Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Some Thoughts on "The Shack"

This interview with William Young, the author of "The Shack," was pointed out to me by a friend recently.

The Shack has been one of the most life-changing books I've ever read. But it seems that almost everyone from my confessional camp (reformed baptist evangelical) only sees heresy. I admit the book pushes the boundaries of the doctrines of the Fatherhood of God and the Trinity. In my opinion, he stays within biblical boundaries as he imaginatively crafts a view of God that shakes our traditional religious formulations. For example, he maintains the Fatherhood of God while imaging him in a way that beautifully accommodates Himself to our pain.

In this interview, however, Young denies the penal substitution view of the atonement of Christ, which teaches that Jesus was punished by the Father for our sins (in our place). This saddens me, because Young so eagerly champions the intimate relationship with the Father that this atonement yields.

I wish he could see that it doesn't have to be one OR the other. That God is indeed Love, and he butchered his own son for me to prove it. This understanding of the atonement is not the end or goal though, which is the mistake many of those in my confessional camp fall into (e.g., Al Mohler, Mark Driscoll as examples). It is like they get the sacrifices perfect at the entrance of the temple, but never dwell in the holiest place just communing with God who is Love above all else.

We need both truths to really live as human before God:
1) God is HOLY Love, who judged our sins in Christ, and
2) God is holy LOVE, who did it all just to be with us and have us with Him.

If I had to choose which of these two is ultimate and which is secondary, I would say #2 is ultimate because it is the goal or end of #1.

Ultimately, my concern is for those like myself who are hurting and need healing, who have been burned by "traditional church," and a "fundamentalist Jesus." Is the emerging church and liberal church the only option for people like us? For those of us convinced of evangelical truth, who want to ground everything on Scripture to the glory of God, where do we take our pain when our leaders shut us out?