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March 11, 2017

The Shack - Sacrificing Truth on the Altar of Carnal Love

By Anthony Wade

Another Christian leader defends The Shack by insisting love is more important than it is not.


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But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. -- Revelation 2: 4-5 (ESV)

Somewhere deep down, I have to believe that Christians, who have the Spirit of God dwelling inside of them, know how heretical and dangerous The Shack is. Maybe it is naivete' but I have to believe that people who are called to discern can recognize that the Holy Spirit is not an Asian woman. That Father God is not an African American woman. That everyone does not go to heaven. That sin is real and God will punish people for it. I have to believe that people must realize how harmful this movie can be to a baby Christian or someone seeking the Lord. That this is not a game. Yet no matter how hopeful I try to remain, it seems every day there is another pastor or Christian public figure coming out to defend this movie. I have heard all of the bogus arguments. It is just fiction! No beloved it is not meant as fiction. The author has made it clear these are his views on God. The backdrop story is fiction but it is used to convey what the author believes is truth. Even if it were purely fiction does that actually change anything? If it were really being viewed strictly as a work of fiction, why are Christian resources companies making small group curricula and sermon series' for it? I have heard the silly comparison to other actual works of fiction, such as The Lord of the Rings and the Narnia series. While Tolkien was certainly inspired by an overall concept of good versus evil there are no attempts in the Lord of the Rings to teach things about God. There is no depiction of God, let alone the entire Trinity. The same can be said for Narnia, which at best has a "Christlike" figure in Aslan the Lion. Let's be clear however; if any church did a sermon series on Narnia or Lord of the Rings I would be just as against it. The Bible is always sufficient.

Please, enough with the inane arguments about eating the meat and spitting out the bones too. It is interesting because events such as The Shack reveal the utter narcissistic and selfish Christianity people are taught in the purpose driven church today. The worship has shifted to man focused. Forty years ago we sang "How Great Thou Art" but today we sing "Oh How He Loves Us" and if you cannot tell the difference between those two we have a real problem. One is worshiping God and the other is worshiping man. After that the churched hear a half hour sermonette about their temporal lives that is designed to scratch their itching ears. The purpose driven architect, Rick Warren, is proud of teaching pastors to meet the needs of the unchurched individual apart from their desperate need for salvation. That is why you get so many silly sermon series these days about better sex, healthier marriages, or finding your significance. The result is a church that is entirely carnal and always focused on "me." That is why The Shack appeals so much to our flesh. The theology of The Shack is that man is God and so is the meat and bones defense. It reveals a deep contempt for our brothers and sisters. You think you can watch it and be shielded somehow from the tsunami of heresy but it is not about you beloved. The Bible teaches us that we are our brother's keeper. God teaches us that we should not do anything to make our brethren stumble. So while you are picking out the meat to gnaw on the brother or sister that you led to The Shack is choking on the bones. The latest defense of The Shack comes from the cesspool of heresy known as Charisma News:

In this article, the author asks the question what does The Shack have to do with Revelation 2:4-5, which are our key verses for today. Let me first examine the text properly and then we will examine the author's points and see how depraved the purpose driven mind has become in these last days. The backdrop for the key verses is simple. The Apostle John is exiled to the island of Patmos in his advanced years. There, Jesus gives him great revelation to write down that will become the final book of the final revealed will of the Lord. Jesus starts however by having John write seven letters to local churches in Asia. Five of them received warnings and rebukes and two received a good report and a call to persevere. The key verses come from His letter to the Church at Ephesus, which had some problems as outlined in these Scriptures. They had abandoned the love they had at first. Well, what was that love Christ is referring to? The surrounding context indicates that Ephesus was good at rooting out false teachers and apostles so this first love is more in line with the love we are supposed to have for one another as Christians. Commentaries seem to agree that Ephesus perhaps had become to surgical in their doctrine and the Bible commands us to love our brethren because by this the world will know we are Christians. Now let us reason together and see if the arguments outlined in this latest article align with Scripture:

"Jesus had always been sensitive to those who used doctrine to bludgeon others. He had serious words with the Pharisees of His day, who exalted themselves through their learning" -- David Kyle Foster

This summarizes the lengthy first half of this article. Mr. Foster goes to great lengths to set up his premise that while doctrine is important, love is the bottom line. Is this accurate? Not even close. The example from Scripture he provides here is when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in Matthew 23, specifically for traveling the world to make a single convert but by doing so making them twice the son of hell as they were. This is a complete mishandling of this text. Was the problem the Pharisees had that they "bludgeoned people" with doctrine? Of course not! The problem was their doctrine was wrong! That is why the convert was twice the son of hell as they were! The problem of the Pharisees was not "learning" but that they taught falsely. They would make a lengthy show of prayer and then devour widow's homes. Foster goes into great detail about how he was once an arrogant Calvinist who used his doctrinal superiority to look down upon those he viewed as having a lesser grasp on theology and to that point I wholeheartedly agree. That is not however what is happening in Matthew 23 nor does it excuse why he set this lengthy backdrop up:

"But like so many of us, I forgot about the primacy of love and began using doctrine to judge, shame and criticize others. I reversed the proper ordering of things because it made me look good. No one is going to love a God based on doctrines they do not understand and don't want to follow! They need to fall in love with Him first. They need an experience of Him." -- DK Foster

There is so much wrong here. Let us go slowly. First of all, true discernment is critical of teaching -- not people. I do not assume David Kyle Foster is malevolent in his intentions. His intentions however are irrelevant. The only things that matter sis his teaching, which is off and will lead people astray here. I agree with the author that if someone uses doctrine to shame people or personally attack people that would be wrong (unless they are obvious wolves) but that is not what is happening in the correct judgments against the heretical movie known as The Shack. Notice however what Foster does here. He speaks to something called the primacy of love in an attempt to say that there is an order that has love first and doctrine second. Is this biblical? Absolutely not. One can make a cogent biblical argument for the primacy of truth but instead let us realize that at the least they are not separate entities beloved. The truth and love go together. The second epistle of the Apostle John speaks to both and places primacy on neither:

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever -- 2John 1: 1-2 (ESV)

Whom I love in the truth. All who love? No, all who know the truth. That loves abides in us? No, that truth abides in us. These are not mutually exclusive. Truth without love can feel clinical and leave you in need of a balm but love without truth guarantees you have experienced neither. There is no love without truth. It is not the preaching of love that saves anyone beloved. The Bible makes it clear it is the preaching of the Gospel and the Gospel divides people against each other. Why? Because while God may have loved the world so much that He sent His Son to die for us you cannot escape the need for the cross. If you only talk about God so loving the world and never get to the cross than no one gets saved. The first words of Jesus' ministry were not "love for the kingdom is at hand." They were "repent for the kingdom is at hand." There must be an understanding of sin and the need to repent, you know, doctrine. Except that is the greatest problem with The Shack. It teaches that everyone goes to heaven and God does not punish anyone for sin. Within this Universalism, it is true that all you need is love because there is no truth in it. Everyone will feel great about it right up until the day they stand before the lord, unrepentant. No offense meant to the author but the statement that unbelievers need to fall in love with God first is biblically absurd.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. -- 1Corinthians 2: 14 (ESV)

The things of God are utter foolishness to the unsaved person beloved. There is NO way for someone unsaved to "fall in love with God" unless it is a false god by definition. It is easy to love the false god of The Shack. He/she is subservient to the main character! In doing so, The Shack removes the truth from the love they offer, which in the end is not love at all. It is cruelty. Foster continues:

"Recently, much has been made of the "lack of sound doctrine" in the book and film The Shack. It is a fictional tale using allegory, metaphor and simile about a man whose daughter is brutally murdered and the journey he must go through to be reconciled to the God who allowed it to happen. It bravely addresses one of the biggest objections nonbelievers have about the doctrine of God's love, and yet the author of the story (William Paul Young), who is a believer, though flawed like the rest of us, has been excoriated by many of the "theological gatekeepers" of our evangelical culture for not crossing every theological "t" correctly. They have cruelly demonized him as a heretic and a deceiver." -- DK Foster

This is how far down the heretical rabbit hole the modern church has gone. People who insist on the inerrancy of Scripture are mocked as "theological gatekeepers" while people who believe in Universalism are considered brethren. Call me whatever you wish but William Paul Young is not my brother in Christ. He is no different than the Buddhist, the Muslim, or the atheist. They all may be very well intended but they are wrong. This is not about crossing a "T" correctly. Foster tries to minimize the severity of the heresy because he cannot see it. The Shack teaches that everyone goes to heaven. Let us be very clear. If everyone goes to heaven then God is a liar. If Universalism is true then God is not a God if justice. The more important point though is that if there is truly no consequence for sin then Jesus Christ died for nothing. The cross is powerless and the blood meaningless. So excuse me if I am making much about the lack of sound doctrine in The Shack but the eternal destination of the souls of men are at stake, including Mr. Young's. The truth beloved is never cruel nor is it "demonizing" -- unless you do not want to hear it.

"The critics contend that Paul Young's mistaken theology is going to result in people becoming heretics rather than getting saved. Funny--I don't recall having a correct view of the doctrines of salvation when God knocked me to the ground with His saving love as I surrendered to Him. He subsequently taught me sound doctrine, of course, but that came second." -- DK Foster

Foster actually misses the concern here. It is that people will buy into the false god that Paul Young is selling. The Bible is very clear that we can believe in vain and that we can spend our entire lives thinking we are serving God only to discover when it is too late that He never knew us. That is the danger of false teaching. As for this recurring theme from Foster that he knew no doctrine when he was saved, he is either mistaken or never truly converted. Yes of course no one comes to Christ by understanding the intricacies of the Trinity but that is a red herring argument. Beloved, the core theology and doctrine of Christianity is that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Once again, God so loved us that Jesus died for us but without understanding why Jesus had to die you cannot be saved. These sloppy agape lovey-dovey fancies of Mr. Foster are simply unbiblical. I will assume he is genuinely saved and as such he most certainly had a correct view of the core doctrines of salvation when he became saved or quite frankly he would not be.

"I contend that at least some of Paul Young's critics have forgotten their first love, as I have and sometimes still do. They have forgotten what first drew them to Christ. They have forgotten what draws anyone to Christ. Some of the critics seem to believe that it is doctrine that saves rather than the love of God shed abroad in our hearts. They are wrong, and worse, may have fallen into the same trap fallen into by the Ephesians. They have forsaken love." -- DK Foster

No Mr. Foster. What drew me to Christ is that I knew I needed to be saved from the wretchedness of my sin. Not some uber-mystical experience thingy that you keep referring to. What draws people to Christ is the conviction of the Holy Spirit. That conviction is dealing with our sin. You continue to miss the point of the love of God. It is to rescue us from our sin. As for your false notion that love saves and not doctrine:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. -- Romans 1: 16 (ESV)

The Gospel Mr. Foster. Not love. The Gospel is the only thing that has the power of God unto the salvation of man -- period. The Bible also teaches us that division in the body of Christ comes not from the watchmen or "theological gatekeepers" but rather from those who teach falsely such as Mr. Young. It is for love that I make these statements because if God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to die for it, people need to know it and the Shack does not teach it. Foster closes:

"I believe this movie will be used by God to bring many into the kingdom. As for those of us who are theologically well-trained and who are throwing grenades at Paul Young for not being more perfect in his fictional tale, we need to ask ourselves, if in the midst of our great learning, we haven't lost our first love--for God, for each other and for the lost. It is so easy to do. Indeed, I wouldn't have made that one theological error if I had written The Shack. It would have been theologically perfect. And I would have basked in the "Atta boys" and pats on the back from my evangelical peers. I'd have been very proud of myself, but I doubt very many people would have gotten saved with the story I would have written." -- DK Foster

No Mr. Foster. God will not contradict His Word. If only the Gospel can save and the Gospel is not in this movie then this movie will bring no one to Christ. Is it possible that someone could lead a person to the cross after this movie? Sure but not without the Gospel and if that is the case why not just skip the movie that teaches the opposite? David Kyle Foster has tried his level best to minimize this movie. It's just a work of fiction! C'mon, no one is perfect! It's just one little theological error! But it is not one theological error. The entire movie is incorrect. There is one huge theological false underpinning in the teachings of Universalism -- which are blatant by the way.

"I don't need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It's not my purpose to punish it; it's my joy to cure it." -- The god in The Shack

Perhaps the most frightening thing however is the close here from Foster. This truly is how warped the purpose driven mind has become. In his world, many will come to the Lord by a vehicle other than the Gospel that teaches God does not punish people for their sins but if one sticks to the Bible and sound doctrine, he doubts many would be saved at all. How revealing and unbelievably frightening that should be to us all as Christians.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- March 11, 2017

Authors Bio:
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.