In 2007 a book called the “Shack” hit the bookshelves and virtually overnight it became a best seller. Amazingly no publisher would touch it, and so the authors self published and its a remarkable success story. The book become controversial throughout Christian circles. There were those who loved it. And then there were those who hated it.
I am one who actually liked the book. I liked the story. “What!” I can hear some of you gasp. “Don’t you know all the heresies that book contains?”
My answer to this is… “Hey dude, relax. The book is a novel. It’s not a theological treatise. It needs to be read in the same way the C.S Lewis Narnia series are read.”
When we read the Bible, its important to note the various genres of the Scriptures we are reading. For example, we don’t listen to a song on the radio and understand it literally. We allow the story its telling to impact our emotions – whether to cry or laugh. In the same way, we don’t read a parable as history. Or a lie as truth – (Though we rightly claim the Scripture is truth – we don’t insist the lies that various people told within its stories are truth. )
If we take the book of Job out of context of the greater faith and read it literally as the basis for our faith we find we are confronted with many heresies. The same can be said of the Psalms – if we read the Psalms literally – and not understand their metaphorical story and meaning we will become heretics. And of course the same can happen if we read the Parables of Jesus out of their contextual meaning.
When it comes to the Shack – we need to understand it within the context of the story that its telling… Which is all about a man who is suffering great emotional pain over the gruesome death of his daughter who finds himself confronted by God who comforts him in his pain.
The story of Job concludes with a man who has lost his children and finds comfort in God. Many friends have lost children. Have lost parents. Have lost a spouse. And have lost friends to death. None of us are immune. Yet for the Christian we gain great comfort, in the midst of heartache and pain knowing that there is a God who is for us, and not against us, and who somehow, does comfort us in the darkest bunker of pain – and within this context – the Shack continues to tell a great story.