Sunday, 21 June 2009

The Shack

I got The Shack for Christmas, and only now I have read it. (My reading list is a bit like that). I don't normally read much fiction any more, the last fiction book I read was Pilgrims Progress, which interesting enough The Shack has Eugene Peterson saying on the cover that this book is our generations Pilgrims Progress.

If you don't know about the Shack, it was big around Christmas time and sold over 3 million copies. Its about a guy, Mack who's daughter gets abducted and murdered in an old Shack and how he is deals with that loss. One day Mack gets a note from God for him to visit him at the Shack. The rest of the book is a little bit like God's Debris with one character asking questions to the other one that has all the answers. Most of the book is dialog, but it does stray into sappy emotional story, that I didn't think was all that well written (especially near the end as things just ever so neatly and quickly tied itself together).

Since the book is about God, it has to turn to theology, and some of what it presents I am not so sure about. The book skirts the issue of Jesus dying for our sin. Jesus's death is presents as a reconciliation method, an extended open hand to anyone to accept, but says that sin in and of itself is punishment, not that Jesus took that punishment for us. God is presented as a kind parent but even in real life this doesn't work out, as kind parent who doesn't see the need to discipline their children because their wrong decisions in and of themselves is punishment enough is a not so kind parent. This is no surprise as in an interview with the author he just comes out and denies Jesus as the penal substitutionary atonement for us.

Other things that didn't seem quite right: the idea of subornation within the Trinity is out right denied because hierarchy is always deemed as a bad thing. God the father also was present in Jesus on the cross somehow. Even though there are three members in the Trinity, Mack has a conversation with another character Sophia who is the manifestation of the Fathers wisdom. For some reason this person isn't counted in the Trinity. God the Father first appears to Mack as a women (who reminded me a lot like the Oracle from the Matrix) because even though Mack had never had a good father in his life what he really needed was another mother figure. God also doesn't have any expectations for us and so therefor is also never disappointed in us.

There are some good things from this book. It deals will an honest struggles with God and evil in this world and it encourages us to be more forgiving. It does also stresses that Jesus is the center of everything.

Although I had problems with the style of Pilgrims Progress, I didn't have any problem with it's theology as it was soaked in scripture (unlike the Shack), which is why it is such a classic for the generations of the church. I really doubt that in 300 years time The Shack will be in print (or be published as they probably won't print things anymore).

You can also watch Mark Driscoll talk about this book in a sermon he gave on the Trinity (its about 7 minutes long). I also really enjoyed this review listing what they liked about The Shack.


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