The Shack – Book Review

The ShackThe Shack by William Paul Young

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I’m not going to go into a ton of detail on why I had to abandon this book, but there are three main reasons.

1. The writing made me feel bored, tired, and a little pained. It had the feel of someone’s mediocre college paper rather than a work of fiction. If I’m being completely transparent, what I said to my husband was that it sounded like the dude used to find the “fanciest” vocabulary for the simplest sentences. Crack the first few pages and you will instantly see what I mean. Also, why are you detailing the roads the characters are driving on, Mr. Author? I don’t care that they took the I-90 to the 445, sir!

2. I also had an issue with the fact that the author wrote a foreword for The Shack stating that Mack Phillips (the main character) was a family friend who had asked him (William P. Young) to write down this story for him, because Mack was not a great writer. After a quick Google search, it became apparent that the author wrote the foreword…as if it were fiction. Why not just call it a prologue then? This book is entirely fictional. I didn’t get what he was going for with this “literary device”, and honestly, due to this being a Christian work I find it doubly misleading. Probably not starting off on the right foot for non-believers to see you misleading them from the get-go. Also…calling the serial killer “The Little Ladykiller” was the reason I even bothered to Google about the foreword in the first place because…really? That name is ridiculously silly sounding. Sorry not sorry.

3. I have no issue whatsoever with the portrayal of God as an Africian-American woman or the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman. (Jesus wasn’t white!!!!) What I do have an issue with is the unbiblical ideology that Young passes off as biblical truth. I won’t get too deep into this, because I am no theologian and I only got halfway through the book, but there were several blatantly obvious half-truths. “Mackenzie, we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or ‘great chain of being’ as your ancestors termed it. What you’re seeing here is relationship without any overlay of power. We don’t need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us.” Ooookay…just going to leave this here…

John 6:38 (Jesus speaking) “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
Luke 22:42 (Jesus speaking) “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

This isn’t an allegory of our relationship with God, but a book where the author writes a God-character and imposes his own doctrine upon the God-character rather than using scripture as the base for the God-character’s dialogue.

Maybe there is more good in this book, (I did agree with some of the material that I read) and I am sure that this has been a stepping stone to faith for some people, but due to the poor writing and the…doctrine-y…ness (for lack of a better word), I am putting this on the abandoned shelf.

1 Thessalonians 5: 21-22 Do not treat prophecies with contempt, but test all things. Hold fast to what is good.

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