I was going to make this a comment on Joel's blog but since it kept getting longer and longer I decided to post my own blog and share my impressions of The Shack. I'm really glad Joel brought up this subject. First, I'd like to share some background information.
I’ve been involved with Wayne Jacobsen’s ministry for about 2-3 years. I knew about The Shack when he first read it. I even got to vote on the cover design before it was published. Wayne and Brad spoke frequently about the book on their podcasts and they spoke very highly about it so my excitement was stirred up. I got the book several weeks after it was published. By that time, several people on Wayne’s forums had read it and the reports were glowing so I read it with the highest expectations. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. Since the glowing reports kept coming in, I assumed I had missed something on the first reading so I decided to read it again and I did. Being goal oriented, I forced myself to finish it.
I’ve said it on Wayne’s forums so I don’t mind saying it here. I would not recommend the book to anyone. I don’t initiate conversations about the book since I don’t want to discourage anyone who might read it and enjoy it. I really have tried to find out what people like about the book but most of the comments are so vague that they’re not helpful. I’ve only gotten a couple of specific comments that have helped me to understand why those individuals are so taken with the book. I try not to share my thoughts about it unless someone else brings it up because I've sensed some defensiveness about it. Not from Wayne but from others who love and have commented about the book. I don’t think that’s a problem here so I feel I can freely share my thoughts. I hope I don't offend anyone who may have enjoyed the book.
I’m sure now everyone is wondering what I didn’t like about the book or if I’m one of those doctrine police Wayne talks about. Definitely not! I think very highly of Wayne Jacobsen as I do Paul Young and Brad Cummings. As a matter of fact, Wayne is going to be in S. C. for the first time this week-end and I plan to go meet him and spend time with him and the others who will gather there. I can't wait. I've been praying about meeting Wayne for a long time now.
My problem is that I just don’t like Paul’s style of writing. I don’t think symbolically so I couldn't figure out most of what he was trying to say. I much prefer someone to just say what they mean without me having to figure out what their intentions were. That’s why I was hoping people would tell me specifically what they liked about the book so that I could learn it too. Apparently I needed an interpreter to help me understand it. I can be pretty thick at times so the problem may be with me and not Paul.
Also, I had problems relating to the characters and some of the situations. In my opinion, the parts of the book that were supposed to be very dramatic were rather cheesy. Again, the problem may be with me and not with Paul but I'm just being honest about my impressions.
I hope I haven't discouraged anyone from reading the book. Everyone is different and will react differently. There are people who I trust and respect who have been greatly impacted by the book. Perhaps I'm in the minority or maybe the ones who like it are more vocal. I don't know and it really doesn't matter.
What is important is that believers not let this book become a source of division. Paul, Wayne and Brad never meant it to be that. It's merely a book that shares one man's journey into a deeper understanding of Father's love. Joel quoted what Wayne said and I think I'll repeat it again. "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." I think that's good advice when reading any book or listening to any teaching.