William Paul Young's Book The Shack is available for sale through LifeWay's website LifeWay has posted a Read With Discernment tag on the book. Discernment? The book is a work of fiction. It is an allegory. It is not a theological textbook, nor is it confessional statement like the Baptist Faith and Message. Again, The Shack is Christian FICTION.
What seems humorous to me is the feeling by some that it is necessary to place a Read With Discernment tag on the book. Sometimes I feel we Southern Baptists are the equivalent of second graders spiritually. Here you have a book that is Christian fiction. There is no illicit sex, no foul language, and no promotion of immorality in the book. For heaven's sake, it was written for the author's own CHILDREN. But we stamp a Read With Discernment tag on it.
But before we get all over LifeWay for the silly little tag, we must remember that it was placed on the book after a few Texas Southern Baptists went on a campaign to get the book removed as "harmful and dangerous" to the body of Christ. In other words, LifeWay resisted the book banning Baptists and compromised with a discernment tag. Thank the Lord. If we allow Baptist Identity adherents to have their way we will wind up as Southern Baptists having an elite group of all knowing leaders who will tell everyone else what is acceptable to read.
The desire of some to guard the eyes of all Baptists reminds me of what I read on a Jehovah Witness website about the dangers of anybody in the Jehovah's Witness movement thinking independently for himself or herself. The leaders wrote:
"Avoid independent thinking...questioning the counsel that is provided by God's visible organization." (Watchtower, Jan. 15, 1983 pg. 22)
"Fight against independent thinking." (Watchtower, Jan. 15, 1983 pg. 27 )
"Let us face the fact that no matter how much Bible reading we have done, we would never have learned the truth on our own." (Watchtower; Dec. 1, 1990; p. 19)
"Stay away from deep Bible study to determine meanings of the scriptures."" (JW Leader Karl Klein, Address to WT, April, 30, 1980)
William Paul Young, author of The Shack, will be at Emmanuel, Enid to speak on Saturday and Sunday, April 4-5, 2009. Our people are mature enough to read for themselves this work of fiction, and they will receive no "warning" that reading it may be harmful. Those present Saturday night will also have the opportunity to ask the author questions about the book and then on Sunday night we will listen to William Paul young recount his own spiritual journey and what led him to write the book. We may end up disovering that the author's theology doesn't line up with our own in all places. It will make us no difference. We are not a cult. We enjoy the feedom of debate. We appreciate differing views. We aren't threatened.
The Holy Spirit does a pretty good job of taking care of us.
So much so, we even don't mind people in our church reading the much more dangerous and bizarre Left Behind Books, which by the way, merit no discernment tag from LifeWay.