It took me quite a while before I was willing to write about this sticky topic. However, after seeing more and more people provide criticism. I wanted to share my thoughts. Now right off let me warn you. Some of you with a strong opinion on the topic may get mad or even upset with my point of view. Some may call me unchristian. Many of you will question my walk in Christ. Some will even try to send me article after article trying to change my mind. A few weeks ago I made one simple post on Facebook and I was overwhelmed with the “how dare I”, “please read this article or that” or the “I wonder about you”.
When the book The Shack came out a few years by Paul Young, there was a lot of controversy then and even now as the movie is to be released in just a few weeks. With knowing the movie was coming out this month, I wanted to read the shack again. This time instead of reading it, myself I ordered it on Audible so I could listen to it during my down time of the day. I have to say I am even more amazed now than ever before. The author uses powerful imagery to portray the trinity. Now let me first say this. The Shack is not “Thy Word” nor is it meant to be the Bible. I only wonder why people would try to believe this book to be truth. It is merely a fictional novel and nothing more. The shack goal is not to reach those (as Crystal Olmos writes in her blog) “seasoned” or “disciplined” Christians. I believe that it is speaking to those who are not walking with Christ or who maybe for those who question God or stumble in understanding who God is. I love how so many Christians and “Bible Scholars” call the book heresy. One person even wrote a 4-page protest for the book because it had God the Father in a form of a woman and not a “white man”…. Do WHAT!?! Really? Where does it state in scripture God is a white man… The author puts God the Father as an older African woman named Papa. The reasoning for this is due to the main character having issues with his earthly father and God wanted to present himself in a way that would make the most impact on the main character. I love what the books author did here. To be able to show the trinity in a completely new way that some of us could relate to and I believe that many out there can relate too. Is this not what C.S. Lewis tried to do with Aslan as a Lion in The Chronicles of Narnia, and so many others have done in other books and Christian films for years.
I know another large issue people had was a possible teaching of universalism when Papa says, “In, Jesus, I forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship.” I personally find this to be one powerful statement and one I will be bring up again in the next few weeks. I love the wording here he uses is “relationship” see I believe that is what it is really about. Not religion but relationship. Oh, I have so much to say about this topic but I am going to save it as this may just be part of an up and coming sermon I am working on. So, yes based on this one comment in the whole book, you could take it that there is universalism. As any form of language, I think it can be looked at different ways. However, it is important to understand the context. More importantly, I think we can go to the author for this one. Is this what he meant to say when writing? Did he mean we are all forgiven? Was it just a matter of misunderstanding or using the wrong words? I only wonder if the meaning behind this statement was the fact that all humankind can be forgiven but it is much more than just that it is about having a relationship with Christ. Many have questioned this statement but personally found a powerful truth about the Love and Grace of Christ found hidden in all of this. As the main character himself was in a time of questioning and understanding, how could God forgive someone as unworthy as himself? I could see and feel even in this fictional character healing take place in that very moment.
With everyone calling this book “heresy”, “anti-Christian” and “blasphemous” I only have to wonder if those are the people who need this book the most. Is there healing that needs to take place in your own lives. I know there has been times in my own life I have needed to come face to face with the fact that Christ is much bigger and beyond my imagination. He is not this cute little pet we stick in a box. My hope no matter what side of the road you are on with all this is that you will find the power of Christ, the healing of his hand and stand in amazement of who he truly is. I am excited to see this movie and hope that this film along with the book is able to reach people for Christ who are seeking. My prayer is John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”