Discussions on The Shack

Last night, I had a great time leading over 100 people in discussions on the book, The Shack by William Paul Young. Thanks to all of you who were there.

You can find the handout, notes and schedule that I had prepared before the class at this link. Feel free to use it to lead a class of your own or for your own information.

One of the best parts of the class was the opportunity to respond to questions from those who were there. Below you will find all the questions that were asked by the group. Look for my response to questions beginning today and continuing on Monday.

So the collective wisdom of the crowd led to these questions in no particular order:

  • When did the vision take place? (when did it begin – at mailbox or at car accident)
  • What was the significance of red spots on rock when they found her – any Christian signifiance?
  • How does the church react to the portrayal of the Trinithy and their characteristics? i.e. God as a black woman, the group as a fun loving, joking entity as a whole.
  • Is there a part of the book that may be theologically incorrect?
  • Explain the character of the Holy Spirit Sarayu.
  • Comment on the books view of the trinity and perspective on lack of hierarchy.
  • The book’s viewpoint on eternal consequences is challenging and hard to accept.
  • Where would this book misguide (mislead) me in knowing God?
  • Would the church recommend this book to nominally religious people?
  • Why was God a woman? Why did He reveal Himself that way?
  • A lot of people suffer in grief… What about Mack’s opportunity to view his daughter after her passing?
  • What is the background of the author?
  • Why do you think Mack didn’t take his wife to the shack?
  • From your perspective, what aspects of the book are not compatible with Methodist theology and tradition?
  • Does the church have any problem with Poppa being portrayed as a woman? And is She really a good cook?
  • Does the church have a problem with all of the members of the trinity being on equal standing?
  • Was the accident before he went to the Shack? (Friday vs. Sunday)
  • Is it sacreligious to put God in another form? (for instance, Papa as an African American woman)
  • What is your perspective as clergy regarding the comment that this book is dangerous for “babes in Christ?”
  • Where does it not fit into theology?
  • What mentioned theological things did you disagree with?
  • Responsibility named in the BIble?
  • P. 205 – Does religion use law to empower itself and control people?
  • Was this a dream? a vision? or reality?
  • How do you like how the trinity was presented?
  • Do we expect too much of people we love? Agree or disagree
  • Why was Papa (God) against organized religion?
  • What was the significance of the description of the characters?
  • How was shack transformed from place of evil and Missy’s suffering and death into a place of God’s sanctuary and salvation?
  • Was it a dream or did it really happen?
  • What was the author’s purpose of giving to the character’s their role, name, etc. so out of the unusual than what we would normally think of?
  • Why did she call him Papa?
  • What was the author’s denomination?
  •  What gave him the idea for the story had he experienced something in his background – autobiographical?
  • What theology do you feel does not align in the group?
  • P 99-100 What was Jesus true nature while on earth with regard to healing?
  • Papa being a female. Why?
  • Why was food so important?
  • Elaborate on noun verse verb? pg 205-206
  • Elaborate on being a Christina? pg 183-184
  • Explain who Sophia is?
  • Thoughts on God being depicted as a woman.
  • Was Mack’s experience a dream or did God suspend time?
  • Where the book conflicts with the UM beliefs?
  • What does “The Shack” represent?
  • Why doesn’t God make Himself more real and visible to us like He does in the book?
  • How do we cultivate and accept that kind of intimacy with God? (cooking, eating, etc.)
  • When we die will we see and will God present in accordance with our personalview of how we envision him / her?
  • Does God punish evil on earth or does he / she wait until the evil doer is judged or dies (Chapter 11)
  • How do you think the author came up with the characters to represent God, Jesus and Spirit?
  • What is your response / opinion of when Mack asked Missy if she was in Heaven and she said she “was in the waiting room.”
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