Yes, I read the Shack. At the behest and someone else’s dime I read it in about a day. Did I lose my salvation? No.
Though I do not, do not, agree with everything the author presents, I found some great imagery at best, an OK storyline at its worst. I was intrigued as to how this little story would play out. And then I read all the critiques. And then I talked to some people. And then I talked to other people. And then I went to the Shack website… and now, well now I’m confused.
I’m well aware of all the theological woes it gives someone. It gave them to me, too. Some were not as weighty as others, but they were still there. And yet, and yet I cannot deny the personal testimonies of others who say they are getting so much out of this book.
But this is the confusing part. The Shack website. Especially the forum. On the one hand, this book is presented as a theological groundstone, adding nothing new except this experience of the Trinity. According to the authors and the forum writers, this little book is consistent in every way to well-established orthodoxy (And you read the authors responses and you can better understand their point of view and their confusion as to why they are not being understood and being called heretics). But, on the other hand, you keep getting thrown at you from all sides the emphasis that this is a novel, a fictional account, a parable, and a metaphor. This fictional account helps to point out truth, but should not be mistaken for truth itself. But this is just the confusion we do not need. What type of writing is it? I would not want to equate it with the Da Vinci code, because it is not, but while Dan Brown points out the fact that this is a fiction book, he will not say that it is not based on fact.
So, what should be done with this book?
I have no doubt that there are many who have already decided what to do with this book. I’m the last to read these books, and feel like I got into the conversation late. But I would not equate this book to Pilgrim’s Progress. As much as the authors and others would like to do this, I dunno that it can be done well. The Shack just doesn’t fit into that genre. A great modern example of a “fit” would be CS Lewis’ The Pilgrim’s Regress. These books do not make their allegories sound anything that could be possible. They are clearly allegory, and all allusions are drawn from insight and the parallels purposefully given.
If The Shack were to be put on level with another book, I would put it at best on the level with The Left Behind Series. All of these presentations are great as far as giving you an idea as to what God wants, who he is, what he’s doing in the world. But they make so much of a stance that I would never give them to a non or new Christian without following up with discussion, disclaimers, the Bible, and other books that I think could better explain facets of the faith.
So, the Shack sits on my bookshelf, next to Ian McEwan’s books, which I would recommend you read. McEwan, as far as I know, is not a Christian, and he ends up saying the same thing about human nature and sin as the most well versed Christians. But I can explain his stance on God, he’s not a Christian and I can only expect him to say so in his writing. I expect it.