The Shack

A few weeks ago, I loaded up the car with a stack of articles by Forsyth, some great Aussie Merlot, a bottle of Laphroaig, some warm clothes, and a new novel, The Shack by William P. Young, and headed off for a few days on the beautiful Isles of Lewis and Harris. Every time I have a wee holiday I take a novel, and I am yet to be disappointed. To be sure, the book (which has its own website) does not live up to the hype on the cover, and Young is certainly no Dostoyevsky, or Bunyan, but what it lacks in artistry it makes up for with odd flashes of theologically-insightful prose which paints the divine perichoretic life as you’ve never seen it before.

Now I won’t spoil the plot, so here’s just a wee taster:

‘In seminary he had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects. It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerners’ access to God was mediated and controlled by the intelligentsia. Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?’

‘I suppose since most of our hurts come through relationships so will our healing’.

‘Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive’.


  1. Jason,

    I’m finding myself in a little need of help on the word ‘perichoretic.’ For some reason it is not in my dictionary or Any help would be nice because I might like to work into my every day conversation or at minimum this Sunday’s sermon. Thanks in advance.



  2. Jerry,

    It’s the adjective that corresponds to the noun ‘perichoresis’.

    The OED defines it as ‘Of, relating to, or characterized by perichoresis’, and then proceeds to give the following two examples:

    1. 1992 Irish Theol. Q. 53 The unity of the trinity is..a perichoretic unity in which the persons ‘indwell’ one another.

    2. 1998 Church Times 25 Sept. 16/3 A systematic account of the ecclesial community modelled on Trinitarian personhood as essentially relational and perichoretic.

    I hope that that helps.

    BTW. Have you read the book? If so, what did you think of it?



  3. Jason,

    No I haven’t read it. I’m currently on the list for a book called Half of a Yellow Sun. I’ll see if the library has it and I’ll get it and read it. I made a decision this year to start branching out my reading into the arena of novels. Sounds like this would be a good excuse to continue that adventure.

    Thanks for the definition. It does help and I appreciate your time.



  4. I loved the book, regardless of the question marks various theological statements raised in my mind. I’m not too well read, but I reckon it is exactly what the Evangelical world needs: a vision of God as a community which is intrinsically beautiful, a relationship to be entered into and then to be passed on, one that takes into account the wholeness of creation. It seems to me that making his starting point the “Immanent Trinity” was a brave and creative move, seeing as your average church member will have little concept of what God is like in his inner life.


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