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My Review of #1 NY Times Best Seller: The Shack

My Review of #1 NY Times Best Seller: The Shack

William P. Young wrote a fiction novel to teach his six children about his relationship with God. It is allegory about God’s grace healing brokenness.

It was the #1 paperback trade fiction seller on The New York Times Best Seller list from June 2008 to early 2010

Young planned on making a few copies of the book at Kinkos as gifts. But then he shared the book with a few friends. They told a few more friends and through word of mouth marketing the book is now number 1 on the NY Times Best Seller list with over one million copies in print. It has been on USA Today’s best selling list for 70 weeks.

The title of the book is The Shack. This book is extremely thought provoking, unique and incredibly emotional. It has been compared to Pilgrim’s Progress and C.S. Lewis’s work. On Amazon it has over 2100 reviews and over 1500 of them give the book at least four stars. It is sure to become a classic.

By habit, I am suspicious of books that are popular, especially in the Christian market (my readers know I don’t hesitate to wave red flags). I read The Shack guardedly expecting for Oprah’s New Age type religion/philosophy.

I was pleasantly surprised with this stirring and unforgettable story about God’s love and spiritual healing. Here is the book description:

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and 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 Mack’s world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant “The Shack” wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him.

This is a fiction book. Missy’s death is a metaphor for an ugly, dark place hidden so deep that it seemed beyond God’s healing reach. Mack spends the two and a half days with the Trinity learning about himself and God and relationships in the shack which is transformed into a mansion in an Eden-like garden for the weekend.

I smiled, cried, pondered, prayed, and repented as I read this over two days. The main focus of this book is on God’s love, God’s mercy, and the importance of us loving and forgiving others. I came away from the book refreshed.

Once I felt comfortable the author believed in salvation by faith through grace and that Jesus being the only way, I let down my guard and basked in this well written book full of hidden treasures. This is a novel you read with a highlighter.

Those who view Christianity only as a religion with rules to follow will learn that faith and love don’t come from theology or rules they flow from a relationship with God.

“Grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside.”

William P. Young, The Shack

The Shack Lead me to Several Other Teachings

I spent years steeped in shame, seeking acceptance in religion. See My Story Masked to Truefaced. These teachings freed me from shame  and allowed me to accept merciful God’s grace and love. Here is my journey through these teachings:

Why is The Shack so Popular?

Young approaches the popular topic the love of God and human suffering in a story. Jesus taught in parables and object lessons because we learn well from stories. Young’s story is an attempt describe a God’s character to his children. But God’s character is essentially indescribable. We can only understand a part of God’s characteristics by what we know and experience in human relationships.

People in our culture have a need to connect with God as a personal God beyond the holy and omnipotent. Our reverence and wonder about the presence of God make hard to grasp God in terms of intimate family relationships such as God as Papa (instead of an unseen force or an abstract will).

Young presents an easy to relate to version of the trinity of three persons with unique personalities spending a few days casual friendly folksy conversation and home cooked comfort meals. Easy enough for a child to understand, loving, warm and rich.

If you have been hurt in your life through church or religion or experienced the pain of legalism or rejection of judgmental attitudes this book will especially touch you. I have been hurt a lot in churches so I was profoundly impacted.

There is such a chasm between God’s holy being and our imperfect world that it is simply hard to understand God’s mercy and loving actions with unworthy man. The Shack gives us a grasp of the depth of the love of God and it is beyond comforting, it is exhilarating!

“Every time you forgive, the universe changes; everytime you reach out and touch a life, the world changes; with every kindness, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again.”

The Controversy

Any book that includes conversations with God is bound to receive criticism. How can anyone put words in God’s mouth? But the critics seem to forget the book is a fiction story by a man telling a story about God’s love to his children, not a book on theology. This book is Young’s perception of God.

I was not in total agreement with The Shack (I am not in total agreement with several of my favorite authors). I don’t expect any book but the Bible to be perfect. Books are like watermelons; you have to be willing to spit out a few seeds.

I read many of the heresy hunters posts and some of them say some things that just are not true. The article “Is the Shack Heresy?” by Wayne Jacobson addresses each of the problems the critics bring up.

The predestination folks (particularly Tim Challies) seem to have the most problems with the book (the teachings in The Shack–God loves everyone– do not agree with predestination. See the video series for a full explanation).

A Feminine God?

I imagine the hardest part for Christians to grasp is God being first presented to Mack as a female. Its easy to understand a knee jerk reaction. I was cautious when I read this but not completely turned off I have a limited understanding of the masculine and feminine parts of the image of God (because of my studies in Hebrew roots). When Adam was first made, he was both male and female, formed in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

The Shack is not trying to reinvent God as a female, but revealing that God is beyond race and gender. The main character in the story Mack was abused by his father so the author presents a comforting mother type at first, later in the book (once the earthly father issues are solved) God is presented as the Father. Harper’s Bible Dictionary explains the Bible uses both male and female imagery to show the charter of God:

Although masculine images for God dominate (e.g., king, judge, father, brother, shepherd, etc.), it must be recognized that feminine images are also frequently used to describe God’s activity. Among these are images related to feminine anatomy (e.g., womb and breasts) and feminine function (e.g., conception, pregnancy, childbirth, maternal nurture, etc.).

In the story, Papa explains that there is no hierarchy in the holy trinity–there is no need because each serves each other. It is a thought provoking description and my jury is still out on this section. But I have no problem questioning this and gleaning from the rest of the story.

Turkey Bacon

I was disappointed that God served bacon for breakfast (See my view on the Bible dietary laws). My 30 year old son helped me with this. When we discussed it he said (tongue in cheek) “Hey mom, it is probably the same turkey bacon you serve.” I was enjoying the story so much I didn’t want this part to ruin it. So it is turkey bacon.

Christian can agree to disagree in non-salvation issues and still love each other. The harsh reviews almost all misquote the book or twist the meaning of a few lines.  The Shack is not irrelevant to God, the Bible or Jesus–it just knocks man’s traditions and that upsets some people.


To fairly critique the book I would ask the question:

What did Mack learn from his weekend with God?

The Shack is not about theology or religion, but about the sweetness of an intimate relationship with God through Christ.

Mack is reminded of basic truths found in God’s word that he allowed forgot during his great sadness. The truths are given in an unconditional casual conversation format that may make some people uncomfortable.
Mack learns that he doesn’t really trust God and “Trust is the fruit of a relationship where you know you are loved” (p 126).

Mack discovers that God’s desires an intimate love relationship with each of us. He learns God wants him to spend time with Him and intimately communicate with Him, to enjoy fellowship with Him, to trust and follow Him, and to give his life meaning and purpose. He learns that God can use all things, even sin and evil to develop this relationship for good (Romans 8:28).
Mack discovers the depth of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:4-5) . He learns that he can not be self-sufficient and realizes he has been made acceptable through Jesus Christ and Him alone. He learns he will not find God through guilt or condemnation. He understands God is lovingly and patiently waiting on Him to submit (1 Peter 5:7).
Mack is reminded of the two most important commands–to love God and love others (john 13:35). Mack already knows he must forgive others as Christ forgave Him but in the shack he is helped through the process.

Mack learns God works through everything including our brokenness and sadness (Philippians 3:8). When we are separated from our prideful flesh (the carnal, corrupted life) through grace and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us He will gradually bring us to the restful place of humble dependence, wherein we can consistently receive the grace that leads to intimacy. Beautiful, loving intimacy!

Mack learns God wants us to be made complete in Christ (John 6:44-45). God wants us to be of one mind with Him. God wants us to make His ways our ways, His thoughts our thoughts.

I came away from the book feeling loved and secure with a strong desire to cultivate my relationship with God through His Word. How can that be a bad thing?

Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear, revere, and worship You, goodness which You have wrought for those who trust and take refuge in You before the sons of men!
In the secret place of Your presence You hide them from the plots of men; You keep them secretly in Your pavilion from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the Lord! For He has shown me His marvelous loving favor…
Psalms 31:17-19

Video Review of The Shack

You can read excerpts from The Shack here.

Listen to an audio interview by the author here.

In Closing

The Shack is not emergent, nor new age. It does not demean the trinity. It is William Young’s view of God. You may not agree with all of it but it makes you think outside the box and has encouraged thousands to develop their relationship with God.

I was pleased when my Southern Baptist pastor recommended The Shack from the pulpit. It made me realize how secure he is in his position. I’ve been in other churches where the pastor would never dream of recommending any book that would point a person to any thing but the pastor of the church for a relationship with God.

There are many scathing critiques about this book. Most just throw around the words “bad theology” with nothing to back it up or they are extreme Calvinism- focused on replacement theology and election. I.e. They don’t believe Jesus died for all (such as Challies).

If you would like to know the types books I read you can see a list of my library here.

Have you read The Shack? How did it help you?

Why do you think The Shack is so popular? Why is it so controversial?

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About Robin Sampson


  1. Thank-you for doing this review, Robin. It was great to hear from someone who didn’t lovelovelove the book and everything in it nor who hated it and thought it a plight on Christian literature (my dramatized perception!).

    The Shack did impact me, and how I perceive my relationship with God. I read it only because it caused such a buzz and I wanted to be in on the conversation (only I was the first one to hear about it, let alone read it, in my real life circles!). It offered a fresh perspective on who I am and how God wants to relate to me.

    It was wise to read this book with caution. It pried open many of the “boxes” that I contain my thinking about God in, but also alluded to some things that may confuse a new or immature Christian. Until the emotional wave had passed over me, a little while after finishing the book, I didn’t think analytically about what Mr. Young was saying about different doctrines. It really is a book about knowing God, not about explaining disciplines of faith.

    It should be read understanding that it’s an allegory about a God-experience, otherwise the reader may be emotionally led into believing something about God that is not scripturally based. It was easy to become immersed in the story and overlook any faults in theology. Only the Bible is inerrant when it comes to teaching truth about God.

    Overall it was good to read a book that stretched my safe ideas and forced me to think about same-old things in a different way, and to re-introduce me to a God of lovingkindness and intimacy. I hope that those who read it, though, measure their experiences against scripture and not this book.

    That’s just my simple take on it, a good book written by a human. It has flaws, but it’s a tool that can be used to draw people to the Lord.

    Bobbie-Jo’s last blog post..Contentment

  2. I am definitely a shack advocate. I am generally not a big fan of Christian fiction, but this particular book was engagingly descriptive. As with any book, especially one that purports to explain God, theology is challenged and belief systems are questioned; but even Young admits that he would “not be too surprised, in spite of our concerted effort toward accuracy, if some factual errors and faulty remembrances are reflected” (13).

    Paul (the New Testament one, not the author) was an advocate of reasoning with people, a fancy, Greek way of saying that he liked to talk matters of faith and belief and theology with those around him. And ultimately, that’s how The Shack has become so popular. One person recommending the book to another and then engaging in conversation that ultimately strengthens our faith, our belief, and our relationships with each other and with God.

    Tina Marie’s last blog post..The Shack: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (Part 1)

  3. Very complete review. How did you find my blog? I am always curious to know how people come across it!

    Pomo’s last blog post..Article on The Shack

  4. I will have to check this out…looks like a great read Robin!

    Angela’s last blog post..An Early Father’s Day- Almost Wordless Wednesday

  5. I think you’re take on the book is fair. You’re right, it isn’t emergent or new-agey. One thing I did like was that he take things like the Trinity, the death and resurrection of Christ, and even I think the Creation seriously and as things that really happened. That puts him quite a ways ahead, in my mind, of some others who lay claim to be Christian teachers and thinkers but who, for example, say things like the resurrection of Christ didn’t really happen.

    I agree with Bobbie-Jo, that it needs to be read with understand, or, if I may use another word, discernment. There were things it that I liked, and others that I question.

    At the least, it wasn’t so far out as to be something I couldn’t recommend at all. But do read it with your eyes open, so to speak.

    jazzact13’s last blog post..book review–the shack–overview

  6. Robin,

    I loved your review…so thorough and hitting on all the questions that have popped up when I’ve talked to others about this book. I really appreciate the information you’ve shared. I’m waiting for my copy from the library. I’m number 27 in line, so I have a little wait before me. : )

    Yvonne’s last blog post..Encouraging Children to Write: Elementary to High School

  7. Deanne

    Thank you Robin! I also read this book a couple months ago, when it was recommended to me by Steve and Jane Lambert of Five in A Row.
    I had read a lot of the “dissin’ ” of the book and was a bit suspicious of it. However, as I was transported into the story line and saw the beauty of Christ’s mercy, love and patience…I was instantly a huge supporter of this book as well. Excellent review Robin.
    Love Deanne

    Deanne’s last blog post..Watching Women

  8. Robin, I love YOU!I had been wanting to read this for while but also tend to judge things the way you do by the Word, and just really didn’t want to be dissapointed. I don’t think things have to be perfect but I do want evidence of a deep relationship (with God)in an author before I let things sink in. Because when we read or listen to what comes from anothers interpretation of HIM and HIS ways it does influence us. I had a feeling this book would be good, I hoped so anyway. I am so glad to hear your opinion. I value it. I would like to read it as soon as it appears at my library, no book $$ at the moment.
    blessings my dear sister!
    Penny Raine

    Penny Raine’s last blog post..our version of “big brother”

  9. I don’t generally read fiction unless I read something before I allow my kids to read it. However, after reading your review, I had to get this book. It sounds like an awesome book, something that I would enjoy, learn from, and that would greatly affect my relationship with the Father.

    Thank you, Robin, for reviewing the book in such length. I can’t wait until it arrives!

    Blessings and prayers for you and yours

    Mara B.’s last blog post..Tiger Direct will rip you off!

  10. Thanks for reviewing the book.
    I have a lot of friends that want me to read it. However, due to the horrific events to a child in it I know I cannot.
    I still have flashes of images & words from “The GreenMile” hit me even years after seeing it.

  11. This book was sent to me by my mentor. I had never heard of it. I started reading it and then realized that I needed to read it to my 4 oldest kids as a read-aloud. We were upset at first about what happened to his daughter, but we have been through some shocking things that we thought God would never allow, since we gave our lives completely into His hands. So we knew that sometimes God allows things that don’t make sense to us. So we were able to keep on reading, and we could really relate to what Mack was feeling. The line that Papa used so often, “I’m especially fond of you” made me feel like God would say that to me, and I felt Him saying it to me as I read this book. I think many of us Christians need to really know how God feels about each one of us. Then we would treat each other with more love, because all of the masks would be gone and all of the jealousy, competition and comparison would be gone.

    I loved this book and felt that it was a great experience for me and my children – ages 10-17. Nobody knows how the Trinity really works. It’s beyond our understanding. But this is a good theory based on what we do know. We have to have some kind of conception of it, and I don’t think this one could be harmful in any way. Reading this story helped us to feel closer to God (each of my kids really liked the story, too) and I know God wants us to be close to Him.

    We had our understanding reaffirmed that God can always be trusted, no matter what circumstances come into our lives.

    Thanks for this positive review, Robin, because I believe many people could be helped by reading this book.


    Penney Douglas’s last blog post..The Medical Experts? Not!!!

  12. Hi Robin,

    Thank you for your review. I haven’t read the book, and I’m not sure if I will, but I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts of it with us :). I greatly enjoyed reading your balanced review. I admit, I’m one of those who experiences a knee jerk reaction when God is presented as a female figure.

    Jennifer Bogart’s last blog post..FIRST Wild Card Tour: She Always Wore Red by Angela Hunt

  13. Thank you, Robin!! Just yesterday I was pondering whether or not to buy and read this book. I TOO am LEARY of Christian fiction. So often the books are fluffy and not at all biblical. Now that I’ve read your EXCELLENT and THOROUGH review, I think I will get a copy and dive in.

    God bless you for your dedication to serving the Lord.

    Sally Olson
    Livermore, CA

  14. sherie

    I just wanted to refer you back to a recent Heart of Wisdom article called Spiritual Disorientation. Here is a quote: “After sharing this story with my young Christian friend, I explained that there are times when we can become “spiritually disoriented”, especially as a young believer facing stormy times. During these times, Satan will attack and it is important that we trust our flight lead, Jesus Christ, and our instruments, God’s Holy Word, to see us through. Our faith must stand solidly upon the foundation of Jesus, the chief corner stone as described in Ephesians 2:20 and upon the pillar of truth, the Bible. Faith like love is not based on our feelings, it is a choice. Even in times of doubt we can choose to believe and know that just beyond the clouds of doubt is a clear blue horizon waiting for us to journey towards.”
    I cannot recommend The Shack without reservation because it is one more book that is scratching the itching ears of people who want to de-construct and de-value scripture. I realize it is a FICTIONAL story, but along the lines of The DaVinci Code it is written in such a convincing way that people will be deceived. Much of The Shack does not stand up to scriptural doctrine – and the reader needs discernment. Perhaps it could be read and discussed together with mature christians who know their Bible- but to recommend it to young people or immature christians is not responsible, in my opinion.

  15. Hi Robin;
    My girlfriend just plopped this book on my counter last week. Thanks for giving us some more background details, I am not sure that I am comfortabe with God being portrayed as a female…a female and feminine attributes are very different. Hmm, I will read it and take that to God.

    mama to 6
    one homemade and 5 adopted
    *come meet us, we love new friends!

    Kimmie’s last blog post..Homeschool homemaking skills

  16. 🙂 What a great website! Thanks for sharing and stopping by mine. Hope you like the bronzer. 🙂 And join the “Win It Wednesday” giveaway this coming Wednesday, it’s going to be good. 😉 God Bless!

    CarolinaMama’s last blog post..Sun Without The Cancer

  17. Thank you, Robin, for such an indepth, well thought review on this book.

    Dawne’s last blog post..WHY We Homeschool

  18. Great read, Robin. You really went into depth.

    Gary R. Hess’s last blog post..Quest for the Longest Poetry Meme

  19. Robin,
    I’m adding this to my post! It’s a FABULOUS review of the book! I walked away with so much from this book…you articulated so well many of the feelings that I felt…I too left wanting to “cultivate” my relationship with the 3 persons in 1….

    Thanks Robin for linking to me….
    You are, as always…a blessing!
    hugs to you!

  20. Betty Nelson

    Great review! For those concerned about the theology read what Wayne Jacobsen friend of the author and one of the editors of the book says:

    “Let me assure any of you reading this that all three of us who worked on this book are deeply committed followers of Jesus Christ who have a passion for the Truth of the Scriptures and who have studied and taught the life of Jesus over the vast majority of our lifetimes. But none of us would begin to pretend that we have a complete picture of all that God is or that our theology is flawless. We are all still growing in our appreciation for him and our desire to be like him, and we hope this book encourages you to that process as well. In the end, this says the best stuff we know about God at this point in our journeys. Is it a complete picture of him? Of course not! Who could put all that he is into a little story like this one? But if it is a catalyst to get thousands of people to talk about theology-who God is and how he makes himself known in the world-we would be blessed.”

    Wayne says about the author:

    “This is a story of one believer’s brokenness and how God reached into that pain and pulled him out and as such is a compelling story of God’s redemption. The pain and healing come straight from a life that was broken by guilt and shame at an incredibly deep level and he compresses into a weekend the lessons that helped him walk out of that pain and find life in Jesus again.”

  21. Great, well rounded review of The Shack. Great site.

  22. Michele

    I’m a five-point Calvinist, TULIP all the way…and I LOVED The Shack as much as I loved C.S. Lewis’ writings. Certain writers, if we will allow them, soften our hardened hearts and stir our bored, lukewarm souls, even if their theology is not 100 percent accurate.

    The critics fail to remember literary criticism includes consideration of the author’s intent, background and point of view.

  23. Shezoe

    i had some of the same questions you did, I concluded that the “gospel” is the good news about Jesus and what He came to do for us. That was more powerfully portrayed here than anything i’ve read in ages.

    Taking it from a dry, dull set of lessons that makes everyone yawn and others angry-back to the “shout it from the mountain tops” message it was originally. We HAVE gotten too bogged down in the theology and have lost the wonder. He did a very effective job of bringing that back. One of the key things to watch for in most “subversive” writings these days is that they can speak about love and mercy and all of that, but the Cross and Resurrection and what it accomplished for us, what it WAS is curiously missing.

    New Age especially can sound exactly like Christianity, but when you ask a new ager “what does the Cross of Jesus mean to you?” They have no answer except that it was a case of tragic martyrdom. woops! None of that is missing from this book.

    The HEART of the gospel is vividly portrayed, and the subjects that any honest seeker is longing to understand are addressed here as well, including the arrogance and lack of any deep thought that is often present in our demanding answers from Him. For those who are wounded beyond belief-this book will be like a warm blanket to a bleak n winter wiped soul.

    As for the imagery of Him, He is a Spirit and Spirits do no have a Female or Male gener per se. That is quite biblical. He has characteristics that are pictured in both the feminine and the masculine. That is also quite biblical. He chooses to call Himself Father and we need pronouns. But to say He is literally male or female, Father or Mother is silly. He’s a Spirit. He’s what we were created as a picture of, so He would include ALL of those Characteristics.

  24. Shezoe

    Here is a direct quote from pgs 197-198:
    ‘Mackenzie!” She chided, her words flowing with affection. “The Bible doesn’t teach you to follow rules. It is a picture of Jesus. While words may tell you what God is like and even what He may want from you, you cannot do any of it on your own. Life and living is in him and in no other. My goodness, you didn’t think you could live the righteousness of God on your own, did you?” ‘
    That is scriptural in every way. That is the REASON Jesus came.

  25. My husband and I are recovering Pharosies 😆 and have had struggles in our marriage for over 8+ years with online pornography. He had been caught a few times and tried something different each time to rectify and defeat the addiction. He is a believer, but always kept it in “head knowledge” never moving it to heart relationship. He bought this book for his parents as they are pharosies still, but needed to read it first to make sure the book was “ok” for them to read and not be more of a stubbling block in their walk. Before reading the book (by the way we found it here on your site) we also found and researched the “makers” of the book as well. As we always check out the motives, backround and history for discernment purposes, we stumbled across Wayne Jacobsen’s site http://www.lifestream.org . Between those two resources my husband is finally seeing the difference between rules and relationships!!!
    😯 ➡ 🙂
    He realizes now that every time he fell back into the sin there was something missing. He started out fighting and sin eventually prevailed. But this time was different. He did’nt start it out trying to overcome it on his own! He went to God with it!! And after reading this book and listening online to Wayne, my husband new it was time to give it over to Him and defeat it through Christ, and Christ’s love for him. Since then, we have started praying together. I never would have imagined…EVER. Only God can do that!! 😎
    So, Thank you for being an instument in helping our marriage in so many ways, from your books to this site , Thank you ! 😀
    In Christ Alone,

  26. thoughtyou might want to read this. dr. stacy is an intellectual man knows god. he does a great job examining the book from different views…


    he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (the WHOLE world).

    I grew up singing ‘victory in jesus’. if only 10% of the people god creates are redeemed, then that is not much of a victory, is it?

    Charles Martin’s last blog post..Of Wine and Skins

  27. Heather

    I just finished reading “The Shack”! I have never been so profoundly affected by a book outside God’s Word!

    We will never understand everything until we are in eternity with Him, we just have to have faith in Him. He only asks us to love Him and have relationship with Him! Thank you Mr. Young for such a powerful book! May the Lord continue to bless you and everyone who is touched by this book!

  28. Mary M. Miller

    The shack is a metaphor for all the trash in our lives. We build a facade in front of it hoping that God and others will be impressed and like us, all the while desperately hiding the shack with its sin, ugliness that is our shame. The LORD not up there disappointedly demanding that we clean up our shack, but waiting to meet us in the shack.

  29. It us a life changing book. I just hope theological nitpickers trying to fit every aspect of a biblical parable into their systematic theology textbook won’t turn too many peiple off.

    The critics of The Shack, especially those from Reformed theology background, owe Paul Young an apology.

    I am really thankful for a literary portrait of the God who crawls into our deepest sadness and brings us through the darkest night from brokenness to wholeness once again.

    John Byrd’s last blog post..Keys to Marriage?

  30. I had not heard of this book untill I read your review of it and I had to give it a look!! Thank you so much. Like you I may struggle with a few things in it but I also came away from the book feeling loved and wanting a closer relationship with our Saviour. I have recommended it to my friends I think it would uplift most people – they just need to remember the context in which it is written as you pointed out and take the story for what it is – uplifting.

  31. Excellent review! Thanks for sharing.

    John Fernandez’s last blog post..R.C. SPROUL INTERVIEWS BEN STEIN, PART 1

  32. Barbara R

    I am so glad to read about THE SHACK. Excellent Review!!!

  33. Thanks for the review. My wife and I both loved this book. This is my first time visiting your site and I look forward to returning.

  34. OK I am lost as to what the DaVinci code has to do with anything as that was not written as a Christian book. I can’t even put the two books in the same sentence. As for your review, I felt the same way, I almost could have written your review word for word. I feel it gives me a way to have a deeper more meaningful relationship with God. I tend to put up walls of “God is so Holy” in my relationship that this reminds me that He loves us deeply and His holiness should not be a barrier. That is the very short version of my take. Well done.

  35. William

    The critics of “The Shack” make one ponder the existence of lovelessness within the so-called Christian community.

    It is so easy to pick apart a book and conjure up all sorts of false theology based on one or two sentences and a maligned sense of self -righteousness.

    The world yearns for the love of God. The attitude of the critics of this book are the same reason so many are leaving the church–self righteous pride and superior attitudes.

    The well intentioned critics are so busy battling and protecting and defending that they had turned inward to self-protection and suspicion. They were navel-gazers, with no vision or purpose outside themselves.

    It is my prayer that we shall choose to cease engaging in the lovelessness so prevalent in this community.

  36. Maggie W

    Here is a quote from the Shack. Mack is talking with Sarayu, The Shack’s personification of the Holy Spirit about the love of his children:

    ““But what about when they do not behave, or they make choices other than those you would want them to make, or they are just belligerent and rude? What about when they embarrass you in front of others? How does that affect your love for them?”

    Mack responded slowly and deliberately. “It doesn’t, really.” He knew that what he was saying was true… “I admit that it does affect me and sometimes I get embarrassed or angry, but even when they act badly, they are still my son or my daughter, they are still Josh or Kate, and they will be forever. What they do might affect my pride, but not my love for them.”

    She sat back, beaming. “You are wise in the ways of real love, Mackenzie. So many people believe that it is love that grows, but it is the knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it. Love is just the skin of knowing . . .”

  37. Thanks Robin I’ve read your blog and I detect a kindred spirit.

    Anyone that listens to any interviews by the author or publishers you can tell that the accusations are off-base.

    They all love Jesus and the Word and want to bring people into the Kingdom through the Good News of the Gospel.

    Have you read Paul Young article about his return to the shack “The Beauty of Ambiguity” He addresses the harsh criticisms in another conversation with God.

    David S’s last blog post..June 2008, Letter from Pastor Lawrence Rae

  38. I think I am the only one in my circle of friends who has not read the shack yet! I have tried to borrow a coppy but they are always loaned out. One friend even read a chapter out loud to me and hooked me but then was borrowing the book from someone else so could not loan it to me! LOL
    So I would like to win so I can read it 😛 and then pass it on maybe to my unsaved friends to read.

    Alisha’s last blog post..Review of The Schoolhouse Planner

  39. Thank you for this review of the book. I’ve been reading several reviews for a while now & just not sure if I should go ahead & read the book or steer clear. I’ve decided to read it & maybe I’ll be the lucky winner! Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to give your views – they were helpful.

  40. Would love to win so I can read it myself and then put it in our church library. Thanks so much for the opportunity to win.

  41. 😀 Since it is Sept 13 and you didnt tell me I won…I borrowed the Shack from a friend! 😆
    I haven’t started it yet, but I am sure I will be weighing in my opinion, becasue we all know I have one. 😉 hee hee!
    Because of Jesus, Bobbie

    Bobbies last blog post..Show and Tell Friday with CanadaGirl ~ socks

  42. Hey Robin! Thanks for the comment on my blog, I very much enjoyed your post here. You and I seem to have very similar sentiments concerning “The Shack”. I’m glad you are spreading the news that its far from dangerous; I’m saddened to think about how many people could be blessed by this book but are waved off by angry reviews.

    God Bless,


  43. Robin, I enjoy your review! I have read The Shack. I started it in the summer of 2008. Got about half way through, put it down and for whatever reason (life with four kids including a special needs baby mostly) I didn’t get back to it. Until October of 2008, special needs baby, Seth, is in the hospital, suffering complications of his second open heart surgery since birth and dying. I read The Shack aloud to him and let God work on my heart through it. Parts of it I may not agree with either but overall it’s a beautiful book written to show God’s love for us. Now, I especially benefit from the part where God explains to Mack why he did not “save” Missy.. Thank you for your review!

  44. Maryna

    The Shack was given to me quite a few months ago. I was very sceptical at first, but decided to read it after-all during the December holidays. I would like to read it again with a highlighter in one hand!!! Even though this is fiction, I am sure that God worked through William Young on this book. I always felt close to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but now I also feel near to GOD! Some of my friends have rejected it, and it has really left me feeling sad…In any case: It is my prayer that Jesus would take me for a walk on the water as well one day – even if it is only in my dreams……

  45. Daniel

    The reviews of this book have certainly been diverse, and I thank you for your excellent review in which you fairly treat the book as fiction.

    Being dedicated to home-schooling and education, I found this book to be particularly interesting to my children (girls), written from a Christian world-view –


  46. GREAT review of The Shack. Thanks for visiting my blog. I am looking forward to hearing W. Paul Young speak on Monday night. I will definately be bring my copy of the book for him to sign.

  47. Donielle Brinkman

    Agree:) My father (also a Pastor) wrote an informal Study Guide for The Shack to be used in our church homegroup. I have been attending the study for almost a year now. His mercies are new every morning. Wayne Jacobsen’s book He Loves Me might be my favorite book of all time. 🙂

  48. One point that should be made is that it’s not accurate that The Shack was “never” intended to be published. That might have been true when Young first wrote the story. But once his friends convinced him of publishing… they went through *three* major rewrites of the story. So… whatever The Shack was originally, it was not what we came to know as The Shack, which is a work *intended* to be published.

    Just feeling good about a depiction of God doesn’t make it good. Most Israelites in the wilderness seemed to feel quite good about God as a golden calf. It didn’t make them much good though when God sent Moses after them.

    I wonder how exactly would Papa AKA the Oracle from the Matix address this incident.

  49. Eikin Kloster,

    Since you know about three rewrites you know Wayne Jacobsen was involved. Have you looked at this site? Its at at http://www.lifestream.org/index.php

    Have you visited William Young’s (the authors) site? http://theshackbook.com/

    The men responsible for this book are godly men with no other goal but promote Jesus and the Gospel (salvation by grace through faith in Jesus).

    Where are you getting the bunk Oracle from the Matix???

    Do research before condemning. – listening to all the critical hype jumping on a bandwagon with ZERO research about the topic.

    It is WRONG to throw around terms like Oracle and falsely accusing some one of golden calf idolatry when the evidence shows these men promote the gospel.

    May God bless you by opening your eyes.

  50. When Adam was first made, he was both male and female, formed in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).


  51. Melanie

    Wow. I can’t believe what a stir this book has caused!

    Anyway, I read the book, with reservations. I didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. I felt from the relationship standpoint, it was excellent. A few things did make me uncomfortable, but if my kiddos want to read it, I’ll encourage them to do so. I do think we as the body need to be challenged in our views. We tend to follow tradition and religion as carefully as His Word. I felt that some of the views challenged in this book CAN be defended with scripture, but on the whole a good read.

  52. To me, parts of the book seem to connected directly to the movie “The Matrix” of which I’m a huge fan. When the God (Papa) character was introduced, all I could think of was the Oracle character from the Matix. African-American woman, cooking – even the way she talked reminded me of the Oracle. I thought “hmm – this is certainly coincidental” and read on. Then, the author blatantly uses the term “matrix” (see pages 124 and 125 of the book) and uses it to describe what the matrix is which is very similar to the matrix in the movie. My criticism is not about the theological soundness (or lack thereof) of the book – but rather that to me, the book seems to take direct ideas (and even direct words) from the movie “The Matrix” and then not site that reference – in education we call that PLAGIARISM! I’m just surprised I haven’t heard of more people connecting the dots. If you haven’t seen “The Matrix” I encourage you to do so and see the similarities for yourself.

  53. This book is amazing! To all the critics…there are so many negative books out there, this book is a POSITIVE one 🙂 A life changer! I loved it! I wish everyone would read it! It’s a love story with God!

  54. I have not read the book, nor do I intend to unless YHWH tells me to. I had never heard of the book, until my brother and sister-in-law mentioned it to me several months ago and asked if I had read it. Someone they knew had and raved about it so they read it. They wanted me to read it and tell them what I thought. They didn’t say a lot about it, only enough to know they were not pleased. This did not sway me as they are died in the wool evangelical Christians, and we are pro-Torah believers so negative things people may say about things only make us want to check them out for ourselves. Not this book. They gave it to me and on the way home, I got a very strong impression from YHWH NOT to read this book. I argued with Him about it..hey Father, it’s only a book! I can handle it! But He said NO! So…I threw it in our burn barrel…that is how strongly HE impressed negatively about this book! Now, this is just my experience…

  55. I could not agree more. Although this book is a fantastic book and does the job it was written to do…it has been copied from the matrix. I noticed all you are saying straight away and more.

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