Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Insight On "The Shack"

The debate on "The Shack" continues. I've been pretty clear on where I stand on the book and its' lack of sound theological foundation. I ran across as excellent review today that explains things concisely. The review is fairly long but well worth a close look, particularly if you have read the book and been impacted by it.

Here's an excerpt:

The failure of the church is woven into the fabric of the story. After taking a walk across the lake together, Jesus tells Mack that he isn't a Christian and doesn't want to make people into Christians; he just wants a relationship with people. It is a sentiment that harmonizes beautifully with one of the anthems of modern culture: institutions and labels are impersonal and inauthentic. Thus, Jesus isn't saying anything that we don't already know when he describes religion, politics and economics as the unholy human trinity that ravages the earth.

Mack himself becomes an example of institutional failure when he candidly admits that his years in seminary taught him stuff that didn't result in a real relationship with God. Jesus highlights this clash between stale, unreal doctrines and living personal relationships by insisting that Mack's experiences of hymns and sermons are not the church he came to build. It is a heady and compelling mix of ideas with only one possible conclusion: the church is to blame; God really is a nice guy after all.

It is hard to convey how deeply satisfying it is to hear God saying things that you wish were true. By speaking so clearly to the prejudices of western individualism, while distancing himself so elegantly from the problem of pain, the God of The Shack becomes someone almost anyone can believe in—that is, anyone who doesn't want to think too deeply about the problem. I never quite got why it was that a God who was determined never to make anyone do anything was so sure that everything would turn out all right in the end. But this, of course, explains the popular appeal of The Shack. It's good to know that someone as big as God has got the situation generally under control, that he believes in humanity, and that he doesn't really demand all that much after all.

But I guess this is also where the mystery deepens for me. I can understand the book's place on The New York Times bestseller list; what I find a little more difficult to fathom is why so many professing Christians find the book so helpful.

You can read the rest of the review here. This is the web site for Mathias Media, a well respected publisher of Pastoral resources.

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