Uv Book Group Questions - The Shack By William P Young

Posted at 02:43am on 22nd April 2009


7.30pm Thursday 23rd April 2009

The Shack By William P Young


  • What do you think of the style in which the book is written?
  • Can you identify the theme of the book?
  • The book was originally self-published and, it has been said, would have benefited from editing. Do you agree?
  • Following is a comment left by the reader of a review of The Shack. Would you agree that this sums up the plot?
The main character seems to be going through a psychic metamorphis (SP) of sorts….Mac has a cruel father. Mac, as a child runs away from home after poisoning his fathers liquor bottles, and finds a wife that has more mother-like qualities than spouse qualities…he comes to the shack with anger towards a Father God who has allowed the horrific death of his child…he is greeted by a motherly figure called Papa, in place of the “traditional” father God…the mother, as his wife has, can communicate with Mac, Mac hears his own thoughts, and they are comforting….in the end the mother is replaced with a middle aged man (Mac himself) and the oepidal complex (Mel’s notes: Oedipus complex – identified by Freud – is the subconscious sexual desire of a – usually male – child for its mother and consequent exclusion of its father) is complete. He has replaced his earthly father (killing him and marrying a mother figure) and then replaces his Heavenly father (with a mother figure, then himself). The cycle is complete, the complex remains.
  • Do you think these images are helpful a) to Christians; b) to non-Christians.
  • Depending upon what you answered in Q2, why do you think the book has become so popular? (The theme is stated as “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?”).


  • Did you find the book enjoyable / beneficial / inspirational? If so, how / in what way? (A ‘No’ answer will be dealt with later).
  • Thinking of other examples of allegory – e.g. Narnia Chronicles (C.S.Lewis); Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan) do you think this a good medium in which to convey spiritual mysteries? a) to Christians? b) to non-Christians? (A ‘No’ answer will be dealt with later).
  • How do you think this story might have a positive effect on non Christians?
  • Has the story helped you to talk to non-Christians about the Gospel?


  • Are there inherent dangers in interpretation of allegory a) on the part of the author? b) on the part of the reader?
  • Do you think the book’s popularity is due to an emotional reaction rather than a reasoned or spiritual response?
  • If so, what does this tell you about its readers? Do you think they - Christians and non-Christians - are searching for a God they don't find elsewhere?
  • Following is a review of the book. Would you agree with the conclusions and if so, how? (This link accesses the entire argument)
The Shack has been received among Christians with decidedly mixed reviews. While many have acclaimed it as a groundbreaking story that brings to life heart-stirring theology, others insist that some of what it teaches is patently unbiblical.
  • Does the following statement make you feel uncomfortable? If so, why?
Where Eugene Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver says it “has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim Progress did for his,” Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says, “This book includes undiluted heresy.”


  • Did you come tonight with firm opinions – either positive or negative - about the book?
  • Will you be leaving, tonight, with those views unchanged?
  • If not – i.e. you are now either more positive or negative about the book – will that help your personal walk with God?
  • Will the shaping / reshaping of your views help you to challenge non-Christian perspectives in a positive and helpful way?

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