Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Shack Group

Over the past two weeks I’ve been attending a discussion group on William P. Young’s novel The Shack. This engaging, thought-provoking book plunges the reader head first into the problem of evil (Why do bad things happen to good people?). It’s a real page-turner, but I have some reservations about the theology behind the book. I also don’t like the way the author keeps the reader guessing, Is it true? Did it really happen? It’s gimmicky, at best. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

The discussion group has been a joy. It’s made up of young and old, Baptists and non-Baptists, ministers and lay people.  Most are white Americans, but there are also minorities, including some foreigners. Some participants are theologically conservative, others progressive.  Yet we’re all there for the common purpose of discussing the book, which means we’re talking about, and debating at times, what it means to believe in God.

In the book of Revelation, there’s an image of heaven in which those around God’s throne sing a new song:

Thou art worthy to take the book,

And to open the seals thereof:

For thou wast slain,

And hast redeemed us to God

By the blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation

And hast made us unto our God kings and priests

And we shall reign upon the earth.

I’m drawn to the fact that heaven is made up of a diverse group of people. In contrast, the churches I’ve attended for most of my life have been quite homogeneous, often intentionally so. Most Sunday mornings I worship in a sea of white, middle class, Republicans. Our common faith in Jesus Christ should unite us, not demographics. I want to find a church that looks a little more like heaven, or at least more like my discussion group. 


  1. God made us a very diverse group of earthly people: language, color, intelligence, appearance, etc. He loves us all the matter who or what we are...if we were all the same, we'd have nothing to talk about and we would always agree with each other. How dull!!! I love diversity. Thanks, be to God.

  2. Does anyone have a comment on "Why God 'causes' evil things to happen to good people?" Or, does God even cause "evil?" Or, if God permits evil to happen and God CAN prevent evil, but doesn't do so, then is God an accomplice to the evil deed?

  3. I believe that God does not cause or allow bad things to happen. I will not pretend to completely understand God and how the world works, but i do believe that evil things happen to people because from Adam's sin, we died in Christ and alive to the world, but by His grace, we can (and do) return to Him, through Jesus. Any idea that insinuates that God allows evil to happen, "just because" or that God does not have the power to prevent evil is contrary to God's word. Again, I will not assume to know or understand everything, but I do feel that this is the truth.

    ...May the power of the Blood of Jesus be with you.....

  4. Anonymous, I like your response @ 7:53p.m. Perhaps God is "capable" of evil, but chooses not to...otherwise we would not have complete freedom and independence. It is easy for us to "blame" God for things that go wrong, but it is incorrect for us to do that, in my opinion. We have a loving God who has achieved reconciliation, like we do through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you and peace be with you.

  5. I am a F.B.C. of D.C. "Shacker". I did read The Shack. My first thouhght is why do we need a book such as The Shack to get us to read about Jesus:)? Why not read the bible and discuss it instead of discussing The Shack. I suspect you all have an answere to my question. I just find it interesting that we all have a shelf full of these books and why aren`t we reading the original text? Mmmmm, are we dumbing down? Don`t get me wrong, i liked the book but it is just another book on the shelf. Where`s the beef!:) Steve

  6. Well, that is just the way God is! So, if we don't read the Bible, He gives another person the experience of his "relationship" with God. Then He lays it upon that person's heart to share with us...both those who read the Bible and maybe those who do not. Over 6 million have read The Shack, many have become closer to God and have had to face many questions...even expanding their beliefs about their own relationship with God. All this is good. Perhaps many will go to the Bible for answers, as I did, after reading the book. Praise God and thank you, Mr. Paul Young.