Monday, November 14, 2011

My Prayer

Help me to come further into your kingdom today
Help me to come further out of the kingdoms of this world
Change my HEART today, so that my life is changed forever

Sunday, July 24, 2011

#10 The Twilight Zone

I couldn't make my top 10 sci-fi list without, at least initially, including The Twilight Zone. I will grant that some of the episodes are duds. I will also grant that, given that it is only ranked 10th and would seemingly never rise up the ranks, it probably won't stay on the top 10 forever. But I will also declare that I enjoy most Twilight Zone episodes. I like the black and white simplicity mixed with mystery. Some of the episodes even teach very good lessons and are useful teaching illustrations.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Runners Up

I've decided to expand my top 10 list to include all shows that I determine are primarily sci-fi. I'll admit that putting a show in its 'primary' category is not always easy. For example, LOST certainly had sci-fi elements (time-travel, a smoke monster, etc.), but I think it fits better in the category of 1-hour dramas. Speaking of 1-hour dramas, Eureka is an interesting show to categorize. It's an hour long, and there's usually some drama involved. Then again, it's also a lot 'lighter' than LOST and more focused on sci-fi aspects. I think Eureka fits better in the sci-fi category. Then you have shows like Futurama. It's funny and takes place in space. Does it best fit in the sci-fi category? I think not. I'll place it in the sitcom category. All of this to say, it's not easy to make a top-10 list for a TV genre.

So what shows did I determine fit the Sci-Fi genre but failed to make the top 10? In no particular order: Eureka- I think its best shot to make a top 10 was the sci-fi category, but it falls just short Battlestar Galactica (orginal)- Really good for its time Star Trek (original)- At one time it would have made the list, but I've seen too many better shows since then Tales from the Crypt- Slightly different genre. I enjoyed it years ago, but not enough. The Outer Limits- Same deal as above Earth 2- I didn't hate it, but it definitely wasn't on the level as my top 10 shows

I'm sure there are many other shows that fit in this genre that I'm not going to write about and didn't make my top 10. And I know there are shows that I haven't watched yet that might replace something on my top 10.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Top 10 Space/Alien Shows

Below is a list of space and/or alien shows that I have seen enough of to have formed an opinion about. Soon I will be counting down my top 10 list, but before I do that I wanted it to be clear what I've seen and what I haven't seen:

3rd Rock from the Sun


Battlestar Galactica (Original)

Battlestar Galactica (New)

Earth 2





Star Trek (Original)

Star Trek (The Next Generation)

Star Trek (Deep Space Nine)

Star Trek (Voyager)

Star Trek (Enterprise)

Stargate SG-1

Stargate Atlantis

Stargate Universe


So am I missing any great space/alien shows?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Idol #8

It was time

I liked Paul, especially at first. He had a fresh sound. But at this point in the competition I was neither surprised nor very upset to see him depart. Sure, I like him better than Stefano, Jacob, and Lauren, but I don't expect to always get my way.

Now if only those 3 can be the next 3 to go.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Idol #9

I haven't been blogging... again
But I have been watching American Idol
So why not blog about that like I used to?

Let me just say that I am shocked and appalled. Pia was the best pure singer on American Idol this season and she was also, seemingly, one of the nicest people in the shows history. She also happened to be maybe the prettiest girl the show has ever had (perhaps Brooke White?).

So why is she gone?

This is a mystery. Not a mystery like the Trinity or the tension b/w divine sovereignty and human free-will, but a mystery nonetheless. Was she not entertaining enough for some people? Were the mostly female voters just jealous? Did all her fans just assume she was safe and not vote?

The show must go on. With Pia gone, I will be pulling for Casey Abrams. My current standings are as follows:

105 Casey
102 James
98 Jacob
97 Scotty
94 Haley
93 Paul
93 Lauren
90 Stefano

Rankings are based 50% on my opinion and 50% on how they come off from the show (judges comments, contestant comments/attitude, production storyline, etc.). By the way, Pia was rated 105 and her departure marks one of the first times my stats have ever been way off.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wesley vs. Wesleyan

The title of this post could be taken in a number of different ways, but I wish simply to ask the following questions:

1. What was Wesley's view of Hell?
2. What is a 'Wesleyan' view of Hell?

The answer to the first questions seems entirely clear. Wesley believed that Hell is a place of eternal torment. This is proved by the following quotations.

"[Both we Protestants and Roman Catholics believe that the] unjust shall after their resurrection be tormented in hell for ever" (Letter to a Roman Catholic)

It is a vain thought which some have entertained, that death will put an end to neither the one nor the other; it will only alter the manner of their existence. But when the body "returns to the dust as it was, the spirit will return to God that gave it." Therefore, at the moment of death, it must be unspeakably happy, or unspeakably miserable: And that misery will never end. (Sermon 'On Eternity')

The answer to the second question is, perhaps, more difficult. Are Wesleyans bound to agree with John Wesley about everything? I don't think even Wesley would be comfortable with such a notion. I think, as Outler argued, Wesley would want us to continue to pursue truth through what we call the 'Wesleyan Quadrilateral.' We are to find truth primarily through Scripture, but also by using reason, tradition, and experience.

If the 'Wesleyan' view is to pursue the truth using the quadrilateral then we may, in fact, come to different conclusions than Wesley did on a given doctrinal subject, including that of Hell. I, for one, believe the best Scriptural case (our primary tool for finding truth) can be made for a view that doesn't include eternal torment. I also believe reason supports this position. I think tradition is more open to alternatives than Wesley may have imagined.

So Wesley believed hell was a place of eternal torment, but a 'Wesleyan' may very well come to a different conclusion.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Am I Still Wesleyan?

A good friend asked me a good question today. In my own words, the question was "Can you, as a Wesleyan who has agreed with the Wesleyan articles of religion, in good conscience believe and/or teach the conditional immortality view of Hell?" Here is my response:

The Articles of Religion section XXI is about the destiny of all people.

I will quote it below with my comments in CAPS

250. We believe that the Scriptures clearly teach that there is a conscious personal existence after death.


The final destiny of each person is determined by God's grace and that person's response, evidenced inevitably by a moral character which results from that individual's personal and volitional choices and not from any arbitrary decree of God.


Heaven with its eternal glory and the blessedness of Christ's presence is the final abode of those who choose the salvation which God provides through Jesus Christ,


but hell with its everlasting misery and separation from God is the final abode of those who neglect this great salvation.






Friday, March 18, 2011

3 Views of Hell

About 5 years ago I was studying and struggling through the issue of the fate of the wicked. I felt pretty lonely as I slowly became more and more convinced, from Scripture, that torment does not likely go on forever. Over the past 5 years I've become more concrete that this view (conditional immortality) is correct, though I am still open to change.

I don't feel as lonely now. The issue of hell has been raised afresh by Rob Bell's book which caused a fire-storm before it was even read. I don't know what Bell concludes (sounds like he's closer to the universal reconciliation view), but he's proven to be enough of a name to bring this issue front and center. A number of prominent scholars and church leaders have chimed in.

Ben Witherington, for instance, just said this on his blog...
"I am open to persuasion either to eternal torment or anihilationism, but I just think on the whole the latter view explains more of the Biblical evidence and is more consistent with the full character of God. But I freely admit, I could be wrong."

I am comforted to see another well-respected evangelical testify, at least, to the legitimacy of the debate and, in this case, actually be willing to place himself in the camp of the minority. This is sometimes necessary before a large scale doctrinal shift can take place.

If you're new to this issue and have some time for a short audio introduction to the 3 views, click HERE. I consider Steve Gregg not only a friend, but also my favorite Bible teacher.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I confess that I have failed as a blogger. When I began this blog, I was pretty much just a son, a brother, and a pastor. Now I am a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a pastor (in 2 churches), a student, a camp director, etc. To be blunt, not only do I not think about blogging very much, even when I do I often don't know what to say.

Someone inspire me with a new idea or motivation to blog.

Or just tell me to completely give up

Friday, February 04, 2011

Where is God When it Hurts?

Book Review of Where is God When it Hurts by Philip Yancey

One of Philip Yancey's first books must be one of his best (I have only read 2 or 3, but this one was surely worthwhile to read). He sets out to find a message that we Christians can give to people who are suffering, an answer to the question asked by the title of the book. It's the classic conundrum, the problem of pain.

Part 1 of the book is spent defending pain. You read that right. Yancey believes that we have an inadequate view of pain. Without pain in this life, we'd be in a heap of trouble! Pain is a needed and built in warning system, as those who suffer from painlessness would attest. Pain can lead to good results (think athletes in training or, even better, women giving birth).

Part 2 reminds us that we don't live in the best possible world. We live in a world brought into chaos by sin. God allows this to continue for various reasons, but certainly one of them is that the brokenness of this world causes us to cry out, out of this world. Yancey believes that it is far better to ask 'to what end?' amidst pain than to attempt to locate the source of a specific circumstance. Until we realize that this life is not about 'being happy,' but about transforming our soul, we will not see the value of pain. Ours is not to reason why, but to learn to trust God to... no, simply to trust God.

Part 3 gets into specific cases of pain/suffering and overwhelmingly demonstrates that there are a myriad to responses to pain. Some give up on faith b/c of pain. Others find it! Some hope for healing while others resign themselves to their plight. Because there are so many actual responses, we can't rightly blame pain for our refusal to believe.

Part 4 deals with four key issues that need to be addressed in order to cope with pain: Fear, helplessness, lack of meaning & lack of hope. Yancey describes how we can best support those experiencing pain and suffering by helping them in these areas.

Part 5 focuses on how the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate answer to the problem of pain. One of the big questions people ask is 'How can God just sit up there in heaven and let this pain and suffering go on forever?' That 2-part question is addressed by the occupied cross and the empty tomb. God hasn't just sat up in heaven. He came and suffered with us. And it's not going to go on forever because, through Jesus, there is life after death.

I had started this book a couple of times over the years, but only finished it today. I did myself a disservice. It's a very good book. Yancey is, of course, one of the better Christian writers. I also think he is one of the most genuine thinkers, most thorough researchers, and most helpful teachers in the body of Christ. Highly recommended.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Crazy Love

Book Review of Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Crazy Love is another in a long line of books that begin with the premise that the church in America is not doing well. Where these books part company with each other is in either their diagnosis of the problem or in their recommended cure. For Chan, the problem is an inaccurate view of God (22) and the solution is, therefore, a correct theology that leads to complete devotion.

The book starts out sort of slow, a very basic discussion of what God is like. Chapter 4 onward had the feel, to me, of a couple of different sermon series tied together in book form. I mean none of this critically, as the book is pretty decent. Francis is frank and, I think, quite right in what he is saying. Most importantly, the book challenged me in a number of ways not by being innovative but by doing what all good Christian books do: reminding us how great God is and what we should do in response.

Quotes of Note

The core problem isn't the fact that we're lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant Christians. The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God (22).

Do not assume you are good soil. I think most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed because of all the thorns. Thorns are anything that distracts us from God (67).

The American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity (68).

To put it plainly, churchgoers who are 'lukewarm' are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven (84).

Most of us use "I'm waiting for God to reveal His calling on my life" as a means of avoiding action. Did you hear God calling you to sit in front of the television yesterday? Or to go on your last vacation? Or exercise this morning? Probably not, but you still did it (169).

If I stop pursuing Christ, I am letting our relationship deteriorate (170).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Amish Quotes

I enjoy quote books. A friend lent me a book of Amish quotes and I've finally gotten around to reading it through. Here are some of my favorites:

"Don't hurry, don't worry, do your best, leave the rest"
"Bibles that are coming apart usually belong to people who are not"
"It may be difficult to wait on the Lord, but it is worse to wish you had"
"Don't pray when it rains, if you don't pray when the sun shines"
"Be like the teakettle; when it's up to its neck in hot water, it sings"
"You can tell when you're on the right track. It's usually uphill"

"Our children are the only treasures we can take to heaven"
"A sweater is a garment worn by a child when his mother feels chilly"
"Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes"
"If parents don't train their children, the children will train the parents"
"Good character like good soup is usually homemade"

"A smile is a curve that can straighten out a lot of things"
"Swallowing words before you say them is so much better than having to eat them afterward"
"A man is happier to be sometimes cheated than to never trust"
"It is better to give others a piece of your heart than a piece of your mind"
"The best vitamin for making friends is B1"
"He who talks to you about others will talk to others about you"

"The reason some people get lost in thought is because it is unfamiliar territory"
"The trouble with doing nothing is it's too hard to tell when you're finished"
"One thing you can learn by watching the clock is that it passes time by keeping its hands busy"

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Shack Reviewed

Theological Critique of The Shack
By Matthew Rose


When William P. Young wrote The Shack as a Christmas gift to his 6 children, he reportedly had no idea that he would soon become a best selling author. Since its publication in 2007, the book has spent 70 weeks atop the New York Times best seller list and sold over 10 million copies. According to Eugene Peterson, “this book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!”

Or is it? The Shack has created plenty of controversy. Multiple rebuttals have been written. A number of leading evangelicals voiced their concerns and critiques. These negative reactions range from assessments of literary quality (or a lack thereof) to accusations of heresy. Norman Geisler, for instance, finds 14 problems with the book and concludes that Young has compromised Christian truth in an attempt to engage current culture.

Is The Shack a new Pilgrim’s Progress or a dangerous set of doctrinal distortions? Most likely, the truth is somewhere in between. But where? Below, in an attempt to answer that very question, I will discuss the theology and apologetic perspectives found in The Shack before analyzing its strengths and weaknesses. Rather than trying to summarize the story, I will assume that the reader has read the book.

The Theological Perspective of The Shack

If theology is the study of God, then The Shack is certainly a theological work. If Christian theology is essentially Trinitarian, then this book is certainly an attempt at Christian theology. But does this book offer an orthodox picture of the Christian God? Below I will evaluate Young’s picture of the Trinity.

Orthodox Christianity teaches that there is one God existing in three eternal and equal Persons. This distinguishes the Trinity from Polytheism (three gods), Modalism (3 phases of 1 person), and Subordinationism (inherent hierarchy within the 3 persons). These 3 ISM’s are the most common departures from the orthodox view of the Trinity. Does the depiction of God in The Shack match with orthodox Trinitarianism or one of these other ISM’s? Thankfully, there are enough statements about the Trinity in the book to make an answer to this question possible. The chart below contains some of the most straightforward statements about the nature of the Trinity contained in the book:

The Shack vs. Polytheism

“Then,” Mack struggled to ask, “Which one of you is God?” “I am,” said all three in unison. (87)

“We are not three gods” (101)

The Shack vs. Modalism

“We are not talking about one god with three attitudes” (101)

“If I were simply One God with only One Person, then you would find yourself in this Creation without something wonderful, without something essential even… [without] love and relationship” (101)

The Shack vs. Subordinationism

“Mackenzie, we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command” (122)

“To you it is almost incomprehensible that relationship could exist apart from hierarchy. So you think that God must relate inside a hierarchy like you do. But we do not.” (124)

“Papa [the Father] is as much submitted to me [the Son] as I to him, or Sarayu [the Spirit] to me, or Papa to her.” (145)

Throughout the book, then, these three departures from orthodoxy are confronted and avoided. In terms of numbers, at least, The Shack offers a thoroughly orthodox representation of the Trinity. God, in The Shack, is one God and three Persons (and these Persons are eternal and equal). But what about how each Person of the Trinity is depicted? Does Young’s portrayal of the Father, Son, and Spirit compromise the Christian faith? The chart below lists some of the key statements from the book about each member of the Trinity:

The Father in The Shack

A large beaming African-American woman (82)

“You may call me Elousia” (86)

“Elousia… that is a wonderful name. El is my name as Creator God, but ousia is ‘being’ or ‘that which is truly real,’”

The Son in the The Shack

He appeared Middle Eastern and was dressed like a laborer (84)

“I feel more comfortable around you. You seem so different from the other two.” “How do you mean, different?” came his (Jesus’) soft voice out of the darkness. “Well… more real, more tangible, I don’t know.” (110)

The Spirit in the The Shack

A small, distinctly Asian woman (84)

“And I am Sarayu… keeper of the gardens, among other things.” (87)

“She is creativity; she is Action; she is the Breathing of Life; she is much more. She is my Spirit.”

Whereas one would be hard pressed to complain about the orthodoxy of Young’s Trinitarianism, his depiction of each member of the Trinity has created quite a lot of controversy.
Center stage of this controversy has been the portrayal of the Father as a woman. It is important to determine the ground on which Young’s detractors are standing. Are they saying that the Father is male? Or are they saying that the Father should only be depicted as male?

If the claim is that the Father simply is male, then it is the detractors and not the author of The Shack who have moved beyond the pale of orthodoxy. Standard Christian theology states that God is neither male nor female. Orthodoxy should applaud the statement coming from Young’s Father figure in chapter 6 when he states, “I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature” (93).

If the Father is not essentially male, then one must wonder on what basis the Father must only be depicted as male. It’s not as if The Shack is stubborn in its insistence on making the Father a female. Young goes out of his way not only to provide reasons for his choice, but ultimately the Father character is revealed through a male image. Papa (now appearing as a dignified, older male) states, “Forgiving your dad yesterday was a significant part of your being able to know me as Father today” (221).

Perhaps less controversial is Young’s portrayal of the Son. The Shack dips its pages into such deep waters as Moltmann’s theology of the cross (96) and theories of kenosis (99-100). While these subjects are indeed controversial, they are part of an in-house debate within Christian orthodoxy. Essentially, the Persons of the Trinity as described in The Shack are quite typical of orthodoxy. The Father is connected to Creation. The Son is connected to Restoration of humanity. And the Spirit is connected to cultivation of the heart/life and creativity. This is a fairly traditional approach. By and large, Young has steered clear of heretical statements in regard to the Trinity.

One last issue must be addressed in regard to Young’s treatment of the Trinity. In chapter 11, Young has Mack interact with a fourth character who turns out to be Sophia, “a personification of Papa’s wisdom” (171). Why Young made this choice is unknown to me, but, in any case, it is made clear in chapter 12 that Sophia is not a fourth member of the godhead.

The Apologetic Perspective of The Shack

If the core of theology is the doctrine of God, then the core of apologetics is finding a solution to the problem of pain. John Stott once said that “the fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith, and has been in every generation. Its distribution and degree appear to be entirely random and therefore unfair. Sensitive spirits ask if it can possibly be reconciled with God’s justice and love.” Even more than the Trinity, The Shack has the problem of pain as its core topic. The story begins by describing The Great Sadness (Young’s name for the problem of pain) in Mack’s life and ends by saying that, through the events of the story, The Great Sadness has been resolved (247).

The problem of pain is, perhaps, best posed by the Greek Philosopher Epicurus: “Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to; or he cannot and does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, and does not want to, he is wicked. But if God both can and wants to abolish evil, then how comes evil in the world?” In this book, the setting and conflict of the story illustrate the problem of pain. Mack was an abused child and is now the father of multiple children. One of those children (a little girl named Missy) is kidnapped and murdered, leaving Mack and his family in intense grief. In what way(s) does Young attempt to resolve this grief through Mack’s encounter at the shack? The chart below shows how The Shack deals with the problem of pain in past, present, and future perspective:

Past Perspective

“We created you to share that [joy]. But Adam chose to go it on his own, as we knew he would, and everything got messed up. But instead of scrapping the whole Creation we rolled up our sleeves and entered into the middle of the mess. That’s what we have done in Jesus.” (99)

“When I created it, it was only Good, because that is just the way I am.” (131)

“Your world is severely broken” (164)

Present Perspective

“There are millions of reasons to allow pain and hurt and suffering rather than to eradicate them” (125)

“Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.” (185)

“Nobody knows what horrors I have saved the world from ‘cuz people can’t see what never happened.” (190)

“At this point, all I have to offer you as an answer is my love and goodness, and my relationship with you. I did not purpose Missy’s death, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use it for good.” (222)

Future Perspective

“It won’t be this way forever” (132)

“Nothing is at it should be, as Papa desires it to be, and as it will be one day.” (164)

The past, present, and future perspectives are all necessary in initiating a resolution to the problem of pain (The Great Sadness). Throughout The Shack, Young utilizes all three perspectives to address the issue.

Christianity offers great insight into the past that provides a beginning point for a resolution to the problem of pain. Objection to Christianity is often raised in the following way: “Why would a loving God create such a broken world?” The Bible offers a past perspective that renders this objection baseless. In Christian theology, God did not create a broken world. God created a good world. Young states this theme in numerous ways throughout his book. The problem of pain is not a problem that finds its origins in Creation. The problem of pain finds its origin in The Fall. The problem is not Genesis 1, but Genesis 3. God is not the source or cause of evil, pain, and/or suffering. The cause of Missy’s murder was not God’s will, but the will of a fallen human being. This insight into the past is essential for justifying God amidst the presence of pain. In essence, then, the past perspective on the problem of pain is the classical free-will defense.

The past perspective, on its own, cannot resolve the problem of pain. For even if God did not initiate evil, evil is allowed to continue under God’s jurisdiction. Why does God allow evil presently? An objector might raise the question in this way: “How can God just sit up there in heaven and watch all of this misery take place?” The Bible offers a bold response to this strong complaint. In Christian theology, God does not just sit up there in heaven and watch the problem of pain. Rather, God became flesh and lived amidst the problem of pain. What’s more, God allowed the problem of pain to land squarely on his two shoulders at the cross. The cross demonstrates that God can work immense good out of terrible situations. Indeed, the cross is the best good (it makes salvation available to all) and it comes out of the worst evil (the crucifixion of the God-man). If this is the case, then God is certainly capable of working good out of our trials and tribulations, our pain and suffering. By the end of the story, Missy’s death has been used by God to do a good work in Mack, his family, his friends, and potentially even his enemies.

Even if we consider the past and present perspectives, however, we are left with a lingering issue. An objector might continue: “But how can God allow all of this pain and suffering to continue forever? He must be indifferent or powerless!” But again, one must allow the Bible to speak for itself. The Bible states what Young has stated in his book. The problem of pain will not last. Death will come to an end. Suffering will cease to exist. Mack was able to see that Missy was not gone. She had received eternal life. He would join her one-day in a place free from evil. No theodicy is complete without a picture of eternal life.

The Shack, then, offers an intriguing and thorough resolution to the problem of pain. But I can imagine how some would find this resolution hopelessly artificial. After all, William Young has put words into God’s mouth that God has not necessarily uttered. Mack received special revelation that a real human being encountering pain will not necessarily receive. The Great Sadness is resolved for Mack because he receives a letter from God and meets the Trinity in an almost face-to-face encounter. But will we each receive such a letter? Will we each experience such a vision? Indeed, Young has his Jesus admit that Mack’s case is special (112). Is this fictional special revelation a real answer to the general problem of pain?

Strengths & Weaknesses

I have suggested that The Shack passes the test of orthodoxy in regards to the doctrine of the Trinity and that it offers a strong (albeit somewhat artificial) solution to the problem of pain. But what other strengths and weaknesses are to be found in the pages of The Shack? Below I will briefly discuss how Young handles three other topics of interest. Space is not available to deal with these issues at length:

The Shack and Religion
Young’s book is laced with criticisms of institutional religion. Mack, even after his experience with God, is “not very religious” (10). The chart below catalogues some of these statements:

Page # Statement
66 “Sunday prayers and hymns weren’t cutting it anymore… sick of all the little religious social clubs that didn’t seem to make any real difference or affect any real changes.”
91 “None of his [Mack’s] old seminary training was helping in the least”
93 “Help you from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning… this weekend is not about reinforcing your religious stereotypes”
179 “Religious machinery can chew up people!”… An awful lot of what is done in my name has nothing to do with me and is often, even if unintentional, very contrary to my purposes.”

While there is much truth in these statements, one wonders if Young has gone too far in his critique of the institutional church.

The Shack and Exclusivism
Some have critiqued Young for apparently inclusivistic themes. Below is a chart of some of the content that sparks this controversy:

Page # Statement
31 “Is the Great Spirit another name for God—you know, Jesus’ papa?”… “I would suppose so. It’s a good name for God because he is a Spirit and he is great.”
120 “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.
182 “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions… I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my papa…”

While it is understandable why some would be alarmed at quotes such as these (especially the last one), one should read the end of that conversation between Mack and Young’s Jesus as well. Mack asks if that means that all roads lead to God. Jesus responds by saying that “most roads don’t lead anywhere…[but] I will travel any road to find you” (182). Frankly, I find a lot of truth in these statements, but I am not surprised that other evangelicals have rejected them.

The Shack and the Law
I think it would be a fair critique of The Shack to say that Young didn’t provide enough nuances in regards to the apparently Antinomian statements in chapter 14. Mack asks, “Are you saying I don’t have to follow the rules?” to which the Father replies with a simple “Yes, in Jesus you are not under any law. All things are lawful” (203). Again, there is a sense in which these statements are true and a sense in which they are not (certainly there is a law for Christians, the Law of Christ/Spirit). Young could and should have better elaborated on this point.

All in all, William P. Young should be commended for writing a bold book that takes on big issues creatively. The book has created discussion and that is a good thing. The book offers lots of practical wisdom in regards the relationships between faith and rationality, sovereignty and free will, and forgiveness and reconciliation. On the other hand, it might be considered quite presumptuous to put so many words into the mouths of the members of the Trinity, some of which are questionable doctrinally, and some of which are, perhaps, superficial/idealistic.


I would recommend The Shack to my colleagues and parishioners, but I’d want to stay in dialogue with them about the contents of the book. Indeed, I’d look forward to the dialogue because Young’s book tackles a lot of interesting subjects and offers intriguing insights. I am glad that the book received a wider audience than his own children.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

NFL Playoff Predictions

Prior to the NFL season, I correctly predicted 4 of the 6 AFC playoff teams (NE, Indianapolis, Baltimore, NYJ). I predicted only 3 of 6 NFC playoff teams (Atlanta, NO, GB)

Below are my predictions for the AFC Playoffs. I've decided, this year, to make surprising selections.


Wild Card Round
NYJ over Indy- Manning will struggle w/Jets D
Baltimore over KC- Ravens are just way better

1st Round
NYJ over Pats- Patriots cold, Jets fired up
Pitt over Baltimore- Real tight game. Home field wins.

Championship Round
NYJ over Pittsburgh- I predict NYJ in OT


Wild Card Round
NO over Seattle- Not even close
GB over Philly- Very close

1st Round
Atlanta over GB- Too tough to win in Atlanta
Chicago over NO- NO will be too banged up

Championship Round
Chicago over Atlanta- Chicago will shock in OT

So after having both championship games go to OT, the Jets will clobber the bears in the Super Bowl.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Knew Year

I was just reflecting that, when all is said and done, 2010 may go down as one of the best years of my life. We bought our first home, Kenzie was born, had a great time working with David Hockley, the list could go on and on. I don't know what 2011 has in store, but I do sense a new phase in my life and ministry.

How about you? Where do you think 2010 will rank when all is said and done?