I did it. I finally finished reading The Shack. This is the first fiction book I've read in quite a long time. In fact, the last time I can remember reading a fiction book was probably in High School as an English assignment.
What compelled me to finish reading this book were the amount of people who recommended it to me, the friend who gave it to me as a gift and the controversy I had read about the book. Here are my thoughts about The Shack.
The Shack is a story about a man named Mack who suffers a great loss in his life, what he calls The Great Sadness. Mack is gripped with the pain of his loss and cannot find a way out. As you read the story, it's easy to identify with Mack's pain especially if you've had a significant loss in your own life.
Behind Mack's pain are a lot of good questions. Questions like, "Why does God allow evil things to happen in this world?" "Why does God allow suffering?" "Why does God allow people to become victimized and innocently hurt?"
Mack is given the opportunity to meet with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to find answers to these and many more questions about life. In the end, Mack comes away a changed man and learns the power of trust in God, forgiveness of others and the simple truth that "if anything matters, then everything matters."
This book is a page turner and very easy to read once you make it to Chapter Five. While this book is fictional and stimulating to read, it is at the same time chock-full of theology. Some of this theology I agreed with, some of it I disagreed with, some of it was questionable and I'm sure much of it went over my head. Those who spoke poorly of this book were one's who couldn't tolerate the inconsistencies and contradictions between the book and Biblical truth.
To those who hold this viewpoint, I completely honor your feelings on the matter. I for one never want to endorse any book that contradicts Scripture or defend any writings (including my own) against the inspiration and authority of the Bible. The Bible is God's Word and no other book can stand in comparison.
At the same time, although I didn't agree with every opinion and theological idea expressed in this book, I want to say that there are many aspects of this book that brought greater revelation to my understanding of the nature and character of God. The humanity of Jesus, the mystery of the Holy Spirit's activities, the immense love of God the Father for humanity and the fear and wisdom of God came alive to me. The Shack also helped me better comprehend the common pain experienced by all humanity when living in a sin-filled, fallen world and God's glorious plan of redemption.
The literary quality of the book is phenomenal and the end of the book brings a great twist as well as a feeling of satisfaction. I really enjoyed the ending! I would recommend The Shack to anyone who's faced a major loss in their life and is looking to find healing and comfort. If your wounds are fresh, bring along a box of tissues because this book has the power to make a grown man cry.