Beginning to think I was the last person in the country who hadn’t read this book, and having had a whole bunch of people recommend it me, I finally broke down and read it.
I have to confess that this book is so popular that I didn’t expect to like it. I confess that I assumed it could only be this popular if it was as trite and theologically dubious as the Left Behind series.
Was I ever wrong.
The Shack is a very powerful and very profound book. It manages to weave into a compelling story the most complex and difficult issues in theology. I assume even a reader of this blog who hasn’t yet read the book will know that it deals with the Problem of Evil. Boy does it ever. And if the reader gets nothing out of this book other than a fair understanding of that devilish issue, that will be plenty. But the book also takes on things such as forgiveness, atonement, the institution of the church and religion, and the nature of God’s love. And it does so through dialogue and a story that don’t make it essential that the reader pause and wrestle with those issues. That depends upon the reader. As Papa asks Mack, “How deep do you want to go?” So for any who haven’t read this yet, don’t be dissuaded by the idea that you’ll find yourself stuck in some theological treatise. Part of the genuis of this book is that that doesn’t happen.
Among all the challenging theological issues that surface it this book, perhaps most memorable is its treatment of the nature of the Trinity. Mr. Young personifies the Trinity in a way that makes it unforgettable and convincing, but also explaining the essential necessity of a Trinitarian God. I honestly cannot recommend this book highly enough.
And oh, by the way, if you don’t know anything about Christian theology, and even if you couldn’t care less about it, you will enjoy the book. I am sure of that.
I was very pleasantly surprised to see Jacques Ellul quoted in this book, and even credited in the Acknowledgement. Mr. Young is involved in the house church movement, and there is a subtle but persistent theme of Christian anarchy in the book. And it is a runaway bestseller in the Christian world. How cool is that?