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2,368 of 2,755 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Flannel-Graph Jesus, January 27, 2008
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This review is from: The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity (Paperback)
In the book world, it's hard to explain "the buzz." What causes word of mouth to start spreading? What turns an unknown author and novel into a surprise bestseller? Even more inexplicable for the book snobs is when a story fails to meet their literary standards and yet touches the masses in an undeniable way.

"The Shack" is the buzz book of the past few months. I hadn't even heard of it in November, but by the end of December I'd had relatives, friends, and online pals from across the country telling me I "had" to read this one. I've been burned by such recommendations in the past, particularly in relation to spiritually oriented titles. (Can anyone say "The Prayer of Jabez" and "Left Behind"?), but I was willing to give it a shot.

William P. Young's book has an intriguing premise. Years ago, a father name MacKenzie Phillips took his children camping and lost one of them to a man who has kidnapped and killed others. Mack has grieved since then. His marriage has struggled. Understandably, his relationship with God has suffered. Then, one wintry day, he receives a note in his mailbox inviting him back to the woods, to the shack in which his daughter's dress and bloodstains were found. The note, it would seem, is from God.

From this simple yet effective premise, Young leads Mack Phillips back to his point of despair and anger. The encounters he then has with God there in "The Shack" serve as thought-provoking moments for both Mack and the reader. This is not the God of stodgy Sunday school classes. This is not a flannel-graph Jesus. This is not limited to a fluttering dove of the Holy Spirit. The descriptions here are startling, while remaining true to the nature of God's love and grace as portrayed through Scripture. Not only are they startling, they're wise and moving and beautiful.

Some might argue that "The Shack" has little theology or accuracy to it, but the very argument is what Young is trying to melt away. I earned a Bachelor's from a Bible college, and the majority of Mack's godly encounters could be wrapped up in biblical theology: redemption, grace, forgiveness, propitiation, etc. Do I agree with every line of the book? Not necessarily. Yet, while never sounding like trite religion (because they're not and never should be!), the words spoken by God in this book are full of vibrancy and life.

Is it the best crafted novel ever? No. In many ways, it could be encapsulated in a non-fiction treatise. However, in sharing this remarkable tale in a fictional form, Young has breathed wonder and wisdom into a story that will continue to buzz around for years to come.
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Showing 1-10 of 158 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 21, 2008 10:56:17 AM PST
Shezoe says:
Quote>> (Can anyone say "The Prayer of Jabez" and "Left Behind"?) <<End Quote

Add to this list of groaners "Your best life now"

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2008 2:02:08 PM PDT
Steve Taylor says:
You're right Eric "No Flannel-Graph Jesus" but you left out "No Jesus at all".

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2008 11:19:07 PM PDT
Eric Wilson says:
Hmm. I saw the love, forgiveness, and grace of Jesus all through this book. Is it perfect theology? No. Such a thing does not exist, because it is man's attempt to understand a boundless God. I think this book has much truth in it, though.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2008 1:33:32 AM PDT
Steve Taylor says:
Sorry Eric but the Jesus in the book is not the Jesus of the Bible. Perfect theology does exist, it's called The Bible. You don't have to be a theologian with a Ph.D to see that the love, forgiveness and grace this book spouts is not the same as mentioned in scripture. Young says that God doesn't punish sin, so then why did Jesus have to die on a cross? Maybe He thought it'd be fun? Why grace is sin has no punishment? My Bible says Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father. Young says He's still here on earth.
I know you spend a lot of time writing Eric (and you're good at it) and you read a lot of books but are you reading and studying the scriptures for yourself? If so, my guess is that it's not enough.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2008 8:40:08 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 12, 2008 6:19:43 PM PDT
Eric Wilson says:
Steve, you're right that perfect theology exists in the Bible. Yet, as we both know, theologians have debated the outworking of it for centuries. I applaud this book for telling a fictional account, attempting to portray God's love to others. Absolutely, I agree that there is punishment for sin. Ask even the most "heathen" American if they have heard that God sends sinners to hell and they'll say yes. What most of them don't know is that God loves and wants to know them personally.

Young may not get everything right, and in fact no book other than the Bible has gotten everything right, but he has shown a part of God's nature that many are unaware of. If readers of this book take it as gospel, that is as silly as those who took The DaVinci Code as fact. A story should entertain and, hopefully, cause us to think. God tells us in the Bible that if we seek for him we will find him. I believe this book may very well cause some people to seek for God--and, in so doing, to find him.

Keep studying. I will too. Meanwhile, we are brothers who serve a loving God who has made his law clear, through his word and in our hearts.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2008 9:01:57 PM PDT
Steve Taylor says:
Minor debates are one thing but "The Shack" is major in it error. I've never read a book I've 100% agreed with (except The Bible) but this one I have a hard time finding anything that lines up with God's Word. It's complete heresy.

So you say people know about hell but don't know about God's love. How many people do you think haven't heard of John 3:16? "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life". Kind of obscure isn't it?

If this book causes some people to seek God is it okay if it's false god and the end of their life leads to eternal torment? That's all they'll come up with from this book.

I highly recommend Randall Arthur's "Wisdom Hunter" for those who are tired of church-as-usual. Not only is it Biblically accurate, it's a great story that's well written.

From "The Shack" Page 182 "Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims.... I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters."

I call you brother and with love I expect better from you then this.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2008 6:57:40 AM PDT
Eric Wilson says:
Don't expect better. I'm a sinner saved by grace. I grew up as a pastor's son, served on the mission field, graduated from Bible college--and most of what I see out there has so little to do with Jesus. I appreciate where you're coming from. I won't get caught up in "endless genealogies and debates." But I do thank God that he has transformed people from every race, tongue, tribe, and religion. I think that was Young's point.

This will be my last post in response. I spent four years in Bible college listening to arguments over single verses from the Bible. We could argue for just as long over the correctness of every passage from a fictional book. I read it as fiction. I read the Bible as the Word of God.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2008 7:39:19 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2008 2:25:34 PM PDT
Steve Taylor says:
Sorry Eric but I do expect better and you don't need to have a Bible college degree to know a lie when you hear it. Of course God calls and saves people out from all world religions and belief systems (including myself) but that's not what Young is saying. He claims all people are saved, not out of but in their current state. This is blasphemy, pure and simple.

Don't fall into the trap that this book is only fiction. As with all words there is a reason and purpose behind them. If I wrote a book about Abraham Lincoln and changed his story and character for a false story I came up with on my own (ie, he was born in Florida, became the first white governor of Georgia, beat his wife, was homosexual and then became president of the USA and stopped the Germans in WWI) people would have a fit and I'd be laughed out of the publishing world but for some reason we can change God's Word into a lie and people eat it up as some new revelation from God. Why are so-called Christians so gullible?

2 Peter 2:1-3 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2008 2:44:42 PM PDT
P. Hughes says:
What are you talking about?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2008 2:46:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2008 2:47:46 PM PDT
P. Hughes says:
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