What to Make of The Shack

The internet is full of comments on the new movie, “The Shack.” This is the film adaptation of the popular novel by the same title from 2007. I’d like to add a couple of comments, then some links to some helpful information about the Christian’s thoughts toward this book and film. 

First of all, I think it is a very bad idea to portray deity the way The Shack does (and for that matter, “Oh God!” “Bruce Almighty,” etc.). The Triune God of Scripture has revealed Himself in the manner we are to understand Him. Scripture is not an accident, nor cavalier in this, but very precise. The words of Scripture are clear and placed as they are for a good reason.

Second, no I have not read the book nor seen the movie, and that doesn’t matter. There are many books, films, plays, recordings that I have not personally taken in, and it is because there is an army of trusted reviewers and scholars who do that. I comment on what I have seen or read for the benefit of others, and others for me. If you are ever confronted by someone who tells you, “You can’t criticise a book or film unless you’ve seen it yourself,” just use your thinking abilities to show the absurdity of this view. Think of things we criticise yet without experiencing (reading, viewing, participating in); do we have to personally partake to know something is in error?

Third, those who think the movie is just wonderful will tell you that it is only a novel, a fiction, and not theology. But in our feelings-led and anti-thinking culture fiction almost automatically becomes doctrine. One only has to remember the horrible, “Left Behind” series of books and films to recall that what was supposedly fiction soon became settled doctrine. The reason for this is because fiction is first based upon doctrine (teaching), whether or not it is so admitted. No fictional idea arises in a theological vacuum. Likewise, the Shack offers its comfort in a non-Biblical doctrine of God; a Christian should be asking, “Why do I prefer The Shack’s portrayal of God to the one in Scripture?

Please take a look at the following links, by men who are much more articulate on the subject than I. Please think this through before the images of the “The Shack” enter your imagination.

Albert Mohler

Tim Challies and Tim Challies

David Mathis

Mary Kassian

On Not Avoiding the Dark Haunts

“A man who wore no clothes, lived in the tombs among the dead, and had a long rap sheet hardly seems like a good candidate to be the first to preach the news in this territory awash in paganism. He was a multiple offender whom the authorities had at long last given up trying even to restrain. But like Mary Magdalene, who had been delivered from seven demons (8:2), he was redeemed from his condition by Jesus’ powerful word and restored to wholeness.

It has happened to many whose condition is not quite so obvious or public. C. S. Lewis describes his condition before his conversion as ‘a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was legion.’ Using the imagery of the parable of the soils in the previous unit would seem to suggest that persons such as these are hardened, unproductive soil to hear the Word of God and not worth wasting seed by sowing it among them. But the power of God’s Word can transform even this kind of soil. It can bring salvation, deliverance from the legion of personal demons that assail individuals, and transform the person into a productive proclaimer of the gospel.

The problem is that Christians might tend to avoid the dark haunts where these lost and desperate people may gather. Their scary behavior, as a result of years of maltreatment at the hands of others and their own self-abuse, may make them seem irredeemable, and so they never hear the message of salvation. Jesus is prepared not only to use anyone committed to him to proclaim the gospel, but he is also ready to go anywhere to proclaim it. The whole world, not a small portion of it, needs to be restored to wholeness.

Garland, David E. Luke. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Serious Problems with “Jesus Calling”

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That Jesus Calling is a runaway best seller, is well known. But this book can only be so popular as Biblical-thinking is eclipsed. The rising Biblical illiteracy of Western Christians is highlighted by the popularity of this book, where Jesus is said to say things that He didn’t, but arise from the author’s imagination.

Tim Challies offers a review here, “Ten Serious Problems with Jesus Calling.”

Jesus and the Koala

Since today was our first Sunday School day of the Fall, we thought you might like this story:

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There is a story told about an Australian Sunday School teacher who felt that her approach to teaching was in need of some remedial action. She thought she was altogether too predictable and the children were becoming bored with her story-telling and questioning of the class about what they had learned. She decided on a new tack to try to rectify matters. The next Sunday, once the preliminaries were over, she stood before the class of five-year-olds and asked, “Who can tell me what is gray and furry and lives in a Gum tree?” The children were completely taken by surprise by this totally unexpected and new approach. They thought there must be a catch and stared blankly at the teacher. “Come on,” she coaxed, “someone must know. What is gray, furry, lives in a Gum tree—has a black leathery nose and beady eyes?” Still no answer. “Oh, surely you know.” She was nonplussed by this reticence. “It lives in a Gum tree; eats Gum leaves; it has big beady eyes and furry ears.” Silence. She was about to switch tactics and to go on to something else when a small girl gradually raised her hand in the air with much hesitation. Delighted, the teacher asked, “Yes, Suzie?” The child replied, “I know it’s Jesus, but it sounds like a Koala!”

Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), xi.

This Sunday at Mountain View–11 September, 2016

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The Blog has been quite for a few weeks.

This Sunday at Mountain View we start Sunday School.

For children, Michelle and Shari will start their class in the East Basement

For youth, Jerry will teach in the staff room/nursery. Jerry will be teaching “God and Creation.”

Adults will meet in the West Basement. Scott will be teaching, “How to Interpret the Bible.”

Everything starts at 10 AM!

Sermon series on Luke 7:1-10.

This Sunday at Mountain View: Mourning, Patches, and New Wine

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We wouldn’t hold a communion service in a bouncy-castle, would we? I don’t know if that ever happened, but sillier ideas have found their way into what should be holy worship. But isn’t new and different always better?

This Sunday we’ll see what Jesus says about the New, and why it’s better, and why the old isn’t always best.

But no bouncy-castles.

Luke 5:33–39 (ESV)

33 And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’ ”

This Sunday at Mountain View: Lunch and Learn!

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There will be a Lunch and Learn following worship this Sunday (July 10). Worship is at 11, and the program will begin at 1 pm.

This is open to all, and participants are asked to bring a bag lunch.

Topic: Welcome to the Christian Church

  • Who we are
  • What we believe
  • How you can be a part.

Your questions are welcome!

Presenting . . . Jesus

PrLuke 2:21–52 (ESV)

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

Peace-Simeon

29  “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,

according to your word;

30  for my eyes have seen your salvation

31  that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

32  a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, wor010-simeon-anna-templeshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

FINDING