The Shack: Part 4…I can go no further..
Let me preface this latest, and perhaps last, installment of my rambling thoughts surrounding The Shack by saying that, without regard to the negative reviews I have read, I wanted to like this book. I wanted to find an authentic depiction of a struggle with fundamental tensions regarding the nature of a good God in a world of suffering. However, my experience in The Shack thus far leads me to think I would be wasting my time to wade through to the completion of Young’s excretal narrative. My primary objections to Young’s thoughts are theological, rather than literary, though I have those objections, too.
As a follow-up to the previous installment on my review of The Shack, I think Young almost verges into the realm of tri-theism in his depiction of a Trinitarian God. It was a subtle issue for me because, if I were prone, quite honestly, to stray from orthodoxy, I would probably drift in that direction. Too, it is hard for me to define why I see such an aberration in The Shack, but I know it is there. I think my impression stems from the distinctiveness, the separateness of the personalities found in Young’s god. I also find the physical incarnation of all three members of Young’s trinity to be disconcerting and unbiblical.
Further thoughts and concerns regarding Young’s unfolding of the Trinitarian nature of God refer to the lack of hierarchy found in his trinity. At one point, Papa tells Mack, “We don’t need power over the other…Hierarchy would make no sense among us.” However, we find the Christ being obedient to the Father, even unto death, an obedience found in a hierarchy based on mutual love, not power, but a hierarchy non-the-less.
Further mutations to orthodox Trinitarian theology occur when Young depicts Papa, his female African-American incarnation of the Father, bearing scars of the Messiah’s crucifixion, bringing confusion to each member of the Trinity’s redemptive role in securing the salvation of His children. Here we find, without regards to my concern for his seeming tri-theism,Young perhaps swinging towards a kind of modalism wherein there is actually little ontological distinction between the members of the Trinity.
The key is this: if one thinks good theology is but of a peripheral concern when approaching books that are, even if nominally fictional, theological in nature, that make clear, but questionable, doctrinal statements about God, then I will not be able formulate a convincing case for my concerns. One will be content to simply find solace in the easy sentimentality found in the Shack without regard to this influential book being a theological train wreak.
I am at a decision point, and I decide this: I will lay The Shack aside, review it no further, for I find myself parroting the same concerns as other discerning readers and reviewers. As said previously, I am already bent towards an often unhealthy cynicism, and this type of reading feeds that part of me. I want to read, now, something to clean the cerebral palate. I will go back to reading some old, dead guy named Sibbes.