Sunday, January 31, 2010

Q&A - What's so bad about 'The Shack' & '90 Minutes in Heaven'

So a friend of mine had posted an article that points out several of the problems with the best-selling (still don't understand that one) book 'The Shack' by William Paul Young.

This is that article here by Albert Mohler.

A few comments to the affirmative and negative were made on the comment thread. My comment was an affirmative of the article. A rebuttal email was sent to me and so to help equip the brethren on how to articulate the problems with this dangerous book I am posting the email thread. The senders name will be kept private to protect his identity. I don't know the gentleman, we just have a mutual friend.

Here's the thread... enjoy?

First his comment to the article post...

ShackDefender - I believe that you are missing out on this being a book of fiction. Paul never once intended for his book to replace the Bible, which will never happen.

Also, have you actually read the book and then given your opinion or are you just bashing something you have not read.

Me - it is a fiction book and that is true, however, if I wrote a fictitious book about you full of mischaracterizations, flat out lies, and contradictions to a your biography, you'd probably at the least be a bit miffed.

This is God, His story isn't to be tampered with. Paul said if anyone preaches a Gospel other than what they had received from them that they were to be accursed.

Fiction or not... if it isn't depicting God in a right manner... it should be cast out. among other issues, Young in his personal theology (which informed his writing) denies the penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.... See that interview here!

As to the book '90 Minutes in Heaven' by Don Piper... I'm not going to get into whether or not he actually did go to heaven... I tend to doubt it, but that is neither here nor there and not important. The problem with that book for me is that in it, he makes the statement 'Folks, Heaven is Real, you can believe in it, I've been there!'

and some people are saying 'oh now we can know heaven is real'. Well I, nor does anyone else, need him or even me to let them know that Heaven or God is real. The BIBLE reveals all of those things and what it reveals is sufficient.

So, sorry for my ranting, that's my two cents. I get so tired of people trusting things like that over actual Scripture! There is a severe lack of discernment among folks claiming Christ these days and the root of that problem is with the pastors who don't teach sound doctrine or the importance of it!


Then came the email:

ShackDefender: First, 90 Minutes in Heaven. I have not read it but my wife has and is a fan of it. It spoke to her heart. It never replaced the Bible or made her question anything. It in fact strengthened her belief and love of God. I personally think that the man would have stayed in Heaven if it really happened, but I also am not going to wrap God in my own idea of what He is supposed to do or what He will and won't do. He is God and His ways are above those of myself and you for that matter. But since we probably agree more about this particular book than disagree I am moving on to the other one.

Second, The Shack. Paul Young's book is a compilation of what he felt the Holy Spirit leading him to wrtie in an effort to show how God helped him get through a very abusive childhood. In fact the events in the story are not even based on any event he went through. I know this because of a few reasons. One being that I have read the book, two being the fact that I am acquainted with people who are friends of Paul Young the author.

Not one time in the book that you so abrubtly bashed on here does Paul Young ever give any false gospels of Jesus Christ. I dare you to find any without taking anything from the book out of the context in which it was intended. I have also seen transcripts of interviews with Paul Young explaining many of the faults you have with the book and how many people like yourself have made mistakes about what the meaning behind certain things in the book meant.

I don't disagree with your statements of the Bible being the Word of God, but are you saying that God never intended for us to ever listen or read anything else but the Bible. Where in scripture can you quote me that. I personally have found many inspirations from the writings of Billy Graham, John Wesley and other pastors through the years. Was I not supposed to read any of those? Fine, you don't agree with The Shack. Be more specific about what exactly are the issues that you ahve with Paul Young's writing. I can assure you that if you really question it that if you really wanted to discuss it that you could probably email Paul with your concerns and he would more than happily respond depending on his schedule.

I don't speak for Paul Young so don't take my message here as anything but a defense of a book that made a tremendous change in my life as it made me look at God in another way which was a God who wanted a relationship with me and all that it entails. Not for me to just blindly go through life without knowing what His will was for me through the Bible, prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I do apologize for possibly coming off as rude as it was not my intention. But I take offense to your statements because I am one of those people you said are looking to believe in false teachings other than the Bible. That sir is false.

Have a good night.

//Now to be certain that I stuck to the issues and not go off on a rant I put in quotes his reply and then I responded to it... just to be sure it is understood I'm italicizing the parts of his reply that I quoted in mine...

Me:

"First, 90 Minutes in Heaven. I have not read it but my wife has and is a fan of it. It spoke to her heart. It never replaced the Bible or made her question anything. It in fact strengthened her belief and love of God. I personally think that the man would have stayed in Heaven if it really happened, but I also am not going to wrap God in my own idea of what He is supposed to do or what He will and won't do. He is God and His ways are above those of myself and you for that matter. But since we probably agree more about this particular book than disagree I am moving on to the other one."

Glad she enjoyed the book, however, nothing extra-Biblical should be able to increase our devotion to God. His Word is sufficient for that... I'm with you on the not knowing if he did or didn't... and as I said... regardless of whether I believe he really went, he truly believes that he did and I'm not going to question what might or might not have happened... not my business or place to...

"Not one time in the book that you so abruptly bashed on here does Paul Young ever give any false gospels of Jesus Christ. I dare you to find any without taking anything from the book out of the context in which it was intended. I have also seen transcripts of interviews with Paul Young explaining many of the faults you have with the book and how many people like yourself have made mistakes about what the meaning behind certain things in the book meant."

Is God a black woman? No. Does Scripture ever portray Him as a female of any type? No. So to portray Him in that fashion is to create an idol of Him and that is breaking commandment number 2. It is one thing to have a story with a lion who serves as a Christ figure; it is quite another to put words into the mouths of the persons of the Trinity. When you’re having God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit say things that originate in your own imagination, the line between fiction and theology has gotten blurry, and it calls for some careful stepping that Young does not deliver. The most obvious example of this is the use of women to depict God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, but I was more troubled by some specifics. For instance, God the Father is a black woman named Papa, and her dialogue in places sounds like a character from Gone with the Wind: “Guess that’s jes’ the way I is… Sho ‘nuff!” (119). Papa engages in bathroom humor (88, 121), and there’s a scene where she and Jesus bump into each other in the kitchen, spill a bowl of sauce, and go through a slapstick routine while cleaning it up (104-05). I’m just stodgy enough to think this is not an appropriate portrayal of the God before whom the angels in heaven hide their face (Isaiah 6:1-3).

Let's talk about the fact that 'Papa' had scars on her wrists, to indicate that she suffered on the cross along with Christ. that's an unbiblical portray of the persons of the trinity...

Then there's the issue that there is no sense of submission of any kind among the persons of the Godhead-contrary to many statements of Jesus, including John 6:38: “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” The Bible presents the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as fully equal, and yet submitting in specific ways, the Son to the Father and the Spirit to the Father and the Son.

"Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way." (p145)

Something else that troubled me is how The Shack purports itself to be this new idea that no one has ever heard before... All the characters consistently mock and take unwarranted stabs at traditional Christianity, as though the church (which is not perfect) isn’t getting anything right. not true...

"“But I still don’t understand why Missy had to die.”

“She didn’t have to, Mackenzie. This was no plan of Papa’s. Papa has never needed evil to accomplish his good purposes.” (165)

Is there anymore obvious problem that this? It was God's plan to offer up Christ as the atonement for sin! Isaiah 53:10. How about when Christ was in the garden and prayed that the cup of God's wrath pass from Him but that His ultimate desire was to do God's Will and not His own. Sounds like God planned it to me. ((I realize that the book's statement was about Mack's daughter Missy... but the point is that the statement in the book basically says that God is not Sovereign over all things... HE IS... ))

That is a teaching that is not found anywhere in scripture. There's a label for a teaching that contradicts scripture, its heresy!

"Second, The Shack. Paul Young's book is a compilation of what he felt the Holy Spirit leading him to wrtie in an effort to show how God helped him get through a very abusive childhood. In fact the events in the story are not even based on any event he went through. I know this because of a few reasons. One being that I have read the book, two being the fact that I am acquainted with people who are friends of Paul Young the author."


I will make this statement about Paul Young and include myself in that equation as well... and anyone else for that matter. If a teaching, his or mine or anyone's, contradicts Scripture, I assure you it WAS NOT the leading of the Holy Spirit.

"Not one time in the book that you so abrubtly bashed on here does Paul Young ever give any false gospels of Jesus Christ. I dare you to find any without taking anything from the book out of the context in which it was intended. I have also seen transcripts of interviews with Paul Young explaining many of the faults you have with the book and how many people like yourself have made mistakes about what the meaning behind certain things in the book meant."

So it isn't possible that a Christian could find problems with the book and to critique it is just awful. Do tell me, how do we as brethren defend the faith and guard against false doctrine (which is what The Shack is). I've seen Paul Young interviews too... like the ones where he has flat denied the necessity of the penal substitionary atonement of Christ for sins. That's the rankest heresy of them all!

If so many are making "mistakes" perhaps he should have been more clear in his writing... just a thought...

"I don't disagree with your statements of the Bible being the Word of God, but are you saying that God never intended for us to ever listen or read anything else but the Bible. Where in scripture can you quote me that. I personally have found many inspirations from the writings of Billy Graham, John Wesley and other pastors through the years. Was I not supposed to read any of those? Fine, you don't agree with The Shack. Be more specific about what exactly are the issues that you have with Paul Young's writing. I can assure you that if you really question it that if you really wanted to discuss it that you could probably email Paul with your concerns and he would more than happily respond depending on his schedule."


Absolutely we can read extra-biblical materials. I read Spurgeon, Wesley, Whitfield, etc... but those men do not try and depict God or any part of the Trinity in a view that is not found in Scripture. We can read those, but if any of those reading trump our understanding that we gain from Scripture then we need to toss it out. I enjoy other pastors and scholars but I always hold their teaching up to Scripture. If I read something that I just don't see lines up with Scripture I take more time to examine it, sometimes I study parallel passages, check the Greek/Hebrew, etc and realize I was wrong. In the case of The Shack, I have done that very thing and found it to be false. We can read extra-biblical sources, but they can never come above the Bible.... that was my point and it would seem from your statement that you agree there so I just wanted to clarify myself.

"I don't speak for Paul Young so don't take my message here as anything but a defense of a book that made a tremendous change in my life as it made me look at God in another way which was a God who wanted a relationship with me and all that it entails. Not for me to just blindly go through life without knowing what His will was for me through the Bible, prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit."

I appreciate your passion and so please understand that I am in no way questioning your faith in Christ or insinuating anything like that at all. I want to be clear that I'm not trying to play the judge of your salvation. That would be a damnable offense on my part. I do want to remind you though that the Bible teaches that we need to be so very careful about what teachers we hear. Wolves that come into the flock not sparing (Acts 20:29). Though 'The Shack' may have given you a different look on God, it is a false one.

God does want a relationship with us, that's a very true statement. He doesn't want us to go blindly through life, you're correct there as well.

Brother I don't intend to come off as rude either, although I'm sure parts of my response did come off that way... I do apologize for that... it is not my heart's desire to be arrogant. For I have nothing to boast in but Christ and Him crucified.

I just want to encourage you to please exercise some discernment with this book. I know that many well-intentioned evangelicals have put this book up as a great and wonderful thing and it isn't. All-be-it is a well written book from a literary stand point, and if it were depicting any other thing I would highly recommend it. But whether Young intended for people to gain an understanding of God from this book or not, they are, and if he doesn't want that they he needs to come out public about those issues in a clear and matter of fact way. He hasn't, so he must agree.

I appreciate your taking time to email me, I wanted to be expedient in replying to you because I do not consider myself perfect or above reproach and I am open to hearing any argument.

I did email Young with a detailed list of questions. I approached him simply from the standpoint of wanting him to clarify, not attacking him at all... I didn't feel so at least. I received a reply from an assistant saying that he had received the email and a reply would be forthcoming and thanks for writing. That was 2+ years ago, my email is the same... yet no reply has come.

He isn't accountable to me so I am not offended that he didn't reply. I'm sure, given the books success, that he is a busy man. If he ever gets to the email, I'll welcome the conversation. If not, that's certainly fine. The world will still turn and we'll both still live the lives God has planed.

Again, thank you for your email and concern brother.

In Him,
j

//if I receive any further correspondence I'll put that up here as well...

No comments:

Post a Comment

There was an error in this gadget