About 2 years ago I first read this book "The Shack" and although because of the circumstances, the first part of the book was not easy to read, I was absolutely delighted with the spiritual truths written therein. I'm sure that people who have read the book, (and there are millions world wide) know that the author did not write it for publication but as a story for his children.
I know that it has been posted on many blogs over the months but I want to share here a review by Brian, a friend of mine from Kentucky. I personally think this is the best review I have read so find no need to add to it further. I hope that someone finds it helpful as this book is so steeped in controversy.
Review of The Shack
by Brian Coatney
Last year I noticed that occasionally a friend would ask me, “Have you read The Shack?” Acknowledging that I hadn’t, the next response was, “ I’m eager to hear what you think of it when you do. " My reasons for not picking it up sooner have to do with the fact that I watch old movies instead of read fiction. Just now still recovering from two glaucoma surgeries and limited in my usual reading, my wife, Tandy, began reading the book aloud, a chapter or two a day. Knowing absolutely nothing about the book, not even the central story line, I might as well have been living on a desert island, for which I’m thankful since the storm of controversy surrounding the book has just begun to filter into my awareness now that I’ve read the book.
From the beginning, both the story and the bursts of literary delight drew me in, and a cord of tension settled in that only got wound more tightly, with ever increasing intensity. I began to think, “I want to put this book down and run as far away from it as I can. ” Why? The reasons are no different from what life is: life is a series of losses and the grief we feel over them, which only mount as we awaken to the desperation everywhere around us. The book, then, though a work of fiction, does not provide the hoped for respite from life that movies and fiction can thankfully give us at times. However, to shrink back from the dire aspects of The Shack also cuts one off from its divine ecstasies. As usual, the very nerves in our makeup that register pain also register pleasure, “and at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore ” (Psa. 16:11).
The book’s approach is unconventional to say the least for a Christian work of art. The presentation of the Godhead is so unexpectedly wild and outrageous that it forces the reader to decide if such a presentation is an attack against the scripture or a creative opening up of scripture’s innermost purity and desire by God to speak to us where we are. Nothing in the book seemed to me anything more than a simple bubbling fountain of God’s very heart, so I jumped in and went with the characters.
When a reader does this, all kinds of theological warning flags might get overlooked; longstanding doctrines might even seem challenged, and I say seem. Careful inspection might turn up all kinds of knotty difficulties for debate: “ Why did the author say this?” or “ Why didn’t the author say that, or make such and such clear or clearer? ” Pretty soon, we’d have a demand for a comprehensive, doctrinal work.
This is not a slam on doctrine; doctrine is essential, and correct doctrine at that. But when experiencing The Shack, I picked up a more important consideration, that of an overwhelming beauty and truth that offers itself in such a way that the only ones who find it are those who see past what my old Bible teacher, Norman Grubb, called warts or the appearance of flesh level manifestations. Readers of the book who see through and let the suffering and the ecstasy of this book envelop them will not let it be reduced to its weaknesses or errors, either real or perceived. I’m just mischievous enough not to go into that further.
The overwhelming aspect of the book is God’s love, His forgiveness through the cross, His desire to live in us and relate to us in union with Him, and the lengths to which He will go to open up our hearts and minds to His nature and patient processes with us. These are not new themes, and the author wouldn’t even claim such. The presentation in The Shack is unique and riveting, full of rapture and poetry to recue our deepest sadness and alienation from a God who invites us into the radical outward boundaries of His limitless freedom.
Thanks to William P. Young and his fellow writers for a monumental contribution to our generation. Many vivid pictures of sublime truth have made a home in my mind and imagination forever.