This was one of the most thought provoking novels I’ve read. It did not give me new concepts of God as much as it put words to the concepts I have so often tried to express. Now I see why I am so quickly misunderstood.
I’d love to do my own in-depth review but since there is enough out there, I’ll just comment on a few reviews I read.
One online reviewer stated, “There are other teachings about the Trinity that concerned me. For example, Papa says ‘I am truly human, in Jesus.’ This simply cannot be true… this is not taught in the Bible. Overall, I had to conclude that Young has an inadequate and often-unbiblical understanding of the Trinity.
I strongly disagree. I believe this perspective is visible in the Bible. However, I would agree that it is not taught in most western churches.
These same churches will tell you that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is One and we worship only One God. Therefore, why would it be incorrect to state that God (the Father) is truly human in Jesus? If they are distinctly separate, then we worship three gods.
The reviewer also disagreed with Young’s perspective of submission which I discussed with my husband shortly after reading the book. The Greek term translated as submission refers to "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".
Our western culture prefers to apply the military slant which is "to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader". Interestingly, this is where the Jewish leaders parted ways with Jesus. They wanted the Messiah to bring military submission. Jesus instead brought an attitude of giving in (considering others better than yourself), cooperating (being one Body), assuming responsibility (different workings for the common good) and carrying a burden (Jesus carried our burden and also the burden of God).
Jesus prayed in John 17 that those who believe in Him will be one as He and the Father are one. The only way to accomplish this is through all believers submitting with the attitude of Christ found in Philippians 2. Jesus is in very nature God – but he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Why? I think there is a lot more to that statement than Jesus didn’t fight God’s will.
From my perspective, it has more to do with relationship. Jesus knew that as God in very nature, he didn’t have to prove himself. He chose to limit himself to human nature. He chose to rely on God the Father. And, God the Father equally relied on Jesus to do what only he could do in the flesh. The Holy Spirit was the significant link between the two. William Young does an outstanding job of picturing this relationship. I love his portrayal of the Holy Spirit and the mystery with that character.
My challenge to you is to read this book with a sense of adventure. Be willing to look at truth from a different perspective. I’m not asking you to change your perspective or turn from truth. Simply suggesting you allow the gift of fiction writing to broaden your perspective of a God who is far too big for any of us to fully understand.
If you are one who has a negative response to The Shack, I challenge you to use the same measure of judgment on your own perspective of truth. Do you believe what you believe because the Holy Spirit taught you or because a fully human person with a Christian label influenced your thinking? Scripture is God’s Word. The Holy Spirit is to be our counselor of that Word.
Here are a couple of good posts on The Shack:
LifeStream blog - Is THE SHACK Heresy? by Wayne Jacobson