The Shack – Part 1
I thought the book as a whole was really enjoyable. It tackled some pretty hard core topics such as the trinity, why do bad things happen, death, crime and forgiveness in the form of a story. The main character, “Mack”, is a father who takes his kids camping while his wife goes away. On the trip his youngest daughter is abducted and murdered. The story follows the emotions, thoughts and spiritual journey of Mack as he meets God and gets some answers to the many questions he has.
I have heard so much spoken about this book. Some for and some against. Some say it is a “Must Read” others say “If you haven’t read it … DON’T” So what is all the fuss about? I read it to make up my own mind and I think to be honest I have mixed feelings.
I really enjoyed reading the book, but to be honest I enjoyed the Da Vinci Code too, anyway I found the story gripping, compelling even and so read in just a day or two. I had to keep reading to find out what happened. The story is very emotive and so really draws the reader in. It is the that gives me some concerns as there were one or two things in the book that did not sit all that comfortably with me. That said the book does tackle some very difficult issues very well which then leads me to my “mixed feelings position”. This leads me to the point where I must ask “Becasue there are good bits, do they out weigh the poor bits”. There are good bits in the book of mormon, but I would never recomend one reads it!
I thought I would write down some of my concerns here and see what everyone else thinks too. At the end I will then put everything into a paper (and make it avaialble on the blog of course).
So please let me know your thoughts too.
Today I will look at the most obvious area of contention …. that of the Trinity
Let us first of all look at how the biblical theology presents the Trinity to us.
The Trinity is “God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God”. (Grudem, Systematic Theology)
Ok let’s look at “The Shack” and compare that to our definition of the trinity.
I. God eternally exists as three persons
a. I think “The Shack” does OK here. It clearly shows that the trinity is made up of 3 distinct people (Papa, Jesus and Sarayu) But then I think most of us get the “3 people part”. It’s how they are all one were our brains start to hurt.
a. Now this is where the book traverses into heresy in my view as it depicts “God the Father” as an African-American woman (Mother). We are skating on the very thin part of the ice here as we move away from how God chooses to describe himself in the bible. Whilst the book does “try” to give some explanation as to why God is depicted as a woman this is simply wrong as the bible gives us no indication. In fact the bible tells us that “God is spirit” [John 4:24] and so is not gendered because he is spirit. Jesus tells us in John 6:46 “not that anyone has seen the father except he who is from God” which tells us two things. First of all that no one has seen God other than Jesus and Jesus refers to him as Father and so I believe it extremely inappropriate to depict him in any way other than is reveled in scripture. We are looking at the “invisible qualities and divine nature” [Rom 1:20] of God here. The bible reveals the divine nature of God as being that of “Father”. Jesus refers to God as Father only, never mother!
b. We also move into the whole discussion of making a likeness of God. What does that mean? Well, it is the point that we are not to try and take the invisible God [1 Tim 1:17, Heb 11:27] and attempt to make him visible. That is to create a representation of God that we look on as God. The second commandment [Exodus 20:4-5] tells us that we “shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them”. This is where I would have problems with statues, or paintings of God. Even if they are used to help us focus on God I believe the bible clearly tells us that God is a jealous God and will not share himself with anything.
c. Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” [Colossians 1:15]. This is the only acceptable image of God that the bible permits that of Jesus. As Jesus was visible then I have less of a problem with creating images or representations of Jesus because he did come to earth as a man. Likewise the Holy Spirit. Clearly the Holy Spirit was made visible in the form of a dove, or tongues of fire and so again has been made visible. However, God the Father is a different ball game. We cannot take the creator God and try and make him part of creation by comparing him to something he created or made by something we, a created being, created. We are not to compare God to anything. God says through the prophet Isaiah “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him?” (Isaiah 40:25) Paul warns the Romans that “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man … they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” [Rom 1:21-23,25]. As “God is spirit” [John 4:24] we cannot render an image, a picture or a look-a-like without falling foul of all this scripture.
a. The book here does fine in depicting Jesus as a man of Jewish decent, a carpenter, fully human and fully God.
IV. Holy Spirit
a. Again the book takes a stab at describing the Holy Spirit and a shimmering, free spirit kind of person.
Read the next article in the series … Part 2 – What’s Wrong with the Shack