ChurchETHOS

The Trinity Lives in a Shack?

Posted in book review, christian thought by Nathan Creitz on October 22, 2008

Not long ago I was reading The Shack by William Young which has quickly swept through the Christian community as a bestseller. I’m not sure why or how this happens, but every once in a while a book (or series) comes along that promotes lazy doctrine and hyped-up, fundamentalist Christianity. I have to check myself every time a new book comes out because if it has universal acceptance and buzz I probably disagree with it…am I always wrong? I can think of books like Piercing the Darkness and This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, The Left Behind Series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, and The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. Each of these books, including The Shack have been extremely influential in shaping the theology of the larger Church. Somehow when it’s fictional Christians seem more ready to apply it’s theology to their lives. This doesn’t seem like a good habit to me.

What’s Wrong With Fiction?

The problems in these books are concerned with issues like demonology, eschatology, and the health and wealth gospel, but The Shack has to do with arguably the most important doctrine in Christendom: the doctrine of the Trinity. That is why this book troubles me so much. Since Young decided to put the Trinity front and center in this book, I want to focus the attention on his trinitarian theology.

How Should We Describe the Trinity?

Recently, my professor said, ““He who tries to understand the Trinity will lose his mind. He who fails to believe in the Trinity will lose his soul.” Most theologians believe there are no illustrations that help us think of the oneness of the Trinity. Some explain the Trinity by equating it to H2O. A water molecule can be water, liquid, or gas. The molecule is one substance in three forms. The problem here is that a water molecule cannot be water, liquid, AND gas all at the same time. Others explain the Trinity by thinking of the different roles a person might have: she might be a teacher, a wife, and a mother. She is one person with three roles. However, the trinitarian God is one God in three persons and is accomplishing His three unique roles simultaneously…Father, Son, and Spirit. Still others use the example of marriage; a husband and wife are one. This is probably the closest we can come to an illustration of the Trinity, but it is still limited. For example, Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.” I may be one with my wife but I don’t always know what she is thinking. Sometimes my will conflicts with hers. We don’t always submit to one another fully. We often have selfish moments or times when communication breaks down between us. These are not problems the Trinity faces.

Those examples may be the best ones we’ve got when it comes to thinking about the Trinity but I think the best answer is, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord?” (Ro 11:33-34) and “Listen Israel, The Lord your God, the Lord is One.” (De 6:4). It is actually refreshing that I love and serve a God who’s ways and thoughts are so much higher than my ways and thoughts. I can’t put God in a box or limit Him to human understanding. The uniqueness and the oneness of the Trinity among the other gods and goddesses of other world religions is probably the most compelling evidence in His favor. What human would’ve thought of this?

How Does Young Describe the Trinity?

And that brings us to the description of the Trinity in William Young’s book The Shack. The main character in the Shack is named Mack and he has an incredibly traumatic ordeal that sweeps him off his feet in the first chapters of the book. As he deals with his grief and loss he gets an invitation to meet God at the Shack which is where the traumatic event happened. When Mack arrives he is greeted at the door by Papa, a black woman who later reveals that she is God the Father. He also meets Jesus who is a somewhat clumsy Middle Eastern man with a large nose and Sarayu, a shimmery Asian woman who is presented as the Holy Spirit. They are extremely loving to one another in an anthropomorphic way that sort of creeped me out a bit. I don’t have a big problem with God being humanized as a woman since I know that God is neither man or woman, He is Spirit. However, I mostly had a problem with the Father and the Spirit being incarnated. I almost put down the book when Papa said, “I am truly human, in Jesus.” I can take a fictionalized account of the anthropomorphism of God but when that humanized figure of God the Father tries to teach doctrine that he is now human because of Jesus (as if that’s what Jesus accomplished) is taking fiction too far. This flies in the face of John 4:24 which states, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” In Young’s humanization of God, the Father becomes human, and not even a male human. He incarnates Himself as a woman human. God is Father and God is Spirit. These are attributes that can’t even be fictionalized in a woman character.

Young also tries to suggest that there is no sort of hierarchy within the Godhead. He writes, “Hierarchy would make no sense among us.” However, both the Spirit and the Son submitted to the Father but there is no indication that the Father ever submitted Himself to the Son or the Spirit. Jesus prayed in the garden, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” (Mk 14:36). Here Jesus has submitted Himself to God’s will. The Bible teaches equality within marriage and in the Trinity but that there is a hierarchy when it comes to roles. God is the Father, the husband is the head of the household. Young offers no support for his theology that hierarchy makes no sense to the Trinity and that it is entirely a man-made structure (emphasis on the man-made part). 

How Serious is the Threat?

All in all, I find Young’s The Shack to be lacking serious theological truth. However, I don’t know that it will be entirely harmful to the Church. Most people will realize that God would notincarnate Himself as a woman and that Jesus is THE Incarnation of God. That incarnation didn’t make the Father and the Spirit humans. We are still to worship God in spirit and truth because He is Spirit. I don’t think people will begin looking for God to come and meet them in person in a shack of any sort. However, the danger here lies in incremental and subtle changes in people’s theology and concept of God. For that reason, I believe it is important to get these issues out in the open. The most important thing is to expose the bad habits of popular Christianity to latch onto these books that are written not by theologians or serious Christian thinkers but by people who are merely dabbling in theology. We must guard our hearts and minds against such things.

Related Post: Distinctively Christian: The Trinity

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  1. Lowell Qualls said, on October 23, 2008 at 12.45 pm

    Like you, I am frustrated by “lazy theology.” Like you, I’ve been amazed at what people come to believe after reading Christian best-sellers.

    Unlike you, I don’t believe “… The Shack to be entirely devoid of serious theological truth.” I believe it is one man’s imaginative gift to his children that others, like me, enjoyed reading … without confusing the content of his book with the content of the Bible.

    In your imagination, what does Jesus look like? In your imagination, what does the One seated on the throne in heaven look like?

    We could go into the Gospels for information on the Incarnation (“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us …”) and we can go to The Revelation of Jesus to “see” God seated upon THE throne, with 24 unidentified elders seated around Him and then worshipping before Him. But each of us will process those descriptors through our God-given imaginations and, I have no doubt, come up with a picture. I will contend that each of us has a vision of Jesus, and how God the Father and the Holy Spirit interact. Might it be “True” or “Truth?” Most probably not. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,” right?

    Is Paul Young’s book MEANT to influence our theology, or was it a Dad’s best attempt to give his children a peek into his own view of God … a private view that became public because some of its imagery resonated in the hearts of people who dislike, with a passion, theologians who, unintentionally or not, present a god that is distant, remote, unfeeling, and incommunicado, i.e., not the God of the Bible?

    I am an orthodox believer, a dyed-in-the-wool and unapologetic Christ follower. I love theology that serves God’s interests. I love theologians – those great students of the faith that guard doctrine and in turn guard our hearts and minds by keeping us from error. But … when theologians take fiction that has hints of Christianity while never asserting inerrancy and make reading and enjoying it a matter of faith I want to say, “Good grief. Give me a break.”

    I give you, as exhibit one, Clive Lewis – the purveyor of beautiful and imaginative views of Jesus, painting Him as Aslan, the Lion.

    Think about it.

  2. Nathan Creitz said, on October 23, 2008 at 2.08 pm

    Thanks for the comment Lowell. I appreciate the push towards clear thinking. I may have gone too far in saying “entirely devoid of serious theological truth.” I guess the parts that contained the serious theological truth, for me, were a bit trite and boring. I can appreciate others enjoying the extended conversation between the Trinity and Mack so for that I apologize.

    What I do stand by, however, is the assertion that, though this may not completely unhinge orthodoxy in the Christian culture, the subtle mistakes will still do some damage in the same way that people get their view of eschatology from the Left Behind Series. Is it heresy? No. Has it created a generation of people who lack the ability to talk coherently with the world that thinks all this end times talk is silly? Maybe. I’m advocating for thinking Christians to tread carefully and precisely in their language and writing. You’ve illustrated how I erred in being too dogmatic that Young doesn’t have any good theology – he does. So now let’s do that with others. I’m pointing out a couple of things that trouble me about Young’s book just like you pointed out what was bothering you about my blog post. For those of us willing to admit our mistakes, we all win. We all learn. So let’s keep talking about truth in a way that helps people learn.

    As I read through The Shack, I also thought of Aslan but I also have been to the museum at Wheaton College in Chicago that has Lewis’ original desk and the wardrobe that inspired the famous books. There is also a letter there that I read that contains a question from a child about Narnia and Lewis responds in his own handwriting saying that Narnia is his imagination of a world where he tries to think creatively about what God would be like if he showed up there. Narnia is not real. It is allegorical (like Pilgrim’s Progress). The Shack is not an allegory…it is imaginative and it is fiction so I’m trying not to make more out of this than I should but it is much different than The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. As such, when God in His fictionalized, anthropomorphized form says something like “I am fully human in Jesus.” We are to take that to mean this is what God truly believes in real life. It is fiction so we do away with the gregarious black woman facade, but it’s the ideas, the concepts, the propositions that God makes that we need to evaluate critically.

    A final reason why I stand by my statements is that popular theology arises from popular fiction. If it weren’t true, I wouldn’t care what Young wrote. I realize Young never asserted his inerrancy but when you write a book, you have to know that people will read your beliefs, your ideas and will accept them or reject them. I, for one, found several things in The Shack worthy of rejection, though there are certainly many, many doctrines I agreed with (I only say there were many because I think the story simply served to expound Young’s theology which is why I found it a complete bore).

    In the end, my purpose in writing the post is to expose error. I don’t do that out of pride with the belief that I have all the answers. However, my goal for this blog is to consider the way we act based on what we believe and if we stray from truth our actions become even more incomprehensible and confusing to the secular culture. If we have a well grounded theology then we CAN read Frank Peretti and William Young and enjoy their books for their entertainment value. If, however, we don’t have a strong sense of what the Bible says on the issue then we are willing to blindly accept whatever the author says on the matter. This is a bad habit in the church that contributes to a weak ethos. I can’t in good conscience keep allowing the Church to accept popular books as the basis of their theology. This conversation needs to be had and hence the reason for this post.

    • Doug said, on April 26, 2009 at 12.05 am

      I think you misunderstood the part of God saying “I am fully human in Jesus.” Taken in a more orthodox perspective, that is exactly true: God became man, became flesh. I think that is all Young was trying to say. you might argue that God the Father did not become flesh, but this is where I believe Young is arguing for the Unity of the Godhead, which is true, even while there being three Persons is true.

      the great value I see in Young’s book is the challenge to the generally very narrow, and typically grace-less view that many, even many believers, have of God.

  3. Lowell Qualls said, on October 23, 2008 at 7.52 pm

    I genuinely like (and appreciate) where you’re coming from. You are a Guardian … someone who cares about people – believing or not – and will point out possible and/or definite Truth pollutants. I salute you, and will enjoy reading your opinions in the future.

    All for the Kingdom!

  4. layrenewal said, on November 4, 2008 at 4.12 pm

    Good post – well reasoned.

    Finally caving in, I read The Shack. While I was gripped by the emotional trauma of losing a child (who wouldn’t be), I was appalled at the theology.

    While some elements of the majesty and glory of the Trinity were captivating, it lost me mightily on the actual treatment. When a novel purports to teach on such an important subject, it should be incredibly careful.

    AND – According to Scripture, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is not the best way as Young asserts.

    • Doug said, on April 25, 2009 at 11.58 pm

      I think you misread it. as I read it, Jesus clearly said that people from many other paths had finally come to him, but that he was the only Truth.

  5. Nathan Creitz said, on November 5, 2008 at 8.14 am

    Hey Lowell,

    Thanks for understanding my perspective. I don’t wish to completely discredit the value of a book like The Shack. A lot of people will be moved by the subject matter. I just wish more people would think through the issues from a Biblical perspective and not take the theology of a book like this wholesale simply because it’s a good story or it has great points, etc. Thanks for reading.

  6. Nathan Creitz said, on November 5, 2008 at 8.20 am

    Thanks Layrenewal for your thoughts.

    While I’m not sure Young asserts that Jesus is just the best way (and not the only way), I do agree that the theology (some of it) fell short. I wouldn’t characterize Young as a theologian…well, maybe an arm chair theologian. Every theological conversation Mack has with God is very straightforward popular theology. Young just does a good job bringing it all together into a conversation…that’s the only thing unique about it. I say “good job” meaning that he did it well but I’m still not that excited about the story.

    I think a lot of people liked it but I had a problem with Mack’s story to his children of the Indian princess who kills herself in an act of love and sacrifice. He makes it sound like that was a beautiful thing. Unlike Shakespeare who wrote Romeo and Juliet as a tragedy, it seemed like Young wrote that story as an amazing gift of love. Just one more point I took issue with in a story that kept on not delivering. Again, I thought the story simply framed a big theological treatise where Young could dump all of his systematic theology on his readers…that’s the way it came across to me.

  7. Mike Achee said, on December 2, 2008 at 11.17 pm

    Thanks for your review. I have been reading The Shack for a couple of days and just got to the part where he meets “Papa” and the trinity…. A big red flag went up right away. I turned on my laptop and googled “The Shack” (yes, thank you Lord for Google 😉 and found your blog. Thanks for the insight.

    Hey, can you give me a list of maybe 10 Christian nofiction books you would recomend and maybe 10 fictional books to read. Thanks

    Thanks again.

    Mike
    mike.achee@gmail.com

  8. Koranist said, on December 3, 2008 at 7.32 am

    Keep learning. I however have a study from another angle

    http://www.ballot.com/hotwire/26302-what-koran-says-about-torah-gospel.html

  9. Nathan Creitz said, on December 3, 2008 at 8.03 am

    Hey Mike,

    Thanks for reading critically and not allowing Christian fiction to be the only source for your theological position. Of course, I would say that of anything other than the Bible…including this blog. Even rereading my own post a week or two later I saw subtle nuances that could’ve been worded better or a sentence that wasn’t necessary. I stand by what I wrote but I appreciate that my readers aren’t swallowing everything I write without checking it against the Scriptures and the orthodox positions of the Church.

    Your comment is a good reminder that we need to approach everything with open eyes and a thinking mind. One of the themes of this blog is to try and encourage people to think Christianly and I think that is something you are doing so I applaud you.

    I will certainly give you a list of books to read but I think I will make that into a post, so thank you so much for your question.

  10. General Kafka said, on December 10, 2008 at 12.49 pm

    just a comment on your Water/Trinity analogy.
    Well, yes a single molecule can not be in several states (liquid, solid, vapor) in the same time, but actually, a single molecule is not in any state — it is just molecule.

    You have to look at a few billions molecule to start speaking about a state.
    In the solid state, the molecule are linked together (with electrical forces) in a crystal.
    In the vapor state, they are unlinked (although probably still under the influence of each other via the electrical forces).
    In the liquid state, they are linked, but not in a crystal, making them, well, fluid…

    But did you know that Water has a Triple Point: it is a point (a pressure of 4.58 mm Hg and a temperature of 0 °C) where a good billion H2O molecule co-exist with some of them in the vapor state, some in the liquid state, and some in the crystal structure /solid state.

    I don’t think you could fill a Shack with Triple Point water though…

    • Nathan Creitz said, on December 12, 2008 at 3.29 pm

      Very interesting Kafka, sounds almost as complicated as the Trinity. 🙂

      Seriously, though, I could see the point that if you took all water on the planet and realized that somewhere it is existing as water, somewhere else it is existing as ice, and somewhere else it is a vapor that would be like the Trinity. However, the ability of H2O to change from one state to the next would then be the problem. The Trinity is one nature eternally existent in three persons. The Son never becomes the Father, etc. So, hence the limitations of any human analogy to adequately convey the doctrine of the Trinity.

      Anyway, I know you aren’t saying that, but I took the opportunity to continue my discussion about the nature of the Trinity. How Great is our God?!

  11. Joel said, on April 10, 2009 at 8.57 pm

    Sometimes literary genres are just not applicable. Not every piece of writing can be boxed and labelled so simply. You wrote, “Somehow when it’s fictional Christians seem more ready to apply it’s theology to their lives. This doesn’t seem like a good habit to me.” What, then, do you do with Jesus’ parables? Were they nonfiction? Were the characters in the parables all real-life characters? Or, were his stories fiction (in the sense of the modern, Western approach or the Dewey Decimal System) and yet at the same time filled with truth? If Jesus told stories that he made up with fictional characters in order to teach eternal truths, should we not attempt to do the same? Or is non-fiction the only way for us to talk about God?

  12. Nathan Creitz said, on April 11, 2009 at 6.04 am

    Joel – Two responses: I’m not suggesting that all Christian fiction is unorthodox. I’m aware of the power of narrative to affect change in people’s lives, that’s why a book like the Shack can be so dangerous. When it comes to non-biblical narrative, it’s important for people to think critically about it’s contents. Secondly, Jesus’ parables are stories Jesus told…I’m pretty sure those are okay. Contrasting inspired with non-inspired “fiction” is not what I intend to do. So, yes, we can use fiction and parables and stories to convey truth, but since our stories are uninspired I would hope that readers would use discernment…something many are not willing to do with “The Shack”. I’m trying to get people to see the Bible as the source of truth. Our stories point to that truth, but they can’t be the only thing people use to inform their faith and practice.

  13. layrenewal said, on April 13, 2009 at 10.19 am

    To be clear on definitions…
    It sounds as if you are saying a believer in Jesus Christ cannot write (or tell) a story under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
    Am I correct in presuming that you are using the word “inspired” to equate on par with Scripture?

  14. Nathan Creitz said, on April 13, 2009 at 11.52 am

    layrenewal – yes…I’m suggesting that rather than allow Scripture to be the source for inspired teaching many Christians forgo the wisdom found in the Bible and turn to fiction or other non-Biblical sources for discerning how they should live a godly life. It’s not that books or art or music or conversation or life can’t be used by God to move us closer to Him, it’s that we have to let the Bible speak truth to us and then draw informed conclusions about God and about how to live our life from those other sources. My point is that too many Christians develop their theology about sin, about the end of times, and about the Christian life from sources other than the Bible. So, when a flawed book like The Shack comes along, people are easily led astray.

  15. Jennifer said, on April 14, 2009 at 8.46 am

    I agree that there are people who get their theology strictly from books other than the Bible, but I am not one of them. I read “The Shack” and I don’t think it was “entirely devoid of serious theological truth.” It emphasizes God’s intense desire to have a relationship with us, and that’s a good thing. It also tries to answer the ever-popular question of why bad things happen to good people, and that’s also a good thing. And, of course, it tries to present the trinity in a way we can understand (which is impossible, but at least he tried). There’s no doubt it has flaws, but it’s written by a human trying to wrap his mind around some of the most difficult concepts there are. I don’t think he’s intentionally trying to mislead anyone. It was never meant to be a supplement to the Bible and scrutinizing it as if it were is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  16. layrenewal said, on April 14, 2009 at 11.06 am

    Nathan – Thanks for clarifying. I believe God has instructed us in His Word to look for Him in the world (music, art, etc.). In fact, I think it is through the world that He can draw some people to Himself (Romans 1:20). From there, we look to His Word. Test what we see, hear, taste, touch. See what is “good” and what is not.

    Jennifer – I agree that there were some good things in the Shack. I think the bigger point is that there was a lot of junk as well. If I were to attempt to write a book like this, I would want to make sure that nothing in it CONTRADICTED Scripture. There is stuff in the Shack that does. And that is where it can be misleading.

    • Doug said, on April 26, 2009 at 12.16 am

      I can’t easily come up with anything that flat out contradicts the Scriptures. I see this as a “both-and” sort of problem. so much of what is written in the story is true, but it is not complete. I stumbled over a lot, and still am trying to wrap my mind around the challenges to my cherished notions, but I think what we read here is “more” understanding of God, not “other” or “wrong.”

      I say read the book and test your understanding of God–see if it is expanded. (always using the Bible as final authority of course.)

    • layrenewal said, on April 28, 2009 at 9.31 am

      Doug – I did read the book. In the conversation between “Jesus” and Mack, Mack was told very clearly that “Those who love me come from every stream that exists….” When Mack asks for clarification, he is told that “Jesus” will travel any road to find us. It’s not universalism, but I think it is as close as you can come – ESPECIALLY in light of the early “whole world” conversations with “Papa” earlier in the book.

      How do you understand John 14:6? Is Jesus the “best way” as Young explicitly wrote? Keeping in the context of the section and the entire book, it does not appear that Young is in agreement with John 14:6. Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Please know that I am not ignoring Romans 1:20. I am simply reading Young’s words in the context of Young’s book.

      I don’t like to keep beating the same drum, but this is the Gospel message. We can’t be “loose” with our interpretation of something this crucial.

  17. Dede said, on April 14, 2009 at 11.13 am

    I am a firm believer in the word of GOD. I believe that Jesus is the ONLY way….
    I read the shack and it for me was life changing.
    Why is it that no one has ever had a problem with GOD or Jesus being colorized as long as they were white, but here comes Young and he paints GOD as black***I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT, THIS IS HERESY THIS IS DEMONIC***((what the ppl are saying)) and Jesus as Middle Easter(that’s an abomination)…WHY? Jesus being Middle eastern is closer to the truth b/c that’s the region in which he lived. He was not this blond blue eyed man.
    God is spirit YES so therefore he’s neither black, white, asian hispanic etc…..
    In the word of GOD he takes on many characteristics, he is personified as many things. As he explains in the book he wanted him not to become caught up in religion(which btw keeps many people from accepting GOD in the first place, b/c we try to make GOD like us to fit us to keep people enslaved and keep ourselves high and lifted up.
    I didn’t feel mislead by anything that he said. If you as a bible believing saint can’t distinguish truth from fiction then you will be deceived. When I read that part in the book about hindu, muslim etc… I discarded that part, b/c I KNOW JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY. but does that change what this book has done in me NOPE.

    It makes me wanna seek GOD more, it makes me wanna tell the world about my great and powerful GOD, it made me fall even more in love with GOD.
    I believe it all depends on where u are and if you’re offended by this then I think you need to strengthen your foundation in Christ so that you won’t be carried away by every wind and doctrine. Study to show urself approved unto GOD. My belief in HIM is fixed and no work will change that. I know in whom I hath believed and I’m persuaded…….. When I read this book it opened up my understanding in many ways and caused me to realize that GOD isn’t what we’ve made him out to be. He’s bigger and better than that. We need stop using religion to bound people when it was intended to make them free. JESUS freed them, we bind them how are we doing HIS WORK

    I praise Young for the things that GOD has used him to do and I believe that getting upset about it is crazy. MY OPINION

    • Doug said, on April 26, 2009 at 12.18 am

      agree

  18. Nathan Creitz said, on April 14, 2009 at 4.14 pm

    Jennifer – Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your viewpoint and hope that more Christians will adopt healthy habits of reading non-Biblical sources with spiritual discernment. I’m not against people trying to answer the difficult theological questions through books or music or art or whatever, I just want to sound the alarm when something blatantly is counter-Biblical. Much of Young’s book is basic theology that, at times, even gives a creative and fresh look at certain theological truths. Those points are to be commended. But those places which Young goes astray need to be discussed so that people who aren’t thinking Christianly about them will be warned that not everything is true in The Shack.

  19. Nathan Creitz said, on April 14, 2009 at 4.31 pm

    Dede – I appreciate your thoughts and your experience with the Shack. I fear, however, that you’ve completely misunderstood me. First of all, you said, “If you as a bible believing saint can’t distinguish truth from fiction then you will be deceived.” I’m not the one unable to distinguish truth from fiction…I’m the one sounding the alarm not to take Young’s fiction as the truth.

    Secondly, you said, “I think you need to strengthen your foundation in Christ so that you won’t be carried away by every wind and doctrine.” Again, that’s what I’m articulating that we as Christians shouldn’t do. I’m advocating for standing on Biblical foundations and not allowing fiction or nonfiction to BE our theology.

    Thirdly, this has nothing to do with race or gender. I don’t envision God as a white man and would strenuously object to anyone doing so. God IS bigger than our anthropomorphisms precisely because He isn’t human. Sure, the Bible uses figurative language to demonstrate God’s activity in the world but it’s never used to describe what God looks like. Why can’t we think of God as He has communicated Himself to us through the Bible? Exchanging the image of a white man with a beard for a black woman that makes biscuits doesn’t help people enlarge their view of God. As if God is some sort of shape-shifter who likes to reveal Himself to people in whatever way will deconstruct their stereotypes and reinforce their love for their Creator. Jesus said that if you’ve seen Him you’ve seen the Father.

    Finally, to all those who have commented on this post…I’m truly glad for you if you had a positive experience with the book. But how was it life-changing? If you fell more in love with God, what God did you fall in love with? The God as revealed in the Bible or some limited version of God from someone else’s imagination?

  20. Joel said, on April 20, 2009 at 4.43 pm

    Whenever anyone says something or other is “counter-Biblical” or that it contradicts Scripture, I see a red flag somewhere. Sure, something can be “counter-my-understanding-of-the-Bible” or “contradict my view of Scripture” but to come right out and say it is heresy or non-Biblical is really tough to swallow. No one has the whole Bible figured out and no one has all the answers. If you are growing in your relationship with God, your views on certain Biblical texts will also “grow” and mature. If your view of God is the same today as it was 10 years ago, are you really growing? That growth will undoubtedly affect how you read the Bible, or at least certain parts of the Bible (as does your own culture, language and upbringing). So, I encourage you to be careful to be so blatant in your comments about other people’s theology because you also have a flawed theology. You also are a heretic to some degree.

    One word about “inspiration”: yes, the Bible was inspired but inspiration was not of the factors considered when the canon was formed. There were other writings at that time that were also considered to be “inspired” but were not chosen to be included in the canon. There may be some extra-biblical writings, both historically and recently, that have been inspired.

  21. Nathan Creitz said, on April 20, 2009 at 9.16 pm

    Joel – I’ll give you that there are some minor points that are not clear from a plain reading of Scripture. I’m not debating those points. My concern with this book is concerning the Trinity and the very being of God. Are you suggesting that everything in Scripture is up for interpretation? That Truth can’t be known? Sure, I’m a 30 year old who doesn’t have it all figured out but I stand on the shoulders of giants. The text is clear when it comes to the basic doctrines of the Trinity and that has been attested for almost 2000 years. My question is, do you think that YOU or William Paul Young have figured something out that we’ve all missed from the Bible and Bible scholars who’ve gone before us?

    As far as inspiration is concerned, it sounds like you and I are coming from completely different places when it comes to Scripture. If you allow all sorts of contradictory and mythological texts into the canon of Scripture then we can’t have a productive discussion on the matter. Name one gospel or book pertaining to the issue we are discussing that should be included in the canon and I’m confident I could give you a dozen reasons why it’s not a part of our Bible today. Not that I have time for this challenge but I say it only to call your bluff. In other words, are you thinking of an extra-biblical source that has some differing information concerning the Trinity? There aren’t enough extra-biblical sources that could a) change our understanding of the Trinity and b) stand up to the tests of canonicity. Therefore, your point about inspiration, while troubling as one who values the inspiration and authority of Scripture, is irrelevant and wouldn’t help you make your case or prove that I’m in error when it comes to the theology of the Trinity.


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