I am finishing Lewis’ The Great Divorce, while one third through The Shack. In light of my interview with blogger Tim Challies on the book, I decided to read it myself in order to stay informed. Lewis’ fiction is remarkably saturated in Biblical imagery. It is speculative, of course, as every fiction is, but it stays within the confines of Biblical revelation. Hell is like people becoming farther and farther away from each other, says Lewis. One can fathom such thought without breaking any creedal assertion or denying Biblical revelation. Lewis places a strong distinction between the ones who submit to God’s will and those who follow their own wills. These are all Biblical evaluations of humanity’s destiny.
The Shack on the other hand is sterilized from the tradition and historic Christian language. God the Father becomes Papa. Though I am not yet in the encounter between Mackenzie and the “godhead”–which begins in chapter 5– I can already picture the trivialization of the sacred Triune relationship. “But you need to make God more like us,” some will say. But this is exactly what He already did when Christ became the Messiah-Incarnate. What more do we need?
The intentions surrounding the book surely are pure. It is hard not to be captivated by the overwhelming sense of loss a father has when his daughter is missing; or the unimaginable thought of a daughter being sexually abused by a serial killer. The story is indeed gripping and if one reads it long enough he/she may even find a touch of redemption; the kind we all look for in movies and fictions. But is redemption always pure? What if redemption is filled with images of a clumsy Jesus? What if the God of all creation is distorted to look like something Church dogma has always neglected? To be redeemed in the truly Biblical sense is to be redeemed as God says He redeems. One must be redeemed by the real Jesus shown and revealed on the cross and ascended to the right hand of the Father.
“But isn’t this just fiction,” one may ask. This is not to be read with theological eyes. But is “Christian” fiction the perfect excuse to eradicate the Biblical view of God and make it into a tangible one? Tolkien and Lewis borrow from the Biblical imagery of lambs and lions and they purposefully place it in a mythical land, so there can be no doubt that though God is like a lion, He is not a real, physical lion. But what apologetic can you use for a fiction that is so real you can actually point to someone who has experienced such a thing? After all, we all hear of disappearances, kidnapping and the like everyday.
William Young seems deeply infected with the God of fiction rather than the God of Scriptures. It has always been easy to make God into our own image. Accepting Him as He is…that’s a different story.