While on holiday I read The Shack by William Paul Young. I had heard various things about this book, both positive and negative. Personally, I found it to be a thoroughly good read and an excellent work of fiction.
As with any good novel it deals with what it means to be human in a thought-provoking way. Being unable to put the book down, I ploughed through it in two evenings. While it would be very unwise to look to a work of fiction for your theology, it does call attention to some important aspects of how we relate to God, such as coming to God in relationship with Him rather than trying to fulfil rule-based expectations.
I am also glad for the reminder that fulfilling our human potential lies in being and loving, not in doing and achieving. This message has come at me from several sources in the past year so is probably something for me to be considering more deeply and working on.
Overall, I think the strength of The Shack is in it’s perceptive look at the human condition, such things as how we justify telling a lie to ‘protect’ another person from hurt when in fact we are actually protecting ourself from emotional upheaval (see pp 189-190). This in not telling us anything much about God, rather it illustrates common human experiences.
From a Biblical and theological point of view The Shack has some significant weaknesses. It emphasizes the Trinity but in a fairly loose manner. There is also a major lack of consideration of what the cross of Christ means and an implication that there could be many roads to Christ, which I strongly disagree with. I have no problem with The Shack as a work of fiction, just be sure to read the Bible for your theology!