Most of us were raised with childish notions about God, sometimes planted in the gardens of our souls by others who had the best of intentions. But those ideas have found root and become assumptions that continue to engage our minds and hearts without question. Don’t be too surprised when the Holy Spirit begins messing with your garden and digging around in things that you might have long thought precious. – Wm. Paul Young
Remind me not to read books like this on the bus. It’s embarrassing to cry on public transit.
I heard about Lies We Believe About God a few weeks before I read it. What I heard was all negative. It appeared the haters were out in full force. Wm. Paul Young’s new book, his first work of non-fiction was generating controversy before it hit the stores. People who didn’t like The Shack didn’t like this one either. Given the timing, I was wondering how many people had actually read it before dumping on it. Yes, I know there are advance copies, but…
The release of the book was timed I’m sure to coincide with the release of the film version of The Shack. Might as well take advantage of the extra publicity.
Lies We Believe About God was heresy, the commentators said, showing the true heart of the author. If they could have issued a fatwah against Young they would have.
Young does not expect everyone to agree with everything he says. His thoughts are a work in progress – he admits he might change his mind on some of the topics he touches on. In a little more than 200 pages he looks at “lies” such as whether God is a Christian (spoiler alert: He’s not) and that “God wants to use me.” Ignoring the titillation factor, I found the book to be primarily an accessible apologetic, steeped in Scripture. You may disagree with his interpretation, but Young’s love for the Bible is self-evident. So is his understanding of what it means to be a Christian.
So what about those controversial chapter titles? The words aren’t all that controversial. Context is so important. I suspect many of the chapter titles were chosen for shock value to generate controversy and to make people think.
As The Shack was a testament to God’s love, so too is Lies We Believe About God. If you don’t want to take my word for it, I encourage you to get hold of a copy and read for yourself.
Are there words that may make you uncomfortable? Probably. Is Young a Universalist, which is the charge that most critics have leveled against him? I don’t think so (even if he does use the term, you have to read it in context). He might argue that God is a Universalist – God wants everyone to have a relationship with him. Why would we not believe that?
There were a couple of chapters where I found myself agreeing with the sentiment but feeling that the choice of words was less than ideal. Maybe that is the writer in me – I am always looking for a better way to say something.
Many times while I was reading I found myself reduced to tears as I realized once again the grace and love of God. As I said, I shouldn’t read such material on the bus on the way to work.
Those who trashed this book have my pity. I can only conclude that their preconceptions prevented them from understanding what Young is saying. Too bad, because somehow they missed out on a great blessing.