Thursday, January 28, 2010

What Do We Do With the Truth?

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but The Shack is still going strong, though its sales figures are finally beginning to drop. Yesterday, Albert Mohler posted about The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment. His post is long, but the basic points I took from it are:

  • The Shack was written for the purpose of promoting a particular brand of theology.
  • That theology has long been known to be against biblical teaching.
  • These idea have been creeping into evangelical thought for decades.
  • The Shack has triggered the popularization of these liberal concepts even among mainstream evangelicals
  • We need to reacquaint Christians with what the Bible really teaches.

It doesn’t bother me so much that someone would write a book that includes what The Shack supporter Timothy Beal calls a “nonbiblical metaphorical model of God,” a “nonhierarchical” model of the Trinity and a “theology of universal salvation.” We’ve always had people supporting these idea in one form or another. Timothy Beal didn’t have to read The Shack to latch onto these ideas. What bothers me is that I have no reason to disagree with the assertion that these ideas have been filtering into mainstream Christianity for some time, but many Christians are ill equipped to recognize these teachings as heresy, even dismissing those who point out how The Shack attempts to teach doctrine contrary to the Word of God.

If it has crept into mainstream Christianity, then it has crept into the writings of other Christian novelists as well. Now, most Christian novelists know better than to try to write a novel for the sole purpose of promoting their doctrine, so we aren’t likely to see a lot of statements along that line in books, but we often see these little statements that pop up throughout books. A character starts talking about salvation, but what does the character say about it? Does he mention repentance or does he say something along the lines of God not sending anyone to hell, so we just need to stop worrying? It may mean little to the story and many readers may skip over it, but it tells us something about the condition of modern day Christianity. How can Christians know to discern good from evil if they don’t even know how to get saved?

I hesitate to say that Christian novelists need to start writing about doctrine more, but maybe that’s exactly what we need. Most people don’t read doctrinal statements. Many people no longer attend Sunday school. Many preachers avoid talking about what the Bible says about the punishment of sin because they are afraid it will drive their congregations away. If someone doesn’t do something, all we are going to have in our churches are a bunch of lost people who have no idea of what is coming.