Monday, April 14, 2008

What's Going On in The Shack?

The Shack, by William P. Young, is gaining popularity rapidly. I was first introduced it through a sermon I listened to on my iPod last week, and then was asked about it by a member of our church. Having been confronted with this controversial book twice in one week, I felt it neccessary to address the issue myself. This is not a book that I would reccommend. The views of God portrayed are heretical and dangerous. The only redeeming quality is its attempt to deal with pain, suffering, and evil in our world. Warning: this is a very short review, time does not permit me to address this at length (nor do I consider the book worth that much time and effort).

The book cover says that The Shack is "Where tragedy confronts eternity." Indeed, the author does address tragedy and its implications in our world and in eternity as well.

However, the author also refers to God as, A large beaming African American Woman. The Holy Spirit is a small, distinctively Asian woman, and Jesus is, a middle eastern man dressed like a laborer.

We can all agree that his assessment of Jesus is dead on, but the fictional view of God is nothing short of heresy. First, the Ten Commandments specifically point us away from any graven image of God...a person of any sort is a graven image. Secondly, though God has no gender because he is Spirit, God has determined for himself that he would be referred to in the masculine sense. Jesus did not pray, Our Mother... Jesus prayed, Our Father who art in heaven.

I think, however, that this error as well as most of the others in the book can be summed up in the author's words. Reporting a conversation between God the Father (the large African American woman confusingly called Papa and referred to throughout the book with interchangeable pronouns him and her) and Mack, the main character, Papa says this to Mack, That's okay, we'll do things on your terms and time. This concept is foreign to Scripture. God operates on God's terms because he is God. It is we, the creatures, who are called to submit to his terms.

When we make the decision that it is God and not we who submit, then our hermeneutic allows for God to be female because the Bible and God himself is made in our image and not we in his as the Bible plainly shows. I do not reccommend this book, but if you choose to read it, I would love to hear your comments. Apparently some people love it, I was personally disappointed to see the people who reccommend the book on the cover...As orthodox Christians we should always be careful where we give our stamp of approval.

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