I picked this book up from The Salvation Army for .99. Due to the popularity I had heard of this book, who hasn’t? But it was unclear what the book was about. I have heard comments about it, but nothing detailed enough to explain the context. So, after passing over this book many times, at many thrift stores, I hesitatingly purchased a copy. See, I have a little girl and it was unclear to me how a book written about the abduction and murder of a little girl held any value. I took a chance, and I am glad that I did.
Book synopsis: Mack’s daughter Missy has been kidnapped. Her body was never located, but the police did locate the crime scene, a shack. Law enforcement believed that Missy’s murderer had committed other murders and they had nicknamed him the little ladykiller. Much later Mack receives a letter in the mail inviting him to the shack. At first it tormented him, he was uncertain who sent the letter. He was intrigued because the letter concluded with Papa. As long as Mack has known his wife Nan, she addressed and referred to God as Papa. Mack meets God at the shack and nearly every one of Mack’s presupposition are challenged.
First of all, you have to ignore the theological impossibilities. It would be easy to put the book down, out of frustration. I nearly did. I pressed forward past the parts that challenged my worldview and reminded myself that the book is a work of fiction. The book is not a theological book and at the same time it is full of theology. Particularly in the way that God relates to man, man relates to God, the way man relates to one another, and the way that God runs His creation.
I loved the way that the writer explains the unity of the triune God and the way that they perfectly relate to one another. Without a doubt the book is not perfect, in many ways the triune God is a mystery. But it was fun to read a fictional account of the unity that exists within the Trinity. Young also tells a great story about how the Trinity perfectly relates to humanity. He destroys all the weak arguments for performance based living and reminds readers that Christ is all, and in all. The triune God affectionately relates to another and creation, but obviously dislikes vain religion, performance based theology, and self-effort. There were so many great quotes, unfortunately I read this book without a pencil in hand, sigh. I may need to read through it again and underline the quotes. When I do, I will update this post. As a reminder, this book is not a theological book, it is not inspired, but it is a fun and fresh approach at man’s attempt to understand who God is.
Roger Olson, a theology professor at George W. Truett Theological Seminary has written a book titled, Finding God in the Shack: Seeking Truth in a Story of Evil and Redemption. I may just have to read his book, and after I do, you can read my review.