I wrote The Shack at the request of my wife, Kim. She’d asked, “Would you someday please write something as a gift for our kids that puts in one place how you think? Because, you know, you think outside the box.” She was referring to my lifelong struggle with conflicts between faith and religion, and to my work both theologically and personally as I searched for helpful ways to think about God and humanity. Later, after I delivered the Christmas present, she told me that she had been thinking four to six pages. Oh well!
Obviously, the book has become something much bigger than what I’d originally intended for a small audience. As of this writing, The Shack has sold around 20 million copies. For me, this whole adventure has been a God-thing, but not everyone views it this way. While that book offered alternative ways of thinking about God and humanity that resonated intensely with many, it also challenged deeply held assumptions and embedded paradigms. For some, this was not a God-thing or even a good thing. Occasionally, precious people took issue with the imagery and concepts. I understand their concerns about my writing and, even more, am aware of many of the reasons such apprehension exists.
There is the infamous page 184 (depending on your edition), which has been a topic of passionate conversation on many occasions. In the course of an exchange with the main character, Mackenzie, Jesus says,
“Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian.”
Allow me to give you some background for this statement.
The term Christian was originally an insult directed at the followers of Jesus, years after the resurrection.