Finding God in The Shack

Rauser ShackRandal Rauser’s recent book, Finding God in the Shack, is an important addition to the emerging church ‘conversation’. Rauser addresses many of our long held assumptions about God and our traditional understanding of the nature of inspiration. The Shack confronts our comfortable theological conditioning by presenting God the ‘Father’ as a large African-American woman and the Spirit as and Asian woman. Moreover, the story line forces us to think through our notions about the trinity and why God allows suffering.

We accept the testimony of the scriptures that its authors were inspired by God. We therefore assume that the descriptions of God found in scripture are factual. But, what if they speak truths without being facts? In other words, could God have been speaking in a manner that fit the finiteness of human minds? When a mother speaks babble to an infant and the infant responds with joy, she isn’t factually speaking any known language but she is – in truth – speaking love. Could we have assumed more about the scriptures than is really helpful? Just because something is ‘inspired’ doesn’t necessitate that it is factual. It can be pointing us to truth without being fact. To assume otherwise is to suspect that the infinite eternal God speaks to us as equals – which, clearly, is not a fact. Rather, the infinite God accommodates us.

The curious question is, what happens when humans become aware of accommodation? Does such awareness insist that we re-examine the nature of inspiration and rethink many of our theological notions? Wasn’t the incarnation an accommodation?

Our human tendency to make concrete that which is metaphorical is immense. God is good, therefore God would never speak non-factually, said a preacher friend of mine recently. With such narrow thinking former Christians who are now atheistic used that same reasoning. If God truly was good he would never have allowed my innocent child to suffer abuse – the underlying story in The Shack. But, what if God is good and does allow suffering that he could have prevented? What if God is good and yet does meet us where we are as sinful human beings, speaking to us through ideas that are not factual, but were intended only to convey truths?

Read the book.

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