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The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

90 out of 94 people found this review helpful.

Best book I've read in 10 years!

I had very mixed feelings about reading a book about God that was on the best seller list and was being sold at Costco and Walmart. When I was given a copy by a good friend, I decided to dive in and see what the fuss was about.

I was shocked at how good it w...
I had very mixed feelings about reading a book about God that was on the best seller list and was being sold at Costco and Walmart. When I was given a copy by a good friend, I decided to dive in and see what the fuss was about.

I was shocked at how good it was, especially given all the negative things people have said about it (bad writing style, odd characters, odd theology, etc.). I found it to be an extraordinarily good depiction of the relationship within the Trinity, what that implys for God's relationship with us, and how God's love reaches out to us in our pain and confusion.

I have been a committed Christian since I was very young, but have struggled for years with the certainty that I could never live up to God's standards. By nature, I have been an intellectual Christian v.s. a relational one, and have always been somewhat suspicious and resistant to relationships of any kind, particularly when they involved religion or God.

The Shack's amazing narratives between Mack and God so captured my heart (where did that come from?!), that I've been on a trek ever since to discover more about who this God is (the theology of the Trinity, etc.), how He works in our lives and how I can rest in his love. Its been an amazing journey!

I highly recommend The Shack. Ignor the negative comments about it and make up your own mind. (Don't take my word for it, or theirs!) What is clear from reading the blogs is that it has touched many people's lives, especially those who have wrestled with loss of loved ones or other personal tragedies. There is also many positive scholarly reviews as well as negative ones (seems to be somewhat a function of vested interests in their own books and teachings). If it speaks to your heart as it did mine, it will be worth everything to you.

posted by 283998 on November 1, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

33 out of 61 people found this review helpful.

Author's voice too loud

The author clearly intended to deliver a theological message to his readers in this modern day allegory. And the message is a good one. God desires a deeply personal relationship with us and he loves us enough to give us the gift of free will. But I felt like Young was ...
The author clearly intended to deliver a theological message to his readers in this modern day allegory. And the message is a good one. God desires a deeply personal relationship with us and he loves us enough to give us the gift of free will. But I felt like Young was beating me over the head with his own personal interpretation of scripture. There was no room for me to contemplate. The author just told me what to think. I liked the message, but I didn't enjoy the book. I understand Young is not a professional writer. He wrote this story for his kids with no intention of being published. Still, it was not a pleasurable reading experience for me.

posted by Erika97 on February 11, 2009

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  • Posted February 9, 2012

    Hated it

    This book was soo boring. I had heard that it was popular, so I kept forcing myself to finish it, thinking it would eventually get better. It didn't. Also, this is not a "Christian" book. The auther implies in the book that all religions lead to God and therefore it really doesn't matter what you believe. That is not what Jesus taught or claimed. Jesus said "I am the way, the Truth and the Life, NO ONE comes to the Father except through ME. This book has a lot of theologic issues as well.

    29 out of 67 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2011

    Do NOT Read!

    Read Burning Down 'The Shack': How the 'Christian' bestseller is deceiving millions [NOOKbook]
    by James B. De Young. This author was actually friends with the author of 'The Shack' and gives you inside truths about 'The Shack's' many UNTRUTHS. If you don't really know or understand the Scripture of the Bible, 'The Shack' will trick you. It's charming storyline is laced with biblical sounding undertones, but they aren't the TRUTH. Wm. Paul Young twists and distorts the Holy Scripture given to us by GOD Himself. Please don't let this FICTION fool you into thinking this is what the Holy Scripture means. The Bible warns us about heresy such as this....it's blasphemy. It's purely fiction...don't let it stir ANY spiritual feeling in you. Look at it as a fiction, it's nothing more than fiction. Rate and review it as a fiction...don't let it evoke your non-fiction, true Chrisitian beliefs. It's like mixing water and oil....can't do it!

    21 out of 65 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2011

    Misleading to new Christians

    This book paints a picture of God that is not biblicaly based and could cause problems for new Christians who dont know better.

    17 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

    If you like good literature, this is probably not for you.

    I read this to be "in the know". I don't usually read Christian Fiction but I kept hearing that this was groundbreaking and changed people's lives, so I decided to give it a chance.
    Characterization of protagonist in the beginning of the story does not match up with his supposed character flaws and issues (as pointed out by others). Overt reverse-stereotyping of "the trinity" made me cringe. Mis-use of Gospel quotings in order to prove points is just wrong, even though I wouldn't call myself a Christian. By "mis-use", I refer to the lumping-together of the so-called "seven last words" of Jesus. Some last words were in some Gospels, some were in others. They are incorrectly put together making people thing he said 7 phrases in a row, when in actuality the Gospels are different tellings of the story and different characterizations of Jesus.
    I could go on and on in a manic stream as the book did, but don't have time.

    13 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2009

    Christians Beware

    This book will lead you astray. I found this book very distrubing. There are two good points offered; forgiveness and a get over it and get on with your life message that are very helpful to those who hold on to past wrongs.
    But the premise of the plot is a distortion and attack on religion beginning with subtle suggestion and escalting to weightier issues. Young calls God Papa and Papa we learn is not a big fan of prayer. The Holy Trinity is presented and through each we find that religion is just a man-made institution imposing rules on humans to keep us dependent. The Ten Commandments is Papa's joke and not to be taken seriously. Young tells us that following the Rules is bad because it gives us the power to judge others and feel superior to them. I thought the Commandments provided the road map to eternal salvation. The old bugaboo about not judging is given full airing. I'm pretty tired of this misinterpretation of scripture. If moral equivalency prevails then all standards will be destroyed and we are left unguided. In summary, religion is a farce invented by man; there is no standard for good and evil; Scripture is irrelevant; the portrayal of God is demeaning; and, Jesus is a contradition from what we know of Him. Yound distorts the meaning of The Passion and The Resurrection, the Bible's message and most of the foundations that are held dear by Chirstians the world over. I wasn't able to discern how he came up the the convoluted arguments and distortions presented in the book. Now, this is truly a man-made concept by a man named William Paul Young.

    12 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2010

    Check it out...

    Checked this book out at the library. While I own a lot of books, this was a very good decision.

    Having read some reviews, I wondered what this book would be like. If you look at the star ratings, people either love this book, or they hate it. Not a lot in between. As I enjoy reading, I thought I would give it a shot.

    Some gushed that this book will draw you in, with intensity, etc. Others, that it will 'do for this generation what Pilgrim's Progress did...' This book starts out pretty slowly, and then goes flat. It becomes livelier when 'God' shows up, as three different humans. God the Father, as a motherly African American who loves to cook, the Spirit who is a wiry Asian woman who loves to garden, and Jesus, who likes to eat, work with wood, and walk on water.

    As I read it, mostly I was bored. But being compulsive, I finished it anyway. The author is trying to represent God and the Trinity, as well as he can. He presents the love of God, and the knowledge and patience of God. There is no wrath, no anger, no holiness, no justice. As this god says on page 119 or 120, 'I don't need to punish people for sin, sin is it's own punishment'.

    Somehow, I think if God became a man, He would be different than how this book shows Him... And if God did become a man, He might want us to focus on what He really said, rather than what we imagine He might say if He became a man. Or two, or three.

    So why has this book done so well? If you look at the back of the book, or at the website for the book, they give you tips on how to promote the book. That is part of what the buzz is about. Per the instructions at the end, 'Give the book to friends, even strangers...', 'if you have a website or blog...', 'write a book review...', 'Ask your favorite radio show or podcast to have the author on...', 'if you own a shop or business...'. I took a course in marketing in school, and this book does it well.

    This is a well marketed book.

    Personally, I enjoyed Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis far more (and others by Lewis). Stuff by Max Lucado has been excellent. Also books by Tozer, Spurgeon and Pascal.

    11 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    "Take heed lest any man deceive you"

    "For many shall come in My name saying 'I am Christ' and shall deceive many." Mark 13: 6,7

    This book was not even a good work of philosophy much less a good work of Christian fiction. The author did not follow the rules of logic and contradicted himself often. The best example of this occurs when the author's depiction of God states that He/She? lives in a state of perpetual satisfaction. About 20 pages later, we find that God is angry about the mess His children have made. Some 15 pages after that we find out that the "Holy Spirit" is "disturbed" about what happened in the garden of Eden. Do these sound like the emotions of a God that is in a state of perpetual satisfaction?

    As a source of valuable biblical knowledge, God taught forgiveness and Jesus taught of building the church through people instead of brick. These few strong points in the book did not outweigh the copious amounts of misinformation that will serve to confuse many already misinformed Christians.

    These are the most disturbing problems:
    The main character is haunted by the words Jesus spoke while on the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Jesus did not believe God had forsaken Him. Jesus was reciting Psalm 22 to fulfill the prophecy and to teach us. If you have read the bible, you also know that Jesus did not call God God when he was speaking to Him. Jesus called God Father. These words were spoken from the cross for our benefit, not for Jesus' benefit. The book did not even touch on this simple fact but instead came up with some convoluted reason for Jesus' words.

    The other thing that bothered me most was a very dangerous statement made toward the end of the book, supposedly by Jesus, "All things are lawful". What? Has the author of this book never read Matthew 5:17-18? We should not be ignorant of why Jesus came here. He did not come to change even one jot of the law. He makes this clear in the simplest of words that anybody can understand.

    If you read this book, be careful. It is always better to depend on God's word instead of mans.

    9 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2010

    Pass This One Up

    Everyone seems to love this book. . . .but me. I found it to be too much like dormitory 101 conversations on the meaning of Life and God.. . . definitely conversations worth having, but I don't feel this book has some kind of corner on The Truth. So I'm baffled my others' reactions to the book. . .

    The more I was baffled by why others might like this book, the more I noticed things that I didn't like: I thought the author was a very poor writer. I thought he did a miserable job of developing character, of portraying likely dialogue between characters or human relationships, had very gendered perceptions of women (and presenting God as a woman really did not seem to suggest an in-depth understanding of women in a real-world context).

    I felt highly suspect of the "theology" of this book. Presented as a compelling vision of God, it just didn't match with my own understandings or belief systems about God. It reminded me too much of the "Conversations with God," book that was popular a number of years ago. It seemed as if it was a simplistic attempt to understand some of the complex questions that we humans try to address through our religions, but I felt no compelling reason to accept this author as a spiritual guide for myself. He/this book seemed too bland and pat to be ultimately satisfying in resonating with my religious beliefs.

    And it just really, really bothered me that others around me seemed to be absolutely ga-ga over something that seemed like limp pablum.

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2010

    WOULD RATE ZERO STARS IF I COULD

    If you have more intelligence than a five year old, don't waste your time! I consider myself an avid reader, and was looking for a spiritual read, but this is completely absurd!

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2008

    What's all the fuss about?

    I was incredibly disappointed in this book. The bulk of the character development took place in the first 1/4 of the book, and left me wanting more to be able to feel attached. The 'moral' of the story was contrived, formulaic, and completely predictable. It's just another book of recycled ideas.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2009

    The Shack - please do not waste your time!

    As an avid reader and retired reading specialist, this was one of the worst books I was forced to waste my time reading. It was selected by a person in my bookclub so that was how it was introduced to me. From a literary standpoint, it was poorly written, with no character development, a ridiculous "plot" unless you are under the age of 10, and vocabulary probably around a sixth grade level. Regarding concepts like spirituality,there weren't any. If you want to be "preached to" like a 7 year old sitting in a sunday school class, this is a must for you. If you are looking for something inspirational, thought provoking, and intelligent, avoid this book at all costs!!

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2008

    Go with caution and remember its FICTION......

    If you are a Christian who truly KNOWS what the Word of God says -- you won't really be impressed with this book -- NOR will it be life changing in any respect. If you are "seeking" something that you can't find or don't know what it is --you might benefit from the story -- if you continue to remember its fiction. AND NO something like this CANNOT happen the way its described.

    4 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2008

    Should be Religion not Non-Fiction

    I was very disappointed in the Shack after reading prior reviews. The book is a recycle of fundamental Christian beliefs wrapped around a very disturbing event in a person's life. The writing itself was tiresome and come's across as a story trying to find a point rather than a rich writing that happens to make a meaningful point. This book is more about selling a religious point of view and less of the true nature of man and his relationship with a greater being ' unless you adhere to the writers religious point of view '.

    4 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2009

    The Shack Is In No Man's Land

    I am an avid reader who has never NOT finished a book.* That is, until I read (er, started reading) The Shack. I read about two-thirds of the book, but just could not endure another page. It is neither fiction nor theology, but lost in some no man's land between the two (Literature's Purgatory perhaps?). There are so many long, detailed reviews of this book, that I will keep mine brief.

    The Shack is poorly written, theologically unsound and offensively preachy. It reminds me of those emotionally charged e-mails I get (from liberals and conservatives alike) with provocative headlines promoting a political agenda. They're usually too self-righteous, one-sided and unsubstantiated to have any credibility.

    Not recommended for free-thinking individuals (religious or not) or anyone looking for a good read! (*Correction: I also did not finish The Secret. Any connection there?)

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not at ALL Biblically sound!

    Its so unfortunate to see so many high reviews claiming they feel so close to God after reading this book. Because first of all NO book, other than the Bible can bring you closer to God. I've read so many reviews on this book and its true, this book was made mainly for the "people who are emotionally swept out into the sea of deception". Mainly because nothing in this book is Biblically sound. Its full of nothing but false doctrine. For example in the novel God is claimed to be a woman named "Elousia". First of all God is NOT a woman, nor is he a human. The Trinity in the Shack is based upon the goddess of kali, not the Trinity in the actual Bible (which is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). It's sad to see another novel out there confusing people and leading them down the wrong path. If you truly want to know Jesus, stop wasting your time on novels like these and read the Bible. However "if you believe in a Universal salvation without seeking forgiveness, or if you want a god who loves without logic, and if you don't know or don't care about biblical truth and sound doctrine" this book is for you.

    Quotes from : More Books and Things... at Blogspot.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

    PREACHY & BORING

    I felt that this book was thought provoking and touching, however I had a hard time getting through the preachy parts. I felt it was often repetative and boring. In all, I didn't like it. Not what I expected. Can I be the only one that didn't like it?

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2010

    The Shack is just a story, well written; but non the less it is still just a fictional story.

    It is fiction. Fiction that holds a wee bit of truth and a whole lot of imagination. Just enough truth is given to cause major confusion; read The Shack for entertainment only. For this purpose the book is great and the author has a way of telling the story to make the reader feel the emotions the characters feel. If you have felt pain, brokenness, depression, grief, regret and losses you will relate to the characters is this book. If you are looking for more than entertainment and are needing answers for your personal pain, brokenness, depression, grief, regret or losses this book is not for you. The answers it gives is fictional, on the other hand God is real and has the answers you are looking for. The Shack had the makings of a true inspirational message, but the course it took was actually just the opposite. If the reader takes the message from this book that God is whatever we want him to be to satisfy our desires or needs and applies that to his/her life then the reader will be sadly disappointed in the end. God is who He is; He is Holy, He is the Creator, He loves us, and He is Just. The Shack is just a story, well written; but non the less it is still just a fictional story. Entertainment Only.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2010

    A Theological MESS

    After hearing acquaintances rant and rave about this book for well over a year now, I finally decided to read The Shack.

    At first I was intrigued by the premise of the book, and as I began to read, I was certainly drawn in by the emotional struggle Mack, the main character, goes through, but as I continued to read, I found myself arguing with the things that were being espoused. I definitely disagree with its doctrinal view of the Trinity. More than a few people have documented pretty much out and out heresy contained in The Shack - pity I only read about that AFTER reading it (Watch "Tearing Down The Shack" by Mark Discoll on YouTube).

    While The Shack definitely gets MANY things wrong, it gets one thing right. How intimately God wants to know us and be involved in our lives. For so many of us who often feel disconnected and distant from God, reading The Shack will be a great comfort because it displays such an intimate relationship between man and God (well, the Trinity). Restoring the belief and consciousness of this closeness is on some level good, but it is that genuine feeling of closeness and correctness between Mack and the Trinity that makes this a very dangerous book indeed.

    Just because The Shack gets our intimacy with God right, doesn't mean it gets everything else right. In fact, it gets many things very, very wrong. It somehow warps and humanizes the Trinity, simultaneously elevates and devalues Jesus, neglects Scripture, makes personal prophecy more important than Scripture, denies atonement theory and de-emphasizes the Body of Christ (the Church).

    If you can read The Shack with a keen eye and a discerning spirit, then you can probably take something from it. If you cannot, then I don't recommend it.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2009

    Not my cup of tea

    I read it with my book club. I just didn't like it. The only reason why i finshed it is because I had to for the book club.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2009

    not impressed

    i couldn't even make it through the book - mediocre at best.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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