A Letter to the Kids

Our kids asked us about the book, The Shack.  Here’s what my wife and I wrote back:

Both Dad and I read The Shack . We think the overall premise of the book is right;    Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28), Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7), And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions. (Mark 11:25) Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt 5:44), He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. (John 12:25) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. (James 1:13)


That being said, there were several passages where we wrinkled our forehead and said,”…not exactly.” These things are not blatant, like saying a person can become a deity, but they are subtle, and miss the mark of what the Bible says. I will list a few of these passages.


Early in the story, when Mack is debating about whether the note could actually be from God, it says,  “In seminary he had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects. It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerners’ access to God was mediated and controlled by the intelligentsia.”


 There is no indication that God has quit talking to people in modern times, but it is important that we measure the things we feel God has told us by the scripture. This paragraph seems to downplay the authority of the Bible, portraying it as a tool used to control the masses.  The Canon of the Bible was affirmed based on universality, antiquity and consensus. That is, the books accepted into the canon were those that contained the faith held by the whole Church, had been used from antiquity, and were accepted as inspired by those in authority.  2 Peter 1:20-21 says, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “ All Scripture is inspired by God (God-breathed) and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” The Bereans are commended in Acts 17:11 as “more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.”  And in Acts 1: 16 Peter says, “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas…” , indicating that from the beginning the church held that if the scripture said it, that meant God said it. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The scriptures are not dead and dusty. They are the living Word of God; the standard we judge all things by.


We were both struck by the way the author chose to characterize the Trinity. Papa says, “I am neither male or female, though both genders are derived from my nature…For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.”


It is true that God is not male or female ( God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth John 4:24)) and that both male and female are created in the image of God (And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them Gen 1:27) However, God is always called our Father in the Bible. I don’t think following what the Bible says is “religious conditioning.”


Papa is talking and says, “Authority, as you usually think of it, is merely the excuse the strong  use to make others conform to what they want…..We carefully respect your choices, so we work within your systems even while we seek to free you from them. Creation has been taken down a very different path than we desired” 


In another place, Papa says, “I live in a perpetual state of satisfaction….We created you to share that. But then Adam chose to go it on his own, as we knew he would, and everything got messed up. But instead of scrapping the whole creation, we rolled up our sleeves and entered into the middle of it. That’s what we have done in Jesus.”


These two passages smack of an idea called open theism, which says that God does not make decisions until He sees what man is going to do.  The future does not yet exist, so it cannot be foreknown even by God. God is reduced to reacting to mans’ choices and actions. In an attempt to retain the ability of man to make choices that are real options, this idea denies God’s sovereignty.  There are many scriptures that detail the sovereignty of God. He is in control. He is not taken by surprise. (“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” Ephesians 1:4; “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under that Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as  sons.” Galatians 4:4-5; “And God said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. But I also will judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions.’” Genesis 15:13-14)


On two different occasions, Mack is taking to Jesus.

            “So how do I become a part of that church?”

            “It’s simple – It’s all about relationships and simply sharing life. Just doing this – and being open and available to others around us.”




            “Remember, the ones who know me are the ones who are free to live and love without any agenda.”

            “Is that what it means to be a Christian?”

            “Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian….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….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, into my Beloved.”

            “Does that mean all roads lead to you?”

            “Not at all. Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.”


Jesus does call people from every possible place and situation. (“…For You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” Revelation 5:9) But He calls them to repent, come out from where they were, and follow Him. (“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24) ( “…’Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said to them, “Repent , and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins;” Acts 2:37-38) Some people like to center on God’s love, as here; relationship, sharing life, available to others, free to live and love without agenda, join in their transformation. Others like to center on God’s holiness, and then we get legalism. The truth is, He is both and you cannot have one without the other. (“…God is love.” 1 John 4:8, “…Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts,” Isaiah 6:3)


Papa is talking here: “Although by nature  he is fully God, Jesus is fully human and lives as such. While never losing the ability to fly, he chooses moment by moment to remain grounded. That is why his name is Immanuel – God with us, or God with you, to be exact.

            “But what about all the miracles…Doesn’t that prove that Jesus was God – you know, more than human?”

            “No, it proves that Jesus is truly human. I can fly, but humans can’t. Jesus is fully human. Although he is also fully God, he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being. He is just the first to do it to the utmost – the first to absolutely trust my life within him, the first to believe in my love and my goodness without regard for appearance or consequence.”

            “So when he healed the blind?”

            “He did so 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. Only as he rested in me, and in our communion, our co-union – could he express my heart and will into any given circumstance. So when you look at Jesus and it appears that he’s flying, he really is…flying. But what you are actually seeing is me; my life in him. That’s how he lives and acts as a true human, how every human is designed to live – out of my life.


One of the major things that heresies center on is the person of Jesus. This passage makes him nothing more than a human who was able to stay in touch with God. Jesus emptied Himself, and took on the form of a servant.( Philippians 2:6-7) He chose to limit Himself, yet He remained fully God, and retained His authority as God. Check out these miracles: “But Jesus turning and seeing her said, ‘Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.’ And at once the woman was made well.” Matthew 9:22;  “He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm….And they became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and sea obey Him?’” Mark 4:39 & 41; “And seeing Jesus he cried out and fell before Him, and said, ‘What do I have to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.’ …And they were entreating Him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons entreated Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission. And the demons came out from the man and entered into the swine.” Luke 8:28, 31-33. God is indeed present, as is the Holy Spirit, for the three persons of the Trinity are one. But Jesus did not have to “channel” power from the Father. He himself was fully God

Published in: on 17 February 2009 at 10:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Winter of Our Discontent

I have just watched the film Demographic Winter.  The viewing has prompted me to make a couple of observations.

It is obvious that, if verifiable, these statistics are deeply troubling.  Everyone needs to see this movie and we need to see independent verification of the data.  That being said….

I was chagrined by the amazement that there is a God, that He spoke the truth, and that the truth produces certain measurable results in the “real” world.  No one is amazed when they drop a rock and it falls to the ground.  No one is amazed when heat rises.  But, those interviewed in the film seemed astounded that there could be revealed truth and that the truth is not cultural or relative.  Could it be possible that those crazy Christians had been telling the truth all along?

Christians seem entirely too ready to make common cause with former enemies.  Several atheists and non-believers, loudly protesting that they were not making any statement about morality, touted biblically-based solutions to the impending demographic disaster.  Believers seem ready to flock to these “scientists” who can give hard evidence, demographic proof, to something that we all knew was true since we were children.  One has to ask if God wants us to throw in our lot with those who do not believe in our Christ, but now see the “demographic evidence,” the handwriting on the wall, and want to garner the support of the church.

Several examples from Scripture come to mind.  Simon (Acts Ch. Eight) saw the results of the prayers of Peter and John.  When the apostles prayed for people, the Holy Spirit fell upon the recipients of their prayers.  Simon had empirical proof of the work of God, but he did not have faith.  Peter told him: “You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right before God.”  The seven sons of the Jewish chief priest, Sceva, had seen Paul cast out demons.  They could see and verify the results.  But when these unbelievers attempted to use the power of God without personal faith, “they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”  Tertullian once told the heretics to stop using the Bible to buttress their atheistic arguments.

Is it so surprising that the one man-one woman union that God instituted should produce the strongest children?  Is it so surprising to us that lesbian couples raise children that are less than fully balanced?  Why do statistics make us believe what should be obvious to just about any educated person?

Published in: on 10 February 2009 at 9:09 am  Leave a Comment