Mackenzie Allen Phillips’s youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation. Evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note–apparently from God–inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment, he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change his life forever.
I read The Shack six or seven years ago for the first time. Shortly after I found several reviews pointing how theologically inaccurate the story was and somehow I thought maybe I’ve missed something. I wanted to give the book a new chance and decided to read it again. Also there’s a movie adaptation coming up, and wanted to refresh the story in my mind.
There are two ways you can read (and review) The Shack: as a mere work of fiction and inspiration or as a theology work about God and suffering.
In the former, you have an amazing and emotional story that empathizes with almost every living soul on Earth. There’s something in Mack’s suffering that clicks with our personal daily struggles, making us part of the quest to find an answer and if possible, a solution. Then there’s the mystery behind the character (as in, the person) of God. How is He like? what does someone like God look like? Is there a God? Does He care about us? The Shack responds some of these questions with a lot of creative freedom.
All this ingredients produce an exciting page turner, at least for those familiar or interested in these topics. There’s one issue that needs to be addressed and so the plot it’s clear from the very beginning making The Shack a fast reading.
In the later, you have an interesting view on God, the Trinity, the work of Jesus and its implications on humanity, and many other theological subjects you can think of (seminary, prayer, church, forgiveness, religions). The author (or should I say the author using God’s voice) didn’t just limited his views on the matters related to the story, but he also used The Shack as a way to express his disagreement with many practices and doctrines of Christianity unrelated to the story, but definitely a priority to Young.
This is where things could be confusing to some people. I had friends that would say something like: “It’s like Jesus/God/The Holy Spirit would say in The Shack…” giving a book the same value as The Book, maybe not out of rebellion, but out of ignorance of what the Bible says about God.
On the same note I hope my review is not confusing to some of you. I really liked reading The Shack for the second time, but encountered some theological issues that can by skipped if reading with a mentality of a casual reader. I’d recommend to read this book in the same manner you would read Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
I received this book from Hachette Book Group in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.