Working in a seminary bookstore I usually get wind of any book that is becoming quite popular. About two months ago I began to hear some murmurs about “The Shack” by William Young. I was told it was going to be th next “Blue Like Jazz” a must read that would captivate the minds and hearts of many believers. I rolled my eyes and decided to ignore the new book especially after hearing that it was theological fiction. The last theological fiction I had read was the McLaren trilogy, and that turned out to be… well I wil leave that for some other time. What eventually made me read the book was the quote on the front by Eugene Peterson.
This book has the potential to do for our generation what John bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” did for his. It is that good!
Well I have always been a fan of Eugene Peterson and enjoyed his books so this was enough for me to pick it up and read it. In fact after reading Eugene’s endorsement I now had big expectations for this book, probably to big of expectations.
I plowed through the book last weekend and came away quite unimpressed. The beginning is a massive tear jerker and will make even the most manly dude tear up. From there the book becomes a theodicy, as Mack (the main character) has a Job-like encounter with God, as he works through the evil that has happened to him.
Yet this book failed on both of its goals as theological fiction. First the theology was a little quirky, and second the fiction piece lost momentum. Usually with a good fiction book I cannot put it down until I am done, with this one I had no such problem. I realize that Mr. Young is not a novel writer and wrote the book with the intent to just give to his children, but the book languished at points.
But the theology is the more important part that is why I wanted to point everyone to this review written by Tim Challies on the book. He spent way more time delving into the nuances and theological implications of the book then I ever would. So as this book picks up steam and comes to an overly excited Christian friend near you, read Challies review and the book for yourself to get a good handle on it all.
Last, I just want to say that I do not think the book is not worth reading, or that it does not have some value. I am just concerned about some of the content and the exuberance that usually follows a Christian book that becomes uber-popular.
UPDATE: I wanted to make clear that while I found Tim Challies review to be very helpful I think parts of it are off base, especially his remarks on forgiveness being contingent upon repentance. I left a comment on his blog to this effect as have others. Other than that I think the review is excellent.