THE SHACK – By Wm. Paul Young


An allegorical work of fiction, along the lines of works by C.S. Lewis or Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, this is an excellent book that is all about God’s grace, mercy and love.  Written originally for the author’s six children, and self-published, this book has now over 2 million copies in print. This book affected me, and challenged me, deeply and takes God out of the box so many seem to put Him in.

The over-riding “theme” of the book, if you will, is about being in relationship with God, Christ & the Holy Spirit, who all dwell within you, and being in relationship with others, which does not involve power trips and hierarchies.

Mack, the main character, has suffered a great loss and is angry, sad and searching for answers.  A Christian, Mack’s faith is shaken by what he calls “The Great Sadness” which descended on him and his family after this tragedy:  “He realized he was stuck and Sunday prayers and hymns just weren’t cutting it anymore, if they ever really had” …. “He was sick of God and God’s religion, sick of all the little religious social clubs that didn’t seem to make any real difference or affect any real change”.  Needless to say, Mack wanted more.

After a note left in his mailbox by “Papa” (Mack wife’s name for God) telling Mack it had been a while and that He would be at The Shack next weekend if Mack wanted to get together, Mack wrestles with both who the author of this preposterous note is and whether he should go.  The Shack, you see, was near where The Tragedy occurred.  Eventually Mack decides to go to the Shack.   His time there was about to turn what he knew, thought he knew, or was taught about “God’s religion” on its’ ear.

At the Shack, Mack experiences the life-changing transformation of God’s mercy and grace.  Along the way, Mack learns forgiveness and what forgiveness is all about:

From “Papa”:

“Forgiveness is first for you, the forgiver, to release you from something that will eat you alive, that will destroy your joy and your ability to love fully and openly”.

“Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive.  But should they fully confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation.” …  “Forgiveness does not excuse anything.”

“Forgiveness does not create a relationship.  Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible.  When you forgive someone, you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established.”

On the author’s blog,, he discusses some of the criticisms and  controversies surrounding this book and denounces claims he is a Universalist.  In particular:

“After two weeks of theological review, Lifeway Bookstores (Southern Baptist) has mandated that The Shack be returned to their shelves nationwide because they found nothing theologically unorthodox that would warrant the book being removed.” {Well, DUH)

Apparently it is a favorite read among Chinese University students who might never be able to read “the Truth” any other way in their country.

This should be required reading for all Bible School/seminary students. In fact, in my opinion, it should be the ONLY book on the reading list!

c. 2008 Big Noise Writing, a division of Big Noise Enterprises.  All quotes from The Shack reprinted with the permission of the author.