Pastors all over the world are divided. That is a given. I mean that with far more grace than black and white type on a blog can convey. Having said that, I’m pleased to see a non-biased review of William Paul Young’s book The Shack in a Lutheran Magazine.
Mainline Protestant churches can be a little biased, so for me to see us step out a little and acknowledge the good along side of the “what we disagree with” is a blessing.
The author of this review is LCMS pastor, Rev. Steven B. Borst from Riverside, California. He surprised me by not just hacking the book, like many are doing these days, but rather embracing both the good and the questionable pointing out a major plus in this book.
According to Pastor Borst, “The Shack deals with life under the cross and is not afraid to venture into the deep mysteries of faith.”
We live life under the cross. Life is messy. It is complex. And sometimes, life hurts. And like William Young, or even his main character Mack, we live in a fallen world where losing our innocence, hope, and faith is a part of this life. Hopefully, in time, we find ourselves facing that empty shack, that place where sorrow and hope meet and we find God waiting for us.
My only question in the review was the author’s suggestion that William Young have sought out clergy who could have helped him with his “doctrinal problems.” Sounds easy and is good advice to be sure. My only problem with that is pastors and Christians, as a whole, don’t always agree on doctrine even within their own denominations. Case in point: I spent three years working along side three very gifted pastors not too long ago, we even had a vicar my last year there. I can remember countless times when I would ask doctrinal questions, during devotions, and I would get four different answers from these men. If I had not been taught how to study the Bible Inductively, (By my former pastor and his wife) that would have seriously confused me. Instead, I walk away from those encounters both amused and deeply convicted that I need to study deeper to seek God’s answers and not just man’s interpretation. Ponder the pastoral wisdom and answers yes, and then match it against God’s true word. Every teacher makes mistakes – God’s Word, however, is inerrant. And no teacher is in place of the Holy Spirit and that includes me.
My question to Pastor Borst would be, “Who should William have asked?” Maybe he did ask and got conflicting answers like I do so many times, or maybe he simply wrote this as fiction and not as anything more.
My question to you dear readers – is who do you ask? And what do you do if you get conflicting answers?