Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Shack: My Review

Well, I have finally done it. I have read the "life-changing" book that everyone is raving about. Surprisingly, I have to say the book had some good in it, but don't think I would recommend it to anyone. I promised a review, so here it is. I will try not to be too long or wordy, and to make my ideas as brief as possible.

A brief synopsis: Mack, the main character, loses his youngest daughter, Missy, in a kidnapping by a man whose victims are never found, just proof that he has killed them. Proof of her death is found in an abandoned shack. A few years after the incident, Mack received a note in his mailbox from Someone called "Papa" that He wants to meet him in the shack.

First the bad. :-) God is represented by a poor-grammar speaking black woman named Elouisa. God is referred to interchangeably as He or She. In the Bible, God never takes on the form of a woman, and always refers to Himself in masculine pronouns, so I take issue with this. There are people who don't want to call God He, mainly brainless feminists, and there is even a gender-neutral Bible, but when God always refers to Himself as masculine, I don't think we should mess with that.

Mack is also surprised that God has a "questionable sense of humor" - the author's words. This comment is made after God says to Mack "don't stand there gawkin' with your mouth open like your pants are full!"

Next up: The Holy Spirit is portrayed as a somewhat flighty Asian woman named Sarayu. Again, this rubbed me the wrong way- no I am not anti-woman, but God has His reasons for portraying Himself as masculine, not feminine.

Jesus was portrayed surprisingly as male, and somewhat like you would expect Jesus to be like, though the author carried that a bit too far also: Rough type, country bumpkin, even clumsy - would the Son of God be clumsy? What really bothered me about the Jesus in the book, the author portrayed Him as 100% human while on earth, and even in the book as 100% human. In the book, Mack was told that Jesus had no power except what He drew from God - just like we would have had to do. I totally disagree - if Jesus is God, then He had His own power.

The human part was portrayed so strongly, that at one point, Jesus drops a bowl of food, breaks the bowl, and makes a mess. God and the Holy Spirit laugh uproariously and comment "you humans are so clumsy!"

Another thing I didn't agree with: God, as the black woman of course, had scars on His/Her wrists also. Not exactly Biblical. Jesus hung on the cross, God the Father did not.

The author gives the idea that since we are under grace, we don't have to obey the rules anymore, cited especially in reference to the 10 commandments.

In my opinion, and in my friend Kimmy's (we have been emailing back and forth now that we both have read it) - the author bashes the church, quite a bit, and even knocks the idea of being a Christian - does say afterward that we are to become children of God.

Another weird thing: Mack goes into a cave, and there is a woman names Sophia talks to him. Not sure what the author's deal is with God as a woman, but this woman is an aspect, or something along that line, of the Holy Spirit.

Outside of bad theology, there are a few occasions of cursing in the book, which you may agree with me or not, does not belong in a Christian book, especially when the main character is talking to God. A couple uses of the "d-word", and a use of "son of a b....".

Overall, I don't feel the book was that well-written, and was not the riveting page turner that it has been hailed as. I read it in a few settings, as opposed to one setting for a really good book of that size.

I did say I had some good to say about it. The author did come across pretty well of why God lets us suffer. He also brought out a new idea to me: that when we are struggling with issues of God loving us, and feeling He is out to hurt us, and things along that line, we are judging Him.

This book has raving review everywhere you go, with the exception of a few sane people. I would not buy this book. I would not recommend it to anyone. I definitely don't think anyone not firmly grounded in their theology and relationship with God should read it - it could confuse some people and lead them wrong.

If I could sum up in one idea why I don't like the book, it is that the author humanizes all 3 parts of the Trinity, and goes way to far in doing so. God is way beyond our understanding. He wouldn't have poor grammar, He wouldn't have questionable humor. I believe the author treated the whole idea and character of God with irreverence in the book, and I found it offensive.

So, is the book heresy, or life-changing? I have to say it leans all too much toward at least being Biblically and theologically incorrect. The idea of the book was good, and were several things done differently in the book, I would have loved it and highly recommended it. It is sad that so many Christians are raving about the book, and overlooking its many flaws.


Pastor Tucker said...

"God does not change himself to accommodate our flawed understanding of Him. He changes us so we can see Him as He truly is."

Taken from
The Shack: Ramshackle Theology
by Tom Neven on 06/19/2008 at 9:12 AM

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