Over the past few months I’ve read a few interesting books that have a bit of controversy surrounding them. Today I’d like to share with you about one of them. I’ll share about the other on Saturday.
Back in December, I read The Shack. Initially I wondered if I could read it because it deals with the death of a child. I wasn’t sure I could handle that as a mother. I was also aware of the controversy around the book due to the fact that it is not 100% Biblically sound.
I devoured the book and I have to say that I loved it. I will forever have three very Biblical perspectives etched in my mind after reading this book:
1) It painted the picture of the incredible love of God and how He cares for us individually. It shows us what a personal relationship with Christ really looks like.
2) I have a better understanding of the Trinity and how God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one, yet unique in their roles. I believe this is actually the strength of the book.
3) It illustrated how God redeems us and redeems our mistakes. Even when we take a wrong road, God can use that road to His glory.
The main weakness of the book is that the author never clearly communicates that salvation happens by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. This is something that the reader needs to understand theologically before reading.
Many Christians have struggled with the way that the author chose to portray God—as an African-American woman. Honestly this didn’t bother me at all. Let me assure you…I believe that God is our Father. Biblically that is correct. However, I also think that too often we put God in a box. I think that it’s good for us to be challenged to get out of our limiting box. Do I think that God is likely an African-American woman? Not at all. Do I think that sometimes I limit God by my own pre-conceived notions? Absolutely. And that’s why I think it never hurts to challenge my limited thinking.
I think The Shack has the ability to strengthen our relationship with God, if the reader has the ability to recognize what is Truth and what is not.
How about you? If you’ve read the book, what were your thoughts?
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I read this book a couple months ago and the part that hit me the most was the judgement of God section. I was very angry at God for not answering a prayer (coincidently about the life of a child – which hit very close to home). It was a God-thing that I read that book at that time in my life. I thought the book was incredible and I would recommend it to any and everybody.
My husband has not read a book since high school (and I’m not sure he actually read one there either) but he found this book laying on the counter, picked it up, read a few pages. We were going to a hockey game that night – he took it with him and read it during the game and read straight through the night. When I was done reading it he wanted to discuss it…
I have to say that I completely agree with everything you said, Jill! I have been a Christian for 21 years, but didn't have an accurate perception of WHO God really is and the type of relationship He wants to have with me. I thought the book was WONDERFUL & really helped me grasp that! It made me desire to be closer w/ God & less judgmental. I really loved how un-condemning Jesus was, even when the man cursed. I think of the verse, "For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:17
Praise God for that!
yes- wonderful book! i loved how it made things so real to me. like a true personal relationship with our heavenly father, jesus and the holy spirit. i blogged about this book after i read it and have been suggesting it to my family and friends. although it is a hard book to start with the loss of his child- it was rewarding to push through and finish the book. thanks for sharing jill!
I haven’t read this book, because I am afraid to..because I know it deals with the death of a child. I DID appreciate what you said about putting God in a box…I don’t think that any of us can truly imagine what God looks like because..God is beyond our limited human imagination. (I don’t question God as Father. I do question people who limit God with their human constraints. 🙂 )
I also loved it. For me, while I know God to be my Father, I appreciated the fact that a nurturing figure was what Mack needed. People just need to remember that “The Shack” is a work of fiction. To have God portrayed as a black woman spoke to me about how meets us where we are and satisfies us. I also liked how the book personified the Trinity. I think three-in-one is a hard concept, and the characters really help the Trinity come alive.
I read this book quite a while back and think it is wonderful! I was very concerned about the first part of the book and almost stopped reading it, but my mom, who had already read it, said it just gets better and better, and it did. My husband and father-in-law also read the book and absolutely loved it. My husband doesn’t read much and he devoured it and bought more to give as gifts. The book is very thought provoking and helps me understand the trinity in an easy to comprehend way. I felt a closer relationship to God with this new understanding. The book also opened up a great dialogue for discussion for my husband, father-in-law, and myself.
I have had this book sitting on my book shelf since Christmas and been afraid to read it. I have lost a child through miscarriage and I’m not sure I can handle the “sad” parts. But I am hoping to get the courage as so many people have highly recommended it.
I had a hard time getting through the end of the book because of all the dialog between the Trinity and the Father. The book just did not move very fast and I wanted something to happen. But then as I was discussing it with another person – I was reminded that God never moves fast — but He wants us to learn to trust Him which He does through a dialog with us (through His word and prayer and other people). That was a good reminder that God's ways are never like mine.
Recognize & Remember
We got the book for Christmas and enjoyed it. I like how you summed it up and agree that you have to remember it’s fiction. The author makes many valid points and it made me think about how I view God.
I am new to your blog and I will say I was disappointed to see this blog on the shack. I have also been unhappy to see it in all the Christian bookstores. Yes, it’s fiction, but it has so many falsehoods and these can lead people astray and down the wrong paths. It reeks of other religions and gods- It is not the God , Jesus, or Holy Spirit of the Bible- and this is dangerous as many Christians do not know the Word of God and are unable to discern what is truth and what is not.
There is a verse- Avoid all appearance of evil and I think it applies here.
It reminds me of another book- Conversations with God- adult and teen versions. It is also very deceptive and unbiblical. It can lead many astray.
We are to study to show ourselves approved. I think there are many more choices for worthwhile reading including The Bible.
Also, if you look into the writer further, you’ll will find he claims to be a Christian, but a lot of what he says does not add up to that. He seems to be into quite a few religions.
Seems I may be your only naysayer, but I do feel strongly about this. Deception is everywhere as the end time nears- and the Word says even the very elect need be weary and test things to see if they be true.
Great insights, Jill, thanks for reading. I’ve put off reading it for the same reason. Having thru a life-altering trauma with one of my own children makes me a bit hesitant to read it…but my husband assures me it’s a book worth taking the risk on. Isn’t it great when God finds creative ways to shatter the box we’ve put Him in?!?
Praying His sweet and abundant blessings upon you, your family and your ministry!
Amy in OR
Thank you all for weighing in on this. Tera—that’s neat about your hubby. The same thing happened to my son. He’s never read a book from beginning to end–but he read The Shack on his honeymoon and loved it.
Heather, thanks for sharing your honest feedback even though it differs from most of those who have commented. We’re all different and have different perspectives!
I loved what you said as well, Jill. I read through the book very quickly about 4 weeks ago and although a lot of the it was over my head and it was quite intense, I loved the personification of each of the three main characters and they all helped me better understand how they relate to one another. A friend suggested to me that it was a little anti-organized religion and in retrospect, I think that was a little true. Loving my church and my church family so much, that is a little difficult for me to accept, but it wasn’t altogether off-putting.
So glad I read it and it will continue to influence me.
My hubby and I really liked reading the Shack. It had an interesting perspective on the Trinity. It really left me wanting to spend more time intimately with God getting to know Him better. I really like how they all met for meals. I think about that now when I meet with God to read my Bible and pray.
You’re not the only naysayer, Heather. People really need to know the God of the Bible and this book has a lot of bunk in it. It clarifies a theological concept (Trinity) which is not even directly named in the Bible. Is that useful? Maybe, maybe not… Consider: Maybe God is so much more than 3 in 1 that we just cannot get it until we see him face to face?