Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Shack--"another jesus"?

There are those who believe in what Reinhold Neibuhr described as:

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

In other words, another Gospel, another Jesus, one watered-down and easy to swallow.

Does the popular book, The Shack, go against Paul's warning in 1 Corinthians 4:6 Do not go beyond what is written?

Jan Markell, whose Olive Tree Ministries I have trusted for years, states,

On page 110 Jesus says that He is perhaps not the way, truth, and life, but the BEST way to relate to the Father and Holy Spirit. Papa God, the African-American female, says she has many followers of many religions in different lands. This is not Orthodox Christianity, yet millions of Christian readers claim it is! Discernment has taken a summer vacation or perhaps a permanent vacation.

Mack asks "Papa" God, the female, about God's wrath. The answer is that she doesn't punish people for sin; rather she wants to cure sin. No mention of repentance, the shed blood, and all the things the new "seeker" environment wants to leave out in the church parking lot.

Yes, clearly, the “Jesus” of The Shack is not Jesus Christ of the Bible.

And God in a muu-muu and turban and cooking turnip greens and saying "sho 'nuff" to show that He has a wonderfully sweet side?

Nothing wrong with a warm, nuturing ethnic character like that. Nothing wrong with allegory in itself, as long as it doesn't misrepresent Scripture or go beyond what is written.

And, yes, I know God has a feminine side to His nature. Isaiah talks about Him comforting like a mother.

The book tries to make God more approachable to those who don't know Him or His love very well.

I can understand and cheer that motive with loud applause and kudos to the authors.

But that Papa is not God the Father, to me.

I think about Jesus at the funeral at Nain, where a widow had lost her only son and now had no man to help her. Jesus brought the son back to life. Our tender-hearted Lord was so moved by the woman's sorrow, He had to pause long enough to tell her, Don't cry.

This is the sweetness of our God in the flesh, Jesus Christ. I would urge people to share that passage instead of that book.

If anyone meets Him in a muu-muu first, well, I just hope The Shack isn't the only book they read!

And, our wonderful Holy Spirit, God who lives inside of us, is also a female and her name is Sarayu? Where does that name come from? Sarayu is a river in India. Please go here and click on this this one about Hindu spirits.

Why associate even obliquely, the blessed Holy Spirit with Hindu gods???
It just raises a red flag with me. It implies Universal Reconciliation, God brings everyone home, with or without the cross. What a waste!

Chuck Colson's column includes many links at the bottom. If his points aren't strong enough for you, he obviously just gets a check in his spirit.

It can seem overwhelming to know how to guard our hearts or to share the Truth.

From The Kingdom of the Cults tapes by the late Walter Martin, I learned a few quick, mind-boggling Bible passages that could apply to The Shack, and definitely to other things out there:

There are other gospels, other jesuses, other spirits. Paul is dismayed that Christians have received them:

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

Galatians 1:9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Whoa!

And to answer the error of the groups that tell us that works will qualify us for Heaven, that the goodness of our puny works is greater than God's hatred of sin and the complete work of the cross:

Galatians 3:1 You foolish Galatians! [Wow!] Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?"

Regarding being entertained by and taking lightly the things that God hates, such as wizardry and talking to the dead--spiritism:

Deuteronomy 18:9 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in [a] the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God.

Hmm, God doesn't seem to be aware that enticing books on this subject also entice children to read~

Let's also consider the fact that God made us in His image and He adores us. He's not looking to condemn us, but help us into knowing and loving Him. Blameless in His eyes by coming to Him by Way of the cross.

And for those that have a new revelation for a new time, a new place, a new society, I fell in love with Jude verse 3: Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend (defend vigorously) for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

I love that one so much because I once explored a cult that came knocking on my door, and I could have been led astray, myself. I am yes, eternally grateful that I found the Truth of the Word of God. Not that I have it all down perfectly, not that I am perfect, by any means. But having been pulled to safety, I just want to reach out to others in danger.

Most of us probably understand that we as writers have a huge responsibility.

Like it or not, we are sort of taking on the role as teachers.

Like it or not, Christian author just sounds a little authoritative.

Like it or not, this warning's attached:

James 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Ack! If we get it right, that's one thing. But, as always, and perhaps, moreso, today:

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Unsaved people who do not understand sin and salvation and the power of the blood of Christ (foreshadowed by thousands of years of sacrifices of doves, lambs and goats) look to us and our writing to at least represent the Truth that sets us free.

Saved people will look to us for confirmation, or at least, no contradiction. Safe to enjoy and share.

Not talking here about whether to use hymns or praise songs, sprinkling or immersion, or to drink or not, but the John 3:16-18 Gospel, itself, and the definitions of the Persons involved.

Walter Martin said again and again, Ask for definitions. Ask for definitions. Ask for definitions.

With God's help, and His definitions, we and our books won't lead readers astray, at which point, we recall, it would be better to have a millstone tied around our necks, as Jesus said, and be cast into the sea.

We live in the Post-Christian era, some say. Roger Ebert, liberal movie critic, even says we are spinning out of control. We certainly live in troubled times.

People don't know where to turn.

Some will turn to us and our books.

What an awesome responsibility!

Obviously, we want to comfort and strengthen and maybe lead them to the Lord.

But with the wrong definitions, we could lead some astray with another gospel, another jesus, another spirit.

I have to agree with that quote at the top:

This false teaching about a “God” who “dwells in, around, and through all things” is the kind of New Age leaven that, left unchallenged, could leaven the church into the New Age/New Spirituality of the proposed New World Religion. And while many people have expressed a great deal of emotional attachment to The Shack and its characters — this leaven alone contaminates the whole book.

Clearly, the “Jesus” of The Shack is not Jesus Christ of the Bible.

Others may disagree and enjoy the book. I love and respect my friends and they have that freedom. : )

But if this book really does present another Gospel--no sin--and another jesus--the best way instead of the only way--then my friend, Patty Carroll is not exaggerating when she calls the Shack "Shacking up with the Enemy."

I doubt that I'll ever read the book. I've read too many questionable reviews about images I just don't especially want in my mind and spirit. I try to heed the warning, "Guard your heart."

There will always be controversial books that skirt the truth. I don't need to read them all, even though conventional wisdom says I should, not to let others do my thinking for me, to be able to share the Truth with others, etc.

But I don't have to read every counterfeit in every bookstore along the pike to recognize the traits of a counterfeit trinity. I just need to know and share the priceless original Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


Anonymous said...

Its a book. Fiction. A wonderful story. Not adding to scripture. Jeepers.

Margo Carmichael said...

Well, thanks for your thoughts, Jeepers. ; )

Patricia said...

HI Margo,
Well done. Yoy have rounded up some great comments and scripture on this Trojan Horse of a book. Sad how easily it has slipped into mainstream Christianity and been eaten with such relish by believers.

Where's the salt?
Patty Carroll

Margo Carmichael said...

The salt's not in the Word as much as we should be, I guess, LOL

Margo Carmichael said...

Fiction or not, I think we're treading on thin ice when we misrepresent God. Who wants a novel written about them that makes them look like someone less than they are?