More Like a Convenience Store

I t’s been close to a year since I read and reviewed the best-selling “Christian” book, “The Shack”.

When I first heard about it, I so resisted it on premise alone, that I decided to pretend it did not exist, thinking it would eventually fade into the haze of so much of what the church calls valuable and worthy of its time these days. Kinda like having an expiration date. That worked for about 3 months, till I was forced to take my head out of the sand and read it, due to it’s ridiculously meteoric rise to the top of the charts and a need to stay on top of such things.

I knew my reading of it was inevitable because the Bible says that in the last days the church will heap up teachers unto itself because it doesn’t hunger after the clear Word of truth anymore, and craves a multitude of viewpoints and perspectives on things that God has already had the final word on. And if today’s bookstore approach to all things pertaining to life and godliness (or the lack thereof) doesn’t qualify for ‘heaps of teachers’ with it’s endless parade of “Christian” best-sellers, someone please tell me what does. Apparently all that matters to the shallow believer of 2009 is relief for that chronic ear itch, which people have chosen to alleviate by more and more books, books of questionable and varying spiritual value. Side effects of this treatment may include an inability to discern truth from almost-truth. Notice, it’s not truth-from-error necessarily, but truth-from-almost-truth.

I was wrong about the notion that it would fade from view shortly, but not wrong on the train-wreck that this book is. (See this website for my full review/rebuke/reproof.)
And I have my own ideas on how I think this all comes out in the end, but you won’t hear that from me today or any day, on this site or any other. This will prevent me from saying, “I told you so” at some point down the road, and I don’t want anything to do with that. It’s not good news no matter how you slice “The Shack”, whether I can predict the outcome or not.

One thing I have noticed in all the reading I have done about it, and in multiple conversations with others, is that people either love it or hate it. There doesn’t seem to be any reaction in between from those who have actually read it. This makes me all the more certain that something spiritual is going on alright, but not in a good way. And I am going to take it one further by saying that it’s really not about love/hate at all – that’s too superficial and human. I say that folks either discern it’s perils or they don’t – that’s more the response I think is at the heart of the matter, whether we admit that or not. And I also think that “The Shack” and it’s outrageous success is really a marker as to where the church is at these days doctrinally speaking, and on a fear-of-God scale, it fails miserably. I don’t think anyone – author, butcher, baker, candlestick maker – with a right fear of God would ever portray him in such an irreverent and blasphemous way, taking precious truths about His nature and turning them into some sort of serendipitous cartoon of relativity. I am so saddened by this, I cannot even begin to clearly communicate how this makes me feel deep down in my innermost heart. Those with gifts of discernment today are ridiculed and torn in two by those who prefer to be relevant and tolerant, but all I want to do is exhort people to get off that overloaded bandwagon and back on the narrow path. I think true discernment should accomplish the following – it should point us back to our first love, Jesus – and edify the body with wisdom and clarity. What could be more valuable than that? But sadder still is the fact that perhaps the church is getting what it wants most in this book and has no desire to edify or be edified, be taught or corrected any longer.

On a bit deeper level – and others in the Church have found more levels of heresy in this book that aren’t apparent from one reading – I think that as the months pass with no end in sight of it’s popularity, this book is having the effect of greatly leavening out the church. If you have ever baked bread you know that leaven is required in the form of yeast to make it rise and produce the proper results. No self-respecting loaf of bread should be without it. But in the Bible, the word ‘leaven’ can be a metaphor of corruption, because of its tendency to negatively affect/infect others. It may be small in quantity, but can thoroughly pervade a thing by influence. “The Shack” was rejected by dozens of publishers, to my great joy. But in these days of self-publishing, success is no longer dependent upon the trained eye of what is valuable and what is not; and so we have something small “rising” to disproportionate success that perhaps was for just this time on the church calendar. So be it, the Lord knows and often allows things that cause us to make choices, clear and decisive ones. Between the Jabez nonsense of the ‘90s and that other trainwreck, “The Message”, can anyone really say they didn’t see this coming? Not I. I reviewed “The Message” back in 1994 before most anyone had ever cracked it’s pages. The genie is out of the bottle on a self-serving and narcissistic brand of Christianity that appeals to the masses of seekers and Emergents and has no power to enlighten sin-darkened souls.

Besides, I think “The Shack” is the wrong title. I think “The Convenience Store” is more descriptive in light of it’s effects. A place where you can stop in and get a quick cup o’ joe, fill up the tank, and down all the junk food you can stomach before you hit the superhighway of today’s Christian walk (as opposed to the analogy to Pilgrims’ Progress that Eugene Petersen so glowingly attaches to his recommendation of The Shack). You won’t get a meal there, simply empty calories that erode your (spriritual) health oh so subtly over time. And we can call it the “Seven ‘Leaven”.

–mary

I have been a believer since 1981. Everything else before that is relatively meaningless. My heart has, from day 1, always been toward the subject of bible prophecy and I have seen the Lord do amazing things in my life through simply studying the Word and applying it to my life. I am a wife, grandmother and work full time in ministry. Life is full, and full of learning curves and seasons.

2 Responses to “More Like a Convenience Store” Subscribe

  1. Elizabeth March 7, 2009 at 1:46 am #

    Hi Mary, sorry I haven’t been here in a while, but you know how hectic life can be. LOL

    Your review is excellent, but there was no hyperlink at “see this website”.

    I have just left a church that has absolutely no discernment and the few Christians in that church that do are staying hoping for change.

    That rag book called “The Shack” is making it’s rounds quickly through that congregation and despite the warnings from myself, missionaries and a very few others, the censorship is on in regards to warning and standing on the Word of God.

    This church has also decided to label itself as trans-denominational rather than non-denominational.

    What was so funny, is that I have been censored from putting out any content that warns against the apostacy and heretical teaching taking place today, yet when I told the one so-called “elder” that I was embarking on the study “Footsteps of the Messiah” he jumped on me for not being discerning and that those are just the teachings of men. LOL I reassured him that the one who wrote it is a sound believer he gave me a really dirty look. Obviously the man is anti-Semetic.

    It wasn’t until I was on my way home that I burst out laughing and thanking the LORD for showing me the hypocrisy that had just taken place and a supposed place of worship to HIM.

    I have since learned that the other church I was attending has a new pastor that is solid in God’s Word and only preaches from it. So we will be heading back there this coming LORD’s day. It is only about five minutes as apposed to the 40 minutes to the church we just left. The LORD surely does answer prayer.

    Okay, off my soap box now. LOL

    Thanks for letting me share, and blessings in Christ,
    Elizabeth

  2. Mary March 28, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    Soapboxes aside, a concept I truly understand, bless you for speaking out. If no one does, what will happen to the church? It will slide deeper and deeper into apostasy. And it is encouraging for those who perceive that something is wrong about a certain book or teaching but have no one to confirm it for them. Lots of brethren are told they are out of line for speaking out on falsehood and lots more are without a good church. It’s nice to know we are not alone, never mind at times it sure seems like it.
    Soapboxes are good for something. Maybe the church could use the soap too.

    mare

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