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98-Word Book Review: The Shack by William P. Young

Short version (98 words)

I read The Shack. Finally. Everyone else already has. After about 100 pages, I could see why some people loved it and some people hated it. Depending upon your current understanding of God (or god), this book may help you. Or you'll get sick of it. The writing isn't great and I didn't finish it thinking I'd need to read it again in a few months. If you choose not to read it, your life will be just fine. If you want a theological shake-up, I'd suggest A New Christianity for a New World or This I Believe.

Long version (255 words)

After wading through nearly 250 pages of prose, I can see how any of the following statements about The Shack could be justified:

  • God is in the intimate details of life.
  • God has a plan.
  • God doesn't really have a plan.
  • Humans have free will.
  • God can be understood outside of the Bible.
  • The Bible reveals everything about God.
  • God works everything for an ultimate good.
  • God causes tragedy.
  • God has nothing to do with tragedy.
  • God causes car wrecks.
  • Car wrecks can make you hallucinate.
  • You can speak directly with God.
  • Everyone goes to heaven.
  • Maybe there is no heaven.
  • God is a woman.
  • God is a man.
  • The trinity is a valid theological premise.
  • The trinity is utter speculation and more confusing than ever.
  • The word "responsibility" never appears in the Bible.
  • You don't need to go to church.
  • You should definitely go to church.
  • It's really all about love.
  • It's only about God's love.
  • Jesus was a human.
  • Jesus was perfect.
  • Jesus was not perfect.
  • You need to bury people.
  • Eat good food with people you love regularly. The rest doesn't matter.
  • The Bible is clear.
  • The Bible is confusing.

In other words, you may keep any theological presuppositions you already have after reading The Shack. Or you'll shed them all. Either way, you probably should have done so to begin with.