Friday, November 14, 2008

The Shack

I have been asked by numerous people what I think about the highly popular book "The Shack" by William Young. Well, in short the book is a bunch of New Age heresy. It is a cleverly written story that is pitched as fiction but is having a field day in the minds of the undiscerning (Folks who read the book without biblical discernment).
For instance, a few weeks ago, my wife and I were in a cafe and sitting behind us were four adults. They were engaging in some spiritual conversation. I heard them talking about their church and Sunday School classes. Then one of gentlemen asked, "Have you finished reading The Shack?" One of the ladies stated that she had completed it and then said, "That is how I see God now!" What an interesting statement since the God of the Bible and the god of The Shack are certainlly not the same. In fact the god of The Shack is a false god created in the mind of Mr. Young. Mr. Young's god is a god that he is more comfortable with, one void of many of the biblical characteristics of God. This of course is idolatry! The Second Commandment says, "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything..." While we often think of statues as idols, clearly an idol can be a god that is created in the mind of an individual, a god that is more suitable to the indivdual. Therefore, in saying, "That is how I see God now!" the lady has joined Mr. Young in his idolatry.
Following that statement was a conversation about how the book had so touched them. I wanted to engage in the conversation but was there to have an enjoyable breakfast with my wife. So I decided to not debate. As we left the cafe, we went next door to a Christian bookstore. Once inside the clerk, who identified herself as a Sunday School teacher, recommended that we purchase a certain book. Anyone want to guess which book? She told me that it was an amazing book. I told her that I had some major theological/doctrinal issues with the book to which she retorted, "It's just fiction." It seems that the only time many of the readers of The Shack remember that the book is fiction is when someone raises some real concerns about the book. It may be a fiction book (like the Da Vinci Code), but the intent of the book is to plant heretical ideas about God in the minds of people. False teaching comes in many different forms and one of the most effective seems to be through interesting story-telling via books, movies, and other media.

Anyway, I wanted to post this blog to make clear my problems with The Shack. It is a dangerous book that preys on the minds of the undiscerning. No doubt Satan loves this book. Since I do not have the time and space here to give a detailed list of the problems I have with the book, I have included two links below that will be helpful to you in coming to a sound biblical conclusion about The Shack. One of the links is to a book review written by Tim Challies and the other link is to Dr. Michael Youssef's, “The 13 Heresies in The Shack”.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Answering Bill Maher

Last Sunday evening professed Agnostic Bill Maher appeared on Mike Huckabee’s show. Maher really dislikes Christians and in fact says that those who believe in God suffer from a neurological disorder. In the context of the conservation, Maher challenged Huckabee with the notion that there could not be a God due to all of the suffering in the world. Huckabee explained that suffering is a reality because the world is broken....Maher asked, "Why did God make it broken?" Huckabee continued to try to reason with him.

What if Maher had asked you the same question, "Why if there is a there suffering in the world?" How would you respond? My response would go something like this: God created the world and everything in it and declared that it was good, not broken! He created man in his own image and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. God then gave man dominion over the world, along with a free will. Man chose in his free will to disobey God, and as a result sin became a reality along with suffering and death due to sin. All pain, suffering and death are linked to that defining moment. Since that time to quote Paul from Rom 8:22....the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth up to the present time. God did not make the world broken, the world is broken because of sin. You and I still contribute to the chaos in the cosmos because every single one of us are sinners. We have each violated God’s holy law. As a result, we are subject to divine punishment and all of us will eventually stand before the Creator and Judge of the Universe for a day of reckoning. Some would argue here that God being a Good Judge will simply overlook sin. Contrary, God, being a Good and Just Judge must make sure that sin is punished. After all, a Good and Just Judge cannot allow criminals to go free. If He did, He would not be good but corrupt. Can you imagine in criminal law, a judge letting a known sex-offender go free? If he did, we would not call him good, but corrupt.

When we stand before that Good and Just Judge, His law will be condemning. There will be no lying your way out of it because the eye of the Omniscient Judge has seen it all. He has heard every idle word, lie, and blasphemy. He has seen the lust in your heart which he considers to be adultery. He has seen the anger and hatred of your heart which He considers murder. His Omniscient Eye has been as a surveillance camera that has recorded every moment of your life since you came into being. While our acts of sin may seem trivial to us and while we may not see ourselves as bad people, our sin is exceedingly sinful in the eyes of our Perfect and Holy God. After all, the seriousness of the offense rises with the dignity of the one offended. For instance, if you punch your neighbor, you may get in some trouble, but punch the President and you will be in more trouble than a slick lawyer can get you out of. The President’s dignity made the offense much worse. Now understand that your sin is against the All Sovereign All Holy God of the universe!! Our sin is indeed exceedingly sinful. That means we are in tons of trouble and are subject to the Judgment of the Judge.

God is also a God of grace and mercy. In His grace and mercy, He chose to make a way for man to be saved. Our Lord Jesus Christ stepped down out of Heaven and into humanity, lived a sinless life and died on the cross to pay our fine. His free gift of salvation is offered to anyone who will by faith and repentance surrender to Christ as Lord and Savior. Through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Good and Just Judge can commute our sentence. Christ paid our fine!!! We may chose to not accept the work of Christ on our behalf, but choosing to reject the offer of Christ is to remain subject to the punishment of the Judge and suffer the consequences for our sin! Our sin will either be pardoned by Christ or punished in Hell. Truly our only hope for forgiveness is Jesus!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A "Morning After the Election" Thought

The election is over!!! I am very thankful for that fact. Now we have a newly elected President who will take office in a few short weeks. Congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama. As my President he will certainly receive my prayers as he takes over for the departing President Bush. In fact, after listening to his acceptance speech last night, I prayed for him before drifting off to sleep (Yes I did sleep like a baby...because God is King!!). Furthermore, I will support him as President up to the points in which my Bible says I can’t. Since he is the most liberal President in our history there will no doubt be many points of contention.

There is a part of me that wants to be happy. For the most part, it has seemed next to impossible for a non-white candidate to be elected. As I sat there holding by “bi-racial” baby boy, it is great to know that he too can be President some day (He is basically the same “race” as Mr. Obama). I watched as Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey cried tears of joy last night, and listened to other civil rights leaders celebrating that Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream had come true (Excerpts from his “I Have A Dream” speech have been rolling all morning). But let us not be deceived to believe that race is an issue of the past, that we live in a post-racial world. Sure there were no doubt many (myself included) to whom race was not an issue. I would love to say that Martin Luther King’s dream had come true; that the day has come when little children can live in a country “where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I would love to believe that Colby could one day be elected President and race would not be an issue. It shouldn't’t be! After all, there is truly only one race, the God created human race, descendants from Adam. Wouldn't it be great if America (especially our churches) came to understand that reality!! Yet that is not America. In fact, race played a great role in this election. There were masses who voted for Mr. Obama simply because he is “black” and others that did not vote for him for the same reason...and both while confessing to know very little about the content of his character. Both are equally racist.

I have also listened as news reporters have conceded that we know very little about our President-Elect. That is true and what we do know is not very fact it is quite frightening. For instance, we know that he promised Planned Parenthood that one of his first acts of business would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act which promises to get rid of all abortion restrictions and take abortion to unimaginable levels. That alone is enough to sicken my stomach. As I held little Colby last night, sleeping in my arms, that was the issue that overshadowed everything. Our new “Pro-choice” President supports the slaughtering of babies in their most innocent form, and has promised to expand those killings. Dr. John Pike of the Master’s College wrote, "The phrase 'pro choice' which is what the pro-abortionists use, strikes me as one of the most depraved apocalyptically wicked rhetorical facts in the history of western civilization in the Christian era. The phrase means 'pro sin,' or free to choose sin. The phrase would actually be less dreadful if it were 'pro abortion,' because that would confine it to the sphere of a particular moral problem. But by turning it to what seems a euphemism, the pro-choice people have rung the final rhetorical death bell to the entire democratic experiment. The phrase 'pro choice' means without conscience, or without inhibition, or without restraint. And it parades itself under the Jeffersonian banner of liberty of conscience and separation of church and state. As a rhetorical gesture, perfectly designed to function as a political banner, this phrase constitutes the last word, the official formulation of official apostate defiance against the God of Christianity. I'm confident that God will answer it apocalyptically."

The only hope for America is the Gospel, the true Gospel, not the fluff Social Gospel that has produced so many who think they can live as they want as long as they say they love Jesus. The true Gospel is the message that we are all violators of God’s holy law. We have broken God’s Commandments. We have failed to put God first, we have created an idol god we are more comfortable with, we have taken the name of God in vain, We have failed to keep the things of God holy, we have dishonored our parents, we have killed (anger is considered as murder too), committed adultery (lust in the heart is adultery too), we have stolen, we have lied, and we have coveted. And a good and just God will make sure that sin is punished. That is where Jesus stepped into the court-room on our behalf. He suffered and died in our place, paying our fine. Now God can legally dismiss our case. Our responsibility is to repent and trust in Jesus. If we reject we will receive due punishment for sin in Hell. As Adrian Rogers once said, “Our sins will either be pardoned by Christ or punished in Hell!” Too long have we neglected that message in exchange for a “no strings attached, non-confrontational, lamb barbeque” fluff message.

To my Christian friends I plead with you that we must preach the Gospel and we must preach it as individuals. We all bear this responsibility. That is the way to transform a culture. With an increase in soundly saved Christians there would indeed be radical change in our country. As Ray Comfort put it in his blog, “The answer to the issue of abortion isn’t just to protest, although that's a start. A nation that kills 50 million of its citizens through abortion with no qualms of conscience needs more than a voice of protest. We are no different than Nazi Germany. We have given ourselves to the wickedest of sins, and that will eventually have terrible national consequences. We desperately need God’s forgiveness, and we need a new heart that can only come with conversion. Only the gospel can take a self-righteous, blaspheming, idolatrous, hypocritical, baby-killing nation, forgive it, and make it brand new.”

As for the future with our new President, he made many other promises during his campaign, many of which sound very much like Socialism (all pailing to his abortion promise). He promised to change the world....whatever that means, it will not be for the better. Most of his promises have sounded like threats to me. Yet in spite of that, his promises resonated in the ears of those who went to the polls and voted for him, many professing to be Christians. Last night people stood and chanted, many mesmerized in what appeared to be a state of worship. So here we are. He has been elected. The confetti has fallen. The celebration has begun. It brings to mind another quote from Dr. King who said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands at times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of chaos and controversy.” The media has given Mr. Obama a cocoon of comfort and convenience, but in January he will step into a world of chaos and controversy as President of the United States. Boy, we have come a long way!!!