand.

Sherri Nelson said...

I just finished reading this book no more than an hour ago. I loved it for all kinds of reasons, most of which I can not yet clearly formulate as the tears have barely begun to dry.
I was also intrigued and moved by the review that you have linked in your first paragraph. I don't know who he is but I am thankful that Bob, though being able to articulate all that he did, still had something to learn in the end. Guess we all have some work to do on learning the simple lessons from this book.