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Monday, August 3, 2009

The Shack by William P. Young - Intro and The Trinity

"Mackenzie Allen Phillips's youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in this midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change his life forever." Product description off

The book The Shack took the Christian, and secular, world by storm. Originally self-published the book has risen to become a number one selling book and has ignited an enthusiastic following. Yet some have accused the book of heresy, and have identified many prominent theological errors in it.

In the interests of full disclosure, I do not like The Shack. I find it more than a little heretical and intend to treat it as such. If you are interested in an un-biased evaluation of the pros and cons of the book, keep looking. My purpose is to set out that which all Christians should find a matter of deep concern.

One of the first problems that people have with the book is it's portrayal of the Trinity. God the Father is portrayed as a black woman, Jesus as a middle-eastern man, and the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman.

The Father and Spirit have never been incarnated in human form. Jesus said “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth,” John 4:24.

The Ten Commandments forbids the use of images to worship God.

Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things”
(Romans 1:22,23).

To be quite fair and hopefully unbiased I must say that I have frequently seen images of God used in artwork and other venues and have not condemned the work as all bad because they fell short in that one place, but it is a matter for concern.

Young also fails to give God the glory, authority, majesty, and holiness, which is an inherent part of His nature. He truly makes God in the image of man. There is no sense of wonder and awe toward God, just a bunch of friends hanging out at the cottage.

On the gender issue. We are not called to be creative and inventive when it comes to the worship and understanding of God. Our duty is to live out what He has revealed in the Bible which is our source for truth. God is not masculine or feminine to be sure, but God is not a goddess. He reveals himself in the masculine and I don't think redefining God for shock value is a good idea.

Our church and culture today is suffering from a strong feminization. We don't need to encourage it. Even the men in The Shack were not positive, strong, masculine, Godly men (two guys hugging and holding hands down at the beach looking at the stars, one of them being Jesus, come on...).

I also have a problem with putting words into the mouth of God. Even in a fiction I find that it is too perilous an undertaking for any human to attempt.

There have been some to argue that the Shack is just allegory so we shouldn't get upset at the way he chooses to portray God. After all, people don't attack Narnia for portraying Jesus as a lion for example. The crux of the matter is, of course, the implications and lessons we learn from the allegory. This is what should really concern us in my view. Portraying God as a female in a culture where things like female pastors are a big issue is not neutral. When C.S. Lewis portrayed Jesus as a lion it wasn't neutral either, he was portraying something about the authority, majesty, and power of God (btw the Bible does compare Christ to a lion "the Lion of Judah" Lewis didn't invent that.). Our question is, are those implications correct. And yes the Chronicles of Narnia has theological implications, Lewis intended it to, and it is quite fair to critique it on that basis.

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