Book Review: The Shack (Part I)


I’m at the half-way point reading The Shack, and this conversation, between the main character and God, stopped me in my tracks and was worth thinking over before moving on.

[God:] “Jesus is fully human. Although he is also fully God, he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being. He is just the first to do it to the uttermost — the first to absolutely trust my life within him, the first to believe in my love and my goodness without regard for appearance or consequence.”

[Mack:]”So, when he healed the blind?”

“He did so as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone.”

That came as a shock to Mack’s religion system.

[God:] “Only as he rested in his relationship with me, and in our communion — our co-union — could he express my heart and will into any given circumstance. So, when you look at Jesus and it appears he’s flying, he really is … flying. But what you are actually seeing is me; my life in him. That’s how he lives and acts as a true human, how every human is designed to live — out of my life.”

I’m with Mack. This is a thought I’ve never heard before, and even the possibility is a shock to my religion system. The teachings and beliefs I’ve been around my whole life are that Jesus was 100% God and 100% human at the same time, able to function as both. The root of that is Colossians 2:9, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”

I’m not saying that the idea presented in The Shack totally rejects that, yet it doesn’t fully embrace it either. In The Shack, it seems as if Jesus was God but he didn’t exercise that power, where perhaps my line of thinking has been that he was God but he could exercise his Godly powers if and when he needed to. So, when raising people from the dead, healing, walking on water, and all the other miracles he himself was doing so as God and the primary reason we can’t/don’t do those things is because we’re not God. Yet The Shack would say that the primary reason we can’t/don’t do those things is because we don’t have the same faith or commitment as Jesus.

While I can’t sort it through it all, what I do find amazing is the example of what our relationship with God is supposed to be, or rather could be. The next line in The Shack:

[God:] “A bird’s not defined by being grounded but by his ability to fly. Remember this, humans are not defined by their limitations, but by the intentions that I have for them; not by what they seem to be,  but by everything it means to be created in my image.”

Kinda makes me wonder what all I’m missing out on by not living up to his intentions.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Shack (Part I)

  1. I don’t see any reason that the answer couldn’t be both. I tend to lean toward the view of Christ as fully divine while on Earth. But I don’t see that it couldn’t also be true that we could do the same things, and the primary reason we don’t is that we lack the faith to do so. The apostles also performed many miracles through faith. We’re told that a mustard seed of faith can move mountains. And Christ said the church would do even greater things than He.

  2. Johnny says:

    Strictly my opinion…

    Regarding the spark that ignited your post, Jesus was and is fully divine but I speculate that he suspended the “omni-everything” expressions of his deity while here, operating day-to-day as we have to, setting an example for us and living out his “fully man” bona fides. As God, for example, he had no need to go off to a secret place to pray. I’m sure He could pray and carry on conversations simultaneously if needed. But he became a man to identify with us and I think he did that full-tilt, relying on trust in his father (with memory of his pre-incarnation existence as precedent), operating by the power of the Holy Spirit to perform both the mundane and the things beyond human ability – just as we should. But perfectly.

    I have generally understood things as David mentioned. Jesus frequently commented that his disciples (that includes us) could do all the things he did if they had faith and he actually seemed rather impatient with them when they failed to do so. They caught on later. They learned to trust God to do what was necessary in a given situation and were ‘prayed up’ to be ready to ‘perform’ at the appropriate time. We call them miracles but that’s how Jesus saw it – just his dad stepping in to handle something. We convince ourselves that all that stuff died with the apostles, that they were “special.” (Actually, didn’t they have a smaller leap to make because they’d actually witnessed miracles?) But there’s no scriptural reason for that position. Just our lowered expectations, I’m afraid.

    I always get convicted talking about this because I’m nowhere near backing it up. But it’s unavoidable.

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