The Shack by William Young has become a huge best seller, as well as a source of controversy. You can read various reviews from Christians which are both very negative HERE some very positive HERE. I had no intention of reading this book until I received an emaiil from a friend and fellow youth minister, who asked me whether I had read it and I said no, but suggested we read it together and blog about it (check out his fine blog HERE).
I will post more in the coming days but these are my initial thoughts and reflections. The Shack is about a guy called Mac who now lives in the aftermarth of his young daughters murder. She was murdered in a shack by an evil person. Some years after the murder Mac is convinced that he has to go back to the shack for a weekend – he does not know why, but he goes and there discovers three people, who in fact are the Trinity. God the father is an African American woman, God the Son is white young man in jeans and the Holy Spirit is a woman who seems very artistic and ‘floaty’ (my term for a person who is constantly dancing around). Here in the shack Mac has a conversation with God. Much of the conversation revolves around his anger at why God would allow his daughter to die.
The book tackles two huge theological issues in a novel – the Trinitarian relationship and the problem of evil and God’s role in suffering.
Can a novel, a fictional story bring light to topics on which many scholarly books have been written? Of course, the author would say that is not the purpose of The Shack – but then again, he enters into these topics and dialogues from a ‘god’ perspective – which is to do and present theology. Whatever else is said – this is a theological book simply because of the topics he is tackling and by the fact he tries to explain them from God’s perspective (more on that in later posts).
My first reaction then, to this novel, is that it is heretical from the time that Mac meets God at the Shack. The author has all three members of the trinity at the shack and God the father as an Afican American woman.
Exodus 33:18-22 says: Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
21 Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
No-one has seen God the Father – no-one CAN see God the father and live. Also it goes against the commandment to make an idol.
Yes, I know its a novel – but it claims to be Christian and it claims to be about the trinity. Having Jesus there is fine (the representation of the invisible God!!), even the Holy Spirit is fine – but not God the father.
In fact this is one of the biggest objections I have with Mormonism. They claim Joseph Smith was visited by the Father and the Son and when i object and say that would make Joseph Smith greater than Moses and that God himself has said no-one can see Him, they struggle – but thats another issue.