It's hard to offend people these days; that is, unless you have strong convictions about God.
I don't know much about William Paul Young (Wm. Paul Young, the author of The Shack). I know that he is really good at bad exegesis in short periods of time. I know that he has a new book coming out in which he explains how the statements, "God is in control," "You need to get saved," "Hell is separation from God," "The cross was God's idea," and "Sin separates us from God" are all lies. I know he went to Western Seminary. And I know that The Shack, his book-turned-movie, is proving to be another litmus test for the Christian culture.
Since great analysis of this story has already been done, I won't offer another. Instead, I'll focus on the reaction of the Christian community in response to these analyses and what that means in the grand scheme of theology. Here are some of the best reviews of The Shack.
Tim Challies: The difference between Narnia and The Shack
Al Mohler: A look at The Shack
Randy Alcorn: Reflections on The Shack
Got Questions: A review of The Shack
Recently, on one of Tim Challies' Facebook shares of an article he wrote concerning this book/movie, a woman said this in response:
"Wow! Vastly over thinking the whole thing, and therefore completely missing the beauty of the story! I read the Shack and loved it. It didn't make the Father, Son and Holy Spirit any less in my eyes or in my heart. And neither will the movie. Sheesh people."
At the time I saw it and screen captured it, she had 194 likes.
This woman's comment brings us to the heart of the disagreement that surrounds this story in evangelical circles. She said, "It didn't make [the Triune God] any less in my eyes or in my heart." That's the issue. That's the core. That's where all of our attention should be focused.
For people like me -- the critics of The Shack -- this story is perceived as taking the big, mysterious God who has chosen to reveal Himself in very specific terms and slandering His nature by choosing different terms to reveal Him. Instead of keeping in tact an orthodox view of the Trinity, this story sloppily portrays Deity as a much more understandable gathering of racially diverse friends. Instead of emphasizing the fear that should be conjured by the knowledge of a transcendent God, this story emphasizes warm feelings that are conjured by a small god, a god like us. And that's a problem.
How frightening it is that a professing Christian would not be offended by literature that chooses to create an image for the invisible God and confuses the substance of the Trinity, yet would be offended by those who seek to preserve a much higher view of God and His nature! Perhaps even more frightening is the sheer quantity of these professing Christians.
When a person has a low view of God -- a view that is shaped by personal opinion more than Scripture alone -- he or she does not have grounds for offense when confronted with an equally low view of God. Thus, most people who don't know the awesome nature of God will only get offended when others don't accept these low views. They think that because their view of Him is low, everyone else should view Him the same by tolerating such nonsense.
What they don't know is that He is transcendent (Ps 97:9), eternal (Is 57:15), the source of all life (Acts 17:25), unchanging (Mal 3:6), all-knowing (Rom 11:33), present everywhere (Jer 23:23-24), and the most powerful (Nah 1:5-6). They know He is some form of love, but do they know that He is also infinite (Ps 90:2), immortal (1 Tim 1:17), immaterial (Jn 4:24), and completely holy (Lev 20:26)?
That's a high view of God. When that big God gets portrayed as anything but that, Bible-lovers should be greatly offended.
But maybe that's the problem: loving the Bible, the very word of God. So many people who claim to be His wouldn't be able to defend His nature from His word. Do those who neglect to claim His revelation have any right to claim Him?
The conversation of The Shack is not a battle of the wits. It's a battle of views. The low view of God is waging war against the high view. It's very easy to get emotional and pragmatic about it. But God doesn't get emotional or pragmatic, He is who He is and we should choose to know Him.
Wm. Paul Young, in advertising his new book, seems to take pride in the fact that he "has been called a heretic for the ways he vividly portrays God's love through his novels." When God's people confront you with a higher view of God, do not find joy in that. Listen to them.
When my high view of God offends you, consider your view of Him. Look into His word. Choose to know Him for who He is.