Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Shack

The Shack blew my mind. It's a really emotionally powerful piece of fiction, but he tackles some really tough theological stuff in it, especially in regard to comprehending the Trinity (in a pretty controversial way) and why God allows suffering. It is ripping to shreds all my stereotypically views of God (God being some old white guy with a beard in the clouds and the trinity being some mathematical formulaic like triangle) and really deepening my perspective on love and relationship.

An interesting thing happened to the cover of the book over the course of reading it. When I looked at the cover - having just finished - it evoked such different emotions then the initial impression. It's a beautiful piece of art which comes alive when accompanied by an even more beautiful piece of fiction.

As a warning to some potential readers, I cannot even imagine reading this book as a father! It was hard enough (emotionally) reading it from my perspective of totally not being able to relate to the father role of the central character.

Two of my favorite excerpts:
"Jesus chuckled, "Good intentions, bad idea. [In reference to what would Jesus do comment] Let me know how it works for you if that's the way you chose to go." He paused and grew sober. "Seriously, my life was not meant to be an example to copy. Being my follower is not trying to 'Be like Jesus', it means for your independence to be killed. I came to give you life, real life, my life. We will come and live our life inside of you, so that you begin to see with our eyes, and hear with our ears and touch with our hands, and think like we do. But, we will never force that union on you. If you want to do your thing, have at it. Time is on our side."
What a revolutionary way of thinking, in such a concise and impactful statement, about how we live our life!
"[A conversation between God and the central character] You see, Mackenzie, I don't just want a piece of you and a piece of your life. Even if you were able, which you are not, to give me the biggest piece, that is not what I want. I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day"

Jesus now spoke again. "Mack, I don't want to be the first among a list of values, I want to be the center of everything. When I live in you, then together we can live through everything that happens to you. Rather than a pyramid, I want to be the center of a mobile, where everything in your life - you friends, family, occupation, thoughts, activities - is connected to me but moves with the wind, in and out and back and forth, in an incredible dance of being."
Talk about a great visualization to a holistic approach to one's pursuit in their relationship with God!

For some reason I am reminded of a couple questions that were often asked of us students at a small Christian private school growing up. "If your house burned down and you could only save one thing, what would it be?" We were preprogrammed to know and regurgitate an utterly meaningless answer to an equally pointless question, "my Bible".

Or, the other even more pertinent (to the above quote) question which was asked pretty much weekly, "What are your top 5 priorities in life". To which we instinctually responded "God, family, school, my dog, video games, food", as if God had nothing to do with our family, education, and everything else we did with our life. Priorities are great, don't get me wrong. But that line of thinking, separating out God as one of multiple priorities, probably does more damage then nothing at all.

Anyone else read the book yet? What did you think? What did you take away from the book? Do you think his portrayal of the Trinity is outright heresy?


Dan Franklin said...

Read it too. I agreed that the Trinitarian interactions were what most struck me. I certainly did not think it was heretical. I thought it was giving flesh to a lot of what we believe very theoretically. The mutual subjection within the Trinity was a crazy picture of what life could be like if we lived that way with each other.

Anonymous said...

To answer your question of whether the trinity in the Shack is heresy or not... there can be no doubt that it is not the God of the Bible! The names and characteristics given to the figures of the trinity in "the Shack" are from the Hindu god/goddess trinity. Please see our overview of this at http://www.squidoo/

Anonymous said...

The Shack is very popular, but just because something is popular doesn't mean it's a trustworthy representation of the truth.

Check this out:

David Knepprath said...

I appreciate your the fervor in which you guys are scouring the internet, trying to protect against false doctrine. And your warnings are valid. But, it's popular because it is indeed a good book.

Before another random person posts a impersonal warning, I ask that you would read my latest post about the book.

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