Saturday, 30 May 2009

The Shack & 8 Secrets of Happiness - all in half term!

I’ve now decided the Spring Bank Holiday week is definitely a good week not to have a holiday! OK I had an extra day off, but the whole week has felt like a holiday – no evening commitments means I’ve done some decorating, been to the theatre twice in eight days, watched some football, had a lovely evening in the garden – brilliant. Basically, it seems the rest of the world is away, or doesn’t want to see me because half their leaders are. Among other things I’ve been able to finish a couple of books, which I believe are really useful for where are message really needs to be heard – beyond the walls of the church.

‘The Shack’ by William P Young – OK, the rest of the world has probably already read this and I must admit I’ve put it off for a good while – I hardly ever instinctively warm to a Christian book with so much hype. I’d heard a number of criticisms before reading it – from pastors who were complaining about the theology and seemingly very anxious about how people might get the wrong ideas etc.

My reaction to the book? Loved it. My reaction to the criticisms? My suggestion is we dethrone our theologies about God in favour of God himself. Here we have a book which has, spoken powerfully into peoples lives who were not in any real relationship with him (and I’m sure it will continue to do so). Let’s remember this is not the bible – it is a story and we need all the help we can get in terms of raising the consciousness of the God story in people’s hearts and minds. The Shack expresses questions, which I guess are already partially formed in people and provides some challenging, emotive, but ‘theological’ responses.

‘The 8 Secrets of Happiness’ by Martin Robinson & Paul Griffiths. I’m not reviewing the book here as my colleague, Alisdair has done so on our WEBA website. It’s also difficult to comment as I count both Martin & Paul as friends. I hope it’s not just personal bias, but it is extremely well written in terms of communicating a whole variety of big ideas and theories in an easy to read manner. Again, the target audience is not within the church and the Christian perspective is ever present, but not high profile.

If I was the pastor of a local church both of these books would be available for members to use wisely in giving away as both could be very useful in helping somebody coming towards a relationship with Jesus. Now having realised this, I’m wondering why so very few churches seem to do things like this when part of our ‘job’ is to cultivate the environment for those within the church to not just find faith for themselves, but enable others to have the same opportunites. 


Andy Goodliff said...

Nigel, my issue with the Shack is not so much the theology, I applaud its attempt to write about the Trinity. Its just as another blogger put it, its crap literature, plus it is overly negative about the church and by putting this negativity into the mouth of God, actually not that helpful to those of us who care about the church.

Nigel Coles said...

cheers Andy - you're a brave man - I wouldn't dare enter into a debate about the quality of literature as they often end up like those about art and music! However, I wont disagree with you on that either. I must admit I didn't come away feeling the negativity about the church and whilst it's true, it's there, I'm not nervous about how someone not yet a Christian would be put off by that - unless they use it to confirm their previous bad experiences. Someone has just lent a copy to my sister-in-law 'you might like this' - the reader is not yet a Christian who just picked it up somewhere - I'll ask her what she thought about it as these are the opinions I'm really interested in the most. Thanks.