November 30, 2020

One Paragraph Reviews: Olson on The Shack, Tickle on The Great Emergence, Bowman and Komoszewski on The Deity of Christ

One paragraph book reviews today. Getting right to the point, which busy people should appreciate.

Finding God in the Shack by Roger Olson (IVP). Olson is one of the most vigorous theological authors willing to take on the reformed intelligensia, as can be seen in his books Arminian Theology and Reformed and Always Reforming. In this book, Olson takes a measured, but overall positive view of William Young’s theological novel. Olson’s book is already garnering negative reviews from those who are convinced The Shack is a theological threat to Christians who aren’t paying sufficient attention to the Bible’s prohibitions on creative writing. (I assume C.S. Lewis’s Great Divorce is in for a beat down in the near future.) Where does Olson come out? A balanced, moderate, intelligent, appreciative and overall positive view. Don’t start a ministry on it. Don’t confuse imagery with heresy. Appreciate the personal core of the story that is touching so many. (Olson collates Young’s story of Mack with his own struggles with a pastor father.) Use it as a discussion starter. Be fair and realistic about the overall effect of the book. A fine response to the three-alarm fires that have dominated the internet.

Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, by Robert M. Bowman, Jr., J. Ed Komoszewski. Bowman and Komoszewski are solid, apologetically oriented scholars, and this book is a comprehensive contribution to the resources available to present the biblical case for the deity of Jesus Christ. What’s the point? Clearly, the authors are responding to some of the assertions made by the radical Jesus scholars. The overwhelming Biblical evidence for Jesus as God has been obscured in many quarters, and this resource gives an encyclopedic, yet readable digestion of the entire Biblical witness. It’s also a resource that is appropriate for comparative religious research, where Jesus is claimed by Muslims, New Agers and every other religion. Included are comprehensive indices, helpful charts and vast amounts of scripture. A beginning apologist would especially appreciate this, as would anyone whose ministry or evangelistic efforts include answering the claim that Christians have promoted Jesus far beyond what is warranted. Don’t mistake this for a scholarly tome; it’s exceedingly readable and usable. Is this material available elsewhere? Not in this kind of presentation and with this amount of focused evidence on a single issue. Combine this with a book like The Case for Christ, and a layperson is well equipped for the current atmosphere of questioning all things Jesus.

The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle. I appreciate Phyllis Tickle as a post-evangelical. Her books of the Hours are wonderful resources. I find her “historical/cultural/theological rummage sale” idea interesting, the way a lot of bright people can see things and turn them into a book or a seminar. At 172 pages, there’s not a lot of ink here, and most of it is spent on that description. Tickle says we’re in the Great Emergence and living through it to something new and Spirit-inspired. Which means…..? Which means, I think, that Tickle is quite impressed- as a left of center Episcopalian interested in spiritual formation- with the Brian Mclaren style emerging church phenomenon, and believes that we’re all headed for a “centering” of post-Protestant, happy ecumenical Christianity in non-traditional churches and on the internet. Readers of this space will know immediately that I am not this optimistic about what liberal white people in coffeeshops and web sites are going to contribute to the post-evangelical future. I believe what’s left of the emerging church will be right there with TEC and PCUSA when it’s all over. Instead of a great centering, I’m looking for a great collapse and a lot of people retaining some sort of de-churched spirituality. Yes, they will talk about Jesus, but will their Jesus shaped spirituality move into real community beyond Facebook? I’m very, very doubtful. But if you want your evangelical megashift more of the optimistic, liberal, Jefferts Schori variety, this book will cheer you up. I liked the rummage sale, but I’m not buying that “mainline liberal leftovers win out” line just yet.

Comments

  1. Finding God in the Shack……a book about a book, but no doubt fueled by the vitriolic response that The Shack received. I may look at this….. but probably not.

    I set out reading The Shack and didn’t find it compelling enough to finish. Perhaps I will/should soon, but I’ve had other priorities than to try and discovery why The Shack has been polemic.

    Perhaps I’ll pick up a copy of some of Olsen’s other works. I’m curious to read his views in addressing Reformed theology.

  2. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Olson’s book is already garnering negative reviews from those who are convinced The Shack is a theological threat to Christians who aren’t paying sufficient attention to the Bible’s prohibitions on creative writing. (I assume C.S. Lewis’s Great Divorce is in for a beat down in the near future.)

    IMonk, with some of these God’s Anointed Heresy Hunters (TM), ANYTHING and EVERYTHING other than the KJV 1611 is in for a beat-down.

  3. Well these are brothers who aren’t on that train, fortunately, but whose view of literature would find the nihil obstat a good idea.

  4. Michael, I just finished “The Great Emergence” a few weeks ago and thought it was thoughtful and interesting, especially the idea that you mentioned – that Christianity has a “rummage sale” every 500 years or so. This makes a lot of sense.

    Even though Tickle has some interesting ideas, and she certainly knows her history, I found her writing style a real strain to read. The book would have been much better with some editorial polishing. Many times I had to re-read a sentence or paragraph several times because the way she strings words together doesn’t always make clear sense.

    I did think her projection of what Christianity might look like in the next couple of thousand years to be very fascinating (toward the very end of the book).

  5. Michael, I thought you were going to read LESS theology this year? You’re certainly making it very difficult for me to follow through with doing the same.

  6. In regard to book 1: I think you summarized it very well in “Don’t confuse imagery with heresy.” I don’t think we, as Christians, have done a good job in helping people deal with a loss, especially a deep, unjust loss (without slipping into a fatalistic “God did it for a reason”). The Shack has done a wonderful job in addressing this need . . . at least on an emotional level. I’m sure some are deeply offended that God was portrayed as a women . . . God as heavy . . . God as AA, but those hurting can find comfort in those image as well. Hey, in scripture (for the same effect) Jesus had wings like a chicken.

  7. im not a naysayer of the shack. i have very little idea what it is. but why is there so much hoopla for and against it? is this another davinci code? whats the deal?

  8. If we tell you, it’s a spoiler, so just do a wikipedia article.

  9. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the reviews. I have just ordered the book, “Putting Jesus in his place”.

    For your readers who are interested in reading more about the Deity of Christ, I am in the middle of a blog series on the topic called Reflections on the Deity of Christ. I have been working on it over the past month, and will probably take another month or so before it concludes. I will leave off reading the book until I am done, then see what I missed! Anything your readers might want to contribute by way of discussion would be appreciated.

    Mike Bell

  10. I vacation in the exact place where the story of the Shack takes place, yearly. The beauty of the area is breathtaking. I am an undereducated pastor, so I just read the book as a fictional story. The characters had no more than the characters of Santa Claus–the 7 Dwarfs–or Bugs Bunny. I took the depiction of God in the Shack as no more than those fictional characters. Wow! I must be really shallow.
    fishon

  11. I read The Shack, all the fuss about it just shows the poor selection we have in Christian fiction. It certainly wasn’t worth all the ink written about it. And now a book? about a book? It is more of an expanded short story or novella. i look forward to reading the other two, especially ‘Putting Jesus in His Place” there is always a need for help in explaining Christ.

  12. By the way, Eclectic Christian’s series is really good!

  13. My take on The Shack is that it probably would have been better as something other than literature – but that it does have real merits. It deserves to be defended from the heresy hunters, but not from the literary critics.

    I must say, though, there is a weird gnostic thread in the book that comes out quite contrary to the mostly incarnational approach in phrases like:

    “This life is only the anteroom of a greater reality to come.”

    “Love is just the skin of knowing.”

    and

    “Being always transcends appearance – that which only seems to be.”

    Ironically, these are the passages that most of the fundamentalist heresy hunters who are after the book probably agree with. I don’t know where that leaves me.

    If you’re interested in my brief review, I posted it here.

  14. @willoh: What you call “fuss” is IMO a natural reaction amongst all of us who were deeply impacted by the way it portrayed God and gave many helpful insights regarding our difficulties relating to Him more closely because of such things as hidden anger and twisted perceptions. Sure, it probably doesn’t come even close to other great works of Christian fiction (in terms of language, style and overall narrative) and I assume none of the issues I mentioned are YOUR issues at the moment, but why can’t we just let the verdict stand that God has used this book as a blessing for many?

  15. How many commenters on The Shack know William Young’s story and how the book came to be written so his children would understand his spiritual journey? Or how the book came to be published at all.

    The TR community acts like Young wrote it to overturn Calvin.

  16. I didn’t much care for The Shack but I am glad others have been blessed by it. But I am surprised that there are such strong feelings about this book. I wrote a short, negative review on Amazon and got over twenty comments, some from people who wondered if I knew the Lord. People have told me that if I don’t love the book as much as they do I don’t believe God really loves me, etc. etc. Whatever you think of The Shack, I think this goes too far!

  17. Christopher Lake says

    I know why Young wrote the book. It’s still deeply problematic. In Lewis’s work, Aslan is a Christ *figure,* not an artistic representation of Christ Himself. In The Shack, the first and second Persons of the Trinity appear as women. There is a *huge* difference between Lewis and Young here.

  18. Christopher Lake says

    Sorry, I meant first and third Persons there.

  19. Animal is OK. Woman- made in God’s image- is not.

    Ok.

  20. I read The Shack and liked it well enough, but am not as enthusiastic as some readers. I think the author is a very sincere man and I enjoyed some of the things on his website at http://www.windrumors.com/ I have watched a couple online videos of him being interviewed and I do believe this is a man who is aware of the presence of Jesus in his life. And yes, I am aware that originally he wrote the book for his children, as a way of helping them understand how he thinks about God. With some encouragement from other people and some tweaking of what he wrote, he decided to send the book out into the world. Many people have been touched by it and for that, I think we should be happy. It’s a novel, not a treatise on what all good Christians should believe. William Paul Young had to overcome a lot of abusive things that happened to him in the name of Christianity. The fact that he came out of all that, still being able to see, feel and spread the love and grace of Jesus, is what I find to be the miracle here.

  21. Christopher Lake says

    Michael,

    That is not at all what I meant. In Narnia, Aslan is a Christ *figure.* Not an artistic representation of Christ Himself in a fictional format, but a Christ figure, which is to say, a character who embodies many *characteristics* of Christ but is *not* understood, even in that fictional context, as being an artistic *depiction* of Christ. In The Shack, Papa and Sarayu are artistic *depictions* of the Father and the Spirit. That is the difference between Narnia and The Shack, and it is not a small one.

    Why would an artist who is a Christian even *want* to think about or depict the Persons of the Trinity in ways which conflict with Biblical revelation? I love art made by people of all faiths, or no faith– from great paintings to quality films to classic novels. What I don’t love is “Christian” art which openly conflicts with Biblical revelation.

  22. Interesting how two of the three books result in discussions about the Godhead.

    Not sure exactly what the problem is with having the third person of the Trinity depicted as a woman. After all Spirit (πνευμα) is a feminine noun. The Comforter (παρακλητος) on the other hand is a masculine noun. This is why we get the masculine “he” in John 16:13, because the “he” refers to the subject of the sentence, all the way back in verse 6 which is the masculine Comforter.

    John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth…

    In either case it is pretty dangerous to do theology based upon upon the gender of a pronoun.

    One other little obscure thing. A.B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, of which William Young is a member, wrote the following back in 1911:

    As our heavenly Mother, the Comforter assumes our nurture, training, teaching, and the whole direction of our life… [possessing] considerate gentleness and patience… [along with] discipline and faithful reproof which erring childhood so often needs.

    And maybe a little controversially,

    The heart of Christ is not only the heart of man, but has in it also all the tenderness and gentleness of women… He combined in Himself the nature both of man and woman even as the first man Adam had the woman within his own being before she was separately formed from his very body.

    The quotations were taken from a Chapter entitled “The Motherhood of God” in a devotional book on the Holy Spirit entitled “When the Comforter Came”.

    Whether or not Young was aware of this book, I do not know, although it was republished by the Alliance in 1991.

    In any case, whether you agree or disagree with Simpson, I think the point can be made that the Holy Spirit does not have to be understood strictly in male terms.

  23. Christopher Lake says

    The Holy Spirit being understood other than in strictly male *terms* is one thing. The Holy Spirit being depicted as an actual human being, *whether male or female,* is another. The former is Biblical; I can’t see how the latter is anything but unBiblical.

  24. Do you think the possibility that an author could write a “Great Work of Christian Literature” is more remote today than in years past? Seems “heresy hunters” will find a way to complain…loudly…if a book does not subscribe to a certain list of criteria. But “heresey hunters” aside, how many of the rest of us do the same thing (albeit much quieter)? With all the various schools-of-thought out there in Christendom today has the bar been set ridiculously too high?

  25. The Shack? It’s a story people. Relax. The next thing you know people are going to want to paint over the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel because God is depicted as a bearded old hippy wrapped up in a pink bathrobe with his arm around Eve’s neck.

    Now seriously, I don’t think that way about Michelanglo’s Creation of Adam. And I certainly don’t think that about God. It is in my mind a stunning work of art. But couldn’t someone take the painting that way?

    That painting certainly does depict some things about God – his creation of human beings for one. But it is an artistic interpretation of God’s creative power (a masterful one at that!). That’s all. And in a similar way that’s all The Shack is too.

    Evangelicals would do well to put their Bibles down for a weekend and spend some time in an art museum.

    (By the way, I am not putting Michelanglo and Young in the same artistic category. Don’t go there.)

  26. My biggest problem with ‘The Shack’ is the same as Christopher Lake’s. I don’t place The Shack on the same shelf as allegories like Narnia – It doesn’t have characters that represent Jesus. It has characters that ARE Jesus. I not very comfortable with that.

    I guess there are some of us who are a bit like those early catacomb Christians who were afraid to write the holy name of Jesus because they didn’t want to offend, and so they’d use the cross symbol or draw a fish. They probably would never have thought of daring to portray the Lord with the artistic license Young has used. I’m among those who aren’t sure if it is good to take extra-Biblical artistic license in portraying our Lord. This feeling needs to be respected rather than judged by those who have more liberty.

  27. @Adam

    Heresy hunters and moralists have been alive and well for a long, long time. People DID paint over many of the great works of the High Renaissance because of nudity. (Ever wonder why some of those convenient loin coverings look so awkward?) The puritans closed the theaters in London. Etc.

  28. Christopher –

    In regards to the Father, Papa, being revealed as an African-American woman, I think Young, through the character of Papa, answers this specific accusation:

    She [Papa] picked up the wooden spoon again, dripping with some sort of batter. “Mackenzie, I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature. If I choose to appear to you as a man or a women, it’s because I love you. For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.”

    She leaned forward as if to share a secret. “To reveal myself to you as a very large, white grandfather figure with flowing beard, like Gandalf, would simply reinforce your religious stereotypes, and this weekend is not about reinforcing your religious stereotypes.”

    Mack almost laughed out loud and wanted to say, “You think? I’m over here barely believing that I’m not stark raving mad! Instead, he focused on what she had just said and regained his composure. He believed, in his head at least, that God was a Spirit, neither male nor female, but in spite of that, he was embarrassed to admit to himself that all his visuals for God were very white and very male. (p93)

    We know that God, in His essence, is neither male nor female, right? God does not have a male nor female reproductive organ. I wouldn’t say God is asexual, but rather that He embraces the qualities that He gave to both men and women. Where do we think man got his man-ness from? Where do we think woman received her woman-ness from? From their Creator, right? Of course! In the beginning, God was able to create them male and female with both genders being created in His image because He carried the characteristics of both (Genesis 1:27). But it is in His creative act that He decided to put some of them into one sex of humanity and the others in the opposite sex. We both image God. One doesn’t image God more than the other. We both equally image the one who crafted us out of the dust. It is quite beautiful if you really think about it. No doubt we have our different functions, but we are still both equally created in His image. So, God is not genderless, but rather I believe He holds both in His essence. And the artist in Him gave certain characteristics to woman and other features to man.

    Now, there is no doubt that God has made ‘Father’ as one of the main ways He reveals Himself to us. And that is, itself, beautiful. I love pondering that our God is a Father. The word is quite distorted in our day, yet we are not privy to such, as I am sure each generation has had its lack of true and godly fatherhood. But the revelation of God as Father speaks of intimacy, love, tenderness, strength, leadership, provider, and so very much more. I believe that God has revealed Himself as Father to chiefly communicate those things, not to say He is male.

    Yet, at the same time, there is no doubt that God has revealed Himself with women characteristics. I almost don’t want to go down the line of quoting Scriptures that prove God has revealed Himself in the ways of the female. Jesus compared Himself to a mother hen longing to gather her chicks under her wings (Matthew 23:37). The psalmist speaks of trusting God from his mother’s breast (Psalm 22:9). No doubt David is not saying God is a woman, but I can only imagine that he had pictured in his mind that, as a baby trusts in the mother’s goodness as he/she silently receives milk from her breast, so can we envision ourselves ‘gently sucking from the breast of God’ as He cares for and provides for His people. ‘Gently sucking from the breast of God’ – that can make us uncomfortable?

    And, if you read the entire quote from p93, you again see the author’s intent. God, the Father, is trying to break down Mack’s boxes. Mack, as well as many a Christians, probably see God as an old, white, bearded Gandalf. What better way to shock this overly static and religious view of God out of us than by God showing up as a woman, and an African-American woman at that? No doubt it did its job – in Mack and us!

    For those of us who might have a problem with a female theophany (God-appearance) of the Father, let me ask this question: Would you have had a problem if the Father had been portrayed as a black, African man? If so, why? If not, why?

    I am only reminded of first-century Palestine when the Messiah actually showed up. He sure looked nothing like they imagined! They knew exactly what the Messiah was supposed to look like when He put on flesh and lived among them. But when He actually did this, it did not fit into their systematically built boxes. And guess who got upset the most and pointed the finger of blasphemy at Christ – the religious leaders. Ouch!

    Or consider how the Holy Spirit manifested as a dove (Matthew 3:16). If we didn’t have that one record early on in the Gospels at Jesus’ baptism, and then someone decided to use the picture of a dove to illustrate the heart of God, and more specifically, God the Holy Spirit, I am sure that many would also contend with an author’s use of the dove to describe the divine. I’m glad we have Matthew 3:16.

    In all, I think the author does well to explain the intent with these words: ‘I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature. If I choose to appear to you as a man or a women, it’s because I love you. For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.’

    I don’t think Young is trying to ask us to pray to God, our Mother. Rather, he is challenging our boxes we’ve set up in regards to God and how He might choose to reveal Himself. And you know what, God the Father is probably never going to incarnate. That was the Son’s, the second person of the Trinity’s, job. But, in The Shack, Young has the Father manifest in the form of a woman to ultimately reach Mack beyond what Mack’s own preconceptions would allow (Mack was just struggling to refer to God as Papa, as most of us as well). And, for me, this is most beautiful. I am sure God is very willing to go to certain measures, outside of our own formulated thoughts about God, to reach us. It might be through a donkey, it might be through a dove, it might be through a movie, or any other such possibilities. In The Shack, God was willing to become an African-American woman to win the heart of Mack. For me, that is quite refreshing.

  29. We really need to advise Christians against reading the Bible. There is a part in there where Jesus is portrayed as referring to himself as a chicken.

  30. And, if you read the entire quote from p93, you again see the author’s intent. God, the Father, is trying to break down Mack’s boxes. Mack, as well as many a Christians, probably see God as an old, white, bearded Gandalf.

    On a throne. With a crown. And often a scepter. But that’s just me.

    Thank you, Scott. I bought the book for myself for Christmas, and it’s still languishing on my nightstand. I think it just moved up one spot in the TBR pile.

    The Holy Spirit being understood other than in strictly male *terms* is one thing. The Holy Spirit being depicted as an actual human being, *whether male or female,* is another. The former is Biblical; I can’t see how the latter is anything but unBiblical.

    Christopher. Jesus tells us God is spirit. If my understanding of spirit is right, wouldn’t that mean the first and third persons of the Trinity don’t have bodies, don’t have sex organs?

    If Young had used male humans to portray these persons of the Godhead, would it bother you as much?

  31. Christopher Lake says

    Scott (not ScottL),

    I love art museums. I understand metaphor (I even know what a “Christ figure” is in literature and film!). I enjoy good poetry. The Shack is problematic for reasons that go beyond it simply being artistic. At least in certain aspects, it’s fairly close to being an *anti-Biblical* picture of God. Nowhere in the Bible are the Father and the Spirit shown actually *revealing themselves* to someone as actual human beings, to “accommodate” someone’s damaged understanding of God from a hurtful background. This is an incredibly man-centered picture of God. It is not even close to simple Biblical *principles* of how God works with people and reveals Himself to Him.

    ScottL,

    In the Bible, the Persons of the Trinity are spoken of as being *like* certain things– a mother hen, a dove, etc. By contrast, The Shack has the Father and the Spirit actually *revealing themselves* in human form. This is qualitatively different than saying that they are *like* certain things.

    Yes, The Shack is fiction, but fiction can say true and false things about the *real* God and what He does. I am genuinely concerned that The Shack says false things about the true God. The Father and the Spirit simply do not reveal themselves in human form (the Incarnation being the Son, of course), no matter how “damaged” someone’s understanding of them may be. To imply that they even might do so is *against* the Biblical revelation of God.

  32. Christopher Lake says

    Cindy,

    I’ve answered your question (even in the parts of my comment that you quoted), but yes, it is troubling to me that Young portrays the Father and the Spirit as revealing themselves in human form at all– male or female. To speak of the Father or the Spirit in human *terms* is one thing. Portraying them as actually revealing themselves as *human beings,* male or female, is another.

  33. >…The Father and the Spirit simply do not reveal themselves in human form…

    Oh come on, Christopher. William Young doesn’t say that God does such a thing, any more than Lewis was saying God was a Lion in another universe. Man…..it’s fiction!

    I once went to see Star Wars with a guy- no lie- who, when I asked him what he thought, said, “That’ll never happen.”

    How can you criticize Young for suggesting God appears to some people in a Shack as a black woman?

    I give up. Seriously. This is going nowhere.

  34. Christopher Lake says

    Scott (not ScottL),

    I meant to write, “…how God works with people and reveals Himself to *them.*” Obviously, God doesn’t have to reveal Himself to Himself! 🙂

  35. Christopher Lake says

    Michael,

    I am close to giving up on this thread myself. Aslan is a *Christ figure.* Papa and Sarayu are fictional, artistic portrayals of *God Himself.* Even on just a simply artistic level, there is a major difference. I know that from my days as an English major!

  36. Christopher, I didn’t mean to exasperate you or add to your exasperation with the conversation. I was typing too quickly and didn’t word things as I should have. I’m sorry.

    I understand any human portrayal of the first and third persons of the trinity aren’t going to be good with you. What I did wonder is you think female characters bother you more? And this isn’t a gotcha. I’m just curious. Whichever your answer, it’s good with me.

    And you’re right, in the Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan is a Christ-figure, but within the fictional world of Narnia (so speaking of and in the text itself), Aslan is that world’s God, or one person of. He sings Narnia into being. Then there’s the whole Emperor Over the Sea, but it’s been too long since I’ve read TCoN to remember much about him other than that he exists.

    Maybe Romans 14 is particularly useful for this sort of disagreement among brothers.

  37. Christopher Lake says

    Michael,

    I have read Christians on blogs and message boards writing things about The Shack such as, “Well, why couldn’t the Father reveal Himself to someone as a black woman? It seems like something He might do.”

    Do such statements from Christians not concern you at all? (Yes, I would be equally concerned about them speculating that the Father might reveal Himself to someone as a white male.)

  38. No. No more than I am concerned about the conclusions undiscerning readers might make of a Driscoll sermon on sex or a Piper book on bridges falling. Unthoughtful and hyper-exaggerating readers will always draw wrong conclusions. Do you know what some people do with what they read in the Bible?

    It’s a novel. A fantasy. A journey of the imagination.

    We aren’t learning anything here. We need to end our conversation. I respect your view, but we disagree deeply and profoundly.

  39. Christopher Lake says

    I’m fine with agreeing to disagree. I just struggle with how Christians who have serious problems with The Shack are sometimes characterized as not understanding art, not appreciating art, with necessarily being “heresy hunters,” and the like. Not all of us who object to parts of The Shack are narrow-minded people who fear or hate art, or who are constantly on the “hunt” for heresy.

  40. The problem isn’t whether a person can appreciate art.

    But since you bring it up, the critics who have hit The Shack the hardest generally show no ability whatsoever to deal with the theological elements of fiction in a consistent way. It’s fiction, till it says “God.” Then go get Calvin’s Institutes and let’s see what the author is really up to.

    It’s not for no reason that Calvin whitewashed the churches.

  41. Christopher Lake says

    I read Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Dostoevsky, T.S. Eliot, and many other authors who were/are Christians. I like serious, thoughtful films which engage matters of Christian faith, directly or indirectly (not Left Behind), and so on. I do understand theological elements of fiction. My disagreement with you on The Shack is a principled one– but as you said, we will agree to disagree.

  42. Then consider that your objections are directly a result of Calvin’s objections to picturing God at all, in any way. And in order to be consistent you should object to all images of God or Jesus of any kind.

    Thread is closed.