Years ago, shortly after the book first came out, I read The Shack. Well, to be more precise, I read most of it before I couldn’t stand it any more. Too many red flags flew at me from the pages of the book. My blood pressure was rising and I needed to set the book down before I experienced a stroke. I was dismayed to hear fellow Christians praise a book which so blatantly went against the doctrine of Scripture. I could concede that God can present himself as a black woman (although it’s highly unlikely given that He never did in the many scripture references about Him), but the words spouting from her mouth were not the words of the God of the Bible.
The scuttlebutt of the moment quickly passed and it seemed as though the book would fade into oblivion. Someone felt that the story had not made enough of a sensation (or money) and so turned it into a motion picture. My Facebook account is now aglow with the pros and cons of the movie as Christians try to persuade each other on the merits of the story.
The story even managed to creep into my conversation with my cousin during a long overdue phone call (she lives in what seems like forever away). After hanging up the phone with her, I did a quick check on Facebook to see what the world was up to and an article from Answers in Genesis regarding the movie appeared on my feed. Hmmmm….. curious. I shared the link with my cousin, had a quick lunch and then I cracked open my Bible to study.
I have had a desire, recently, to start studying the letters of Paul and somehow decided I would begin with Galatians. I really have no idea why, but as I read the first ten verses of chapter one, I could tell God was talking to me about The Shack.
Beginning with verse six, Paul says, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”
Whoa….. Paul goes on to say, “But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.”
Paul isn’t mincing any words here. He’s quite clear that any deviation from the true gospel is wrong and those who preach such a false gospel should be accursed. It’s quite clear.
Paul continues to say in verse 10, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”
Sometimes a feel good story with lots of love and forgiveness and hope seems like the right message, especially when one of the main characters is God. We need to measure the character in the book with the true character of God in scripture. Just as Paul wasn’t in the business of preaching the gospel in order to give people a warm fuzzy feeling, neither should we be. Sometimes the message of the gospel isn’t what we want to hear but it is always what we need to hear.