Monday, October 27, 2008

The Shack

When I was in Regent in June there was a lot of talk about a new book called The Shack. Much has been spoken, written and said about this book but I thought I'd add my two pence worth anyway.The Shack book cover

To be honest I fail to understand why people are getting so hot and bothered about it. It is a story, a real page turning story; it is not a theological text book. People are only going to get in trouble if they start reading the bible in light of the shack rather than reading the shack in light of the bible. I wonder if C.S. Lewis got as much flack over the Chronicles of Narnia as William Young has over the shack? Because in my head the two books are comparable in that the authors are using fiction to help us understand something of God's character as revealed in the Bible and history.

I can understand why the some people are uncomfortable with the way the author represents God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, but in my thinking the author has picked representations that will rattle his readers the most. And that should lead us to ask why are we so rattled? I do not think that the author is not saying that God is black female who likes to cook, rather that if God so chose He could chose to communicate to us in any form that He sees fit. Why does that bother people so much?

What made me uncomfortable was what the author chose not to say about God. There is no mention of Jesus returning to judge the world. Now I recognise that in my own argument that the shack is not a theological text book so the author is never going to cover everything. But when talking about sin and its results it is Christ return that we should look to for setting the record straight once and for all. His return will bring about the renewal of creation, the end of all hurt pain, and that God will wipe every tear from every eye. This is our certain hope. But it will also bring eternal punishment for those whose sins are not covered by Christ death on the cross.

That being said there is much in the book that I found very helpful. Here are some of my favourite quotes:
"You try and make sense of the world in which you live based upon very small and incomplete picture of reality... you see pain and death as ultimate evils and God as the ultimate betrayer (because He lets it happen)... you don't think that I (God) am good" p126

"Grace doesn't depend on suffering to exists, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colours" p185

"Lies are a little fortress; inside them you can feel safe and powerful. Through your little fortress of lies you try to run your life and manipulate others. But the fortress needs walls, so you build some. These are the justifications for your lies." p187

"Do you realise that your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me (Jesus) there with you?" p142
It is the last quote that challenges me most. As a I prepare for another move I sometimes feel fearful. And when I do it is nearly always because I have made no room for God in my imaginings of the future.

So pick up a copy of the shack, it is well worth a look.

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