June 26, 2008

A friend here at GS told me about this book so I picked it up last week and have been reading it the past few days.

I don't normally read Christian fiction--at least, not by anyone who's still alive. But this story is basically Theodicy set in narrative context. The main character, Mack, is a husband and father who experiences the horror of having his youngest daughter abducted and killed by a serial killer while they are on a camping trip. They find the remains of her dress in an old abandoned cabin. Sometime later, Mack receives a note in his mailbox that turns out to be an invitation back to that cabin for a conversation. The one who sent the note turns out to be God. Mack goes back to the cabin and encounters the Triune God in quite unexpected ways.

The conversations center around suffering, the nature of God, the trinity and the judgment/love paradox...at least thus far. I haven't finished the book yet. But it's very much reminiscent of the conversations between Ransom and the Un-man in C.S. Lewis' "Perelandra" in that it is deep theology disguised as dialogue between two fictional characters. A similar approach is found in many of Peter Kreeft's books, particularly "Socrates Meets Jesus", which I highly recommend.

Given the current flood of Christian fiction that is theologically famished, I think "The Shack" is a diamond in the rough. At times the dialogue may be a bit artificial. But overall I'm enjoying it. It would be a good book to give to those outside the Christian faith as well because it presents things from such a different angle than normal, and therefore offers an effective apologetic to a cynical post-christian culture.

JMS

I would love to hear feedback or reviews from others who've read it as well--positive or negative.

4 comments:

joe mama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joe mama said...

Call it a reflex action, but in recent years whenever I see American Christians running in droves towards something new (be it book or show or whatever) I am instantly skeptical. I, too, am reading the book. But I am finding it troubling on many levels theologically, not the least of which deal with the exclusivity of Jesus and the nature of sin. If William Young can't get the basics of the faith right, quite honestly, I don't really care to hear anything else he has to say. For some interesting critiques, check out these links:

http://byfaithonline.com/page/arts-culture/the-shack-what-god-should-have-said

http://www.albertmohler.com/radio_show.php?cdate=2008-05-26

JMS said...

I didn't think Young's presentation of these issues was as erroneous as I thought they were overly vague. But since it's a novel rather than a systematic text, I didn't have a big issue with it as such.

But I knew my brothers and sisters on the Reformed side of the fence would not be too enthusiastic about the book's theology, as it's openly dismissive toward the Calvinist/Determinist view of God found within their writings and creeds.

Of course, as a Wesleyan/Communal Arminian, I wasn't disturbed by it too much. :)

Thanks for the links and for the critique!

blessings,
JMS

ps: I share that reflex action you speak of, by the way! Had this not been recommended to me by a person I enjoy talking theology with, I probably would've dismissed it as another Purpose-Driven-Jabez-at-Heart.

Jen said...

This book was recommended to me by 2 Christians who I admire, respect, etc. They bought MULTIPLE copies of the book to give to friends. I was a little "weirded out" by that, as I thought, 'there is no way that a book is THAT good'. Both Sean and I read the reviews on Amazon, and actually protested reading the book so that we didn't sub come to the next Christian trend.

Not only was my husband "pleasantly surprised", but I too. It's hard to put down in words why I enjoyed it so much. There were times I could only read 4 pages at a time, because it was hitting very close to home for me. I felt like I got a couple of dope slaps a couple of times, which is what I need. I'm a "rules" person, and this book really let me relax a little and find some freedom.

Will it be my "guiding light" in the future? No, but Mack asked a lot of questions that I had on my mind, and finally, someone thought it was high time to express it w/out fear.

Lastly, I feel that you have to read the ENTIRE book before any judgments are made. I went in with NO expectations, just expectancy.

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