“The Shack” is still on my reading list, so I can’t really say much one way or another about it, but I think Graham Kings has hit upon some important themes in the book in this brief review:

But I always liked Jesus better than you. He seemed so gracious and you seemed so … ‘

‘Mean? Sad, isn’t it? He came to show people who I am and most folks only believe it about him. They still play us off like good cop/bad cop most of the time, especially religious folk. When they want people to do what they think is right, they need a stern God. When they need forgiveness, they run to Jesus.’

This is a key conversation concerning the heart of God in the American novel The Shack, by William Paul Young. It has sold nearly 2m copies, having been rejected by about 30 publishers, and is recommended by prominent evangelicals in the US and Britain.

The Shack has been at the top of fiction bestseller lists and is hailed as a modern day Pilgrim’s Progress. It explores the mystery of personal suffering in dialogue with God the Trinity. Intriguingly, the “Father” is portrayed as an African American mother, the “Spirit” is an east Asian woman and Jesus as a not-particularly-handsome Middle Eastern Jew.

This is a novel way of exploring the first essential belief of evangelicals, the intrinsic dynamic of God’s life in Trinity. The second is that our good works are a “thank you” rather than a “please”. They are offered to God in gratitude for the salvation he has already freely provided for us in Christ, which we have received by faith. They are not a plaintive plea directed at him for our acceptance, on our own behalf.

{Read it all}