• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • June 2008
    M T W T F S S
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The Shack And Real Christianity

The Shack, by William Young is an interesting work of fiction and may be very emotionally appealing to many readers.  It is currently a very popular book having sold over a million copies.

The problem I have with The Shack is that, even though it is an entertaining work of fiction, it communicates ideas about Christianity and God that are totally without relevance to the historic Christian faith and the teachings of Scripture.  I am concerned that many, who do not read their Bibles as they should, will accept The Shack’s view of God, the Trinity, and the Christian faith as the actual teachings God is trying to communicate to us.

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19)  Young not only misrepresents some important Biblical teachings, he adds to them.  In fact, he is actually downplaying the role of the Scripture in favor of personal experiences.

What Gospel message there is; is extremely watered down.  One disturbing comment by Papa (the female godhead) in the story illustrates this: “When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human.  We also chose to embrace all the limitations that this entailed. Even though we have always been present in this created universe, we now became flesh and blood.” The Bible clearly does not teach this.  The Bible teaches very specifically that it was only God the Son who came to this earth as the baby Jesus.  It was God the Son that embraced the limitations, died sinless on the cross, and then rose from the dead.  Jesus (God the Son) was the lamb slain for the forgiveness of sins.

This book is no Pilgrim’s Progress (not even close)!  I cannot recommend that you read it because, among other things, it communicates ideas that lead to a low view of God and a low view of Biblical authority.  This book could be very misleading to someone unfamiliar with Christianity.

Do You Really Want To Know God?

Oh how I love your law!  It is my meditation all the day.  Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.  I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.  I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.  I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.  I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.  How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119:97-104, ESV)

Charles Spurgeon once found an old Bible with a small hole.  A worm had eaten its way through the Bible from cover to cover.  Pondering the book, Spurgeon suddenly exclaimed, “Lord, make me a bookworm like that!”

Most of us need to pray like that too.  This is because we are poor Bible students.  We really do not want to be challenged to know God too well.  To be challenged, we must be willing to seek to know God with all our hearts and minds and to eagerly learn that which we do not understand.  Challenge is the difference between milk and meat.  Most Christians want just a little of God-lite. They are afraid to get too close to God because it might reveal too much about them.  Relationships require perseverance, openness, and nurture.  The author of Hebrews puts it this way: “. . . we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14, ESV)

The idea of “constant practice” is well know in sports.  Christians must understand that reading and studying the Bible – along with theology, commentaries, etc. – and spending time on our knees before God is to be our “constant practice.”  The things we do not do well, we have to constantly practice repetitiously in order to master the skill.  As Christians, we have to challenge ourselves.  This means the constant practice of reading and studying the Bible; even the areas that we do not understand well or think is over our heads.  This is a “challenge.”  We must read, study, or listen until we come to a true understanding of the concept being taught.  Thus, we learn more about God.

There is a phrase I love at the beginning of Luke 24:45.  It says, “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. . .” Jesus opened the minds of His disciples so that they could understand the Word of God.  Do you think he will not do the same for you?  As James, the half-brother of Jesus writes, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5, ESV)

Do the words “theology” or “doctrine” intimidate you?  Theology is simply the study of the nature of God and religious truth.  It is a rational inquiry into questions about God.  Doctrine is a body of teachings and principles.  They help us to become consistent and logical in our understanding of God.  John Owens reminds us, “The foundation of true holiness and true worship is the doctrine of the gospel, what we are to believe.  So when Christian doctrine is neglected, forsaken, or corrupted, true holiness and worship will also be neglected, forsaken, and corrupted.”  Why?  Because we have failed to seek to know God.

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