David Westerfield

Theology. Culture. Technology.

Tag: The Shack

Another Verse in a Really Long Song – How Deep Postmodernism Has Made Inroads

“Brian McLaren and his ilk of the emerging church [i.e. Rob Bell] … all it is is 19th, 20th century liberalism in a postmodern dress. There isn’t anything new in it at all. And the only reason they can get away with it is because people are so a-historical and ignorant of theologies of the past.” – David Robertson, Emergent Calvinism (MP3). One of the biggest surprises with this Rob Bell universalism/inclusivism controversy isn’t that Bell is affirming universalism. The response of evangelicals, particularly younger generations, including mine, and their response has been the most surprising aspect.

However, I shouldn’t be that surprised. It’s what happened to J. Gresham Machen in the 1920’s and 30’s in which he received the most push back from the moderates of theological liberalism who were willing to tolerate individuals who wholesale rejected anything resembling Biblical Christianity. We are now back at one of those points.

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The Shack – A Review

There are so many reviews that have done a fine job of explaining the pros and cons of this book that I don’t feel I need to go into this for very long.

First, I’ll just say that after reading it, the picture of God’s sovereignty and reasons for ordaining that suffering be are attractive, though in my view, insufficient (see the book of Job or Romans 8 or John Piper for a better explanation). Also, the concept that God the Trinity is eternally happy in Himself (see Jonathan Edwards’ works) is refreshing. The emotional tug of the book (which made me cry at points, it really is a heart breaking story) gives great weight to its attractiveness in a culture absorbed in emotional appeal and presuppositions. Those emotional aspect of the book really caught my attention and I thought Young did a good job of making Mack’s situation enrapturing. I was really able to put myself in his shoes. And it is overwhelming considering the weight of that pain.

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A Position Based Purely on Emotions

Quoting anonymously from the The Shack Facebook group, discussing my post found here, someone said in response to the person who posted my article as a discussion point: “____, I read a portion of your link and after about 7 paragraphs of beating around the bush and Paul-bashing, I quit. Why? Because I loved the book and I’m not going to let anybody’s negative comments ruin my experience in reading it. Why don’t you just stop busting our chops and give up? Most people love it; some don’t. We agree to disagree. End of debate.”

Ahh, pure intellectual integrity. Haha, Paul bashing? (Paul Young of course) Right. You decide. Instead of working through the difficulty of beliefs (or rather denials) that can lead people to hell when accepted, it seems some are content to just shut you out of the conversation altogether instead of seriously and honestly engaging any kind of debate because of what the book has done for them, at least emotionally speaking. Since when did the individual become the standard-bearer and authority on what’s truth or not? They just don’t want to talk about any criticism of it, even if it’s a legitimately serious issue concerned with none other than the very Gospel itself by which one is saved.

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The Shack is a Fictional Portrayal of God?

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?

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Cursed is Everyone Who is Hanged on a Tree

“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.

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