With what theology in The Shack do you disagree?

Out of all the questions that I received last Thursday at Discussions on The Shack, I experienced this as the most pressing from those that were there. All quotes come from Young, William Paul. The Shack. Los Angeles: Windblown Media, 2007. Here are a few my areas of disagreement…

The church

  • “‘It’s simple, Mack. It’s all about relationships and simply sharing life. What we are doing right now – just doing this – and being open and available to others around us. My church is all about people and life is all about relationships. You can’t build it. It’s my job and I’m actually pretty good at it,’ Jesus said with a chuckle.” (Young, 178.)
    • I agree with this perspective.
  • “‘Like I said, I don’t create institutions; that’s an occupation for those who want to play God. So no, I’m not too big on religion,’ Jesus said a little sarcastically, ‘and not very fond of politics or economics either.'” (Young, 179.)
    • I disagree with this perspective. What is the definition of “religion” or “the church”

Jesus as fully divine and fully human

  • “When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human. We also chose to embrace all the limitations that this entailed. Even though we have always been present in this created universe, we now became flesh and blood. It would be like this bird, whose nature it is to fly, choosing only to walk and remain grounded. He doesn’t stop being the bird, but it does alter his experience of life significantly.” (Young, 99.)
    • I believe that this tries to explain away the mystery and is inadequate

God as Father

  • “Let me say for now that we knew once the Creation was broken, true fathering would be much more lacking than mothering. Don’t misunderstand me, both are needed – but an emphasis on fathering is necessary because of the enormity of its absence.” (Young, 94.)
    • I disagree here – Father is how Jesus refers to God and it is in this relationship that we know God

Academics

  • “Try as he might, Mack could not escape the desperate possibility that the note just might be from God after all, even if the thought of God passing notes did not fit well with his theological training. In seminary he had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course.” (Young, 65.)
    • I disagree and was not taught what Mack was taught in seminary. God does continue to communicate overtly.
  • “It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerners’ access to God was mediated and controlled by the intelligentsia.” (Young, 66.)
    • At Resurrection we hope that you love God with your mind.

Flickering Pixels

I just finished reading Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith by Shane Hipps. After just finishing the book I felt thoughtful, peaceful, powerful, aware and enlightened. This book was an unexpected breath of fresh air into my life.

Hipps is a Mennonite pastor in Arizona who formerly worked in advertising. He has a distinct perspective on media and how it shapes the way that we think. Hipps suggests that the book is about “training our eyes to see things we usually overlook” (14).

Hipps is a proponent of Marshall McLuhan’s phrase – the medium is the message. Hipps helped me to think critically about the media with which I engage in every day. I am more aware of the effect that the medium itself has on me as well as any given content.

Hipps ranges across a wide variety of topics within the field of technology and faith. After addressing media, images and how our brain learns and process information, he makes a clear connection with God. God communicates in many different ways with God’s creation and in a very real sense the medium is the message, particularly in the person of Jesus Christ.

I unequivocally recommend this book to those who seek to be more aware about the infoluence which technology has on life and faith.

Messy Spirituality

Messy Spirituality by Michael Yaconelli is accurately described by the subtitle – God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People.

 Yaconelli presents an approach to discipleship that is not about clear next steps and unquestionable outcomes. Instead, the path of discipleship that he presents is full of changes, turns and a never failing trust in God. Yaconelli refutes some assumptions of discipleship in a way that I found to be at first unnerving, but finally satisfactory.

I do not feel that it would be appropriate to base the path of discipleship for an entire church on the ideas that Yaconelli presents. However, I recognize that this may be because it is far different than my current setting for ministry and from many other settings of which I am most familiar.

I found Messy Spirituality to be a refreshing understanding of God’s work in the world and my own path of discipleship. I will return again to this book in the future and expect that it will catch me off guard again in ways that are needed and helpful.

Transformational Architecture: Reshaping Our Lives as Narrative

I found Transformational Architecture: Reshaping Our Lives as Narrative by Ron Martoia to be an excellent book that reaffirms the importance of telling the whole story in scripture when having spiritual conversations with non or nominally religious people. Martoia asserts that a focus on the brokenness of people without telling of the creation of humanity in God’s image is inadequate.  Martoia addresses the various aspects of a spiritual conversation including: context, biblical text and human text. He suggests that structuring spiritual conversations based on these three texts will prove more fruitful than focusing on just one of these aspects.
I particularly resonated with Martoia’s understanding that a spiritual journey is best done in a narrative format and that this is the format that we see in scripture. I have not yet read other texts which address this theme as explicitly.
Transformational Archtecture is generally well written, although there are a few tangents that make their way into the text. I will keep this book on my shelf and refer to it again in the future. I suggest it as reading for someone who is interested in spiritual formation and narrative as a way of understanding a spiritual journey.

Speedlinking – April 2, 2008