Thursday, November 10, 2011

Revisiting the Shack, pt. 3

The last two days I have been reviewing the fictional book, The Shack, by William Paul Young. The first day, I made note that while this is a fictional book, it has influenced people's perception of God. This means that if it is faulty, then their view of God would then be faulty. Then yesterday, I showed some of the errors in this book as to how the Trinity is viewed. The Trinity is an essential part of the Christian faith and this book teaches a form of Modalism, a horribly heresy.

Today, let me finish with one more aspect of the book that I particularly thought is unbiblical. That is, his view of salvation. My fear is that this book teaches a form of Universalism, that all people go to heaven. To be fair, I have heard Young say in some interviews that he does not believe that. The only problem is that this book teaches it. Let me explain.

When we deal with the issue of salvation, one of the first questions that needs to be asked is "salvation from what?" What are we saved from? Sin? God's Wrath? But even beyond that, the "why" question needs to be asked as well. Why do we need to be saved? At one point in the book, Mack (who is the main character) is talking to Papa (God the Father). He says,
"'Honestly, don't you enjoy punishing those who disappoint you?' At that, Papa stopped her preparations and turned toward Mack. He could see a deep sadness in her eyes. 'I am not who you think I am, Mackenzie. I don't need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It's not my purpose to punish it; it's my joy to cure it.'" (119-20)
I am not debating that there are consequences to sins, but this statement makes it seem as if a person's personal consequences to sin are the only punishment they will have for that sin. But the Scriptures are clear that God WILL punish sin (2 Thessalonians 1:9). God does punish sin. Not everyone is going to be saved.

At another point in the book, Papa says to Mack:
"'Honey, you asked me what Jesus accomplished on the cross; so now listen to me carefully: through his death and resurrection, I am now fully reconciled to the world.' 'The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?' 'The whole world, Mack. All I am telling you is that reconciliation is a two way street, and I have done my part, totally, completely, finally. It is not the nature of love to force a relationship but is the nature of love to open the way.'" (192)
This is what is so frustrating about this book, that statement is partially true. It may make me warm and fuzzy, but it leaves me hanging theologically. On one hand, yes, God has done his work of reconciliation. But God has not reconciled the entire world to Himself and now is sitting there waiting in eager anticipation for people to do their part (which, by the way, is essentially a masked view of works salvation).

Reconciliation means that a relationship has been restored. Which, for us, would mean, that our sins have been taken care of (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). That has not happened for all people everywhere. After reading that, I would wonder who goes to heaven? Later in the book, the true colors of Young shine brightly, when his character of Jesus says,
"'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 followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous. Some are bankers and bookies, Americans and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians. 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,' asked Mack, 'that all roads will lead to you?' 'Not at all,' smiled Jesus as he reached for the door handle to the shop. 'Most roads don't lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.' (182)
Some of that sounds good. I understand his point against organized religion, but nowhere does he tell how a person is to be reconciled. It does not address that the only way to God is through Jesus. Yet, earlier in the book, the Jesus character did say this:
"I am the best way any human can relate to Papa or Sarayu. To see me is to see them. The love you sense from me is no different from how they love you." (110)
Jesus is not the best way anyone can relate to God, He is the ONLY way (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5). There is not one best way, there are not many ways, there is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ.

Can a person be saved from The Shack? I suppose that God can use anything. But the only way I think it could happen is if that person is driven to the Bible to gain a clearer understanding of salvation. The God of The Shack is not the God of the Bible. The Jesus of The Shack is not the Jesus of the Bible. The Holy Spirit of The Shack is not the Holy Spirit of the Bible. And the Gospel message of The Shack is incomplete, hidden, and not the gospel message of the Bible.

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