Friday, August 28, 2009

Reflections on "The Shack"

I decided after hearing all of the fuss made about Young's book The Shack that I would give it a read.

For the most part the story has been ok, weird at times but ok. Today while reading I came across a couple of statements that struck me as totally incorrect. I could be wrong on these but I just thought I'd share them with you all and see what kind of feedback you give. Just to set up the context, Papa the name a black female character who is God. Mack is the main character who is visiting the shack.

"At that, Papa stopped her preparations and turned toward Mack. He could see a deep sadness in her eyes. "I am not who you think I am, Mackenzie. I don't need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It's not my purpose to punish it; it's my joy to cure it."

There is also a Jesus character.

"It's one reason why experiencing true relationship is so difficult for you," Jesus added. "Once you have hierarchy you need rules to protect and administer it, and the you need law and the enforcement of the rules, and you end up with some kind of chain of command or a system of order that destroys relationship rather then promote it. You rarely see or experience relationship apart from power. Hierarchy imposes laws and rules and you end up missing the wonder of relationship that we intended you for."

I think the first quote has an obvious reason why I disagree with it. Implying that sin on its own is punishment enough for us I think is wrong. Wrath is an attribute of God's character and I think that if, as children of God we weren't punished (or disciplined as in Hebrews 12) that God would be going against his very nature.

As for the second quotation, I think we see examples of instruction in scripture for hierarchy in the church. We see in Titus and in 1 Timothy instruction given in selection of leadership in the church.



  1. I was expecting a Shaquille O'Neal picture to accompany this post. I also read this book some time last year and there is plenty of critique about its 'theology' on the web.
    Re Papa's response - agree with you on that. By implication, it would seem Young (and a lot of people) don't like that part of God's character despite lots of evidence in scripture that it exists. It's hard for us to reconcile a loving and wrathful God. But at least He is not randomly wrathful - only towards sinfullness, and was willing to sacrifice all to save us from his own wrathfullness. In fact, if God didn't have to remain true to his wrathful character, he wouldn't have needed to provide the 'cure' in the first place would he? If he wasn't wrathful, then maybe the 'cure' could have involved Jesus doing 24 hours of community service rather than having to die on a cross in my place to save me from that wrath.
    If I recall, the second quote is in the context of 'Jesus' trying to explain to Mack the intra-trinitarian relationship (rightly or wrongly) not decreeing that perfect relationships can only exist in anarchy.

  2. Yeah you're right Rich. This is where Mack questions who the boss is in the Trinity. But the conversation spills over from the topic of authority and hierarchy in the Trinity to what seems to be a general talk on relationships and the evils that hierarchy has caused. P.120-124ish are where this conversation is taking place.

  3. The second quote also brings up the question of whether or not the Son was/is eternally submitted to the Father and whether the Spirit was/is eternally submittedto the Father and Son.

    Wayne Grudem believes the Son is eternally submitted to the Father.

    Grudem and Ware argued the issue in a fascinating debate you can find here:

    Here is a statement by Grudem from the debate: The consistent, uniform testimony of Scripture is that the Father, by virtue of being Father, eternally has authority to plan, initiate, command, and send, authority that the Son and Holy Spirit do not have. The Son, by virtue of being Son, eternally submits joyfully and with great delight to the authority of his Father. It is only in a sinful world deeply marred by hostility toward authority, and overly focused on status and power, that cannot see that submission to the authority of the Father is the great glory of the Son. Authority, and submission to authority, are a wonderful part of the great glory of the Father and the Son, and this will be their glory for all eternity. “Do Relations of Authority and Submission Exist Eternally among the Persons of the Godhead?” Absolutely, undeniably, gloriously, yes.