Monthly Archives: January 2010

Tim Keller on The Shack

Keller writes,

At the heart of the book is a noble effort — to help modern people understand why God allows suffering, using a narrative form. The argument Young makes at various parts of the book is this. First, this world’s evil and suffering is the result of our abuse of free will. Second, God has not prevented evil in order to accomplish some glorious, greater good that humans cannot now understand. Third, when we stay bitter at God for a particular tragedy we put ourselves in the seat of the ‘Judge of the world and God’, and we are unqualified for such a job. Fourth, we must get an ‘eternal perspective’ and see all God’s people in joy in his presence forever. (The father in the story is given a vision of his deceased daughter living in the joy of Christ’s presence, and it heals his grief.) This is all rather standard, orthodox, pastoral theology (though it’s a bit too heavy on the ‘free-will defense’).  It is so accessible to readers because of its narrative form. I have heard many reports of semi-believers and non-believers claiming that this book gave them an answer to their biggest objections to faith in God.

However, sprinkled throughout the book, Young’s story undermines a number of traditional Christian doctrines. Many have gotten involved in debates about Young’s theological beliefs, and I have my own strong concerns. But here is my main problem with the book. Anyone who is strongly influenced by the imaginative world of The Shack will be totally unprepared for the far more multi-dimensional and complex God that you actually meet when you read the Bible. In the prophets the reader will find a God who is constantly condemning and vowing judgment on his enemies, while the Persons of the Triune-God of The Shack repeatedly deny that sin is any offense to them. The reader of Psalm 119 is filled with delight at God’s statutes, decrees, and laws, yet the God of The Shack insists that he doesn’t give us any rules or even have any expectations of human beings. All he wants is relationship. The reader of the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Isaiah will learn that the holiness of God makes his immediate presence dangerous or fatal to us. Someone may counter (as Young seems to do, on p.192) that because of Jesus, God is now only a God of love, making all talk of holiness, wrath, and law obsolete. But when John, one of Jesus’ closest friends, long after the crucifixion sees the risen Christ in person on the isle of Patmos, John ‘fell at his feet as dead.’ (Rev.1:17.) The Shack effectively deconstructs the holiness and transcendence of God. It is simply not there. In its place is unconditional love, period. The God of The Shack has none of the balance and complexity of the Biblical God. Half a God is not God at all.

To read all of his impressions about The Shack, click here.

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Posted by on January 28, 2010 in Uncategorized


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What Makes God Really Angry?

The only thing that makes God more angry than ungodliness is the ungodliness of those who claim to speak on behalf of God but are really far off.

“And they came to Jerusalem.  And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.  And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.  And he was teaching them and saying to them, Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?  But you have made it a den of robbers (Mark 11:15-17).”

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Posted by on January 27, 2010 in Uncategorized



Assisting the Church in Haiti

Two Pastors have started a mission to help Christians in Haiti.  If you are looking for additional ways to contribute to the crisis in Haiti, you might want to check them out at Churches Helping Churches.

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Posted by on January 22, 2010 in Uncategorized


Lottie Moon Christmas Offering Update

As the time came this year when most Southern Baptist Churches promote Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, I decided to share with the congregation the shortfalls the IMB has endured over the past 12 months with funding to send out Southern Baptist international missionaries.

I did go into some detail about why there is a shortage, but I stressed that there has never been a more important time than now to support our missionaries by giving through the Lottie Moon offering, since the entirety of this offering goes to the International Mission Board.

Additionally, since the time has never been greater and the need financially it tremendous  (we have Southern Baptist Missionaries approved and ready to go but not enough money to send them), we ought to set as our goal the highest contribution we have ever given in our church history.

So we did some research to find out what the highest Lottie Moon Offering was in our short history as a local church and found the previous high to be $8,663.  So this year’s goal was set to exceed this amount.

I am so happy to report that as of this past Sunday, we have collected $8,894.49.  Considering the financial downturn this past year has been for many, I truly am awed by God’s movement in our congregation to accomplish this goal, but also proud to be apart of this family even more here at Westwood.

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Posted by on January 19, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Around the Blog

Check out Trevin Wax’s post on the squandering of God’s gifts as he reflects on Tiger Woods and Whitney Houston.

9 Marks new e-journal is out.  The focus of this month’s journal is the New Evangelical Liberalism.

In his “Questions and Ethics” series, Russell Moore poses a question on the relationship of tattoos and parental authority.

Here are some recommended charities doing work in Haiti if you want to donate.  Another charity is found here.

William Mounce writes a helpful article on the “name” of Jesus.

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Posted by on January 14, 2010 in Uncategorized