Friday, October 31, 2008

We Need More Shack Time

Paul Grimmond reviews The Shack in The Briefing.

Here is the closing section:
How should we respond to The Shack? My first response was to run away as quickly as I possibly could. But then I realized that The Shack gets one thing right when it encourages us to meet God in the difficult issues. ‘The shack’ functions as a metaphor for two things: it is the place where we stuff the things that are too hard to think about, and the place where we meet with God face-to-face. Young is dead right to suggest that we need to get to know God in the midst of the hard questions. The problem is that he brings us face-to-face with a God who is not God at all. In his zeal to ‘free’ God from the chains of misunderstanding, Young has shackled God beyond recognition.

The solution, though, isn't to run away from ‘the shack’; the solution is to spend more time there—not in William P Young's ‘shack’, of course, but in the place where the living God speaks for himself about the big issues of life. We need to spend more time gazing into the face of the God who reveals himself in the Bible. We need to think about the big questions of suffering and obedience and truth while we sit at the feet of our Lord. In fact, if we have been reading our Bibles, we will have found that these are issues that he is only too willing to discuss. Indeed, it is the triune God of Scripture alone who is both sovereign enough and good enough to deal with evil.

I am not pretending that there won't be difficult questions. Nor am I suggesting that the answers will be totally satisfying for everyone. We may even need to accept that God is not willing to answer some of our questions right now. But we will certainly be better off hearing from the God who sent his Son to die for us, than listening to the god of our imaginations.

If western Christianity had spent more time in ‘the shack’ with the true and living creator, and less time wallowing around in our felt needs, then, just maybe, less people would have been fooled. We might have recognized The Shack for the empty shell that it is. Our churches might even have become places where people could meet face-to-face with the holy God of Scripture. Only when we come into the presence of the loving, holy, majestic, glorious, gracious, judging, rescuing, creating, sustaining and redeeming God, who holds the future in his awesome hands, will we have a real message to offer a world obsessed with pain.