It always pains me to no end whenever I learn about a family member or friend who is genuinely interested in seeking God, and yet they are led astray by the very people who are supposed to be their spiritual shepards.
Don't misunderstand me, I can understand how easily something like that can happen - - believe me I do! But when it's the Church itself and its so-called leaders who promote things that are blatantly and clearly blasphemous if not downright heretical that's where I have to draw the line.
It's also precisely the point where I want to reach out and try to grab them by the hand, sit them down, and make sure they truly understand what it is they are allowing to enter their heart and mind - - spiritual deception of the worst kind.
Recently, we looked at the existence of spiritual deception and spiritual warfare that is running rampant throughout so-called Christian circles today, and specifically how Satan knows his time here is short so he's attempting to deceive as many well-meaning Christians as he possibly can.
Let's face it, the greatest deceptions are those that contain some element of truth; just enough to make them sound good and believable. It only takes a very small amount of poison sprinkled over a perfectly good meal to kill a man. A full 99.9% of the meal might be fine, but that .1% cyanide sprinkled over the the food will kill you dead. Satan knows this, but sometimes we seem to forget it. Spiritual poison works just as deadly as worldly poison, the results are the same - - death.
Today's commentary will be on none other than the "Christian" bestseller called "The Shack" by William P. Young. First, it was Rick Warren's immensely popular "The Purpose Driven Life" that signaled the road we were on, and now this book takes things even further. By doing so, it leaves many Christians open to being deceived. Likewise, how many people who are truly searching for answers (and are considering Jesus Christ as the only real answer) will be led astray by this work?
This is why it's imperative for us to take a closer look at what this book teaches before we enthusiastically sign-up to be a part of that Christian Book Club that our church is sponsoring this month to read and discuss this bestseller.
A MESSAGE THAT TICKLES THE EARS!
The overriding message of this book (and others like it) is that God's Word needs to be softened in order to reach the lost and unsaved.
Unregenerate "believers" who love the ways of the world will want a church that fits that world. To make them feel at home - - and to satisfy curious seekers - - the church must now re-invent itself say these proponents of the "seeker-sensitive" movement.
Since no one can really understand God's truth unless the Holy Spirit reveals it to their hearts (1 Corinthians 2:9-16), they believe that God's Word must be simplified so that everyone - - Christian or not - - can relate to it. That's pure nonsense!
It's not surprising then that Young and Warren quote passages from "The Message" (a paraphrased "version" of the Bible by Eugene Peterson) over excessively rather than the more common Holy Bible itself in any of its respected translations/versions. Why do they do this? Because many of those simplified passages alter both the words and the meaning of the Scriptures, but they fit the points that both authors are trying to make so it's beneficial to them.
What is Peterson's Message? What does Eugene Peterson himself say? In his introduction to "The Message," he tells us that "This version of the New Testament in a contemporary idiom keeps the language of the Message and fresh and understandable in the same language in which we do our shopping, talk with our friends, worry about world affairs, and teach our children their table manners...."
This sounds like a good idea on the surface, but what if essential Biblical concepts are not part of our everyday conversation? Should we then rewrite God's holy Scriptures to fit today's more shallow and worldly communications? Remember, we are dealing with God's holy unchangeable Word - - not an ordinary book. God owns His message, we don't. Only His own, well-guarded words can be presented as absolute truth. Yet, readers who trust these authors let alone their current church leaders who are promoting these works view this book as an authentic translation of the Bible rather than as Peterson's personal, politically correct interpretation.
Throughout both Old and New Testaments, God forbids us to distort His Word. Additions and deletions are strictly forbidden in Scriptures like Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Galatians 1:8-9 and Revelation 22:19. Acts 17:11 exhorts us to learn from the Bereans who "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
It doesn't take a Greek scholar to recognize the appalling distortions of God's holy Word. Any Bible student willing to compare Peterson's Message with a Greek/English Interlinear Lexicon and take time to look up key words in a credible New Testament Bible dictionary will discover alarming deletions, distortions and additions to the original text. If Peterson is right, then all our other Bibles - the KJV, NASV, NIV, Greek-English interlinear Bibles - - are false.
Food for thought, but don't take my word for it. See side-by-side comparisons for yourself by clicking the "Recommended Reading" links below and make your own conclusions.
THE DANGERS OF PROMOTING "THE SHACK" AS "CHRISTIAN" ANYTHING
Matthew 24:4-5 - - "Jesus...said to them: 'Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.'"
Proponents of "The Shack" (or even its companion piece hawked by Oprah titled "A Course In Miracles") should be forewarned that they're being deceived by a counterfeit "Jesus" - - it's that simple.
"A Course in Miracles" is obviously occult (a dictation from a channeled spirit guide), while the more subtle message of Young's "The Shack" (a fictional testimony full of tear-jerking dialogue) has been widely accepted in postmodern churches.
Countless pastors and church leaders are delighting in its message. By ignoring (or redefining) sin and guilt, they embrace an inclusive but counterfeit "Christianity" that draws crowds, but distorts the Bible. Discounting Satan as well, they weaken God's warnings about deception. No wonder His armor for today's spiritual war became an early victim of this spreading assault on Truth.
No room for the historical Jesus? Must we re-imagine God to make Him fit the rising universal church? That seems to be the aim of "The Shack's" female "God." Here she is speaking to the main character, Mackenzie (Mack for short):
"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." [1,p.93]
"Religious conditioning?" Is that how Mr. Young views Biblical Christianity? It's easy to be persuaded by his clever arguments too. "The Shack" is written as a personal testimony that draws readers into virtual dialogues with a playful, culturally relevant "God." In contrast to the dry, occult lessons in "ACIM," "The Shack" leads readers into vicarious experiences in a world of revelations and sensations.
The only sin-like issue here is independence - - a refusal to accept universal oneness with "God" and man. Unhindered by Biblical guidelines, "The Shack" offers no standard for right or wrong, so there's no real need for Biblical repentance. It fits right into the popular vision of a unifying, non-judgmental church.
Jesus criticized the Pharisees who "searched the Scriptures," but refused to "come" to Him. Today's postmodern seekers are just as foolish. They ignore unwanted Scriptures, and then flock to the culturally attuned "Jesus" of their imaginations.
In "The Shack," readers meet a permissive "God" that "submits" to their human ways. They look through the veil between life and death, see the joy beyond, and communicate with loved ones - - subtle examples of "calling up the dead," which the Bible bans (Deuteronomy 18:11). Mack also "sees" the colorful "auras" that show spiritual maturity among the dead-but-alive. He even practices astral travel - - what "The Shack" calls "flying" -- a word popularized by Maharishi Yogi long ago.
"Such a powerful ability, the imagination!" said "The Shack's" fictional "Jesus." That power alone makes you so like us." [1,p.140]
Here the boundaries of the church are broadened to include almost everyone. The only exception seems to be "independent" folk who refuse to "come" to this universal "God." This isn't Christianity - - and this false "Jesus" would agree. When Mack asks him what it "means to be a Christian," he answers:
“'Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian.' The idea struck Mack as odd and unexpected and he couldn’t keep himself from grinning. 'No, I suppose you aren’t.'" [1,p.182]
Of course, he's not! The word "Christian" refers to Christ's followers - - not to Jesus - - and it has always clashed with trendy cultures. Even when "the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts 11:26), that word was a derogatory label used by enemies of the Church, but that didn't keep faithful Christians from joyfully claiming that name and sharing His Word!
The book also has the audacity to re-imagine the Trinity. From the opening page, Mack is immersed in spiritual re-education, for each comment contradicts his previous understanding of God. For example, this new "Jesus" never returned to Heaven. Was there no real resurrection? Not according to the female "God":
“Although by nature he is fully God, Jesus is fully human and lives as such. While never losing the innate ability to fly [which he demonstrates in the book], he chooses moment-by-moment to remain grounded. That is why his name is Immanuel, God with us...." [1,p.99-100]
But the Bible tells us that Jesus did return to His Heaven after His crucifixion. Besides, neither God our Father nor the Holy Spirit made themselves finite or visible to man. "No one has seen God at any time," said the true Jesus. (John 1:18) Yet, here we see all three in human form - - on earth! [1,p.98-99]
Denying sin, guilt, and God's authority is next on the agenda for this author. Unlike the true God, this false Trinity exercises no authority over man. That should please today's postmodern church leaders! They seem to shun words such as "sovereignty" and "authority." After all, a reigning God who sets the moral standard for all time could cause division. He could impede their main purpose: inclusive relationships and "authentic community."
No wonder Mack is confused when he asks, "Why would the God of the universe want to be submitted to me?" The answer? "Because we want you to join us in our circle of relationships," answers "Jesus." [1,p.145]
In this new story, sin no longer separates unholy people from our holy God. It fits right into postmodern churches that ignore Biblical commands such as "Do not be conformed to the world" and "Abhor evil" (Romans 12:2,9). Chipping away at the reality of sin, guilt and God's just judgments, this transformational process undermines any real understanding of our need for discernment, repentance, or the cross. Even God's amazing grace becomes meaningless!
Notice how The Shack's false "God" mocks our true God by minimizing His sovereignty and judgments:
"I'm not a bully, not some self-centered demanding little deity insisting on my own way. I am good, and I desire only what is best for you. You cannot find that through guilt or condemnation...." [1,p.126]
"You don't need me at all to create your list of good and evil. But you do need me if you have any desire to stop such an insane lust for independence...Mackenzie, evil is a word we use to describe the absence of Good, just as we use the word darkness to describe the absence of Light...Evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do not have any actual existence." [1,p.136]
That's a lie! Though the wonders of God's love and promises are vastly beyond our comprehension, He has told us His standard for good and evil - - and He will punish those who minimize sin (and thus the need for the cross) or reject His ways and warnings. :
Jeremiah 5:4 - - "They are foolish; for they do not know the way of the Lord, the judgment of their God...."
Psalm 50:21 - - "You thought I was altogether like you, but I will rebuke you..."
Romans 1:18,22 - - "...the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.... Professing to be wise, they became fools..."
Jeremiah 6:19 - - "Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people - - the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words...."
WELCOME TO THE PROPHESIED APOSTASY
"There is a new world emerging...." writes Tamara Hartzell, author of "In the Name of Purpose." "This new world stands against the truth, against the Lord Jesus Christ, and against God. Its rise is coming about in the power and authority and deception of the god of this world (angel of light), who will easily lure the spiritually-prepared masses into worshipping him and his Coming One."
If you know someone who has been deceived by any of this please pray for them right away. Pray that their eyes are opened, that they received discernment, and that they're freed from this spiritual deception. If you feel up to it you might even want to take them out for coffee and have a heart-to-heart over the subject.
Just be prepared for the possibility that few Christians will notice their error, and that many will most likely resist.
(FULL DISCLOSURE: I have not personally read either of these books, but instead have relied on my own research and hard work to collect the facts, and have presented the evidence for you here as you've just seen it.)
What Kind Of Message Is "The Message"?
The Twisted "Truths" Of "The Shack" And "A Course In Miracles"
Spirit-Led Or Purpose-Driven?
"Shack" Opens Doors, But Critics Call Book "Scripturally Incorrect"
What We're Praying/Talking About
Our faith in action, or our small contribution in trying to apply what we're taught in Hebrews 5-6 and James 2:17-26 for the benefit of our dear brothers and sisters within the Body of Christ...
Look Up Fellowship Media [LUFM]
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