Saturday, May 06, 2017

"Shack" Theology


Gavin Ortlund, "The god of William Paul Young" (TGC, April 28, 2017):
Paul Young’s The Shack has sold 20 million copies, inspired a major motion picture, and generated a lot of spiritual reflection and conversation. Some have appreciated its depiction of faith and suffering. Others have been uncomfortable with its theological eccentricities. More than a few have used the “h word” to describe it (heresy). But the fact that The Shack (and Young’s other books) are novels has made it difficult to know exactly how to place them.

Now, with the publication of his first non-fiction work, Lies We Believe About God, Young gives a more propositional, concrete expression of his beliefs. Although this book casts itself as tentative and conversational (20–21), it definitely advocates theological positions, often quite energetically. Its 28 chapters are each devoted to exposing a “lie” we believe about God, and expounding the corresponding opposite truth.

Unfortunately, the theology espoused in this book represents a wide and unambiguous deviation from orthodox Christian views. I mean no personal animus to the author in saying this, nor do I question his intentions. But the reason categories like “orthodoxy” and “heresy” arose in church history is because Christians have maintained there are right and wrong ways to think about God, and that pointing out the difference matters. When a book departs from historic, mainstream Christianity, it’s important to make the differences clear. Read more >>
Our underground correspondent, Guy Noir - Private Eye, who called our attention to this review asks whether this represents where a portion of modern Catholicism in America and Europe is positioning itself under the rhetoric of Pope Francis. They could never officially condone it, he says, but they don't need to: "Non-condemnation or equivocation is its own endorsement in these knee-jerk, social media times. Dissent non-condemned becomes a legit option. And those voicing concern become uptight haters."


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