Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Shack

Although I haven't landed on my opinion about this book, Mark Driscoll has the best take I've heard yet on The Shack (click here).

11 comments: said...

I humbly suggest that you read the book before suggesting whose commentary on the book you agree with the most.

Ed Noble said...

I hate to disagree with you :-) but I find MD's critique kind of brain dead. It seems to me like he needs to take a lit class. He fundamentally misses what the author is trying to do.
I know you know that I blogged on this & defended the book, I know you will draw your own conclusions, but I think you will find his criticisms unfounded.

Greg Boyd has a good take on his idea of imagining as idolatry (J.I. Packer talks about this in Knowing God, a common puritan / Calvinist idea) in his book on imaginative prayer, Seeing Is Believing. I think this is an unnecessary application of the 1st commandment.
All that to say, that I am going to have to agree with Eugene Peterson & say that it is a powerful book that has great potential to help us love & I venture to say understand God at a deeper level.

I do hate agreeing with the celtic fan but maybe his conversion to Huskerville is helping him think!


Metropuritan Mark said...

First an apologia to Donnie's comment...

I've had so many conversations about this book, and read as many summaries and opinions on it. I'm just saying, from all that I've heard, Driscoll's take is worth thinking about. In my assessment, I think I have enough information to suggest which commentary I lean toward. I'm not sure I want to take the time to read the book. No doubt I will and almost feel it's part of my stewardship, as someone who is responsible for shepherding people who are going nuts over this book (nuts as in they loved it and simultaneously nuts as in they think Young is the antichrist). Moreover, do you have opinions about books you've never read...The Qu'ran, Analects of Confucius, Book of Mormon, The Virtue of Selfishness (by Ayn Rand), or Animal Farm, as random examples. I'm not trying to patronize you, but I'm just defending my reason for posting the Driscoll link. I think I was clear that I wasn't "landing the plane" just yet.

Now to Ed...

For some reason, both responses ( whether swallowing this book hook line and sinker or castigating Young as a heretic) have made me uneasy. It's the same feeling I got in the late 90's when the Prayer of Jabez was being gobbled up by Americans. I just want people to think about this. As I recall (it's been 12 years since I read Packer's book), Packer's concern with images of God is that when we put forth an image of God, we are inevitably leaving something out. For example, does Young's book put forth the God who spoke to Nahum and Job (chps 38-ff)? (Paul Sabino's message on Nahum at Cstone was the best sermon I've heard all summer).

I'm sure I will enjoy this book. I'm sure it has helped many people get over the feeling of being screwed by God, and that he's a cosmic killjoy out to get them. But we need to give the prophets a hearing (i.e. driscoll). We need to be careful not to forget the majority of voices in Jeremiah's day, who said, "'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace."

No doubt there is a whole conversation to be had on literature and art here. How far can we go? I think there are some categorical differences in how CS Lewis and John Bunyan used allegory. (As opposed to how Young uses it in the Shack).

Finally, my goal is not to take a hard-line Muslim stance on this (i.e. all we can really say about God is that he's all powerful, all knowing and merciful). I see the Psalmist calling God a "rock" even "my rock." That could be the greatest insult to almighty God. But it's not. It's God inspired literature that says something profound about him (how could a spirit be a rock?)

I would love to read the Boyd book someday. It sounds insightful on this topic.

The plane has not landed.

Barbie said...

First of all, I would like everyone (Mark and Ed) to know that I (Donnie) did not write that comment to Mark about reading the book first. That was my beautiful bride Barbie. I for one have not read the Shack. I just started reading Pilgrim's Progress so maybe when I'm done with that about 6 months from now I might venture over to the Shack and let you know what I think. :)

Ed Noble said...

Oh THAT makes me feel better :-)

Metropuritan Mark said...

it must feel good to know you've got barbie on your side and the jury's still out as to how Celtic fan will weigh in on this issue.


Holly said...


Keep in mind I'm a simple person, not a theology whiz. I read "The Shack" and I liked it. I bought it for my unbelieving neighbor in the hopes that she will read it and it will cause her to give a bit more thought to the God she has so carelessly thown aside. Sure, the book may misrepresent some things, but remember, it is a fiction book. A novel. Not true. So when a novel makes people think about God, discuss God, get interested in God, and seek out the truth of God, I say it's worth the read.

Anonymous said...

Well--I can't access the link to the critique of the book that you liked. (I live in a central asian country where they have blocked access to that link. interesting) I will say I enjoyed the book but found the theoligical implications a bit scary. This is not a book I would give to a non-believing friend.

andersh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
andersh said...

I agree with Ed and think that Driscoll's critique was way off. It seemed like he read the inside flap of the book and based his opinion off that. I think it is interesting that Mark believes the character of God in human form in the book is graven imagery. Does he feel this way about the Azlan in The Chronicels of Narnia? Does he consider that a pagan book? I think if you take the book for what it is, a fictional book that wrestles with the problem of evil, it is a great read that deals with this subject pretty gracefully. I don't think it was intended to unlock the theological mysteries of the trinity and the nature of God.

I feel that some of the statements about authority in the book are pretty broad. Initially when I read the book I felt that these comments were non biblical, but I think he was getting at something that I wasn't catching. This clicked for me when I was listening to Ed's sermon (sound bits?) when he was talking about the Power under/power over example. I think that Christ washing his disciples feet is a perfect example of leadership and what Young is trying to get at.

Metropuritan Mark said...

Anders, I appreciate your input on this! I also loved the "power over/power under" concept. But I think we must hold Psalm 2 in one hand and John 13 in the other. Did the Shack do justice to Psalm 2, Revelation, etc.?

I know this wasn't really the point of the book. I'm cool with that. But as you said, it must be read as fiction. I might suggest that it's easier to read Narnia as fiction, for obvious reasons, but the Shack is a little different literary style. And we shouldn't forget that Lewis insisted he was not intending the Narnia series to be a metaphor for Christianity. This is the stuff I lean toward agreeing w/ Driscoll about.

Let's not ignore the fact that idolatry is something people might struggle with after reading the Shack.