The Shack, written by William Paul Young, has received its fair share of criticism and praise. With more than six million copies sold, the book has become one of the most talked about Christian works of the decade.
For a book that was originally intended to be a spiritual gift from a father to his children, a lot of discussion has been stirred from the theology and imagery of God that is found in the book.
The university was able to hear a unique viewpoint on the story, one that many haven’t heard.
The author spoke at Chapel about his journey as the author of The Shack and about God in general.
His life experiences and upbringing caused him pain and confusion in his faith.
Young said, “My theology was that Jesus came to save me from a ticked-off God.”
Freshman psychology major Spencer Sims said he benefited from Young sharing his past.
“I liked at the end how he was willing to be honest with us about his upbringing, and use that to influence the future generation,” he said. “He uses his past to help rather than hiding behind it or resenting it.”
Once Young experienced religion as more than just the rules, he began to understand more clearly what being a Christian truly means. He spoke on how individuals’ views of God affect their trust in him.
Young urged attendees to know who he is rather than focus on childhood or made-up perceptions of him.
“The God of your imagination will not show up for you,” he said.
In his book, the trinity is described in an unconventional manner with God the Father being portrayed as a large African American woman who knows how to make a hearty meal.
Young said that he didn’t actually believe God was how he portrayed him in the book, but that he is simply more than popular depictions.
Resident Director of McLane Hall, Wendi Fitzwater, found herself right in the middle of the controversy of Young’s portrayal of God.
“I don’t know that I agree with it, but I don’t necessarily think it’s wrong,” she said.
Fitzwater read the book and said it challenged her previous view of God.
“It gave me a completely different perspective to visualize God outside of what I normally was taught in a very structured environment on religion,” she said.
Young challenged the audience by presenting several theological questions. His purpose in doing so was to explain what he believes about God’s love and pursuit of everyone.
“He is coming after you so you can be fully free—to be yourself,” Young said. “He loves us like that, and we are not powerful enough to change that.”
Young has seen the love God has for him in the success of his book. He said that God has released him from financial fear.
At first more than 20 publishers turned down his book. When he finally did find someone to accept the book, it took only $300 to print, and it looked as if The Shack had no hope of making a profit.
Then, the book started becoming popular. It took off and topped the lists of many reviews. Young considers it a miracle that the book has blown up like it has.
He said that The Shack’s success can be attributed to word of mouth and—of course—”the power of God.”