Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Back to the Shack

I had actually started another entry on this book this past Sunday after church. It came up in three different instances and I think that the questions/feelings/insights elicited were worth sharing…and I’ll still share them, but I wanted to get this out there first.

Let me begin with this statement, “I was duped!” As someone who likes to think he knows the Word pretty well, as well as someone pretty aware of the movements out there trying to pass themselves of as Christianity, I was duped, at least partially.

As mentioned in my review, I kept a running list of those things which I found theologically unsound and dishonest. In response to a friend who felt strongly about the book, I created a document where I expounded upon my list. I took each page number that had something I found problematic and I wrote a short synopsis of the problem. The instance where I was duped takes places on page 172. What follows is what I wrote in that other document….

Pg 172-To me with the question of the character Sophia, the author is casting doubt, to an extent of the Trinity. In one breath he claims that she is not part of it, yet the next he claims that she is very real and obviously a part of God. So, do we have a Trinity or something else? Confusion. How would this play with a new believer, seeker, or someone struggling with their faith?

Obviously I caught that there was a problem there, which is why I say I was partially duped. It just didn’t sit right with me. Turns out that I only had part of the problem figured out. Thanks to “pottermom” who commented in the comment section of the original review, I was made aware of something called the “Sophia Movement”. Google it, it is quite shocking. Near as I can tell, it is a concept steeped heavily in Easterm Mysticism, as well as the “mother earth” types, which certainly fits with both the Sophia character in the book and Emergent Philosophy. However, what I found especially troubling was this little nugget, in Russian Sophiology, Sophia is THE FOURTH PERSON OF GOD!!! Go back and check my synopsis again.

I had no clue that there was a such thing as the Sophia Movement, nor did I realize that as I read this book, this book being ate up by Christians and being hailed by some as the second coming of the Bible, that I was also being steeped in Eastern Mysticism. How exactly does that fit/coexist with Christianity?

Here are my questions/thoughts for people to ponder. I by no means consider myself some great theologian. But I do know the Word and a fair degree of its history. If I have two gifts (and no, they were not discerned by a spiritual gift inventory) it is that I consider myself pretty good at cutting straight to the heart of scripture (we try too hard to complicate things) and if I don’t know the answer, I won’t tell you that I do. I’ll do my due diligence to find out and understand. Secondly, I consider myself fairly well schooled on the those beliefs/practices/people trying to pass themselves off as Christianity.

As I settled into The Shack, certain “buzzwords” and thoughts/ideals began to jump off the page at me. This was early on in the book, which of course caused me to examine and scrutinize every detail from there on out(it wasn’t hard, the author wasn’t shy about sharing). I’m certainly not going to beat up on something, just for the sake of doing so. So, I was careful in how I read and interpreted the book. What was the context? Could it be taken a different way? I tried to look at everything from every angle just so I could be fair and honest.

How many people are going to read this book as I did? How many people have the tools or time to do so? I was someone looking for “problem” areas and I missed a HUGE one. Is a new believer going to see these things? Is someone searching for God for the first time going to be cognizant of these things? How would some of the devout Christians who are hailing this book feel if they knew the deceit hidden right before their eyes?

But what does it matter? If it makes you feel good….It does talk about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit after all….Far too many people are taking this book as something revolutionary, as something that should be viewed as a companion piece to the Bible and it is truly heartbreaking. More to follow soon….


Gordon said...

I didn't see that part of the book as having anything explicitly to do with the Sophia Movement. Rather, I just saw it as more of the author's confused and contradictory theology. I think he is trying to portray God's wisdom as an aspect of His character, rather than as a separate person - but he is such a poor writer that he can't do that while making it clear that that's what he's doing.

Just BTW - The Seventh Ecumenical Council in 726 riled that it was appropriate to portray Jesus and others who had had a physical body (i.e., that it did not constitute a "graven image"). But because God the Father never had a physical existence it is by implication not appropriate to ever portray him as a physical person. This makes the portrayal of "Papa" and of "Sophia" blasphemous.

The Cantankerous Christian said...

I dunno, the more I looked at it, it certainly sounds like an awful lot like it in many regards. I do agree with you wholeheartedely on the concept of portraying God and the Holy Spirit as physical beings. That's an awful touchy/sacred area and I think it's an attempt to humanize that which isn't human.

Gordon said...

It wouldn't surprise me if he was actually trying to portray Wisdom as the fourth person of the Trinity. I just didn't get that from his writing. But as I said, his writing is so confused that he could easily mean something that someone like me wouldn't get.

The Cantankerous Christian said...

Now see, as someone like me who's thought process is more akin to a nuerotic ferret, (Ooh look! Something shiny!!!) than a critical thinking human being, of course it made perfect sense to me :)

This is one of the biggest complaints with the Emergent movment...their purposeful ambiguity. There's several instances in the book where the author seems to play both sides of an issue, which does lead to confusion...which perfectly fits with a belief system with no doctrine or absolute truths with which to work with.

The Cantankerous Christian said...

Oh...and there is the obvious...He did name the character Sophia after all :) Too many coincidences to ignore.

Gordon said...

OTOH - perhaps he means to buy into the "Reimaging God" idea. "Sophia" was what they wanted to call God. If that's true, then it's even worse.

Marty said...

Hey, Stinky Claus, I'm still a little ticked at you but I still love you bunches.
I regret to inform you that all the hard copy data I had on the Reimaging Conference and Sophia worship is MIA. I think I remember tossing it out when we cleaned out stuff when we painted the entire inside of the house. Sorry. However, as Don says, the sum knowledge of the universe is on the internet. I'm sure you'll find all you want to know about it and a lot you wish you didn't know on your own.
See you tomorrow.

The Cantankerous Christian said...

It's okay Beautiful Claus...I will never again tease you about having cut the hair...well, until I actually do it anyhow.

Lots of love right back at ya!

Gordon said...

If you cut your hair, you will no longer be a Nazarite.

Anonymous said...

Abba means Papa or Daddy in Aramaic

The Cantankerous Christian said...

Best check again...Abba is an "emphatic" form of FATHER as in "Oh Father!"

jennsings said...

I know I'm a little behind on commenting on this thing. Thanks for the "warning" about the book. A friend of mine wanted me to read it to see what I thought of it. I wasn't really interested in reading it anyway, but now I will certainly not bother. I may send her the link to your blog.

Marcia said...

I just found this. I'm glad you made the comments you did. I'm writing right now an article on "The Shack" for my website and am working on the part about Sophia. I am aware of the Sophia movement.

Whether or not the author is aware of this, or whether or not what he says is related specifically to the Sophia movement, it certainly can mislead some readers into being more receptive to the Sophia business going on in some churches. And what Young writes only goes to make Sophia more acceptable as a 4th person of the Godhead, or at the very least, it goes into the direction of the feminization of God (and Young has already gone there with the female images of God and the Holy Spirit in his book).

My article should be up in the next 2 weeks. My site is www.christiananswersforthenewage.org

I'm a former astrologer and New Ager.