I am a new member of the Catholic Book Club. I need the “ex cathedra” opinion about the book “The Shack” by William P. Young. This book, I feel, made me a better person. But is the book in agreement with our Roman Catholic Faith? God bless you.
I’ve read the book and I thought it told a good story of having faith and about facing what we are afraid to face in our past.
I would say theologically, the way the Trinity was presented does not appear consistent with the teachings of our Catholic faith (i.e. God the Father / God the Holy Spirit would not appear “in the flesh” in the same sense as Jesus).
Having said that, I don’t believe the story pretends to present itself as a real situation that could happen. For example, I never got the sense that this could actually happen to someone in the way the story presented itself. I always sensed that it was a fictional story not likely to take place in our real world experiences.
A rather interesting book. The basic premise is the reality of Adam and Eve, and the results of their actions. But the book has more then a wiff of Universalism, that one does not need to believe in the trinity for salvation. This has upset quite a lot of Catholics.:bigyikes:
After reading this, I would suggest it to readers, but remind them that this IS fiction. It IS intended to explore the problems of Good And Evil, how a loving God exists in a world of misery and suffering.
And there is a strong accent on FOREGIVENESS. In fact, the main reason God invited the protaganist to share a weekend with him was to develop is ability to forgive the man who murdered his daughter.:mad:
Not to forget what was done, not to condone what was done, but to forgive what was done.:gopray:
You do not have to agree with everything, or even anything, in this book.:tsktsk:
But keep an open mind as to what the author is trying to accomplish. It will make you think, even if you reject the premise, the storyline, and the conclusion.
Thanks for the prompt responses. You’ve confirmed some of my original feelings. What made me curious was one opinion I found on internet that the book is “a heresy”. I did not want to alter my beliefs by reading and accepting the messages delivered by the author.
I read the book and enjoyed it, and I agree with the comments of the others here. When I first started reading the book, I didn’t really “like” that they portrayed God as a woman, but then I came to change my view, that it is not really a female “person”/entity but rather the “feminine” aspects of God - such as “motherly”, nurturing, and all those sterotypical portrayals of what a female entails.
I like what BVM said and agree with their statement:
"But keep an open mind as to what the author is trying to accomplish. It will make you think, even if you reject the premise, the storyline, and the conclusion. "
In fact, in the book, God the Father explains why he felt he had to appear as a black female. Because the man he was trying to help would have been turned off by a Gandalf-style figure.
It had been hard enough to get the man to come to the Shack in the first place, as his free will had to be respected. To keep him there for the full weekend, still respecting his free will to leave anytime he wanted, required a mothering entity.
Likewise, Jesus and the Holy Spirit appeared in forms intended to reassure the man, not scare him off. This was explained in the book.
The implication might be that if God summoned YOU for a weekend, the three would appear in forms designed to reassure you, to comfort you, and to allow you to work with them on your spirituality.
(Sort if like the Science Fiction series of THE LENSMEN books. Mentor of Arisia appeared in a different form to every individual lensman, in ways that would reassure them.)
The book made a good point about many things. Sadly, I read it under really bad circumstances. I was in a “bible study” that was gradually destroying everything Christendom holds dear, and their prime vehicle to do so was the idea that “If you have a relationship with God, you don’t need scripture. Jesus is living, the bible is not and can therefore be wrong or outdated. Therefore, my personal beliefs and experiences with God trump anything found in that book (scripture).”
I saw a lot of abuse done in Jesus’ name with that ploy, and “The Shack” was used as their primary vehicle to do it due to two scenes that were very poignant to them. One was when the main character found a bible in his room where he was staying in this shack. I don’t have the exact quote, but I remember the character was described as laughing to himself about the absurdity and uselessness of scripture since he was in the presence of the Trinity itself. The second was earlier in the story when he refers to scripture as: “The gilt edged pages. Or was that guilt edged?”
Needless to say in my circumstances trying to steer these friends of mine BACK to scripture to they’d stop preaching pro-choice, pro-wealth (you’re poor or sick because of sin, and God wishes all his followers to be wealthy like we are!) rule bending, God only wants you to follow SOME laws, and it’s okay to live with someone/have sex before marriage because love is what really matters not a piece of paper, theology. It took another 6 months after we read that book, but my husband and I had to walk away. We still pray for them and keep in contact with those who are willing (yet are still part of that train-wreck) but we’re far away from that mess.
I don’t blame “The Shack” but you can see how I want nothing to do with it since it’s message provides ample opportunity to seriously warp Christianity. If people read it with a firm knowledge of scripture and an UNDERSTANDING that it is FICTION, then I think some good could come of it. However, I saw it used for terrible things.
I have read this book and even though it is fictional, I would have to say it could be a danger to readers’ faith. I don’t have a copy of the book with me so I cannot list them, however, there were many heretical views presented in the book. In fact, when I read this book I made a list as I was reading it. I believe it is a heretical book. Perhaps a good priest could confirm this view. As I understand it, many Christians from other denominations have made a similar claim.
I found it very tedious, probably because I have read so many good Catholic books. It would be good for people interested in reading this book to do some research about the author. He is not a practising Christian as I understand it. All sorts of problems with his previous church.
In my opinion we should seek out books that do not distract from traditional Catholic teaching, whether they be fiction or non-fiction.
[quote=dpgreen]…In my opinion we should seek out books that do not distract from traditional Catholic teaching, whether they be fiction or non-fiction.
I am debating with myself which of the two of you I agree with more. On one hand, I agree that as long as we have a firm faith, such a fictional story can help strengthen us and help us become better Christians. Such a story could even lead us to become a better Christian even if our Christian foundation isn’t as strong as it could be. A story like this could lead someone to seek God and become a true believer in Jesus Christ. On the other hand, some of the inconsistent teachings about Christ that are found in the story could actually lead someone away from Jesus Christ.
I have read other Christian authors who do not share my Catholic faith. CS Lewis comes to mind. From what I have found online, the author of “The Shack” was influenced by CS Lewis. Although I admire CS Lewis as an author and I believe his writings perhaps have influenced my own faith journey, I admit I do not agree with him on everything. The author of “The Shack” may have been moreso influenced with what I disagree about CS Lewis’s theology.
Honestly, if you’re debating between our two positions, know that our positions are the same. If you have a choice, build your faith on something better. I can’t recommend this book to any christian. Ever. Sorry, but I thought that was clear from my story of how the book was used to destroy christian belief in scripture.
You were clear in that you expressed your bad experience. However, you opened your statement that it made a good point about many things and you concluded by saying you don’t blame the book.
I acknowledge that you agree with dpgreen. Having said that, I got the impression from dpgreen that he did not find the book to make good points and that it is a danger to one’s faith. To find a book to be a danger to one’s faith is to take the position that blame is applied to the book itself (i.e. the author conveying the message). - at least that is how I view the difference between your two positions.
I am torn as to how damaging the book is. I understand the problem with it as you have conveyed it. And perhaps your only recommendation is that it is okay to read if you have no other choice. I tend to lean towards it being a book that could be read depending on where one is in his/her faith journey.
If you look up the Catholic Answers Live episodes with Sharon Lee Giganti, she discusses the book. Its chief problems are the inaccurate presentation of the Trinity and the way it almost reaches the point that sin doesn’t matter-- yes, God’s forgiveness is very powerful, but we are not supposed to presume on His mercy. It does matter whether we try not to sin in the first place.