I can’t fully review this book because I couldn’t finish it. The first third of the book was incredibly painful. It was actually more painful to read that any book should ever be. It kept me awake all night with a stomach ache. I was not happy. If you have children in your life and you’re thinking about reading this book, just be warned of what the incredible pain the main character’s experience will be to you. It’s really a horrible thing.
But that wasn’t the reason I stopped reading the book. In fact, it was the reason I kept reading so that I could hopefully feel some kind of release from all of the pain. What made me put the book down was the way God was portrayed in the book. What I had a problem with was that this encounter with God doesn’t gel with the encounters people had with God in the Bible. When God appeared to people in the Bible, they instantly were on their face in awe, feeling completely unworthy to be in his presence. This is what I was anticipating as Mack approached the shack where God was. I was picturing Job’s experience with God and others in the Bible who were honored with God’s presence. And I was very much let down. This appearance of God was nothing like that.
There were also actions and words by the three who were supposed to be God that just didn’t settle with me. I was hoping that the images and actions of God in this work of fiction would resonate with the Holy Spirit residing in my heart. But, for me, it just wasn’t there.
Sometimes, if you get so emotionally involved in something (such as the first part of this book), you fall into a vulnerable state of mind and will be more open to consuming something that is not of God. I’m not saying this is an evil book. I’m just saying that I held it up to what I know of Scripture and what the Holy Spirit has taught me and it didn’t match up, and I couldn’t read anymore of it. (Update – since I wrote this review I found out that in 2004 the author of The Shack embraced the teaching of Universalism, which changed his entire view of God. He also wrote a 100+ page document in defense of universalism. And two of the names he used for God in The Shack come from Hinduism. So now I’m of the opinion that the book is quite dangerous to anyone who is not rock solid on their beliefs and the Word of God.)
Anything a Christian reads should be held up to Scripture and validated by the Holy Spirit in your heart. Even if it is fiction. Jesus used fiction to teach those around him many times. Fiction is important, and it’s important for Christian fiction to be biblically sound and accurate. And when it deals with something as important as God appearing to a person, it should be completely inspired by the Holy Spirit and Scripture. I feel that this book was not.