5 April 2010

The Shack

This is a 'spare of the moment' blog, influenced by a book I recently read and the comments and criticism it got from parts of the Christian church. In fact, I got so annoyed by the criticism and, especially, by the people who were supposed to have read and understood the Bible and yet could not realise that the critics were actually completely wrong, that I thought I had to put things right.

The book is called 'The Shack'. I bought it because it received very good reviews from other readers and the plot seemed interesting enough. Basically, the plot is as follows:

The main character in the book is Mack Philips. His daughter, Missy, is abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his depression, he receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

"Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there wil change his world forever".

I will not spoil the story for those of you that haven't read the book. Well, at least I will try not to. I will say, however, that in the shack he did meet God who appeared as a trinity. The Father appeared in the form of an African American woman, changing later on to an African American man. The Son, Jesus, appeared as a Middle Eastern man in his thirties, with a big Jewish nose and carpentry as his hobby. The Holy Spirit appeared as a Far Eastern woman which had all characteristics of a spirit.

I cannot say that it was one of the best books I have ever read, in fact I gave it a 3 out of 5. This is partly due to its religious messages and connotations, which were way too goody, 'love is all around us', for my liking. There were a few very good moments in the book, however, that kept me interested.

I will now present you, below, some clips from Youtube, which criticised this book as heresy and asked all Christians not to read it. Please watch the video first. I will then set out the main reasons each clip gives as evidence of heresy and will show why those reasons are completely nonsense.

Let's begin!

Here are the main points the guy in the clip made and my answers to them:

The book is a step away from what the Scripture declares
Well, let's examine the basics first. The writer of the book has never declared that what he wrote is a true story. The book itself is not entitled 'The Gospel According To...'. It is a fictional book, a fictional story. Of course it is going to be different from the Scriptures. Of course it will be a step, two steps, 100 steps away from them. That is what fiction is!! It is something which is not real, it is imaginary, it belongs to the mind of the writer! It never argued that it was an alternative to the Scriptures. I just don't understand what the fuss is about! Will NASA have to put a news bulletin from now on every time a new episode of Star Trek is written, warning people that the episode is steps away from what NASA's space program is, or steps away from what the laws of space travel state? Let's get real people!!!! Stop living in a box, stop telling people what they should or should not read, stop placing blinkers in front of their eyes so they can only see what you want them to see!!!

The book describes God as an African American woman and Jesus as a, hmm, errr....
It's funny that the speaker did not finish his sentence once he realised that Jesus was described as a middle aged Middle Eastern carpenter, which is exactly how the New Testament described Jesus as. His concern, then, was focused in the description of God, the Father, as an African American woman. That was his concern. But is that a heresy? After all, the Scriptures say that God cannot be described, He is a power, a spirit, more than light itself. This is exactly what the book also says, but I guess the speaker stopped reading it once the African American woman appeared in the story.

After all, God took a human form as Jesus not because he looks like a middle aged man but because that is how he decided to appear to people. Just because he appeared as a middle aged man, rather than a woman, or an old aged man, does not make it a heresy to portray him as an African American woman in the story, especially when in the book the woman does explain to Mack that the form taken was not important since God did not have a form. 

In the book Mac sits with God and even cusses him. You would never cuss at God if you were standing in front of him.
Really? Well, I guess the speaker has sat with God and chatted on many occasions, therefore he is an authority on what to say in front of God. Come on!!! How many of us have not cursed from time to time, especially at times of deep pain, such as the loss of a loved one? I know I have. I have cursed God for taking loved ones from me and I would have cursed him right there if he was to appear in front of me at that exact time!

This is what human limitation is! This is what the book shows! That the main character holds God responsible for the loss of his daughter, since God allowed her to suffer when he could have saved her. Isn't this how we feel most times? Isn't this how we would react if God stood in front of us? We do that anyway, looking upwards, because we believe he sees and hears us always, anyway.

So, how can the speaker claim that we would never cuss at God in his presence when millions of people do it everyday?

Just because you find something that is moving (in the book) and something that works, it does not make it right.
How true! I can say the same thing for tens of sayings in the actual Scriptures. For example in the Scriptures we are told that gay people should be sentenced to death. I guess if you are a racist person and hated gays you would find that part moving and that it worked for you, but does it make it right?

"Your faith should not be in wisdom of men" 1 Corinthians
That is why I don't like religion or the church. Because it imposes rules on people on how to have faith, rules that have been created by men and not God. 

Let's move  on to the second clip:

To say that Jesus had a big nose is a racist remark, as Jews have been depicted as having big noses.
Since when has a Jewish nose, or a Roman nose (for example) are racist remarks? The book does not make fun of Jesus' big nose, it simply portrays him as having one which is something that is characteristic to most Jewish men. 

If that is racist, is it not racist that in loads of christian paintings Jesus is depicted as a blond, blue eyed caucatian male even though he was born in Middle East from a Jewish mother? See the painting below, for example:

So, is Jesus' description as having a big nose (something which is characteristic of Jewish people) more racist than actually showing him as a whiter than white, blue eyed, blond man from Middle East? I think not!

Even though the book is a novel, this does not give it license to twist the Scriptures.
Readers of my 'Bible Chronicles' blogs will already know that, in fact, the Scriptures are already twisted. The Evangelists themselves tell the same stories completely different and the church fathers have deleted/added/changed part of the writings to suit the theology that best suits the church (for example, regarding the role of women in the church). At least the book does say it is a novel, while your church leaders claim that the Scriptures are the word of God. 

The book teaches Modelism (a very basic definition of Modelism is shown in the clip)
Again, whoever wrote this did not read the book. The unity of the Trinity is fully explained in the book, rather than any separatism between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The book promotes universal salvation, meaning that all men are saved regardless whether they want it to or not.
Again this is a false statement. What the book said is that you do not have to be a Christian to be saved, as the term 'Christian' is only a label, like 'Budhist', 'Muslim', etc. To me that makes more sense than what the church fathers currently preach, since God is ultimately the person who decides who is to be saved and who is not. Furthermore, the clip gives a quote from John, who was after all human and not God himself. 

The problem with this book is that many already have claimed it changed their lives, and now their theology is based on what this book says, rather than what the word of God teaches. There will be many who will spend eternity in Hell for believing in what this man has written. This is why this book is so dangerous.
The problem with the Scriptures is that many already have claimed they changed their lives and now their theology is based on what these Scriptures say, rather than what the word of God teaches. There will be many who spend their lives believing in what these men (Mark, Matthew, John, Luke, Paul, etc) have written. This is why the Scriptures are so dangerous.

Given a choice between freedom of speech or religious censorship I know which one I would choose. Do you? 

No comments:

Post a Comment