I’m reading The Shack by William P. Young. I am not finished, it will take me quite some time to complete. I’m not a slow reader, I’m just taking my time. I want to think through the teaching for it truly is a book that has proposed to give us a view of God we might not have previously encountered. Many have jumped on the bandwagon to proclaim it as the new Pilgrim’s Progress for our generation. But as I said, I’m not finished with it, I don’t have a clear opinion at this time.
But this one paragraph stood out to me. Elousia, (Papa, the Father showing up as an African-American woman) is speaking to Mack (the main character) about our misconceptions of God:
The problem is that many folks try to grasp some sense of who I am by taking the best version of themselves, projecting that to the nth degree, factoring in all the goodness they can perceive, which often isn’t much, and then call that God. And while it may seem like a noble effort, the truth is that it falls pitifully short of who I really am. I’m not merely the best version of you that you can think of. I am far more than that, above and beyond all that you can ask or think.
Now, I don’t really have a problem with that paragraph, I believe it is accurate. We do this. Instead of going to the Word made available to us, we would rather create our own God (although I’m not sure the author has not fallen into the very same trap…did you notice the link to Elousia…man-made image…what was Young’s intent?).
But God is Holy Other. He is not like us. We are His creation, not the other way around. Yet once we begin to try and define Him in our own terms, we have lessened Him. We have made Him too small. He IS above and beyond anything we can ask or think. So how do we KNOW who He is?
First, may I suggest, we will NOT find Him in the latest book, the most recent depiction, or any “new thing” in the church. He is not a fad. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
But we CAN find Him. He did come to show us Himself. Clearly. For all people to see. We can go to the ancient word and see Him. No other word will give us a complete understanding of all He determined to reveal to us.
From John’s Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. ~John 1:1-2
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” ~John 1:45
According to Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said:
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. ~Matthew 5:17-18
According to Luke’s Gospel, Jesus said:
The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. ~Luke 16: 16-17
Paul stated during his trial:
But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers,believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets ~Acts 24:14
Then in his letter to the Romans:
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe ~Romans 3:21-22
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. ~2 Peter 1:16
Jude, the brother of James and the half-brother of Jesus:
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. ~Jude 1:3
What’s my point? We have a sure word made manifest to us through Jesus Christ. We can know ALL God wants us to know about Him from Genesis to Revelation. He was in the beginning with God and He is God; He was proclaimed throughout the Law and the Prophets; the apostles bore witness concerning Him.
Why do I continue to make this point, post after post after post? Because…if we are looking somewhere besides the scripture for “revelation,” we are looking in the wrong place. It’s been said. It’s a complete picture. We are not to “add to” or “take away from” His word.
Do I think The Shack is wrong? Not sure yet…but I am reading it with the Bible by my side.