Listen to my review of Wm. Paul Young's The Shack (10 minutes).

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What was cool

  • Nearly all the theology is orthodox (God, man, the atonement, righteousness judgment, justice, spirituality...)
  • Especially good is the exploration of the dynamics among the members of the Trinity.
  • Deity is neither male nor female, though he initially appears to the protagonist as female because his own father-wound is so deep.
  • The Shack helps us wrestle with the problem of pain, and often on a very personal and emotional level.

What was off

  • The notion that God does not punish -- that sin is its own punishment (p.122). While there is some truth to this point, the book misses the punitive aspect of divine judgment.
  • "Spending eternity in hell" (p.16) reflects traditional eschatology. For more, see Fudge, The Fire that Consumes, or my paper on Terminal Punishment.
  • It is implied, though not stated, that all roads lead to God (p.184). Sounds right in the modern ear; comes rather close to a "politically correct" take on tolerance, in contrast to Jesus' own teaching in Matthew 7:13-14.
  • Some will find overly literal interpretation of some of the poetic parts of the Bible (e.g. 136).


  • Reference to The Matrix (p.126). Compare "Papa" with "the oracle."
  • In Maori religion, the earth mother is called "Papa" (a complete coincidence).
  • This book will be of special interest to fathers, and in fact to anyone coming from a background of family dysfunction.


  • For those who value spiritually connecting with others, reaching out to unbelievers, this book is good news!
  • The book may be written in 2007, but it will be hot for a long time. The Shack is making many people think about God. May it continue to do so!