This post is from February 24, 2011, and I review the controversial book The Shack written by William Paul Young. I made edits and expansions when necessary; I actually tried to contract it a bit because it was pretty long.
I have not written about UT basketball in a while; school’s been kind of busy. Oh well. This post will not be about basketball but about William Paul Young’s The Shack, a very popular Christian book that came out a few years ago. Over the years, there have been rather strong reactions to the book. Some have sworn that it completely changed their outlook on God and Christianity. Others, normally on the conservative evangelical side, have denounced the book as heretical, most notably Dr. Al Mohler and Mark Driscoll. Since I have had the book in my possession for a couple of years and because of these strong reactions, I decided to read through it and see for myself what the big deal is.
My findings? In a nutshell, both extremes are overreacting: I am neither inclined to recommend the book to anyone or completely denounce it as heresy. For the details, keep reading.
Before I begin, I want to explain how I will review the book. I will not give a plot summary at all, although some plot details will surface as I explain some things. Instead, I will primarily look at some of the accusations of heresy and see if they are legitimate. It is important to keep in mind that this book is relatively tricky to review because it is not a book on systematic theology but a work of fiction, which means it will be quite a bit more artsy about how it conveys its thoughts . Still, it is a book that was originally intended to teach Young’s children about his views on God and certainly intends to teach something, and thus it is perfectly legitimate to critique the ideas presented. Also, I tried my best to read the book charitably while keeping a critical eye. I did not try to find a heresy under every rock, and when things were ambiguous I tried to give the author the benefit of the doubt. In addition, I will focus more on the theology on the book, in which Young worked with collaborators, than on the theology of Young himself, though that will come up when necessary. I will also not discuss the lawsuit between Young and his associates because it does not impact the content of the book itself.
Anyway, while I will not give a summary, the basic idea of the book will be helpful: The main character, Mack, was on a camping trip and his daughter was kidnapped and brutally murdered at an abandoned shack. Years later, he receives a letter from God to meet him at the shack, and from there the story unfolds.