Thursday, March 19, 2009
Why is The Shack so Controversial?
Get a group of Christian together and start talking about the latest bestseller, The Shack by Paul Young....this mixture is sure to get you into controversy. It is like the hot topic of once saved always saved, is divorce a sin, or are you one in the flesh with your high school fling. Most people run like a tornado is coming from topics like this. I have been in one too many high tension Sunday School or Church discussions about these kind of topics.
So just as Contemporary Christian Music was storming through the Christian church shocking conservative denominations, so is the current FICTION book, The Shack. How can a book make so many people disagree? Could it be that people are trying to find Biblical truth in a fictional world? I think it largely is because we are not very literate in reading a wide genre of books.
I love the book, How to Read Slowly, by James Sire. This is a must read for high school, college and beyond. So many of us were never taught how to read various different genre. This book teaches how to read nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and all other kinds of context (like historical, biographical, etc.)
I happen upon a blog post today (http://mudsplats.blogspot.com/2009/03/shack-author-denies-biblical.html) entitled The Shack Author denies Biblical Substitutionary Atonement. Please feel free to read this post and comments that follow. (Now I want to tell you that I truly enjoy this blogger and author and I am not writing this to put her down. Susan has always been loving and kind-hearted. Anyway, Christians should not behave ugly.) I am grateful that Susan also posted the link for the original interview with The Shack author, Paul Young. http://rock-life.com/files/shakcomp.mp3
Unfortunately few people will click on it and listen to the interview. I will tell you ahead of time it is a poor quality interview done with Paul Young traveling through an airport on his cell phone. But if one wants to hear the author in his own words (I hope!) it gives you this opportunity.
These were my thoughts and comments: I agree with Sandy that it is always best to go firsthand. I read through several of the links...that linked to links...that never linked to the original transcript. I found when I was writing the past summer and fall on the political presidential campaign that I would never believe anything on a website unless I could find the original source. Christians, because we are followers and speakers of truth, need to be especially careful of a thorough fact finding before posting "information".
I did listen to the "radio interview, which is the actual interview with the author of Shack, Paul. I also have the advantage of reading Shack, and understanding that it is FICTION. The published book wasn't intended to be theology, or "the Bible". And it is clear in the interview that many of the more theological parts in the original book Paul wrote for his children (15 copies printed at an office store), so we don't have the whole book that Paul gave to his children.
What I found interesting about the interview is the pre-interview comments. Before Paul Young was on the show, the host made comments about how the book, The Shack, was not Biblical and made quote/page number from the book. This is a slanted way of starting an interview. I was leery that the interviewer was going to try to trap the author into saying something sensational or non-Biblical because of the approach to the setup for the interview.
I did write down the exact words Paul Young stated from the radio interview regarding a question about what he thought ultimate reconciliation to God was - "To me, everyone was included in what Jesus did on the cross, Father, Son, Holy Spirit did on the cross, that we are all included in that. He didn't die for just a few of us. And that the path of salvation was absolutely accomplished. Many of us aren't excited about a relationship. I mean we don't want to let go of our idols, our own self-centeredness..."
I know my theology pretty well. I can always learn something new from God or a wiser Bible Teacher. But I find Paul Young's statements to be quite Christian. I don't follow a person, though, I read the Bible and follow God for my understand of Biblical concepts. I don't expect Mr. Young to get everything right about theology, and you know, he doesn't present himself to be someone that is a Bible teacher or know it all. He is simply a great writer that wrote a book using an allegory format in a book about dealing with tragedy in life...and looking to God for answers. He isn't giving the answers...he is wanting everyone to know God is the source of love and understanding...and that God is the great I AM...I AM what you need.
March 19, 2009 5:42 PM
I also want to say that Young's other comments on the interview..like he doesn't believe in a physical hell or whatever else he may say...he clearly states he is not teaching and not a expert on dogma of the faith.
Susan gave a wonderful response on her site, so please check it out. http://mudsplats.blogspot.com/2009/03/shack-author-denies-biblical.html
I really just want to express that God and His Word, the Bible, is the only place we should be looking for being able to understand who God is since the Bible is His firsthand account. If we want truth, we need to go to the original source...not a link about a link about a link or another source. Everyone can get their "theology" wrong, except for God Himself.
So if you dare to adventure into fictional reading, The Shack is a great story that has been healing and helpful to many people because it allows God to come out of the "churchy definition" and sets Him free to be God... Make it clear, I am not saying this is a Biblical account of God in a story form, but it is creative and lets hurting people know that God will embrace them and be for them all that they need! He is the great I AM. I AM all you need or whatever you need. When we have a relationship with God, we don't need anything or anyone else.
This is another treasure that can be taken away from the fictional book, The Shack: God wants a real relationship with us. He wants to talk to us about what really matters to us and about our struggles to accept or understand. He wants to help us heal, and to know we are loved. He wants a one on one relationship with each and every one of us.
If you want to learn who God is, read His book, the Bible!