Quotes from “The Shack”

{On March 5, I posted an article on my regular blogsite about “The Shack” (see here). I noted the following quotes when I read the book again just before seeing the movie by the same name which was released on March 3.}

William Paul Young, The Shack (2007), 250 pp. (This is the paperback by Windblown Media.)

Much of the book is a response to Missy’s question about “how come [God’s] so mean” (33).

Chapter 5 begins, “There are times when you choose to believe something that would normally be considered absolutely irrational. It doesn’t mean that it is actually irrational, but is surely is not rational. Perhaps there is suprarationality: reason beyond the normal definitions of fact or data-based logic; something that makes sense only if you can see a bigger picture of reality. Maybe that is where faith fits in” (69).

Mack meets Elousia (“Papa”), Jesus (Yeshua), and Sarayu (the Hindi word that means the same as ruach, the Hebrew word for wind/air/spirit/Spirit). Mack asks which one of them is God. “‘I am,’ said all three in unison” (89).

When Mack first talks with Elousia about Missy, she said, “I want to heal the wound that has grown inside you and between us.” And then, “Life takes a bit of time and a lot of relationship” (94). The importance of relationships is stressed a lot in this sixth chapter.

In some ways the book is quite Jesus-centered. Elousia tells Mack that “the truth shall set you free and the truth has a name; he’s over in the woodshop right now covered in sawdust. Everything is about him. And freedom is a process that happens inside a relationship with him” (97).

Elousia tells Mack, “I am far more . . . above and beyond all that you can ask or think” (100). A little later, “To begin with, that you can’t grasp the wonder of my nature is rather a good thing. Who wants to worship a God who can be fully comprehended, eh?” (103).

The Incarnation is presented on page 101: “When we three spoke ourselves into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human. We also chose to embrace all the limitations this entailed.” And then, “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 [p] being.”

Then Elousia talks about Sarayu: “She is creativity; she is action; she is the breathing of life; she is much more. She is my Spirit” (112).

In the eighth chapter, Elousia explains to Mack, “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it” (122).

Elousia also talks about human freedom, and she says to Mack, “But your choices are also not stronger than my purposes, and I will use every choice you make for the ultimate good and the most loving outcome” (127).

Chapter 11 is a pivotal one, and a type of universalism is presented in it. Mack is brought before a “judge” [and I was not clear who she was or represented, but in the next chapter she is identified as Sophia, “the personification of Papa’s wisdom” (173)]. She says to Mack, “You believe [God] will condemn most to an eternity of torment, away from his presence and apart from his love. Is that not true?” (164). Mack agrees that it is—and then she goes on to emphasize how God loves all his children just like Mack loves each of his children. She says, “You have judged them [his children] to be worthy of love, even if it costs you everything. That is how Jesus loves” (165). Shortly after that she says, “Nothing is as it should be, as Papa desires it to be, and as it will be one day.”

There is a definite “other-worldly” emphasis. Near the end of the eleventh chapter, Mack gets to see Missy in the “afterlife,” although she cannot see him. The judge says to Mack, “This life is only the anteroom of a greater reality to come. No one reaches their potential in your world. It’s only preparation for what Papa had in mind all along” (169).

Jesus says to Mack, “I’m not too big on religion, and not very fond of politics or economics either. . . . What mental turmoil and anxiety does any human face that is not related to one of those three?” (181).

At the end of chapter twelve, Jesus says, “Remember, the [p] people who know me are the ones who are free to live and love without any agenda” (183-4). When Mack asks, “Is that what it means to be a Christian?” Jesus replies, “Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian” (184). Then in references to others, Jesus says, “I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my
Beloved” (184).

“Does that mean,” said Mack, “that all roads will lead to you?” – “Not at all.” Jesus smiled . . . . “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you” (184).

In the next chapter Papa says to Mack, “Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I needed it to accomplish my purposes” (187).

Mack admits to Papa that he “always liked Jesus better than you. He seemed so gracious and you seemed so . . . “And then Papa breaks in, “Mean? Sad, isn’t it? He came to show people who I am and most folks believe the qualities he portrayed were unique to him. They still play us off like good cop/bad cop most of the time, especially the religious folk” (188).

A little later Papa states, “Faith does not grow in the house of certainty” (191).

Then as a part of the book’s theodicy, Papa explains to Mack, “All evil flows from independence, and independence is your choice. If I were to simply revoke all the choices of independence, the world as you know it would cease to exist and love would have no meaning. . . . If I take away the consequences of people’s choices, I destroy the possibility of love. Love that is forced is no love at all” (192).

At the end of the 13th chapter, Papa emphasizes that “through [Jesus’] death and resurrection, I am now fully reconciled to the world.” Then, in responding to Mack’s rejoinder, Papa says, “All I am telling you is that reconciliation is a two-way street, and I have done my part, totally, completely, finally. It is not the nature of love to force a relationship, but it is the nature of love to open the way” (194).

In the next chapter Sarayu says to Mack, “I have a great fondness for uncertainty. Rules cannot bring freedom; they have only the power to accuse” (205).

In the 16th chapter Papa explains to Mack, “I don’t do humiliation, or guilt, or condemnation. They don’t produce one speck of wholeness or righteousness, and that is why they were nailed into Jesus on the cross” (225).

When Mack talks about his wanting to get revenge on the man who killed Missy, Papa talks about redemption and says, “Forgiveness is not about forgetting, Mack. It is about letting go of another person’s throat” (226). She also explains, “Forgiveness does not establish relationship.” And she says that forgiveness is first of all for him, “to release you from something that will eat you alive, that will destroy your joy and your ability to love fully and openly” (227).

In talking more about forgiveness, Papa says that “forgiveness does not excuse anything” (228).

Later Papa says to Mack, “Don’t ever discount the wonder of your tears. They can be healing waters and a stream of joy. Sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak” (230).

Not long before leaving the shack, Sarayu says, “Mack, if anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again” (237).

 

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About Leroy Seat

* Born in Grant City, MO, on 8/15/1938 * Graduated from Southwest Baptist College (Bolivar, MO) in 1957 (A.A.) * Graduated from William Jewell College (Liberty, MO) in 1959 (A.B.) * Graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY) in 1962 (B.D., equivalent of M.Div.) * Received the Doctor of Philosophy degree in theology from SBTS. * Baptist missionary to Japan from 1966 to 2004. * Full-time faculty member at Seinan Gakuin University (Fukuoka, Japan) from 1968 to 2004. * Adjunct professor at Rockhurst University from 2006 to 2014.
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