False Teachers are Abusers of the Brethren

 

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But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. (2 Timothy 3)

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality,[c] wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,[d] unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32)

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. …(2 Peter 2)

Whoever transgresses[d] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. ( 2 John 1:9-11)

 

11. By wishing a false brother or teacher “God (or ‘good’) speed,” you imply that he is capable as such of good speed and joy (the literal meaning of the Greek), and that you wish him it while opposing Christ; so you identify yourself with “his evil deeds.” The Greek of “partaker” is “having communion with.” We cannot have communion with saints and with Antichrist at the same time. Here we see John’s naturally fiery zeal directed to a right end. Polycarp, the disciple of John, told contemporaries of Irenæus, who narrates the story on their authority, that on one occasion when John was about to bathe, and heard that Cerinthus, the heretic, was within, he retired with abhorrence, exclaiming, Surely the house will fall in ruins since the enemy of the truth is there. (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary)

 

Is there anyone who has ever been deceived by a false teacher or abused by a false Christian  who is not convinced that deception and abuse go hand in hand?

Scriptures make it very clear that false teachers are not just those who have simply misread scripture or are well-intentioned but wrong.  I can’t find anywhere in the New Testament where either Jesus or the apostles thought about false teachers in this manner.  I don’t see Peter, Paul or John excusing the teaching or the teachers because of ignorance or immaturity.  There were those in Scripture like Peter and Apollos who were ignorant or misled but who were also able to be reasoned with by more mature Christians and who changed their teaching as a result of an appeal. There was no doubt that these men were brothers because of their love and humility.  But I fail to find anywhere that genuine brothers and sisters in Christ were also teachers of false doctrines.  It seems that Scripture makes it clear that if you teach a false doctrine, you are also a person of unsound character and are in fact wicked, cursed and to be shunned. In fact, false teachers are cursed by Paul in Galatians 1 and cursed by Peter in the second chapter of his second letter.  John says don’t even greet them, Paul tells Timothy to turn away from them. Teaching false doctrine and being deceptive, abusive and leading others astray go hand in glove, make no mistake about it.

I don’t believe that we are to show any leniency to those who prove both by their inability to be reasoned with and their false teaching that they are reprobates.  They may present themselves as very charming reprobates, but God does not look at the outward appearance but upon their hearts.  The hearts of false teachers are rebellious, unable to love the brethren or God and while they may boast of their love for others and their good deeds before men, Christ will say to them ‘depart from me’.  God has no part with false teachers and we are encouraged by the writers of the New Testament to do likewise.  It seems unkind and almost wrong to do this.  It is undoubtedly hard to do this.  Any genuine believer has compassion and concern for those who are headed to hell, but false teachers it seems fall into a separate category. They are evil, we are to turn away from them.  How is this possible, when so many of them seem simply to be just making an error in judgement.  Can’t we just reason with them and help them to see their mistake?

I would encourage you to do this very thing. You can’t know immediately what kind of character a person has simply by hearing their preaching, or by knowing who they follow or endorse.  There can be brothers and sisters in Christ who follow false teachers without realising the teachings are false simply through immaturity.  Go to those ones, reason with them, contend for the faith, point out the error, plead and encourage, and if you have won your brother, their souls are saved.  If on the other hand, you are ignored, mocked, verbally abused or shunned because you have tried to help them see their error, you will know immediately of what type these Christians are.  They have not just become deceived, but they have ‘drunk the koolaide’.  This term is a reference to the Jonestown massacre in the People’s Temple Agricultural Project commune in Guyana.  It is called Jonestown after the cult leader Jim Jones who had gone from teaching the Word in California to a perverted form of “Apostolic Socialism” in Africa and was using drugs and spreading paranoia and hate in his cult group caused his people to take poison.

Over 900 Americans, who had followed Jones to Africa died in this massacre and it is rumoured that the poison was placed in koolaide so that the people, a third of whom were minors, would drink it.  It is not the only and won’t be the last traumatic final act of madmen who begin by preaching scripture, lurch into false teaching and end up mass murderers.  Not every false teacher is a murderer but I can think of many who are even now lauded as fine theologians.  John Calvin murdered  believers who refused to accept his teachings.  If he had done something like that today he would be in jail or worse.  Yet, because these teachers are historical figures Christians ignore their characters and their obvious lack of love for the brethren who don’t agree with them or try and reason with them to see the error of their ways, they are treated as great men. Obviously Jim Jones is not a great man, but he did not begin a denomination.  It is amazing how many people will follow an obvious lunatic or abuser.  Look at the many who follow L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings of Scientology.  All you have to do is read their histories to see what kind of people they were, moreover, the types of circles they moved in.  Read this excerpt of another article which describes Hubbard’s known associates and you will see what I mean.

But not every false teacher or false Christian keeps such company.  Not everyone appears to be evil or insane or leads others to their physical deaths.  Satan can appear as an angel of light and false teachers are known for their ability to deceive and ‘bewitch’. Even the apostle Paul was concerned about the believers in Galatia who had obviously been led astray by a false teacher.

In all my readings of the New Testament, especially since we left the cult, I have seen that just about every author, including Jesus, warns believers not to be deceived and to watch out for false teachers. Satan was the first false teacher, in the garden of Eden. His words to Eve were “Has God really said?”.  This is the first and foremost rule of false teaching.  Create doubt in the Word of God, even if at first it is a small doubt (in the authenticity of the translation perhaps), and then build on that doubt with your own version of the truth.  You will find false teachers will always start out with the truth, but then they either add to, take away from, or outright change the words of the Bible, or the meaning of those words. Deceivers will always involve themselves in a ‘bait and switch’. They will make  you think they are Christians, and preaching the gospel, and then they will have different meanings for the words you take for granted. Even the term ‘gospel’ means different things to different Christians.

This alone makes the false teacher an abuser of the brethren.  You cannot love the body of Christ and be loose with the word of God.  If you understand the power of the Word, and for this you must have experienced it for yourself, then you will not wish any to be deprived of the experience or understanding of it. A true believer must be transformed, there has to be a testimony of the Cross of Jesus Christ and its work in their lives.  Then when they know the power of the gospel, they will not want to ever teach or preach another way.  This is the essence of becoming a born-again believer.  You know who your saviour is, and you know because ‘the Bible told me so’.  You will know the Bible told you because somebody else explained it to you.  A true teacher will preach the Word of God, a false teacher will teach something else. This something else will not have the power of the Word to change lives, and they will only look different, they will not actually be different.

Thus any false teaching leads believers and unbelievers astray, hence the warnings.  If you are leading believers astray you are abusing your position as teacher, which means you are also abusing those you are teaching.  It doesn’t have to be overt or physical abuse, but look how many times those who have started with spiritual abuse ended up caught in adultery or other sins.

We are to be on the lookout for false teachers.  Unfortuntaely, most of the church is asleep.

We need to wake up.

Jesus’ return is immanent.

Get right with God, start reading scripture on a daily basis, and be fed with the Word.

 

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McChristianity

 

 

 

Macdonalds’ is of course the most successful fast-food restaurant in the world. It has outlets in every city in every suburb of every city in the western world, and it extends into areas like China and Russia which would have been impossible a few years ago. Macdonalds’ food is not high quality. That has never been in dispute. However, it sells. That is the main point. Macdonalds are not out to bring health and wellbeing to every person in the world, they are out to make a profit at the expense of the health of everyone who eats their products which famously have so much sugar in them they really should be considered confectionary.

With McDonald’s, it isn’t about content, it is about giving people what they want; fast comfort food laced with sugar and salt. We have grown up on Macdonald’s, we continue to take our children, and we are not teaching them that this food is bad for you, we are inculcating our children with the idea that family and Macdonald’s goes together. Therefore the emotional hook is laden with cheeseburgers and sundaes. Or did you want fries with that.

This business model of giving people what they want has been adopted by the church. Like Macdonald’s, they have sacrificed what is good and right on the altar of worldly success.

What began as something which Jesus himself proclaimed was sought by the few who could afford to give everything they had to buy it has become a cheap knock-off. The gospel has become today’s fake gold cartier watch being sold on stands in the street for $20.00. Anybody who thinks they can buy genuine cartier for $20 is clearly ignorant of the facts. Likewise, anybody who thinks that they can purchase the pearl of great price cheaply or for nothing is also ignoring the facts. Yet so many Christians today are flocking to a fake gospel which presents cheap knock-offs of the original simply to pull in the thousands to their churches in order to be entertained with music, comedy, emotional appeals to their pocket books, the lie that they can partake in something valuable and meaningful for the small price of 10% of their income plus whatever amount they want to give to the building programme.

McChristianity has fooled the millions who believe that partaking in the Kingdom of God can be had cheaply. Yet the gospel tells us that if we want to follow Jesus we must take up our cross and follow him. We are called to lay down our lives, not try and save them or we will in fact lose our lives. This is not a paradox, it is a truth. Our lives are not to be saved at the expense of our souls. We do not belong to this earth, and the sooner we realise that the greater will be our commitment and sacrifice to Jesus our Lord.

Door to Door Cult Service

 

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We keep getting visits from the members of the local Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall.

Just about every month they show up in our street, which is pretty long. They turn up in the middle of the day, and the houses they don’t hit during the week, they come back on Saturday morning and try again. What amazes me is that they just keep coming despite getting the same responses from the same houses every time. They continually knock on our door despite the numbers of times I have asked them to take us off their list. We are not interested, we do not want to read their literature since we already know what it says, and we know for a fact that engaging with these people in conversation would be redundant. Trying to get a cult member to see the light is an exercise in futility. Only God is able to reach them and often they need to be at the end of their strength in order to do that. Been there, not interested in revisiting.

My son opened the door to them the other day. He asked me what he should say to them, I just told him not to bother trying to witness to them, just tell them we are not interested. However, a few minutes later after I thought they had gone, they were still there trying to shove tracts in his face, and I heard the sentence “we would just like to share with you from this literature”. He had not asked them in, and since it is still my house I would have objected anyway, but I came to the door and was, frankly, a little too brisk with them. “No, you will not be sharing anything today, now you need to leave the house, off you go” I told them. They looked a bit shocked to be dismissed in such a fashion, but left quickly thank heavens.

We tend to see people from cults as being carriers of doctrines of demons and also of carrying some rather nasty spirits themselves as they walk around. If you open yourself to darkness it will come in without a second invitation. I know from experience what some of my former friends became upon having spent only a few months at BCF. They were not the same people they were, they were darker, without peace, self-focused and easily irritated. In fact, everyone, including us, became shadows of their former selves.

A woman I knew from my Pentecostal days, Jan Groenveld, now gone to be with the Lord, spent a great deal of time setting up a website in Australia to inform others about the tactics and beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses as she used to belong to them herself. Jan was tireless in her efforts to inform and expose this organisation. Yet despite the work of people such as Jan, the organisation appears to be growing bigger. The enemy is clearly delighted at the success of his campaign. If it’s not the Mormons, it’s the J.W.s, or the Scientologists, they are all the same in their approach to the truth and their rejection of those who question their beliefs. If once you ever get inside any of these cults, they will treat you all like worker ants. You have no rights, no personal life and no mind of your own, you must do as you are told and people do. It is the methods they use to get people to accept them as genuine kind and good Christians which upset me the most.

The whole concept of door knocking is to make disciples. They are not interested in asking questions about their own faith or discussing their own doubts in a realistic way, this would be akin to committing spiritual suicide. They are not open to your opinion or view and once they know that you are a committed Christian their only concern is to get you to change your ideas to conform with theirs. This is an insidious and unstoppable religious spirit which is determined to break and destroy the faith of genuine believers and to ensnare as many people as possible into their cult. If they can’t cause you to doubt they will dismiss you as quickly as most people dismiss them. It is a cold-hearted and unfeeling spirit which quenches the life in people.

When I was a much younger Christian, I used to try and talk to them, discuss their beliefs pleasantly and try and witness to them. I was an abject failure. After having exited a cult myself, I understand their thinking a whole lot better. I also understand that it is almost impossible to try and talk these people out of their faith. It would have to be the exception to come across a J.W. who is wavering in their own belief and the fact that they go about two by two, an older J.W. with a younger would ensure that anybody who is susceptible to doubt would be kept out of the conversation by the older and more experienced person.

Trying to talk to somebody who is deceived by doctrines of demons is very difficult. It is even more difficult when you know that these people are not friends who you just happened to meet at the local shopping mall, or even invited into your home to have a coffee. No, these people are trained in more ways than one. They are told how to witness, they are told what to say, they are informed about all of the ways in which they will be responded to by the world, and any ‘persecution’ ie shows of rejection or worse by those on the other side of the door would also be dealt with the JW way.

So what you are dealing with is an organised and systematic assault (although they wouldn’t think of it that way) which is not to be dismissed lightly. Having spent many years in a controlling religious cult, I am probably not the person to be talking to about witnessing to cult members. I have tried talking to my former friends who are still in the cult I belonged to. They do not want to listen to me, I am considered to be apostate and therefore a bad influence, and this is what happens to all who leave a cult. You are shunned and ignored and treated with contempt.

So when I see Jehovah’s Witnesses, I do not get warm fuzzy feelings inside hoping that I may open up their eyes to the truth of the real gospel. I am afraid it takes a whole lot more than good intentions to talk to these people and most Christians do not understand the strength and depth of the delusion they are under.

I have tried being polite and indifferent, and a lot of the time I am just annoyed. They come into my house despite the many ways I show them I am not interested, and on one occasion I had a bevy of women standing at my front garden gate actually yelling at me while I am standing inside my house. Was this designed to make me feel embarrassed so that I would come out and talk to them? I am afraid all this does is upset me. Nobody with that kind of rudeness is welcome in my home even to discuss the gospel, and I am not at liberty to discuss the gospel with those who do not ‘have an ear to hear’.

So while many Christians have the opinion that Jehovah’s Witnesses should be given every opportunity to hear the gospel, it is important to remember that in actual fact the witnessing days when they are at your front door is probably the time they are the least open to the gospel. They are taught how to think they are told what to say and they have their very large and abusive organisation behind them. Knowing what it is like to live in these types of environments, I can say that there is a very great deal of fear involved. You may not be conscious of it, but you do what you are told to do because you are too scared not to. You think that if you don’t God will somehow punish you.

My husband worked for a man once years ago who was a Jehovah’s Witness. He was a very kind and friendly man and once he knew that my husband and I were Christians, he offered to have us over for dinner in his house and to debate the subject of the Trinity. We were more than happy to show him the verses in our bibles which told us that the Holy Spirit was a person and not an impersonal force, and spent a couple of hours after dinner talking with them about it. My husband had written down a lot of his notes and later gave them to his boss. This was in the days before personal computers and iphones, so sending information by email wasn’t a common thing back then. His boss was quite glad to be able to read his notes, but I don’t think either he or his wife ever left the organisation. The trouble was, he used to be a Catholic and the JWs entered his home one day when he was in a very difficult time of personal crisis and because he was vulnerable, they were able to get him to commit himself to their organisation. That is the way cults work. They love bomb you, convince you they are the answer to all your problems and then after the honeymoon period, the hard work starts.

While my husband was able to be a consistent witness to this man and his wife, he was not able to have as much influence as he would have liked. We left much the wiser when it came to talking to cult members, ironically we became cult members ourselves shortly afterwards. So it is very important to remember how easy it is to be deceived and entrapped by lies and false gospels. The most important thing to do is to make sure we know the gospel ourselves, and to keep reading the word of God on a regular basis in order to remind ourselves what it actually says. This way there is less likelihood of being deceived by the enemy who loves to question the word of God and get us to do the same.

Bless you.

Steve and Anita Brady

 

The Path That Rocks

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Is, or was, the emerging church merely a passing fad primarily for bored yuppies smugly unhappy with their conventional suburban churches and pining for a spiritual theater more hip and supposedly more relevant? One Sojourners writer, quoting a blogger, credited emergents for their contributions to “women’s issues, conversations about sexuality, environmentalism, anti-foundationalism, [and] social justice.” But those “conversations” have been mainly only that. Not for nothing do emergents usually insist they are not a movement but a “community” or an ongoing “conversation.”

http://spectator.org/articles/39523/emergent-church-no-longer-emerging

‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ was a favourite of ours when the kids were young. Now they are all adults, but we still find ourselves quoting Kronk or Ysma (his evil boss). Phrases like “wrong lever”, or “demon llama!!!!” may not seem at first glance to be very cogent, but it is amazing how many times you can use them appropriately throughout life’s crazy moments.

Firstly though I want to talk about the challenge to the Kingdom of God that the Emerging church is issuing. Contrary to the quote from the above article, the Emergent Church is not simply a passing fad. It may describe itself in soft-focus terms, but their agenda, or rather the agenda of the spiritual forces arrayed against us through them, is decidedly direct and specific. Often we don’t look much further than the outward packaging with new ideas (dress vs tights). Those who propose new ideas often use the false logic that anyone who disagrees with them is just afraid of them. For the immature in the faith and for those who are not working out their own salvation with fear and trembling, this jibe can be very disturbing. The first reaction is often to rise up and challenge it, which is exactly what the other person wants. If they can engage you in emotional polemic they can easily out-manoeuvre you through verbal intimidation, straw-man arguments and ad-hominem taunts. Rather than respond with anger and personal offense we need to be sure of what it is we do believe. We need to do some bible study, make sure we are confident in our own faith, and then realise that these new ideas being proposed by the Emerging church are not that new. They are re-packaged especially for the younger generation and it is the younger generation who are selling them, but essentially they are simply an attempt by our enemy to destabilise genuine believers.

The Emerging church is attempting to distract us with it’s own conviction that it has something we do not: coolness…relevance…..life. They are distracting from the very important issue that they actually have no relevance or life at all when compared to the New Testament teachings of Jesus and Paul. This ‘coolness’ is simply a smug and self-confident front. If you are able to puncture the veneer of this vainglorious new generation of hip believers with the truth, the smugness tends to evaporate. What you see in it’s place is instability, luke-warmness and a lack of genuine integrity. They are in truth a mile wide and an inch deep, and as we all know, when presented with a vast expanse of water the first reaction is often to feel overwhelmed and think you can never cross it. When you realise that you can actually walk through it without getting even your ankles wet, you can relax. It is all a mirage, an illusion, and as Kronk has amusingly illustrated, all that is needed is a ‘begone’ and the confusion is dispelled. OK, maybe it will take a little more than that, but I want to help break the spell. I believe that the Emerging Church uses language, visual and sound technology and the leaven of lies and half-truths to first of all seduce and then overwhelm others in order to deceive and confuse us. It is all too easy to be influenced by what you see and what you think you see. In fact, the world uses these tools to change minds and influence behaviour through marketing, advertising and social media. They are powerful and world changing. They are not however grounded in scripture and in the kingdom of God. They are grounded in the ways of the Father of Lies, and they will kill your faith and shipwreck your spiritual life if you let them. The good news is that the truth will set you free. Or to be more specific, and cogent…..

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8 (NKJV)

Much of the emerging church preaches false doctrines of ecumenism, dominionism, the social gospel, the prosperity gospel and new age ideas of God in everyone. This is bad enough but it becomes worse with an attitude of smug arrogance. Many of the pedagogues of the emerging church put themselves at odds with the established church and or established church doctrines and claim victim status. They are being persecuted by the traditionalists (down with the old guard) because the traditionalists are not open-minded. The traditionalists are oppressive, antiquated and stuck in their ways. Yet although ostensibly the Emerging Church likes to rattle the cages of the Established Church, what they are really challenging is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not the Bible per se that they hate, but the word of God and its final, all-encompassing and over-arching authority. Generally, the Emerging Church is not a fan of the establishment, and let’s call the gospel of Jesus Christ the establishment for this argument. Their smugness and elitism, as with all rebellious and lawless thinking, is a symptom of their belief in their own ‘rightness’ and self-assurance. Yet our foundational belief as Christians, as believers of the full gospel of Jesus Christ, is that we have no basis for our own righteousness, and we come in humility before the Cross to acknowledge the authority, holiness and righteousness of God.

My problem is that the emerging church pin-up boys and girls are mostly of the genX and genY demographic and are influencing younger Christians in this same worldview.

I find it interesting that bloggers and authors like Rachel Held Evans for example proclaim earnestly that they want to speak for their generation as though the younger generation in the western world are not heard from. For those who are not familiar with Rachel here is a quick summary of her influence from the Eastern Mennonite University website in America

“ Rachel Held Evans, one of the most influential and quoted persons in the Millenial generation of Christians, has been spotlighted by NPR, Slate, BBC, The Washington Post, The Guardian (UK), The Times London, The Huffington Post and Oprah.com

http://emu.edu/now/news/2014/02/rachel-held-evans-is-coming-expect-surprising-insights-maybe-shocking-ones-from-this-popular-christian-blogger/

Here is a quote from one of Rachel’s recent blog posts

As I watched my Facebook and Twitter feeds last night, the reaction among my friends fell into an imperfect but highly predictable pattern. Christians over 40 were celebrating. Christians under 40 were mourning.  Reading through the comments, the same thought kept returning to my mind as occurred to me when I first saw that Billy Graham ad: You’re losing us.

I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again…(though I’m starting to think that no one is listening): 

My generation is tired of the culture wars. 

We are tired of fighting, tired of vain efforts to advance the Kingdom through politics and power, tired of drawing lines in the sand, tired of being known for what we are against, not what we are for.

This is not the 1950s. The young are heard from in every section of the media from the internet to reality TV. We hear your voices whether speaking singing, dancing, cooking, writing books or doing stand-up everywhere that it is possible to hear voices. In fact the younger generation has been heard from in every decade since the 60s. In Rachel’s case, if you read the Mennonite description of her career to date, you will see that she has a very wide readership, is being listened to by very influential people, including probably the most influential person on American television Oprah Winfrey, a 50 something. I think Rachel is maybe one of those types of people who like to create drama where there is none. She is being listened to and she is being widely distributed so others can listen to her. So what does she really want?

Like a lot of young seemingly mainly left wing politicians in this country, what you are saying is not resonating with the older demographic because frankly, we have been there and done that. The baby-boomer generation started the generation gap by protesting things like the Vietnam War, racism and sexism. What they spoke out about were genuine issues. The way they spoke out about it became overheated and probably more than a little tiresome for the previous generation who had already fought in the second World War and were emotionally exhausted, traumatised from 7 years of terrible and mind-numbing conflict and were sick of the continual turmoil. The war had not stopped the conflict. Had men and women died in vain? There always seemed to be something more to get in an uproar about, however righteous the cause. I will never forget my father, who had been a commando in the D-day landings and been badly wounded by schrapnel. He often would sit and watch the news and the look on his face was devastating. He would turn to the rest of his family and proclaim desperately “what is the world coming to”. Everything used to be so clear cut and understandable, now it was all falling apart. If the hippie generation wondered why nobody was listening to them, perhaps it was because they were so self-absorbed and focused on their own issues. Some of those issues were real and cross generational like racism, others were simply fuelled by drugs and the belief that the older generation had screwed up the universe and they were going to get it right.

Rachel Held Evan’s belief that the previous generation of Christians had ‘screwed up’ somehow and didn’t understand the need to embrace things like homosexuality as normal is taking things to a whole nother level. She has the same attitude at the baby-boomer generation, yet speaks as though this was all something new and revelatory and at the same time self-evident. She is getting frustrated that the rest of us aren’t getting her. She claims to be a Christian yet like so many emerging ‘believers’ they are not really sure what it is they do believe, they just know that they don’t want to go down the same path as the older generation.

The old paths are not what is holding Rachel Held Evans back. She, like many emerging church apologists is suffering from the issue of sin nature verses the Holy Spirit. They want to both embrace the flesh and the soulish nature and at the same time know God in the midst. That is not how this works. It has always been this way and always will. First you accept that we can’t have it our way, but God’s, and God’s ways are not determined by young minds re-interpreting the bible to make it mean whatever works for them.

We are not failing to hear the voices of the young people in this age. What the young fail to realise is that those who support the establishment are the young of 30 years ago who likewise tried to change the world by challenging the status quo. There is a lot to be said for institutions which can withstand the continual testing of younger generations who ‘just want to be heard’. The Younger generation who seem to be dancing to the Pied Piper’s tune of emerging church have a right to speak out on their own behalf, but they do not have a right to lead others down the broad path of destruction.

And in this I refer to the established church. When I say established church I am not talking about denominations or hierarchy, programmes, popes or priests and pastors. I am not talking about the institution of church which began with Constantine. I am talking about the kingdom of God, the body of Christ, those who believe in Jesus Christ as our Saviour, the son of God, the born again, the led by the Spirit and the bible believing word of God preaching gospel proclaiming and entirely annoying ‘fundamental-ists’ who refuse to allow the emerging church to poison all the wells.

Unfortunately, the blogosphere is a seductive beast. Somebody once said that Google is the great oracle of our time and likewise, blogs have an almost mystical appeal. They are an unprecedented means of publishing opinions which then garner popularity, praise and criticism based on their zeitgeist. You can be nobody in particular and become a celebrity overnight. In the same way, the emerging church has tapped into this celebrity culture and made media stars of its leaders and speakers. Rachel Held Evans is a perfect example of why the emerging church is so popular. She is young (in her 30s), female (and therefore empowered), engaging and puts her vulnerabilities out there. She is like a cast member of ‘Friends’ except ten years later. She engages others because she apparently tells it like it is, but all Rachel is doing is acting as a mouthpiece for the doctrines of the mostly older male vanguard. Previously I talked about the young speaking to the young. Emerging church leaders are a mixture of the young, and those seeker-sensitive types who speak to those younger than them in the same language. More specifically you are looking at the baby-boomer generation of Jesus freaks who became leaders in the wake of the 70s and 80s and are taking advantage of the power vacuum amongst the younger generation. They don’t act as parents or elders or teachers, they act as friends. This is all very comforting, and would be fine if they were simply just friends, but they aren’t. They are role models and they are leaders. They are leading these younger Christians down the broad path, or ‘the path that rocks’ rather than the path of righteousness.

And like Kronk, the younger generation are ‘sort of confused’ about what is right and wrong. In this video excerpt from ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’, Kronk, a minion of the evil Yzma, is listening to the discussion between an angel and demon on his shoulder. In trying to get him to go down the path ‘that rocks’, the demon has only two (rather than his stated three) points to consider. The first is that the angel looks stupid (ad hominem argument) the second is that the shoulder demon, is impressively athletic. As Kronk points out “what does that have to do with anything”. As the angel points out, maybe there is something to the fact that this demon is so good at standing on his hands. Even the elect are being deceived by the verbal gymnastics of those who wish to go down the ‘path that rocks’.

Rachel Held Evans appeals to the young and because she is a woman she is being accepted. Women are a perfect mouthpiece for the disillusioned, abused, minority groups out there who need acceptance. The GLBT community, those who grew up in authoritarian controlling churches and had authoritarian controlling fathers and pastors, women who are tired of being told they aren’t allowed to speak in church and many others. As a woman who belonged to all of these sub-groups except the GLBT (but had a mother and sisters who sympathised) I understand perfectly the appeal of the emerging church.

Incidentally, Rachel denies being part of the emerging church but either she doesn’t see who she is being influenced by or she is not being honest with herself. She is hanging out with the likes of Rob Bell, and attending conferences with speakers such as Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren. Evan’s views are very much in line with the emerging church, therefore she can’t really say she is not part of it. The fact that many emerging church writers and leaders don’t like to align themselves officially with the emerging church is something of a comment on the nature of the Emerging Church itself. They don’t want to offend anyone and they don’t like being pigeon-holed which makes them in their own eyes, amorphous and ‘part of the conversation’ which is a euphemism for “don’t label me cause I might change my mind”. This vague non-specificity is apparently very cool right now. It is better to have fluid views because let’s face it anyone with popular appeal generally ends up being proved wrong or fails publicly in some way sooner or later. If you have fluid views you can always say that you were ‘experimenting’ with whatever or whoever it is who ends up being publicly disavowed.

Here is a quote from one of her blog posts wherein she makes it perfectly clear that it is not politically correct for her to align herself with the Emerging Church.

As the book launch approaches, I’ve been warned by several advisors to avoid aligning myself with the “emerging church.” Identifying with this group will alienate potential readers, they say.  It will box me in and limit my influence, they say. It will subject me to unwanted criticism, they say.

While I’m no fan of labels—(and “emerging” or “emergent” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people)— it would be dishonest for me to say that I have not been influenced by many of the writers and speakers that are associated with this movement. In fact, I’m currently reading Brian McLaren’s latest book, A New Kind of Christianity, and plan to include an interview with him on the blog later this month.

http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/changing

But then it is this deliberate commitment to changing ideas and experimentation which makes the emerging church ‘theology’ so destructive. They know what they don’t believe, they just don’t want to tell you what they do believe. It always comes back to the revolutionary goal of undermining the establishment without really having anything of substance to replace it.

As an aside here is Rachel’s blog comments policy…

“Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.”

It’s her blog, and she is entitled to delete whomsoever she pleases, its just that this policy is so emergent its not funny. OK, well it kind of is I mean I laughed. The last sentence says it all. “The definition of terms is left solely up to us.” This could quite easily be the motto for the Emerging Church, and if nothing else is enough to convince me that Rachel Held Evans is a voice in this community.

Emerging church doctrines however do not attempt to violently destroy the established church. In fact in many ways, the established church has done the destroying for generations. The Catholic church engaged in murder on a heinous scale, and destroyed anyone who didn’t recant their own egregious ideas or beliefs. The Catholic church has been psychopathic in its hatred of the outsider or the dissenter. The true church has always been killed or imprisoned by the establishment, and the emerging church is ironically becoming the very thing it thinks it is working against.

Who has the greatest growing church in the western world? The emerging church has the giga-churches, the air-waves, the music industry, the ear of politicians. In fact, we believe that the emerging church is simply another strand of the newly forming world church where there are no fundamentals of doctrine, no specific and strict beliefs, no exclusions, no sinners, no sin, no need to repent, no cross, no blood, no call to renounce the world, no boundaries. This new church includes all denominations, all religions in fact, and all ideas and theologies. The agents of this change are the emerging church leaders, the catholic church leaders, the new age leaders, and even the established protestant church leaders. All are falling prey to this non-doctrine doctrine and as long as you lay down your long-held bible based beliefs and join with the new world order, you will be accepted and loved. By the world. But as scripture tells us..

James 4:3-5

New King James Version (NKJV)

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and[a] adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

As I said though, the gospel can’t be re-defined because it is beyond temporal or worldly understanding. It is the word of God who is eternal, and his word is eternal and unchanging. How then can you define or even re-define terms when those previous definitions become out-dated if God’s word is unchanging. People don’t change, there is nothing new under the sun (from the Solomon, world’s wisest man), and therefore the only point to re-defining Christianity, our beliefs, the gospel, or the tenets of our faith is to insert something in there that wasn’t before…yourself.

 

Further reading:

Willow Creek and the Socialist Agenda

http://www.moriah.com.au/textarchive/nwo.htm

*See this excellent article for the examination of the attitudes of leftwing politics in Australia http://www.melbournereview.com.au/features/article/The-Toxicity-of-Smugness

http://standupforthetruth.com/2012/10/the-influence-of-rachel-held-evans/

http://spectator.org/articles/39523/emergent-church-no-longer-emerging

 

Heart Transplant

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I read some time ago about the studies of a psychoimmunologist Paul Pearsall around the unexpected symptoms experienced by heart transplant recipients. Pearsall apparently researched the mental side of heart disease, gathering data and formulating theories. He wrote a book called ‘The Heart’s Code’ which documents these theories. Pearsall himself went through a life threatening cancer during which he became friends with others experiencing the same heart diseases and facing the need for transplants.

A certain number of them, around 15%……were known to report quite spontaneously that they know things about the person whose heart they received, or else their behaviour or preferences changed, and when it was researched, it was found that these changes were indeed in the direction of being more like the person whose heart they had received.”

(Strengthening your Decisions Through ‘Cardiac Exercise’ Elaine Aaron ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’ Comfort Zone Newsletter August 2005 http://www.hsperson.com)

The heart is the very centre of a person’s body,, the organ which pumps our life blood around. “It can communicate instantaneously with all of the body, 73 trillion cells, via the circulatory system. Pearsall thinks, in fact, that the heart in its central location and with its contact with every cell is constantly sending out ‘info-energy’ that every cell recognizes, so that each cell uses its DNA to become a sort of holographic image of the energy coming from the heart. “ (Elaine Aaron as above)

I should point out here, that while I appreciate Elaine Aaron’s research on the physiology and psychology of highly sensitive people, as a Christian, I am aware that this ‘research’ from Paul Pearsall and Dr. Aaron contained in the above article is highly humanistic and biased against a Christian understanding of our spirituality. I do not recommend this kind of ‘teaching’, but I was interested in the findings regarding heart recipients.

The ramifications for us as human beings are vast. As Christians, we know that God changes our hearts, but we also know that scripture tells us that He desires to give us a completely new heart. When he spoke to the prophet Ezekiel, he told him to tell Israel that He wanted to literally give His people a heart transplant. He wanted to take out the heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. How can a heart of stone beat? Clearly God is talking about their hardness towards himself. You can’t get any harder than a stone and in fact, a heart of stone is a dead heart, there is no life in a rock, it is the result of thousands of years of compression and resistance against great geological forces.

Ezekiel 11:19,20

Then I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them and take the stony heart out of their flesh that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgements and do them; and they shall be My people and I will be their God.

In scripture, we see this concept of having a change of heart and a subsequent change of personality a number of times.

Saul is given a new heart when he is anointed King. All of a sudden he is able to prophecy with the prophets, he becomes literally a new man.

1 Samuel 10:6

Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man”

1 Samuel 10:9

So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart’ and all those signs came to pass that day”.

Saul changed to the point that all who knew him commented on the change in his behaviour. He had become a new and different man because God had changed his heart.

David prayed for not just a change of heart when he repented of the sins of adultery and murder, but he asked God to create in him a clean heart and to renew a right spirit. He needed to become a ‘new’ man so that he no longer wanted to sin in the way he had.

Psalm 51:10

Create in me a clean heart, O God And renew a steadfast heart spirit within me”.

Psalm 16:7

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons”.

God’s work on David’s heart had been such that he could trust the instructions from God which came from it.

In fact, we know that God called David ‘A man after my own heart’. This is a rare honour indeed.

The nation of Israel is also pictured in the book of Ezekiel as being the recipients of new hearts and God is the heart surgeon who removes the heart of stone to give them a heart of flesh. In all of these cases, the new heart results in a desire for the things of God and a new direction in their lives.

When we are born again, we receive a new heart. Old things pass away, all things become new. We now desire God himself and the things of God. Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind so that we can know the good perfect and acceptable will of God. There is a need to be changed to become more and more like Christ in order that we can know God’s mind, and also to know His heart.

God bless,

Steve and Anita

The Jonah Defence

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Nineveh (modern-day Mosul, Iraq) was one of the oldest and greatest cities in antiquity. The area was settled as early as 6000 BCE and, by 3000, had become an important religious centre for worship of the goddess Ishtar.(http://www.ancient.eu.com/nineveh/)

The first sentence of the book of Jonah is God’s direction to his prophet to tell Him to go to the city of Nineveh and preach repentance because their great wickedness had come up against Him. God had a plan for Nineveh which involved their salvation and not their destruction. Although he told them he would destroy them in 40 days if they didn’t repent, He also knew they would repent, as did Jonah. How did Jonah know? He was a prophet, he loved God, he knew God, he had spent time living and walking with God. Yet, as close as his relationship with God was, he still chose to reject the call and go his own way. How often do we, his people, likewise choose to secure our own comfort and go our own way rather than follow Him? Even after years of relationship, it is still possible to allow our flesh to dictate the terms. Worse, it is possible for us to decide to block our ears to God’s call and refuse to obey for the simple reason that it doesn’t fit with our world view.

I have found that the closer you get to God, the more your mind is renewed (my favourite passage Romans 12:1-2). The more your mind is renewed the more you see the greater picture from God’s perspective, and sometimes, we don’t like what we see. It is unfamiliar. I think God allows us to travel through countryside which we at least have some understanding of for a while. Then when he knows we are ready for it, he lifts the veil from our eyes a little more and we see the greater picture. Jonah was shown the greater picture and he had a meltdown. It’s easy for us to look at him and scoff. We of course would never behave this way because our maturity is much greater than his. Yet, Jonah was in the know. He was privy to God’s counsel regarding the biggest city in the then known world. It would be as if one of us had been shown what would happen to New York, or London, or Tokyo, before any of the disasters which have been visited upon those towns over the years. Would you be able to deal with that? Would you be able to cope knowing you were the one called to prevent the destruction? And what if one of those cities had been your country’s sworn enemy? Would you want to be the harbinger of doom? Sure, if God was going to follow through. Maybe it would be kind of fun. You would get the fame of being connected with God’s great power and judgement. But Jonah knew, he just knew, God wasn’t going to destroy Ninevah, he knew God’s heart, and he knew God was going to spare them. So Jonah went nah-ah. I am NOT going to be the one to be the bearer of good news to my enemies.

Jonah’s response was the equivalent of going on the witness protection programme; change country, change your identity, fade into obscurity. Joppa harbour was a well known international maritime destination, located north-west of Jerusalem on the Mediterranean sea. Jonah decided Spain looked good this time of year and set his sights on Tarshish. David had pretty much settled the question that you cannot escape from God in Psalm 139; “where can I go from your Spirit, from your presence where can I flee, if I ascend to heaven there you are, if I descend to Sheol, there you will be”. Yet Jonah was not in the mood for discussion.

So, Jonah finds a vessel, goes down into the hold, curls up in the foetal position and waits it out. A foetus, or baby, is curled up because he is in cramped living quarters. They don’t start out cramped. We begin as tiny curled creatures and become larger over 40 weeks. This is by the way an interesting connection with a time of confinement and constriction as God forms and disciplines us. Yet, when as adults we choose to go ‘back to the womb’ we are showing a desire to want the safety comfort and above all lack of responsibility that we are called to as adults. An adult cannot go back to the womb. Remember Nicodemus’ concern when he spoke to Jesus about being born again? It is physically impossible. But psychologically, by hiding, choosing unconsciousness (or ‘un-knowing’) we can make an attempt to cease to be while the world unfolds around us. It is a rather cowardly act, and I speak as one who has chosen this form of ‘un-knowing’ many times.

An unusually fierce storm arose. The sailors were experienced, but they were becoming more and more desperate and started praying to their idols in the hope that somebody’s god might have mercy on them. The captain finds Jonah down in the hold and asks him what on earth he is up to? Surely Jonah must have a god reasons the captain, so he too should pray to Him and ask for mercy. Since nobody’s god seems to be answering and they cannot decide whose fault the storm is they decide to draw lots. God ensures that Jonah gets the short straw . Immediately, they begin to question him explicitly about who he is and where he is from. Jonah tells his story and in the process preaches the gospel to these men. Even though he is in self-imposed exile, the gift God has placed upon his life, that of a prophet, is exercised. Here, he is also fulfilling the gifts of teacher, and evangelist as in the process of telling the sailors who he is, he tells them who God is, and why the storm has arisen.

Now while these men are superstitious, they are clearly a kind-hearted lot as none of them want to do as Jonah suggests, and throw him overboard. They know that it would be a quick and sure death. Yet as the storm gets worse, they decide that maybe, since Jonah did offer, they should do what he suggested. Reluctantly they throw him over, and the storm immediately abates. So profoundly affected are they by the resulting calm that they sacrifice to God and make vows. I believe this means that they would have essentially changed allegiances from their false gods who had forsaken them to the One True and Living God. So, not only could Jonah not outrun the long arm of the Lord, but God used Jonah to convert these sailors despite his rebellion against Him. God truly does work all things together for good to those who love Him. And Jonah surely loves God despite appearances.

Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.
But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.”

Jonah 2:8,9 (NKJV)

I find it interesting that Jonah goes from voluntarily taking the foetal position as his defence to being forced into a foetal position in the belly of the fish. He refers to his plight as being in the ‘belly of Sheol’ and ‘in the pit’. Since Jonah seems to enjoy being hidden from sight and sleeping in order to avoid his responsibilities, he is forced to stay in that position for three days and nights. Noah’s time in the whale is marked by repentance and worship of God, and after those three days, he is vomited out onto dry land and given a second chance. He takes it

I am reminded of a visit by Barry Maguire at my local church when I was in my early twenties. He preached on Jonah, and he gave a compelling yet amusing verbal illustration of the scene where Jonah, having spent three days in the pit of a fish’s stomach, his hair and body bleached from the stomach acid of the fish (do fish have stomach acid?) crawls and stumbles into the city gates of this massive city (the equivalent of New York probably in today’s parlance since it was three days walk across) and screeches out “repent”. He would have looked like ‘the thing from outer space” and the guilty Ninevites would have fearfully repented.

Ninevah was a city which, like the city of Ephesus worshipped a demonic entity. Ishtah is linked to to the Greek goddess Artemis which is also linked to the Egyptian goddess Isis and all of these are linked to the title ‘Queen of Heaven’ which is also another name for Jezebel. Essentially we are looking at a form of high goddess worship which had overtaken the ancient world and held them in bondage. God wanted them to be free from their links to these demonic idols so that they could worship the one true and living God. Now Jonah’s obedience to God, however churlishly he carried out this obedience, caused that great city to repent from their wickedness and to cry out to God. The king himself caused the whole city, along with the animals to be covered in sackcloth and ashes. Interestingly, God’s compassion extends even to the animals as he mentions them at the end of chapter four. This is the kind of compassion which I see Jesus extending to the woman who was bent over for 18 years. He tries to reason with the Pharisees and asks them to consider her plight, in the same way he tries to reason with Jonah. “Think of It” he urges them. Only a man, and God, moved in his heart and mind to the plight of this woman would encourage the hard-hearted Pharisees to try and put themselves in this woman’s shoes. “Have empathy” he cries to them.

15 The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite![a] Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him

(Luke 13:15-17 NKJV)

This is the same cry he gives to Jonah.

10 But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”

(Jonah 4:10-11 NKJV)

Jonah has pity on himself, but does not pity a city of millions of people for whom God has great mercy and empathy.

So this is really a story of a man who is not willing to do the will of God because of his own personal proclivities. Eventually he recognises God’s sovereignty and again cries out to Him for mercy. Yet when God shows mercy to a city of non-Hebrew human beings because they likewise have cried out to God, he becomes angry and believes he has a right to be angry.

Jonah’s hostility and tantrum throwing in chapter 4 is quite a different response to his fear of commitment in Chapter 1. His first instinct is to hide, his last to blame God. I believe these two apparently different reactions are actually seated in the same problem; rebellion. A man who makes excuses for himself (which actually sound very spiritual and humble) such as “Oh, I couldn’t do anything like that, I am not qualified or experienced enough” is really saying “I don’t want to do that”. This may not be what we want to hear, but I know from my own bitter experience that this is in fact the truth. I have chosen to say ‘no’ to God in the past because I didn’t think I was cut out for that kind of work. I have run away, hidden under a rock and decided it just wasn’t me.

Incidentally, hypochondria is another manifestation of this little mind game. Proverbs 22:13 tells us that the lazy man complains he can’t go out because there may be a lion in the streets and he will be killed. We come up with all sorts of other ‘serious’ reasons why we can’t do what the Spirit asks us to do. “I am too weak”, “I am not well enough”, “I am not experienced enough”. You fill in the blank. In fact, we rarely say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). It is amazing what the human mind can invent when we are confronted by our deepest fears. Jonah was called by God and suddenly developed a pressing need to visit Spain. Had he been there before? Was it the climate, the food or the fact that it was very far away in completely the other direction? I imagine a modern day Jonah going to the nearest international airport, looking up at the arrivals and departures board, picking a destination which he has never even heard of and sounds pretty foreign and lacking in modern comforts and going there.

Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”

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Not only was Jonah in the pre-natal frame of mind in the first chapter of this book, but in the last chapter he still wants to opt out of life, this time by death. He wants God to take his life. I have never heard such melodramatic twaddle before! Oh wait. Yes I have. That was me. This is another form of blaming God. You made this happen. I didn’t ask to be born. You have to now kill me so that I don’t have to face the humiliation of having my reputation tarnished by all these Ninevites becoming believers! How embarrassing! What would the other prophets think!

I believe that we in today’s church often choose our own interpretation of God’s work for us rather than wait on God and hear his word. Some of us would like to be prophets, but we are really not gifted that way. Many young men, and now perhaps even some women, go to bible school, get trained as church leaders and then go out and start churches, many without a direct word from the Lord to do so, yet their elders and leaders lay hands on them and ‘send them out’ with their blessings but have not spent the necessary time in prayer to find out whether these ones are actually so called.

How important is it for us not just to assume a position but to know God’s call on our lives. How much more important is it for those who have been called not to run from that call, but to follow it wholeheartedly. And for those who have been functioning in their calling (and God bless those who do, it is a narrow and hard road), even that history does not preclude you from the influence of our flesh which would rise up and say “Did God really say?” Which as we know is the means Satan uses to cause us to not only question what we think God has said to us, but to question the loving caring Heavenly Father as well.

A true believer doesn’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit. We all have times when we struggle with God’s direction for our lives. Yet, if we are honest, we will know that when God calls us, he also gives us a desire to follow. The call God placed on Jonah was a huge task. Ninevah was probably the biggest city in the known world at the time, and Jonah was being asked to proclaim the word of God to them in person. Was he ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Or was he just more concerned about his reputation? Whichever it was, we will never know how the conversation ended in chapter 4. I hope and pray that we will know better how it will end in our own hearts.

Searching For The Body

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Mark 5 (New King James)

36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 37 And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. 39 When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.”

40 And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. 41 Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. 43 But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat.

John 11 (New King James)

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”

a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

Luke 24

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them,[a] came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly[b] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!

Have you ever noticed how many bodies are spoken of in the New Testament?

There is of course the literal body of Christ. We know that Jesus’ body was laid in a tomb, but on the third day, when Mary and the others went to the garden, the Angel asked why they look for the living among the dead. It must have been a wonderful and joyful shock to know that He whom they loved and had mourned for was now alive.

Then there is the body of Christ which is the body of believers both past present and future. We who believe, love and obey the Lord Jesus Christ are the temples of His Holy Spirit, and belong to Him. We are the ones Paul mentioned when he talked about each of us being members of one another (Romans 12), and that no member of the body can say to another ‘we have no need of you’. (1 Corinthians 12).

In both cases, the body of Jesus is a living and breathing being. It is not dead. The Spirit of God dwells in each believer and causes his once dead spirit to become alive to the mind of Christ, to the will of the Father and to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

There are of course other bodies.

The bodies of Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus.

It’s really interesting that both in the case of Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus, Jesus mentioned that these were not bodies, but they were people who were merely asleep. Nobody believed Him of course. They laughed at him in the case of Jairus’ daughter. But Jesus knew what he was talking about. A sleeper is someone who is in fact still alive. They are unconscious to the world around them and will shortly wake up and once again be ‘alive’ to the world. Dead people and sleeping people have much in common bar one important distinction. Dead people do not wake up.

Spiritually speaking, the dead are not ‘awake’ to the reality of God. ‘Let the dead bury the dead’ said Jesus to the young man who wanted to follow him. In other words, those who are not willing to follow Jesus, who do not come to Him and look to Him for salvation are dead to the kingdom of God. We who are alive in our spirits are no longer dead. So, those who believe in Jesus, those like the woman with the issue of blood, Jairus and his daughter, Mary, Martha and Lazarus do not die, they merely sleep. Paul also referred to those believers who sleep in 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians.

Interestingly, in both the case of Jairus and Lazarus, Jesus delayed his coming. He saw the faith of those who asked him to heal, but he knew that in both cases it was God’s will that instead of a healing there should be a raising of the body to the glory of God. Many didn’t believe that he could raise a dead body. There were not just cautions from people who cared about Him, “Lord he has been dead four days”, but there was mocking laughter from those who thought Jesus was a bit loopy. Jesus answer to the mocking was to ‘put them all outside”. He removed the mockers and spoke to the family. This was their home. This was their daughter and he spoke with compassion and concern. After he raised their daughter to life, he told them to feed her. I think this is also significant. A body which has recently died and then resurrected needs nourishment and care in order to continue living. Jesus did not raise this little girl to see her fail from lack of food. The parents were probably so overjoyed that they forgot about the practical things. She had probably not eaten for days due to the sickness, and now here she was pulsing with new life, and ready to partake of the energy and goodness which sustenance gives us.

I find it really poignant that in this chapter, Jesus heals a woman with a flow of blood and who has a deep faith that even touching his garment will heal her. She had life flowing from her, for life is in the blood, yet her faith moved her to seek out Jesus, even after he had been summoned by somebody else for the healing of someone probably much more severely affected. This lady didn’t want to draw attention to herself, probably because she would have been unclean and she didn’t want Jesus to have to touch her and thereby become unclean himself. What she didn’t know was that Jesus would not have been unclean from touching her and it was her faith which drew power from Him in order that she should be healed. This is a beautiful picture of weakness and impoverishment from illness which is wonderfully healed by Jesus without even his conscious partaking in it. It was her faith which made her whole.

Later, He looks for faith from Jairus’ family in order that he might be able to raise their daughter from the dead. In my opinion faith is sorely needed in the church today.

The church in this country is sick and dying. It has an issue of blood. It is not only weakened by this flow of life, but it is unclean because of this flow, and it needs to come to Jesus in faith and be healed. Like the Jairus family, the church also needs to be regenerated.

We have been searching for the body of Christ for some time. He was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit. He now sits at the throne of the Father, but his body, we, the sheep of His pasture, are all of us going our own way. We not only need to return to the lover of our souls and the good shepherd, but we need his resurrection power to return us to the place of true and genuine commitment to each other and to the ministry of the Holy Spirit through each and every one of us, that’s men women and children, in and through us.

The women of the body need to step out in their Spirit giftings. They need to know they are accepted as equals by their brothers, so that they may be able to preach the gospel, share what God has given them with the rest of the body and not tethered to the traditions of men and religion and forbidden with sour and bitter remonstrations not to preach or teach because Jesus doesn’t allow it.

Since when does Jesus not allow his sisters in the Lord to walk in the Spirit, to hear the voice of God and to speak the word which they hear in their hearts? If those words happen to be words of encouragement, prophecy, wisdom, teaching or edification, then such is the will of the Holy Spirit and he should not be blocked, or He will be offended. If a woman has a heart for the body of a carer and a helper, should she be stopped because of her sex and made to sit in the pews and wait while another more acceptable, male, member of the body do the ministering? None of this even makes sense!!

No, the body of Christ is less than what it is meant to be. Mainly because of the headstrong stubborn and wicked hearts of human beings who prefer to remain bound in their own doctrines and religious traditions. We are all one in Christ!!! The body is all around us, yet she is ill and needs to be not only healed, but risen from the dead!

Internet Blues

 

zrainbow

 

(A Reply to Wordsworth)

 

 

My heart leaps up when I behold

 

An email ‘dressed to me

 

So was it when the net began

 

Yet here I am an also ran

 

Suspended in the web’s dark hold

 

So let me die!

 

The facebook following makes the man;

 

And friends who are not friends I see

 

Bound each to each by unnatural temerity

 

Short Stack – Honest To God

jedi mind tricks.jpg

Philipians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus

This is the first in a series we will entitle “Short Stack”.  A ‘word bite’ of sorts where you don’t have to digest too much but still fill your soul with encouragement.

This short stack is something which struck me a few days ago, and something I shared with my son when he was struggling with an issue which he thought he had already decided upon.

Quite often you think you have worked through a concern with God only to find that it begins to worry you days or weeks later. Its as though you hadn’t prayed at all.

Here’s what the problem might be.

Sometimes we pray from our minds not our hearts. Sometimes our minds don’t have a full grasp of what we really believe.  Scripture tells us that with our hearts we believe and with our mouths confess.  I  have found that our hearts often hide truth that even our own thoughts can’t fathom.

God is truth.  He wants and expects truth from us.  Sometimes we need to tell God what is in our hearts not our minds.  It requires some deeper meditation, some real honest open discussion with God about how you feel, both good and bad, and may even involve some confession.  You may have a bad attitude without realising it.  You might just be blaming God for something.

The really exciting thing about God is that He isn’t offended when we share honestly with him.  He listens and appreciates truth.  When we speak from the heart and confess what is contained therein he is able to take the burden (especially if it is sin) and give us rest. Our heart has been called ‘deceitfully wicked – who can know it’ (Jeremiah 17:9).  We are also told to guard our hearts above all else because from out of our hearts flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).  Jesus said he came to heal the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61). So if our hearts are broken or tainted or affected by sinful attitudes, we are not going to have an abundant and fruitful prayer life.  We need to get our hearts right with God and not just pray prayers from our knowledge and opinions.

I find that every time I go back to God and really examine my heart and speak from the truth of the matter, I come away from my conversation with Him with an uplifted heart and a quietness and peace which stays with me for the day.

Bless you and may God help you to know Him in a deeper way.

Long Stack – The Shack and Windblown Media’s Response

 

zwinddog.jpg

That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting (Eph.4:14)

 

WINDBLOWN MEDIA’s RESPONSE TO IT’s CRITICS – A STUDY IN CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Those who have been captured by this story are encouraged to search the Scriptures to see if these things are so and not trust us or the ravings of those who misinterpret this book, either threatened by its success, or those who want to ride on it to push their own fear-based agenda.”

By Wayne Jacobsen, collaborator on The Shack

We knew it would happen eventually. Frankly we thought it would happen far sooner and in far greater quantity than we have seen to date. But we knew The Shack was edgy enough to prompt some significant backlash, which is why so many publishing companies didn’t want to take it on at the beginning.

I never thought everyone was going to love this book. Art is incredibly subjective as to whether a story and style are appealing. I have no problem with a spirited discussion of some of the theological issues raised in The Shack. The books I love most are the ones that challenge my theological constructs and invite a robust discussion among friends, whether I agree with everything in them or not in the end,. That is especially true of a work of fiction where people will bring their own interpretations of the same events or conversations. I never view a book as all good or all bad. It’s like eating chicken. Enjoy the meat and toss the bones.

What is surprising, however, is the hostile tone of false accusation and the conspiracy theories that some are willing to put on this book. Some have even warned others not to read it or they will be led into deception. It saddens me that people want to use a book like this to polarize God’s family, whether it’s overenthusiastic reader thrusting it in someone’s face telling them they ‘must read’ this book, or when people read their own theological agendas into a work, then denounce it as heresy.

If you’re interested, read it for yourself. Don’t let someone else do your thinking for you. If it helps convey the reality of Jesus to you, great! If all you can see is sinister motives and false teaching in it, then put it aside. I don’t have time to give a point-by-point rebuttal to the reviews I’ve read, but I would like to make some comments on some of the issues that have come up since I’m getting way too many emails asking me what I think of some of the questions they raise. I’ll also admit at the outset, that I’m biased. Admittedly, I’m biased. I was part of a team with the author of working on this manuscript for over a year and am part of the company formed to print and distribute this book. But I’m also well acquainted with the purpose and passions of this book.

What do I think? I tire of the self-appointed doctrine police, especially when they toss around false accusations like ‘new age conspiracy’, ‘counterfeit Jesus’ or ‘heresy’ to promote fear in people as a way of advancing their own agenda. What many of them don’t realize is that research actually shows that more people will buy a book after reading a negative review than they do after reading a positive one. It piques their curiosity as to why someone would take so much time to denounce someone else’s book.

But such reviews also confuse people who are afraid of being seduced into error and for those I think the false accusations demand a response. Let me assure any of you reading this that all three of us who worked on this book are deeply committed followers of Jesus Christ who have a passion for the Truth of the Scriptures and who have studied and taught the life of Jesus over the vast majority of our lifetimes. But none of us would begin to pretend that we have a complete picture of all that God is or that our theology is flawless. We are all still growing in our appreciation for him and our desire to be like him, and we hope this book encourages you to that process as well. In the end, this says the best stuff we know about God at this point in our journeys. Is it a complete picture of him? Of course not! Who could put all that he is into a little story like this one? But if it is a catalyst to get thousands of people to talk about theology—who God is and how he makes himself known in the world—we would be blessed.

This is a story of one believer’s brokenness and how God reached into that pain and pulled him out and as such is a compelling story of God’s redemption. The pain and healing come straight from a life that was broken by guilt and shame at an incredibly deep level and he compresses into a weekend the lessons that helped him walk out of that pain and find life in Jesus again.

That said, the content of this book does take a harsh look at how many of our religious institutions and practices have blinded people to the simple Gospel and replaced it with a religion of rules and rituals that have long ceased to reflect the Lord of Glory. Some will disagree with that assessment and the solutions this book offers, and the reviews that do so honestly merit discussion. But those who confuse the issues by making up their own back-story for the book, or ascribing motives to its publication without ever finding out the truth, only prove our point.

Here are some brief comments on the major issues that have been raised about The Shack:

Does the book promote universalism?

Some people can find a universalist under every bush. This book flatly states that all roads do not lead to Jesus, while it affirms that Jesus can find his followers wherever they may have wandered into sin or false beliefs. Just because he can find followers in the most unlikely places, does not validate those places. I don’t know how we could have been clearer, but people will quote portions out of that context and draw a false conclusion.

Does it devalue Scripture?

Just because we didn’t put Scriptural addresses with their numbers and colons at every allusion in the story, does not mean that the Bible isn’t the key source in virtually every conversation Mack has with God. Scriptural teachings and references appear on almost every page. They are reworded in ways to be relevant to those reading the story, but at every point we sought to be true to the way God has revealed himself in the Bible except for the literary characterizations that move the story forward. At its core the book is one long Bible study as Mack seeks to resolve his anger at God.

Is this God too nice?

Others have claimed that the God of The Shack is simply too nice, or having him in humorous human situations trivializes him. Really? Who wants to be on that side of the argument? For those who think this God is too easy, please tell me in what way does he let Mack off on anything? He holds his feet to the fire about every lie in his mind and every broken place in his heart. I guess what people these critics cannot see is confrontation and healing inside a relationship of love and compassion. This is not the angry and tyrannical God that religion has been using for 2000 years to beat people into conformity and we are not surprised that this threatens the self-proclaimed doctrine police.

One reviewer even thought this passage from The Shack was a mockery of the true God: “I’m not a bully, not some self-centered demanding little deity insisting on my own way. I am good, and I desire only what is best for you. You cannot find that through guilt or condemnation….” That wasn’t mocking God but a view of God that sees him as a demanding, self-centered tyrant. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ revealed himself as the God who would lay down his life for us to redeem us to himself.

The words, “I don’t want slaves to do my will; I want brothers and sisters who will share life with me,” are simply a reflection of John 15:15. Unfortunately those who tend toward legalism among us have no idea how much more completely Jesus transforms us out of a relationship of love, than we could ever muster in our gritted-teeth obedience. This is at the heart of the new covenant—that love will fulfill the law, where human effort cannot.

Does it distort or demean the Trinity?

One of the concerns expressed about The Shack is that it presents the Trinity outside of a hierarchy. In fact many religious traditions think they find their basis for hierarchical organizations in what they’ve assumed about the Trinity. To look at the Trinity as a relationship without the need for command and control is one of the intriguing parts of this story. If they walk in complete unity, why would a hierarchy be needed? They live in love and honor each other. While in the flesh Jesus did walk in obedience to the Father as our example, elsewhere Scripture speaks of their complete unity, love and glory in relating to each other. Different functions need not imply a different status.

This extends in other ways to look at how healed people can relate to each other inside their relationship with God that defines authority and submission in ways most are not used to, but that are far more consistent with what we see in the early believers and in the teaching of Scripture. It is also true of many believers around the world who are learning to experience the life of Father’s family without all the hierarchical maintenance and drama that has plagued followers of Christ since the third century.

People may see this differently and find this challenging, if only because it represents some thought they have not been exposed to before. Here we might be better off having a discussion instead of dragging out the ‘heretic’ label when it is unwarranted.

Does it leave out discussions about church, salvation and other important aspects of Christianity?

This is some of the most curious complaints I’ve ever read. This is the story about God making himself available to one of his followers who is being swallowed up by tragedy and his crisis of faith in God’s goodness over it. This is not a treatise on every element of theological study. Perhaps we should have paused in the story to have an altar call, or perhaps we should have drug a pipe organ into the woods and enlisted a choir to hold a service, but that was not the point.

Is this a Feminist God?

The book uses some characterizations of God to mess with the religious stereotypes only to get people to consider God as he really is, not how we have reconstituted him as a white, male autocrat bent on religious conformity. There are important reasons in the story why God takes the expressions he does for Mack, which underlines his nature to meet us where we are, to lead us to where he is. While Jesus was incarnated as man, God as a spirit has no gender, even though we fully embrace that he has taken on the imagery of the Father to express his heart and mind to us. We also recognize Scripture uses traditional female imagery to help us understand other aspects of God’s person, as when Jesus compares himself to a hen gathering chicks, or David likens himself to a weaned child in his mother’s arms.

Has it touched people too deeply?

Some reviewers point to Amazon.com reviews and people who have claimed it had a transforming effect on their spiritual lives as proof of its demonic origin. Please! How absurd is that? Do we prefer books that leave people untouched? This book touches lives because it deals with God in the midst of pain in an honest, straightforward way and because for many this is the first time they have seen the power of theology worked out inside a relationship with God himself.

Does The Shack promote Ultimate Reconciliation (UR)?

It does not. While some of that was in earlier versions because of the author’s partiality at the time to some aspects of what people call UR, I made it clear at the outset that I didn’t embrace UR as sound teaching and didn’t want to be involved in a project that promoted it. In my view UR is an extrapolation of Scripture to humanistic conclusions about our Father’s love that has to be forced on the biblical text.

Since I don’t believe in UR and wholeheartedly embrace the finished product, I think those who see UR here, either positively or negatively are reading into the text. To me that was the beauty of the collaboration. Three hearts weighed in on the theology to make it as true as we could muster. The process also helped shape our theologies in honest, protracted discussions. I think the author would say that some of that dialog significantly affected his views. This book represents growth in that area for all of us. Holding him to the conclusions he may have embraced years earlier would be unfair to the ongoing process of God in his life and theology.

That said, however, I’m not afraid to have that discussion with people I regard as brothers and sisters since many have held that view in the course of theological history. Also keep in mind that the heretic hunters lump many absurd notions into what they call UR, but when I actually talk to those people partial to some view of ultimate reconciliation they do not endorse all the absurdities ascribed to them. This is a heavily nuanced discussion with UR meaning a lot of different things to different people. For myself, I am convinced that Jesus is someone we have to accept through repentance and belief in this age to participate in his life.

Throughout The Shack Mack’s choices are in play, determining what he will let God do in his life through their encounter. He is no victim of God’s process. He is a willing participant at every juncture. And even though Papa says ‘He is reconciled to all men” he also notes that, “not all men are reconciled to me.”

Is the author promoting the emergent movement?

This guilt-by-association tactic is completely contrived. Neither the author, nor Brad and I at Windblown have ever been part of the emergent conversation. Some of their bloggers have written about the book, but we have not had any significant contact with the leaders of that movement and they have not been the core audience that has embraced this book.

That said I have met many people in the emergent conversation that have proved to be brothers and sisters in the faith. While I’m not nuts about all they do, a lot of the statements made about them by critics are as false as what some say about The Shack. They do deeply embrace the Scriptures. As I see it they are not trying to re-invent Christianity, but trying to communicate it in ways that captures a new generation. While I don’t agree with many of the conclusions they’re sorting through at the moment, they are not raving humanists. I have found them passionate seekers of the Lord Jesus Christ, who are asking some wonderful questions about God and how he makes himself known in us.

Does The Shack promote new age philosophy or Hinduism?

Amazingly some people have made assumptions about some of the names to think there is some eastern mysticism here, but when you hear how Paul selected the names he did it wasn’t to make veiled references to Hinduism, black Madonnas, or anything else. It was to uncover facets of God’s character that are clear in the Scriptures.

It’s amazing how much people will make up to indulge their fantasies and falsely label something to fit their own conclusions. Some have even insisted that Mack flying in his dreams was veiled instructions in astral travel. Absolutely absurd! Has this man never read fiction, or had a dream? Just because someone screams there is a demon under that bush, doesn’t mean there is.

We realize this would be a challenging read for those who see no difference between the religious conditioning that underlies Christianity as it is often presented in the 21st Century and the simple, powerful life in Christ that Jesus offered to his followers. Our hope was to help people see how the Loving Creator can penetrate our defenses and lead us to healing. Our prayer is that through this book people will see the God of the Bible as Jesus presented him to be—an endearing reality who wants to love us out of our sin and bondage and into his life. This is a message of grace and healing that does not condone or excuse sin, but shows God destroying it through the dynamic relationship he wants with each of his children.

We realize folks will disagree. We planned on it. We appreciate the interaction of those who have honest concerns and questions. Those who have been captured by this story are encouraged to search the Scriptures to see if these things are so and not trust us or the ravings of those who misinterpret this book, either threatened by its success, or those who want to ride on it to push their own fear-based agenda.

http://windblownmedia.com/about-wbm/is-the-shack-heresy.html

“The Shack is a Christian novel by Canadian author William P. Young, a former office manager and hotel night clerk, published in 2007.[1] The novel was self-published but became a USA Today bestseller, having sold 1 million copies as of June 8, 2008.[2] It was the #1 paperback trade fiction seller on The New York Times Best Seller list from June 2008 to early 2010,[3] in a publishing partnership with Hachette Book Group USA’s FaithWords imprint (Hodder & Stoughton in the UK). In 2009 it was awarded the “Diamond Award” for sales of over 10 million copies by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shack

In writing this post, I am assuming that readers are familiar with the ‘fictional’ work “The Shack” as referred above. Since the new movie of the book has recently opened around the world, it would be hard to imagine many who have not heard of it. If you are unfamiliar, there are a number of excellent reviews online which will give you a comprehensive understanding. It would take too long to précis the plot of the book, but the main gist is that a grieving father meets God in the shape of two women and a man in the shack where his daughter was murdered. The book centres on the conversation he has with God in the shack, and most of the controversy surrounding this book has been centred on the portrayal of the Trinity as female, or partially female, and the promotion of the heresy of Universalism.

In the article by the publishers Windblown Media, or more pertinently Wayne Jacobsen, there is a full scale reply to critics regarding the book. I wanted to address Jacobsen’s response as it contains a number of revealing attitudes which then present proof that neither the author, nor the publisher/author of this book and subsequent film are trying to enable Christians to grow closer to God they are simply out to make money from Christians.

I have wanted for some years to publish a dissection of Wayne Jacobsen’s “Is The Shack Heresy” and with the news that the long awaited film of the book is now out, I felt it timely to talk about this article. Apparently, Oprah Winfrey was considered for the part of one of the female leads (one of the Trinity as portrayed in ‘The Shack’) which doesn’t surprise me at all. She thinks she is a Christian and is certainly influential, but it doesn’t matter how many networks you own, you are still not God.

I will start by saying I have not read the Shack. I tried to read it, but after only a couple of pages, I began to feel very strange, as though I was being drawn into something which was stronger than me. I decided to go against the usual reasoning which says it is fair to read a work before you challenge it. What I am actually challenging here is this article rather than the book (although it amounts to the same thing) and the responses which I feel are far too tired and well-used. Unfortunately, in my experience, these responses are more often heard from the sorts of men who have catapulted Christians into the arms of works like “The Shack” in the first place.

While I have not read the whole book, I have read enough excerpts and enough critiques to make me very concerned. I am even more concerned about a film which will not stick to the novel, they never do, and will add other worldly elements to the script and therefore lead Christians even further down a whole nother path away from God’s word.

If I write a fictional story about you in which I represent you in a way which is not true to who you are, I am distorting how others see you. I may claim that it is fictional, but it still has real-life applications. This is the very issue which plagues celebrities, actors and others in the public eye. The media makes up stuff about them all the time. It may not be the truth, but for somebody who doesn’t know you, it becomes truth and for somebody who cares for you a great deal, it is insulting because it doesn’t portray you as you actually are. I would guarantee that if I wrote a story portraying you in a way which was both false and misleading you would get pretty upset about it. That is why people hate ‘The Shack’ so vehemently. It lies about God. You can’t claim that it is fiction and therefore you have the right to say what you like. On the Windblown Media site Wayne Jacobsen makes it perfectly clear that ‘The Shack’ was meant to be a theological work, with references to the scripture on just about every page. I have yet to see a theological work whose position in the library catalogue system is ‘fiction’.

Wayne Jacobsen in his article at Windblown Media fairly mocks those who read the criticism of the Shack but don’t read the book. People are told to read the book for themselves and not allow others to tell them what to think. But aren’t we being told what to think by Windblown? I have always been highly sceptical of any organisation which arranges it’s own in-house investigation of itself. The findings will always be coloured by self-interest. Therefore, Windblown actually comes across looking defensive and in fact the tone of the defense is pretty immature. It is the sarcastic rejoinder of the teenager who is trying to project sophistication and wisdom “Really, that’s what you got out of the book”, or even “You people really aren’t very smart are you”. It is snide, patronising and disingenuous.

We knew it would happen eventually. Frankly we thought it would happen far sooner and in far greater quantity than we have seen to date. But we knew The Shack was edgy enough to prompt some significant backlash, which is why so many publishing companies didn’t want to take it on at the beginning.

I never thought everyone was going to love this book. Art is incredibly subjective as to whether a story and style are appealing. I have no problem with a spirited discussion of some of the theological issues raised in The Shack. The books I love most are the ones that challenge my theological constructs and invite a robust discussion among friends, whether I agree with everything in them or not in the end,. That is especially true of a work of fiction where people will bring their own interpretations of the same events or conversations. I never view a book as all good or all bad. It’s like eating chicken. Enjoy the meat and toss the bones. “

Jacobsen starts by saying “told you so” . Apparently the publishers knew it was going to cause controversy because it was so ‘edgy’. Hey, it’s a cool book and we knew it was going to cause trouble, that’s why we published it. But elsewhere in this response, he also claims that this book is only fictional and therefore people are making too much of it. Now you can’t have it both ways, either you use the defense (with a dismissive shoulder shrug) “hey it’s JUST fiction, you square dudes need to chill ax”, or you use the defense “hey we knew you square dudes needed to be shaken up a bit”.

The “I never thought everyone was going to enjoy this book” message is also more than slightly disingenuous. The revelation that the authors of the book were looking right from the beginning to make the book into a movie reveals that they knew darn well it was going to be widely read. It is controversial, therefore you publish it because it is going to sell despite the fact that many people will buy it because they know they aren’t going to like it. That is how marketers make money. It is my belief that those publishers who didn’t publish were more concerned with alienating their existing market of Christian readers who had traditional views. Those were probably publishers of books which sell really well in Christian book shops.

This book sold well everywhere and its position and longevity on the New York Times bestseller list affirms that it was making people take notice. It is not a book which would appeal to traditional Christians, and the authors knew that which is why they published it. Yet even for those who were always going to oppose the controversial portrayals of God and other theological issues, there was always the insistence that you have to read the book in order to be able to judge it. Well, it ain’t necessarily so. You don’t have to eat something in order to know it is poison. Yet, even if most of the Christians who were concerned about the book bought it out of curiosity, that right there is a huge boost in your sales figures.

I think that the argument that people should read the book first before they criticise is just a misdirection.  They are not upset that you haven’t read the whole thing, they are upset that you are so critical of it.  Their unspoken insinuation is that if you read the book you would not be so critical.  This is a trite and frankly infantile response.  Are they saying that their book is so great that anyone who reads it is going to love it?  Nobody loves every book they read.  And I doubt the criticism would be any less strident considering that the critics of the book generally fall into the camp of bible believing, conservative Christians who feel strongly about the posturing of post-modern pro-millenial ‘artists’ who wish to perform the usual false teacher’s bait and switch on the unsuspecting public.  This is not just a work of fiction, it is a lie.  And a lie can be sandwiched into a parable, a metaphor or a fairytale in the same way that a truth can.

They knew what sells as Jacobsen admits in this article. This is also affirmed by their insistence in a 2010 law suit that profits from the book be distributed according to authorship. See this LA Times article here. Young claimed he was the author, Windblown claimed they had just as much right to authorship and also that Young didn’t want the book made into a movie as they had originally agreed. Books, as we all know, which get made into movies (The Da Vinci Code or Harry Potter franchise for example) tend to sell well as books even during and after the movies, giving rise to further books and ultimately a highly successful and profitable market arises selling not only books and movie paraphernalia but spin off books from other authors, as well as fan fiction. It is a highly lucrative enterprise which every author dreams of entering into. Authors of books like this become billionaires overnight; not to mention the publishers, printers, agents and sellers of the book. .

I have no problem with a spirited discussion of some of the theological issues raised in The Shack. The books I love most are the ones that challenge my theological constructs and invite a robust discussion among friends, whether I agree with everything in them or not in the end,. That is especially true of a work of fiction where people will bring their own interpretations of the same events or conversations. I never view a book as all good or all bad. It’s like eating chicken. Enjoy the meat and toss the bones

I don’t know about Wayne, but I prefer eating chicken without bones, and even the bones of a chicken, as every good chef knows, are used for making stock. So, chicken analogies aside, this statement reminds me of pre-pubescent boys pouring petrol down an anthill just to see what would happen when they light it.

The publisher states that he loves books which challenge his theological constructs. Yet in his next sentence he claims that this is especially true of works of fiction where people bring their own interpretations of the same events. This book is a work of fiction which discusses theological issues. In other words we are talking pretend stuff about a real person. The real person we are discussing is God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, the most important real people in the universe, your maker, and your Lord. Where is the reverence and respect? You either do a fictional story about a real person who is by definition not that important because he is merely human so chill out all you people getting hostile out there, or this is a fictional story about a real person who is worshipped by millions around the world. Dang right this is going to be controversial Wayne. So stop pretending it is ‘just a story’ because you knew it was going to cause problems, remember? How did you know it was going to cause problems? Because nobody else would publish it? Wrong! Because your conscience was telling you that people wouldn’t like what was being said about God because it goes against the already accepted ideas of who God is. (The books I love the most are the ones which challenge my theological constructs) Which in layman’s terms (or cool dudism) means telling me what I believe about God is wrong. You can’t tell people that what they believe about God is wrong and then chastise them for getting hostile about it.

Wayne also tells us that he never views a book as all good or all bad. So, is he suggesting that ‘The Shack’ has some bad in it? If that is the case then he might need to explain why he hasn’t bothered to explain which bits he might think were bad? The bits which challenge our theological constructs perhaps?

It saddens me that people want to use a book like this to polarize God’s family, whether it’s over-enthusiastic reader thrusting it in someone’s face telling them they ‘must read’ this book, or when people read their own theological agendas into a work, then denounce it as heresy.”

Now back to the disingenuous thing. First of all Jacobsen tell us that he love books which challenge people’s ideas about God then he tells us that it saddens him that people want to use a book like this to polarise God’s family. Apparently publishing a book that you knew was going to be controversial isn’t deliberately trying to polarise God’s family. People are also apparently either too enthusiastic, and telling others they ‘must read’ this book, or they are denouncing it as heresy (because they read their own theological agendas into it). Now let’s deconstruct this. You have a publisher telling their reading public that it saddens them when the public who bought this book (proceeds going to Wayne Jacobsen et al) actually want other people to read it? I don’t think so Wayne. Remember, you knew it was going to be controversial, that’s why you published it because, remember, controversial books sell really well. Then they get made into movies. Then the authors of the book sue each other because they aren’t getting all the money from sales that they deserve. Because they are not only the authors of the book, they publish it as well. So, we aren’t going into hypocrisy overdrive here.

Then on the other side of the argument, Wayne also feels sad when people denounce the work as heresy. No, you don’t. You don’t feel sad. What you are feeling is the rise in blood pressure when your book starts selling like hot cakes because people denounce it as heresy.

Now Wayne starts to get a little tense. He doesn’t like it when people just accept other people’s reviews of the book. He would like the members of the public to read the book for themselves, preferably buying their own copy, which would increase sales.

If you’re interested, read it for yourself. Don’t let someone else do your thinking for you. If it helps convey the reality of Jesus to you, great! If all you can see is sinister motives and false teaching in it, then put it aside

Now I am confused. You have two different attitudes conveyed in one paragraph. If this book helps convey the reality of Jesus then we think that is wonderful. Then the interestingly worded sentence, “If all you can see is sinister motives etc.” The words ‘If all’ suggests that Wayne is not as upset about polarising God’s family as he thinks he is. In fact he himself is polarising God’s family in this statement. Apparently you either read the book and see Jesus, or you read the book and see sinister motives and false teaching, and the words ‘if all you can see’ make it clear which side Wayne comes down on. So, you either get it or you don’t and if you don’t then we don’t care, just chuck the thing, but don’t get all hot under the collar about it.

I don’t have time to give a point-by-point rebuttal to the reviews I’ve read, but I would like to make some comments on some of the issues that have come up since I’m getting way too many emails asking me what I think of some of the questions they raise. I’ll also admit at the outset, that I’m biased. Admittedly, I’m biased. I was part of a team with the author of working on this manuscript for over a year and am part of the company formed to print and distribute this book. But I’m also well acquainted with the purpose and passions of this book.

Jacobsen’s attitude here is that of an overworked boss who has to take time to answer questions his staff have even though it is making him late for his dinner date. He also mentions that he is getting ‘way too many’ emails asking for his opinion. Why is this a bad thing? I would have thought this would signify, I don’t know, popularity, respect, or even just availability. However, he seems to find this kind of thing irritating.

What do I think? I tire of the self-appointed doctrine police, especially when they toss around false accusations like ‘new age conspiracy’, ‘counterfeit Jesus’ or ‘heresy’ to promote fear in people as a way of advancing their own agenda. What many of them don’t realize is that research actually shows that more people will buy a book after reading a negative review than they do after reading a positive one. It piques their curiosity as to why someone would take so much time to denounce someone else’s book. (my emphasis)

Jacobsen states that he hates the ‘doctrine police’ because they use words like ‘new age conspiracy’ or ‘heresy’ in order to advance their own agenda. And this is different to you advancing your own agenda of book sales in what way Wayne? Actually he answers the question with the next couple of sentences. Since he is so close to the publishing and writing business he gives us a lesson about why people buy controversial books. Hang on Wayne. Either you are saddened at people who ‘polarise God’s family’ or you are having a great day because your books are selling like hot cakes because of the negative reviews! You are right, you are well acquainted with the purposes of this book, and of the agendas of marketers and merchandisers. Conflict of interest is clearly not a problem for you.

The next paragraph is a master study in conflict of interest, and just conflictedness in general. Let’s look at it.

But such reviews also confuse people who are afraid of being seduced into error and for those I think the false accusations demand a response. Let me assure any of you reading this that all three of us who worked on this book are deeply committed followers of Jesus Christ who have a passion for the Truth of the Scriptures and who have studied and taught the life of Jesus over the vast majority of our lifetimes. But none of us would begin to pretend that we have a complete picture of all that God is or that our theology is flawless. We are all still growing in our appreciation for him and our desire to be like him, and we hope this book encourages you to that process as well. In the end, this says the best stuff we know about God at this point in our journeys. Is it a complete picture of him? Of course not! Who could put all that he is into a little story like this one? But if it is a catalyst to get thousands of people to talk about theology—who God is and how he makes himself known in the world—we would be blessed (my emphasis)

Jacobsen states that he hates that bad reviews confuse people who are afraid of being seduced into error. What? In what way do bad reviews confuse people? People who want to know what this book is about (challenging theological constructs) will read both good and bad reviews. The bad reviews tell you what is bad about the book and the good reviews tell you what is good about the book, according to the authors of same. But Wayne hates that bad reviews confuse people who don’t want to be seduced into error, interesting language here. Wayne first of all tells you that he knows the book will be controversial but he loves books which challenge theological contructs so they published the book (which he helped to write). Then he tells you it saddens him that people are polarised about the book, and he hates when people write bad reviews because it confuses people. Right. He both wants people to see the book as good, even though bad reviews actually make the book (and future film) sell better.

Then he starts getting real upset and gets into defending his book. False accusations (and we know they are false why? Because they disagree with Wayne, the publisher and co-author) demand a reponse. Do they? Actually genuinely false accusations don’t demand a response, but your readers do, so you are going to keep everyone happy here by giving them what they want. Hence the diatribe.

So now we get the statement of faith. Jacobsen and his co-authors are committed followers of Jesus Christ who have a passion for the truth of the scriptures (truth and scriptures capitalised) who also apparently love to challenge theological contructs. Why? Because it sells books. Otherwise gentlemen, you would have kept your theological challenges to your emergent conversation around the coffee table and left off trying to merchandise them to ‘God’s family’ in order to make a profit through books and film deals (and out of court settlements) so get down off your religious high horses. Wayne states again gratuitously that he doesn’t have the whole understanding of God, and that his theology is not complete. So why get upset when somebody challenges it?

Wayne says that if this book is a catalyst for people to start talking theology (because lets face it accepted theology has been all talked out and new theology sells better than the King James – it also makes for a better film script) then that’s great. Now Wayne claims that this book is a catalyst to talk about who God is. How exactly? By presenting a completely different view of Him than the bible, then claiming that this is the same God? Well, that would surely lead people to just condemn the book out of hand. The ones sure of their faith I mean. The ones not sure of their faith are going to get confused and afraid of being seduced. Like the ones he mentioned earlier. The ones who are being led astray by those sure of their faith and condemning the book. So, is this book meant as a catalyst for discussion, or does Wayne Jacobsen et al really just want people to believe that this book is a great book which helps them get closer to Jesus?

I don’t think Wayne really knows what he wants, or at least he isn’t keen to be honest about it in these pages. If nothing else he is double minded, and scripture tells us that the double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.

Now we get some publishers blurb about this being a story of one man’s redemption. Apparently years of pain and grief are wiped away in one weekend’s retreat with Oprah Winfrey, and a couple of special guests. Really? I spent 15 years in a religious cult and spent 9 years trying to find healing and redemption, and in the end I went back to the scriptures and re-discovered my faith and the power of the gospel in a couple of weeks reading Romans. No lady spirit guides, no extremely cold dilapidated old shed and no controversial ‘christian fiction’ regardless of how well the rest of the world loves it.

That said, the content of this book does take a harsh look at how many of our religious institutions and practices have blinded people to the simple Gospel and replaced it with a religion of rules and rituals that have long ceased to reflect the Lord of Glory. Some will disagree with that assessment and the solutions this book offers, and the reviews that do so honestly merit discussion. But those who confuse the issues by making up their own back-story for the book, or ascribing motives to its publication without ever finding out the truth, only prove our point.

Now we are getting into even more confusion. One minute Wayne is talking emotionally about a couple of deeply committed Christian guys who are writing a little book about God and wanting people to talk about who He is and the way He manifests himself. Now he admits the content of this book takes a harsh look at how many religious institutions and practices have blinded people to the simple Gospel and replaced it with a religion of rules which cease to reflect God. Actually religion and rules never reflected God and were never intended to. So they never reflected God in the first place (talking third century and beyond now) and can’t then be suggested as having previously reflected the glory of God. A book can’t be both a little story which encourages people to talk about God and a harsh commentary on Christian institutions. You either have a theological book which critiques religion, or you have a parable type book which gently introduces the person of God into the lives of those who are hurting. Hurting people don’t need to be told that religion is bad, they already know that. Inflaming already hurting people against an institution which is only going to attack them further is a little gratuitous; again, the petrol down the ant hill.

I find it interesting that Jacobsen states that this book offers solutions to the institutionalised church. Which solutions were they then? Fantasy goddesses and a groovy middle eastern guy sitting in a humpy talking about God? Actually the answers are in the Bible already, and can be found by those who have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ as is found in the bible. But then the bible doesn’t sell as well as the Shack, mainly because it isn’t as controversial….surprisingly.

Does the book promote universalism?

Some people can find a universalist under every bush. This book flatly states that all roads do not lead to Jesus, while it affirms that Jesus can find his followers wherever they may have wandered into sin or false beliefs. Just because he can find followers in the most unlikely places, does not validate those places. I don’t know how we could have been clearer, but people will quote portions out of that context and draw a false conclusion.

Okay now we get into the nitty gritty. Does this book promote universalism? This is an oft-stated perception of the book. Now if you are going to rebut an argument you need to use the proper method. You take quotes from the book as evidence for your argument against universalism, you rebut the argument with evidence not opinion. Wayne starts with a sarcastic and not very helpful put down. He states that this book says that all roads do not lead to Jesus. The book also says that Jesus is the best way to God. Both of these statements are not flat denials of universalism, they are well crafted non-statements. No, it is widely accepted that all roads do not lead to Jesus. But that is not what universalism is about. Universalism states that all people will be saved regardless of their spiritual condition (without having accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour). There is also the assumption that a loving God would not commit anyone to eternal punishment. There are plenty of reviews which cite quotes from the book which confirm this idea. On pages 119-120 for example ‘Papa’ or one of the fictional trinity posing as God says “I am not who you think I am, Mackenzie. 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”.

Actual scripture, from the Bible, tell us in Romans 6:16 “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? “

I have just rebutted ‘The Shack’s theological error by using quotes from the Bible, the book of God’s actual words.

Yet Jacobsen doesn’t bother rebutting his detractors with actual quotes which prove his point. Now he is the co-author of this book, he could easily explain what he meant by these statements, instead he goes straight to an ad hominem argument. Apparently, opponents of universalism see universalists under every bush. Is this meant to be ironic? God saves everyone, therefore we are all universalists whether we know it or not, and hey, there will in fact be one under every bush because people are in fact everywhere?

Too much of a stretch maybe.

Jacobsen says that Jesus can find his followers wherever they may have wandered into sin or false beliefs. I have news for you, those who wander into sin are sinners who need to come to Jesus in order to be forgiven. If they cry out to him, he will come to them, but first they need to recognise their sin and repent of it. False beliefs, well, we all know those who have come out of heretical churches, so I am not arguing that one. But that is not what universalism says. It doesn’t teach that Jesus can’t save you whatever mess you may have found yourself in. Jacobsen has consoled himself by attacking his detractors by using the argument ‘people will always draw false conclusions’ without actually showing why and how these conclusions are false. Sorry, but you lost that one by default.

Does it devalue Scripture?

Just because we didn’t put Scriptural addresses with their numbers and colons at every allusion in the story, does not mean that the Bible isn’t the key source in virtually every conversation Mack has with God. Scriptural teachings and references appear on almost every page. They are reworded in ways to be relevant to those reading the story, but at every point we sought to be true to the way God has revealed himself in the Bible except for the literary characterizations that move the story forward. At its core the book is one long Bible study as Mack seeks to resolve his anger at God. (emphasis mine)

OK, now this is where Mr. Jacobsen proves that after years as a professional pastor (you know those dudes who make money off professing believers by taking advantage of that evil religious empire which Jacobsen hates) he still doesn’t know what the Bible says about God. Or does he?

In a straw man argument Jacobsen suggests that his opponents expect him to use scriptural references in the book to prove that his book has taken its key concepts from scripture. I don’t think that is their problem Wayne. Nobody expects a novel writer to use chapter and verse. You don’t see the books in your local bookstore labelled Christian fiction full of scriptures, Actually in the good ones you do. I remember reading Bodie Thoecne’s novels and the vast majority of them were fictional but they did occasionally quote the bible. But then they were just books intended to edify Christians not sell like hot cakes because they were controversial.

Apparently, according to Jacobsen, scriptural teachings and references appear on almost every page. Too many to mention by actual page number we assume. Not even one as an example? That’s too bad. It would have been helpful to rebut the argument with evidence. Apparently these scriptural references are reworded (I think your detractors would agree with that) in order to be relevant to the reader (what does that mean). According to Jacobsen, he and his co-authors sought to stay true to the way God reveals himself in the bible except for the (big important phrase)  literary characterisations which move the story forward. I find these euphemistic explanations entirely frustrating. A person attempting to explain a book which has already caused a lot of concern needs to be able to use direct uncompromising language which states in no uncertain terms what they book is about. Unfortunately, all I am seeing in these attempts at addressing issues are sarcastic put downs and generalisations without any proof texts.

popeye

Now, I am not a genius, but last time I read Jesus’, Paul’s, Peter’s John’s words or any one of the other authors of scripture, I did not see any large African women or small Asian women. How can you claim that this book promotes a biblical revelation of who God is when the only time we see Him is either in non-human form (as per Moses) or in the form of a thirty something Jewish man. No women, no other identities. The Holy Spirit is not mentioned in this way, nor is Jesus. I am pretty sure that is quite straightforward, and that is what people have a problem with. You are representing the almighty in fairly arbitrary terms, certainly not in scriptural terms.

Apparently this book is one long bible study. You haven’t given us any evidence of that either Mr. Jacobsen.

Is this God too nice?

Others have claimed that the God of The Shack is simply too nice, or having him in humorous human situations trivializes him. Really? Who wants to be on that side of the argument? For those who think this God is too easy, please tell me in what way does he let Mack off on anything? He holds his feet to the fire about every lie in his mind and every broken place in his heart. I guess what people these critics cannot see is confrontation and healing inside a relationship of love and compassion. This is not the angry and tyrannical God that religion has been using for 2000 years to beat people into conformity and we are not surprised that this threatens the self-proclaimed doctrine police.

At last, in this section of the article we see some quotes from the book, but not to back up Jacobsen’s argument. They are quotes from somebody else who apparently didn’t like the way God was portrayed. Further on Jacobsen quotes John 15:15 but only to beat somebody over the head with it because they are apparently too legalistic and don’t understand his portrayal of God as Oprah Winfrey.

Does it distort or demean the Trinity?

This extends in other ways to look at how healed people can relate to each other inside their relationship with God that defines authority and submission in ways most are not used to, but that are far more consistent with what we see in the early believers and in the teaching of Scripture. It is also true of many believers around the world who are learning to experience the life of Father’s family without all the hierarchical maintenance and drama that has plagued followers of Christ since the third century.

People may see this differently and find this challenging, if only because it represents some thought they have not been exposed to before. Here we might be better off having a discussion instead of dragging out the ‘heretic’ label when it is unwarranted. (my emphasis)

In general, Jacobsen does not confront his detractors head on, unless he does it in a demeaning and petty way. Those who criticise his work are considered to be narrow minded legalists who want God to be portrayed in the same way he has always been. How dare they contradict Wayne Jacobsen who is lets face it a former pastor who went to bible school and has paid his dues. He KNOWS who God is. I think the problem people have with this Wayne is that, well, so do they. Nobody wants to see God portrayed in other than the way he is portrayed in the bible.

You want to both promote controversy (why?) and accuse those who don’t want to engage in this as being either pedants or cowards.

This is the typical attack that rebels like to use. At heart, I think Jacobsen, and he won’t agree with me, is a hippy. He wants to stir up the ants nest and have people discussing God, but he doesn’t want to simply ask questions, he wants to portray God as a woman first of all, but have this woman use words which God has never used in order to ‘move the story forward’, and promote theological discussion. I am also deeply aware, as a woman, that women have always been oppressed by institutional religion. They are the wives and mothers and have no other presence in the church. They are not meant to preach or teach or have any authority, yet in ‘The Shack’ they are being used as a picture of God. Perhaps this is allowing those who have a problem with father figures to see somebody other than a man. Excuse me but this is exactly the sort of gender confusion that the world is engaged in at present. Maleness and Femaleness are no longer relevant. Whether you are gay, transgender, or any other form of sexual deviancy, the point is that you love somebody else and they love you back, love is not dependant upon gender. Now this idea is being superimposed upon God.

What Young is doing perhaps unconsciously is seeing God through the 21st century’s young person’s lens (scuse the pun). We are all being forced to look through this lens whether we consider it perverse or not, and now God is being reflected back to us as a woman. Not just one, but two. God is two thirds female apparently. Yet since this book is fictional, and you can use the term fictional to mean imaginary and not real, then you can assume that this God is not real. The problem is, that they are trying to portray this God as a picture of the real God. It doesn’t work like that. Some have suggested that this book is as much of a classic as “Pilgrim’s Progress”, but even PP has some issues. The issue of a works based salvation perhaps. Why did Christian carry that burden with him nearly all the way to the Celestial City when Jesus tells us to come to Him and He will give us rest because his yoke is easy and his burden light. Not even Bunyan gets it all right. As is the way with metaphors and parables, they can be stretched beyond the point. A little goes a long way with types and shadows, and even Jesus only spoke in very short parables not many paged novels.

Jacobsen has already stated that he loves books which promote controversy, and as a publisher and future film producer, there are clear conflicts of interest, which he has partially admitted to. These conflicts of interest however have not been completely resolved. He tries to defend the book but does so by attacking his critics rather than by proving that what they are saying is wrong. I get the strong impression that this is another PR exercise. Except it comes across as being motivated by the authors own hurt that his book is not being accepted as a theological work.

He says again in the last paragraph that he expected controversy and planned on it. Did he? I don’t think so or the overwhelming sense of outrage and hurt which comes across from this article would not be so overwhelming. A little miffed perhaps, but not to the point of refusing to properly and professionally addressing the concerns. My conclusion is that Wayne Jacobsen et al knew that this book would be controversial and he knew that it would sell well. I think any other issue is beside the point. If this book was truly a work to encourage Christians and promote the gospel, it would not have been on the New York Bestseller List. We are either friends with the world or friends with God, but not both. If we are friends with God, the world will hate us. Not exactly the best conditions for creating either a best seller or a blockbuster movie.