Soulpants On “The Shack” A Review

 Eugene Peterson saying in his glowing endorsement, “When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize the result is a novel on the order of “The Shack.” This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” did for his. It’s that good!” Could it really be that good? Is it good enough to warrant positive comparison to the English-language book that has been read more widely than any other save the Bible? Yes! It is really that good.

This book made the Trinity come alive, it explained forgiveness in such a profound and yet simple way, that I know I’ll never be the same. It paints a beautiful and divine picture of dealing with offense towards God. Which almost all of us experience at one level or another.

I read this book in about 5 hours and probably could have finished it sooner except for the tears I was trying to hold back. This book is a must read and will definitely reach those who’ve hardened their hearts towards God because of the pain of offense. I will be sharing this book with many.

There are a few critics of Young’s grasp of Theology. But he lists many great theologians as influences: C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, Ravi Zacharius to name a few. This genre is “Theological Fiction” which is hard to know exactly what the author was intending because there are no footnotes or cross references. I wouldn’t use this book as a Theological Text book…there are a few points where I am not sure he and I agree completely. But as they say, “When you eat fish you expect a few bones…just spit’em out.”



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16 responses to “Soulpants On “The Shack” A Review

  1. Since you’re sharing the book with many, can I borrow it?


  2. James

    “I wouldn’t use this book as a Theological Text book…there are a few points where I am not sure he and I agree completely. But as they say, “When you eat fish you expect a few bones…just spit’em out.””

    Yeah, great idea. I was thinking of reading Joseph Smith, Ellen White, Mary Baker Eddy, and throw in some Buddha, Confucius, and Hindu writings for balance.

    They all have some good ideas, and although I don’t agree with them on everything they written….Several of them have referenced some notable theologians and scholars.

    Get real! God’s word is not to be messed with, no matter how emotionally charged the material may be. Paul Young abandons the doctrines of Christ, teaching things that are not in agreement with the Scripture, and for that, God warns that Young is on shaky ground.

    Watch yourselves, that we may not lose the things we worked out, but that we may receive a full reward.
    Everyone transgressing and not abiding in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. The one abiding in the doctrine of Christ, this one has the Father and the Son.
    If anyone comes to you and does not bear this doctrine, do not receive him into the house, and do not speak a greeting to him.
    For the one speaking a greeting shares in his evil works.
    2Jn 1:8-11

  3. James…sarcasm disqualifies you from any serious dialogue.

  4. I am having a good laugh at James’ post, wondering if he actually read the book– I heard from several others that it was a great book, including our missionary friend to Nepal

    Its easy to criticize what we don’t understand- and even easier to use selective Scriptures to disqualify anyone. Thats been the trend of prooftexting-to-prove- a point since the early Apostles.

    I think I want to read this book and give it a chance- thanks for the review.

  5. Doug

    The most dangerous deceptions are those that contain the most truth. While “the Shack” contains some truth about God and His amazing love, it omits His wrath and judgement on sin. Little is written about repentence necessary for salvation. While the book states that Jesus is the best way to know God, the Bible tells us that Jesus is the ONLY way to know God. A huge distinction. The book (and yes, I did read it) paints a very incomplete picture of the Trinity. If we really want to understand God, we must read and study HIS word. THe writings of anyone else should be secondary in our search for wisdom.

  6. His book wasn’t intended to explain everything, it was intended to take a broken hurting person closer to God. When a child or even an adult accepts the Lord, they seldom have all of their theological “ducks in a row.” The thief on the cross, couldn’t explain the trinity, calvinism, armeninism, the incarnation, sanctification, or propititation.

    This book wasn’t written as a “Complete and Exhaustive Apologetics”. A pre-schooler doesn’t need to be able to read, do math, and speak multiple languages before the go to elementary school. A pre-schooler is learning what school is like, and what is to be expected in class, how to get along with others. This book is an introduction to God not an exhaustive work.

    Let it be what it is…nothing more and nothing less.

  7. John Langemann

    What it is is a diabolical Postmodern theological treatise, sugar-coated to make it palatable for naive, unschooled Christians and non-Christiams, to imbibe at their peril. The author, Paul Young, and his two cronies Wayne Jacobson and Brad Cummings know exactly what they are doing under the guise of a fiction book. The real fiction is their misrepresentation of God, the Holy Trinity, the Bible, Sin, repentence, Hell, Heaven, Christian living, to name a few… otherwise its very factual.God is a Yogi-bear who just wants to play with you and cuddle you. He does not expect you to do anything. You tell Him what you would like to do.He has forgiven everyone on earth.
    Christian, DO NOT ENTER THE SHACK. This rubbish can destroy you.
    If you think that that is a wrong assessment, please spend some time reading everything you can about Postmodern philosophy and the so-called Emerging, or Emergent church, then read the Bible.The two are mutually exclusive.

  8. Important note, The Shack was written for the general market (which includes readers who are Christians.) Clearly, based on sales and astounding reviews from readers of this market, the book does an absolutely wonderful job of appealing to these Christians.

    Way to go William!!!

    The CBA and ECPA, two gatekeeper affiliations set up to determine what goes into affiliated Christian Bookstores (95.5% of all Christian bookstores) wouldn’t touch this book at first because they were afraid it would offend their core market of conservative evangelicals, the market they were set up to protect. :O

    Based on some of the post here, it seems they were right. Based on the fact that The Shack now tops the CBA best-seller’s list, it also seems they were very, very wrong. Did CBA stick to their guns? No. The Shack was selling but not to their target market of very conservative Christians. They wanted in anyway. So they added the nifty little warning, Read at your own discernment and now let affiliated bookstores carry it if they wanted to.

    The Shack now tops CBA’s best-seller’s list–along with topping many other lists.

    Mr. Young, according to what I read in an interview, has even been approached by several CBA affiliated publishers who want him to write for them and their conservative market of evangelical Christians.

    To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Young said, no thanks. 🙂

  9. Rhonda Diehl

    Isn’t it entirely sad that our “conditioned” spiritual lives have put boundaries on God. If you know Him at all, you will be open to the possibilities of how He will use any means in which to reach us, stretch us, and bring us into His presence. I am personally grateful for the works of “The Shack”. I am always in need of being reminded that whenever I think I have God figured out, He makes Himself much bigger still.

    Perhaps it is only a dream. If it’s so, does the message lose its validity? This book wasn’t written to replace God’s spoken word but to remind us that our purpose is to be in relationship with Him. Through that relationship, we can achieve the ability to perform life’s greatest reward, forgiveness.

    I read in a previous blog, “Christian’ do not enter The Shack”. What is that? It’s that narrow path of thinking that makes “Christians” judgmental and unapproachable to non-Christians. Maybe even limits your ability to hear what God is trying to tell you. If you really believe, then the Holy Spirit will guide you as to what is true and untrue. Yes, it’s true that we should guard our hearts from being oppressed by others. However, if you fail to shed a tear at how God has restored this man, this family, then you read the book, already prepared to be critical and denounce its authenticity. But if that tear rolled down your cheek in the last chapter, as mine did, then you discovered that God works for the good of all who love Him and He never leaves a stone unturned. He will meet us where we are and if we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, He can bring us Home.

  10. JD Crowle

    Good story; terrible theology. Any book that has god being as talkative as the one in the Shack is bound to enter heresy and enter it often. When God talks in the Bible, it is God talking. When god talks in The Shack, it is Young talking, and talking, and talking.
    It wasn’t the negative reviews that scared me but the gushing positive reviews. If after reading the Bible 20 times one short novel with a garrulous god “revolutionizes [your] view of God,” something is very, very wrong. Don’t get your theology from novels, dear Christians.

  11. Jen

    This story is an amazing example of God’s love for US, His children- those who are criticizing probably don’t understand the love God has for them- Christian or not. This is not a book of Theology, and it CLEARLY states that each person has their own story with God- hence, there not being wrath and extreme judgment here. That may be someone else’s story. The Shack is an amazing story of the love we feel so unworthy to receive and how God does not cause the harm in this world.

  12. Trish Pickard

    I was set not to like the book, The Shack but after reading it, I thought it was really good and thought provoking. All the time I read it, I kept thinking it needs a study to go along with it. I finally decided God was urging me to write a study which I did. If anyone would like it, email me at I would be glad to send you the study. You are welcome to use it and copy it for others.
    Trish Pickard

  13. Lucas Werneck (Brazilian)

    (Sorry, I dont spaek english. I´m Brazilian)
    Olá Mack!! Meu nome é Lucas Werneck, sou da cidade de Belo Horizonte, Brasil, e hoje acabao de ler o livro que conta a sua magnífica história. Acredito que você tenha passado por tudo isso que o livro conte. Mas, indepentende de ser verdade ou não, quero dizer que foi um prazer enorme e um aprendizado ainda maior ler essas linhas de pureza e divindade. Pude cmopreender muitas coisas que eu achava confuso. Sempre quis estar mais perto de Deus, e acho q nunca consegui chegar tão perto como agora. Agradeço a vocês por terem compartilhado essa história com o mundo.
    Sou brasileiro e quero mandar um abraço daqui para todos vocês.

  14. If ever there was a distortion of the TRUTH of God’s word, then I have to attribute this label to the ‘The Shack’.

    How any spirit filled, bible believing person can find any form of god in the ‘The Shack’ is beyond my comprehension.

    The writer lost a daughter, indeed, this is sad – considering the manner in which she was ‘taken’! And then the sympathy we parents feel at the loss of a child.
    ‘The Shack’s opening paragraph induces sympathy and emotion – it sets the scene for empathy, and then unleashes a FALSE god for the reader who is no vulnerable to the suggestions that the “Christian God” has been misunderstood and needs to be re-invented!

    If any reader wants to know about the TRUE and the LIVING GOD, READ the Bible – simple.
    Job lost his entire family! Did he ever lose faith in GOD?

    My Bible describes the ‘The Shack’ with these words…

    “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-36

  15. Rick

    Having just read The Shack, (I know, I’m a couple of years behind), the real problem here is “Theological Fiction”. Like sleeping pills and laxatives, theology and fiction are a bad, bad combination. Just ask Dan Brown. Regardless of the intent, if one spiritually weak person is swayed away from scriptural truth ever so slightly as a result of reading The Shack, then you couldn’t pay me enough to be William Paul Young. One word that is missing from this entire blog is “influence”. The outbound ripple effect is not always good. Just because a book is labelled fiction doesn’t get the author off the hook. In God’s eyes, He or she is always held responsible for the influence of the theological literary work they create, especially if they have eternal consequences.

  16. things that stir up controversy rarely deserve to…

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