From the Open House Archives…
When William Paul Young sat down to write a story for his children about a man who meets God in a forest shack, little did he know what would follow. The Shack became a publishing phenomenon and has now made it to screen, starring Australia’s Sam Worthington as the central character Mack, and Octavia Spencer as ‘Papa’.
For some, The Shack has been life changing with its creative portrayal of the Trinity and its exploration of God’s presence in the midst of pain. For others, it’s heresy.
In 2008, when the book had sold a mere 4 million copies (it’s now more than 20 million), William Paul Young dropped by the Open House show, at the time hosted by Sheridan Voysey, to explore the book’s meaning, the personal story behind it, and respond to the critics.
We revisit that interview here.
Part 1 – The Message of The Shack and its Surprising Success
We discuss the message and the surprising success of The Shack – a tale of a man who loses his daughter and meets God to discover an answer to suffering.
Part 2 – The Eleven-Year Battle that Inspired the Book
Paul shares the 11-year personal battle that led to The Shack. We hear of his childhood abuse, later addictions and betrayals; his drive to please people and God to find affection; why religion never healed him, and the event on January 4, 1994 that turned his life upside down.
Part 3 – Why is God the Father Portrayed as a Woman?
We learn why Paul presents God the Father as an African American woman named ‘Papa’ and the Holy Spirit as an Asian-looking woman named ‘Sarayu’. Paul also explores some of the more common misconceptions about God, and why God is all about relationship rather than religion.
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Part 4 – Has he Created an Idol? Paul Young Answers his Critics
In answer to his critics, Paul discusses whether Jesus made mistakes, whether portraying God the Father as an African American woman has created an idol, and whether his portrayal of God is demeaning.
Part 5 – Is There a Hell, and Understanding the Nature of God
We conclude with a discussion about whether there is a place called hell, and how we can best understand the nature of God.