Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Review of "The Shack"

I figured since everybody is talking about this book lately I would go ahead and read it. To start off I think what is good about the book is that it does an excellent job of explaining free will in narative form. It tells the story of a man who had his 6 year old daughter abducted and murdered while on a camping trip. Several years later God invites him to come up to the same shack in the woods where the daughters bloodstained dress was found, for a conversation. Some of the topics discussed and exemplified were God's love, forgiveness, and relationship. What I find appaling about the book is its omission on the topic of eternal punishment. I am left with the impression that the books author is either blatently or unwittingly expousing universal salvation. Since it is nearly impossible to speak on the topic of the fate of those who do violence to young people without bringing up the idea of hell, I am pretty sure that the book is subtly yet blatently pro-universalism. The reason for the subtlety is obvious. The doctrine cannot survive scrutiny against the Word of God. While I like the book I could not recommend it for reading to anyone since it is impossible to say what other subtle false doctrines might also be lurking in the subtext of the book that I was not wise enough to pick up on.


matthew said...

And doesn't the book portray God as a woman? I haven't read it but that's what I'm told. I'd say that would qualify as a not-so-subtle false doctrine.

Christian Apologist said...

I can handle the portrayal of God as a woman since the justification is that the main character couldnt handle the concept of God as father because of his poor relationship with his real father. Later on in the book when the character has overcome his emotions about his dad he is able to see the truer character of God as father.

Barb said...

Interesting. What a sad thing. I agree that the Bible clearly spells out eternal damnation --typically depicting it as fire --but it also suggests eternal extinction as in chaff that is burned up --in unquenchable fire. Damnation is AT LEAST for those who have no conscience and enjoy cruelty and never become remorseful--and those who refuse to believe in God/Christ as revealed to us before they die. But, of course, God can extend grace and mercy upon anyone for any reason, as far as I'm concerned --just as some folks in scripture found favor with God for compassionate hearts toward the People of God and others--like the Good Samaritan --like Rahab, the prostitute. But, in the evangelical message, we can't promise grace to people for anything other than their faith in Christ and subsequent repentance for sin. However, one can make a case for grace bestowed on the unevangelized who love righteousness and mercy --if there are such. Those who hunger for righteousness shall be satisfied.

There is much in Scripture to suggest that Christians need to walk the talk and live the life of righteous pursuit and self-denial in order to finish the race--taking up our crosses. While saved by faith alone, while Christ's blood atones for all our sin, we are still called to repent and get back on course when we fall. Get up and run the race, as Liz Tracy put it.

How went the sermon yesterday? Rita says it was good. Didn't know you were doing that. I see your theme was consistent with Jim K's class topic and with Liz Tracy's devotional topic -about the Bible as our baton.

you can see what we were doing Sunday --and Saturday and Monday --and he still isn't finished --on my blog about the "ruined holiday."

But we took time off to listen to the radio service from the week before --and it came across well --musically a little heavy on guitar and light on the other instruments --and guitar had some wrong chords in the "There's no god like Jehovah" song. I wonder if we bring up the audience singing as much as we could --I hear different results on different Sundays, depending on the tech probably. Listening to a worship tape Carolyn Bell made for us once of some big worship event, I know it's possible to hear audience clearly --and also hear team vocalists leading clearly.
(I put this here as irrelevant social chit chat and because you are a sound tech!)

Austin Beeman said...

The one thing The Shack does amazingly well is that it makes fellowship with God seem something very desirable. It appeals to the emotional or existential aspect of Christianity that is not getting across to the unsaved in this culture.

Also, by being a mainstream success it is something Christians can get NonChristians to read and it is great starting point for discussion. We can use the 'cult of professionalism' for our own purposes too.