A Shack of Lies…and Heresies

Multiple times in The Scriptures we are told to test (and judge) those who would make themselves teachers of God’s word. This is critical for both leaders and those being led so that we can avoid falling victim to those things that would lead us astray from God and distort the clear teaching He has given us. Unfortunately, it seems that the modern church is moving very quickly to a “judge not” mentality with regards to doctrine and those who teach it. The latest example of this is in regards to the newly released movie “The Shack” and the book it is based on. While there may be some good and accurate elements to it I would propose that there is far more bad when it comes to the theological teaching presented in the book and put to screen in the movie. I will not mince words here…there is outright heresy being taught and many in and out of the Church are being duped by it.

Let me say first of all that I am not explicitly referring to the attempt to display the Trinity, although that is troublesome. Throughout history great theologians and scholars have made various attempts to explain this particularly difficult teaching from Scripture. Some have come close, many have failed, none have succeeded in capturing it perfectly. Every illustration breaks down at some point and fails to show the glory and majesty of this uniquely Christian doctrine. Any attempt to do so should be taken and absorbed with great caution and that made in The Shack is no different but bad illustrations do not necessarily equate to heresy.

How many of us would sit in a Sunday service and listen to our pastors preach the following without questioning (or firing) them (page numbers may not line up with all book formats):

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit were all three made incarnate and became flesh.

“When we three spoke ourselves into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human. We also chose to embrace all the limitations this entailed. Even though we have always been present in this created universe, we now became flesh and blood.” (pg99)

This is contrary to the picture given in John 14:16-17 where we clearly see three, distinct persons who are clearly not all flesh and blood:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” – John 14:16-17

God the Father will show scars, as if He was crucified.

“The Father had scars on his wrists – like the crucifixion wounds of Christ” (pg95)

It was not God the Father who was crucified but Jesus the Son. They are independent persons who do not share the same body. Crucifixion wounds would not appear on God, who has no body to be crucified.

John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Luke 24:39 “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

God, and the Trinity, desire to be in submission to man as we are in submission to them.

“Papa is as much submitted to me as I am to him, or Sarayu to me, or Papa to her. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way.” (Pg 145-146)

Many times Jesus refers to Himself as being sent by God, doing the Father’s will, submitting to the Father.

Matthew 26:39 – And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

John 12:44-50 – And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

John 17

God does not punish sin

“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.” (Pg120)

It is made very clear, throughout Scripture, that God hates sin, is angry at sin and will punish the wicked.

Psalms 3:7 -Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.

Psalms 37:38 – But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

Psalms 92:7 – that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Revelation 21:8 – But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

All are saved, regardless of belief or religion

Jesus said, “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptist or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions. I have followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous. Some are bankers and bookies, Americans and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians. 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, into my brothers and sisters, into my beloved.” (p. 182)

This is a plain statement of universalism and in itself should be enough for discerning Christians to put aside any thought that good can come from this book/movie. Christ Himself made it clear that the only way to the Father is through faith in Him. It is clear from the remaining New Testament teaching that this is not a vague or casual faith, but a knowing repentance and belief in Jesus – by name.

Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Romans 10:9-13 – because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I started out with a statement that the theological content of The Shack is outright heresy and I hope that I have shown that, at least a little. As I was writing this a review of Paul Young’s latest book, Lies We Believe About God, was published. If I had any doubt about the validity of my heresy claim they vanished as I read that review. I have linked to that article and two others that were helpful in my writing below.

Review of Youngs newest book

Albert Mohler review of The Shack

CARM review of The Shack

Secret Church 2016

Join us for a re-broadcasting of Secret Church 2016.

We will be spreading the 9 sessions over a 4 week period beginning July 20th and will meet from 6:30-8:00 PM.

sc16-Web

A multiplicity of religions exists in the world, all claiming to hold the truth (or at least some truth) about who we are, how we got here, what we’re doing, and where we’re going. Billions of people believe in Christianity, while others embrace Islam. Some are Hindu and others are Buddhist. Amidst it all, many are atheist, or at the very least agnostic.

So how are we to think and what are we to do in this massive marketplace of religious ideas?

Is there one right way to believe or are there many right ways to believe?
Is there one right way to live or are there many right ways to live?
Specifically, how does the gospel of Christ compare and contrast with other world religions?
And if we believe this gospel, then how should we share it specifically with people of other faiths?
For that matter, why would we share it specifically with people of other faiths?

During this Secret Church, we explore the claims of Christ in the gospel and consider how these claims inform the way we understand religions in the world and impact the way we live when surrounded by varied believers with diverse belief systems.

Repentance Through God’s Promises

As Pastor Gary preached last Sunday on Titus 2:11-15, I was struck afresh at how the promises of God help us to fight sin and repent. The grace of God has appeared, resulting in the Christian’s ability to say no to ungodliness and yes to godliness. This is what repentance is, turning away (saying “No” from the heart) from ungodliness and sin, and turning to (saying “Yes” from the heart) God and His ways.

Now what was so striking to me was the incentive to repent is given in Titus 2:13 as Paul gives the how to how do we repent, “…waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” The way a Christian repents is not simply duty-driven but the Christian repents being empowered by God’s glorious promises, particularly, God’s promise that Christ will return in glory. This sounds very much like 1 John 3:2-3,

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

John says here that when Christ appears, when Christ comes again, we will be transformed and be like Him because we shall see Him in His fullness. What a sight! But even now, John writes, “…everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” How does the Christian purify himself and repent of sin, living for godliness? The answer is hope in Christ’s coming and being transformed. There is a purifying power in hoping and waiting for Christ. He’s coming! Why waste time with fleeting pleasures? He’s coming! Why spend ourselves for worldly pursuits? Hope in the second coming of Christ empowers us to repent and turn to Christ afresh.

Christian, do you find yourself struggling to repent? Do you find yourself desiring satisfaction from the things of the earth? Then set your mind on the coming of Christ! Think of the glory that will be just to behold Him! Consider that you will be transformed into His likeness in an instant, in the twinkling of the eye even (1 Cor. 15:51-52). Consider the eternal joys with Psalm 16:11 which says of God’s presence, “…in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Join with the apostle Paul and say (Philippians 1:21, 23b):

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”

And as you consider those promises, ask God to work repentance in your heart that you can turn away from ungodliness and the alluring promises of sin to Him and His ways, clinging to the glorious promises of God in Christ! Christ is our greatest treasure and we show that He is by our continually saying no to ungodliness and saying yes to Him and His ways through trusting His promise that He will come again in great glory. There is our hope, there is our treasure!

May we no longer pursue earthly pleasures but pursue pleasures only found in God through “waiting for our blessed hope the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” May we as a church learn to wait more passionately and so live for Him in a way that glorifies Him most!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

The Apostles:Our Parachute Packers

The Apostles:Our Parachute Packers (Titus 1:1-4)

Gary Kirst, April 10, 2016
Part of the A People Adorning The Doctrine Of God (Titus) series, preached at a Sunday Morning service

As we embark on the Apostle Paul’s letter to his teammate in the gospel, Titus, we might ask, “What do such instructions have to do with us today?” The answer is EVERYTHING. Our eternal souls, and the work of God in our world, depends on our getting such things straight.

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Titus 1:1-4

1Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; 2In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; 3But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour; 4To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. (KJV)

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It’s the “Inner Mission” first! – Dr. Sammy Murimi

The Indispensable Internal Mission in External Missions (John 14:15-31)

Sammy Murimi, April 3, 2016
Part of the Special series, preached at a Sunday Morning service

Jesus is strategically narrowing the relationship with His followers (crowds) to one between Him and a handful (eleven disciples) that He is about to commission to the greatest vocation of all. It’s now time for a “heart-to-heart talk”! It’s the “Inner Mission” first!

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John 14:15-31

15If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. 25These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. 30Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. 31But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence. (KJV)

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