For those of you who don't know, The Shack is a best-selling book about Christian faith, and particularly how we deal with loss and grief, and lots of Christians love it and some Christians hate it and it just got made into a movie, and I wanted to know if I should take my youth group to see it. Having never read the book, I asked my fellow pastors in an online forum. Most said it was great, not perfect but with some really great things to discuss, and one was vehement that it was a horrible, destructive, and misleading theology and view of God. So I asked him why he thought that, since everyone else thought it was great. His key arguments:
- It uses feminine imagery for God, which contradicts Scripture.
- God is only loved in the book, never feared, and in Scripture he is always feared.
- The Bible uses feminine imagery for God in several places, and particularly maternal--Jesus describes himself as "a mother hen" who wants to gather his chicks into his wings, in the Hebrew Scriptures God describes Godself as a nursing mother a couple of times ... yeah, God-as-woman is a small part of Scripture but it's woven throughout. Denying the maternal and feminine aspects of God are the thing that truly contradicts Scripture.
- The greatest commandment as given by Jesus is to LOVE the Lord your God. Not fear, LOVE. And you know what? He got that from the Hebrew Scriptures, he's quoting there. So while the idea of fearing God is in Scripture, so is the idea of loving God. Also, Biblical ideas of what it means to "fear" God are not what we talk about when we talk about fear. It's a sort of awe-filled respect and awareness of vulnerability that we don't really get in English.