27 January 2010

Another Look at "The Shack"

In another superbly written article, Al Mohler spells out the unbiblical errors within the pages of the popular fictional work by William P. Young, The Shack. The ultimate heresies in the book are the misunderstanding of the Trinity and its push for universal redemption. Mohler writes, While the literary device of an unconventional "trinity" of divine persons is itself sub-biblical and dangerous, the theological explanations are worse. "Papa" tells Mack of the time when the three persons of the Trinity "spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God." Nowhere in the Bible is the Father or the Spirit described as taking on human existence. The Christology of the book is likewise confused. "Papa" tells Mack that, though Jesus is fully God, "he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being." When Jesus healed the blind, "He did so only as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone." And further, The relationship of the Father to the Son revealed in a text like John 17 is rejected in favor of an absolute equality of authority among the persons of the Trinity. "Papa" explains that "we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity." In one of the most bizarre paragraphs of the book, Jesus tells Mack: "Papa is as much submitted to me as I am to him, or Sarayu to me, or Papa to her. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way." As Mohler points out, the Church has spent centuries correcting these errors and the popularity of this book teaches us that many of us have returned to the heresies that have plagued the Church since the time of the early church fathers.

Mohler, on the subject of universal redemption, continues, The most controversial aspects of The Shack's message have revolved around questions of universalism, universal redemption, and ultimate reconciliation. Jesus tells Mack: "Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don't vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions." Jesus adds, "I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved." Another heresy that is has been fought and we shall continue to fight. A concept that the liberals just won't let go.

Mohler wisely and convincingly concludes, In evaluating the book, it must be kept in mind that The Shack is a work of fiction. But it is also a sustained theological argument, and this simply cannot be denied. Any number of notable novels and works of literature have contained aberrant theology, and even heresy. The crucial question is whether the aberrant doctrines are features of the story or the message of the work. When it comes to The Shack, the really troubling fact is that so many readers are drawn to the theological message of the book, and fail to see how it conflicts with the Bible at so many crucial points. ...The Shack is a wake-up call for evangelical Christianity. ...The popularity of this book among evangelicals can only be explained by a lack of basic theological knowledge among us -- a failure even to understand the Gospel of Christ. The tragedy that evangelicals have lost the art of biblical discernment must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine.

Let's pick up our Bibles and Confessions and Catechisms and get back to work. Let's get and maintain a Biblical view of these two crucial doctrines for our Lord and King.

Read the entire article here.

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