Author Asks 'Is There a God, Really?'

William Paul Young has held many jobs, but he never thought he would be considered an author.

His wife persuaded him to write "The Shack," a book about faith and hardship, for his kids and family. After reading the book, two of his friends worked with him to have 10,000 copies of the book privately published.

The book sold out. Now, it's a New York Times best-seller with 5.5 million copies in print.

In "The Shack," Young pens a fictional tale about Mackenzie Allen Philips, whose youngest daughter is abducted and possibly murdered. Four years later, when Philips receives a letter apparently from God, it causes him to question where the Divine One is in a pain-filled world.

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"I think it asks the questions that we've all been wanting to talk about for a long time," Young told "Good Morning America." "You know, is there a God really and what would it be like? How would things change if this God actually cared about us?"

In the course of the story Philips runs into the Holy Trinity, but the three don't look much like the traditional teachings generally describe.

"It's definitely built inside orthodoxy in terms of it's a portrayal of the Trinity -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- but I really wanted to build different imagery for my children," he said. "And you have to always remember I'm writing this for my kids and they're 15 to 28. They're not little, but I don't want them to be stuck in the same paradigms that I grew up in where God was Gandolf with an attitude, or Zeus."

But Young said the scope of the book reaches beyond Christianity.

"I think we've substituted religion for relationships so often and I don't care what kind of religion it is and even the Christian religious parts," he said. "It's just guilt- and fear-motivated behavioral modification. Trying to work hard enough to get to God and everything about God is relational and God knows where we hurt and God knows how lost we are and God will move to us rather than us having to try to find him."

Like his beliefs, Young said the book is based on some of the challenges of his life. Young and his wife, Kim, have coped during the last 15 years with marital and financial problems, including infidelity, bankruptcy and losing their home.

"Mackenzie's weekend is 11 years of my life, but I'm writing -- I don't want to write an 11-year book. My kids couldn't handle it," he said. "[Mackenzie] has had a tough go and a devastating loss."

"It's a great thing to know in these kinds. ... There is a God who has great affection for us, who has included us in his relationship -- father, son and holy spirit. The God fundamentally is a relational being and that validates the way we love and forgive one another," he said.

Check out an excerpt of "The Shack" below.

Chapter 1: A Confluence of Paths

Two roads diverged in the middle of my life,
I heard a wise man say
I took the road less traveled by
And that's made the difference every night and every day
—Larry Norman (with apologies to Robert Frost)

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