I just finished reading "The Shack". My brother gave it to me about a month ago. He wanted to see what I thought because he had read it and had some misgivings about the content. I had several friends who had read it as well and loved it. So I set out to read it and form my own opinion. After completing it, I can say it had an affect on me. More so than I had anticipated.
For those people who are not sure about how they feel about God, it's a must read. As long as you take it as fiction and an allegory of your spiritual walk with God. I've had friends ask me, "Why, when bad things happen, does God allow it?" This book does the best job of explaining that than any other I have ever read. Especially for those that have not been raised on the Bible or been taught scripture.
The other topic I believe was explained clearly was the "relationship vs religion" aspect of God. So many people look at God as a religion. This book explains very clearly what it means to be in a relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Since the main character asked many questions of God that we all have asked at one time or another, the answers laid it out simply and clearly: it's not about following a religion, it's about having a relationship with God.
That said, there were a few things mentioned that I had a hard time swallowing. But, for the most part, I found most of the answers to be Biblically based.
Here's my favorite passage from the book:
Religion must use law to empower itself and control the people who they need in order to survive. I give you an ability to respond and your response is to be free to love and serve in every situation, and therefore each moment is different and unique and wonderful. Because I am your ability to respond, I have to present it to you. If I simply give you a responsibility, I would not have to be with you at all. It would now be a task to perform, and obligation to be met, something to fail. Let's use the example of friendship and how removing the element of life from a noun can drastically alter a relationship. If you and I are friends, there is an expectancy that exists within our relationship. When we see each other or are apart, there is expectancy of being together, of laughing and talking. That expectancy has no concrete definition; it is alive and dynamic and everything that emerges from our being together is a unique gift shared by no one else. But what happens if I change that expectancy to an expectation--spoken or unspoken? Suddenly, law has entered into your relationship. You are now expected to perform in a way that meets my expectations. Our living friendship rapidly deteriorates into a dead things with rules and requirements. It is no longer about you and me, but about what friends are supposed to do, ore the responsibilities of a good friend. Responsibilities and expectations are the basis of guilt and shame and judgment, and they provide the essential framework that promotes performance as the basis for identity and value. You know well what it is like not to live up to someone's expectations.
I've thought about this passage for days. I wish we could all grasp this in all of our relationships, not just with God, but with one another.
While you can't throw away the basic importance of gathering together with other believers for ministry, you also can't throw away the importance of that relationship with God. It's the basis of everything. There are some very excellent points made in this book. Organized religion may stand back and gasp, but, you can't discount the fact that there are many people who need to see that God is not a God of rules and regulations.
Decide for yourself. Pick up a copy and read it today. Let me know what you think,