Uncovering The Shack

My fellow church member bro. Wayne whose review of The Shack I recently posted informed me of another review of The Shack.  Michael Youssef, pastor of Church of the Apostles, one of our neighboring churches, has reviewed The Shack in a recent sermon.

Dr. Youseff’s review, Uncovering The Shack, can be downloaded directly on mp3 here.  There is also an iTunes feed if you’re interested.  He actually stopped in the middle of a sermon series to review this book because he thought it was that important.

Dr. Youseff begins, “In the 33 years since I’ve was ordained to the ministry, I remember, only, this is to be the third time of all 33 years that I have taken sermon time.  The entire sermon time to focus on a book.”  He explains that his responsibility as an under shepherd to feed the flock as well as protect them from false teaching.

Another excellent quote as he begins, “I want to warn you, especially, of books and teachings that are almost right, but devastatingly wrong.  Teachings and preachings and b0oks that have a measure of truth in them, but they’re wrapped in a whole lot of poisonous dough.”

AMEN!

Mark

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1 The Thirsty Theologian - Uncovering The Shack September 5, 2008 at 9:46 am

[…] [Dr. Youseff] explains that his responsibility as an under shepherd to feed the flock as well as protect them from false teaching.. […]

2 Eloquorius September 7, 2008 at 4:13 am

Thanks for posting this. Last weekend I met with a great friend of many years who has been completely taken in by The Shack. Nothing I said (I know a bit about the book already) could temper his enthusiasm for the book. It’s amazing the degree to which this book as wormed its way into Evangelical circles. It seems like questioning this books is seen tantamount to questioning Scripture or something. Perhaps this is what we deserve for putting up with too many decades of allegory-based preaching, heavy on the cute anecdotal stories and short on doctrine.

3 Debbie Doyle September 7, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Yes, thank you for posting this . . . I’ll be making copies for my friends who have been taken in my the book . . .

4 William Johnton September 8, 2008 at 10:07 am

It’s quite sad that Dr. Youssef so little understands the use of metaphor both in contemporary writing and in the Biblical texts. The Shack was not meant to usurp Biblical theology or doctrine but to force us back to the Scriptures to see if any of the elements of Young’s metaphors have merit. I found the book to be wholly Scriptural and invaluable for people who are seeking God and for those of us who have come to know the goodness of God’s salvation thru Christ Jesus. Youssef’s emotions clearly cloud his judgement of this book.

5 Simple Mann September 9, 2008 at 3:46 pm

@William Johnton – I don’t think Dr. Youssef misunderstands metaphor. I think he does understand the seriousness of the false doctrine this book is spreading like a cancer through the body of Christ. That you found the book to be wholly scriptural may be evidence that you understand metaphor… or it may be evidence that you are undiscerning of doctrinal distortions therein.

A little bit of arsenic in another wise healthy meal still does a lot of damage. In fact, over time, it kills.

Peace & Blessings,
Simple Mann

6 Wolf Rutto September 10, 2008 at 10:42 pm

William P. Young’s much discussed book, “The Shack”, is interesting for a reason that does not seem to have been discussed so far: It turns into exactly the opposite direction of former attempts at dealing with an age-old question (called “Theodizee” by philosophers since Leibniz, 1710, but discussed already by Greek philosophers): how the idea of a personal, almighty, all-knowing, merciful, loving, and just GOD can be reconciled with the random, undeserved suffering of innocents in this world.
One could say, that this question has acquired new relevance with the development of world-wide news-media that keep us informed daily about wars, “ethnic cleansings”, natural disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis), slowly starving children … and – on the other hand – the unpunished demise of people like Stalin, Idi Amin, and Pol Pot, who died peacefully in their beds.
But an observant and compassionate person does not really need the news-media to ask questions: Each day, all around us there are children being born … with very unequal gifts and equipment for life: Some intelligent or gifted in some special field … others outright stupid from the very beginning, some beautiful and attractive … others ugly and unattractive, some attractive and intelligent … others ugly and stupid (some doubly blessed and some doubly cursed), some into loving and supportive families … others into broken homes or no homes at all. Where is God’s “justice” in that? (Just watch at a children’s fair a group of child-cripples – some of them blind – with pale and distorted little faces being pushed in wheelchairs by constantly changing “volunteers”. They might never find love, will never date, never compete, always depend on others…) In other words: It’s not only what we do to each other, that causes undeserved misery. The injustice starts right at our birth!
Or look on your way to work under the bridges where the homeless live! Why them? Why not you? Who would choose that lifestyle? …
You end up asking yourself: How is it possible, that – even nowadays! – a majority of the somewhat well-to-do (in the American Bible-belt supposedly over 80 %!) manages to “look the other way” and still believe in a just and loving God?! And most of these “believers” often quote the Bible and claim that they know it. Do they not see, that the Bible – especially the Old Testament – is full of cruelty, random killings, a primitive, tribal mentality that led us into wars and still causes human misery?
I can only think of two reasons for this kind of “blind belief”, that capacity of ignoring facts that anyone can observe, refusing to acknowledge and integrate it into their “Weltbild”:
One is mental conditioning: It is interesting to observe how many people – struck by disaster and really having no reason any longer to believe in a merciful and just God – hold on to their religious upbringing … just feeling helpless and desperate but not having enough energy left to rebel and question God’s “kindness” …
The other – and more important – one is our psychological need to believe in something that gives meaning to our lives and relieves us of the fear of death and its uncertainty. Exactly this need is being addressed by religion, any religion. And in combination with the first factor it makes us hold on desperately to those religions we happen to be brought up in … even in the face of contradicting observations.
Now – to return to what was stated in the first paragraph above – somewhat sophisticated Christian thinkers (and many theologians amongst them) tried to alleviate the dilemma outlined above by “depersonalizing” God, away from the threatening father-image (mainly of the Old Testament) to a more and more abstract concept of “creative power” and focusing on the figure of Jesus, who is supposed to symbolize love and forgiveness.
This, however, did not really solve the problem, how the cruelties and injustices in this world could be reconciled with an almighty, loving and JUST God, be it the father or the son (the Holy Ghost always remained kind of abstract). When asked, most theologians prefer not to comment on this. If pushed, they will answer, that it is the freedom of choice, misused, since Adam and Eve ate the apple, which created this horrible world. In other words: It is not God, who caused it to go so wrong, but US. HE only allowed it to happen … knowing very well how limited our capacities for the right insights and actions were/are …
This idea, in my mind, is almost as grotesquely wrong as entrusting a crocodile with building a computer … and simply does not fit with the idea of an all-knowing God.
W. P. Young does not seem to find a better answer in his book. But he completely differs from the lately prevailing depictions of God by transplanting the trinity into a US lower-middle-class horizon: God-father becomes a comfortable, friendly Afro-American woman (called “papa”), Jesus a somewhat Jewish looking wood-worker, and the Holy Ghost an Asian woman. They talk and act like a warm-hearted, down-to-earth American family (they cook and eat a lot and never fail to wash dishes … ;-). They definitely display a sense of humor. Only sometimes, when core-questions are touched on in their conversations with the narrator, they suddenly sound abstract, which often makes the meaning of their pronouncements difficult to understand.
But do they solve the main question of this book: Why God allowed the abduction, (most likely sexual) mistreatment, and finally murder of the narrator’s beloved little daughter to happen? I DON’T THINK SO!
The narrator is helped somewhat by his lengthy conversations with the “trinity” and in the end even “forgives” the killer of his daughter, though not very convincingly. The latter, most likely a deranged pervert beyond help, is caught in the end. But the basic question of this (otherwise well-written) book, the problem of Theodizee, is not being answered. It is rather washed away in a lot of talk about the love of God for us and us loving God and each other. It is basically sentimental, but its sentimentality is cleverly disguised behind common sense humor and the ordinariness of its protagonists.
Did we really expect an answer to the question that has tormented generations of believers (and especially non-believers)? I doubt it. The great echo this book has found is only indicative of our despair.

7 Phil September 11, 2008 at 7:24 am

Wolf, quite simply, people spend ages probing into questions of theodicy etc so that they may – out of hearts under the power of sin, supress the truth in their unrighteousness/self-righteousness/religious dogmatizing etc. It’s all missing the main issue. The issue of being reconciled to a holy God in his grace by Christ’s finished work for mankind on the cross – so we can function under grace (not seeking God’s love, favour or blessing by anything we do) with the gift of his indwelling resurrection life, and not a system of law (religous rules and regulations that we live under to gain God’s love, favour or blessing to obligate him to ourselves as “our own gods”). It’s on this fundamental dichotomy between law and grace – one which separates biblical new covenant Christianity from religion- which all of religion (including “christian”), and which even (many?) genuine Christians fail to grasp. A little leaven indeed leavens the whole lump.

Now if we own our sin, and we “come to Christ” knowing that he has finished a work which – received along with that life inherent in his own Person and given to us freely – justly grants us a clear conscience, so that we are not sin conscious…so that we can enjoy a once-for-all unconditional forgiveness..so that we can have a once-for-all new nature that is no longer under the power of sin, and has power to walk in the path of real righteousness(and not religious self-righteousness- see Rom2, Gal5, 1Cor13)! by the positive living out of his life in the total freedom of grace (Gal5v1), unconditionally loved, favoured and blessed with all blessing in Christ, which we are joint-heirs with for all eternity…if we thus know the Almighty God who knows all things (including all secrets that are not ours for the present) as our Abba, Father….if along with Christ we are “freely given all things”, are guaranteed the fullness of an eternity without sin, brokenness, suffering, illness…a measure of their removal in the present according to his wisdom, and where not, their redeeming to serve our good in a higher purpose….

My friend, why would we not receive these freely in Christ, unless we (as humans) naturally feel we don’t need them despite the evidences? And then why would use questions of theodicy etc to keep ourselves from the solution, unless there’s something about us that means that we’ll moan and groan with the symtoms of our illness when we could apply to God for their healing? We don’t own our need before God – a need to be reconciled to him in dependence upon him as a Father. Instead, we complain about things that we have no light on (and can’t have any at all until we are reconciled) to keep us from the solution. Strange irony about sin!

That said, first, I’m glad you realize the misery that “religion” perpetuates. It doesn’t cause it – it perpetuates it…because a “going about to establish one’s own righteousness”(Rom10), seeking God’s love, favour and blessing by our “self”-righteous self-efforts – is of the essence of the sin of independance which was mankind’s subsequent fall in Adam.

But Christ on the cross has finished a once-for-all work that freely forgives men their sins – past, present and future – gives them the gift of righteousness, so that they’re as accepted before the Throne of a Holy God as Christ (who is also God) is! This has ramifications for our hearts, minds, consciences! It renews them accordingly! It delivers us from our self-righteousness and takes the veil off the eyes to start to judge right judgment concerning all things.

And these things are freely available to “whosoever will”. They are received – to translate a person once and for all out of darkness and into the light – with no gradations – by faith – a “resting on him” – which is really just an appreciation of him because of these things, and our personal interest in them in him.

Now surely this is a far more immediate thing to discover, rather than concerning ourselves with metaphysical mysteries etc that the best of “unregenerate” minds have never been able to figure out – and never will do – because they’re asking the questions from the wrong paradigm – the one that comes naturally to us all “before Christ”. They’re standing – to use a Genesis metaphor – in the shadow of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – a sinful place to be – trying to find light to determine the mysteries of good and evil! For what end? It’s just a perpetuation of living in rebellion.

But God brings out from that shadow, to the Tree of Life – where, even when we do not know all mysteries yet, we know intimately in Christ the One who does – and we walk in the light as children of the light, in love, joy peace. Reconciled to God.

It’s these lessons that the Old Testament/Old Covenant is meant to teach us. We approach God on “law terms” as “our own gods” seeking his love, favour and blessing by what we do, and the only consequence can be a lack of perception of a God who is now close to every one of us – all we will see is thunderings and lightnings…and live in fear and uncertainty, with a whole host of unanswerable questions to trouble us for a lifetime…only to drop into an eternity heirs to the full death consequences of our choice!

But it need not be so thanks to the New Covenant, and it need not be so without any preparation.

I hope I’ve outlined why this God is truly “good” in the face of allowing suffering and evil in this world to continue…I hope I’ve made it clear that we need to back up and ask a question before that. In fact, we need to ask the question “what of MY evil?” After all, we boast in our independence, our ability to “Just do it”, to arrange our circumstances around ourselves – you know – “if you want it badly enough you can have it!”- we boast in the “freedom of our wills ” to act out the knowledge of good and evil accordingly as gods and “self-produce” that which we would – for conscious self-potentiation (the more we like to suppress our inherent knowledge of a God and blot him out of our minds) – and for gaining God’s favour and blessing (the more religious we are)…all of which boils down to the same thing – whether we’re religious or irreligious.

We need the gospel. And that’s the only sane place that our pontifications should lead us to. Not that they will in themselves…which again, is why we need the gospel – which we can enter into today, with all of our unholiness – with no preparation – after all, we will not repent any other way – we aren’t able! We are wasting our time and days and eternity as we are!

I hope I’ve made it clear what the issue really is about.

And I would just add on the question of why this good, loving, holy just and righteous God would allow suffering to continue, that He would never do so if it was not to overule it and order it for a higher, loving purpose. There is no insignificant detail that escapes his good purposes. We would do well to start believing that – and the way to do that is to receive the answer to the higher, more immediate, pertinent questions answered and solved in the gospel. Which is where God would have our suffering in sin, guilt, condemnation, misery, its consequences – and also suffering that is not a direct result of our actions and of which we are innocent – to lead us. For his glory and our good. To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

8 Wolf Rutto September 11, 2008 at 7:50 am

Dear Phil.
Heavens! What an avalanche of words! Do you really believe that you have “made it clear what the issue really is about”? (I for one, with 2 Ph.Ds. in literature, was “overwhelmed” but NOT “enlightened”. Lets us be simple and imagine a concrete situation and ask ourselves honestly, whether it would allow us to “glorify God and enjoy him forever”:
You live with your family of five (like Young’s) in a Christian village in Darfour (that’s in Africa) and you have just finished your prayer of thanks ready to enjoy your simple night-meal.
Suddenly, there is a horrible noise and you see four Janjaweed-warriors (I guess, you know, who they are) who have knocked down your door approaching with blank swords.
You rise from the table, raise your arms and say: “God loves you!” – “That’s nice of him,” one of the four soldiers, obviously their leader, says with an evil chuckle: “Now let’s see, whether he loves you too.” And he motions with his eyes to the three soldiers, who have already surrounded you, now hold you down to the dinner-table, your head right intto the salad-bowl, and chop both of your hands off.
You scream in pain, but the officer says calmly to his three subordinates: “Don’t let him pass out and bleed to death. First I want him to witness, how OUR God loves his pretty wife.” And then they take their turns raping her right under your eyes and those of your three children, joking and laughing about how long it takes them to come into her …
In the meantime, your children try to escape out of the house, but the soldiers catch them, one after another, with almost fatherly disapproval: “You run too fast! You might warn the neighbor-village. – Let’s see, what we can do about that …” and chop their little feet off.
Then, they are gone as quickly as they came.
Now, would you still be able to say “God loves you”? And what help are your cascades of pious words now?
Scenes like this happen almost every day in Africa.

9 Colin Dawson September 11, 2008 at 8:52 pm

To Whom It May Concern:

Unfortunately, well intentioned Christians have once again entered into a war of words over the best selling book “The Shack”. I am a born-again believer, and after having the privilege of personally meeting and hearing Paul Young speak at a weekend retreat near Mt Hood in Oregon, I am thoroughly convinced that God is using this book for His purposes (not yours).

The book was written to inspire hope and reconciliation in the face of tragedy. It was never written to be scrutinized as a piece of academic theology or church doctrine. The creative fiction encourages us to enter into an intimate and personal relationship with God; like that which exists between the Trinity. It invites each of us to enter into a dynamic and selfless relationship with the Godhead. Some authors would call this “The Dance”…

In conclusion, I will testify that the Holy Spirit powerfully and consistently moved on me as I read the book and that I know the sound of His voice. He works in mysterious ways, so please humble yourself and give God the glory, not your own intellect!!!

Best Regards:)
Colin

10 Wolf Rutto September 11, 2008 at 8:59 pm

Good for you, Colin!
“Blessed be the simple-minded … ” (I really mean that. But, unfortunately, we cannot MAKE ourselves simple-minded …) Wolf

11 Phil September 12, 2008 at 5:20 am

Wolf-just some short observations/statements here. First,I’m talking ‘special revelation’here,as given in God’s Word. I have a masters degree in physics,but I would be no more or less able to know the truth(let alone receive it)without submitting to it as such. THAT in itself, is an issue of humility before a holy,just and righteous God-who while a God of grace and love-has a settled disposition of wrath against sin. I was pointing out to you the issues of the specially revealed gospel that-in your natural sinful subjectivity,and consequent inability to spiritually appraise-I would that you received to escape his wrath. I know that the gospel is the power of God to salvation,and where I capable of the most logically precise argumentation,I have no power myself to deal with you’re suppressing the truth in unrighteousness-that is,you have enough general revelation re your conscience and the natural world,such that you know that there is an all-powerful God to whom you are accountable and from whom you currently hide. On such a point a child without their ABC will likely more readily discern that someone with a phD whose furthered himself in his self-delusions,accounting himself wise,but subject to the power of sin,and thus unwilling and incapable of ordering his no doubt capable faculties to judge right judgements and genuinely ‘seek God’. Mental acuity is not the issue. A man is handicapped on account of his sin…lastly-and purely because I want you to know that I’m no fair-weather sailor…for the sake of the gospel…I’m writing this as a 28yo who has been largely housebound for 6-7 years seriously affected by the symptoms of M.E.as well as having other struggles simultaneously. Humble yourself my friend,by admitting your folly and receiving his grace. Best wishes -Phil

12 Phil September 12, 2008 at 7:04 am

Wolf, I should add in clarification that what I’ve said above is not at all to detract from the horrors of such atrocities such as that you described. I’m just pointing out to you that such horrors are the natural outgrowth of hearts “dead in sins and trespasses” – by nature sinful on account of the fall – the sin inherent in which – and all the consequences it entails – everyone born into this world are heirs too. It shows itself in various ways and to different degrees in those same ways – whether one is a murderous thug in Africa, an atheistic intellectual, or a religious man seeking to “make himself that which he is not” before God. And the only cure in each and every case is the gospel that gives new hearts, new righteous natures, moment-in-time, out of which to grow in living…while at the same time forgiving all sins, and crediting the “righteousness of God” to all who receive Christ.

Questions of the suffering in the world should ultimately be resolved to questions of the heart/human nature and the gospel that “makes men new”. They should – first and foremost – point to the problem of sin and the solution and good news of the gospel. But natural man tends to make them an issue for supressing an acknowledgement of these things,out of an escapist and self-righteous heart – all the while just demonstrating the truth of the situation.

I’m not saying that people should be unaffected by such horrors, or have no legitimate concerns concerning them, though. (Rather, that such concerns be viewed through sanctified, gospel eyes.) On which I’d like to point out a few biblical observations.

First, God is a just God, and true justice will ultimately be seen to be done by all. There is not one element of our existance that will be untouched by it. And that said in the light of the fact that man – naturally supressing the truth of God he is aware of without the bible and God’s illumination of it (such that man takes it for what it says in context), lest he be found to be accountable to God himself – often feels like justice isn’t done unless he feels he’s exercised his own hand in doing it to his satisfaction. (I’m not saying that civil authorities have no God-ordained function in this world – they do). But it’s often evident from the news watching people’s attitudes before a big court case of a murderer/rapist etc that it tends to smack more of “payback”. But God says “vengeance is mine, I will repay” – and He means it. He will do it it according to omniscient wisdom according to the fullness of his perfect character.

Second, God is not a dispassionate observer of all such. He “feels” in response what he chooses to feel according to his perfections, and He acts accordingly, too. He is an ever-active God. I could not believe in good, loving and just God when I look at some of the events in the world if I didn’t know that He is sovereign. He knows the end from the beginning, and there is not one detail that escapes his good purposes and plan Even when notthe author of evil – he overules it and permits and purposes it (after a fashion) for good and higher purposes – and that in perfect congruence with his perfect character. Such a comprehension is ultimately beyond us. As He says “my thoughts are higher than your thoughts”. There are God-given limits and boundaries to our finite meantal capacities, which when we come to them, we would be better humbly received revealed truth and bowing before him, rather than attempting to traverse those boundaries.

Re your analogy, I know such things go on. It’s impossible to miss it with modern technology relaying it in the news. If I were the person you describe, I would not expect some bare statement about God’s general love for all mankind to bring such a person to his knees in repentance. But I know of a particular, efficacious love of God revealed in the truth of the gospel – and poured out in the Living Gospel even today – that has done just that in the past – and will do just that again. And I should add that heaven will have many such freely forgiven people people in it – and hell with have many “morally upstanding” individuals in it who lived there lives in condemnation of such evil actions.

13 Wolf Rutto September 12, 2008 at 7:30 am

Phil: I am sure, you mean well. But you speak for me like in a foreign language. While I am reading your lengthy explanations, I am constantly asking myself: How does he know this? and How can he be so sure of that?
Our “interchange” has taught me a lesson: It is impossible to be turned into a “true believer” by a tornado of words. If so at all, then by experience only.
Anyhow, you and Colin are the lucky ones in my eyes.
Cheers! Wolf

14 Phil September 12, 2008 at 9:58 am

You’re right Wolf-words alone will not do. I was merely offering some scriptural apologetic and focus for discussing these issues. As you can tell,I take God’s written word -the bible-as ‘special revelation’-and I make no apology for it! There I find such things and thus positively assert them. If you’re truly interested,you might like to see some apologetic for such an attitude in, say,the appendix to John Piper’s ‘desiring God'(that’s not a book recommendation)or something of FFBruce or James White(?). Else crack open your NT-in say Romans,Galatians and the gospels,and ask yourself some fair,unbiased questions with which to deduce the bible’s internal veracity-concerning Christ,his disciples, human nature,the gospel,etc. Best wishes,Wolf.

15 Ann September 18, 2008 at 12:18 pm

Wolf, Job didn’t even get an answer. If God had let Job try to figure it out, Job would have had no choice but to curse Him because then God would have abandoned Job. No use to praise Him for the good or blame Him for the bad; He’d be irrelevant. Stuff would just happen and who cares why? But Christians believe that Jesus showed how much God cares, and that what appears as “good” or” bad” circumstances doesn’t matter as much as having God with us. In your horrifying scenario about the family in Darfour, NOT THAT I COULD DO THIS, but Christian martyrs with the grace of God HAVE endured with love and forgiveness, and have gone to their deaths praising God. There are shrines for all kinds of horribly treated martyrs, and they inspire me to praise God for His presence in my life and His promises: suffering will end and we will know the true full goodness of God. Jesus was penniless, childless, practically naked, shamed and abandoned to his death. But this world is not all there is. When Jesus appeared to his followers alive again, they didn’t care what happened to them as long as they spread the word- there is nothing to fear – God is with us in everything! However, without God we feel everything is just “luck.” We must avoid unpleasant things and we resent them for reminding us it could have been us (and still could be, sometime.) We need God to touch our lives, open our eyes to His goodness even if to the world it looks like Hell. Saints and martyrs aren’t deluded… they have the truth and nothing will stop their praise. When they die, they go where evil can’t touch them. They go to be with God! God is good, but we can’t accept that in our anger and pain. May God touch you and draw you to Him.

16 Wolf Rutto September 18, 2008 at 11:03 pm

Dear Ann: Thank you for your interesting letter!
But I am always amazed studying the mental acrobatics the „true believers“ come up with.
The basics are so simple: We have no problem, if you say (like a befriended missionary in Tokyo): „I believe against my rational thinking, because I need it psychologically.“ Or if you define GOD (as e.g. Goethe and Kant did) as an a-personal, incomprehensible power steering all vital processes „beyond Good and Evil“ (Nietzsche), call it „Mother Nature“ or whatever.
The problem starts as soon as you define GOD as a (loving, just etc.) person with whom you can have a personal relationship … and still want to be seen as a rational person.
Then, and only then, the question of Theodizee comes up: How can a just and loving GOD allow this cruel and unfair (admittedly often beautiful) world of ours exist and continue? (The story of Adam and Eve as a reason is ridiculous in my eyes, and wouldn’t explain at all, why later generations had to suffer.) Why could I, who surely made more efforts in that direction than most of those simple-minded Middle-Western Americans , never become a “believer”? (Life would be so much easier that way!) How many of the latter really did read the Bible all the way through? (I listened to it from A to Z as an audio-book and often enough fell asleep over it. What a boring, unnecessarily long, partly simple-minded and cruel book!)
Who cares, whether Job got an answer? Who is he to me? I want an answer! To curse GOD, you first have to believe in him. Can’t you see, how uncritically you are enmeshed in Biblical beliefs and thinking? “Having God with us” requires first believing in him. – I am sure, you are a sweet person, but why did you deserve to have the right mind-set and upbringing to believe in a personal GOD in spite of all the odds, and I didn’t? And what about all the people, who live in cultures untouched by Christianity? –
And I don’t care about the martyrs either. There are enough fanatics (of all kinds of persuations) in this world …
I am 73 years old and according to Christian beliefs I shall go straight to hell after my demise, because I came in touch with Christianity and still could not make myself believe … Who makes us the way we are? …
Cheers! Wolf

17 Ann September 19, 2008 at 9:58 am

Dear Wolf,

I fully understand your problem in believing in a good, rational, sovereign God and I have gone through every iteration of bitterness and irony about the conditions of Man and the world. I didn’t have the upbringing you assume and after a trauma at age 14 described myself in my diary as “The sheep who won’t be comforted. Everyone else bleats for a few minutes after the wolf has carried one of us off, then gets back to grazing.” I continue to struggle with questions, even accusations, about God’s nature, plans, and influence on individuals and history. Truly no one can “see” how such a God exists. But, it’s not beyond reason either. Isn’t it logical and reasonable that we specks of existence, humans, have limitations, even in our logic and reason? That we don’t perfectly possess the virtue of compassion, or perfectly wield the authority of justice, or have the perfect wisdom to know when and how to apply each? It’s logical that we don’t, since we are limited in every other way- from the accident of our birth to the looming death and/or deterioration we would all avoid. It’s logical that our craving for “truth, goodness, beauty” etc derives from a source we need, which we are in no position to judge.
If I follow what I believe to be true to the logical extreme, what do I get? If I believe in any ultimate”truth, goodness, beauty” then even when certain things appear bad, it is logical that a goodness exists or I wouldn’t miss it.
Faith is the “hope in things unseen.” Once a friend was on the brink of divorce, saying, “I CAN’T SEE us ever being happy again! I might as well leave!” She must have believed in the goodness of their relationship at some point. Did she ‘wise up’ and see the truth, or was there something good being neglected and strangled out of their lives? I said, “If you could SEE it, you wouldn’t need faith. That’s why it’s called being ‘faithful’ when you stay married. What would you like to see in your marriage?” She thought about that and is happy that she stayed and worked on it. Of course, there was nothing seriously wrong with their marriage- no abuse, infidelity, addictions, etc. People need to apply their faith. She’d taken vows.
You’re in a different boat- no “vows” about God to uphold. But you do have “vows” to yourself… things that make up your integrity of mind. If there were no God, or if God isn’t good, what hope is there or what reason for living? Logically, there’s no reason for anything but the pursuit of pleasure and advantages. You do well to bring up Neitzche. However, he did die insane. I guess he followed his own thinking to its logical end.
If I follow what I believe to be true to its logical extreme, then the source of love, joy, and peace exists.
What made me decide to ‘be comforted”? I found no comfort in the world or in my mind.
I cried out to God because I didn’t want to be destroyed by the hopelessness and evil that consumed me. I realized that in myself, there is nothing but a gaping pit of despair, I had no true relationships with anyone, and my mind buzzed with noisy arguments. Logically, if you don’t have what you need to live, you die. Logically, if you don’t have sanity and peace, you have insanity and anxiety. Is it not “against rational thought” to choose between spiritual life or death. It’s just a choice.

18 Simple Mann September 19, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Wolf,

Your perspective on everything that you’ve said is understandable because it is very human. I believe that part of the result of eating the fruit of that tree (of the knowledge of good and evil) forever changed the mind of man. Now, seeing evil and the existence of evil, the mind of man must grapple with the obvious antithesis: the wholly (and Holy) undefiled “goodness” of God. But because of our awareness of evil and our own individual and human perception of injustice, we are prone to doubt. In fact, it is natural in our fallen state to doubt, which is why the Scriptural reference to “natural man” seems so appropriate. What is missing from our natural minds is a truly transcendent understanding of perspective.

Our understanding of this world that we live accumulates over time as we grow and mature based on our interaction with it. It is naturally a very selfish perspective. To try and understand it any other way is exceedingly difficult, which is why I think the record of God in His Holy Word and the Person of His Son in Christ is essential to understanding even a glimpse of the divine perspective of humanity, as opposed to the all-too-common human perspective of divinity.

No analogy I could ever attempt could even begin to approach the wisdom of God, but if I may offer an exceedingly imperfect example (and if you will understand it as such) let me so endeavor. Imagine, if you will, a doctor with a laboratory full of mice. The doctor is trying to find a cure for a terrible illness. All of the mice that he has collected to experiment on have already contracted the illness. Some of them he gives drugs of various sorts that only speed up the process of the illness, but that help him better understand both its cause and effect. Others he selects to administer various possibilities for a cure. Is the motive of the doctor one of good or of evil intent? If the mice were to have any understanding at all of what was happening to them, would the ones who were aware they were being made worse by the doctor see him as good or evil? And what of the ones he effectively cured? And even the ones the doctor was attempting to help, if they did not understand what he was doing, what might their perception be of what was happening to them? Or their fellow mice? Would the perception of the subject in the experiment be the same as that of the administrator? Or would they be completely different. What if some of the mice “got it” and understood that the doctor was necessarily making some of them worse because he actually loved them all and was trying to save them.

Again, this is admittedly a POOR analogy because unlike the doctor, God is not trying to figure anything out. He already knows what the sickness is, knew it before it ever existed. He has already provided a cure, and there is no uncertainty or doubt as to its efficacy. But not all of the mice will be cured. All those who are sick will not see their need. My point, though, is not to try and present a perfect theological argument of God’s plan with this analogy, but to try at least to demonstrate how our perceptions of God’s hand at work in our world and in our lives distort any real understanding of God’s purpose.

Isa 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
Isa 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
Isa 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Peace & Blessings,
Simple Mann

19 Ann September 19, 2008 at 5:03 pm

I realize I didn’t answer your question of theodizee, since I only wrote of my personal need for the goodness and sustenance I assert that the good, just, sovereign God gives me.

“Either God is unfair to let evil things happen, if He’s even there”, or “God may be good, but is incapable of stopping evil” is the usual binary thinking. Think “and”, not “or”. God is good AND is allowing evil (for now, in our time-dependent existence). To say we don’t understand this character is an understatement. How do physicists reconcile the properties of light, when one experiment proves it’s a wave and NOT a particle, and another proves it’s a particle and NOT a wave? Doesn’t it HAVE TO be one or the other, or perhaps our description is incomplete? If light, a created thing, is so hard to understand, and accepted as a paradox, why do we think we can figure out God? God is either this or that… or something you can’t imagine. God should do this or show himself this way, God should have told me himself, God should have made things differently. We don’t like our situation here sometimes, but we didn’t put ourselves here and don’t know what’s to become of us. It’s hard being not in control, and we resent it. But suffering isn’t proof that God is failing; it’s proof that we don’t understand God’s ways. Pointless argument, though. The real question is: IS THERE a true God? A perfectly good, powerful, wise, etc etc God? Then it doesn’t matter if evil exists, because God’s nature has nothing to do with it. What is God doing about it? Why is He letting it exist? Perhaps we’d have to be God to know. “Theodizee” tries to prove God doesn’t exist by asserting the criteria for God is not met. Who is making this criteria and on what basis? Just we think it should be this way? Maybe a doctor giving a shot seems like a cruel evil man to a child, and the mother holding the child down is acting indefensibly in his eyes. We are amazing creations, the objects of love from the creator of the universe, but we don’t understand all.

Finally, to have a personal relationship with the infinite God of the universe is not impossible. God is not transmitted by culture, advertisement, or threats. God comes to open hearts, even when minds are shut. My mind has slowly opened to God’s paradoxes, when my heart was torn open with pain. But I praise God for the “innoculation” which prevents me from despair.

20 Wolf Rutto September 19, 2008 at 6:48 pm

To “Ann” and “Simple Man” (who doesn’t write “simple” at all ;-):
Alright, our intellect cannot be trusted. (I tend to agree with that 😉 So, let’s talk emotions:
You will both agree, that we cannot force ourselves to LOVE someone (that’s why we say: We FALL in love). Loving and trusting in GOD is quite similar to falling in love with someone: There are no logical reasons for it, but plenty of psychological ones, which we are not aware of: We cannot logically explain, why we love THIS person or why we believe in THIS GOD (besides with the environment, we were exposed to).
Now: How come, that I (in spite of my ripe age and in spite of considerable efforts) did not fall in love with the God of the Bible? (Last night in bed, I read in the bible again … and was completely turned off by that endless fussing about circumcision – even in the New Testament! – and by innumerable biologically impossible assertions: e.g. the age of the protagonists!)
Even my feelings in this world seem to differ drastically from yours: Most of the readers of my first comments were obviously shocked by my graphic description of the Christian family in Dafour … I would choose their fate any time in comparison to those handicapped children I recently saw on a fair: The family will bleed to death within half an hour. Those children will live long lives in their wheelchairs (it makes my stomach turn just to think of it!): Never experience the shared activities of youth, never fall in love and be loved back, never experience tenderness (besides given out of pity), never do ANYTHING without help!
For heavens sake, you hallelujah-Christians, can’t you at least FEEL, why someone cannot believe in a personal, just and loving GOD?!

21 Ann September 20, 2008 at 12:56 am

Dear Wolf,

I feel that way alot. There are so many terrible things that people have to go through. This life, this world, is too brutal, unfair and temporary to satisfy anyone who thinks or feels deeply. It’s not “the best of all possible worlds” (Moliere, satirically) or even “good enough, if you look on the bright side.” Why do we have to go through all this if God could just make Heaven happen? I’d assume that God or Heaven can’t exist, it’s all ridiculous, outrageous… except for Jesus. Teaching about God, promising Heaven, having compassion and healing people, going through terrible suffering obediently. Then, rising from the dead and giving the Holy Spirit to his people. Though you may on some level want God or feel you need God to face this broken world, but can’t get yourself to feel or believe, I think you are being prepared for healing. Your knock will be answered, and you’ll find what you seek. You’re doing what Jesus said to do, so you’ll get to share his spirit, strength and wisdom. Jesus didn’t say “Why can’t you just forgive them and not send me down to suffer like that?” He didn’t spend his life angry, overwhelmed or crying, but who ever has cared more for people?

22 Simple Mann September 20, 2008 at 1:47 am

@Wolf – you wrote:

You will both agree, that we cannot force ourselves to LOVE someone (that’s why we say: We FALL in love). Loving and trusting in GOD is quite similar to falling in love with someone: There are no logical reasons for it, but plenty of psychological ones, which we are not aware of: We cannot logically explain, why we love THIS person or why we believe in THIS GOD (besides with the environment, we were exposed to).

You may (or may not) be surprised to find that what you are describing here is actually referred to as “irresistible grace” or the “efficacious call” in reformed theological doctrine. I borrowed this from reformed theologian and teacher R.C. Sproul, who is certainly much more capable at handling these concepts than I am:

Have you ever been called to dinner by your mom? Did you resist? Have you ever been called by God?

There are two types of “calls” from God. There’s the outward call of God and the inward call of God.

The outward call of God comes from the preaching of His word. Many share the gospel with others, but not all who hear the message receive it. The outward call of God can be resisted. In fact, apart from God’s working in us, we will resist this call (remember total depravity?).

The inward call of God is His secret work of regeneration (rebirth, a new beginning, spiritual resurrection) done in the souls of the elect by the work of the Holy Spirit. This work of the Holy Spirit changes us. God places within us a desire for Him. Before the inward call of God, no person is inclined to come to Him. After the inward call, we respond to God with the gift of faith. The inward call of God cannot be resisted.

Ezekiel 36:26-27
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (NKJ)

Romans 8:30
Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (NKJ)

Also, this is a link to a more detailed description of the doctrine of irresistible grace written by John Murray:

http://www.lgmarshall.org/Reformed/murray_irresistible.html

He goes into much more depth here. If you have (or can create) an Amazon wish list and will add R.C. Sproul’s book “What is Reformed Theology”, James Boice and Philip Ryken’s book “The Doctrines of Grace”, and/or David Steele’s “Five Points of Calvinism”–or if you want to visit my website and send me an email–I will pay for and send one or more of these to you. Even if you do not agree with everything you read in these books, I think you will find that they will challenge you to consider some things it sounds like you’ve already been thinking about from a Christian perspective. If nothing else, I am confident that you will gain some wisdom and insight you would not otherwise have had. I would also recommend R.C. Sproul’s “The Holiness of God”.

Again, I will cover the cost of putting these in your hands, no strings attached. I would appreciate your feedback and I would welcome the opportunity to interact with you as you read through them, but that is entirely up to you. I do think you would benefit, though, and I would be happy to do this for you.

Also, regarding the last paragraph you wrote, regarding feelings, especially with regards to sickness and the frailty of the human condition–children in wheelchairs that you say will never fall in love or be loved–again, I think you are looking at these things through the lens of your own humanity. But if you do believe that there is a God that is greater than we could ever imagine… can *you* not FEEL that this IS the very reason that we believe in a personal, just, and loving God! For who else would there be to love them and to be loved by them in the circumstances you just described? In response to the condition you just described, it does not make me doubt the existence of a loving and personal God, but underscores the infinite need we have of Him.

I believe if you read the Bible and the Spirit is truly speaking to you, you will find that all throughout both the Old and the New Testaments this truth: God’s glory often comes through most not in the absence but in the presence of human suffering. This is in no way morose or sadistic; it is actually quite beautiful and undeniably true. God’s sovereignty, mercy, and grace are most often magnified and most properly understood when they rest upon the suffering of His servants. I would challenge you to read through any of the books in the Bible to explore this theme.

And finally, to see firsthand what I am saying, please take a few minutes to watch this video of Garwin Dobbins, a man suffering from a rare disease called myositis ossificans progressiva; I think it will speak to your heart in a way that I, through this horribly impersonal medium, cannot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oTHA_zPMI4

Grace and Peace,
Simple Mann

23 Simple Mann September 20, 2008 at 3:48 pm

@Wolf –

I meant to address the comment you made about circumcision last night, also, but it was late and I was tired. I forgot to mention this. The issue of circumcision, when understood as a simple physical observance of the law (the outward appearance of obedience), it does seem rather tedious. But the important thing to understand about circumcision (and this is what Paul himself attempts to get his hearers to understand) is that it is not about an outward act; we do not belong to God because we have experienced a physical circumcision of our unmentionables. We belong to God when their is a spiritual circumcision of heart; our “flesh” is divided and removed from our “spirit” so that the flesh no longer provides a barrier to the spiritual understanding of our heart. It is an inward act of grace, and not an outward act of obedience. It is essentially the sword of the Spirit separating the old nature of the flesh from the new creation of the Spirit within us, in the private part of us no one can see or know but us.

As with so many other things you may read as you study the Bible, if you miss the spiritual connotation then you miss out on the essential reason and purpose for its presence in God’s record. So much of what you find in the Bible has a message that is much deeper than it first appears on the surface. An obvious example is when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and then God provided a lamb for the sacrifice. That one little story unfolds a world of meaning into the Atonement of His Son and why (and how) we understand Jesus. The stories of the Israelites as they entered the Promised Land, the time of the judges and kings, the prophets, and even the apostles… all of these books relate stories about actual events God used to speak truth about Himself and about His creation.

Unfortunately, I have to cut this short. Laptop battery is about to die…

Peace & Blessings,
Simple Mann

24 Wolf Rutto September 23, 2008 at 3:22 am

Sorry for my delayed answer. (I shall make my comments as short as possible.)

„You may (or may not) be surprised to find that what you are describing here is actually referred to as “irresistible grace” or the “efficacious call” in reformed theological doctrine …“

That doesn’t help me to know, since I haven’t experienced it.

„Have you ever been called to dinner by your mom?“

Of course.

„ Did you resist?“

Why should I?

„ Have you ever been called by God?“

NO. This comparison is not very helpful. –

„There are two types of “calls” from God. There’s the outward call of God and the inward call of God.“

Maybe, I experienced NEITHER.

„Also, this is a link to a more detailed description of the doctrine of irresistible grace written by John Murray: … „

Descriptions of doctrines do not help me!

„Also, regarding the last paragraph you wrote, regarding feelings, especially with regards to sickness and the frailty of the human condition–children in wheelchairs that you say will never fall in love or be loved–again, I think you are looking at these things through the lens of your own humanity.“

Naturally! How else ? I have not developed the remarkable expertise of many true believers in looking the other way …

„But if you do believe that there is a God that is greater than we could ever imagine… „

This is almost funny: Don’t you see, that this is a cat „biting in it’s own tail“? This is just the point of our conversation, that I DON’T believe!

„can *you* not FEEL that this IS the very reason that we believe in a personal, just, and loving God!“

Here, you reformulate MY suspicion of a main psychological reason, why so many people believe (against reason and observation)!

„ For who else would there be to love them and to be loved by them in the circumstances you just described?“

Nobody, as soon as their parents are gone AND THAT MAKES ME DOUBT GOD’S KINDNESS (amongst other things). You argue like someone in a famine who says: People are hungry, therefore food must exist somewhere.“

„ In response to the condition you just described, it does not make me doubt the existence of a loving and personal God, but underscores the infinite need we have of Him.“

This only proves, that we believe, what we WANT to believe. (If you were VERY clever, you could answer: „But I feel, that you really would LOVE to be able to believe and nevertheless cannot. Therefore, your last sentence cannot be true, Wolf.“ 😉

„I believe if you read the Bible and the Spirit is truly speaking to you …,“

I have 2 Bibles. Both of them are printed in such small letters, that my eyes water, when I read in them longer than 20 minutes. Therefore, I downloaded into my iPod the Old Testament (49 hours) and the New One (16 hours) as audio-books and listened to them again and again until I fell asleep. The more I read or listened, the more I disliked them, especially the Old Testament. What primitive mentality! How many times does the Lord remind the Israelites, that he rescued them outof Egyptian slavery and therefore they better follow his rules to the last detail … or else? 300 times? 500 ? He is threateneing them constantly, and they seem to need it. – And why did he „choose“ the Israelites in the first place … and not some other tribe? They strike me as particularly childish and ungrateful: As soon as anything did not go exactly as expected, they threatened to stone their leaders …

„And finally, to see firsthand what I am saying, please take a few minutes to watch this video of Garwin Dobbins, a man suffering from a rare disease …“

I would call this kind of shameless exhibitionism tasteless and embarrassing. But I know, the American mentality is different (well intended, but lacking subtlety). What does this dreadful scene (I know, you think, it is „uplifting“) prove?: That a poor guy can be dragged on stage by Bible-belt believers and made confess, that he COULD be EVEN WORSE off … I suffer from chronic back-pain since my youth … and I am indeed grateful, that I can still walk upright … but not to a „kind“ God. There would be no logic in that: I could have also grown up and lived painfree (like my friends), if I had not been undernourished in my youth in Germany. – Not even my father was a Nazi! So what justice and love was there in my suffering?

„The issue of circumcision, when understood as a simple physical observance of the law (the outward appearance of obedience), it does seem rather tedious. But the important thing to understand about circumcision (and this is what Paul himself attempts to get his hearers to understand) is that it is not about an outward act; we do not belong to God because we have experienced a physical circumcision of our unmentionables. We belong to God when their is a spiritual circumcision of heart; our “flesh” is divided and removed from our “spirit” „

This is, what I call „mental acrobatics“: When something is too ridiculous like the topic of circumcision (even discussed repeatedly by Paul and the other apostles), we should understand it „symbolically“ as outlined above. – On the other hand, we are supposed to believe the most outrageous impossibilities, e.g. that many of the „founding fathers“ of Christianity lived more than 1000 years, the Adam and Eve-myth, Noah’s Arch, the statistical impossibility, that there was NOT ONE decent person to be found in Sodom before its destruction (and anyhow, why does GOD ask all these endless questions? Shouldn’t he know without asking?) etc. etc.

„As with so many other things you may read as you study the Bible, if you miss the spiritual connotation then you miss out on the essential reason and purpose for its presence in God’s record. So much of what you find in the Bible has a message that is much deeper than it first appears on the surface. See above! An obvious example is when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and then God provided a lamb for the sacrifice.“

This, for me, is one of the most disgusting episodes in the Bible: It symbolizes BLIND OBEDIENCE and makes me think of another world-religion, that demands the same from its followers …

„That one little story unfolds a world of meaning into the Atonement of His Son and why (and how) we understand Jesus. The stories of the Israelites as they entered the Promised Land, the time of the judges and kings, the prophets, and even the apostles… all of these books relate stories about actual events“

see above!

„God used to speak truth about Himself and about His creation.“

I know, reading this, you must have many times murmured:

„Good Lord! This one is beyond redemption!“

Since I think so too, I respectfully decline your kind offer of sending me books. Sincerely and gratefully, Wolf

25 Wolf Rutto September 25, 2008 at 3:26 am

PS. I am surprised that the question of „free will“ has not come up yet, because it is closely connected to the questions discussed above. (All truely important questions are closely connected.)
I asked myself repeatedly, why I have never been able (neither intellectually nor emotionnally) to believe in Christian doctrine (nor in any other one). My life would have been – and facing death would be – so much easier. This question is connected with that of God’s „justice“: Why do I deserve to be an „unbeliever“ in spite of all the efforts I made … and some simple minds (but not only simple ones) have always been safe and comfortable in their belief? How do I deserve this?
The Hindus and some Buddhists might explain that with „karma“. – However, I explain it with an (for me) inescapable conclusion: Namely, that we are NOT really free to decide for or against believing in a given religion. We just flatter ourselves to think so (especially Western man/woman).
In reality, our religious orientation seems to be determined mainly by two factors: Our psychological make-up and our environment. I suspect that even Saulus-Paulus conversions are determined by those two factors.
Of course, I could fake religious convictions or a conversion. But even the fact, that I consider this to be beneath my dignity is determined by my psychological make-up and the environmental determinant, that I do not HAVE TO do that (e.g. in order to save my life in a prison by religious fanatics). According to my (also determined) conviction, NOTHING happens out of empty space. EVERYTHING is determined by something existing BEFORE IT in time.

26 taronohaha October 1, 2008 at 6:12 am

Dear Wolf Rutto, dear all,

This is a very interesting dicussion: “Normally”, there are theological discussions inside Christian communities and discussions outside them – this is one of the rare occasions where there is something like an “intercultural” dialogue. Nice.
This is a question to the Christian part of this audience: What exactly are the basics of our belief? And what is kind is negotiable?

27 dailygrace October 8, 2008 at 12:21 am

As I tried to wander through all the muck and mire above it just confirmed this is why we aren’t relevant to the world around us…. we want Christianity to be some sort of secret code that takes 12 PhD’s and 34 masters degrees to even be worthy enough to discuss.
This frankly, just makes me sad.

28 Caio Rodrigues November 10, 2008 at 11:51 pm

Hello everyone! Hopefully I can add some insight to this discussion and not offend anyone.

I don’t mean to be a jerk or anything, but if someone can read this book, claim to be a born-again Christian, and not see the blatant heresies, errors, and false doctrines/theologies that this book is teaching, you are either not truly a born-again Christian or you are simply ignorant towards the Word of God and theology.

If anyone gets offended, than please, let me know, but I probably won’t apologize. I see this as a problem and I am glad that Dr. Youssef brought it up in such a caring way.

As my professor of theology says “You either worship a God of revelation or you worship a God of imagination.” There is no way around that logic. Nothing. Zero. Nada. You either read the Bible and learn from that and learn the truth, or you go your own way and create your own God.

If you worship a God of imagination, wouldn’t that logically mean that there is no God? As the same professor says “Theology that starts with me must logically and necessarily end with me.” How can a mere human create a God that can save everyone? We might as well just call ourselves atheists or agnostic because, according to the book, we are all going to heaven anyway.

If there is no punishment of sin, than there is no reason, EVER, to serve or worship God. I doubt that if there was no death, pain, suffering, or sin in this world that anyone would follow God. Proof of that is in Genesis. Even though Adam and Eve were in full relationship with God Himself, they still turned away.

The Bible is God breathed and is the full revelation of God; adding, taking away, or twisting the Scriptures is a sin. The Bible is clear on that.

I can only pray that people see the truth.

In Jesus,
Caio Rodrigues

29 Caio Rodrigues November 11, 2008 at 12:01 am

@dailygrace:
You wrote:

As I tried to wander through all the muck and mire above it just confirmed this is why we aren’t relevant to the world around us…. we want Christianity to be some sort of secret code that takes 12 PhD’s and 34 masters degrees to even be worthy enough to discuss.
This frankly, just makes me sad.

Doesn’t it make logical sense that the more you educate yourself about something, the more you can see the fallacies and errors that people claim to be true? Here is the fallacy of the “complexity” argument that you are presenting: if your knowledge is limited by our ability to understand, than logically knowledge does not exist (neither does complexity for that matter).

Just because something is complex does not mean that it isn’t true or it can’t be understood. Let me know how long it takes you to completely understand Quantum Physics, or Quantum Chemistry, or Bio-Physics, or Abstract Number Theory…

Sorry if you can’t comprehend certain things…

In Jesus,
Caio Rodrigues

30 Trish Pickard November 27, 2008 at 8:44 pm

I was set not to like the book, The Shack but after reading it, I thought it was really good and thought provoking. All the time I reaad it, I kept thinking it needs a study to go along with it. I finally decided God was urging me to write a study which I did. If anyone would like it, email me at prayerdigm.bookstudy@yahoo.com. I would be glad to send you the study. You are welcome to use it and copy it for others.
Trish Pickard

31 Johnno777 July 26, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Well Dear William Johnton,
If that is your real name. Are you sure it’s not William P something?
Instead of insulting Dr Youseff with a fatuous suggestion that he does not understand metaphor within, or without the Bible, I would like to suggest to you that if you had any sort of spiritual connection with the Bible, not to mention any knowledge of it, that it would have been be very clear to you that “The Shack” is brimful of heresies and in opposition to what the Bible teaches us about God and about humankind.

You say: “The Shack was not meant to usurp Biblical theology, or doctrine but to force us back to the Scriptures”. Let me tell you that it was very much intended to usurp biblical theology and biblical doctrine. The triumvirate of Wayne Jacobson (the mastermind), Brad Cummings (the sheep) and Paul Young (the dreamer) all strategized to couch their theology within a story, so that, in their own words, their “out of the box” theology, would get past the readers’ defenses. They say that if they tried to publish their theology on its own, no one would have been be interested (and they’re right).

The Shack is one of the greatest seductions and deceptions in modern times, and all three knew exactly what they were doing. Their pop god/dess is just what ‘itchy ears’ want to hear about an imagined god. Please go and read the Bible again (at least a few times).

32 DDavis September 1, 2011 at 11:54 am

I recently had a pastor send me this letter
“…I believe that we can and will have an different interpretation of theology…for example many can have an Calvinist point of view and many can have an Armenian point of view when it comes to eternal security …but can we believe Christ died for our sins and we have an opportunity to repent and be saved because of it…without Christ we are nothing.

….in regards to the “Shack” we have told you we look at that book as a non-fiction novel…we do not look at the book as a bases of theology…I read the book and enjoyed my time in the book also, but when it comes to theology it is not my basis…knowing that you feel that it has universalism undertones and knowing that bothers you then maybe you may need to look for another church…I’m sorry.

D, if you would like to sit down and discuss this further, feel free to call and make an hour appointment and we can discuss further.
I am all booked up for this week as I just got back in town late last night…I had been away for a week.

To be honest I like meeting in person and dislike e-mail…
Pastor Damon”

OK Pastor,
How would you like an author to write a book describing you and your family or maybe your church ministry. However in this book you are represented as a friendly out-going and likable “A-Sexual” Earthworm living out in the middle of a beautiful pasture. You and your family of earthworms have a little den you call your home. Suddenly the earth shakes and your offspring is frightened as a cow steps over your little house. Blop, blop, blop above your house is a fresh cow pie, your kids find it very warm to crawl into and fun to play in and they discover that its tasty to eat compared to the dirt.
Sorry to use that kind of fictional example but I hope you understand the point.

To Distort, Twist, Alter or Falsify the biblical Attributes, Nature and Characteristics of God in a theological book or even a fictional book is still blasphemous.

.

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