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William P. Young: Whence the Source of Our Identity?

17 September 2008

Servant80_000_Page_01 I am trying to do a white paper on the popular book, The Shack.  It is a huge bestseller (2 million copies in print) that is causing a great deal of controversy.  I periodically do "white papers" and make them available to our congregation. I did a hugely popular one on The DaVinci Code as well as others. 

But while doing my research, yesterday’s mail brought a copy of Servant magazine,  the house organ of Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta (NE of Calgary).  And lo and behold, there was an extensive interview with William P. Young, the author of "The Shack."  Young lives here in the Portland area and I haven’t seen him do very many interviews at all, so this caught my attention. 

In the interview, Young has an insightful quote.  He says,

People find their identity in ‘being right.’

Like so  many things in life there is that Socratic golden mean.  On the one hand, doctrine is important.  Ideas have consequences.  You cannot be wishy-washy about truth.  On the other hand, I have to recognize my finiteness and limited perspective.  I am not God.  I do not have a perfect handle on this thing called truth. 

But many believers base more of their identity on "being right" than they do in Christ.  Can correct doctrine be a false idol?  I am not sure I would go that far, but I do recognize that it is idolatry to base my identity on ANYTHING but Jesus Christ.  That would include "being right." 

That raised numerous questions in my mind:

  • Am I OK with basing my identity on Christ instead of being right. 
  • What would that look like?
  • Is my defense of my doctrinal positions based on being a son or daughter in Christ first, with the realization that understanding the things of God is a life-long journey? 
  • Or what would happen if suddenly I discovered that the way I looked on a number of things was just plain wrong biblically? 
  • Would it shake my faith in who I am as a believer? 
  • What do we teach our church people about "being right" versus finding our identity in Christ?

I may write more about this another day (I may not.)  When the whitepaper is done, I will let you know.

You can find an extended version of the interview here.

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