Is The Shack heretical? I would have to say after reading The Shack, considering the words of its critics and teaching a course called The Theology of the Shack for BrookwoodU, The Shack would fall into the category of being unconventional, but not heretical.
The theology police have raked Paul Young over the coals. I have heard everything. Some have said that portraying God the Father, Papa, as a black woman is creating a “graven image” and violates the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:4). Unless the sculpture of Papa fell out of my book before I read it, I did not encounter a graven image in the book. Some have even been troubled by Mack and Jesus laying on the dock looking up at the stars. I don’t believe they were holding hands, so relax.
What is The Shack about? It’s about a lot of things. The Shack takes on our disappointment with God. If God loves us so much, then why does He allow life to hurt us so much? We can have our theology perfectly straight in our heads, yet walk around with completely broken hearts. The Shack touches on this issue in a powerful way.
How does the Trinity relate to each other? There is nothing else in the universe like the Three-in-One Being of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Is the Trinity like an egg? Well, if so which is higher in cholesterol and represents the yoke? Is the Trinity like a bicycle? If so, is Papa the big wheel? Not according to the author.
If The Shack messes with your head, but ends up touching your heart, then you get what it’s about. If you’re stuck on the theology of a fiction book, then put the Shack down and read C.S. Lewis or something. Of course, Lewis uses many metaphors as well, so watch for those “graven images.”
The bottom line is simply this: if you read the Shack and walk away with a better understanding of how much God loves you, then you understand what Paul Young intended in writing this book. If you are hurt or broken, then The Shack is a great prescription.
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