Thoughts and impressions on the newly acclaimed movie “The Shack” and other distressing occurrences which are disguised as being something, they are actually not. If not heeded with careful evaluation, it’s implications will be disastrous.
We have to start wake up and realize we’ve become a doctrinal mess, and we must become of noble character, to receive absolutes with great eagerness and examine the Scriptures, and proclamation of truth every day.
As I can see, somewhere, unnoticed, undetected by our own awareness fall through and manipulates how we access things and how we come to sound assessments. It looks to me, that this dilemma is making its round right in my neighborhood. I know I don’t have any right to propose anything, but simply want to draw attention to a misconception that influences the way we perceive things.
Obviously the main issue leading to all of this is the lack of discernment. Sinclair Ferguson put it this way, “the only worthwhile discernment we possess is that which we receive in union with Christ, by the Spirit, and through God’s Word.”
We all know that people often do not see issues clearly and are easily misled because they do not think realistically. We can identify that easily in others, but when it comes to ourselves, our highly exaggerated SELF is playing a game with us.
I am not going to get into any exhaustive research of what discernment is, but I believe we all can identify that the essence of discernment would be to learn to think God’s thoughts, practically and spiritually, it would mean having a sense of how things look in God’s eyes and seeing them in some measure uncovered and laid bare. At one point, we have to make ourselves vulnerable to truth, in spite of thinking we got it all right.
I am not trying to win an argument, but rather try to attempt, driven by the concern for other souls, to defend truth against error, based on infinite truth and what Scripture means by what it says.
This is the paramount attack on absolute truth, an attack on immeasurable values we do not know much about, an attack on the essence of what God represents. So, in other words, it is important to pay attention, as we are taught to think a certain way undefining Christianity.
H. Spurgeon explained it this way: I am no man’s enemy, bit I am the enemy of all teaching which is contrary to the Word of the Lord.
Although our thoughts on that matter might be well-intended, there has to be an inner uprising when seeing truth being manipulated and not just avoid controversy and trying to please everyone, finding a right balance so to speak.
2 Peter 2:1-3 (AMP)
But [in those days] false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will subtly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways, and because of them the way of truth will be maligned. And in their greed they will exploit you with false arguments and twisted doctrine. Their sentence [of condemnation which God has decreed] from a time long ago is not idle [but is still in force], and their destruction and deepening misery is not asleep [but is on its way].
2 Timothy 2:15-18 (AMP)
Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth. But avoid all irreverent babble and godless chatter [with its profane, empty words], for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their teaching will spread like gangrene. So it is with Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have deviated from the truth. They claim that the resurrection has already taken place, and they undermine the faith of some.
Ephesians 5:11 (AMP)
Do not participate in the worthless and unproductive deeds of darkness, but instead expose them [by exemplifying personal integrity, moral courage, and godly character];
I do believe it is necessary to educate ourselves on false teachings today, especially knowing that the greatest efforts are taken to undermine, destroy, and abolish the guiding principles that God’s truth is based on. Not only that, God’s omnipotent attributes are blatantly questioned, and we are exposed to aspects that manipulate and exploits our core way of thinking right.
Jude 20-23 (AMP)
But you, beloved, build yourselves up on [the foundation of] your most holy faith [continually progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], pray in the Holy Spirit, and keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously and looking forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ [which will bring you] to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy but with fear, loathing even the clothing spotted and polluted by their shameless immoral freedom.
Deep within our conscience we might know, something is wrong, but to avoid any deeper introspection, we bypass this rather conflicting experience and jump on, when some new things are revealed even mentioning Jesus and all the rest. We are so driven by sensuality, prone to easily swallow the unsubstantiated, and embrace seeming innocent sounding principles like: the Gospel of Niceness, Unity, and Love, oh you seem so nice, are you a Christian?, or we must not offend people with the truth, or who doesn’t want to be loved? We focus on love, tolerance, and acceptance so we can remain united. Sound doctrine has become less important, and unity has become the central theme. We are subconsciously made to believe that sound doctrine, or the defense thereof, is causing division, but Romans 16:17 clearly states that those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught, are the problems. You see, it’s false doctrine that creates divisions. There can be many, many false doctrines —and there are— all contrary to each other, but there can only be one truth. The true church is united around God’s truth, not error. There can be no true unity around error. Truth has no accord with error, and must be exposed to the light of truth in Jesus.
Of course the Scriptures do teach us to be kind and compassionate towards others, be loving and have unity, but it does not teach us to do so at the expense of truth. This is where the gospel is compromised, and becomes a false gospel. We don’t want to offend people. It’s okay to talk about the positive, happy things in Christianity, but we don’t want to upset anyone by telling them truth. I am painting a picture which obviously shows that we are prone to deception, why than is it so difficult for us to rethink and ask God for verification, which he is more than willing to give.
Proverbs 4:6-7 (AMP)
“Do not [a]turn away from her (Wisdom) and she will guard and protect you; Love her, and she will watch over you. “The beginning of wisdom is: Get [skillful and godly] wisdom [it is preeminent]! And with all your acquiring, get understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation].
James 1:5 (AMP)
If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him.
You might argue, love is the greatest commandment, and yes, you are absolutely right.
John 13:34-35 (AMP)
I am giving you a new commandment, that you [a] love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.”
BUT, BUT, BUT. It is essential to know what exactly is biblical love? We must know that biblical love is not an emotion or a feeling. It is not what can I get out of a relationship, and for sure it is not accepting or tolerating sin. The Love the Bible is talking about is sacrificing, giving, and seeking the best for someone. The greatest example of love ever demonstrated to mankind was Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins. This was truly an act of selfless, unconditional love from God, to all who would repent and believe in him. God did not accept our sin, or accept us for “who we are,” for if he did, there would be no need for sacrificing Christ. Why did he do this? because God loves us unconditionally. (John 3:16) God did not receive anything from us for his sacrifice on the cross.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (AMP)
For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation].
Why are we being than carried away by the sensuality of the high-minded, the imaginary graven images of God, created and promoted by the money changers of the Christian industry? If we don’t condemn sin, and call it what it is, but only preach “love,” or if we only focus on “unity,” or “niceness,” or “happiness” or any other aspect of visible Christianity in an unbiblical way, at the very least we should consider and ask God for a broken heart, for God reconfirming His truth to our hearts, I mean what can we loose? I have never read this scripture as such, look what it says in Galatians.
Galatians 1:6-8 (AMP)
I am astonished and extremely irritated that you are so quickly shifting your allegiance and deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different [even contrary] gospel; which is really not another [gospel]; but there are [obviously] [a] some [people masquerading as teachers] who are disturbing and confusing you [with a misleading, counterfeit teaching] and want to distort the gospel of Christ [twisting it into something which it absolutely is not]. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we [originally] preached to you, let him be condemned to destruction!
Very self-explanatory, isn’t it?
1 Corinthians 1:20-21 (AMP)
Where is the wise man (philosopher)? Where is the scribe (scholar)? Where is the debater (logician, orator) of this age? Has God not exposed the foolishness of this world’s wisdom? For since the world through all its [earthly] wisdom failed to recognize God, God in His wisdom was well-pleased through the [a] foolishness of the message preached [regarding salvation] to save those who believe [in Christ and welcome Him as Savior].
Why do I go through such length to make a point? In light of what is being said, I feel it might be helpful in distinguishing some fatal errors in an emotionally charged story, that seems to offer a resolution to the problem of pain—those who are struggling with the question, “Where is God when the world is full of brokenness? I’m talking about The Shack, which many be swayed into thinking, that the God of The Shack is the same as the God of the Bible. There are several problems that arise if we take a closer look at The Shack. I will not get into it too much, what is brought out should be self-explanatory enough to discern right from wrong, truth from lies.
Problem #1: According to Young, the author of the book, justice and love are at odds and cannot be reconciled. He reasons that God will never judge people for their sins because He is limited by His love. Neither will He enact eternal judgment upon those who reject Him or send anyone to torment in hell.
But why would Jesus die a criminal’s death on the cross if not to save us from something? What a wasteful and pointless act it would be if Christ did not take on our just punishment, the wrath of God, for our sin.
Problem #2: Another theme in The Shack that doesn’t square with the Word of God is the idea that God forgives all of humanity, regardless of whether or not they repent and believe in the redeeming work of Jesus. It is an idea rooted in Universalism—the belief that all roads lead to God and that Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God, whether they call Him Jesus or Buddha or Allah. In fact, Young asserts that there is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because all people will make it to heaven.
The Bible is on the other hand very clear that only those who call on the name of Jesus will be saved: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”
Acts 4:12 (AMP)
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation].”
See also 1 Timothy 2:5, Romans 10:9). Universalism is a dangerous and malicious lie. It leads people to think that it doesn’t matter what you believe, sin is not really a problem, and there is really no need for a Savior.
Problem #3: In The Shack, the god character tells Mack that “submission is not about authority or obedience” and that the Trinity is even submitted to Mack. Young is suggesting that God submits to human wishes and choices.
The Bible in its entirety points us to the need to submit to God. Submitting is by definition yielding to the authority of another. God created man, and man cannot dictate terms to God.
As Isaiah 29:16 says, “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter, ‘You know nothing’?”
Problem #4: The God portrayed in The Shack seems casual and unconcerned with holiness, which is inconsistent with what we see in the Bible. Mack’s troubling disrespect and disregard for the Trinity would be impossible if he had encountered the sovereign, holy God.
By presenting a god wholly different from the true God revealed in the Bible, Young mocks the importance and uniqueness of the Word of God. He makes the Bible equal to or less than whatever personal imagination anyone might have of God. Mack did not encounter the Holy God of heaven and earth in the shack, but a created god who is controlled and manipulated by man—like an idol that is put away in a closet and brought out when needed. The Shack exchanges “the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being” (Romans 1:23).
Problem #5: In The Shack, Young tries to answer the important personal question of suffering—and he thinks the answer is to change who God is. But God has already answered this question perfectly according to His true and unchanging character. He answered it with the Gospel. He answered it on the cross. He answered it through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Please carefully consider the ideas presented in The Shack, and ask yourself: Am I willing to accept God’s Truth over what makes me comfortable, realizing that Truth is what I need—for it alone leads to eternal life?
We must not allow ourselves to be swayed by emotionalism. We must instead be like the Bereans, who “examined the Scriptures” rather than readily accepting what they heard as Truth (Acts 17:11). Because no story, no matter how compelling, can ever improve upon God’s story of redemption in the Bible.
Beloved, the best place to meet God is not at the shack, but at the cross. For the Gospel is the greatest story ever told, and better still, it is true.