Question about "The Shack" -- Did Mack kill his father?

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Initial post: Jan 4, 2010 3:46:08 PM PST
S H says:
I just finished reading "The Shack" and found it a very moving experience in some ways, although the writing style was problematic for me.

I am still digesting this book, but I have one key question and I hope another (more alert) reader can help me:

~Did Mack kill his father? We are told he "put varmit poison in every bottle in the house" before he left home, left a note asking his mom for forgiveness, and then later he "made his peace with his mother and sisters". Did his father die from the poison?

--If so, why is this not addressed later in the "forgiveness" chapter--as in his FATHER would have to FORGIVE HIM? (Beating a child is a horror, killing your father is worse.)

--If not, how did his father die? How did he escape all those poisoned bottles?


Readers, what was your take on this question? Any insights offered would be appreciated.

For some reason, this point is really bugging me alot, and interfering with my understanding of the ultimate message.

Thanks in advance.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2010 5:14:48 PM PST
My understanding is that his father, being an alcoholic, would have "Drank himself to death" with all his bottles being poisoned with rat poison. Also, my understanding of God's concept of Sin is that they are all sin, equally horrible. It is people that think one sin is worse or better than another. The reconciliation between father and son, to me was a 2 way forgiveness event.

Posted on Feb 7, 2010 4:44:55 PM PST
D. Arrington says:
It was my understanding that Mack did kill his father. I took the apology to his mother as being he apologized for leaving. I don't think he ever told anyone that he put rat poison in the bottles. I do think that much of Mack's problems with his father were that he was unable to forgive himself for what he did, until he found that his father had forgiven him. Anyway, that was my take on it....

Posted on Mar 27, 2010 8:30:20 PM PDT
B. Sjoberg says:
When Mack sees his father in Heaven, he asks his father for forgiveness as well. I am assuming that this is because he poisoned his father. His father was horribly cruel to him, and I couldn't possibly look at what Mack did as equally horrible or cruel. Even though there are no degrees of sinfulness, I must admit that part of me was glad that his father presumably died shortly after Mack left, because he was creating a living hell for his wife and children.

Posted on Jul 1, 2010 12:08:01 PM PDT
Good gracious. Of course Mack murdered his father. In case you have not checked up on this book, it was written by a guy trying to work out some issues. This thing about patricide is not mentioned much in the theological critiques, which I find odd. The main character murders his father without any real apparent conscience or remorse, and the theolgians miss it while dissecting obtuse heresies. I laugh out loud at this. I think the patricide is another huge failure of the book on a literary level, to have dodged this bit into the story and then not even dealing with it except as an afterthought. I think this may fall under the apologetic "not intended for public consumption" nonsense in the pro-Young PR department. It's like "Yeah I killed my dad, so what? God doesn't judge me and besides he had it coming."

Posted on Sep 19, 2010 9:10:47 AM PDT
J. Heaton says:
The book doesn't say. And since all three held Mack's feet to fire over just about everything else I'd have to say no. Perhaps God doesn't judge in the sense that humans do but to have a full relationship with God requires total honesty. We don't know what happened after that boy left. Maybe mom grew a backbone. Maybe dad drank just enough to get sick enough to go on the wagon. Maybe waking up and finding his son gone was enough to shock some sense into him. We don't know.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2011 6:03:21 PM PST
Dear Mark, to look at the killing of his father as being aloof is missing the entire meaning of the forgiveness of God. Remember in the book during the meadow scene when the one person could not contain his light. His father had already forgiven him just as Missy had forgiven the Little Lady Killer. It was Mack that had to forgive his father.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2011 1:19:42 PM PST
You summed it up all right. To kill is a sin whether or not the person was your father who beat you. This character falls right away into the major sinner category, and one wonder of this book and of those who love it is that t's okay.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2011 8:24:59 PM PST
It was ok to Jesus to have Paul, who didn't have a great record when it came to murder, become one of the greatest apostles.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 8, 2012 6:02:06 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 8, 2012 6:06:23 PM PST
Excellent book......The point is unclear if he actually killed his dad.........He may have been asking his dad to forgive him for leaving forever.....

Posted on Sep 28, 2012 5:12:07 AM PDT
Thoughtful says:
God uses many murderers for his purpose ..... King David (he was a murdered and an adulterer)... Paul the apostle (before his conversion he actively sought out and killed many followers of Jesus.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 3, 2012 9:20:53 AM PDT
Fred Porter says:
Some things to point out with your examples. However, first let me throw out a disclaimer. I do believe God uses sinful people of all backgrounds. We are all sinners, and God uses us however He desires (Something this book actually does not teach. It tells us God works on our timetable and demands which is false.)

All that being said, we cannot mistake God's forgiveness for an absence of consequences. Paul the apostle did some pretty heinous crimes. Look at the life he lived as a Christian though. He suffered more persecution than any other documented Christian. He experienced in full force what He dished out, and God made it clear he would go through hell on earth following his conversion. Something to consider.

As for David. People often forget that his crimes were committed after the vast majority of God using him. We forget to read what happened after David committed his crimes. While God spared his life he suffered for his sins still. His son died after his sin came to light, his own kid rebelled against him and slaughtered a huge portion of David's family, David's kingdom that he built up would eventually be torn in two. David's life ended on a really negative note. Does God forgive? he most certainly does, and I thank him for that every day. Are there still serious consequences for our sin? You better believe it. Will he call us out on our sin unlike his ignoring Mack's sin in this story? He most certainly will. How else are we to grow?
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Initial post:  Jan 4, 2010
Latest post:  Oct 3, 2012

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The Shack
The Shack by WM. Paul Young (Paperback - July 17, 2008)
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