I read The Shack by William P. Young in 2008, not long after it came out. Lots of people were reading it and then the controversy began — people calling it heretical, unbiblical, etc. I reread it about six years ago when my oldest son asked me to read it with him.
I liked the book and people can call it heretical, unbiblical or anything else they want to call it, and they can criticize it all they want and I will still like the book.
Now my husband and I saw the movie about a week and a half ago, and I like the movie too. I think the movie did a pretty good job of staying true to the book, but two things I think were brought out even stronger in the movie were (1) how judgmental people are about even the smallest things, and (2) the message of the need for and power of forgiveness.
Now I will tell you why I like both the movie and the book and don’t find it heretical or unbiblical, etc. People tend to put God in a box, but if we really believe what we read in the Bible, have experienced or witnessed miracles, and have seen the power of prayer in action, we should know that God has infinitely more power than we give Him credit for.
One of the biggest issues people have with The Shack is that God is portrayed as a black woman. Unfortunately, I don’t think this was explained well in the book. However, I did some research on William P. Young after reading The Shack the first time when all the controversy was at its peak and learned that he had been abused as a child, and the one person he could trust and who took care of him was a black woman. In the movie, they showed the main character, Mack, remembering his childhood and his father abusing him. Then when he faced tragedy in the movie and he was in The Shack with God, God appeared to him as a black woman because “you aren’t ready for a heavenly father yet”.
As someone who was rejected and abandoned by my birth father and mentally and emotionally abused by my stepfather, I completely understand this. I had faith in God for a long time and have always been a praying woman. However, it took me years to accept that God is a loving heavenly father who loved me unconditionally.
Besides, didn’t God appear to people in the Old Testament in different forms? He appeared to Moses in a burning bush. He also appeared as a pillar of cloud and as a blinding light.
I am just as guilty as anyone else for sometimes putting God in a box, but when I really consider the power of my God, I know that He is infinitely more than I can imagine, and therefore, I believe He can present himself to those who need Him in any form He thinks best.