Book Review: The Shack (William P. Young)

Driven by fierce anger after losing his daughter to a perverted killer, the protagonist takes an unexpected journey into a place that expands his mindset on God. As he takes this journey, I found myself traveling with him, and allowing my mind to be expanded on my concept of God as well.

Even though this book could never be called a studious piece of theology, it has a powerful message, and that message for me was this ‘Your concept of the Almighty God is too small, too confined, and steeped in too much religiosity.” God is God, and He can be anything He wishes to be, and He can present Himself in whatever fashion He chooses. He is immutable, inscrutable, and omniscient. Who are we to question His authority, ability, and appearance?

So when God shows Himself in The Shack to be large black woman (similar at least in my imagination to Aunt Jemimah), it is at first shocking, then amusing, but ultimately, mind expanding. If this book doesn’t allow a person’s concept of God to grow, I am not sure what will. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I totally understand how it can be controversial in nature since it allows God to take on an infinitely different image than what the normative thought allows. Some would say that it trivializes God, and while I understand that sentiment, since He is, after all, the same God who would not allow Moses to even look upon His face. He is also the God who did not allow his name to even be pronounced by His people since He is so holy and righteous.

In spite of those valid concerns, the concepts espoused in The Shack actually expanded God, without trivializing Him at all. In fact, for me, it actually made Him larger and even more powerful, as well as infinitely more personal than my earlier vision of His majesty.

The book portrays Jesus and the Holy Spirit as entirely different characters than portrayed in normally accepted theological boundaries, but again the concepts are fresh, and expanding. I believe that any image that any of us have of the Almighty God is by definition too small regardless of how big it is, so anything that allows us to think fresh thoughts is ultimately valuable. A good, fresh read, highly recommended.

Credit: Michael Sholders

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