There are so many reviews that have done a fine job of explaining the pros and cons of this book that I don’t feel I need to go into this for very long.
First, I’ll just say that after reading it, the picture of God’s sovereignty and reasons for ordaining that suffering be are attractive, though in my view, insufficient (see the book of Job or Romans 8 or John Piper for a better explanation). Also, the concept that God the Trinity is eternally happy in Himself (see Jonathan Edwards’ works) is refreshing. The emotional tug of the book (which made me cry at points, it really is a heart breaking story) gives great weight to its attractiveness in a culture absorbed in emotional appeal and presuppositions. Those emotional aspect of the book really caught my attention and I thought Young did a good job of making Mack’s situation enrapturing. I was really able to put myself in his shoes. And it is overwhelming considering the weight of that pain.
But the over-riding issues with the unbiblical portrayal of the Trinity in terms not prescribed in Scripture as well as the authors’ outright denial of penal substitutionary atonement (which does show up in the book implicitly) gives me grave concerns about how much people take away from it concerning what is actually true about God (given to us by none other than God Himself in Scripture). Of particular concern, for example, is the statement in the book that the Father (Papa) “doesn’t need to forgive sin”. He just loves us, without any regard for His justice and holiness that have been divinely and treasonously violated.
This and other statements, that are completely detached and empty of any comprehensive, Biblical truth, are dangerously close (if not equal to) the universalist claims of theological liberals that in the end, all people will be saved, when the book of Revelation (a prophecy of the end of time and judgment seat of Christ) is very clear that many many people will indeed go to eternal judgment. Jesus Himself was unequivocally clear on this in Matthew 7.
All that to say, if you read it, read it with a giant piece of kosher sea salt. Go into it knowing the author has some messed up unorthodox views and be aware of the universalism and denial of a core tenet of the Gospel.
Here are a few subsequent articles:
Shack Author William P. Young Denies Penal Substitution (MP3):
Cursed is Everyone Who is Hanged on a Tree:
The Shack is a Fictional Portrayal of God?:
A Position Based Purely on Emotions: