Some Christian communities or "authorities" of whatever kind decry "The Shack" by William P. Young as some sort of heretical New Age teaching, so when I came across a copy myself, I did not expect anything of it. Of course, it was a bit comforting for me to know that Wayne Jacobsen had been involved in it, since I trust him, loved his book "So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore,” and even though I may not agree with every little jot and tittle of his doctrine, I believe he's more right on than by far the vast majority of Christians I've known; and it's no wonder they decry him as a heretic, because the more people listen to what he has to say, the more pulpit preachers are going to be out of a job.
Well, they better get ready for that position in God's Kingdom, anyway.
So, back to "The Shack:" I love it. There may be some minuscule theological details I would dare to disagree with or question (like the statement that God the Father is supposed to be sexless, male and female in one, which differs from the doctrine I adhere to, that the female part of the "Trinity" is the Holy Spirit), but in general, the spirit of the book is fabulous, and confirms very much my own experiences in my personal walk and talks with the Lord.
The Jesus speaking in this book is the very same I have spoken to and known, and while the idea of God the Father or "Papa" being represented here as a "large black woman" may not have been exactly my idea of "Papa," either, perhaps it was the ideal "camouflage" for us to prevent to make ourselves any other false images of God in our minds, since that seems to be exactly what a lot of us do. (Remember that it doesn’t say that God is that colored lady, but simply chose to appear as such for Mack – the main character’s sake, since he had a “father issue.”)
What matters is the message that was conveyed, and I consider 99% of it kosher, to say the least, if not thrilling, edifying and redeeming.
The spirit of what's happening in the "shack" is love, and the author has grasped that spirit better than probably any other Christian author I've known, except perhaps for Wayne Jacobsen, and definitely better than the authors of the last 2 Christian books I've purchased, which I could not recommend.
One of the nice factors about this book is also that it was not aimed at a Christian audience, in other words, not mimicking what Christians pitifully do over and over and over again, namely endlessly preaching at each other instead of those who haven’t heard the message yet, but it is aimed at a wider audience, namely one consisting of readers who may not necessarily consider themselves "in the fold" yet, sometimes understandably so.
It's good to know that there are people concerned about people getting to know God who don't know Him yet, instead of getting another "convert" to add to their "flock" as a statistic or potential source of income.
What was fabulous was the sense of humor coming across in the book, a quality that you'd think God is downright denied by some of His more fundamentalist and zealous representatives.
People who adhere to the teachings of "The Shack" will probably be more likely to wind up in God's true ecclesia than some of the dogmatic hardliners who are trying to get souls saved by getting them scared stiff of hellfire and brimstone and wouldn't light a candle because it could attract demons...
One of the beautiful mysteries of God that the Shack reveals is explained in the conversations about the "limitations" which God (mostly in His Son) took or takes upon Himself for our sakes, in order to be closer to us, and out of love and respect for us. The idea of God becoming like us that Paul already hinted here and there 2000 years ago is brought out beautifully here, and much easier to understand than we can by reading Paul's epistles.
As far as I'm concerned, here's another proof that God by far hasn't stopped talking 2000 years ago, as the conservatives claim.
God is not only alive and kicking, but - according to this book, and I believe it - also occasionally laughing His head off, shedding tears over our pain, and doling out hugs and kisses through whatever manifestation He can get a hold of.
God is not only alive, but He's talking, humming, dancing (listening to Funk and Cockburn, among others) and enjoying life the way He wished we all would.
This book is probably also one of God’s best answers to the faces of God’s enemies who are bombarding all of us (and especially our kids) with their New Age doctrines that they brainwash us with through their innumerable books, movies and songs in the media, into believing that our striving for independence from God is supposed to be so important and desirable, when it’s actually our single most insane quality.