The Shack and the postmodern world

I have found The Shack, by William Young, to be a springboard for many lessons in theology, especially as it pertains to a postmodern interpretation of God. I am not advocating for or against a postmodern interpretation of God, although I find that much of what is being stirred up in our cultural transition to postmodernism is very good for the church. At any rate, The Shack draws us into that discussion in an engaging way, and for that reason, I am going to make quite a few posts about it. The smaller discussion is about The Shack. The larger discussion is about what it represents theologically in our particular time and place.

Whether you are postmodern, anti-postmodern, or somewhere in between, you need to be fluent in this discussion. Our culture is headed in a particular direction; it is not turning back. And the church is here to bring the gospel to whatever culture it lives in. That means, among other thing, understanding the terrain that shapes both non-Christians and Christians alike.

The Shack is a polarizing book, because it tends to divide people along the lines of two worldviews. It breaks down stereotypes common in the modern evangelical world and does so in a manner that is sometimes provocative (for instance, portraying God the Father as a minority woman). It consistently presents God in distinctively postmodern terms. Therefore, The Shack is a postmodern theological commentary, presented in story form (which, by the way, is also a distinctively postmodern medium for learning). It is very effective in reaching its intended audience, and that is why it has sold so many copies. It is a vehicle for a postmodern interpretation of God, and that is why it is loved by some and despised by others. It tends to reveal the division between people along cultural lines. The last book I remember doing this is Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller. Remember the stir caused by Blue Like Jazz?

In the posts to follow, I will reference a particular passage from the book, comment on its theological content, especially as it relates to Scripture, and identify ways in which Young is taking a distinctively postmodern interpretation of God. I hope you stay tuned!


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