My name is John Stonecypher. When I first picked up THE SHACK, my expectations were not particularly high. In my experience, only the crappiest Christian books make it anywhere near bestseller lists. I was surprised to find it was a book of unparalleled depth, simplicity, and beauty. I’d spent the last several years studying ancient (pre-Augustinian) Christian theology, with its emphasis on the dynamic relationality of the Triune persons. And in Paul Young’s book, I found that same theology being played out in an imaginative and playful way that spoke deeply to my heart. And to my shock and delight, it seems it has spoken to the hearts of millions.
Still, in talking with people about the book, I heard one thing over and over again: “Wow, THE SHACK’s vision of God is awesome! Too bad it doesn’t sound much like the God of the Bible…”
I got tired of hearing that, so I decided to do something about it. That ‘something’ is The Shack Bible Project — my way of suggesting that Jesus, Papa and Sarayu are a faithful portrayal of the One whom English-language Bibles call “God.” By speaking the Scriptures in the language of THE SHACK, I intend to show that the book’s vision of God jives nicely with the Bible’s vision, not to mention the vision of ancient Christianity.
When the early Jesus-followers sat down to write down a summary of the Bible’s message, they produced the ancient ecumenical creeds — documents that don’t have much to say about a faraway solitary pissed-off elderly white dude. Instead, they speak of a man named Jesus, the one he called Father, and the elusive third one he called Spirit. The creeds speak of a life of love shared by these three, a life that is transforming the universe by incarnating itself within it. In other words, when the creeds look at the Bible, they see what The Shack sees.
I think our culture’s way of reading the Bible is skewed. Our unacknowledged assumptions form a lens which distorts our interpretations of the biblical text. In The Shack, Paul Young gave us a new lens through which we might see God more clearly. In The Shack Bible Project, I am trying to read the Bible afresh through that lens.
As I do that, I am seeing wonderful things that I never saw before. I hope you will find some benefit from my attempt to put what I see into words.
[NOTE: My work here builds on the work of Paul Young (the author of The Shack), but when my writing ends up being crap (Let’s face it, sometimes it does), it is in no way Paul’s fault. This blog is in no way endorsed by Paul, his book, his publisher, his cousin Frank, or his pet hamster. The words here are strictly mine, and I bear full responsibility for them when they come out wrong.]