Reading: The Shack by William P. Young

I have been reading the best-selling Christian novel, The Shack, authored by William P. Young (2007).  I am just about done reading it and I’m finding it extremely engaging and stimulating.  I heard much about the book before but never ventured to get into it until recently.  I heard the author speak at a conference I attended this winter and was impressed by his approach to spirituality.  I have been challenged to view God in a more dynamic and engaging way than before.   We tend to have a static God—a God who never changes. But the God that this portrayed in The Shack is different from the way we traditional Christians have often viewed God.  It actually does theology in an extremely readable way that anyone can digest; however, it’s like a slow digestion taken in small bites. Some might find his portrayal of the personhoods of God as very unconventional–even bordering on the heretical.

6 thoughts on “Reading: The Shack by William P. Young

  1. Brian, I would have had trouble with it if this was a non-fiction theological book but since it’s just a novel, I can give it some slack; but I’m definitely for a Father God.

    TC, I hear you. I also have books on my shelf that I started but couldn’t go on for various reasons. The Shack can be a tough one.


    1. Brian,

      I think one challenge in talking about God as “unchanging” is that different people mean different things by this. For example, the Aristotelian notion of God (influential in Thomistic thought) conceives of Him as an “Unmoved Mover”, unaffected by the world around Him. Furthermore, many of the traditional formulations of the doctrine of God have been so careful to stress God’s immutability (and lack of dependence on His creation) that they have bordered on a “static” conception of God – largely untouched and unaffected by His creatures.

      On the other hand, more recent developments in process theology and open theism, reacting against this static view of God, have focused on God’s dynamic interaction with His creation. While this is a healthy corrective in some ways, it also tends toward de-emphasizing and/or limiting God’s other attributes (self-existence/sufficiency, omniscience, etc.). Thus, we get a God who indeed “changes” in response to His creatures, e.g., God “repenting” or changing His mind (Exodus 32:14; Johah 3:10), however, at the expense of His foreknowledge, etc.

      However, it seems that while both sides are right in much of what they affirm, they are wrong in much of what they deny. To say that God responds based on the actions of His creatures is *not* to make Him dependent on them, or to disqualify His unchanging nature. In fact, it is precisely because His *nature* does not change that His *responses* to His creatures do change. Because it is His nature to forgive repentant sinners, when we repent, He changes His stance of judgment toward us to one of forgiveness. Because it is His nature to respond to His people’s prayers, when we pray to Him, He “changes” what would have happened had we not prayed. But none of these imply a change in God Himself – only in His responses, rooted in His unchanging character, to contingent creaturely events.

      A great read on this is “God’s Greater Glory” by Bruce Ware.



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