For those who find William P. Young’s fictional book, The Shack, disturbing or offensive, I would ask you to browse this list of recent comments on the author’s blog and ask, “How can God touch the hearts of people all over the world with a book that I believe is theologically flawed, biblically inaccurate, or completely heretical?”
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you may be tempted to respond like my dad when I would beg to do something all my friends were doing: “Well, if everyone jumped off the bridge, would you jump, too?” I may have used that line a few times with my own four children. But remember the words of Scripture that “in an abundance of counselors, there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14, ESV). And right now, I would say the overwhelming response from fellow believers (not heretics) all over the world is amazingly positive. So I’m just encouraging you to think again, to put aside any rigid theological constructs you might embrace and simply read The Shack with a fresh pair of eyes, asking God to reveal Himself to you through the fictional story of William Paul Young.
I just got off the phone with my father after he finished The Shack (I asked him to read it after I did so we could discuss it). My father is also a Pastor. He was raised in a culture steep [sic] with legalism but it was never prominent in his heart. In fact, he is the most gracious man I have ever known and has always encouraged me to err on the side of grace. By nature, I tend to attract to legalismâ€”grace is far harder for me to grasp though I cannot blame my precious family for this. Because of this, The Shack shook me up in many ways though I was so deeply moved by it. I wanted dad to read it as a â€œdoubleâ€ check. Verdict is in. He is buying more copies to distribute. I end this post unstumbled and touching the Son at Calvary.
Is it possible? Have you ever considered yourself to be attracted to legalism by nature and, conversely, offended by the lavish, unfathomable grace of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? I know that’s the natural tendency of my own heart and mind, having been raised under “hellfire and damnation” preaching in the Deep South, then soaked in Reformed theology until completely pickled (well, almost). Those times when the Spirit of God has moved over my soul in powerful times of refreshingâ€¦well, I must admit that I’ve sometimes reacted with embarrassment or suspicion that I was just going soft, so to speak.
This book, like Mel Gibsonâ€™s movie The Passion of the Christ, is the most powerful revelation of Godâ€™s love that Iâ€™ve encounteredâ€¦ except for those times He spoke to me and gave me peace beyond understanding. Iâ€™m going back through The Shack with a highlighter and am letting God speak to my heart about His love and His will for my life.
The Shack edifies scripture, but doesnâ€™t compromise it. While the Bible can sometimes seem sterile, The Shack reveals Godâ€™s love and wisdom in ways I can comprehend. True, the book is but a pale shadow of an indescribable God; but God truly is using this book to inspire and to communicate His love for every one of us.
I’m not afraid to admit that I wept through The Shack, so much so that I would read it alone so my wife and family wouldn’t see the tears and hear the loud, convusive sobbing that often overwhelmed me in certain passages of the book. And though I’ve read the book half a dozen times, I still find myself moved to tears and deep humility when I read specific conversations that take place between the main character and the three manifestations of the Trinity. It has done something in my own heart and soul that I really can’t explain; and the tangible results have been a deepening relationship with my dear Father in heaven, the Lord Jesus, and the incomprehensible Holy Spirit.
So I do hope you’ll read through some of the comments on Paul Young’s blogâ€¦the unsolicited outpouring of joy and thanksgiving from our spiritual family scattered to the four ends of the earth. These brothers and sistersâ€”and myself includedâ€”believe that God is using a small paperback book to bring healing, understanding, and even salvation to those who might be seeking the type of loving father they’ve never known before.