The Shack

I enjoyed reading Wm. Paul Young’s book, The Shack, as a feel-good piece of fiction.

There is no doubt that God’s love is conveyed through its pages. Forgiveness as a means to healing, and to release one another from personal judgment so that God can deal with those who have committed crimes: these are concepts that I have long read and heard in church, and are based in Jesus’ own words (Matt. 6:12-15).

My longing for a heavenly Father who is quite fond of me was certainly fed through the dialogs between Papa, Sarayu and Jesus, no matter how strange that Papa should be portrayed as a Mama, and Sarayu as a Semitic woman. I appreciate the author’s use of these devices to challenge our comfort zones, though I wonder at the wisdom of what could seem like pandering to today’s “politically correct” landscape. I enjoyed the scenes that depicted God’s unity, and was especially struck by the notion that in order to give His Church the concept of unity in relationship, God had to have relationship within Himself (Gen. 1:26 ) already. That is well and good.

But to imply that Papa has the wounds of Jesus’ passion seems wrong, somehow. Scripture’s teaching on three separate Persons in One God shows us Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan: Jesus in the water, The Holy Spirit descending like a dove, and the voice of the Father saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:13-17) Again, at the cross, Jesus cried out to His father, “…why have you forsaken me?”(Mark 15:34).

God’s unity of purpose does not imply the sameness of the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit was on the scene all through the Old Testament, prior to Jesus’ incarnation (Psalms 51:11, Isaiah 63:10). The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil for 40 days (Luke 4:1). The Holy Spirit is the promised Comforter (John 14:16) whom Jesus promised to His disciples as they waited in the upper room (Acts 2:1-4), after Jesus death, resurrection and ascension.

Three separate Persons. As fiction, this book makes you feel good, and as long as readers understand it is fiction, then they may come away from the book feeling good about Papa, Jesus and Sarayu. However, there are enough biblical errors in this book that I feel it should come with a warning to readers: Search the Scriptures as you read this book, so you do not fall into error.

In the words of Paul, Silvanus and Timotheus, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thess 5:21

Pastora Covert

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