I received this today from someone I’d met a few years ago:
Sorry to see some people attacking you and The Shack. I don’t agree with the extremism of their reaction. I read the book and it was a big blessing to me personally.
How are you standing up? Have you formulated any kind of a response? If so I’d like to receive a copy. I suppose they have some points that are valid, but what are they missing here?
Maybe (your critics) bring up some valid points that you need to write other book(s) for, to bring in the catch of readers that have initially been brought in by the first books? What points do the critics have against the emerging thing that are valid? Which are invalid or misunderstood?
Anyhow, I love you brother and I thank you for your work.
I thought others of you might be also be interested in reading my response:
Thanks for your note and thanks for asking about my own well-being. I really appreciate that. I responded to some of these concerns on my blog a few months ago. If you haven’t read it, you can see it here.
But to answer your other questions, we love the genuine conversation that THE SHACK has spawned about who is God, really? We wrote the book to be provocative and edgy so that people would rethink their own relationship with him and whether they are coming to know the God of the Bible or simply following the rules and rituals of a religion called Christianity. When push comes to shove in the broken places of people’s lives, rules and rituals just won’t cut it. People hunger to know a Living God and a resurrected Christ who make themselves known in our lives through Christ’s work on the cross and who can intervene in the most devastated places of their lives. We love hearing that families, co-workers and neighbors have been able to have extensive conversations about God because they’ve read THE SHACK and want to talk about it with others.
Not every one has to agree with what we wrote. I don’t think there’s a book on my shelf, except for the Bible, that I would agree with cover to cover. We all see through a glass darkly while we are being transformed into his image. So we love the honest conversations and concerns that people have raised. It seems God wants to have a significant conversation with our culture about who he is and how he invites people back from the brink of sin’s destruction to embrace him and his forgiveness. We’ve been invited into a large space to interact with all kinds of people about God, who he is and what he wants to accomplish in our lives. We are blessed to be there.
We also recognize that there are those who are so threatened by the book and its success that they use dishonest means to discredit the book and those of us who worked on it. There is much that is untrue in the blogs and articles that are being written about THE SHACK and me. Their tactics are always the same: distort the content so you can disagree with it, marginalize the people behind it by calling them names (emergent or universalists) and make them guilty by association with others they read or relate to. How sad for them! Refusing to engage the ideas of the Gospel, they instead posture themselves as judge and jury and that on false information. Unfortunately they may miss a wonderful work Father wants to do in our world and in their hearts.
But just for the record, I am not a universalist or an ultimate reconciliationist. I believe in the God of the Bible and his offer of salvation for whomever accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And I have never been in the emergent conversation. In fact there is much in that movement that gives me great concern. While I love a lot of the questions they are asking, I don’t always agree with the conclusions they come to, their political answers, or their attempts to start another franchise of Christianity. But I know great brothers and sisters among them who love the God I love and who live deeply in him. I can overlook their faults as they overlook mine. This journey is not for people who have it all figured out and want to force others into their prejudices, but for people whom Jesus is transforming by a ongoing work of grace.
But how am I doing? Though I’m a bit overwhelmed with all that begs for my attention these days, honestly, none of this gets me down. I learned a long time ago that if you care what people think about you, you are owned by anyone willing to lie about you. This is all in God’s hands, and I truly believe he is even using the controversy and the lies that are told about us to further his purpose. I am more than OK with that. Everything about my life that matters, with God, my family and friends is fulfilling and complete. I don’t need to have others speak well, or even honestly, of me. That is God’s to sort out in his way and his time.
A wise man said to me years ago in the midst of a painful betrayal: “When you’re following Jesus time and light are always on your side.” It is my ongoing hope and prayer that God will bring all things to the light and let them be seen for what they truly are.
And we’ll write and publish more as God allows. And we’re well on our way to making that movie of THE SHACK, which will only bring another wave of frustration from those who believe we’re out to destroy God’s work in the world instead of spread it with joy into some pretty incredible places.