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Devotionals

The Shack -- Discerning Vile Poison within the Purpose Driven Mind

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Then you walked in deceiving yourself pastor. First of all, the book was meant as a theological treatise. The author admits that much. He wrote this for his children initially as his perspectives on God. However, even if he did not intend for The Shack to become a theological statement you cannot argue that it has become one. Christian resource groups have created sermon series' and small group curricula based on this nonsense. Churches across the country have organized movie nights so their congregations can come watch it. I do not recall the small group curricula for the Lord of the Rings. While Tolkien certainly was influenced by a correct sense of what was overall good and evil, there are no direct references to Jesus Christ or God. The Shack portrays God and Jesus Christ, as well as the Holy Spirit represented by a small Asian woman. Certainly one can point to Aslan in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a Christ figure and see the overall biblical underpinnings but none of the Narnia series sought to teach unbiblical lessons. What Pastor Wiggins is trying to do is parse this out to find any acceptable reason for watching it when deep down he knows there is none.

"This is to say The Shack, in many respects, represents something that is not particularly heretical when compared to countless other Christian-friendly, fictional works. I have seen this kind of thing before. Therefore, I don't fear the premise of the story. I don't depend on them either. Instead, I allow myself to profoundly enjoy and appreciate them while looking exclusively to the Bible for the foundations of my theology and faith."

We may have discovered one of the larger problems with Pastor Wiggins approach here. One does not deem heresy by comparing what is being analyzed to other fictional works. We determine heresy by comparing it to the Bible and the Bible alone. I need to add here that The Shack is NOT Christian friendly at all. We already saw that it teaches God does not even seek to make anyone Christian and then there are quotes such as these:

"Mack, for you to forgive this man is for you to release him to me and allow me to redeem him."

"Mack was surprised. 'How could that be? Why would the God of the universe want to be submitted to me?' 'Because we want you to join us in our circle of relationship. I don't want slaves to my will; I want brothers and sisters who will share life with me."

What both of these quotes represent is the true overarching message and teaching from The Shack. That God is just one of us. That there is no true separation between the Creator and the creature. In the first quote, who is God in that scenario? Mack is! God cannot even operate to redeem the killer unless Mack forgives him first? What utter blasphemy! Beloved, and please trust me on this, God does not need our permission nor our anything to accomplish whatever He desires to do. The second exchange is even more blasphemous! Mack openly suggests that the God of the entire universe wants to be submitted to His creation and God's answer is yes? This is the purpose driven mindset. That God is an eighth grade wallflower just hoping you will ask Him to dance.

The final point on this portion of the article is that the pastor is speaking like a selfish child instead of a shepherd. Since most of the purpose driven pastors are taught they are not shepherds it is sadly understandable. Maybe Pastor Wiggins can truly watch tripe like this and not have it affect his faith, theology, and beliefs. To be honest his theology seems so suspect to begin with I seriously doubt it but let's pretend he can. It is not about him. It is not about you. It is about the countless number of sheep and those seeking the Lord who cannot tell the difference and will go to see this trash and think that Papa is really God. That He doesn't want to punish anyone for sin. Nah. That God wants to be submitted to us. That He cannot operate unless we let Him. As Christians we should be gathering people to Christ. All we do when we point people to heresies as egregious as this is scatter them away from Him. So with all due respect Pastor Wiggins, it isn't about you.

"The movie almost forces the viewer to dig deep into one's own story to unearth and attempt to resolve the seemingly impossible questions many of us have about God, pain and forgiveness. How can a good God allow terrible evil? Is God always good? Why do I need God to be the judge rather than myself? How can I forgive the unforgivable? Can we really know good from bad without God's help? These themes, to my mind, represent some of the truly useful philosophical themes -- ones that perhaps still fall short of sound theology per se."

Beloved, these are indeed tough questions. No one is minimizing the pain that we go through as human beings. The problem is this. The Bible already answers all of these questions. Sure it may take time, prayer and faith but God and His goodness are real and palpable to those with the indwelt Holy Spirit. And therein lies the rub. The cold hard reality involving the near blanket acceptance of The Shack within the purpose driven mindset is that we are not dealing with converted sheep but rather goats that have been told they are sheep. To the unconverted mind the things of God are utter foolishness. Such as the concept of true healing through faith in Jesus Christ. Pastor Wiggins is correct that these questions are useful philosophical themes but only for those who do not have the Spirit of God living inside of them. This highlights brilliantly once again why we cannot be our own god, as Mack ends up being. Because ultimately we cannot answer these questions without a philosophical debate of issues true Christians already know by faith. That is why they fall woefully short of sound theology and as such deserve no place within the mind of a Christian or their exercise of faith.

"As Christians, we must hold to biblical tenants of theology in our lives. No exceptions. I believe we can faithfully do so while appreciating one author's good-faith attempt at answering some of the most basic questions that effectively keep some unbelievers from accepting the fact that God is always good."

The fact that Pastor Wiggins clearly meant "tenets" of faith is possibly the least problematic part of this closing snippet. After spending the entire article making exceptions for The Shack he pretends that he makes no such exceptions. The point of whether this is a "good faith" attempt is not even worth debating because the key here is in the rest of this quote. Pastor Wiggins honestly believes that these very difficult questions often keep unbelievers from the faith and he may very well be right. I would ask Pastor Wiggins however, what is the remedy for people who do not have faith and doubt the goodness of God? Is it now The Shack? Or is it still Romans 1:16 that declares definitively that only the true Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power of God unto the salvation of man? This is what happens when we start to slalom down the mountainside of compromising sound doctrine. When we marginalize it and pay it mere lip service. Then we compromise more and more until we are so confused that we liken The Shack to Romans 1:16. Keep in mind that this is a pastor. A pastor raised in the church as a pastor's kid. This is what years of compromise looks like. Years of the marginalization of the true Gospel. I cringe at the notion that an unbeliever, who is struggling with the goodness of God, would go see this movie and be taught that sin doesn't matter. To be taught that everyone goes to heaven. That is how people desert Christ and chase myths. That is how we see so many on the last day saying Lord Lord. Let me be as clear as our key Scriptures today. The Shack presents a different god, a different christ and a different gospel. If anyone chooses to bring this false god, christ and gospel -- let them be accursed. Let me close with one last quote from The Shack:

"evil is a word we use to describe the absence of Good, just as we use the word darkness to describe the absence of Light or death to describe the absence of Life. Both evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do not have any actual existence."

No beloved. Evil is not merely the absence of good. That is a completely humanistic philosophy, as is the entirety of The Shack. Evil exists and it is very real. The Shack is merely a microcosm of evil. As are the pastors who defend it. It is a vile poison coursing through the veins of the bride of Christ that is only cured through clinging to the true Gospel and rejecting the purpose driven mindset that laps up such poison and then calls it non-theological-but-faith-friendly to get you to drink it too.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- March 7, 2016

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