The Sick Faith and Fake News of Those Who Warn People to Stay Outside The Shack

Blasphemous. Dangerous. Heresy. Unbiblical. These are the words religious purists use to describe the book The Shack and the recently released movie by the same name. Despite seeing a few good things in it, they are overwhelmingly critical.

But what horrors are in it that could possibly merit these warnings? Is it a bit too hokey? (It is. In his vision, the protagonist has meals and conversations with the holy Trinity and walks on water with Jesus). But no, nothing like that according to these hair-splitting legalists. To them, the big sins of The Shack, are that it makes God out to be too loving, overly forgiving, remarkably understanding, naively inclusive, irresponsibly lax on biblical/church authority, and nowhere near sectarian, religious, angry, and punishing enough to reflect the God of the Bible!

“If the God found in The Shack is the one people choose to follow, I fear they face grave eternal danger,” states evangelical critic Roger Patterson. “In the film, Papa [God] expresses only love and has no room for wrath, justice, or holiness… The God of The Shack is not interested in justice in an ultimate sense,” he adds in Staying Outside The Shack. Randy Alcorn also voiced concerns about the scriptural basis of The Shack in his similar review, Reflections on The Shack. Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll used to warn his congregation not to read it. Albert Mohler thinks the book’s popularity is due to a lack of “evangelical discernment.”

Hmm… let’s deconstruct this.

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The Ancient World & Spirituality – Podcasts

RisingMediaPodcast

Recently, I was interviewed by Ron Way, a long-time talk show host, author, architect, corporate CEO, and amateur biblical scholar. It was arranged through my publisher Wipf & Stock for the AuthorTalk website. You can also listen to it here:

Rising Light Media Podcasts

I was pleasantly surprised that Ron has interviewed people like Bart Ehrman, N.T. Wright, and Diana Butler Bass, and my interview displays on the same page as these incredible authors. As his website states, “Over the years, Ron Way has interviewed hundreds of religious leaders. These interviews are fascinating and informative. They delve into the ancient world of Jesus, Paul, Buddha, the Tao, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Islam, and more.”

Listen to my interview to learn about the connection between craft beer and an historically-grounded Jesus, thoughts on why first-century women followers of Christ were misrepresented in the Bible, why the New Testament needs to be read with knowledge of how it was compiled, mine and Ron’s ideas about the Jesus Seminar, and much more.

But don’t stop there. Ron has a whole slew of interviews that will perk your interest and bring you enlightenment, including conversations with the names listed above. Enjoy!

Ark Encounter Park Opens – Just Another Religious Mega Scheme?

Ark Encounter Opens

The Ark Encounter project, a replica of Noah’s Ark built by “young earth” Creationist Ken Ham with the exact specifications from the Bible, opened yesterday in Kentucky with no shame about its evangelistic goals.

A producer for New York Public Radio called me up to ask my interest in commenting on it. She had found my book, Craft Brewed Jesus, on an internet search, and thought my opinion was a good fit. In the end I got quoted on their web page (see The Takeaway Show, Life-Size Noah’s Ark Opens to the Public), but here is what I had prepared to say if interviewed on air:

First, this is definitely a fascinating idea, to replicate Noah’s ark with the very dimensions spelled out in the book of Genesis. It has a lot of historical and educational potential. There’s an enormous appeal to see this thing up close and explore its implications just out of curiosity.

The trouble is, the Ark Encounter project does not have a pure historical and educational agenda.

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11 Historical Facts Evangelicals Don’t Want You to Know (or Don’t Know Themselves)

evangelical church

First, two caveats. One, evangelicals are not a monolithic block. It’s possible (but rare) that some will want you to know some of these things. Second, most devoted evangelicals and their leaders sincerely believe that the historical, biblical, and linguistic facts listed below are… well, false. Not “truth.” Not “biblical.” False teaching.

I know. When I was an evangelical, I felt the same way. The few that I did believe or suspect might be true (or conversely, those traditional evangelical views I thought might be false), I kept secret, for fear of being “unevangelical.” But the truth is, aside from a few shady types who know them to be true but want to hide them from their flock, most people are clueless at best, and sadly, brainwashed at worst about these facts.

A fair, objective examination of the Greek of the New Testament and the history of Christianity, especially the first few decades and centuries of the faith, reveal these historical facts:

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What’s Wrong With the Modern Church?

CraftBrewedJesus_CoverNew book taps the answer:

What if the modern American church has its Christian history wrong? According to ex-evangelical Michael Camp, most American believers fail Christian History 101. Drawing on his own historical research and missionary experience, he discovers most popular Christian views of the Bible, church, sin, salvation, judgment, the kingdom of God, the “end times,” and the afterlife—pretty much all religious sacred cows—don’t align with the beliefs of the original Jesus Movement. Some of them not even close.

Camp’s Craft Brewed Jesus paves a fascinating journey of a group of disillusioned evangelicals and Catholics. When they decide to meet regularly over craft beers to study the historic foundations of their faith, their findings both rock their world and resolve ancient mysteries.

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What New Spiritual Path Will You Take in 2016?

DOWNLOAD AN EXCERPT OF “CRAFT BREWED JESUS”

Download excerpt of book Craft Brewed Jesus

Will you stay the course or take a new road? Will you finally address those pesky questions you have for which you’ve only gotten pat answers? Is this the year to research those unexamined doctrines and doubts? If you have been skeptical about any of the following, the forthcoming book “Craft Brewed Jesus” (Spring 2016) may help: 

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3 Big Ideas of New Book “Craft Brewed Jesus”

 3 Big Ideas of "Craft Brewed Jesus"

How History We Never Knew Taps a Spirituality We Really Need

My next book is in the hands of the publisher! Wipf and Stock Publishing in Eugene, Oregon is publishing it in April or May 2016. Besides the craft beer theme (just as small, independent craft breweries using historical recipes have rethought corporate-brewed beer, pub or cafe theologians outside the church are rethinking “corporate” religion), here are the book’s three big ideas:

1) The Modern American Church Has Failed Christian History 101
– With some notable exceptions, American Christianity does not understand the rich, fascinating, and complex-but-illuminating history of the early Jesus saga and how it later morphed into a warped man-made religion.

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The Real Reason Kim Davis and Evangelicals are Against Gay Marriage

Kim Davis and Gay Marriage

We learned this week that while in the U.S. the Pope had a secret meeting with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis. Apparently, he offered her support for standing up for what she believed. (Later reports say it was not a private meeting and the Pope does not back her position). But we also know this Pope has reached out to gays and lesbians more than any other pope. When asked once about a gay person’s condition, he responded, “If he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

So, why are evangelicals so quick to judge gays and lesbians? We get the answer in the recent ABC interview of Kim Davis. READ MORE >>

The Scourge of Black and White Thinking

black_white

I often talk about the dangers of black-and-white thinking I encountered in my evangelical past. American conservative religion puts things in nice, neat boxes, with defined boundaries. The Bible is inerrant, they claim. If it wasn’t, it couldn’t be trusted at all (a strange concept considering no one claims that about any historical document). People are “sinners” steeped in original sin and totally depraved unless they are regenerated by conversion to Christ. One is either saved or under God’s wrath; on the way to heaven or destined for hell. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee thinks the case of county clerk Kim Davis (refusing to give out marriage licenses to gay couples in Kentucky) is proof that there’s a movement toward the criminalization of Christianity, based on the belief that anyone who allows or tolerates gay marriage just can’t be Christian. There’s a line drawn in the sand and heaven forbid if you cross it and try to create a gray area, between these stark spiritual “realities.”

That’s why I was surprised to hear Seth Andrews (The Thinking Atheist) READ MORE >>

Correcting the Flat Reading of the Bible

Michael Hardin is brilliant in taking us back to the Jewish historical and cultural way of thinking at the time of Christ to correct the traditional Evangelical way of reading the Bible, as if everything is equally authoritative and true, what he calls a flat reading of the Bible. Open your eyes and heart to a new way of finding the fingerprints of God through the lens of Jesus, not by swallowing everything you read hook, line, and sinker, but by viewing the sacred texts in their historical/cultural context with Jesus as the window. A refreshing perspective! Thoughts? (23:14)

3 Ways Atheists are Good for Christianity

3 Ways Atheists and Agnostics are Good for Christianity

To most people, the title of this blog seems contradictory. Aren’t atheists rebelling against God and leading people astray? Well, for the most part, no. One of our discoveries in our group’s research is that most atheists (or their cousins, agnostics) are good for people of faith because their honesty keeps us honest. They can help us learn to think for ourselves.  READ MORE >>

4 Ways History Solves the Puzzle of Faith

History Solves the Puzzle of Faith

Have you ever puzzled over things you hear/observe at church or read in the Bible? Like how can an all loving God allow anyone to suffer in hell forever? Or, if people go to hell, why is the door to repentance and forgiveness closed? Or, why do religious people and systems often seem so unloving?

Fifteen years ago, I started to investigate the answers to these and other perplexing questions. READ MORE >>