Archive for October, 2008

Novel Review: The Shack

Title: The Shack                                                                        

Author: William P. Young

Summary: From Amazon.com

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant “The Shack” wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!

Positive Elements: This is a wonderfully descriptive and vivid story of the relationship between one man and his heavenly father. Mack endures through one of the most horrific tragedies imaginable to a parent: the loss of a child. During his grieving he has given up on God, church and all things associated with religion. In the story God reveals himself to Mack in many ways on many different levels. Simply, He shares in Mack’s pain and then brings him comfort.  This story is a reminder that God does not like it when bad things happen to us but that he can purpose good out of it for those who love him. (Romans 8:28).  With God’s restoration, Mack was even able to do something unimaginable to many of us; forgiving his daughter’s perpetrator. The burden of bitterness was lifted and Mack was able to have a life fulfilled. I am reminded of the verse in Isaiah 40:31 which says, But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not be weary; they will walk and not faint.  Even in the midst of our suffering we can make a choice. We can flee and let bitterness, anger and doubt seep in, as it did in Mack prior to his meeting at the shack. Or we can embrace it and put our hope in the Lord that he will work it out for His will and purpose.

Sexual Content: None

Violent Content: The premise of the story revolves around the kidnapping and subsequent murder of a young girl. While not graphic in detail, the topic itself can be uncomfortable for many.

Profanity: None

Drug Content: None

Conclusion: I believe that this story provided an amazing insight into the restoration God provides us in our suffering. His hand is always at work in our lives. One of the verses that comes to mind is James 1:2-4 which says, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trial of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Mack certainly did not find joy in his suffering but God was faithful to him and joy came to him as he persevered through his trial.  I do have some issues with some of the theology presented in the book. Particularly with respect to the trinity. At one point Mack notices nail prints in God’s hand. I don’t believe there is biblical evidence for this to be possible. In one scene, Jesus tells Mack with regards to his followers that he had no desire to make them Christians. Christian by definition means follower of Christ and his teachings. I would urge every reader of The Shack to keep your Bible handy while reading as to reference any theological discrepancies.

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