Let the marketing wars begin? Hopefully not. I’m nervous about what Christian org’s will put up in response, as a sort of unintended deterrent from the Gospel.
Or so he thought.
Last night I had one of the more terrifying experiences in my life. It was about 10:15 pm and my wife went into our master bathroom. I was at the desk in our bedroom (connected to the bathroom) reading on my computer. As she went in she looked over to the textured, translucent window in the bathroom thinking she saw something move and noticed someone looking in, or attempting to at least. She yelled out one of those volume-controlled, startled, terrified yells, and said, “There’s a man in the window!” but didn’t say it loud enough that he heard her, because he stuck around.
It had not quite registered in my mind what she yelled initially. I just thought it was a bug, maybe a scorpion or tarantula or something a little worse than the normal roach, but not some guy in the window. Sitting at the desk, with my back turned away from the window, I quickly turned around and saw the guy. Because the glass is textured you can’t see people clearly looking from the outside-in, but you can see colors, shapes, etc. So he really couldn’t see a lot. But the closer to the window you are, the better you can see people. And so we clearly saw him standing there trying to do some peepin’.
Next follows the resurrection from the dead, without which all that has hitherto been said would be defective. For seeing that in the cross, death, and burial of Christ, nothing but weakness appears, faith must go beyond all these, in order that it may be provided with full strength. Hence, although in his death we have an effectual completion of salvation, because by it we are reconciled to God, satisfaction is given to his justice, the curse is removed, and the penalty paid; still it is not by his death, but by his resurrection, that we are said to be begotten again to a living hope, (1 Pet. 1: 3;) because, as he, by rising again, became victorious over death, so the victory of our faith consists only in his resurrection.
The nature of it is better expressed in the words of Paul, “Who (Christ) was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” (Rom. 4: 25;) as if he had said, By his death sin was taken away, by his resurrection righteousness was renewed and restored. For how could he by dying have freed us from death, if he had yielded to its power? how could he have obtained the victory for us, if he had fallen in the contest?
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” – Hebrews 10:26-31
“Sin is divine treason.” – Thabiti Anyabwile, from the Ligonier Conference, speaking on the divine treason of sin in light of God’s holiness. How often do we really see sin as it is? I confess that I just don’t many times because well, I’m a great sinner and am still blinded to a great amount of my own wickedness. We certainly don’t talk about sin like this nowadays, even in church where we should be. Sin is treason, divine treason. Think about the seriousness of treason at the political level. You can be thrown into prison for life or worse, executed for committing this crime, because you, being a citizen of this country, are betraying her through your actions. Yet how much worse is divine treason against a holy, eternal God! And this is every sin! God has every right to punish all of us to hell for eternity. He would be right and just to do so. And yet in great mercy, Christ condescended of His own free will and choice in order that we would be rescued, not because we were worth it or even wanted it or even saw our need for it, but because He is Amazing.
Having come to the close of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) in my Scripture reading, the holiness of God has been made clear. I don’t see how you could miss it. When postmoderns in our day reject the “nonsense” of the laws and sacrifices contained within these five books, I can’t help but think that their underlying rejection is the holiness of God Himself who set these out as definitively appropriate. What we call absurd laws and statutes in our intellectually “sophisticated” society, God plainly and clearly set forth as right and true. If we reject and rebel against what He instituted, is it not Him we are rejecting ultimately, the Giver of those laws and statutes?
As I have been reading these passages this time, I have been struck by God’s absolute otherness, separateness from us. Surely He has condescended and made Himself known to us in Christ. But this in no way negates His transcendence. These five books make this abundantly clear. In order for God to be favorable toward us, a sacrifice had to take place over and over again that covered or took the place of us in punishment, pointing to the final sacrifice of Christ upon the cross for our sins who bore our punishment once and for all. When we anthropomorphize God and make Him like us (apart from how He has revealed Himself and condescened to us in Christ), we do a great disservice to the clear proclamation of His holiness in Scripture.
It is this very holiness which caused many of those holy saints in the Old Testament to fall on their faces in terror at His presence. And to think how glibly we approach Him in our worship many times. The God of the New Testament is the God of the Old Testament. We must always keep that in mind when we read through any passage of the time during and after Christ’s life, death and resurrection.
I want to quote people anonymously from The Shack Facebook group and add some commentary to each to show that this book is not viewed as a mere work of fiction. I believe these quotes are very instructive as to what the book is actually doing in culture and how it is indeed changing people’s understanding of who God is and how He relates to us. It seems many people’s understanding is actually changing based on Young’s understanding and portrayal of God.
Emotional responses aside to the story itself (not critiquing that at all), if it is an unbiblical portrayal of God and His work to save us in Christ, is that really and truly a good thing? Is that true spiritual progress in terms the Bible prescribes? If people become more religious and emotionally struck as a result, is that necessarily conversion by the Gospel work of Christ, or is it merely becoming religious and “dead in trespasses and sins?” I’m not talking in any way about the story’s plot line being good or not and loving the story in itself and/or identifying with it to some degree. I’m asking, is an unbiblical picture of God a positive thing? What do you think?
“And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God.” – Deuteronomy 21:22-23
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.'” – Galatians 3:13
I came across this passage in reading Deuteronomy today (and thought about its fulfillment in Galatians 3:13) and it got me to thinking in light of the saddening and disheartening revelation concerning The Shack author William P. Young’s denial of substitutionary atonement: Did Jesus commit any crime punishable by death at all? No, we all say together, He was sinless. Yet He willingly gave Himself over to a criminals death based upon this passage in Deuteronomy, right? Right. So if He was sinless, why was He condemned to this awful punishment? It must be that it was for someone other than Himself, for there is no other explanation, other than those that fall infinitely short of a satisfactorily Biblical answer. For whose crime was He willingly entering into and suffering then? The undeniable answer of the Bible is He suffered for sinners who admit their guilt and believe in the only name of the Son of God, resting in His work alone on their behalf to save them. Romans 3:21-26 is the best place to see this great news.