Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Shack & The Gospel According to Mack Part II

As I prepared to write this blog, I came to four interesting realizations. First,there is a LOT of information here. Way more that I can cleverly construct into one blog. Second, I don't want to begin a series of blogs on this topic. I would much rather sit down with others and discuss these issues, and there are countless resources available that have done a much better job of critiquing this book than I have. Third, this blog was never meant to be a forum for me to write theological dissertations. So I'll spare you the boredom! And forth, I have no desire to promote arguments, division or an create and atmosphere of judgment. With that said, I chose to take somewhat of a different angle toward this.

You see, when you get right down to it, the main issue here is not whether or not Wm. Paul Brown's The Shack. is Biblically relevant or accurate. That is really a secondary issue. The main issue that we face here is that the Church, in and of itself, has become Biblically illiterate. And yes; that means you and me. And as I write these words, I mentally see myself in the mirror and point my finger in accusation. Those of us in ministry are just as guilty of neglecting the diligent study of God’s Word as those in the “real world”. 1 Peter 3:15 says that we should “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Unfortunately, if most of us are completely honest with ourselves, we must admit that we have fallen somewhat short. So, I wonder to myself. How can I judge anyone for building a theological construct based on this book when leaders are not encouraging the Church to begin with God’s Word? We should base our beliefs on Scripture and allow other sources, like The Shack, to enhance our faith; not vice-versa. What culture has done with this book is allowed it to take precedence over God’s Word, rather than saying to ourselves, “Hmmm. This is really interesting stuff. Very thought provoking. I feel that God may be moving in my life through these words, but how does it line up with HIS words?”

Let me also say that I have no desire to judge anyone by my views toward The Shack. Each person’s individual spiritual journeys are different and God works in our lives in various manners through His Holy Spirit. I firmly believe that the “experiential” aspect of faith can be just as valid and powerful as the physical or spiritual. If your experience with The Shack has caused you to grow into a deeper relationship with God, it is not my place to judge the validity of that. If you have grown deeper in your understanding of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, I only ask you to consider my views, and factor them into your theological foundation.

We also have to acknowledge that our understanding of God will always be limited to our human vessels. The doctrine of the Trinity is, and will always be, an incredible mystery. And even when we reach heaven and see God face to face, the reality of this concept will never be fully grasped.

In addition, we must remember that The Shack is a book of fiction. Because of limitations with this genre of literature, it is very difficult to compare and critique in light of Scripture. There is an emotional and experiential element that will always cloud reality. There are many statements that the author makes that are challenging to decipher simply because they are made through the lens of the author or through the interaction of characters in the story. The best bet in these situations is to trust in the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment.

However, there are clearly some theological problem with this book. I feel that these issues need to be addressed in order to remain true to Scripture and God's truth. Like I said earlier, there are theologians, pastors and speakers that are much wiser than I am, so I decided to attach a video by Pastor Mark Driscoll Of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. He has done a phenomenal job in laying out the main objections to The Shack. A much better job than I have done, but has addressed the main issues that have caused me concern. Watch with an open mind and heart and allow God to guide you in your journey.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Shack & The Gospel According to Mack Part I

I know that this is going to surprise some people, and maybe offend others, but I am not a big fan of Wm. Paul Brown’s The Shack, nor do I recommend it to anyone. “Gasp!” There! I said it! I can just hear the comments streaming through cyberspace and radiating through my computer: “What can you possibly have against this beautiful book?” “How dare you say anything negative about this theological masterpiece?” “Where do you base your opinions? Did you actually read the book?” Well, Yes. I finally conceded and read The Shack. Being in ministry, I thought that it would only be fair to delve into this phenomenon and develop my own opinion, rather than relying on word of mouth. And I have to admit, it was somewhat entertaining. It is very creatively and thoughtfully written. Brown obviously poured his heart and soul into this writing, and the issues he writes on are obviously very close to his heart. It’s engaging. It’s thought provoking. And it's heresy; plain and simple. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Heresy is not a very popular word these days. We live in a very politically correct culture, and unfortunately that sort of mindset has seeped into the Church. I mean, how dare I judge someones theological views of Christianity that might differ from mine? Aren’t we supposed to have a mind of tolerance in today’s postmodern culture? Well, Yes! I would say we should, and 99% of the time, I do. In fact, I’ve been accused of being somewhat of a “liberal thinking Christian” by some of my friends in ministry.

But regardless of social trends, and the Church’s attempts to remain culturally relevant, the very basic teachings of Christianity cannot be compromised. I think we have to eventually draw a proverbial line in the sand and stand by the truths of Scripture: God’s word revealing Himself to the world, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and fulfilled in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Basically, heresy is a thought or belief that rejects, or teaches something that is contrary to a basic belief system or a particular religious doctrine. Within the Church, there are certain truths that define Christianity and make it what it is. Heresy is a teaching that denies one or more of these basic truths. For instance, there was a movement within the early Church called Docetism, that rejected the fact that Jesus was human. Since this thought went against the basic teachings of the incarnation of Christ, and the humanity of Jesus, it was classified as heresy and dangerous to the early Church. The Docetists also denied that Jesus rose from the dead, which is essential to the basics of Christianity. Another group called the Nicolaitans were considered heretics because they believed that sins committed in the body did not affect the spirit. Because of this, they believed that there were no sexual sins that were off limits! Maybe an appealing thought in modern culture, but heresy none the less!

So, why do I consider The Shack to be heresy? Well, give it some thought, and I’ll let you know what I think in my next post!

Ha Ha! Now I’ve got your curiosity peaked!