The Shack by William Young

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Re: The Shack by William Young

#16

Post by Canuckster1127 » Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:32 am

You've been given links to threads at the official The Shack Web site that address all of the issues you've raised, and further they were written by me and go into great detail on many of these issues and include input from those with equally impressive academic credentials.

The book represents itself as Fiction. Further the author represents the book is metaphorical and a form of parable. He specifically denies it is an allegory.

Given that you've by your own admission not read the entire book, it's hard to see how a discussion with you on these points will be particularly fruitful. As the book represents itself a fiction and a novel on the cover and the title-page, those points are self-evident. It's up to you to establish otherwise.

Feel free to examine the material in the links I've provided you and if you have specific points you wish to address go ahead.
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Re: The Shack by William Young

#17

Post by jlay » Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:22 am

The book represents itself as Fiction.
Agreed. Not the basis of any of my complaints. Newsflash: The Shack is fiction. Got it. Never questioned it. Understood. Bingo.
Given that you've by your own admission not read the entire book,
Get over it. I have read the majority of the book and can discuss what I have read with 1st hand undertanding. I have not mentioned any points that I have not encountered in my own reading. Period. Find a new trail to chase.
As the book represents itself a fiction and a novel on the cover and the title-page, those points are self-evident.
So what? I am not even contending the fact that it is fiction. Why are you hung up on that? That is a cop out. A guise to hide behind. Are people reshaping their theology and claiming new revelation and understanding of god based on this book. Yes or no?

Does that new understanding have any direct conflicts with scripture and the tenets of the Christian faith, yes or no?
Further the author represents the book is metaphorical and a form of parable.
Saying that does not make it so. I've given you an example of a allegory/metaphor from Chronicles. And there are many examples of parables. The characters in this book are not metaphors. They are introduced as the god head. As god, as jesus, as the holy spirit. Not simply characters where traits are implied. Please explain to me how this book is a proper use of either. Saying it is a metaphor or parable does not make it so. It has to pass a literary definition of those terms. It does not.

You can keep saying its fiction over and over. That doesn't address the real issues at hand.
He specifically denies it is an allegory.
Again, so what? A story can be an allegory, and the character a metaphor. This is most definately not an allegory. And the characters in this book are not metaphor. They are not animals that embody characteristics of a the real. They are claiming to be the real. But what does this have to do with the price of tea in China? When I said, "Please describe how the book is metaphorical or a parable and then maybe we can debate that," I was being somewhat facetious.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: The Shack by William Young

#18

Post by Canuckster1127 » Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:16 am

Given that you've by your own admission not read the entire book,
Get over it. I have read the majority of the book and can discuss what I have read with 1st hand undertanding. I have not mentioned any points that I have not encountered in my own reading. Period. Find a new trail to chase.
You're asking me to take a great deal of time and effort explaining a book you've dismissed without a full reading. Sorry, I don't see the point or the need. You've been provided with two links in which I'm the primary author addressing these and many other points and I see no evidence that you've read them or wish to interact with them.
So what? I am not even contending the fact that it is fiction. Why are you hung up on that? That is a cop out. A guise to hide behind. Are people reshaping their theology and claiming new revelation and understanding of god based on this book. Yes or no?
Many are reshaping their theology. That's a good thing as long as the theology is sound. I'm not aware of any claims of new revelation made by the authors. That's a straw man argument on your part. If you wish me to address it, please demonstrate to me where a claim of "new revelation" has been made by the author or publisher.
Does that new understanding have any direct conflicts with scripture and the tenets of the Christian faith, yes or no?
You continue to assume "new" understanding with this question. I do not believe that there is any conflict with scripture or the tenets of biblical faith that raises to the level of heresy in The Shack. It's certainly however in many regards a very provocative book and pushes several envelops to make some strong points.
Saying that does not make it so. I've given you an example of a allegory/metaphor from Chronicles. And there are many examples of parables. The characters in this book are not metaphors. They are introduced as the god head. As god, as jesus, as the holy spirit. Not simply characters where traits are implied. Please explain to me how this book is a proper use of either. Saying it is a metaphor or parable does not make it so. It has to pass a literary definition of those terms. It does not.
Actually, the author's claims in this regard do make it so in terms of intended use of a literary device. If you wish to argue with the author over the intended use of a literary device then feel free. You can certainly argue that it is a misdirected effort or falls short of its intent, but if that's the case then the onus is upon you to demonstrate your point, not me to refute your opinion.

You're asking me to put a great deal more time and effort into this discussion when you've neither read the entire book, apparently not read the material I referred you to and further have really only contributed your opinion as well as a link to review by someone whom you appeal to on the basis of their authority.

I've provided you with two extensive threads on the official site of the book which I'm the primary author to address your claims. You show no evidence of having read them and continue to make claims and inherent assumptions which you then ask me to disprove. No thanks. You've made your mind up. I accept that these are your opinions and I'm old enough and wise enough I hope to avoid rhetorical grandstanding when I see it.

If you wish to have a conversation, please drop the general snarky tone, read the materials I've referred you to, perhaps even finish reading the book for yourself, and demonstrate that you have the direct knowledge and interaction with the materials to have an informed discussion or you're welcome to claim victory and we'll move on.

Those reading this thread now or in the future have the tools provided here to access information to come to their own conclusion as to value of the book and that's good enough for me.

Regards,

bart
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Re: The Shack by William Young

#19

Post by jlay » Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:40 am

There is nothing straw man in my argument. Saying I am creating a strawman doesn't make it so, anymore than saying the Shack is a parable makes it one.
Sorry, I don't see the point or the need. You've been provided with two links in which I'm the primary author addressing these and many other points and I see no evidence that you've read them or wish to interact with them.
You have to understand that I've already done that, months and months ago, when this issue was more prevalent. I read Young's response, and I've read seveal arguments agaisnt and for the Shack being heretical.

Here is the way I see it.

The Shack wrongly portrays the godhead. Answer: It's metaphor
The Shack hints that God has an inclusive concept of salvation as opposed to exclusive (Christ alone). Answer: It's fiction.

Snarkyness is my spiritual gift.

Is the writer of the Shack trying to reflect what the bible reveals, or ever so subtly manipulate it, to make it more palatable to the culture at large. My answer is the later.
Actually, the author's claims in this regard do make it so in terms of intended use of a literary device. If you wish to argue with the author over the intended use of a literary device then feel free. You can certainly argue that it is a misdirected effort or falls short of its intent, but if that's the case then the onus is upon you to demonstrate your point, not me to refute your opinion.
I think I see why you like to say straw man so much. You are the one who brought up the metaphor issue, not me. Please demonstrate how the characters Papa, Jesus and Sarayu are metaphors. Also demonstrate how the story is a parable.
If you wish me to address it, please demonstrate to me where a claim of "new revelation" has been made by the author or publisher.
Sorry, that's not whay I am claiming. That is what I have heard first hand from folks who have read the book. Claims that this has reshaped their theology (ideas about God) that they were unable to grasp from the bible, or the tenets of the Christian faith. Not that this is a good story with a good moral, but actual revelation.

Like I said, the main issue is with putting words in God's mouth that are not His words. It is contructing an image of God that is not agreeable with scripture, and then attempting to hide behind a metaphorical argument. For example the book tries to redefine the trinity.
“are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or 'great chain of being'…

Here is a good example of comments from readers:
"I think he catches the searching, modern mind and provides a plausible alternative to the wrathful and murderous God who has been preached for centuries. Probably a closer concept to the reality."
He says god has been portrayed/preached as murderous. And also implies that wrath is a conflicting characteristic to love, which it is most certainly not. And then suggest that the God in the shack is closer to reality.
"this book offers hope. It gently leads us along."

"I have just sent an email to all of my friends, christian and non christian, encouraging them to read this book.
I told them it will change their life!!"
It, The book, will change their life.

These comments are not uncommon.

Read this brief Amazon review as an example: “Wish I could take back all the years in seminary! The years the locusts ate???? Systematic theology was never this good. Shack will be read again and again. With relish. Shared with friends, family, and strangers. I can fly! It's a gift. 'Discipleship' will never be lessons again.” Another reviewer warns that many Christians will find the book difficult to read because of their “modern” mindsets. “If one is coming from a strong, propositional and, perhaps, fundamentalist perspective to the Bible, this book certainly will be threatening.” Still another says “This book was so shocking to my “staid” Christianity but it was eye opening to my own thoughts about who I think God is.”

Biblical worldview, or self worldview. A God we conform to, or a god that we conform. The Shack is clearly in the second.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: The Shack by William Young

#20

Post by Canuckster1127 » Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:54 pm

There is nothing straw man in my argument. Saying I am creating a strawman doesn't make it so, anymore than saying the Shack is a parable makes it one.
Neither does denying it when you could attempt to prove your point instead. A strawman argument is when you put words in the mouth and attribute beliefs to another person and then proceed to knock it down. The fact is, the Shack is a metaphor and parable. Your anger and frustration with that fact, doesn't change that fact. More below on this.
You have to understand that I've already done that, months and months ago, when this issue was more prevalent. I read Young's response, and I've read seveal arguments agaisnt and for the Shack being heretical.
However, you're having a discussion with me about it here, and asking me to address your points in a conversation, putting up your material which I've read and asking me to demonstrate things to you when you've continually displayed that you're unwilling to read material that takes issue with your position. This is not a discussion. All you're providing is a monologue and repeating your position without interacting with what you've being provided in response.
Here is the way I see it.

The Shack wrongly portrays the godhead. Answer: It's metaphor
The Shack hints that God has an inclusive concept of salvation as opposed to exclusive (Christ alone). Answer: It's fiction.
I will put up a very detailed response to this that I helped to create on the official site of The Shack that addresses the fiction, parable and metaphor element of the book.

Snarkyness is my spiritual gift.
It's an interesting "gift" in one who claims the ability to know whether fruit is good based on a taste. Perhaps an examination of what that demonstrates as to your own spiritual freshness would not be amiss?

Is the writer of the Shack trying to reflect what the bible reveals, or ever so subtly manipulate it, to make it more palatable to the culture at large. My answer is the later.
I believe the former.
I think I see why you like to say straw man so much. You are the one who brought up the metaphor issue, not me. Please demonstrate how the characters Papa, Jesus and Sarayu are metaphors. Also demonstrate how the story is a parable.
See the following post to this one.
Sorry, that's not whay I am claiming. That is what I have heard first hand from folks who have read the book. Claims that this has reshaped their theology (ideas about God) that they were unable to grasp from the bible, or the tenets of the Christian faith. Not that this is a good story with a good moral, but actual revelation.
Hearsay. Further what a reader does with a book is not the responsibility of the author. People misuse the Bible but that doesn't invalidate the Bible.
Like I said, the main issue is with putting words in God's mouth that are not His words. It is contructing an image of God that is not agreeable with scripture, and then attempting to hide behind a metaphorical argument. For example the book tries to redefine the trinity.
The book does not attempt to redefine the Trinity. The book demonstrates a view of the Trinity that departs from a hierarchical view that many scholars believe was introduced into the Christian Church through the adoption and assimilation of Pagan views accelerated with the nationalisation of the Church through Constantine. Many early Church Fathers and ealier Christian writings portray the relationship of the Godhead as equal in form, substance and importance include God the Son, Jesus in his divinity with the only role of perceived subordination being Jesus in his His humanity.

With regard to your quoting of readers, again it is a fallacy to argue that the use of the book in those instances where excess, abuse or error exists, invalidates the book. The example again is the Scripture itself.

I believe you've mentioned before you're Southern Baptist. Does that mean that your respresentation here is inclusive of all Southern Baptists and were you and a collection of others shown wrong in some measure in some area of importance that Southern Baptism is therefore condemned?

This is very sloppy and emotional thinking.

Article following as promised.
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Re: The Shack by William Young

#21

Post by Canuckster1127 » Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:57 pm

Some who read the book might ask this question: "Is this a True Story?"

Well, that depends ...


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A Matter of Fiction

The genre of the book is fiction, but how do we know? Well, first there are numerous interviews with the author that state this fact. But beyond this, the book clearly has fiction printed on the back and it is often sold in the fiction section. The title page says "The Shack, a novel by William P. Young in collaboration with Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings" (emphasis added). Websters defines a novel as "an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events"

Also, consider some of the endorsements of the book:


Eugene Peterson: "When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertalize the result is a novel ..."
Jim Palmer: "captivating novel ..."
Mike Morrell: "A guy-meets-God novel ..."
Greg Albrecht: "You will be captivated by the creativity and imagination of The Shack ..."
Michael W. Smith: "The Shack is the most absorbing work of fiction I've read in many years."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What Type of Fiction is This?

What The Shack falls under is a genre called "Realistic Fiction."

Many realistic stories depict their protagonist growing up or coming of age. The coming-of-age stories typically trace the protagonist's growth from a self-absorbed, immature individual into an expansive, mature human being concerned with the welfare of others, and his/her place in the world scheme.

In good realistic fiction, the characters possesses a clearly defined personality and exhibits growth during the course of the story. Their growth of self-awareness usually comes with struggling, pain, and even suffering. In children's stories, the protagonist usually reaches a higher level of maturity and a greater sense of self-awareness by the book's end, but has not achieved adulthood. Classic example: Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden" (1909).

In realistic fiction, humor is frequently used to break the tension in sensitive situations, unlike fantasies in which the humor is often the humor of the absurd. Humor is a form of self-preservation, of coping. In realistic fiction, humor usually takes one of the three forms:


The humor of character. This depends on the antics of an eccentric personality.
The humor of situation. Surprising, awkward, or ridiculous actions or situations are among the most common sources of realistic humor.
The humor of language. Plays on words, verbal irony, malapropism (the misuse of words), misunderstandings, all contribute to verbal humor.

Beginning in the 1960s, a literary form called New Realism emerged that reacted against the romantic and sentimental realistic fiction books that had long dominated the market.

The New Realism literary style sought to bring more honest emotions, franker language, and bolder ideas to realistic fiction literature. It opened an entirely new range of subjects, and little remained that was taboo, including racial prejudice, teenage gangs, drug abuse, homosexuality, child abuse, mental illness, sexual abuse, parental problems, psychological disorders, and many others.

The "problem novel", focusing on a singular, hot issue that affects the protagonist, is a result of New Realism. It is always set in contemporary times and aims at a naturalistic portrayal of a problem plaguing the main character. Problem novels are directed to older children or adults and focus on the individual's emotional response to life's experience.


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A Matter of Truth

However, with all this said, the book is very much true in many regards. The experience of the author that it was based upon is "true" and many of the themes and discussions between characters include elements of Biblical Truth, Theology and Philosophy and to the extent that those issues exist outside of the story line (in the context of the discussions) - those can be said to be "true" at least in terms of the presenting the views of the author.

So here is the thing ... this book IS TRUE. But it is fictionalized in its account of the author's life. Did the conversations with God really happen? We think so, in Paul Young's life ... but this wasn't over a weekend but many years of healing. Did a tragic thing happen to a young child? YES! But not in Missy, but in a young Paul Young who went through a horrible childhood. Did a tragic thing happen to an older man who had to experience healing from God? YES! But not in Mack, but in an older Paul Young who went through various burnout and failure in life and came to see God in it.

So if you ask us, "The book isn't true?!" we would say, "It certainly IS true! Just not in the way you think."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A Matter of Metaphors

C. S. Lewis, a well-known author and apologist, is best known by people of all ages for his seven volume series entitled The Chronicles of Narnia. His writings are one of the most well known in Christian circles for using metaphors and symbols to represent bigger ideas than the books represent. As Lewis wrote about the land of Narnia, an imaginary world visited by children of this world, he had two obvious purposes: to entertain the readers and to suggest analogies of the Christian faith.

Although Christian symbolism can be found in The Chronicles, Lewis recognized the importance of getting "past those watchful dragons" which are people who are not open to the beliefs of Christianity because they were told they should believe it. But how should Lewis go about getting past those who are not open to the idea of Christianity? He believed that the best way to do this was to present it in a fictional world, a world in which it would be easier to accept. The audience grows to love Aslan and everything that he symbolizes; they begin to wish for someone like Aslan in this world. After finding this love for Aslan, they will ideally transfer that love to Christ when presented with the Gospel later in life. Even though Christian themes are present, the Chronicles are not dependent on them. Peter J. Schakel, a professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, states that a non-Christian reader can approach the book as a fictional story and "be moved by the exciting adventures and the archetypal meanings, and not find the Christian elements obtrusive or offensive". For this reason, "the Narnian stories have been so successful in getting into the bloodstream of the secular world".

Metaphors and symbols exist throughout the Bible. For example: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). The Christian believer and his characteristics are described in terms of many colorful metaphors in the Bible. In this text, Christ calls us "my sheep," and has also said: "I am the good shepherd, . . . and I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:14-15). If we are truly His sheep, then we will surely follow Him, receiving safety, peace, and nourishment.

Paul Young has stated in interviews that he sees The Shack as metaphorical or a parable rather than allegorical. The word "parable" means any fictive illustration in the form of a brief narrative. Later it came to mean a fictitious narrative, generally referring to something that might naturally occur, by which spiritual and moral matters might be conveyed.

A parable is one of the simplest of narratives. It sketches a setting, describes an action, and shows the results. It often involves a character facing a moral dilemma, or making a questionable decision and then suffering the consequences of that choice. As with a fable, a parable generally relates a single, simple, consistent action, without extraneous detail or distracting circumstances.

Many folktales could be viewed as extended parables, and many fairy tales, except for their magical settings. The prototypical parable is a realistic story that seems inherently probable and takes place in a familiar setting of life. A parable is like a metaphor that has been extended to form a brief, coherent fiction. Christian parables are stories about ordinary men and women who find in the midst of their everyday lives surprising things happening. They are not about "giants of the faith".

Regardless of what phrase you use to describe the book, many of the "theological arguments" against the book would be moot if they would simply remember the fictional and metaphorical nature of the book. On the other hand, people who over-allegorize the fictional nature of the work will miss out on what the story is really about: to taste, to feel, and to see something that a chart of allegorical parallels can never achieve. See Paul Young's story in the pages of the book. Then ... see your own.
continued
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Re: The Shack by William Young

#22

Post by Canuckster1127 » Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:59 pm

"How can someone write a book about God and let it be fiction?"

A book like The Shack might be termed metaphorical theology. Because of its fictional nature, this makes the book an artistic approach to a Christian's relationship with God. Christian fiction celebrates God's presence in our life. It can be narrow and didactic or broad and literal. The main character's relationship to God is the primary focus. Another definition is that these stories are about "the journey of the soul." There is considerable interest in characters "who are like the reader" in some important way. Although the label "Christian fiction" is used here to reflect the fact that God plays a significant role in the plot and the outcome, Christian novels focus on ordinary people who are challenged to live their lives in accordance with Christian principles. And creating a fictional story can often breathe new life into areas of thought that people assume they understand.

It may say something about our mindsets and frame of reference as Christians as to why we might have trouble with this type of writing. Christians (especially those from Western influence) can exhibit little imagination at times. Some are also unable to pick up subtlety because they want matters or stories to be straitlaced and literal. They prefer this not only in books they read, but also in Biblical interpretation and life in general. If there is some truth to this, it only shows that we have failed to educate and cultivate things such as imagination, creativity and even simple things like recognizing literary devices.

The book is not systematic theology, nor a theological treatise. It is important to remember that Young was writing a theological parable of sorts, for his children, not for a seminary faculty. This was never the last word in theology, and it was, from the outset, an experiment in literary playfulness. Young is a writer of fiction ... a story-teller. The prodigal's father, the unjust judge, the owner of the vineyard, the mother hen, the Rock, the lamb ... all of these are literary explorations of God in the context of story, not pure theology. None of them can be taken beyond the boundaries of legitimate literary use. They are symbols of something bigger. To worship the symbol is to miss the point. To reduce the symbol to an abstract concept is to go from a large screen high definition TV to an AM radio, and is to miss the point as well.

Some who can't appreciate a work like this seem to suggest that any book that doesn't just copy large amounts of Scripture verbatim has no reason for existence. The mixture of art and theological truth must be nerve wracking to those whose view of inerrancy and authority makes literary explorations of theology almost automatically heretical. Sometimes it seems that rewording Scripture into a few almost-identical-to-scripture lyrics is about all some Christians can take in the literary arts. Past that and they are talking heresy. Frankly, that's ridiculous. Whether it's literary, visual or musical, the arts should be evaluated artistically, not just theologically.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Is art necessary for the Christian?"

The Christian who ignores art agrees with a secular view of art--that art has no ultimate meaning for life nor does it reveal the God who is there. We find this fact greatly disturbing. In plain terms, the Christian church, historically the creator and guardian of great art, has abdicated its role of nurturing and appreciating great art. Meanwhile, the Bible teaches us something completely different from the modern church's attitude toward art. The question is, does the church's uneasiness with art stem from its historic faith or its modern subculture? We would argue that a chosen ignorance of art is more the result of an uninformed subculture than an informed reading of the Bible.

Psalm 19 tells us that God reveals himself to us in two major ways: his artistry ("the heavens tell the story of God") and his word ("the law of the Lord is perfect"). God speaks to us through symbol and language, art and word. He created us to delight in beauty, goodness, and truth. However, God, the Primary Artist, never intended us to find beauty and meaning within ourselves. Rather, we must look beyond ourselves for these things. According to Psalm 19, knowing God through the avenue of the written word is a necessary but incomplete part of the picture. Throughout its history, the church has known God through the word and art, truth and beauty, grace and nature.

As Christians, we need to come back to the whole truth--truth which is both rational and artistic. von Balthasar warns that the church has sacrificed beauty for exactness and in so doing it has lost an important element of the truth. He calls the church to break through a rational, propositional, exact view of God "in order to bring the truth of the whole into view again--truth as a transcendental property of Being, truth which is no abstraction".

In this sense, our answer to the question, "Is art necessary for the Christian?" is an unequivocal "yes." Art is God-ordained; it is a divine gift that we cannot live without. Without art we lose beauty, and without beauty we lose the vision of a God who is relational, not just propositional. In short, we lose a vision of God who compels awe in the hearts of those who love him. As Wendell Berry writes in his essay, "Style and Grace," "Works of art participate in our lives."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Why did the author have to use symbols to tell his story? Why couldn't he have just written an autobiography?"

Well, first, can you think of any autobiography that impacted you the way The Shack did? By using more creative writing, Paul Young created a story that you can see your life in. Thus, the book can speak to millions of people in this style, whereas a more literal story would have spoken to a lesser number.

We can worship art, or art can aid our worship. This is an important distinction. Many Christians conclude that if they love art they are in reality worshipping art. That is not necessarily true. If we worship art we are no better than the secularist who admires the work of art but fails to see God shrouded behind that work. Or worse, we are no better than the pantheist who sees the art itself as being God. In both world views, art loses any sense of transcendence. The work of art becomes an end in itself, not an avenue to knowing and loving God. Without a transcendent view of art, art becomes an idol, not a symbol.

When we speak of art in terms of understanding life, we must consider how art and language function in our lives. Simply put, art and language reflect a reality beyond themselves. We cannot talk about reality directly but must talk and live in symbols. We live in a world of symbols. Even language is symbolic. For example, it is quite strange to think that a mortal who has not seen "heaven" uses a word to symbolize "heaven." We understand ourselves, our world, and our God through analogies (symbols)--the Scriptures, parables, metaphors, allegories, stories, sermons, music, paintings, relationships, baptism--the list is infinite. Symbols are signposts and pictures along the way.

Symbols, then, have two dimensions: the symbol itself and the reality the symbol points to. A rose is a rose, but more importantly a rose can symbolize love. The literal rose helps us to see a dimension of love we would fail to see without the rose. But the analogy of the rose does much more: it attires love with beauty, passion, vibrant color, and sensuality. Comparing love to a rose restrains love from being a cold abstraction. And The Shack does much the same ... it challenges us to see God through the eyes of a real relationship, and not some cold abstraction trapped within the walls of dead theology.

But a symbol does more than incarnate abstractions. A symbol (i.e., art) not only brings beauty to our lives but it also brings meaning. Art is a crossing from the mundane to the beautiful and the meaningful. A transcendent view of art transforms the earthly for the purpose of disclosing a deeper reality to our existence here on earth.

An orthodox, supernatural viewpoint understands that the knowledge of God is not immediate but must be mediated--mediated through symbol, art, word. Good art says that God can be known in multiple dimensions but cannot be apprehended, controlled, or put in my own personal box--that He is not made in our mirror image. Ultimately, then, the Christian who rejects art believes earth to be more true than heaven, because he or she sees no need for symbol. And without symbol we cannot see beyond this world.

Art is an expression of God's infinite mystery and extravagant beauty. But it is also an expression of something strangely familiar. Like Lucy's sighting of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, something leaps inside us when we see art. Whether this happens when we hear the music of U2, read the novels of Flannery O'Connor, see the drawings of Blake, or read the poetry of Langston Hughes, something deep inside us leaps because we recognize the unknown known.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I feel stupid because I thought the story was true!"

If you missed the fictional nature of the book, you shouldn't feel ashamed or mad. You certainly shouldn't feel stupid. It was an honest mistake because possibly you got so absorbed in the story that you didn't pay attention to the other matters listed above.

First of all, remember that the story is indeed true, but just not in the way you thought. The TV show The Waltons was also based on true events, but the family name was not "Walton" and many of the stories on the TV show never happened. Yet still the TV shows were inspiring to millions of people who saw their own selves and families in the show.

Also, think about this ... how many people does God show up like this to? If this story was literally true, many of us would feel more despair from it. Why? Because God has never shown up in a tangible way and spent a weekend with us like this!

But, if this story is pushing us to see a reality of God that legalism keeps us far away from ... an adventure in which God is really FOR us, not against us ... then that is a message that affects our lives! And thus, I can find MYSELF in the story, and now it applies to ME. By seeing Mack's journey through his "shack", I see the journey through my own.

And that is the whole point of the book.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I feel disappointed to find out this really didn't happen."

We can understand how people can read this and want it to actually be a true word-for-word account. Earlier drafts of the book had Mack as the author and a few people made the same leap to imagine that Mack was a real person and so in the rewrites that followed, Willie was introduced as a ghost writer to make it clearer that Mack was not a real person. Some still miss that however.

We would encourage you to realize that the book is true, just not in the way she thought. And how exciting! Because the truth of the book is bigger than what you originally thought! We would encourage you to see yourself in this story! That is the purpose. And in that you will find even greater comfort in what the book has to say.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Where can I find more about the author's life so I can understand what the symbolic meanings are in the book?"

One of the greatest free resources to understand the meaning behind the book is found here (especially the 2nd one, the Q&A):

http://www.marinerschurch.org/theshack/av/index.html

An even more in depth discussion by Paul Young (with a tremendous teaching by C. Baxter Kruger on the theology of The Shack) can be found here (this is not a free resource):

http://www.perichoresis.org/store_detail/3/49.html

The Shack is more than a great made up story. Although it is a work of fiction, it is also a modern parable and metaphor that is based on the truth story of the author's journey of healing from issues of childhood sexual abuse, a distant father, emotional distancing, wounds inflicted by other Christians, personal sin which included adultery, and many other issues you can point to.

Most of us have experienced our own shacks, and battled with our own bondages to legalism and religion that kept us at bay from a real, personal God who is FOR us, not against us. Read the book, and be inspired by the story. Then, listen to some interviews with the author and see his life through this symbolic fiction book. Then see your own life, and dare to plunge into the depths of Papa's love for you and let that love spill out to the world around you.

He is especially fond of you.

Blessings,
Brandon

(with sincere appreciation to Bart (Canuckster1127), Kent (kent burgess), Internet Monk, and many of Papa's "especially fond ones" on this forum who I generously borrowed ideas from in this posting)
Dogmatism is the comfortable intellectual framework of self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is more decadent than the worst sexual sin. ~ Dan Allender

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Re: The Shack by William Young

#23

Post by jlay » Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:22 am

It's a novel. It's fiction. Got it.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: The Shack by William Young

#24

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:39 am

That's all you got from that? You complained that the only response from "people" (this hypothetical group of Shack followers who all answer the same way every time apparently) was when you pointed out these grave theological errors was that the book was fiction. You don't think this addresses that issue more and provides greater context and insight?

This really isn't about a conversation is it? Your mind is made up and it just felt right to provide us with your opinion coming down from on high, I guess?
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Re: The Shack by William Young

#25

Post by jlay » Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:56 am

How do you figure hypothectical?

This really isn't about a conversation is it? Your mind is made up and it just felt right to provide us with your opinion coming down from on high, I guess?
Pot meet kettle.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: The Shack by William Young

#26

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:56 am

jlay wrote:How do you figure hypothectical?

This really isn't about a conversation is it? Your mind is made up and it just felt right to provide us with your opinion coming down from on high, I guess?
Pot meet kettle.
With that the conversation that required two people to carry on ends.

Anyone else who wants to discuss these issues feel free to jump in.
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Re: The Shack by William Young

#27

Post by jlay » Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:01 pm

And The Shack does much the same ... it challenges us to see God through the eyes of a real relationship, and not some cold abstraction trapped within the walls of dead theology.
A good example is this statement. Does the shack really challenge us to see God, the God? I just get the sense that you want to have your cake and eat it too. Your saying this book challenges us to see God, as opposed to, I guess, traditional theology. Whose theology. The bible's? Yet, when someone attacks this book for reshaping theology, then suddenly it's "metaphor, fiction, novel, parable." I'm sorry but that is called wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

I decided, "let me give it another go. I'll read back through this. Perhaps I'm being to hard headed." Yet, In all the information you posted I have yet to find anything that directly deals with issues I and others have with the book. I will give you credit on the Trinity. One could argue the authoritative aspect, although that is very, very low on my personal concerns with the book. It is the overall presentation of the Godhead that conerns me. I also see now where you are gathering the idea of metaphor. But just becuase the author is wrestling out some of his past demons through the character Mack, you can't paint with a broad brush. The characters of Jesus, Papa, and Sarayu are not metaphors. They are, in the authors mind, his concept of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They are not introduced as metaphors, but as God, Jesus and the H.S. Thus author is putting words in the mouth of God, that are not His words.

Sorry, if my snarkyness makes you want to take your ball and go home. But, I have yet to see any answer, or any link that in any way satisfies, even in the smallest degree, the issues against this book.
As Christians, we need to come back to the whole truth--truth which is both rational and artistic
And there is another overture that this book is TRUTH. I get the sense that we have a Shack apologist. And now in a sublte way you are trying to give the book even more credibility of a doctrinal scale.
battled with our own bondages to legalism and religion that kept us at bay from a real, personal God who is FOR us, not against us. Read the book, and be inspired by the story. Then, listen to some interviews with the author and see his life through this symbolic fiction book. Then see your own life, and dare to plunge into the depths of Papa's love for you and let that love spill out to the world around you.
And there it is again. You can now be free of all that bible learning. Talk about a strawman. This is a dangerous statement that paints with another broad brush, pigeon holing fundemental Christian faith. The problems with religion are many, but the answers are not found in the shack, but in the Word of God. This book in essence says that you can paint your own picture of God, if the one in the bible cramps your style.

Thanks for all the info. But I'm afraid it is worse than I thought.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: The Shack by William Young

#28

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:34 pm

Thanks for your thoughts. I accept that this is how you see The Shack and if you wish to perceive me as less than you in terms of my beliefs and commitments then that it your perogative.

I see no point to continuing the conversation but I give you credit for attempting to go back and reconsider, if only in token format, your positions, even if the result was to convince you that it was worse than before. So be it.

bart
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Re: The Shack by William Young

#29

Post by jlay » Sun Apr 19, 2009 6:06 am

Sure thing.

I guess one closing point. As I was reading the book, I couldn't help but be drawn in by Mack's situation. I even had moments where I thought the ideas conveyed were very enlightening. No one can deny the interactions are very compelling. That is one reason I am so concerned. I also had moments where I felt very strong red flags begin to wave in my conscience, which eventually led to me having to put the book down. That is when I begin to investigate the Shack and see if I was alone in my concerns. Until that point I had heard nothing but glowing reviews and recomendation. I even started reading again, after my investigations, wanting to finish, because I was so concerned.

If i'm wrong about the Shack, then so what. No big deal. It is not revelation or doctrine. I've just rejected a fictional work that is not God breathed. But if supporters of the Shack are wrong, and those who share my concerns are correct, then we have a serious, serious problem.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: The Shack by William Young

#30

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:37 am

jlay wrote:Sure thing.

I guess one closing point. As I was reading the book, I couldn't help but be drawn in by Mack's situation. I even had moments where I thought the ideas conveyed were very enlightening. No one can deny the interactions are very compelling. That is one reason I am so concerned. I also had moments where I felt very strong red flags begin to wave in my conscience, which eventually led to me having to put the book down. That is when I begin to investigate the Shack and see if I was alone in my concerns. Until that point I had heard nothing but glowing reviews and recomendation. I even started reading again, after my investigations, wanting to finish, because I was so concerned.

If i'm wrong about the Shack, then so what. No big deal. It is not revelation or doctrine. I've just rejected a fictional work that is not God breathed. But if supporters of the Shack are wrong, and those who share my concerns are correct, then we have a serious, serious problem.
If you're wrong about The Shack then you've been slandering a brother in Christ and impugning a book that while it is not Scripture in any way has been having a profound effect in the lives of many who have been touched by it. Gamaliel's advice to those persecuting the early apostles takes the exact opposite approach that you're advocating and attempting to excuse your actions with. By attacking someone who is actively ministering he advocated caution lest those persecuting be found to be actively standing against something that had God behind it. If it didn't, he said, it would amount to nothing and go away.

It's one thing to raise cautions and ask questions. It's another thing to make broad sweeping charges of heresy.

That's between you and God, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that your rationalization above is rather self-serving and the opposite of at least one piece of wisdom that God saw fit to record in Scripture. I guess you can argue that it comes from Gamaliel and not God. That's up to you. Charges of heresy are not casual matters at all, as I see them.

For my part, I'm just happy to have moved on from this sort of thinking. When I was engaged in it in the past, it served to do nothing but to make me a very angry and overbearing person. I haven't arrived yet, but these are old garments I'm glad to be shed of.

blessings,

bart
Dogmatism is the comfortable intellectual framework of self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is more decadent than the worst sexual sin. ~ Dan Allender

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