The Shack

02/6/2009, 12:00 am -- by | No Comments

I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up after a hearty recommendation from my pastor — which was both surprising and intriguing. After two of my sons reported that they both liked it, I was able to catch up with it after the busy holidays.

It has been a bit misrepresented to the public at large, though. I\’ve seen it at Target, in Wal-Mart, and on airport shelves, and every time it looks just like any other creepy novel that I’d pass over. And so I fear that those who pick it up may not be equipped to deal with the issues it uncovers. Maybe its uber-hip interpretations of the Trinity are absolutely spot on, but some of the philosophies that came along for the ride made my head spin. I can\’t imagine what they\’d do to a non-Christian — which is why I passed my copy along to a co-worker, with whom I’ll be eager to discuss it.

It’s a story about a Christian man who faces unforeseen tragedy while camping with his family, and a fruitless search that eventually leads him to an abandoned, dilapidated shack in the wilderness. Despair, a ‘Great Sadness’ in his words, settles on his sleepwalking soul for many years, until one day he gets a note, asking him to meet someone at that shack. Is it the killer? Could it be God? And would he really want to go either way?

I\’ve worked in deliverance ministry for over 10 years now, and I can tell you: there is nothing better than seeing people set free from old wounds. It\’s absolutely wonderful. My hope is that enough groundwork is laid in the book to draw people to Jesus, so that they can come to understand His deliverance. I wish that more churches went directly from salvation to deliverance ministry — in our church we\’re trying. This book is an excellent catalyst to get people thinking about the lingering chains from their past.

So overall, I heartily recommend The Shack. The bottom line isn\’t the presentation of the Trinity, or all that fluffy fill. The lesson is forgiveness, serious forgiveness. In order to be forgiven, we must forgive, even forgive the hardest person in the world. God will take care of the judgment; all we need to do is release the one who harmed us, and let Christ’s blood come and cleanse us. Glory! There’s no feeling like walking free of the Great Sadness. We weren\’t made to walk around like that.

What I Just Read . . .

11/20/2008, 10:57 pm -- by | No Comments

(first in a series)

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Mark Noll

Its First Words — “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.”

In Ten Words — Evangelical Christians must again think seriously — or risk cultural irrelevance.

In Fifty Words — Fourteen is usually an awkward age, for human beings and non-fiction books, so it’s a bad sign indeed that Noll’s indictment of the intellectual impotence of the evangelical church has aged so well. 10 years later, he largely stood by its conclusions, seeing any improvements as exceptions, not the rule.

In Its Own Words — “Fidelity to Jesus Christ demands from evangelicals a more responsible intellectual existence than we have practiced throughout much of our history.”

Fighting Words — Young-earth creationism and dispensationalism come in for some serious and well-leveled criticism. In one particularly blunt passage at the end, Noll compares evangelicalism to the deuce in the card deck of Christianity. Really? Not even the four or five, Prof?

Well-Chosen Words — A juxtaposition of the 19th-century Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart with the 20th-century Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus is cherry-picked but interesting. “Under the influence of fundamentalism, evangelicals turned their eyes to Jesus, and the world grew very dim indeed.”

As an Aside — Mike Huckabee is the new William Jennings Bryan: populist, activist, and Christian progressive. (I do not think this is a good thing.)

Closing Words — Christians must obey the mandate to love God with our minds, wherever that leads. Learning matters — our habits of thinking matter — because the world and its people matter. “The search for a Christian mind is not, in the end, a search for mind but a search for God.”