Why Akathleptos?

Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.

Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.

Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal

Friday, February 17, 2017

Doctrinally this movie is not "Pilgrim's Progress"; it's more "Pilgrim’s Regress"

Based on the enormously popular book by the same name, the movie "The Shack" is being released this month and marketed as a Christian faith-based film. However, the story — while, perhaps, a good read — is infused with such bad theology that Christians would do better to pass on this movie. The enormous popularity of the book (to the extent that it's now a movie) is an indictment of the Biblical illiteracy and lack of theological discernment in the 21st century church.

Albert Mohler, ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said of the book,

“When it comes to The Shack, the really troubling fact is that so many readers are drawn to the theological message of the book, and fail to see how it conflicts with the Bible at so many crucial points. All this reveals a disastrous failure of evangelical discernment.”

Even as Wayne Jacobson and others complain of those who identify heresy within The Shack, the fact is that the Christian church has explicitly identified these teachings as just that — heresy. The obvious question is this: How is it that so many evangelical Christians seem to be drawn not only to this story, but to the theology presented in the narrative — a theology at so many points in conflict with evangelical convictions?

Evangelical observers have not been alone in asking this question. Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Professor Timothy Beal of Case Western University argues that the popularity of The Shack suggests that evangelicals might be shifting their theology. He cites the “nonbiblical metaphorical models of God” in the book, as well as its “nonhierarchical” model of the Trinity and, most importantly, “its theology of universal salvation.”

As Al Mohler concludes,

In evaluating the book, it must be kept in mind that The Shack is a work of fiction. But it is also a sustained theological argument, and this simply cannot be denied. Any number of notable novels and works of literature have contained aberrant theology, and even heresy. The crucial question is whether the aberrant doctrines are features of the story or the message of the work. When it comes to The Shack, the really troubling fact is that so many readers are drawn to the theological message of the book, and fail to see how it conflicts with the Bible at so many crucial points.

All this reveals a disastrous failure of evangelical discernment. It is hard not to conclude that theological discernment is now a lost art among American evangelicals — and this loss can only lead to theological catastrophe.

... The tragedy that evangelicals have lost the art of biblical discernment must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine.


James B. DeYoung, Th.D., Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Western Seminary said,

I have known William “Paul” Young for several years, and participated with him in a Christian “think-tank” until 2004. I have recently read his novel, The Shack. While this book is very creative and has its helpful points, I believe that Paul is using this literary form to promote a doctrine known as universal reconciliation. I encourage readers of Paul’s novel to read my review of this book, and my critique of the tenets of universal reconciliation. Both my review of his book and my critique are here on line. Behind The Shack is a stream of questionable theology, questionable both for what the book says and for what it doesn’t say in our understanding of God, Jesus Christ, the Spirit, sin, judgment, reconciliation, the destiny of the unrighteous, how God’s love and justice relate, and the institutions that God has established. The book’s most telling claim is that “mercy triumphs over justice because of love” (ch. 12 ).


Contra] Annette Gysen, editor at Discovery House Publishers in Grand Rapids, Michigan said,

The great tragedy of this novel is that undiscerning readers, moved by the plotline, think that they are coming to a greater understanding of God and the Scriptures, when in fact they are coming to a greater understanding of Young and the god he has created.


Christian apologist Norman L. Geisler and Bill Roach point out fourteen problem areas in Young’s theology as presented in The Shack. They summarize,

"The Shack may do well for many in engaging the current culture, but not without compromising Christian truth. The book may be psychologically helpful to many who read it, but it is doctrinally harmful to all who are exposed to it. It has a false understanding of God, the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, the nature of man, the institution of the family and marriage, and the nature of the Gospel. For those not trained in orthodox Christian doctrine, this book is very dangerous. It promises good news for the suffering but undermines the only Good News (the Gospel) about Christ suffering for us. In the final analysis it is only truth that is truly liberating. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). A lie may make one feel better, but only until he discovers the truth. This book falls short on many important Christian doctrines. It promises to transform people’s lives, but it lacks the transforming power of the Word of God (Heb. 4:12) and the community of believers (Heb. 10:25). In the final analysis, this book is not a Pilgrim’s Progress, but doctrinally speaking The Shack is more of a Pilgrim’s Regress."

– Source: The Shack: Helpful or Heretical?offsite A Critical Review by Norman L. Geisler and Bill Roach


Tim Challies said of the book,

Because of the sheer volume of error and because of the importance of the doctrines reinvented by the author, I would encourage Christians, and especially young Christians, to decline this invitation to meet with God in The Shack. It is not worth reading for the story and certainly not worth reading for the theology.

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