If our political chaos isn’t enough to upset everyone, now we have the film version of William Taylor’s The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity. It’s created a great deal of controversy over its implied universalism, it’s decidedly LDS portrayal of God as three embodied beings, etc.
Personally the heart of the matter centres around the work’s theodicy. I covered the same ground back in January in my piece on Bart Campolo, where I took a swipe at Evangelical Christianity’s lame attempt to “solve” this problem. In that epic, Campolo’s critical moment with God came after a hard bicycle accident. As the NYT pointed out, Campolo had been raised in world where “his religion told him that a benevolent God controlled every last thing that happens on earth.” When things didn’t turn out as he had been led to believe, he bailed.
Fortunately, the secular side of my upbringing immunised me from this kind of thinking:
For me personally, it’s an entirely different ball game. If I had ever asked the question at home (and I can’t recall I ever did) “Why do bad things happen to good people,” the answer I probably would have gotten was, “So what? You just have to tough it out, and if you can’t, it’s too bad.” And, as I’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog, the home I grew up in was anything but an “ideal” Christian home. The difference between the two is significant. While Campolo’s concept on the existence of evil focused on God, the one I was presented with focused on me.
Faced with adversity, Campolo left Christianity; Taylor’s response, in effect, is to reinvent Christianity to solve the theodicy problem of Evangelicalism’s own making. But from my standpoint the reality of life doesn’t justify either one:
But hurdle I did, first because God came to me, and second because I never saw in the Scriptures the idea that this world was going to be perfect, and that eternity was the most important goal and would overshadow the pains of this life. Eternal life was one the one thing that God could give me that the world could not. But perhaps that all was because I looked at the Scriptures informed by the secular framework I was raised in. The theodicy issue, such an obsession with so many, was never a big deal for me. If these humanists were such great people, why didn’t they solve the problem of evil in the world?
Better answers are called for here, but better answers are in short supply in our culture today. Evangelicalism has painted itself into a corner on the theodicy issue, and it wants to get out of the shack it needs to do more than just mess the floor up on the way out.