I first heard about The Shack about 4 months ago. Since that time several of my friends, some in ministry and some outside of the ministry, have recommended that I read it. Most of them gave it glowing reviews. One of them even suggested that it deserved “3 thumbs up”.

A couple of weeks ago I was given a copy of The Shack from a friend who had bought several copies after having read it himself. I finally got around to reading it on my vacation this past week. The following are some of my quick hit thoughts on The Shack.

1) It was a well-paced quick read.
This was a great vacation book. I was able to begin reading it one day, and finish it in three settings. The dialogue kept the book moving at a quick pace. My only stylistic complaints would be that it could have been edited better, and I’m not sure that I understand why there was a need for a narrator to tell the story.

2) It provided a solid basic discussion of the problem of evil and the nature of God.
I greatly enjoyed the use of a fictional narrative to discuss matters of the problem of evil and the nature of God. The use of narrative allowed for some great quotes which I will share later in this post. I felt that there are a lot of people who could benefit from reading The Shack and its somewhat “non-traditional” approach to thinking about God and evil. At the same time I felt that the “revelations” which Mack experienced in his encounters with God were somewhat elementary in nature, especially for someone who had supposedly been to Seminary.

3) It presented a view of the trinity which was both Biblical and holistic.
While there are some who struggle with God the Father revealing himself as a large Creole African-American woman, most readers will see this as a powerfully Biblical way to present the whole picture of God the Father as presented in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

4) It was simplistic in its treatment of the problem of evil and generally avoided the truly difficult question of why God seems to act in some situations while remaining inactive in others.
Ultimately it was the author’s suggestion that the reason that bad things happen is that the world is broken because of sin, and God has limited himself by extending true freedom of choice to people who are fallen. This is explained well within the book. My major problem with the book is that it generally avoids discussing why God supernaturally intervenes in some situations while seemingly remaining uninvolved in others. There is one attempt to broach this topic late in the book, but it is far from adequate in providing a substantial theological response to the question.

5) It makes Mack’s move from frustrated-skeptic to fully-devoted God-lover far too simple.
Mack’s progression of spiritual growth seems to happen far too quickly and with very little true questioning. It is almost as if the author is suggesting that people who have experienced a deep hurt simply need to express their pain and frustration to God and then rest in his love and grace. I only wish that Mack had been able to more deeply express himself, and that God’s answers would have been more substantial.

Favorite quotes from The Shack

“It is not the nature of love to force a relationship, but it is the nature of love to open the way.”

“Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrated the tragedy. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead to false notions about me. Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.”
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4 Response to 'The Shack'

  1. Erik
    http://daleschaeffer.blogspot.com/2008/08/shack.html?showComment=1219446300000#c1885526980294340018'> 18:05

    Dale, good post!

    My wife, who is an editor, said the same thing about the editorial side of it. But for me it was such a solid book because it was fresh, thought provoking, and a super easy read.

    It gets you thinking but not so hard you can't enjoy it.

    Have you read Tim Keels book Intuitive Leadership? MUST READ! Just finishing but it really is awesome. Another book that deserves three thumbs. ;-)


  2. Dale
    http://daleschaeffer.blogspot.com/2008/08/shack.html?showComment=1219508760000#c7096297139887963341'> 11:26

    Erik, thanks man thought I'd give you a little shout out...I'll jump back and link to you're blog in the post.

    I'll definitely check out Tim's book...I think you're about the 6th person to tell me I need to read it.


  3. Donnie Miller
    http://daleschaeffer.blogspot.com/2008/08/shack.html?showComment=1219696260000#c5553066656791811571'> 15:31

    I loved this book and we had a discussion group on it at our church.


  4. Dale
    http://daleschaeffer.blogspot.com/2008/08/shack.html?showComment=1219715220000#c6184202331923572449'> 20:47


    Yeah, I thought it was good, but not that good...I'm still not sure if I feel like it was an adequate response to the issue.


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