Book Review – The Shack

Author: William P Young, Windblown Media, 2007

After more than thirty years of trying to come to grips with an adequate articulation of an intellectual understanding of the Trinity, this book has finally convinced me that it can’t be done!

No wonder the biblical writers avoided anything like the “T” word with its propensity for misunderstanding. Taking the lead of Jesus, they use metaphor and story to describe the compelling intimacy of God as revealed through Father, Son and Holy Spirit – an intimacy into which, through the gift of Jesus, all humankind is invited.

For this reason those who trust only a propositional approach to knowing God will not enjoy William Young’s exposition of the nature of God, even given that his work is classified fiction (a bereaved father spends an unexpected weekend with God at the scene of the crime – “The Shack.”) It sends too many doctrinal hares running, and the work of rounding them up is never-ending. It seems to me, however, that Jesus has no problem with this mode of exploring our relationship with the Divine. His use of parable and riddle was obviously a favoured method of opening minds to the possibility of being caught up in the ways of the Kingdom. Young has used a similar approach to entice us into an affective understanding of who God is and why God allows certain things to be the way they are, especially when they leave us cloaked in what Young calls “The Great Sadness.”

I enjoyed immensely reading “The Shack.” It challenged my stereotypes – even the ones in my unconscious. It led me to explore new places that have been slowly revealing themselves over many years in my own prayer practice. I was able to descend into depths of relationship with each of the expressions of God as encountered. The conversations reinforced some of my own discoveries surrounding the painful and vexed question of theodicy (or “why does an all powerful and all loving deity allow suffering?”)

The author doesn’t pretend that this is some ground-breaking theological dissertation – after all, it was originally meant as a story for his own family built on incidents and events in their journey together. In this sense it is similar to Jacob’s nocturnal wrestling with the angel before meeting his estranged brother Esau – the protagonist in “The Shack” emerges not only with a fresh “knowing” of God, but a new name, a new nature, and a new expression of conversion.

Published by wonderingpilgrim

Not really retired but reshaped and reshaping. Now a pilgrim at large ready to engage with what each day brings.

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