Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Revisiting the Shack, pt. 1

Last night, I was talking to a couple from our church that told me they enjoyed the book The Shack. Then they asked that very pointed question, "did you like it?" What was I to do? So, I just launched into it. I told them that I really did not like it at all. I went through and explained to them some of the reasons I did not like the book (off the top of my head, it has been a while since I thought about it). They were somewhat surprised that the book said what I was saying. They said they never caught those things I was saying.

After reflecting upon that conversation, I thought I would take a few posts and revisit what it was that I did not like about this book. Before I get into all of the theological reasons I didn't like the book, let me give you just one practical reason: People allow fiction books to influence their view of God. That means, even though it is fiction, it must be theologically accurate. This book is a fiction book. There should be no confusion about this matter. I have never been a huge fan of Christian Fiction (even though I have a fiction book in mind that I have started working on). In fiction, the author tries to tell a story. In that story, they will convey truth or error. In some ways, people will always struggle with viewing their theology more from books like The Shack than they do from the Bible. And if you think this book hasn't influenced people theologically, you might need to pull your head out of the sand. What have people said about this book?
  • "THE SHACK is the most absorbing work of fiction I've read in many years. My wife and I laughed, cried, and repented of our own lack of faith along the way. THE SHACK will leave you craving for the presence of God." (Michael W. Smith)
  • When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize, the result is a novel on the order of The Shack. This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his. It's that good! (Eugene Peterson)
  • The Shack will change the way you think about God forever. (Kathie Lee Gifford)
  • My biggest disappointment with Christian books is that almost all of them seem to say the same things in the same way. Not so with The Shack! It reads like no other book, and tells a story I guarantee you have not heard before. Enjoy the adventure! (Bart Campolo)
  • Wish I could take back all the years in seminary! The years the locusts ate. Systematic theology was never this good. The Shack will be read again and again. With relish. Shared with friends, family, and strangers. I can fly!" (Amazon Review)
  • I read the book and gave away 30 copies. Hey it's got some iffy stuff in it, but you know what...I wept for an hour...I have never done that in my life...I grew in my understanding of God...I know it's a novel but it gave me some mind material to flesh out what the Bible doesn't tell us about God...dare I say the Spirit can speak (not only through the Bible) but also secular media--even the works of God's hand. (reviewer on www.theshackreview.com)
Did you see that? Here's my problem. When people say it has changed the way they think about God, no longer can we say it is just a cute little fiction book. We need to think critically about this book. Even a few years removed from it being published.

That is what I will do over the next couple of days. I hope to point out several reasons why I thought it was wrong theologically and hope to show the truth and error behind it. I hope this is helpful for at least someone.


  1. Good stuff bro - looking forward to more thoughts

  2. Looking forward to seeing your reviews of The Shack! And what's this about a fiction book idea you have? Will you reveal the basic plot with the new year?!

  3. Well, I am hesitant of sharing publicly my ideas on this fiction book. But I will say that everyone I have shared it with privately has thought it was a great idea. I'm just not sure I can write this type of book. But I might try. Maybe after more thoughts have been solidified, I can share some ideas.

    But I will say it is a historical fiction. Meaning, I plan on taking a story out of history and wrapping a fictional thought in it.

  4. Not all Christian fiction should be painted with the same broad brush. :) While it must always be theologically accurate, Christian fiction can actually be quite benefical in helping others find comfort, peace and joy. And, if written correctly, will only draw you closer to our kind, loving and benevolent God. As an aside, I have not read this book that you are critiquing.

  5. Good thoughts LIsa. I do not think that all Christian fiction is bad. As I stated, I might even write one. I have read some good Christian fiction that really painted wonderful imagery of Christ and drew me in with good theology.

    Your right. Not all is the same! But if it carries the name of Christ (Christian), it should be accurate.


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