Has Anyone Read The Shack?

This book has been talked about more than any other than perhaps the Purpose-Driven Life and Wild At Heart in the last year. I knew there were some complaints coming from the Reformed Baptists (but they complain about everything) about it affirming libertarian free will and a non-hierarchal Trinity. Those are two things I affirm, so I would probably like it. But I had no idea about this:

Al [Moher , president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.] tried to get the book banned but was unsuccessful because the theologians of his denomination (the Southern Baptist Convention) ‘could find nothing unorthodox in The Shack that would warrant it being removed or banned,’” Young reported last Wednesday.

Banned? Banned? Now I really want to read this book. Another lesson learned, the more you tell people not to read things the more you make them want to read it. It may be alarmist, but it is effective advertising.

16 thoughts on “Has Anyone Read The Shack?

  1. My wife read it after a bunch of people at my church were raving about it. She wasn’t really into though. She said it was too obviously Christian and not that great reading. The theological stuff wasn’t a big deal to her as she was already on the same page with most of it. She said if it wasn’t for the fact that so many people had told her to read it she wouldn’t have finished it and definitely wouldn’t have bought it.

    Most everybody else at my church really liked it and it caused them to really rethink some of their views.

    Bryan L

  2. James says:

    I just read it. It’s okay. The writing is just average – he tells you more than he shows you, so the impact of the story is lessened.

    The theology? A mix of fine and dubious, with some of it hard to nail down (his views on hell, for instance… from what little is said in the book, the most obvious inference is that Young is a universalist.)

    So check it out for yourself. I think you’ll wonder why people are so excited about it either way. If you read it and have some insight into why people love it so much, I’d be interested in hearing it.

    And I’d really like to see some evidence of this alleged banning attempt, before getting all het up about it.

  3. Elton says:

    I don’t know if I’ll ever get to read it, but I will definitely pass on the movie especially if Kirk Cameron has a leading part in it.

    I’ll take James Caviezel any time over Kirk Cameron, and twice on Sundays.

  4. Dan Price says:

    I read it because everyone in our church was reading. It does seem to have a couple of things I don’t really jive with theology-wise, but the real reason that I don’t like it is because it’s another piece of theological fiction that isn’t well-written. We don’t need more.

  5. i gotta second bryan l’s wife… i thougth the writing was ATROCIOUS and wouldn’t have finished it if not for hte popularity and controversy of it. there were some pretty strong opponents of the book over on boundless. i just wish all the hubub was over book that was well-written. like bryan l said; the author tells more than shows, and to me it just got tedious… i found myself skipping chunks of it to just speed up the story.

    it’s a nice story, though, esp for those who struggle with god and why bad things happen to good people.

    sometimes i think people like al moehler get waay too far removed from average people who don’t spend all day contemplating the finer points of theology. but that’s just me.

  6. Justin says:

    I read it and finished up the other day. I have to admit I’m amazed at the responses in general. No, he’s not a universalist, no it’s not new-age/Post-Modern dogma, and no it’s not “Godess Worship.”

    It’s fiction. Fiction from a first-time writer (which is rather apparent) published independently. The trinity aspect was very creative yet reverent. The idea of a God that is simply not confined to our way of thinking is something we all say we believe, but apparently when confronted with it we freak out.

    Like others, I had issues with it centered around the “Jesus hates religion” issue, but they didn’t detract from the overall message of how God looks at the pain in our lives. I’d recommend it – but with the caveat that I hope it doesn’t become the next Jabez or Left Behind….and we certainly don’t need a movie.

  7. Bob Sacamento says:

    single/certain said “sometimes i think people like al moehler get waay too far removed from average people who don’t spend all day contemplating the finer points of theology. but that’s just me.”

    Not just you. Me too.

    FWIW, I’ve decided to never read The Shack simply because I never want to get into an argument about it.

  8. Justin,

    To say that a novel inaccurately portrays God is not the same as saying we have confined God to our thinking, and nobody here seems to be freaking out, near as I can tell.

  9. Chad says:

    I really enjoyed the book… If people don’t want to read it, that’s fine with me, but I thought the book brought up some great points that made me reexamine how I view God. Maybe that’s not for everybody, but again, I really enjoyed it. Then again, I don’t really have a problem with the book “The Purpose driven life” or “Wild at heart” (ok, I have do have little resentment towards the whole “Wild at heart” faze but for the most part I’m ok) so you may want to take me with a grain of salt. :)

    Adam- I would love it if you read book because I’m curious to hear what you think about it. Now, you may not like it but I think you will be intrigued by certain concepts.

    Kevin S- I think Justin was talking about Christians at large and not just people on the this blog… Believe me, I’ve had plenty of warnings not to read the book from Christians friends, which like Adam, made me want to read the book all the more. Now that I’ve read the book it’s my humble opinion that they’ve been overacting a bit, but I still like them and I appreciate their concern… :)

    Al Mohler- God bless ya!

  10. Justin says:

    Agreed with Chad. I should have expressed that I meant that in a general fashion as opposed to just this blog. My apologies. I have heard some rather alarmist attitudes towards this book that turned out to be exaggerated at best and intention distortions at worst.

  11. James says:

    I just read a review that helped answer one of my own questions about the book: why is it so popular? Check it out:


    summary of review: the book is so popular because it tells people what they want to hear. People generally want to hear that they’re fine the way they are.



    As for Young being a universalist… I never said he was, just that given the evidence of the book that’s a conclusion you might well draw. If Young’s not a universalist, he probably should have explained things better in the bit about the cave with Sophia, and Mack as the Judge. You know, given that that was the bit about Hell.

  12. olsuit says:

    I agree with those who said…

    1) It’s clearly written by a novice author.

    2) It’s not “whacked” in its theology nor is it New Age.

    3) You’ll cherish the “pictures” Young gives of a God who moves heaven and earth to form a redemptive relationship with us. (And, if nobody said that, I will.)

    The fact that Mohler breaks out in hives over this book just gives me shivers of delight. That, alone, justifies its existence, IMHO. ;D

    This book had several strikes upfront, personally. First, I don’t like fiction. Period. Second, I’m an old duffer and not emergent or detergent or any “gent” (except, if mother’s reading this, “gent”-lemanly. Third, I hate “trendy” things. I guess I’d had to have someone hold a gun on me to get me to read this if it had been entitled “40 Days of The Shack.” Probably shoot me, too.

    But, skimming the insignificant stuff and savoring the word-pictures of God’s relational manifestations, I am not sorry I read the book. In fact, (am I getting soft in my dotage?), I’ve bought copies for people who don’t speak “churchese” and most of them loved it.

    My prayer for the day? Please God, whisk Mark Driscoll and Albert Mohler away to The Shack…and keep ’em there until thay say, “Arminius!” :D

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