God and Fiction – A Look at The Shack, Part 10

I’m going to backtrack a little. Last Friday I said I would look at good and evil as William P. Young’s The Shack portrays them, but the thing is, I have no disagreement with Mr. Young’s characterization of good and evil.

My point of contention comes with the idea that Man’s problems result from choosing independence, although there’s a great deal of truth in that statement.

[Jesus is talking] “In Eden you abandoned relationship with us to assert your own independence … By choosing to declare what’s good and evil you seek to determine your own destiny. It was this turning that has caused so much pain.” (p. 146-147)

Mr. Young holds Man’s choice for independence in opposition to disobedience, however. In other words, Man’s condition isn’t a result of violating the standard of a Holy God but in choosing to create our own standard. In addition, the idea that God holds Man to a standard and finds him wanting is belittled:

[Papa talking] “For now I just want you to be with me and discover that our relationship is not about performance or you having to please me. I’m not a bully, not some self-centered demanding little deity insisting on my own way. I am good, and I desire only what is best for you. You cannot find that through guilt or condemnation or coercion, only through a relationship of love.” (p. 126)

Later Jesus tells Mack

“My words [expectancy instead of expectation and respond instead of responsibility] are alive and dynamic—full of life and possibility; yours are dead, full of law and fear and judgment. That is why you won’t find the word responsibility in the Scriptures.” (p. 205)

Before this Mack discusses God’s wrath with Papa:

“But if you are God, aren’t you the one spilling out great bowls of wrath and throwing people into a burning lake of fire? … Honestly, don’t you enjoy punishing those who disappoint you?”

At that, Papa stopped her preparations and turned toward Mack. He could see a deep sadness in her eyes. “I am not who you think I am, Mackenzie. I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.” (p. 119-120)

[I have to add an aside here and point out the distortions in the passage. The Bible does indeed say God (actually his angels) is the one who will spill great bowls of wrath and who throws people into a lake of fire, but it does not say He enjoys punishing anyone. That line conjures up the image of a cruel sadist, not a loving Creator. Because such an image is easy to reject, the natural reaction is therefore to reject what comes before it—a God who pours out wrath on sin, who punishes those opposed to Him.

Look too at the statements about sin. “Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside.” True. Sin devastates. But does that mean the previous line is true: “I don’t need to punish people for sin”? Just like Satan saying, Surely you won’t die, this questions God’s word. He was the one who told Adam he would die if he ate of the fruit, but now Mr. Young says God doesn’t need to punish people for sin.

And finally, it is God’s joy to “cure” sin, but His love does not negate His justice. That’s the beauty of Christ’s redemptive substitution, taking our deserved punishment upon Himself.]

Once again truth resides alongside falsehood. God is not a bully but He is demanding. Jesus did say He came not to condemn the world but to save it, however He went on to say, “He who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18 – emphasis mine)

The fact is, God is Holy—so Holy that our sin separates us from Him. Because of our sin, it is not even within our power to choose to “stop such an insane lust for independence” (p. 136).

Sin is a much bigger problem than Mr. Young paints.

God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe … Whatever is holy is healthy; evil is a moral sickness that must end ultimately in death (The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer, p. 113).

Thanks be to God that He did not leave us without a Redeemer!

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (I Peter 1:17-19)

[Series concluded – A final thought in The Pursuit of God]

Published in: on June 8, 2009 at 12:07 pm  Comments (4)  
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