When I wrote my previous posts on Christian Myths, I did not have the currently popular “The Shack” in mind. I have not read this book, only some of the buzz surrounding it on the web.
This statement by Tom Neven at Boundless Line regarding the novel, however, intersects with the point I was making [please note the highlighted portions]:
If you’re going to ground your fiction in the real world, then it must conform to the rules of the real world we live in. No unicorns or magic squirrels allowed. Even one of my favorite literary genres, Magical Realism, adheres to certain basic rules.
So if you’re going to have God as a character in your real-world fiction, then you must deal with God as he has revealed himself in Scripture. By using the Trinity as characters in this story set in the real world, The Shack author William P. Young is clearly indicating that he’s supposedly talking about the God of Christianity. But God has said certain things about himself in Scripture, and much of what Young does in this novel contradicts that. I don’t care if he’s trying to make God more “accessible.” He’s violated the rules of fiction.
More important, why does Young feel the need to change the character of God in this story? In a way, he’s saying that the God who reveals himself to us in the Bible is insufficient. Young needs to “improve” the image to make it more palatable. But as I said in the original post, God never changes himself so that we can understand Him better. He changes us so that we can see Him as he truly is. If God changed his nature, He would cease to be God.
This quote is also a part of Tim Challies most recent post on the subject.
Now, as I said, I haven’t read the book so for the moment let’s ignore the debate over it and its theology. This isn’t a “Shack” post. I simply wanted to point out the statements that I believe provide some boundaries for the personification of God in fiction.
Depending on whose review you read, you can come to your own conclusion as to whether this book is Christian Myth-making or not. One way or the other, it certainly highlights the contemporary relevance of the issue and the need for discerning restraint.