Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"The Shack" A Review

I thought this book was very good and it touched me very deeply which is seldom accomplished by a book. I know the book is considered controversial and I've been checking out blog after blog of these critics...very harsh and unkind. I really have a hard time understanding why they are so ruthless in their criticism. This book is a fictional account of one Christian man's journey out of legalism and the lengths that God goes to rescue him. Some have called it a parable, others an allegory, but most importantly this is not a theology textbook. This is not to be read like a theology textbook. When people write in this genre you must give them some slack...when you read in this genre everything is not going to correspond perfectly one to one. I could comment more but I don't want to ruin the book for anyone who hasn't read it.

What makes me particularly sad about these harsh critics is that this book has been in the top 10 for some time now and many, many people in the broader (non-Christian or nominal) culture have already read it and want to talk about it. Here is a book that has reached many on an emotional level, they look online at some of the biggest Christian spokespeople and what do they hear? "Pure heresy, don't waste your time, not worth the paper it's printed on." They read a story of a man's journey out of legalism and this is what the reader hears when they want to engage in conversation...so sad!!!

8 comments:

Barrett said...

very well written Jim. I too have read the critics and been to the discussion sit for the book. I was on the fence about whether or not to bother reading it. Thanks for the review and placing it in perspective. I am going to go get a copy to read.

Tara D. said...

I'm not a fiction reader...and it is killing me not to pick up the book. I may "break" on this one. LOL. However, I HAVE been reading blog reviews about it and most of the ones I've read have been praising it. Interesting that you've read otherwise. That's so sad.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

I'm actually going through this book now in a Wednesday evening study with our Pastor and some of our church. When it was suggested (by our pastor) that we use this book for our study this "semester", no one was really excited about it. So I went "googling" to find out about the book and read many negative reviews. Based on one such review, I even changed the name of the book as soon as I got it to "The Swill". Now that I've almost finished it, I kind of wish I hadn't; but we're all getting a kick out of it so I'll keep it (of course, I had already discovered that the changes I made are permanent).

Anyway, I can see how some of the language can seem a bit irreverent at times, and a quick skimming of the book can leave people thinking that the author is a "universalist"; and I'm sure many people are put off with his description of the members of the Trinity (if they read the book closer, however, they would/should understand the point being made by why he expresses the Trinity in the way that he does). But as a "story", as you say, we should give him some leeway to make his point through the context of the story.

And while this is not necessarily a "theological discourse", there are some very profound theological ideas being expressed throughout Mack's interaction with God. The author understands that when we are "truly human" we will then reflect God in the way that is consistent with being made in His image. As Christ is the "true" Man (the last Adam), we are restored to our true humanity in Him. We, as Christians, are called to be who we are as true human beings in Christ; and in this way we are conformed (by the transforming power of the Spirit) back to our purpose as image-bearers. And only in this way are we capable of relationship--with God, one another and with the created order (as good stewards).

This idea comes out powerfully in the statement that the author has Jesus making on page 148: "Remember, I am not about performance and fitting into man-made structures; I am about being. As you grow in relationship with me, what you do will simply reflect who you really are." This is the Christian life--be who you are in Christ!

Well, I could go on and on about this one idea and others, but dinner is about to be served. Needless to say, but I really like the book. I don't necessarily think it is a great book to hand out to people without the opportunity to work through it with them. Without a correct perspective, many ideas in the book will be misunderstood (as can be seen by the many negative reviews, I think). But I think it is a great book for a study with a leader who can facility proper dialogue and understanding.

GGM

Bren said...

thanks jim for this review. i appreciate your take on it. i have been curious about the appeal of the book and have also read the negative reviews. i look forward to reading this myself when i have time to see how the reviews match up.

Jodi said...

Thank you for that comment. I absolutely loved this book. I have been saying the same thing: IT'S FICTION!!! Plus, why NOT think outside of the box about God?!? I don't think we Christians do it enough....

I was also wondering if "The Shack" could get people thinking about God as a personal God - one they could actually seek to have a relationship with - not just an entity far away somewhere, and out of reach.....I hope it does.

HR Chef @ bigjobsboard said...

Great Ideas! What a review! Nice job! I agree with your points of view!

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