I am sorry to say that I am rarely surprised by new Christian titles – it’s not that they aren’t good, but just that I get what I expect. Not so with ‘The Shack’. This is the best Christian novel I have ever read; an absolute heart wrenching page-turner. The Shack is a breath of fresh air for the Church.
Young wrote the story for his children and despite several attempts, publishers weren’t interested. It took two friends and the establishment of a new publishing house, Windblown Media, to get the book into print. Now it is at number one in the Christian Retailing top 100 list, and rightly so.
The plot centres round Mack, a father distraught and depressed over the abduction and murder of his youngest daughter. Four years after the tragedy, he receives a note inviting him back to the shack where the crime was perpetrated. The author of the note is God.
Through beautifully-crafted encounters between the novel’s characters, Young deals with the hardest questions of the Christian faith: Where is God in suffering? Who is the Holy Trinity? And, how can we understand God’s justice and mercy? As a vicar and apologist I have longed to read something that not only makes rational sense but also resonates with the heart. Surely this is it.
I cried, I laughed, at points the theologian in me shouted, but ultimately my heart was enlarged by the awesome love of God. This book has increased my excitement about heaven, indeed it has revolutionised it. I can’t wait to eat pies with Papa! Read it and you will know what I mean.
High: Pretty much all of it. It’s one of those books that you want buy five copies of to hand out to friends.
Low: Should have been longer.
Reviewed by Rev Will Van Der Hart, co-director of Mind and Soul (www.mindandsoul.info) and asssociate vicar of St Mary’s, Bryanston Sq, London.