Monday, March 31, 2008

The Shack

Generally The Shack is a worthwhile read. The love of God, the complexity of God and God's ability to turn seemingly bad situations into good ones comes through clearly. Any book that can make me cry impresses me and The Shack made me cry more than once. Not tears of sadness but tears of joy in a loving, compassionate and intensely personal God.

But one must not confuse The Shack with the Bible. The Shack reveals the complexity of God and the impossibility of humans understanding these complexities. Yet Shack love includes no punishment initiated by God. The Bible however is clear about God punishing His enemies (or who is He who come with red stained robes from Bozrah in the future, is that blood or just another pretty coat? and remember that angel who slew some 185,000 before breakfast in the past). God is unfathomably patient and forgiving to be sure but The Shack has a mushy universal feel to it. As much as we may like to have all saved (excluding Hitler of course) there is no such theme in the Bible. Some make it and some don't and one must submit the Bible to considerable torture (does it say that in the original Greek?) to make it say something else.

To simplify this complex and unsearchable God, The Shack gives us Jesus: God in human form. This is a Biblically consistent concept. And to show the forgiveness of God we see Jesus even forgiving those who crucified Him. But he also warned those who would mislead "these little ones" it would be better for them to have a mill stone around their neck and cast into the sea. Jesus warned: fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. God can evidently be a scary guy when opposed.

To be fair though, many only see God as a big mean killjoy in the sky. We benefit from trying to understand all or as much of God as humanly possible and not omit that which we don't like or makes us uncomfortable. The Shack is a good look at God in ways we may not always see Him. If The Shack is our only source of information on God, then our view of God would be incomplete. But do we really need to be so protective that we ban books and forbid exposure to ideas? The Catholics already went down that dead end road. A heart seeking after God (the Bible God) will find Him. God is sufficiently capable to assure this and He said as much. If you are looking for another God (not in the Bible) you will find that one too.

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