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I'm reading The Shack by William P. Young. For those of you grieving the loss of any sort, the questions that arise from that pain and the sometimes disjointed and disconnected feelings we have toward God in the aftermath of a such a loss... I would say, "Read The Shack."
This quote is from the back cover summary of the story:
"Mackenzie Allen Phillips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.Against his beter judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he find there will change Mack's world forever.In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!"
So, with that said, lay down all your preconcieved, religious notions about God, pain and the way tragedy occurs and read The Shack. A novel filled with thought provoking situations faced in the human realm everyday, and an offer to challenge those of us who would put God inside a box, framed only by the statement of faith in our denomination of choice without a relationship born of our faith and His Word. Is The Shack a book to base your doctrine and theology on? Not hardly. Nor would I venture to guess that its writer would want anyone to examine the book and base their faith solely on what he writes. I cannot even readily say that I agree 100% with the premise presented in the story - but it does make me think, search an ask of God what it is I have wrong about Him. And that makes the read much more worth it...
I believe the book presents the proposition of what would happen if we took our questions to God, and in the process stopped viewing Him in purely human terms. It is not for the faint of heart, and perhaps it is not for the unseasoned sojourner in the stream of this life we walk with God. In my heart, this book has provoked me to ask God what is a truth to take to heart and to comparitively place this book against the Scriptures for evidence of truth. It is something I always do.
When reading the book, "Hinds Feet On High Places," I discovered that the writer later turned to New Age relativism and left the roots of her faith founded in her as a child on the mission field. Does this insight make her allegory less of a story?
There are those who argue that Lewis' "Narnia" fiction or Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" bear the same striking marks of fantasy and absurdism where God is concerned. But that makes them no less valuable to us in the Christian world because we are required to dig in and learn more about God as a result of our perusal. These again are not foundations of doctrine, but highlights and pointers that reveal to us a God worthy of being searched out, worshipped, respected and believed in. All of it must be submitted by standard to His Word and His Work to be marked as valid and pointing to God.
Any student of God's Word must examine the claims and the truths as they are presented by anyone - human teachings and writings about God are always subject to human interpretation and error. There are a number of arguments that have been raised based on this book - which I do not have the time or the intention to entertain. I see a lot of merit in the story about Faith, Forgiveness, Healing, Redemption, Reconciliation and Relationship that makes it a worthwhile read. Read it with the heart and the eyes of someone reading Fiction - just the way you would read John Grisham or Danielle Steele - then balance that with your study of God's Word, your involvement in the local church and by asking God through prayer to reveal Himself to you in more intimate and real ways as you make this journey.
I am sure that when we surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit and His teaching through God's Word - we will find Him in a blade of grass, a secular or a worship song, any place where Creation exists - after all, Creation cries out that He exists. The truth is eternity and salvation come through a relationship with God through our faith and by His grace in the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Our faith is born and brought to maturity by the hearing and applying of God's Word on an individual basis. In light of that truth, I can still recommend this book as a fiction novel that will challenge us to ask God where we have put Him into a box. Read on.