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The Shack FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

This forum answers some of the most common questions that get asked here.

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The Shack FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Papalovesyou » Sat Jan 28, 2017 8:04 pm

To help in answering questions folks may have about The Shack we have prepared the following:

A Matter of Fiction

The genre of the book is fiction, but how do we know? Well, first there are numerous interviews with the author that state this fact. But beyond this, the book clearly has fiction printed on the back and it is often sold in the fiction section. The title page says "The Shack, a novel by William P. Young in collaboration with Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings" (emphasis added). Websters defines a novel as "an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events"

Also, consider some of the endorsements of the book:

Eugene Peterson: "When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize the result is a novel ..."
Jim Palmer: "captivating novel ..."
Mike Morrell: "A guy-meets-God novel ..."
Greg Albrecht: "You will be captivated by the creativity and imagination of The Shack ..."
Michael W. Smith: "The Shack is the most absorbing work of fiction I've read in many years."


What Type of Fiction is This?

What The Shack falls under is a genre called "Realistic Fiction."

Many realistic stories depict their protagonist growing up or coming of age. The coming-of-age stories typically trace the protagonist's growth from a self-absorbed, immature individual into an expansive, mature human being concerned with the welfare of others, and his/her place in the world scheme.

In good realistic fiction, the characters possesses a clearly defined personality and exhibits growth during the course of the story. Their growth of self-awareness usually comes with struggling, pain, and even suffering. In children's stories, the protagonist usually reaches a higher level of maturity and a greater sense of self-awareness by the book's end, but has not achieved adulthood. Classic example: Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden" (1909).

In realistic fiction, humor is frequently used to break the tension in sensitive situations, unlike fantasies in which the humor is often the humor of the absurd. Humor is a form of self-preservation, of coping. In realistic fiction, humor usually takes one of the three forms:
  • The humor of character. This depends on the antics of an eccentric personality.
  • The humor of situation. Surprising, awkward, or ridiculous actions or situations are among the most common sources of realistic humor.
  • The humor of language. Plays on words, verbal irony, malapropism (the misuse of words), misunderstandings, all contribute to verbal humor.
Beginning in the 1960s, a literary form called New Realism emerged that reacted against the romantic and sentimental realistic fiction books that had long dominated the market.

The New Realism literary style sought to bring more honest emotions, franker language, and bolder ideas to realistic fiction literature. It opened an entirely new range of subjects, and little remained that was taboo, including racial prejudice, teenage gangs, drug abuse, homosexuality, child abuse, mental illness, sexual abuse, parental problems, psychological disorders, and many others.

The "problem novel", focusing on a singular, hot issue that affects the protagonist, is a result of New Realism. It is always set in contemporary times and aims at a naturalistic portrayal of a problem plaguing the main character. Problem novels are directed to older children or adults and focus on the individual's emotional response to life's experience.

A Matter of Truth

However, with all this said, the book is very much true in many regards. The experience of the author that it was based upon is "true" and many of the themes and discussions between characters include elements of Biblical Truth, Theology and Philosophy and to the extent that those issues exist outside of the story line (in the context of the discussions) - those can be said to be "true" at least in terms of the presenting the views of the author.

So here is the thing ... this book IS TRUE. But it is fictionalized in its account of the author's life. Did the conversations with God really happen? We think so, in Paul Young's life ... but this wasn't over a weekend but many years of healing. Did a tragic thing happen to a young child? YES! But not in Missy, but in a young Paul Young who went through a horrible childhood. Did a tragic thing happen to an older man who had to experience healing from God? YES! But not in Mack, but in an older Paul Young who went through various burnout and failure in life and came to see God in it.

So if you ask us, "The book isn't true?!" we would say, "It certainly IS true! Just not in the way you think."

A Matter of Metaphors

C. S. Lewis, a well-known author and apologist, is best known by people of all ages for his seven volume series entitled The Chronicles of Narnia. His writings are one of the most well known in Christian circles for using metaphors and symbols to represent bigger ideas than the books represent. As Lewis wrote about the land of Narnia, an imaginary world visited by children of this world, he had two obvious purposes: to entertain the readers and to suggest analogies of the Christian faith.

Although Christian symbolism can be found in The Chronicles, Lewis recognized the importance of getting "past those watchful dragons" which are people who are not open to the beliefs of Christianity because they were told they should believe it. But how should Lewis go about getting past those who are not open to the idea of Christianity? He believed that the best way to do this was to present it in a fictional world, a world in which it would be easier to accept. The audience grows to love Aslan and everything that he symbolizes; they begin to wish for someone like Aslan in this world. After finding this love for Aslan, they will ideally transfer that love to Christ when presented with the Gospel later in life. Even though Christian themes are present, the Chronicles are not dependent on them. Peter J. Schakel, a professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, states that a non-Christian reader can approach the book as a fictional story and "be moved by the exciting adventures and the archetypal meanings, and not find the Christian elements obtrusive or offensive". For this reason, "the Narnian stories have been so successful in getting into the bloodstream of the secular world".

Metaphors and symbols exist throughout the Bible. For example: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). The Christian believer and his characteristics are described in terms of many colorful metaphors in the Bible. In this text, Christ calls us "my sheep," and has also said: "I am the good shepherd, . . . and I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:14-15). If we are truly His sheep, then we will surely follow Him, receiving safety, peace, and nourishment.

Paul Young has stated in interviews that he sees The Shack as metaphorical or a parable rather than allegorical. The word "parable" means any fictive illustration in the form of a brief narrative. Later it came to mean a fictitious narrative, generally referring to something that might naturally occur, by which spiritual and moral matters might be conveyed.

A parable is one of the simplest of narratives. It sketches a setting, describes an action, and shows the results. It often involves a character facing a moral dilemma, or making a questionable decision and then suffering the consequences of that choice. As with a fable, a parable generally relates a single, simple, consistent action, without extraneous detail or distracting circumstances.

Many folktales could be viewed as extended parables, and many fairy tales, except for their magical settings. The prototypical parable is a realistic story that seems inherently probable and takes place in a familiar setting of life. A parable is like a metaphor that has been extended to form a brief, coherent fiction. Christian parables are stories about ordinary men and women who find in the midst of their everyday lives surprising things happening. They are not about "giants of the faith".

Regardless of what phrase you use to describe the book, many of the "theological arguments" against the book would be moot if they would simply remember the fictional and metaphorical nature of the book. On the other hand, people who over-allegorize the fictional nature of the work will miss out on what the story is really about: to taste, to feel, and to see something that a chart of allegorical parallels can never achieve. See Paul Young's story in the pages of the book. Then ... see your own.
May we all come to know Papa as we are known... and see ourselves as He sees us!

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The Shack FAQ - More Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Papalovesyou » Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:06 pm

"How can someone write a book about God and let it be fiction?"

A book like The Shack might be termed metaphorical theology. Because of its fictional nature, this makes the book an artistic approach to a Christian's relationship with God. Christian fiction celebrates God's presence in our life. It can be narrow and didactic or broad and literal. The main character's relationship to God is the primary focus. Another definition is that these stories are about "the journey of the soul." There is considerable interest in characters "who are like the reader" in some important way. Although the label "Christian fiction" is used here to reflect the fact that God plays a significant role in the plot and the outcome, Christian novels focus on ordinary people who are challenged to live their lives in accordance with Christian principles. And creating a fictional story can often breathe new life into areas of thought that people assume they understand.

It may say something about our mindsets and frame of reference as Christians as to why we might have trouble with this type of writing. Christians (especially those from Western influence) can exhibit little imagination at times. Some are also unable to pick up subtlety because they want matters or stories to be straitlaced and literal. They prefer this not only in books they read, but also in Biblical interpretation and life in general. If there is some truth to this, it only shows that we have failed to educate and cultivate things such as imagination, creativity and even simple things like recognizing literary devices.

The book is not systematic theology, nor a theological treatise. It is important to remember that Young was writing a theological parable of sorts, for his children, not for a seminary faculty. This was never the last word in theology, and it was, from the outset, an experiment in literary playfulness. Young is a writer of fiction ... a story-teller. The prodigal's father, the unjust judge, the owner of the vineyard, the mother hen, the Rock, the lamb ... all of these are literary explorations of God in the context of story, not pure theology. None of them can be taken beyond the boundaries of legitimate literary use. They are symbols of something bigger. To worship the symbol is to miss the point. To reduce the symbol to an abstract concept is to go from a large screen high definition TV to an AM radio, and is to miss the point as well.

Some who can't appreciate a work like this seem to suggest that any book that doesn't just copy large amounts of Scripture verbatim has no reason for existence. The mixture of art and theological truth must be nerve wracking to those whose view of inerrancy and authority makes literary explorations of theology almost automatically heretical. Sometimes it seems that rewording Scripture into a few almost-identical-to-scripture lyrics is about all some Christians can take in the literary arts. Past that and they are talking heresy. Frankly, that's ridiculous. Whether it's literary, visual or musical, the arts should be evaluated artistically, not just theologically.

"Is art necessary for the Christian?"

The Christian who ignores art agrees with a secular view of art--that art has no ultimate meaning for life nor does it reveal the God who is there. We find this fact greatly disturbing. In plain terms, the Christian church, historically the creator and guardian of great art, has abdicated its role of nurturing and appreciating great art. Meanwhile, the Bible teaches us something completely different from the modern church's attitude toward art. The question is, does the church's uneasiness with art stem from its historic faith or its modern subculture? We would argue that a chosen ignorance of art is more the result of an uninformed subculture than an informed reading of the Bible.

Psalm 19 tells us that God reveals himself to us in two major ways: his artistry ("the heavens tell the story of God") and his word ("the law of the Lord is perfect"). God speaks to us through symbol and language, art and word. He created us to delight in beauty, goodness, and truth. However, God, the Primary Artist, never intended us to find beauty and meaning within ourselves. Rather, we must look beyond ourselves for these things. According to Psalm 19, knowing God through the avenue of the written word is a necessary but incomplete part of the picture. Throughout its history, the church has known God through the word and art, truth and beauty, grace and nature.

As Christians, we need to come back to the whole truth--truth which is both rational and artistic. von Balthasar warns that the church has sacrificed beauty for exactness and in so doing it has lost an important element of the truth. He calls the church to break through a rational, propositional, exact view of God "in order to bring the truth of the whole into view again--truth as a transcendental property of Being, truth which is no abstraction".

In this sense, our answer to the question, "Is art necessary for the Christian?" is an unequivocal "yes." Art is God-ordained; it is a divine gift that we cannot live without. Without art we lose beauty, and without beauty we lose the vision of a God who is relational, not just propositional. In short, we lose a vision of God who compels awe in the hearts of those who love him. As Wendell Berry writes in his essay, "Style and Grace," "Works of art participate in our lives."

"Why did the author have to use symbols to tell his story? Why couldn't he have just written an autobiography?"

Well, first, can you think of any autobiography that impacted you the way The Shack did? By using more creative writing, Paul Young created a story that you can see your life in. Thus, the book can speak to millions of people in this style, whereas a more literal story would have spoken to a lesser number.

We can worship art, or art can aid our worship. This is an important distinction. Many Christians conclude that if they love art they are in reality worshipping art. That is not necessarily true. If we worship art we are no better than the secularist who admires the work of art but fails to see God shrouded behind that work. Or worse, we are no better than the pantheist who sees the art itself as being God. In both world views, art loses any sense of transcendence. The work of art becomes an end in itself, not an avenue to knowing and loving God. Without a transcendent view of art, art becomes an idol, not a symbol.

When we speak of art in terms of understanding life, we must consider how art and language function in our lives. Simply put, art and language reflect a reality beyond themselves. We cannot talk about reality directly but must talk and live in symbols. We live in a world of symbols. Even language is symbolic. For example, it is quite strange to think that a mortal who has not seen "heaven" uses a word to symbolize "heaven."Â We understand ourselves, our world, and our God through analogies (symbols)--the Scriptures, parables, metaphors, allegories, stories, sermons, music, paintings, relationships, baptism--the list is infinite. Symbols are signposts and pictures along the way.

Symbols, then, have two dimensions: the symbol itself and the reality the symbol points to. A rose is a rose, but more importantly a rose can symbolize love. The literal rose helps us to see a dimension of love we would fail to see without the rose. But the analogy of the rose does much more: it attires love with beauty, passion, vibrant color, and sensuality. Comparing love to a rose restrains love from being a cold abstraction. And The Shack does much the same ... it challenges us to see God through the eyes of a real relationship, and not some cold abstraction trapped within the walls of dead theology.

But a symbol does more than incarnate abstractions. A symbol (i.e., art) not only brings beauty to our lives but it also brings meaning. Art is a crossing from the mundane to the beautiful and the meaningful. A transcendent view of art transforms the earthly for the purpose of disclosing a deeper reality to our existence here on earth.

An orthodox, supernatural viewpoint understands that the knowledge of God is not immediate but must be mediated--mediated through symbol, art, word. Good art says that God can be known in multiple dimensions but cannot be apprehended, controlled, or put in my own personal box--that He is not made in our mirror image. Ultimately, then, the Christian who rejects art believes earth to be more true than heaven, because he or she sees no need for symbol. And without symbol we cannot see beyond this world.

Art is an expression of God's infinite mystery and extravagant beauty. But it is also an expression of something strangely familiar. Like Lucy's sighting of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, something leaps inside us when we see art. Whether this happens when we hear the music of U2, read the novels of Flannery O'Connor, see the drawings of Blake, or read the poetry of Langston Hughes, something deep inside us leaps because we recognize the unknown known.

"I feel stupid because I thought the story was true!"

If you missed the fictional nature of the book, you shouldn't feel ashamed or mad. You certainly shouldn't feel stupid. It was an honest mistake because possibly you got so absorbed in the story that you didn't pay attention to the other matters listed above.

First of all, remember that the story is indeed true, but just not in the way you thought. The TV show The Waltons was also based on true events, but the family name was not "Walton" and many of the stories on the TV show never happened. Yet still the TV shows were inspiring to millions of people who saw their own selves and families in the show.

Also, think about this ... how many people does God show up like this to? If this story was literally true, many of us would feel more despair from it. Why? Because God has never shown up in a tangible way and spent a weekend with us like this!

But, if this story is pushing us to see a reality of God that legalism keeps us far away from ... an adventure in which God is really FOR us, not against us ... then that is a message that affects our lives! And thus, I can find MYSELF in the story, and now it applies to ME. By seeing Mack's journey through his "shack", I see the journey through my own.

And that is the whole point of the book.

"I feel disappointed to find out this really didn't happen."

We can understand how people can read this and want it to actually be a true word-for-word account. Earlier drafts of the book had Mack as the author and a few people made the same leap to imagine that Mack was a real person and so in the rewrites that followed, Willie was introduced as a ghost writer to make it clearer that Mack was not a real person. Some still miss that however.

We would encourage you to realize that the book is true, just not in the way she thought. And how exciting! Because the truth of the book is bigger than what you originally thought! We would encourage you to see yourself in this story! That is the purpose. And in that you will find even greater comfort in what the book has to say.

"Where can I find more about the author's life so I can understand what the symbolic meanings are in the book?"

Many resources can be found at Paul's site:

An even more in depth discussion by Paul Young (with a tremendous teaching by C. Baxter Kruger on the theology of The Shack) can be found here (this is not a free resource):


The Shack is more than a great made up story. Although it is a work of fiction, it is also a modern parable and metaphor that is based on the truth story of the author's journey of healing from issues of childhood sexual abuse, a distant father, emotional distancing, wounds inflicted by other Christians, personal sin which included adultery, and many other issues you can point to.

Most of us have experienced our own shacks, and battled with our own bondage to legalism and religion that kept us at bay from a real, personal God who is FOR us, not against us. Read the book, and be inspired by the story. Then, listen to some interviews with the author and see his life through this symbolic fiction book. Then see your own life, and dare to plunge into the depths of Papa's love for you and let that love spill out to the world around you.
May we all come to know Papa as we are known... and see ourselves as He sees us!

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The Shack FAQ - Is the Shack h e r e s y?

Post by Papalovesyou » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:58 pm

Is THE SHACK H e r e sy?

We knew it would happen eventually. Frankly we thought it would happen far sooner and in far greater quantity than we have seen to date. But we knew The Shack was edgy enough to prompt some significant backlash, which is why so many publishing companies didn’t want to take it on at the beginning.

I never thought everyone was going to love this book. Art is incredibly subjective as to whether a story and style are appealing. I have no problem with a spirited discussion of some of the theological issues raised in The Shack. The books I love most are the ones that challenge my theological constructs and invite a robust discussion among friends, whether I agree with everything in them or not in the end,. That is especially true of a work of fiction where people will bring their own interpretations of the same events or conversations. I never view a book as all good or all bad. It’s like eating chicken. Enjoy what you think is the meat and toss what you think are the bones.

What is surprising, however, is the hostile tone of false accusation and the conspiracy theories that some are willing to put on this book. Some have even warned others not to read it or they will be led into deception. It saddens me that people want to use a book like this to polarize God’s family, whether it’s overenthusiastic reader thrusting it in someone’s face telling them they ‘must read’ this book, or when people read their own theological agendas into a work, then denounce it as heresy.

If you’re interested, read it for yourself. Don’t let someone else do your thinking for you. If it helps convey the reality of Jesus to you, great! If all you can see is sinister motives and false teaching in it, then put it aside. I don’t have time to give a point-by-point rebuttal to the reviews I’ve read, but I would like to make some comments on some of the issues that have come up since I’m getting way too many emails asking me what I think of some of the questions they raise. I’ll also admit at the outset, that I’m biased. Admittedly, I’m biased. I was part of a team who worked with the author on this manuscript for over a year and am part of the company formed to print and distribute this book. But I’m also well acquainted with the purpose and passions of this book.

What do I think? I tire of the self-appointed doctrine police, especially when they toss around false accusations like ‘new age conspiracy’, ‘counterfeit Jesus’ or ‘heresy’ to promote fear in people as a way of advancing their own agenda. What many of them don’t realize is that research actually shows that more people will buy a book after reading a negative review than they do after reading a positive one. It piques their curiosity as to why someone would take so much time to denounce someone else’s book.

But such reviews also confuse people who are afraid of being seduced into error and for those I think the false accusations demand a response. Let me assure any of you reading this that all three of us who worked on this book are deeply committed followers of Jesus Christ who have a passion for the Truth of the Scriptures and who have studied and taught the life of Jesus over the vast majority of our lifetimes. But none of us would begin to pretend that we have a complete picture of all that God is or that our theology is flawless. We are all still growing in our appreciation for him and our desire to be like him, and we hope this book encourages you to that process as well. In the end, this says the best stuff we know about God at this point in our journeys. Is it a complete picture of him? Of course not! Who could put all that he is into a little story like this one? But if it is a catalyst to get thousands of people to talk about theology—who God is and how he makes himself known in the world—we would be blessed.

This is a story of one believer’s brokenness and how God reached into that pain and pulled him out and as such is a compelling story of God’s redemption. The pain and healing come straight from a life that was broken by guilt and shame at an incredibly deep level and he compresses into a weekend the lessons that helped him walk out of that pain and find life in Jesus again.

That said, the content of this book does take a harsh look at how many of our religious institutions and practices have blinded people to the simple Gospel and replaced it with a religion of rules and rituals that have long ceased to reflect the Lord of Glory. Some will disagree with that assessment and the solutions this book offers, and the reviews that do so honestly merit discussion. But those who confuse the issues by making up their own back-story for the book, or ascribing motives to its publication without ever finding out the truth, only prove our point.

Here are some brief comments on the major issues that have been raised about The Shack:

Does the book promote universalism?

Some people can find a universalist under every bush. This book flatly states that all roads do not lead to Jesus, while it affirms that Jesus can find his followers wherever they may have wandered into sin or false beliefs. Just because he can find followers in the most unlikely places, does not validate those places. I don’t know how we could have been clearer, but people will quote portions out of that context and draw a false conclusion.

Does it devalue Scripture?

Just because we didn’t put Scriptural addresses with their numbers and colons at every allusion in the story, does not mean that the Bible isn’t the key source in virtually every conversation Mack has with God. Scriptural teachings and references appear on almost every page. They are reworded in ways to be relevant to those reading the story, but at every point we sought to be true to the way God has revealed himself in the Bible except for the literary characterizations that move the story forward. At its core the book is one long Bible study as Mack seeks to resolve his anger at God.

Is this God too nice?

Others have claimed that the God of The Shack is simply too nice, or having him in humorous human situations trivializes him. Really? Who wants to be on that side of the argument? For those who think this God is too easy, please tell me in what way does he let Mack off on anything? He holds his feet to the fire about every lie in his mind and every broken place in his heart. I guess what people these critics cannot see is confrontation and healing inside a relationship of love and compassion. This is not the angry and tyrannical God that religion has been using for 2000 years to beat people into conformity and we are not surprised that this threatens the self-proclaimed doctrine police.

One reviewer even thought this passage from The Shack was a mockery of the true God: “I’m not a bully, not some self-centered demanding little deity insisting on my own way. I am good, and I desire only what is best for you. You cannot find that through guilt or condemnation….” That wasn’t mocking God but a view of God that seems him as a demanding, self-centered tyrant? The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ revealed himself as the God who would lay down his life for us to redeem us to himself.

The words, “I don’t want slaves to do my will; I want brothers and sisters who will share life with me,” are simply a reflection of John 15:15. Unfortunately those who tend toward legalism among us have no idea how much more completely Jesus transforms us out of a relationship of love, than we could ever muster in our gritted-teeth obedience. This is at the heart of the new covenant—that love will fulfill the law, where human effort cannot.

Does it distort or demean the Trinity?

One of the concerns expressed about The Shack is that it presents the Trinity outside of a hierarchy. In fact many religious traditions think they find their basis for hierarchical organizations in what they’ve assumed about the Trinity. To look at the Trinity as a relationship without the need for command and control is one of the intriguing parts of this story. If they walk in complete unity, why would a hierarchy be needed? They live in love and honor each other. While in the flesh Jesus did walk in obedience to the Father as our example, elsewhere Scripture speaks of their complete unity, love and glory in relating to each other. Different functions need not imply a different status.

This extends in other ways to look at how healed people can relate to each other inside their relationship with God that defines authority and submission in ways most are not used to, but that are far more consistent with what we see in the early believers and in the teaching of Scripture. It is also true of many believers around the world who are learning to experience the life of Father’s family without all the hierarchical maintenance and drama that has plagued followers of Christ since the third century.

People may see this differently and find this challenging, if only because it represents some thought they have not been exposed to before. Here we might be better off having a discussion instead of dragging out the ‘heretic’ label when it is unwarranted.

Does it leave out discussions about church, salvation and other important aspects of Christianity?

This is some of the most curious complaints I’ve ever read. This is the story about God making himself available to one of his followers who is being swallowed up by tragedy and his crisis of faith in God’s goodness over it. This is not a treatise on every element of theological study. Perhaps we should have paused in the story to have an altar call, or perhaps we should have drug a pipe organ into the woods and enlisted a choir to hold a service, but that was not the point.

Is this a feminist God?

The book uses some characterizations of God to mess with the religious stereotypes only to get people to consider God as he really is, not how we have reconstituted him as a white, male autocrat bent on religious conformity. There are important reasons in the story why God takes the expressions he does for Mack, which underlines his nature to meet us where we are, to lead us to where he is. While Jesus was incarnated as man, God as a spirit has no gender, even though we fully embrace that he has taken on the imagery of the Father to express his heart and mind to us. We also recognize Scripture uses traditional female imagery to help us understand other aspects of God’s person, as when Jesus compares himself to a hen gathering chicks, or David likens himself to a weaned child in his mother’s arms.

Has it touched people too deeply?

Some reviewers point to Amazon.com reviews and people who have claimed it had a transforming effect on their spiritual lives as proof of its demonic origin. Please! How absurd is that? Do we prefer books that leave people untouched? This book touches lives because it deals with God in the midst of pain in an honest, straightforward way and because for many this is the first time they have seen the power of theology worked out inside a relationship with God himself.

Does The Shack promote Ultimate Reconciliation (UR)?

It does not. While some of that was in earlier versions because of the author’s partiality at the time to some aspects of what people call UR, I made it clear at the outset that I didn’t embrace UR as sound teaching and didn’t want to be involved in a project that promoted it. In my view UR is an extrapolation of Scripture to humanistic conclusions about our Father’s love that has to be forced on the biblical text.

Since I don’t believe in UR and wholeheartedly embrace the finished product, I think those who see UR here, either positively or negatively are reading into the text. To me that was the beauty of the collaboration. Three hearts weighed in on the theology to make it as true as we could muster. The process also helped shape our theologies in honest, protracted discussions. I think the author would say that some of that dialog significantly affected his views. This book represents growth in that area for all of us. Holding him to the conclusions he may have embraced years earlier would be unfair to the ongoing process of God in his life and theology.

That said, however, I’m not afraid to have that discussion with people I regard as brothers and sisters since many have held that view in the course of theological history. Also keep in mind that the heretic hunters lump many absurd notions into what they call UR, but when I actually talk to those people partial to some view of ultimate reconciliation they do not endorse all the absurdities ascribed to them. This is a heavily nuanced discussion with UR meaning a lot of different things to different people. For myself, I am convinced that Jesus is someone we have to accept through repentance and belief in this age to participate in his life.

Throughout The Shack Mack’s choices are in play, determining what he will let God do in his life through their encounter. He is no victim of God’s process. He is a willing participant at every juncture. And even though Papa says ‘He is reconciled to all men” he also notes that, “not all men are reconciled to me.”

Is the author promoting the emergent movement?

This guilt-by-association tactic is completely contrived. Neither the author, nor Brad and I at Windblown have ever been part of the emergent conversation. Some of their bloggers have written about the book, but we have not had any significant contact with the leaders of that movement and they have not been the core audience that has embraced this book.

That said I have met many people in the emergent conversation that have proved to be brothers and sisters in the faith. While I’m not nuts about all they do, a lot of the statements made about them by critics are as false as what some say about The Shack. They do deeply embrace the Scriptures. As I see it they are not trying to re-invent Christianity, but trying to communicate it in ways that captures a new generation. While I don’t agree with many of the conclusions they’re sorting through at the moment, they are not raving humanists. I have found them passionate seekers of the Lord Jesus Christ, who are asking some wonderful questions about God and how he makes himself known in us.

Does The Shack promote new age philosophy or Hinduism?

Amazingly some people have made assumptions about some of the names to think there is some eastern mysticism here, but when you hear how Paul selected the names he did it wasn’t to make veiled references to Hinduism, black Madonnas, or anything else. It was to uncover facets of God’s character that are clear in the Scriptures.

It’s amazing how much people will make up to indulge their fantasies and falsely label something to fit their own conclusions. Some have even insisted that Mack flying in his dreams was veiled instructions in astral travel. Absolutely absurd! Has this man never read fiction, or had a dream? Just because someone screams there is a demon under that bush, doesn’t mean there is.


We realize this would be a challenging read for those who see no difference between the religious conditioning that underlies Christianity as it is often presented in the 21st Century and the simple, powerful life in Christ that Jesus offered to his followers. Our hope was to help people see how the Loving Creator can penetrate our defenses and lead us to healing. Our prayer is that through this book people will see the God of the Bible as Jesus presented him to be—an endearing reality who wants to love us out of our sin and bondage and into his life. This is a message of grace and healing that does not condone or excuse sin, but shows God destroying it through the dynamic relationship he wants with each of his children.

We realize folks will disagree. We appreciate the interaction of those who have honest concerns and questions. Those who have been captured by this story are encouraged to search the Scriptures to see if these things are so and not trust us or the ravings of those who misinterpret this book, either threatened by its success, or those who want to ride on it to push their own fear-based agenda.

Credit: Wayne Jacobsen (Co-author of the Shack)

Last bumped by Papalovesyou on Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:58 pm.
May we all come to know Papa as we are known... and see ourselves as He sees us!


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