You are hereShacked Up With God (Part 1)

Shacked Up With God (Part 1)

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By SuperSoulFighter - Posted on 05 May 2008

by John McPherson
27 Depart from evil, and do good;
And dwell forevermore.
28 For the LORD loves justice,
And does not forsake His saints;

They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off... 30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom,
And his tongue talks of justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
None of his steps shall slide.
…(Psalm 37:27-31, NKJV)

27 Depart from evil, and do good;
And dwell forevermore.
28 For the LORD loves justice,
And does not forsake His saints;

They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off... 30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom,
And his tongue talks of justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
None of his steps shall slide.
…(Psalm 37:27-31, NKJV)

I NEVER lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod;
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!


Angels, twice descending,
Reimbursed my store.
Burglar, banker, father,
I am poor once more!
- Emily Dickinson


In the true spirit of cultural engagement and forward-thinking consideration of the potential that Preterist thinking and belief have for beneficial societal change, I would like to present a critique of the latest "literary offering" and "rage" currently taking Evangelicalism by storm. I refer to none other than "The Shack", by William P. Young. Because of the continuing impact fundy Evangelicalism is having on our society, it may be in everyone's best interests to consider the perspectives and ideas currently being popularized among these people.


This novel purportedly presents the reader with a fresh, new understanding of God and insight into what it means to be in relationship with Him. Presumably, since most mainstream 21st Century Christians are somewhat uncomfortable with reading and studying the Scriptures for themselves, we require a fictionalized treatment of the Truth contained therein to fully appreciate the spiritual realities God intended us to enjoy as His People.


And so, at the risk of appearing to be a nitpicker and a somewhat negative person…I will present my understanding of this book’s presentation of God and His relationship with His People vs. the Biblical understanding of both (and there is, indeed, an inevitable contrast). I will present a critique of the core concepts and fundamentals this book presents where God is concerned, without (hopefully) spoiling the plot for those who haven’t had the opportunity, as yet, to read this book.


Any critique of a fictional work should necessarily bring into consideration both its literary merits and its intended message, per its underlying themes. With this in mind, my own assessment of the author’s style, presentation, use of characterization, foreshadowing, etc. is that this is clearly a marginal effort, somewhat unpolished, by a new author requiring further honing of his skills in these areas. His syntax, phrasing and vocabulary are somewhat awkward and stilted – particularly at the outset. But the intent, I believe, was to create a work of pulp fiction rather than a truly literary work of art. And so with this in mind, we move on to the intended message (for the communication and marketing of a “message” or “core truth” is most often the justification behind Christian fiction) in this book.


The cover presents us with the spiritual theme before we even have the opportunity to discover the book’s contents for ourselves (just in case, presumably, Christian bookstore shoppers are inclined to view fictional works as primarily escapist entertainment with little spiritual value). “WHERE TRAGEDY CONFRONTS ETERNITY” is the heading above the title. That should certainly resonate with the average Christian’s experience. If that doesn’t grab one’s attention, Eugene Peterson’s quote at the bottom of the front cover is the piece de resistance, “This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!” High praise, seemingly, although I’m not sure what, exactly, Pilgrim’s Progress did for Bunyan’s generation. I do know that Bunyan’s great work is regarded as a literary classic and is valued as a demonstration of English mastery and an artistic expression of an individual’s faith. I don’t believe that “The Shack” can be viewed as being on par with Pilgrim’s Progress in that sense at all. But perhaps they ARE comparable in their shared misunderstandings and faulty perceptions of God and the Christian life. I read Pilgrim’s Progress more than once in my youth, and always found it singularly depressing (for good reason, at it turns out). I never found it inspiring or of any devotional merit whatsoever. As I matured and developed in my understanding of life, I came to realize that it really represented the perceptions of a man enduring the misery of prison in that period of history. Obviously, his daily experiences colored his view of the human experience in general, and he had the temerity to create a tale supposedly accurately portraying that reality.


“The Shack”’s premise and plot are encapsulated for the potential reader, on the back cover, as follows: “Mackenzie Allan Philps’ 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!” If the people I know want to read this book for its entertainment value, that’s fine…but I have a problem with the way God is portrayed in it and hopefully there would be room for discussion of this problem after they have finished. The “answers Mack [got]” at the shack didn’t astound me so much as confirmed my belief that evangelicals are awash in a sea of inane profundities, complexities, mysteries and misunderstandings in their perceptions of God and His fundamental Nature and Being. To quote the book itself, the author has God make these comments, “Mackenzie, I am what some would say ‘holy, and wholly other than you’. The problem is that many folks try to grasp some sense of who I am by taking the best version of themselves, projecting that to the nth degree, factoring in all the goodness they can perceive, which often isn’t much, and then call THAT God. And while it may seem like a noble effort, the truth is that it falls pitifully short of who I really am. I’m not merely the best version of you that you can think of. I am far more than that, above and beyond all that you can ask or think.” “I’m sorry, but those are just words to me. They don’t make much sense.” Mack shrugged. “Even though you can’t finally grasp me, guess what? I still want to be known.”…Mackenzie, as you might imagine, there are some advantages to being God [not including, apparently, an ability to communicate Himself effectively to man – JM]. By nature, I am completely unlimited, without bounds [an outright, unBiblical error/lie – JM] . I have always known fullness. I live in a state of perpetual satisfaction as my normal state of existence…Just one of the perks of Me being Me.” [another fatuous, unBiblical error/lie]. Actually, Young’s writing more closely resembles that of C.S. Lewis than Bunyan, but again – he isn’t of the same caliber by any means, nor is his understanding of Scriptural Truth on par with that of Lewis.

From these erroneous perceptions of the God of Israel, Young moves on to a faulty presentation of the Son of God – Christ Jesus Himself – and what His life was intended to represent to His followers and People. He writes (putting these words in God’s mouth), Jesus is fully human. Although he is also fully God, he has NEVER drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being. [‘Scuse me…chapter and verse please?] He is just the first to do it to the utter most – the first to absolutely trust my life within him, the first to believe in my love and goodness without regard for appearance or consequence. [ Ummm….just a thought here….this wasn’t Jesus’ primary mission, nor does it ultimately, accurately and factually define His manifestation of God to man]. “So, when he healed the blind?” “He did so as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone.” [We’d better review the relevant Scriptures on that one, but one can readily appreciate the doctrinal system and theological perspective underlying these statements put in God’s mouth. It’s quite obvious where this line of thinking is headed]. ”Only as he [Jesus] rested in his relationship with me, and in our communion – our co-union – could he express my heart and will into any give circumstance. [God is losing all readers, and the protagonist, in mystical profundities at ths point]. So, when you look at Jesus…what you are actually seeing is me; my life in him. That’s how he lives and acts as a true human, how every human is designed to live – out of my life.” The poor readers’ eyes fill with tears as their minds begin to melt down. There’s just not enough propositional truth and substance here to sink one’s comprehensional “teeth” into. Mainstream evangelicals, of course, are used to swooning at this sort of mystical jargon, assuming that something revolutionary is being communicated.


Funnily enough, just a little further down the page from the last quote, we read “Mack felt the onset of information overload. So he pulled up a chair and just sat down. This would take some time to comprehend.” Try MISINFORMATION overload. And taking the rest of one’s life to struggle with this gibberish would never make it any more comprehensible than at the outset. It would be just as spiritually productive to meditate on the sound of one hand clapping! Mack goes on to ask God, ” So does this mean that you were limited when Jesus was on earth? I mean, did you limit yourself only to Jesus?” God responds, “Not at all! Although I have only been limited in Jesus, I have never been limited in myself.” [God enjoys being an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, packaged in a riddle, apparently – according to Young, anyway.] Mack responds, “There’s that whole Trinity thing, which is where I kind of get lost.” God enjoys “a long, rich belly laugh” at this. I enjoyed a few long, rich belly laughs myself – with God – in between pitying headshakes and snorts of irritation and disgust. Mack may “kind of get lost” when it comes to the Trinity, but the rest of us were “lost” WITH him long before that. Young loses the reader in inane, garbled reasoning that really has no basis in Scripture and Truth. Unfortunately, it DOES reflect the nature and substance of the teaching and preaching occurring in mainstream Evangelicalism and Churchianity today. Which is why so many prominent evangelicals endorse this book so highly, and why church-goers are so avidly raiding Christian bookstore shelves for it.


Young’s biggest mistake, throughout his thematic presentation of the book’s “core message” (coincidentally occurring right in the middle of the book), is his perception of the God of Israel as being “transcendent” or “totally other” and “unlimited” in every aspect of His Being. His view of God is best expressed in these statements (once again placed in God’s mouth, in this story, in order, presumably, to lend them greater credibility), “To begin with, that you can’t grasp the wonder of my nature is rather a good thing. Who wants to worship a God who can be fully comprehended, eh? Not much mystery in that.” Conversely, who wants to worship Young’s totally mystical, nonsensical, incomprehensible God? Not me, for one. He bears no resemblance to the God of Israel.


The author’s speculative approach to spiritual things hits a real low when he tries to express the mystical relationship between the believer and Jesus. Here’s how he manages to confuse the reader: "My purpose from the beginning was to live in you and you in me." "Wait, wait. Wait a minute. How can that happen? If you're still fully human how can you be inside me?" "Astounding isn't it? It's Papa's miracle. It is the power of Sarayu, my Spirit, the Spirit of God who restores the union that was lost so long ago. Me? I choose to live moment by moment fully human. I am fully God but I am human to the core. Like I said, it's Papa's miracle." In actual fact, this "miracle" identified as God's incomprehensible accomplishment in somehow implanting the fully human Jesus into each spiritually reborn person is a nonsensical concept evidencing the author's lack of understanding of Biblical Truth. For the Nature, Mind and Heart of Jesus/God to be born and developed within the mind and heart of a regenerated person is not the same thing as the supposedly physical, human Jesus personally, physically entering and residing within that person's body. It's ludicrous and ridiculous to literalize the concept in a physical sense this way - attributing it to a supernatural "miracle" or not.


The real travesty comes when Mack is instructed (by a nameless female entity in a cave, who is eventually identified as Sophia/wisdom) to sit in judgment upon God and the human race. He frantically refuses to pass judgment upon God OR the human monster who murdered his little daughter, especially when he is told that he must choose between his own children as to who will spend eternity in heaven and who will spend it in hell. Of course, Mack’s lack of familiarity with the Biblical revelation of God Himself and God’s eternal Kingdom (not to mention the true nature of the afterlife, with hell having been eternally eliminated about 2 millennia ago), leaves him unable to do anything other than offer his own life and person for damnation in place of his children. This is supposed to typify, to the reader, the “love of God for the entire human race”. Not only does none of this have anything to do with humanity as a whole, but it generates a completely distorted view of Christ’s Messianic sacrifice of Himself on behalf of HIS COVENANT PEOPLE who needed redemption from within the Old Covenant “world” and religious system. Young's sermonizing goes beyond the inane to the ludicrous in these statements also: "Actually," Jesus started to speak but paused to throw one last skipping stone, "with [Sophia/wisdom], everything is normal and elegantly simple. Because you are so lost and independent you bring to her many complications, and as a result you find even her simplicity profound." These pitiful efforts to "dumb down" the Truth actually enhance its complexity (quite the opposite of the "simplicity" Young tries to impose upon it all).


So we see the false perceptions, errors and lies of futurism powerfully at work in Young’s novel - to the further injury and confusion of the futurist, Creedalist, Protestant, Evangelical Christian church-going readers – who are already mortally disoriented. Young, I believe, is writing out of a very sincere desire to clarify God’s Nature, Character and means of interacting with humanity, on the basis of his own befuddled understanding of the Scriptures. Unfortunately, his efforts are only muddying the waters further. He descends from his attempt to sustain a compelling narrative, in the first few chapters of his novel, to good old-fashioned "preachiness" and camp-fire/Sunday School haranguing, in a thinly-veiled, fictionalized treatment of God and His Person. Mind you, Bunyan did no better, in my view. It’s just that his works had greater literary merit, and are worthy of consideration on that basis alone.


I will continue and conclude this critique in Part 2, where some of Young's most distorted views on God's Person and Mind will be exposed as the fallacies that they are.


John McPherson

SuperSoulFighter's picture

My opening text in this article was chosen with care to communicate something to the reader that I didn't bother to elaborate upon directly in the article itself. Throughout this book, Mack - the grieving, bereaved father - seeks justice on behalf of his daughter. He doesn't go to the police and authorities seeking this immediately. They are still involved in the manhunt for the killer. Rather, he seeks justice, ultimately, from GOD. In his personal encounter with the "god" of Mr. Young's novel, he is informed that God's ideas in this area really don't match his deeply felt need for equity, a restoration of balance and a punishment fitting the crime. Unmentioned in this book are concepts introduced by C.S. Lewis in "Mere Christianity" which pertain to the human conscience and God-given sense of "fairplay".

Too often, God is viewed as so "other" (per Mr. Young's presentation of him) that we can never comprehend how any sense of fairness and justice can be applied, at any level, to His dealings with evildoers and His supposed protection of those He loves. God is provided with endless loopholes and no accountability whatsoever for His actions - no need to explain even ("The Shack" certainly provides no explanation in coherent terms) - since "God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, etc. etc....yawn". A God whose actions are so incomprehensible, whose very PERSON is beyond comprehension, is incapable of a personal relationship with anyone. So we really shouldn't troubles ourselves much with that idea OR with Him. He's too remote. We're just bugs, or worse. THAT'S the core message in "The Shack". And that's why my approach to it doesn't include kid gloves.

JM

gracescarredhands's picture

The formatting in my previous post was dreadful !! I hope you didn't even try to read it and skipped to my second attempt. I am not great at this!!! ....

Hi John,

You wrote that in ‘The Shack’ William P Young reveals “a God .. whose very PERSON is beyond comprehension, (who) is incapable of a personal relationship with anyone. .. he’s remote .. and we're just bugs, or worse. THAT'S the core message in "The Shack".

John, when I read your comment I was surprised because your perception of the ‘core message’ of ‘The Shack’ is a world removed from the ‘core message’ perceived by other readers, who are also Christians. I visited the ‘Wind Rumors’ website and you’d think the posters had read another book with the same title! I am sure there are many folk who feel the same as you, however, and I respect your point of view. Anyway, I went back to the website and copied some of the responses. The God reflected in these responses is anything but a ‘remote God incapable of personal relationship with anyone”. It is indeed a precious that God has used William P. Young to bring healing and wholeness to many people. God works in mysterious ways. There is something in this book, and in the theology that inspired it, that makes God more real to ordinary people, especially those who have experienced ‘a great sadness’. And that is all of us .. isn’t it?

•In September I gave birth to twin girls at 21 weeks. Our loss is devastating and heartbreaking. Similar to Mack, my thought was to immediately blame God for causing this to happen. How could I trust someone (who I have known for 16 years) after something like this? It felt as if I had to get to know him all over again in light of what He allowed to happen in my life. The Shack helped me to be re-introduced to my Savior. After finishing your book, I let out a breath, a sigh, a cry; reassured of my love for my Lord and His goodness and faithfulness in my life; knowing that my life, my loss, is a part of the bigger story of what God wants to do, in and through me. I know my daughter’s lives and deaths past through His hands. I won’t know the fullest extent of all of this until I meet Him and my girls in heaven, but I am confident of this–I have hope in HIM and He is good!.

•I’ve heard that when the Apostle Paul would come into a community, he’d go to the center of town, take off his shirt, point to his scars and tell the story of Jesus. You kept your shirt on, but you opened your heart…you showed us your scars and we saw the healing work of Papa.

•I also had a father that knew not how to love his children in the unconditional way and it has taken me the better part of 53yrs. to understand God’s love for me. This book helped ice the cake for me, there is much more intimacy in my relationship with God now than ever before and I find myself calling him Papa with ease.

•There wasn’t much about The Shack I didn’t love. Grace at the meals…understanding the infinite nature of God’s love…forgiveness….judgement. I have grown in a way I never expected.

•My husband picked up The Shack for me not even knowing what it was. (He thought it was a mystery with maybe a Christian twist.) What he didn’t know was that it was God who put that book in his hands. I can’t begin to describe what this has meant to me, as an abused child, as an alcoholic adult, as a third time married struggling wife, as a guilt-ridden person, as a never-good-enough mother, etc. I will read it again and again, because it will take time to get through the huge walls I have thrown around myself. I have been in tears since I picked it up. I cried almost all the way through it, and I’m crying as I write this. It’s amazing how deep pain goes and how strong the claws are that grip and won’t let go. Thank you for a life changing book.

•My daughter died a the age of 27 and left two small children 13 years ago. The Great Sadness has been such a part of my lift for so long that it is part of my makeup. I am ready to step out of it NOW! Thank you so much for what you wrote in this book. It has changed my life.

•Every time I finish a George McDonald book I feel like a child nestled in the arms of my heavenly, loving Father. The Shack has had the same effect except it walked me through the pain of losses. Hard as the scenes of Missy are they began to tell the pain of betrayal that only those who have experienced it can imagine. It feels like murder because part of innocence dies, childhood is kidnapped and emotional torture perpetuated. The sting of the pain is gone. I have been reminded in your book not to read the world through my pain but through the victory of God’s simple and unmeasurable love. Thanks

•Father has used/is using it in all of our lives, and the ripples are spreading. It’s hard to even look at people now without the conscious thought that God is ‘especially fond’ of them…it changes the world so much.

•The Shack has been really instrumental in helping me forgive someone that I’ve been angry towards for years. I’ve prayed for so long that God would help me forgive that person, and I never felt like I could. While reading The Shack, I realized that that person is special and so loved by God, and I started feeling the anger in me drain away. I now think of that person with affection, which I never thought could be possible.

•Since I finished the book, every time I start to worry about something (and I am a worrier) I feel three persons surrounding me and smiling at me and asking that I leave my worries in their precious, wounded hands.

I also came across these words by William P. Young.

“My history is one of many losses, some totally my fault, some not. The story embodies in many ways ‘my’ story. At first all I had were a bunch of scraps and notes, and frankly, when I first sat down at the computer I didn’t have the story either (I was planning on just typing in my notes so I wouldn’t lose them). I can’t really explain what happened but as I typed, the story simply ‘emerged’ and started to take form, out of my experiences and journey. For example, I have camped at that campground at Wallowa Lake (the deer were a nuisance and the chipmunks and night bandits did raid all our cookies).

The losses in the story are very deep. My losses are personal and very deep as well and while not identical, very similar. The questions that arise out of loss are very common to most of us. Sometimes we minimize our history and the losses we have had (there is always someone that we could imagine has had it worse), but choosing this particular story raised the questions front and center. This, especially for us parents, is a loss almost beyond comprehension.”

God bless you, John.

Gracescarredhands.

SuperSoulFighter's picture

I really should have responded to your further comments, here, Grace with some clarifications. Here they are now, a little belatedly.

God bless you too, Grace. More on this subject to come this week (i.e. Part 2 of the critique, which was complete when I posted Part 1 but I wanted to leave time for people to respond to the first part. The whole critique was too long for one article).

John, when I read your comment I was surprised because your perception of the ‘core message’ of ‘The Shack’ is a world removed from the ‘core message’ perceived by other readers, who are also Christians. I visited the ‘Wind Rumors’ website and you’d think the posters had read another book with the same title! I am sure there are many folk who feel the same as you, however, and I respect your point of view. Anyway, I went back to the website and copied some of the responses. The God reflected in these responses is anything but a ‘remote God incapable of personal relationship with anyone”. It is indeed a precious that God has used William P. Young to bring healing and wholeness to many people. God works in mysterious ways. There is something in this book, and in the theology that inspired it, that makes God more real to ordinary people, especially those who have experienced ‘a great sadness’. And that is all of us .. isn’t it?

Unfortunately, Grace, the Christians who posted these responses are content with an unScriptural caricature of the God of the Bible. They think portraying Him as a gentle, compassionate, "warm fuzzies", cuddly "god" (I'm not sneering here, I'm just trying to emphasize the precise nature of Young's portrayal of God), coupled with vague, incomprehensible, self-contradictory statements concerning Himself is somehow profound and provides fresh, new insights into His Person and the possibilities of relationship with Him. It's absolutely mind-boggling to me, Grace. It really is.

When you consider the nonsense presented and peddled as self-revelatory Truth by the "god" of "The Shack", it's painful - particularly when you see the disparity between the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - and Young's "Elousia"/"Papa", "Jesus" and "Sarayu".

I want to make something very very clear here, though, before proceeding to post the conclusion to my critique of the book. I do not resent Young's portrayal of God as an Aunt Jemimaish African-American woman OR as an old Sam Elliott-type "father figure". That is not where I take issue with his fictionalized treatment of God's Person. These quirky little devices could be overlooked for the fictions they are, IF the core ideas were more in keeping with the Scriptures themselves. Unfortunately, the real points of failure where this book is concerned lie in the distorted picture of God's fundamental PERSON presented therein. I find this distortion intolerable and deserving of critical comment - all positive feedback and "blessing" testimonials seemingly derived from this distorted caricature of God notwithstanding.

gracescarredhands's picture

Hi John,

You wrote that in ‘The Shack’ William P Young reveals “a God .. whose very PERSON is beyond comprehension, (who) is incapable of a personal relationship with anyone. .. he’s remote .. and we're just bugs, or worse. THAT'S the core message in "The Shack".
John, when I read your comment I was surprised because your perception of the ‘core message’ of ‘The Shack’ is a world removed from the ‘core message’ perceived by other readers, who are also Christians. I visited the ‘Wind Rumors’ website and you’d think the posters had read another book with the same title! I am sure there are many folk who feel the same as you, however, and I respect your point of view. Anyway, I went back to the website and copied some of the responses. The God reflected in these responses is anything but a ‘remote God incapable of personal relationship with anyone”. It is indeed a precious that God has used William P. Young to bring healing and wholeness to many people. God works in mysterious ways. There is something in this book, and in the theology that inspired it, that makes God more real to ordinary people, especially those who have experienced ‘a great sadness’. And that is all of us .. isn’t it?
• In September I gave birth to twin girls at 21 weeks. Our loss is devastating and heartbreaking. Similar to Mack, my thought was to immediately blame God for causing this to happen. How could I trust someone (who I have known for 16 years) after something like this? It felt as if I had to get to know him all over again in light of what He allowed to happen in my life. The Shack helped me to be re-introduced to my Savior. After finishing your book, I let out a breath, a sigh, a cry; reassured of my love for my Lord and His goodness and faithfulness in my life; knowing that my life, my loss, is a part of the bigger story of what God wants to do, in and through me. I know my daughter’s lives and deaths past through His hands. I won’t know the fullest extent of all of this until I meet Him and my girls in heaven, but I am confident of this–I have hope in HIM and He is good!.
• I’ve heard that when the Apostle Paul would come into a community, he’d go to the center of town, take off his shirt, point to his scars and tell the story of Jesus. You kept your shirt on, but you opened your heart…you showed us your scars and we saw the healing work of Papa.
• I also had a father that knew not how to love his children in the unconditional way and it has taken me the better part of 53yrs. to understand God’s love for me. This book helped ice the cake for me, there is much more intimacy in my relationship with God now than ever before and I find myself calling him Papa with ease.
• There wasn’t much about The Shack I didn’t love. Grace at the meals…understanding the infinite nature of God’s love…forgiveness….judgement. I have grown in a way I never expected.
• My husband picked up The Shack for me not even knowing what it was. (He thought it was a mystery with maybe a Christian twist.) What he didn’t know was that it was God who put that book in his hands. I can’t begin to describe what this has meant to me, as an abused child, as an alcoholic adult, as a third time married struggling wife, as a guilt-ridden person, as a never-good-enough mother, etc. I will read it again and again, because it will take time to get through the huge walls I have thrown around myself. I have been in tears since I picked it up. I cried almost all the way through it, and I’m crying as I write this. It’s amazing how deep pain goes and how strong the claws are that grip and won’t let go. Thank you for a life changing book.
• My daughter died a the age of 27 and left two small children 13 years ago. The Great Sadness has been such a part of my lift for so long that it is part of my makeup. I am ready to step out of it NOW! Thank you so much for what you wrote in this book. It has changed my life.
• Every time I finish a George McDonald book I feel like a child nestled in the arms of my heavenly, loving Father. The Shack has had the same effect except it walked me through the pain of losses. Hard as the scenes of Missy are they began to tell the pain of betrayal that only those who have experienced it can imagine. It feels like murder because part of innocence dies, childhood is kidnapped and emotional torture perpetuated. The sting of the pain is gone. I have been reminded in your book not to read the world through my pain but through the victory of God’s simple and unmeasurable love. Thanks
• Father has used/is using it in all of our lives, and the ripples are spreading. It’s hard to even look at people now without the conscious thought that God is ‘especially fond’ of them…it changes the world so much.

• The Shack has been really instrumental in helping me forgive someone that I’ve been angry towards for years. I’ve prayed for so long that God would help me forgive that person, and I never felt like I could. While reading The Shack, I realized that that person is special and so loved by God, and I started feeling the anger in me drain away. I now think of that person with affection, which I never thought could be possible.

• Since I finished the book, every time I start to worry about something (and I am a worrier) I feel three persons surrounding me and smiling at me and asking that I leave my worries in their precious, wounded hands.

I also came across these words by William P. Young.
“My history is one of many losses, some totally my fault, some not. The story embodies in many ways ‘my’ story. At first all I had were a bunch of scraps and notes, and frankly, when I first sat down at the computer I didn’t have the story either (I was planning on just typing in my notes so I wouldn’t lose them). I can’t really explain what happened but as I typed, the story simply ‘emerged’ and started to take form, out of my experiences and journey. For example, I have camped at that campground at Wallowa Lake (the deer were a nuisance and the chipmunks and night bandits did raid all our cookies).
The losses in the story are very deep. My losses are personal and very deep as well and while not identical, very similar. The questions that arise out of loss are very common to most of us. Sometimes we minimize our history and the losses we have had (there is always someone that we could imagine has had it worse), but choosing this particular story raised the questions front and center. This, especially for us parents, is a loss almost beyond comprehension.”

God bless you, John.
Gracescarredhands.

gracescarredhands's picture

Hi John,

It is interesting that so many Christians have been so blessed by this book. I am up to the third chapter so I am not in a position to judge it but my husband finished it a week or two ago, and has ordered copies for his friends. He is an intelligent man and a strong Christian. He has been blessed in recent years by a deeper understanding of the trinity and has sat at the feet of Karl Bath, Tom Torrance, CS Lewis, Baxter Kruger, and others.

Perhaps my preterist friends mike appreciate discovering a bit more about this writer and his book.

William P. Young wrote the story for his children, to help them better understand the trinity. He was encouraged to do so by his wife. He had no intention of publishing it. He writes stories as gifts for people he loves. He was encouraged to share it with the only writer he knows. He was amazed when that person contacted him within days and said he's already forwarded a copy to 6 of his friends. He was deeply impacted by the book. William was encouraged to get the book published but was turned back by every publisher he approached. Eventually a company was formed by a friend/contact (?) and The Shack was the first and only book published by that company, at that stage.

The author is amazed and humbled by the response world wide to his book. In a word, people feel closer to God. The feel loved. They feel accepted. They feel included.

Is that such a bad thing?

I leave with you the link to William P Young's website .. Wind Rumors .. go to Willy Young Bio, scroll down and read some of the responses. Also go to http://www.theshackbook.com/ and read Willie's personal story in "Interactive". There is also an interview by the 700 Club on Utube .. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYvjRiun3MA

Something else of interest .. a reformation is taking place in the World Wide Church of God .. and it has much to do with Trinitarian Theology and an inclusive comprehension of the Grace and Love of God in Jesus. Those of you whose passion for preterism is married to a more inclusive and comprehensive appreciation of the gospel may be blessed indeed by some of truth emerging in this area of theological discourse.

Anyway, God bless you John.

I look forward to reading The Shack, all the more because of your article .. and what I read this morning after searching the net.

With love in Jesus from the Land Down Under ..

GraceScarredHands

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Hi, Grace! Thanks for the feedback on my article! I'd like to respond to your thoughts and observations in an equally gracious way.

It is interesting that so many Christians have been so blessed by this book. I am up to the third chapter so I am not in a position to judge it but my husband finished it a week or two ago, and has ordered copies for his friends. He is an intelligent man and a strong Christian. He has been blessed in recent years by a deeper understanding of the trinity and has sat at the feet of Karl Bath, Tom Torrance, CS Lewis, Baxter Kruger, and others.

I'm thankful that intelligent, learned Christians are giving this book their attention and thoughtful consideration. I'm hopeful that they will be able to draw conclusions in keeping with the clear teachings of Scripture. On behalf of those less aware of the position God's Word takes on some of these "core spiritual truths", I felt a critique of this book's ideas would be of some value.

It's interesting that this book's explanation of the Trinity is seen as one of its primary benefits and one of the key concepts presented therein. I guess I can see where others might find some element of further insight in the ideas presented in "The Shack" pertaining to this element of God's Being. But I found the "explanation", such as it was, to be a real muddle of speculative ideas very loosely related to the Scriptures themselves.

Perhaps my preterist friends mike appreciate discovering a bit more about this writer and his book.

William P. Young wrote the story for his children, to help them better understand the trinity. He was encouraged to do so by his wife. He had no intention of publishing it. He writes stories as gifts for people he loves. He was encouraged to share it with the only writer he knows. He was amazed when that person contacted him within days and said he's already forwarded a copy to 6 of his friends. He was deeply impacted by the book. William was encouraged to get the book published but was turned back by every publisher he approached. Eventually a company was formed by a friend/contact (?) and The Shack was the first and only book published by that company, at that stage.

I read up about Mr. Young and his intent in creating this story on his website and blog, previous to writing my article. Yes, I was aware of how he originally only meant for this story to remain within his own family circle. Unfortunately, others (particularly Christian "celebrities" and "leaders") have highly endorsed the views and ideas presented in fictionalized form here. And that represents a very real problem when those ideas are so far astray from the Truth revealed in God's Word.

The author is amazed and humbled by the response world wide to his book. In a word, people feel closer to God. The feel loved. They feel accepted. They feel included.

Is that such a bad thing?

People feel...feel...feel. Are feelings important? Yes. Are they more important than knowledge of the Truth, understanding and godly wisdom? No. I don't mean to sound harsh and hard-hearted, Grace. It's just that people in our "world" today are more concerned with feeling good about themselves than they are about discovering the deeper truths of life and spirituality via some heavy digging and effort. Entertainment and an improved sense of "self-worth" are more important than Who God REALLY Is, and what His Will is for His People. Are priorities generally out of whack? Have people become imbalanced? I would say the failed marriages and societal havoc we see around us as our "world" begins to unravel sort of speak for themselves. Is that a bad thing? I don't think that question really requires a direct response. It's rhetorical, really, in a narcissistic society like ours.

I leave with you the link to William P Young's website .. Wind Rumors .. go to Willy Young Bio, scroll down and read some of the responses. Also go to http://www.theshackbook.com/ and read Willie's personal story in "Interactive". There is also an interview by the 700 Club on Utube .. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYvjRiun3MA

I'm currently involved in discussions on the forum at theshackbook.com. Things aren't too heated yet and we're all behaving somewhat graciously, so hopefully good, thought-provoking dialogue will ensue.

Something else of interest .. a reformation is taking place in the World Wide Church of God .. and it has much to do with Trinitarian Theology and an inclusive comprehension of the Grace and Love of God in Jesus. Those of you whose passion for preterism is married to a more inclusive and comprehensive appreciation of the gospel may be blessed indeed by some of truth emerging in this area of theological discourse.

I'd like to learn more about the "inclusive, comprehensive appreciation of the gospel", Grace. Could you explain that a little more for me, please, at your convenience? Thanks!

Anyway, God bless you John. I look forward to reading The Shack, all the more because of your article .. and what I read this morning after searching the net.

God bless you too, Grace! I look forward to hearing more from you concerning what you thought of this book once you're finished reading it!

John

Paige's picture

John,

You say here to Grace:
"People feel...feel...feel. Are feelings important? Yes. Are they more important than knowledge of the Truth, understanding and godly wisdom? No. I don't mean to sound harsh and hard-hearted, Grace."

Down below, you say:
"In his personal encounter with the "god" of Mr. Young's novel, he is informed that God's ideas in this area really don't match his deeply felt need for equity, a restoration of balance and a punishment fitting the crime."

I'm very confused by what appears to me to be an inconsistency on your part...On the one hand, our feelings mean nothing in the light of truth and godly wisdom, on the other, you seem to be saying that God must indulge our feelings.

It seems to me that you value certain feelings over other feelings, and therefore, God must also?

You ask, "Have people become imbalanced?" Do you propose that the "need" for justice and equity weigh heavier than the "need" for love and mercy? Perhaps the priorities of others do look unbalanced when viewed from our own unbalances?

Paige

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Good thoughts, Paige! Thanks for the comments and questions!

I'm very confused by what appears to me to be an inconsistency on your part...On the one hand, our feelings mean nothing in the light of truth and godly wisdom, on the other, you seem to be saying that God must indulge our feelings.

I think you misconstrued the meaning and intent of my comments here. Allow me to clarify. I didn't state that "feelings mean nothing in the light of truth and godly wisdom". What I ACTUALLY said is that feelings ARE important. But not MORE important than truth and godly wisdom. In other words - if those feelings aren't HARNESSED to godly wisdom, if they are aren't the product of a legitimate, internal, natural response to circumstances prompted by godly wisdom - then they AREN'T legitimate feelings and are counterproductive. They are generated by more narrow, selfish, self-serving instincts.

It seems to me that you value certain feelings over other feelings, and therefore, God must also?

Yes and no. As outlined above, the feelings themselves are not more or less valuable according to their actual nature (anger, happiness, joy, sorrow, etc.). Rather, their source and what, specifically, prompted them establishes their value.

Perhaps the priorities of others do look unbalanced when viewed from our own unbalances?

I bet they do. That's why staying in touch with God's priorities is so critical. They are the benchmark against which all other priorities must be measured.

Does that make a little more sense, Paige? I actually like the way you approach things and try to reason very carefully when considering various perspectives here. Please feel free to continue to dialogue with me on this subject. Your contributions are valuable and appreciated.

John

Paige's picture

John,

Yes, I appreciate your clarification. I would caution you, however, to always remember that human perspective on what qualifies as selfish and self-serving is very subjective.

Paige

gracescarredhands's picture

Hi John,

Thank you for your gentle and gracious reply.

I would like to write back in more detail to your question but I have little time to do so, at present, so the following brief explanation will have to do.

I believe that in the Incarnation God was joined through His Eternal Son, Jesus, to humanity, in a way that changed completely and utterly the separation between us and God. The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of inclusion, not separation. All humanity was reconciled to God in Jesus. He is the Saviour of mankind. God did uniquely through Him what He could do through no other. In His Eternal Son God embraced us all. But the knowledge of His Love and Grace in Jesus must be received through faith to enjoy the benefits of Sonship. Jesus came to heal the broken hearted and set the captive free. In Him our brokenness is mended and our sins are forgiven.

In my post I referred the World Wide Church of God website but forgot to mention the interviews on that website with William P. Young. They are very good and give greater insight into his beliefs. I discovered this morning a website that links to the videos and explains them better by far than I can.

http://thin-edge.org/

The videos are part of a focus called “You’re Included!”.

God bless us all in the knowledge of His Love.

Gracescarredhands

Paige's picture

GSH,

I've heard from several others who have experienced a much deeper love and appreciation for God, and a deepened relationship with God because of reading this book. I haven't read it yet, but it is on my list. Thanks for sharing.

Paige

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