William Paul Young
When The Shack came on the scene (published in 2007 but became a bestseller in 2008) it took the Christian literary world by storm. Book clubs devoured it, Sunday School classes discussed it, millions read it. Some dismissed the novel as false theology and heretical; others embraced it. Certainly, the novel possesses the potential to up-end the traditional conventional way of viewing and thinking about God.
To briefly summarize the story, Mack, the main character, has struggled for years to overcome his grief over the murder of his daughter. He is a bitter man and has no place for God in his life. One day, he receives an invitation from “Papa” to come spend a weekend with him at a remote location. Mack is reluctant, but his curiosity gets the better of him and he goes. There, he meets God as the Trinity. The Father, or “Papa,” is a robust African-American woman, the Holy Spirit is a lithe ethereal Asian gardener named Sarayu, and Jesus is a kind Middle-Eastern carpenter (no surprise on that last one.) These three characters love Mack and tenderly help him face his pain, grief, and anger, as well as help him solve the mystery of his daughter’s death. The result of the ordeal is that Mack comes to know God in a completely different way.