Theology Gals | Episode 5 | The Shack & Christian Discernment

Podcast Information and Episode Resources

On tonight’s episode of Theology Gals, special guest host Ashley Bacon joins Coleen to talk about The Shack and Christian Discernment.

Please check out our article and resource sheet on The Shack which we previously released.

These are the resources mentioned in the podcast episode.

 

What is Heresy?

“Heresy is a false teaching about the essential doctrines of our faith – the ones we must adhere to, regarding who God is, who Jesus is, salvation by grace, and Jesus’ resurrection.”  What is Heresy?  by Amy Spreeman

CARM (Christian Apologetics & Resource Ministry) says about heresy, “Heresy is a belief or idea that is in contradiction to orthodoxy. In the context of Christianity, heresy is that which deviates from standard biblical teaching.”

What is blasphemy?

CARM says, “Blasphemy is speaking evil of God or denying Him some good which we should attribute to Him.  It could also be understood to be acting in any impious, mocking or contemptuous way toward any member of the Trinity.1 The word blasphemy comes from the Greek word , blasphemia, meaning “curse” or “vilifying.””

 

Thirteen heresies in The Shack  identified by Michael Youssef

  1. God the Father was crucified with Jesus.

    Because God’s eyes are pure and cannot look upon sin, the Bible says that God would not look upon His own beloved Son as He hung on the Cross, carrying our sins (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 27:45).

    2. God is limited by His love and cannot practice justice.

    The Bible declares that God’s love and His justice are two sides of the same coin — equally a part of the personality and the character of God (Isaiah 61:8; Hosea 2:19).

    3. On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless.

    Jesus explained that only those who come to Him will be saved (John 14:6).

    4. Hierarchical structures, whether they are in the Church or in the government, are evil.

    Our God is a God of order (Job 25:2).

    5. God will never judge people for their sins.

    The Word of God repeatedly invites people to escape from the judgment of God by believing in Jesus Christ, His Son (Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-3).

    6. There is not a hierarchical structure in the Godhead, just a circle of unity.

    The Bible says that Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. This doesn’t mean that one Person is higher or better than the other; just unique. Jesus said, “I came to do the will of Him who sent me. I am here to obey my Father.” Jesus also said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit” (John 4:34, 6:44, 14:26, 15:26).

    7. God submits to human wishes and choices.

    Far from God submitting to us, Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.” We are to submit to Him in all things, for His glory and because of what He has accomplished for us (Matthew 7:13-15).

    8. Justice will never take place because of love.

    The Bible teaches that when God’s love is rejected, and when the offer of salvation and forgiveness is rejected, justice must take place or God has sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for nothing (Matthew 12:20; Romans 3:25-26).

    9. There is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell.

    Jesus’ own description of hell is vivid … it cannot be denied (Luke 12:5, 16:23).

    10. Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God, and it doesn’t matter which way you get to Him.

    Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

    11. Jesus is constantly being transformed along with us.

    Jesus, who dwells in the splendor of heaven, sits at the right hand of God, reigning and ruling the universe. The Bible says, “In Him there is no change, for He is yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 11:12, 13:8; James 1:17).

    12. There is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because everyone will make it to heaven.

    Jesus said, “Only those who believe in me will have eternal life” (John 3:15, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40).

    13. The Bible is not true because it reduces God to paper.

    The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who put pen to paper (so to speak), each from different professions and different backgrounds, but the Holy Spirit infused their work with God’s words. These men were writing the same message from Genesis to Revelation. If you want to read more about the place of Christ in the Scripture, read “We Preach Christ” (2 Timothy 3:16).

 

Should Christians See The Shack?

Even though The Shack is a work of fiction, it’s purpose is to promote certain ideas about God, and to answer questions regarding life’s struggles. Scripture is sufficient, but this book points to it not being sufficient. The Shack encourages looking for God to communicate to us outside of His Word. It also claims things about God which aren’t found in Scripture,and are even contrary to it.  As we’ve already seen above, it’s both heretical and blasphemous.

”It can be described as a narrative theodicy — an attempt to answer the question of evil and the character of God by means of a story.” – Albert Mohler

“The Pilgrim’s Progress, after all, is allegory—a story that has a second distinct meaning that is partially hidden behind its literal meaning. The Shack is not meant to be allegory. Nor can The Shack quite be equated with a story like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where C.S. Lewis simply asked (and answered) this kind of question: “What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?” The Shack is in a different category than these more notable Christian works. It seeks to represent the members of the Trinity as they are (or as they could be) and to suggest through them what they might teach were they to appear to us in a similar situation. There is a sense of attempted or perceived reality in this story that is missing in the others. This story is meant to teach theology that Young really believes to be true.” Tim Challies

“The Shack presents God in human flesh. It makes the infinite finite, the invisible visible, the omnipotent impotent, the all-present local, the spiritual material. In its visual portrayal of God it diminishes, it obfuscates, it blasphemes, it lies.” Tim Challies

 

Second Commandment Violation

Pictures depicting Jesus are common today, but many throughout Church history have believed any depictions of the Trinity to be a violation of the second commandment. This would include The Shack and movies such as The Passion of the Christ.

This is a great podcast from R Scott Clark on the second commandment. Heidelcast 80: God’s Holy Law (4)—The Second Commandment

An explanation from the Westminster Standards.

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT, WESTMINSTER AND IMAGES OF JESUS

 

Discernment

What is discernment?

Discernment definition
1. the ability to judge well.
2. (in Christian contexts) perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.

Bible Dictionary

It may simply mean “observe”

expressing close and distinct acquaintance with or a critical knowledge of things

What does Scripture say about discernment?

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more,with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9&10

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:14

The Bereans are praised for their discernment,

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11

We can not be discerning without knowing God’s Word.

“All this reveals a disastrous failure of evangelical discernment. It is hard not to conclude that theological discernment is now a lost art among American evangelicals — and this loss can only lead to theological catastrophe.” Albert Mohler

“The Shack is a wake-up call for evangelical Christianity. An assessment like that offered by Timothy Beal is telling. The popularity of this book among evangelicals can only be explained by a lack of basic theological knowledge among us — a failure even to understand the Gospel of Christ. The tragedy that evangelicals have lost the art of biblical discernment must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine.” Albert Mohler

 

For further study:

Discernment  Berean Research

Discernment Resources Potpourri Michelle Lesley

Defining Discernment Tim Challies

List of resources on The Shack can be found here.

Here’s the link to the study on suffering that was mentioned.

 

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2 Comments
  1. Profile photo of Tim Hurd
    Tim Hurd 4 months ago

    Great episode. Very well done.

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