Madeleine L’Engle in Walking on Water quotes Aristotle: “That which is probable and impossible is better than that which is possible and improbable.” Fiction works this way. We buy the boy riding the dragon (an impossibility) because the author has made it a probable occurrence in his novel. However, when a normal character does something that the author has not set up his character to do, even if it is something he could do, the reader doubts.
So what’s the point? My troubles with The Shack belong in this category. Mack keeps doing things that just seem improbable. I wish I were reading instead of listening as I can’t give you a direct quote, but Mack, racked with sorrow and depression, will hear something from God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit and all of a sudden all is well. And I don’t think God’s explanation answers Mack’s questions. In fact, God has promised a better explanation later about a couple of issues (hell and judgment), but as of yet, He (or should I say, she) hasn’t delivered. For me, Mack’s character is possible but improbable. And that makes The Shack less fun than this interesting theological treatise should be. I don’t want to be thinking, “Mack wouldn’t do that!” when I’m trying to wrestle with the theology of the book. For me, the writing distracts from the message.