In the midst of numerous major challenges facing our nation and leading the headlines, the impact of a novel seems a bit trite; however, there are several “connecting dots” between the best-selling “The Shack” and our current national condition. If, like me, you have not read this book, you have missed nothing of worth. Why, then, the fuss?
After all, even many pastors have enthusiastically endorsed the book.
It’s simple – what we believe determines what we do. When we get our theology from novels written by men rather than the Word that was “God-breathed” and recorded in the Bible, the race to chaos is assured.
The breakdown of biblical literacy in the Christian church and even among the pulpits has essentially cut the anchor chain that provided the very foundations of this nation. Please consider this assessment by Christian researcher George Barna:
There are a several troubling patterns to take notice. First, although most Americans consider themselves to be Christian and say they know the content of the Bible, less than one out of 10 Americans demonstrate such knowledge through their actions. Second, the generational pattern suggests that parents are not focused on guiding their children to have a biblical worldview. … [M]ost parents do not possess such a perspective on life. That raises a third challenge, which relates to the job that Christian churches, schools and parachurch ministries are doing in Christian education. … There has been no change in the percentage of adults or even born-again adults in the past 13 years regarding the possession of a biblical worldview.
It is a phenomenon as old as the church itself that myths, heresies and bad theology lead ill-informed people off the proverbial cliff. Church councils, theologians and scholars have wrestled with interpretation and application of the Holy Scriptures for centuries.
What is unique to our day is that the majority of those who claim to be Christians do not adhere to what were once the “essentials” – what Barna defines in a biblical worldview as follows:
- Slightly less than half of … born-again adults (46 percent) believe in absolute moral truth.
- 40 percent of born-again adults “are convinced that Satan is a real force.”
- Not quite half of all born-again Christians (47 percent) strongly reject the notion of earning salvation through their deeds.
- Slightly less than two-thirds of the born-again segment (62 percent) strongly believes that Jesus Christ was sinless.
One of the common excuses used by pastors to avoid preaching on “controversial” issues of our day is: “I have both Democrats and Republicans in my church.” While it raises the dubious question as to how that questionable balance is struck, my question for that pastor is: “What does that have to do with preaching the word of God?”
What they are really saying is that rather than teaching biblical truth and application to congregants and allowing God to transform them through it, they are conforming the limits of their teaching to whatever avoids such conflict. The end result is that the worldview, morality, political philosophy, etc. of most Christians is being shaped by other influences than the Bible.
While the personal responsibility of every Christian to spend time daily in Bible reading and meditation cannot be shirked onto the pastor, when the pulpits fail to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), ignorance prevails.
Pastor and author John Piper states, “The difference between an entertainment-oriented preacher and a Bible-oriented preacher is the manifest connection of the preacher’s words to the Bible as what authorizes what he says.” Everything written and spoken by a man must be measured against what God has spoken.
Back to “The Shack” and just a few of the heresies that have been exposed by biblical scholar and professor Dr. James De Young in “Burning Down ‘The Shack’”:
“The first aspect of God is never that of the absolute Master, the Almighty.”
“Although Jesus is fully God, he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything.”
“I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment. …”
“In Jesus I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship.”
No thinking Christian could or should accept these statements as anything but pure and vile heresy. As Dr. De Young asserts, “I am not speaking here about slight variations of doctrine. … What is at stake is the very heart and soul of the Gospel, the good news … and universalism has been an antagonist to the church since the third century.”
Lest you think this is just a lofty academic spat between pointy-headed scholars, consider what great theologian Dr. Francis Schaeffer identified in his epic work “How Should We Then Live” as just some of the consequences of the loss of a Christian consensus / biblical worldview:
- economic breakdown
- war or the serious threat of war
- the chaos of violence
- the radical redistribution of the wealth of the world
- a growing shortage of food and other natural resources
- compassion replaced with utilitarianism
Please heed Dr. De Young’s closing words and remember to get your core beliefs, life principles and understanding about God directly from the source – the Holy Bible – not a human author:
Paul Young’s “The Shack” is a subversive attack on the Bible and Christian faith. It has the potential to damage Christian theology for several generations. … Who, other than the Deceiver himself, would be behind such chaos?