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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How Western Theology Screwed Up the Jesus Story

How Western Theology Screwed Up the Jesus Story

When someone studies the history of Christianity from its inception and really tries to be objective about it, he or she will inevitably discover how screwed up and tainted the Jesus Story has become over the centuries.

One way is how his teachings have been misconstrued as a formula for salvation. In the grocery store recently, a little girl, whose parents were standing close by, handed me a small card and said, “Would you like a Gospel tract?” I obliged and read it over. On it was a very brief explanation (with “proof” text Bible verses) of the major problem in life and its solution: Life is short, death and judgment is sure, sin is the cause, and Christ is the cure. The call to action was to pray a 17-word prayer to receive Jesus as one’s personal Savior. The Jesus epic had been boiled down to a “Get out of hell free” card in the game of life.

The source of this type of mentality cannot be traced to one fundamentalist church but rather to a long line of historical events that caused Jesus’ original message to evolve into our modern Western view of Christianity.

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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 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 Inescapable Love of God (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2014)

BOOK REVIEW: [5 STARS] This was the first book I read that took seriously the problem with Western Christianity’s doctrine of hell and presented a sane and biblical view of Universalism. I love this book, cite it often, and am so glad Wipf and Stock published a second edition that adds more up-to-date material and dramatically improves the cover!

Thomas Talbott takes us on a journey to find the real heart of God and shows us how far off many of the Western theologians throughout history were (Augustine, Calvin, Edwards, Acquinas, and modern conservative scholars). He makes a overwhelmingly persuasive plea that traditional theology is one of fear, where each human is either pre-determined to be saved or damned (Calvinism) OR must freely choose redemption even if they are cut off from a true Christian message and have the capacity to lose their salvation (Arminianism). Both fear-based views see all humans as depraved sinners who, by default, deserve eternal torment by a retributive, exclusive God.

Talbott makes an impassioned, reasoned case that, historically and linguistically, there’s always been a third, more consistent, and solidly biblical position called the universal reconciliation of all humankind–a view that is intellectually, scripturally, and historically honest. For example, it beautifully reconciles God’s love with his judgment and explains in depth why most have misread hell and the afterlife.

This book is a breath of sweet air blowing away the stale inconsistencies of Western religious thought. Five stars.
Do check it out! >>