Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Shack: A Reflection

Several years ago, I encountered this book entitled “The Shack” by William P. Young. I heard it was bestseller and inspirational, an excellent read. It was an expensive book even 5 years afterwards, and you would hardly find copies of it from bookmooch.com. So when I chanced upon it at Blacktown Library, I figured it was the best time to give it a try.

Up to the first 4 chapters, I regard the story with great interest. It was about Mack, a man who might have been perfectly normal as a husband and father of 5 kids except that as the story unfolds, you would discover that he was undergoing internal turmoil since the murder of his youngest child. In addition to this, he also had to deal with how one of his children was slowly crumbling inside. His wife kept a constant faith to God, an attitude he totally respected and even admired to an extent. He however was battling with his faith which had never been really strong from the start as he grew up with a vicious alcoholic father.

When he took his kids to a camping trip, Missy, his youngest daughter was abducted and was never seen again. All evidences suggest that she had been brutally murdered. It was in the shack where the authorities saw the blood stained red dress which Mack undeniably identified as Missy’s.

It was interesting… until the 5th chapter, when Mack met Young’s concept of “God.” And from there on, I ceased believing that the book was based on a true story as the author claims in the Foreword. I did not want to continue, but I felt the need to list down the things that I found as “glaringly” and totally against the Bible. I was furious actually that I finished the book in great speed with a handful of claims from the author which is factually against the Bible as follows:

1. Firstly, I believe that this book may actually be a disguised propaganda of the writer to spread out his personal views of religion.

The main story is just about 7 chapters. The rest of the chapters were mostly conversations of Mack and the “trinity” explaining the author’s concept of religion. There’s actually too much inconsistency with the Bible.

2. Young represented God as a big black woman with a questionable sense of humour.

Biblically, God never did take the form of a human being, much less, a giggly domesticated woman, and He would certainly not do it just to make ONE stubborn person see His light. While it is true that the heaven rejoices when a soul finds his way back into God’s care, Young’s concept seems just plain disrespectful. It gives the impression that God would go to the most extreme extent of downgrading Himself for human’s sake. God is merciful and patient enough. But if people refuse to believe Him, God does not need to beg them to change. This idea makes people nowadays to act like spoiled brats doing selfish things and still have that confidence that they will be saved. The truth is salvation entails great responsibility. After all, people NEED God, not the other way around.

3. The author said that Jesus was “stepbrother of that great family.”

Stepbrother? What’s that supposed to mean anyway? It gives the sense that Jesus was not rightfully part of the family tree, like He just accidentally belonged to it.

4. God the Father, was crucified too? How can that be?

There was a part in the book when Young tried to implicate that God was crucified along with Jesus. I think the author just wants to imply his belief on the Trinitarian principle but this is not really Biblical and it’s about time that we actually leave behind this obscure belief. Guess what: God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit (which the author ridiculously named as Sarayu) are actually 3 different beings.

5. God was having devotions?

Devotion means: fidelity, dedication. The author wanted us to believe that God acts like human and it’s not even clear whether because he wanted to us to have devotions as well. Personally, I do not really understand the concept of people when they say “devotions” but in its religious sense, if God was God, to whom was He having devotions??? It is a crazy act and I wonder why the author even thinks this is possible.

6. Jesus looking up at the stars saying, “I created it as the Word, before the Word became flesh. So even though I created this, I see it now as a human. And I must say, it is impressive!”

In the Bible, the Word was not even created. It was in the beginning, with God, and was God. Flesh in fact means when Jesus took the form of human and lived among humans. Not the stars! That’s just so… darn.

7. Young says that God has no concept of authority.

That is the author’s opinion and fearless claim. This idea is not Biblical though, and Jesus does recognize that His Father is above Him. As a matter of Biblical fact, Jesus recognizes His Father’s authority and He will subject all the glory to God in the end when He wins over evil.

8. Why would Young even suggest that Jesus, who is male, would say that “the world, in many ways, would be a much calmer and gentler place if women ruled?”

Biblically speaking, women were not even allowed to become leaders of the church. Women were taught to submit themselves to the man under Christ’s leadership and the men in return are to treat women with great care.

9. And why would Jesus say, “Seriously, my life was not meant to be an example to copy. Being my follower is not trying to ‘be like Jesus,’ it means for your independence to be killed.”

Following Jesus is not killing independence. Anything we do out of our own free will is independence. The author has to know that people follow Christ’s example not by force but by faith and that is what Jesus and God wanted from the beginning. People were given choice between life and death with the recommendation to choose the former. And what are Jesus’ teachings for if we are not follow them anyway? The author might as well have said to ignore the Bible and that is utterly ignorant.

10. What’s next, judging God, and the entire human race?

Seriously, does a man even have the right to think about that? This was the part where the author implied that we are God’s children no matter how horribly we spend our lives. God’s only begotten son is Jesus. We were made to make His son happy. We become His children only if we follow Him. Sad to say, there are people who follow another path.

If we could not endure the laws of Christ, then we cannot become God’s children. We must not abuse the thought that we are His children no matter how evil we lived our lives, in the end, His compassion will save us. Come on, it encourages irresponsible existence!

11. God’s wisdom is Sophia?

Where the heck did that name come from anyway? The wisdom of God is Christ. Period.

12. Heaven is a recycle of this earth and universe we’re living in presently?

No way! God the Almighty, who owns everything, would settle to give us something tawdry and second-hand? That’s ridiculous. It’s about time that the author knows that this earth shall be removed. There is a kingdom which the faithful servants will receive. The beauty of this place cannot even be perceived by the limited senses of mankind. God is not cheap to reward us with recycled earth!

13. Joining the church is being open and available to others?

How’s that supposed to be done anyway? Nowadays, if you become open and available to others just like that, you’d probably end up robbed, used, wasted. It’s just so vague it won’t do for me sorry. First of all, what is the true church which we must join? In the Bible, to become part of the church, one must undergo a series of life changing events, dying in sin and being cleansed in Baptism.

14. “Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian… I have no desire to make [people] Christian.”

And this was supposed to be said by Jesus… terribly sad isn’t it? But what is Christian anyway? It seems the writer must be educated. Being Christian means to follow the ways of Jesus Christ, thus the term Christian. So now he’s trying to defy all the efforts of the apostles to make people Christian? If he doesn’t want to become Christian, I think he should just keep that preference to himself.

15. The Bible doesn’t teach you to follow rules.

No no no… This is such a big lie. Didn’t he know that the complete duty of man is to follow God’s rules? This irresponsible claim of the author discourages people to read the Bible. So darn infuriating!

16. In Jesus, you are not under any law.

So he goes and says that people who follow Christ are free. But not in the sense that he’s trying to implicate! People who decided to follow Christ had been FREED FROM SINS in baptism. But they are bounded by laws. He even wants us to respect the laws of man. Logically, the more that He’d want us to obey His laws. It seems the author is afraid of responsibility here, because rules entail responsibilities of course.

17. God forgets nothing.

Not really. If God forgets nothing, then nobody will be saved. God forgets the sins of people who struggle to follow his will. In like manner, He wants us to do the same when we forgive our brothers in faith. Because prolonged anger could result to grudge and when we hold grudges, we are likened to criminals.

18. God redeems a killer? Err a serial killer who killed innocent children?

I cannot stomach this really. The author said that God will redeem Missy’s murderer. Well, it can be possible, if the murderer has changed his evil ways and regretted in baptism. But it didn’t say so in the story so it appears like he’s getting off the hook just like that. God is a God of justice. He hates criminals because clearly these murderers were people who went after satan who is the father of liars and murderers. In the Bible, taking an innocent life is very grave. So no, murderers will not be redeemed.

19. God is everywhere.

At the end of the story, this information was regarded like it was a general fact. But believe it or not, God is not everywhere. There are certain places where we cannot find Him. There are many but the clue is, where there is great evil, God’s presence is not there.

20. Finally, if this really did happen to Mack as the author claims it, then I’m freaking out. Certainly, these revelations could not have come from God because they’re so totally against the Bible. If it did not come from God, then whom? Creepy… I’d just rather think that this was the author’s strategy to spread out his religious personal beliefs that are outside the Bible. After all, he’s not living a Christian life, didn’t he claim so?

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