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.

1 comment:

MS said...

I'm with you on this, Jake...very thoughtful on your part.