"Jude 1:3-4 (KJV) Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. "
I started this off with Jude for a few different reasons. 1) I really would rather be writing about something positive or thought provoking (don't get me wrong, I do rather enjoy debating this book, but as far as writing...enough is enough) 2) I do see a real need for Christians today to "earnestly contend for the faith", especially when so many of our brethren are happily swallowing heresies and lies. 3) I do see "The Shack" as denying the "only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. 4) I just flat love the book of Jude :)
September 25, 2008, almost two months ago as I sit here today, I wrote a review that just won’t die, about a book that just won’t die either. Just this past Tuesday, I received another request for the “detailed” notes that I took as I read the book. (Page references are currently being converted from the hardcover edition to paperback) I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve sent or printed that out for someone and that’s not even taking into account the emails I’ve received about the book. There hasn’t been a Sunday at church when someone hasn’t asked me about it. This thing has some serious legs.
The vast majority of responses have been overwhelmingly positive and supportive. Of those that just can’t fathom that this book is anything less than the second coming of the Bible, about half have eventually come around to see the book for what it is. Of those that remain steadfast in their love and devotion of “The Shack”, every last one, when faced with scripture and a gentle, common sense approach to the author’s words, I am faced with the same retort, time and time again. As I predicted in my original review…“But it’s fiction you big grump!”
It is in essence this that I want to address. Is “The Shack” fiction? ABSOLUTELY. Does that make it right? Safe? Nope and nope. It starts, for me, with the simple fact that I myself have heard the discussion amongst Christians as to whether or not it is in fact fiction. (Allegedly it briefly topped Amazon’s nonfiction list) I think much of the confusion lies in the prologue and epilogue of the book. The author takes the curious step of presenting this in such a way as to pound home the illusion that this isn’t fiction. Should he be held accountable because gullible people are being confused by this? Probably not, but when he presents the “writer” of the story as “Willie” when his own name is “William”, to me, is an outright attempt to deceive.
Secondly, there is fiction (Stephen King, JK Rowling, Anne Rice (pre-conversion), Dan Brown…etc) and then there is fiction such as “The Shack”. You can find all of those aforementioned authors in almost any bookstore, except Christian bookstores. You find their books, you know what you’ve got…a fictional story, meant only to entertain. Do they have agendas? You can hardly write without one. With that said, are any of them calling into question and attacking basic tenets of the Christian faith, while proclaiming to be a part of it? No.
Most people, go into a Christian bookstore with a certain level of trust and expectation. They go in believing that anything they pick up in there will be Biblically sound. They do not go in worrying that their purchase, especially when it is so prominently displayed and promoted, is actually a veiled attack against the things that they hold dear. Yet, this is “The Shack”.
I have often wondered, with some defenders of “The Shack” how they would react if I walked into a room and began calling into question the Holy Trinity, the NEED for Christ in salvation, the validity and truth of scripture, the presence of evil, and so on. I would be attacked in an instant. Yet because these messages are packaged in a box that makes you cry and makes you feel good, it’s a different story.
You’d be surprised, or maybe you wouldn’t, how many times, “But it’s fiction you big grump”, is immediately followed by, “Besides, it made me feel good.”
How troubling is that? I think about Christians, the things we proclaim to believe, and how little of a fight we’ll put up when it is called into question. “Besides, it made me feel good.” Is this what we have truly been reduced to? The easy path? The road most traveled? If it feels good, it must be right? I wonder about the apostles and Christ. How easy was any of their lives? How easy was their journeys? How easy and gentle was old Pops with them? But, I digress. But I do wonder, what makes us think two-thousand years later that we are somehow exempt?
Christ was the Son of God and God at once. The apostles, mere men, who devoted their lives to Jesus and His teaching in the face of hardship, pain, ridicule, destitution, and death. Yet they were not exempt, or spared from those lives. Christ was under such duress that He was sweating blood! And here we are today, where we cannot be bothered to serve our Lord and Savior most of the time. We ignore the homeless and hurting. We live contrary to those things which we purport to believe. We can’t be bothered to actually pick up the Book. The list goes on and on. We live lives that are a far cry from Christ and the apostles. Yet, when we read a fictional account, that not only calls into question all that they lived and died for, but also trashes it in some instances, it is okay and it is all right. It made me feel good. It made things easy. I’m living proof that God doesn’t always care about comfort and easy.
What He does care about is where your heart and mind lie. What He cares about is to whom they belong. What He cares about is where you’ll spend eternity. Much beyond that, I have severe doubts as to whether or not His cares match our own.
In closing, I’ve written what amounts to a bunch of rambling, certainly not one of my stronger entries. However, I have an “ace in the hole” that I was holding until the very end. The one argument even the most ardent Shack supporter, “But it’s fiction!”, proclaiming person has not been able to respond to. For this, I will call on one the words of one of the apostles…
2 Peter 2:1-3 (NIV)"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. "
Cantankerously Yours and Refreshed,