Fiction or Blasphemy? “Best book ever!” or “Straight from hell!”?
The book “The Shack” has stirred up much controversy since being published. With the impending release of the movie, the firestorm of opinions seems to have been freshly stirred up. So should you read the book, watch the movie, or avoid both as a person of strong conviction?
Throughout the Old and New Testaments, God clearly reveals Himself. Using a variety of literary styles, He gives us many vibrant and definitive statements about Himself. As we examine these statements as a whole, we are able to form a solid understanding of His greatness, character, nature, and more. Books are written as we sort through and organize these truth and call it doctrine or theology. These are the strong concrete pillars on which we understand who God really is. They are definite, unnegotiable, and unmistakable; but only pieces of the whole. (Look up 1 Corinthians 13:9–12)
The Space Between
But what about all the space between these strong pillars of theological truth? There is much to wonder about and imagine. For thousands of years, these spaces have been filled with honest questions and spirited deliberation. God could have easily filled in all those spaces with more truths about Himself; but He intentionally did not. Maybe it’s because He knows it is beyond our comprehension in this life… maybe it is to draw us closer to Him as we work to unravel the mystery… or maybe it is because He enjoys watching His children creatively explore His greatness. But although this space can fuel the imagination, it does not give room to question the pillars.
Painting in the Space
Since God gave us a clear picture of Himself – and He intentionally left out many of the details that His children would surely wonder about – then He knows the space will be filled with our musings about how all the pillars connect. We do this all the time when contemplating the parting of the Red Sea, or how sovereignty and free will intersect, or what heaven will be like.
I believe the author of “The Shack,” WM Paul Young, paints with vivid colors and textures within the space between the strong pillars of theological truth. He uses His imagination to ponder in the form of a fictional story. His book “The Shack” takes an imaginary look at what it could be like to spend a few days face to face with God here on earth – specifically with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He explores some of the deeper questions of our faith like pain, the trinity, God’s love, and more.
“The Shack” is definitely not a theology manual… and doesn’t claim to be. It is a fictional story that explores many of the same things we all wonder about. I don’t see anything in the story that defies or intentionally pushes against the pillars. At this point I can only assume the movie will follow this same path as the book.
So should you read the book, watch the movie, or avoid both as a person of strong conviction? If you have built your foundation on the strong pillars, they you can rest on those pillars as you watch the author paint within the space between. But one word of caution: If you are doubtful or uncertain of the strong pillars of truth found in Scripture, you could easily get disoriented – unable to distinguish between the pillars and the painting.
By Eddie Zdanio
1 Corinthians 13:9–12 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. 11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. (NLT)