Sunday, May 31, 2009

Is Christianity True?

Christianity is unique among the belief systems. It is a system that deals in absolutes. Therefore, it demands a commitment. It is either absolutely true or absolutely false. There is no middle ground. There is no room for compromise. If Christianity is true, then it necessarily follows that belief systems that contradict it are false. A person cannot believe mutually exclusive ideas and remain consistent in any way. There can be no truth that says, “Christ is the only way” and also says, “Any way will do.” Such reasoning is nothing but double-talk.

Christianity creates problems for people who want to make their own rules and set their own standards. If Christianity is true, then it necessarily follows that God has made certain demands on the human race based on His righteous perfection and on man’s fallen state of sinfulness. Such words are not popular with modern, “enlightened” mankind. If Christianity is true, then it necessarily follows that the entire Bible is true, also. If the Bible is true, then man is not merely an animal free to act like one. There is Someone outside of man to Whom he must answer.

Christianity is under attack on several fronts, but it is not difficult to discern who is behind these attacks. Satan himself has been fighting God since the very beginning when he very foolishly determined in his heart to “be like God.” His jealousy and pride caused him to rebel against his Creator. He hates humanity with an everlasting hatred, because man is God's special creation. He will stop at nothing to deceive human beings and ruin their lives.

There are two facts which are the target of Satanic opposition, because on these two facts hang the reality of Christianity. Without these facts, Christianity falls. With them, it triumphs absolutely, because they validate all the rest of the Bible. These two facts are the creation by God of the universe and all that is in it, including man, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Creation

Much is made today of the value of each individual’s experiences. Young people are being taught to believe that what they think and how they feel are of far greater significance than any objective reality and truth. However, our experiences are unreliable. Truth does not come from within us. It comes from God's revelation in nature and in His Word. This, of course, is not popular thinking today among those who hold to a naturalistic interpretation of life that says we are merely animals who are the product of chance, without any absolutes and without any Deity to whom we must answer. Dr. Henry Morris addresses this situation quite accurately, as follows:

“...evolution did not originate with Darwin. Evolutionism is basic in ancient and modern ethnic religions and in all forms of pantheism. Naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace admitted that he received the basic tenets of the Darwinian form of this heresy while in an occult trance in a Malaysian jungle. It does not take a theologian to figure out the identity of the revealer. Satan and his evolutionary gospel hate God as the Creator, Christ as the Savior, and the Bible as the Word of God. Modern evolutionism is simply the continuation of Satan's long war against God” (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Long War Against God).

It is obvious that the modern-day abuse of drugs can also lead to the same type of “revelation.” Worship of any thing or any being other than the one true God is, whether intentional or not, worship of Satan. Evolution, reincarnation, occultism, Eastern religions, and the use of drugs all go together. There can be no doubt that Satan uses every device possible to open the mind to his revelations. These devices certainly include occult trances, some types of meditation, and hallucinogenic drugs. Anything seen in a vision or dream brought on by these tools of Satan is unreliable, no matter how real he may make it seem. Remember that he is the great liar and the great counterfeiter of the truth. “...Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44, NASB). We are warned in the Scripture not to be ignorant of his devices.

The first, and most foundational fact of all, is found in Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” One look at the sky on a starry night absolutely underscores the truth of creation as recorded in the book of Genesis. Our God is infinitely powerful and without peer. He can do in a moment what mere chance could never do, not even in the billions of years vainly imagined by evolutionary scientists.

There are those who claim that the Genesis account has no validity because it is taken from the Bible and is, therefore, only “religion.” However, those who choose to disbelieve God’s creative acts offer nothing credible as an alternative. All they have been able to present is an absurd idea that is utterly without credibility. That idea is, of course, called evolution. Evolution is so without merit that it deserves very little attention, except as an example of the foolish lengths to which man will go in his efforts to establish himself as some kind of a god in place of the one true God.

Evolution is intellectually bankrupt. There is major dishonesty involved. Evolutionary scientists claim to be scientific in their approach, but they do not use the scientific method, at least concerning the subject of evolution. Rather, they look for data to support their preconceived notions. These scientists are very good at claiming that scientists who are creationists are not scientists at all, simply because they do not accept the dogma of evolution. This does not sound like a very scientific argument, does it? Many evolutionists hold to the position that “We know evolution is true, even though we don't know how it works, and we have never seen it happen.” Such a statement would almost be funny if it were not so pathetic and so dangerous.

Creation accepts miracles by an all-powerful God. Evolution accepts miracles by chance, even though evolutionists deny the miraculous. Evolutionary scientists claim that the universe spontaneously created itself out of nothing, and that life spontaneously came from non-living materials. One scientist has even said the following: “Our universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time.” Such a statement is so bizarre that it does not deserve to be dignified by a response. It makes a great deal more sense to believe that God can do miracles than it does to believe that natural processes can do miracles. Christianity is reasonable. Atheism, evolution, and the like are absurd at best, representing man’s efforts to wish God out of existence so he can excuse himself for his sinful behavior.

While evolutionists refuse to believe in miracles performed by a miracle-working God, they are more than willing to believe in miracles performed by mere chance; in other words, by no one. Obviously, these “naturalistic miracles” would fall more into the category of “fairy tales” than they would of “science.”

Fairy tales are a part of most young children’s lives. Children seem to enjoy fantasy and make-believe. Sad to say, there are some fairy tales that are believed today, even by adults, who then accuse Christians of “believing in fairy tales.” The Lord Jesus Christ said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32, NASB). Those who know Him are the only ones who have a solid foundation of truth for their lives. That is why the teaching of truth is so important in Christian schools. We understand the importance of equipping the minds of children and young people to resist the empty philosophies and “fairy tales” of this world.

Those who reject truth are often very quick to identify Christians as unrealistic and naive. They claim Christians are simple-minded for believing in the Creator-God, the sinfulness of man, the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His bodily resurrection, and His second coming. The foundation of each person's thinking lies in his view of origins, so that is where a discussion of such thinking should begin.

Let us suppose that a prominent scientist begins to propound the idea that computers are not made through any organized and logical process; instead, they came into a being through a random process of evolution over millions of years. Obviously, there would be those who object to this teaching on the grounds of common sense or realistic knowledge of how computers are made. These objectors would be ridiculed as naive and stupid, out of touch with the latest scientific discoveries, and brainwashed by old-fashioned thinking. A great effort would be made to stop the schools from teaching the idea that computers are made by computer manufacturers. Severe doubt would be cast on whether computer manufacturers even exist, and some would come right out with blatant statements of “fact” that they do not exist. Schools would ultimately be prevented from even mentioning the idea of computer manufacturing as a theory or alternative model for the origin of computers, and they would be required to teach the evolution of computers as a fact.

In reality, anyone espousing such a belief would be laughed at unmercifully and would not be taken seriously by anyone. However, as absurd as that little story is, it makes infinitely more sense than what is actually happening. Computers are complicated. One incorrect keystroke at the wrong time can cripple a computer or an entire network of computers. Erase a key file, and a computer becomes an expensive paperweight until it is repaired by someone who is competent in computer maintenance. It will not repair itself. However, computers are nothing in comparison to the complexity of the universe and all it contains. It is immeasurably more likely that a state-of-the art computer network, including software, could come into being and begin working by accident than is that the human body could come about by random processes, no matter how many billions of years the evolutionists arbitrarily grant themselves.

Undaunted by reality, evolutionists nevertheless continue to insist on the absurd as absolute fact. Never mind that evolution is a mathematical impossibility. Never mind that there is not one shred of evidence for evolution. Never mind that all the evidence points toward a great watery catastrophe, such as the flood of Noah, indicating a much younger earth than the billions of years so desperately hoped for by evolutionists. Never mind that evolution cannot be repeated, duplicated, or otherwise subjected to the scientific method. Never mind that the fossil record has thousands of major gaps between species that have never been adequately explained by evolutionists. Never mind that cross-breeding of species does not work, and the limited cross-breeding that is successful produces sterile offspring. Never mind that the geological column, so prominently pictured in science books as a proof for evolution, does not exist as pictured anywhere on earth. Never mind that the very idea of evolution violates the known laws of the universe, including the second law of thermodynamics and the law that says spontaneous generation does not occur. Never mind that evolution is patently absurd and defies all common sense. And never mind that the doctrine of evolution calls God a liar! But the Bible says, “...let God be found true, though every man be found a liar...” (Romans 3:4, NASB).

The evolutionists’ doctrinal position remains the same: “Evolution is true. It has to be. The only other option involves God, and that is clearly unacceptable. Anyone who rejects evolution is ignorant and ought to know enough to believe the scientists.” The Scripture makes it clear that those who hold to such a position are “willingly ignorant” of the truth. They have chosen, because of their sinful nature, to be in a state of unbelief, because they desperately want God not to exist. The only possible reason to reduce man to an animal is to justify animal behavior without accountability to anyone, especially God. That is why evolution, as a chosen system of belief, is a religious doctrine rather than a scientific theory.

Evolution is a lie, plain and simple, and it comes from the father of lies, Satan himself. Dr. Henry Morris said, “...there has never been a greater deception in all history than the lie of evolution! The very notion that this mighty and infinitely complex cosmos, with its amazing array of living creatures and spiritual realities, could somehow create itself out of primeval chaos (or even out of nothing, as modern cosmogonists are suggesting) is nonsense of the highest order” (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Long War Against God, p. 256). The very idea of evolution is so ridiculous as to be laughable. However, as bizarre as it is, it is not funny, because of the fact that it is so deadly to the souls of men. It is a doctrine of demons, contributing to the lost condition and eternal condemnation of unbelievers.

So who believes in fairy tales? Is it the Christian who believes God’s Word and looks at the grand design of the universe and sees the hand of the Designer behind it? Or is it the evolutionist who looks at the grand design of the universe and concludes that it all came about as the result of an accident? Not really a hard question.

The reality of God’s creation establishes the truth of Genesis 1:1. This is the foundational passage that establishes the truth of all the rest. The motivation of the evolutionists is obvious. They want to destroy the foundation in people’s minds in order to undercut the Bible and Christianity. Then man becomes free to do as he pleases. “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3, NASB). The only problem for the humanist is that the foundations have not been destroyed. Instead, all of the efforts of man to undermine and destroy the truth have actually done a great job of further establishing God’s Word as true. There is no excuse for doubting God’s Word, His creative acts, or the truth of Christianity. All who do so will ultimately be held accountable for their willing ignorance.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Christianity stands alone among the “world religions” for two very important reasons. First of all, we Christians have a God who loves us. The majority of the people in this world worship gods who are angry and must be appeased, while our God, the Creator of all things, loves us, cares for us, and shows His grace to us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Second, we have a risen Savior rather than a dead prophet. “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 28:5-6). Our Lord Jesus Christ has defeated death, the thing that all of mankind fears, and He has made salvation a reality. His resurrection validates Christianity, the Gospel, and the Bible in its entirety. It is utter foolishness to reject Him, when his miraculous resurrection, that validates all truth, has been established beyond question.

The resurrection is a more solid historical fact, based on eyewitnesses and documentation, than many other facts that people believe without question. Very few would doubt that Ben Franklin flew a kite with a key on it, that George Washington crossed the Delaware, or that Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. Why do we believe these things? We believe them because there were eyewitnesses, and the events were documented and are now in the history books. Yet, many events found in history books are less provable historically than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was seen alive after his death by many individuals and groups, one of which was larger than five hundred, and much documentation has been written attesting to the facts surrounding His resurrection.

It is interesting that this event is left out of history books, while many other far less established events are included. The reason is obvious. Men do not want to accept this truth, because it validates all of God's truth, and that places great responsibility on humanity to respond appropriately to the truth. It is much easier to be intellectually dishonest about the resurrection and relegate it to merely being “religious belief,” while claiming it is some kind of violation of the so-called “separation of church and state” to allow this truth to be taught and accepted as fact. It often boils down to the fact that many people make a deliberate choice to believe what they want to believe, regardless of the truth.

Truth is consistent with the facts. Certain historical events are factual, based on the standards for establishment of historicity, even though they are rejected by many who do not want to believe them.

· Irrefutable historical fact: Jesus Christ walked the earth.

· Irrefutable historical fact: Jesus Christ was crucified and died.

· Irrefutable historical fact: Jesus Christ rose again from the dead.

No amount of hiding the truth on the part of those who write history will ever change the facts. The fact of the resurrection absolutely establishes the truth of all of the Scripture and the validity of Christianity and the Gospel. Many people choose not to believe the truth, because it requires something of them. Anyone who does so is only fooling himself.

Conclusion

The great message of Christianity is that the God who created all things, the God who loves us, gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sins, and that He not only died for us, He defeated death forever by His resurrection. God does not ask us to feel anything or to have an emotional experience, although some do. He only asks us to have simple, childlike faith in Him and what He has already done for us. When all is said and done, all human endeavor and all human wisdom will evaporate into ashes, and the one important issue will be each individual’s answer to the question asked so long ago by Pilate during the trial of Jesus. “What shall I do then with Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22).

Christian Schools With God Supreme

by James M. Bramblet

In chapter two it was indicated that Christian education is not curriculum-centered, child-centered, or society-centered, but that it is God-centered. The reason for this is that God is central to all things. We have seen that God is central to the created material world because it was made to “declare the glory of God” and to “show His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). We have seen that God is central to mankind because He is the original to which we have been created images. But the Bible says, “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). Our finite minds cannot grasp all things but in this chapter we will try to bring together as many things as we can. We will show that God is central to all, God is supreme and in authority over all, and the glory of God is revealed by all (Rom. 11:36b).

When we talk about God being supreme, we are talking about the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we say that our Christian education is Christ-centered, we mean the same as when we say that it is God-centered. The first verse in the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In the New Testament we read concerning Christ:

“For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers—all things were created by Him and for Him; and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist” (Col. 1:16-17).

The Person and work of the three Persons of the Trinity are so intertwined that it is not easy for us to separate them. Christ says, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). He said to Philip, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). From other Scriptures we know He did not mean that He and the Father were the same person but, rather, that since He was the “express image” of God, to see Him was to see the Father. Christ is the “Word” or the member of the Godhead which expresses the nature of God. Paul taught this same truth when he said:

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Cor. 4:6).

We can only know God if we know Jesus Christ. To be godly is to be Christ-like. Since Christ is God, “Christ-centered” is the same as “God-centered.” When we say that God is supreme, we mean that Christ is supreme. That Christ is supreme is clearly stated in Col.1:18-19: “That in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.”

We will consider the supremacy and centrality of God in the following five areas: 1) God’s Word, the Bible, 2) The material world, 3) The nonmaterial world, 4) The world of sin and evil, and 5) The spiritual world.


Excerpted from Chapter 4 of An Introduction to the Christian School by James M. Bramblet, Copyright © 1985 by James M. Bramblet.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Legalism

“Legalism” is a word that is thrown around by many Christians, generally in a very inaccurate manner. Many seem to believe that legalism is anything or any situation that involves rules and standards rather than complete “freedom” to do as they please. Examples of such thinking abound, but the following few should suffice to illustrate the point:

▪ Often in a Christian school setting, there are complaints from students, and sadly, also from parents, that the school is too “legalistic.” By that, they mean that the school has rules, and students are actually expected to obey them.

▪ Frequently, people of various ages complain that their parents are or were “legalistic,” meaning that their parents had rules for their home and expected the children to obey those rules.

▪ Sometimes churches are referred to as “legalistic.” Generally, such churches are those with an expected standard of conduct and sometimes even an expected standard of dress.

By the kind of thinking expressed in the examples above, it is likely that Jonah could have said, “I ran away from God’s command because God is just too legalistic. He told me what to do and actually expected me to do it.”

All too often, believers fall into the trap of believing that Christian liberty means there are no rules, no standards, no commands, and that anything goes. This really does not square with what the Lord Jesus Christ said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” He did not say, “If you love me, do as you please.” Such teaching is foreign to the Scriptures, which teach us that our freedom is not the privilege of doing anything we please, but it is the freedom and power to do right by obeying the Lord. “For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God” (I Peter 2:15-16, NASB).

The Scriptures give us many rules for Christian conduct. Following are just a few:

"This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12, NASB).

“Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:13-14, NASB).

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:12-17, NASB).

“Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.’ Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:19-22, NASB).

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, ‘The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it’” (1 Peter 3:8-11, NASB).

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7, NASB).

Those who say there are no rules, no “do’s” and “don’ts” for Christians, will experience great difficulty dealing with the above and many other passages.

Another trap is the very popular idea today that Christians are to operate according to “relationships, not rules.” Jesus did not say, “If you love me, have good relationships.” Instead, He said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” There can be no such thing as good, solid, healthy relationships without “rules.” Unless relationships are based on truth, they can never succeed. Far too many Christians get hung up on the idea of unity. Unity becomes their mantra, even unity at all costs. Yet the Scriptures make it very clear that when truth and unity come into conflict, truth always takes precedence. (See John 17 and the book of 2 John.)

The big problem when the subject of “legalism” comes up is the total lack of understanding on the part of some believers relative to what legalism really is. It is important that we let the Bible define it for us. “Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved’" (Acts 15:1, NASB). This makes it clear that the Bible definition of “legalism” is that in order to be saved, a person must obey the Law of Moses or some other list of things to do and things to avoid. It amounts to salvation by works, which negates the grace of God. “Legalism” has to do with salvation, not with daily living. We could never be saved by obeying God’s commands. Scripture makes that abundantly clear. However, God’s moral law has never changed, and God has granted authority to those in charge to make “rules” and standards for all involved to obey. Without obedience, there can only be anarchy, and God is a God of order, not of confusion.

Real legalism, which is salvation by works, appeals to human nature. People want to believe they can do something to add to or even earn their salvation. It is likewise true that unlimited freedom with no restraint also appeals to human nature. Man wants to do as he pleases. What really does not appeal to fallen human nature is the truth that salvation is all of grace, and that after we are saved by grace, God expects us to live in obedience to Him. Man by nature rebels against this, yet it is God’s truth.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Nature of Man

by James M. Bramblet

In the last chapter, we talked about the non-rational creation of God and how it reflects or “declares” the glory of God. We come now to the rational creation of God, or mankind. Man is sometimes spoken of as the “crown” of God’s creation because of the exalted position he was given. Man alone was given dominion over the rest of creation (Gen. 1:26, 28). Man alone is capable of fellowship with God (Gen, 3:0). Man will some day be called upon to judge the angels (I Cor. 6:3). Man will some day reign with Christ (Rev. 20:6). But the most outstanding statement concerning man in all of Scripture is that he is created in the image of God.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:26-27).

The importance of this belief that man is created in the image of God can be pointed up by the almost frantic efforts of the secularists to dissuade people from believing it. The “man is an animal” theme has become almost a religious chant in secular textbooks and among evolutionary materialists. It is necessary to the basic doctrine of evolution that man be seen as simply a highly developed animal. This necessity explains the long but fruitless search for the “missing link” between animals and men.

The question of whether being created in the image of God includes man’s body has been debated for centuries. Views have ranged all the way from believing that God and man are of the same essence, only God is more highly developed, to the belief that man’s body evolved from the lower animals and then God injected a soul and spirit to create man. Obviously, both of these extreme views are contrary to Scripture. Scripture teaches that God is Spirit (John 4:24). We infer from this that God does not have a body and that references to His head, heart, etc. are symbolic.

Having said this, however, we must hasten to note the high regard Scripture holds for the human body (Gen. 9:6; I Cor. 6:19-20; John 2: 21; Rom. 12:1). The human body was formed by God as a special creation to contain the image of God. At the time He created Adam, He patterned his body after the body He would create for the indwelling of Jesus Christ at His incarnation (Heb. 10:5). The resurrection body of Jesus Christ is presently at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3). The resurrection bodies of Christians will be forever with the Lord in heaven (I Thess. 4:16-17). The human body cannot be equated with the body of an animal.

It makes a great deal of difference to the individual whether he believes he evolved up from the animals or whether he came down from the hand of God. The teachings of evolution, and particularly the idea that man is an animal, are in conflict with the Bible doctrine concerning the fall of man and the need for salvation. When the idea that “man is an animal” first came into vogue, many people believed it intellectually, but it did not have a drastic effect on their lifestyles because of their childhood teachings. Now, however, this doctrine has been taught in our schools for several generations and many people are conducting themselves as though they, indeed, are animals. Some would even appear to prefer to look like animals.

The Bible makes it clear that there is a basic difference between man and the animals. Man was given dominion over the animals. When Adam sought a helpmeet from among the animals, none was fit for him (Gen. 2:20), so God created Eve. Man, created in the image of God, is, like God, able to make moral decisions and to usurp authority. The animals, on the other hand, conduct themselves according to God-given instincts rather than by making rational, moral judgments.

Because of the confusion regarding the nature of man, people are often misled regarding many areas of human life. For instance, in the area of romantic love, people often talk about “falling” in love as though it happened accidentally, like falling over a cliff. Two young people who are very unsuited for marriage answer all questions with the simple answer that they are “in love.” Later, when they are seeking a divorce, they explain that they no longer love each other. In the Bible, God gives us commands that show that He sees us not as animals that simply follow our instincts but as men who are able and expected to control our emotions. Christians are told not to intermarry with unsaved people (II Cor. 6:14). Husbands are told to “love your wives” (Eph. 5:25). Wives are told to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4). God would not give us these commands if we were incapable of carrying them out. We do not “fall” in and out of love, but when a husband and wife say they no longer love each other they really mean that they have decided not to love each other any more. They should be instructed that this decision is in disobedience to an explicit command of God.

Another area where we are often misled is in the matter of human endeavor. A person’s “success” in this life is often judged by how large his salary is, and the quality of his home, car, and other possessions. If we were only animals, this would be an accurate assessment, for all the animals need is food, shelter, and the meeting of their material needs. But the Lord Jesus Christ quoted the Scriptures as saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). In another place, He told the story of a man who amassed great wealth and decided he could then take his ease and eat, drink and be merry. God called this man a “fool” saying, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be, which thou has provided?” (Luke 12:20). Later He explained to His disciples that “Life is more than food and the body is more than raiment” (Luke 12:23). Obviously, the Bible teaches that man is not an animal but that he is created in the image of God and owes allegiance to his Creator.

The idea that man is an animal is carried to its extreme in the minds of the Communists. When the Communists take over a country, they round up all those whose religious or political views they cannot change and have them put to death. They do not do this out of hatred but like a farmer who has animals with an infectious disease. He destroys them to protect his herds. If man is only an animal, then killing a few is not such a serious matter since it protects the others. This practice is misusing governmental authority. God gave permission for government to take human life only if human life had been taken. This provision was made because man is created in the image of God, and to take a human life is to strike at God Himself (Gen. 9:6).


Excerpted from Chapter 3 of An Introduction to the Christian School by James M. Bramblet, Copyright © 1985 by James M. Bramblet

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Educational Significance Of Seeing All Things As Revelations Of God

by James M. Bramblet

What significance all this has for Christian educators! The things God has made are the things we study in school. It is true that the primary revelation of God is His written Word (Heb. 1:1), and His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:2), but using His written Word as a guide, we can become interpreters of God’s glory as seen in creation,, Instead of simply seeking something in nature that will be beneficial for us as individuals, we can begin to see something of our true relationship to our Creator.

With this view of school studies, it would seem that Psalm 145 was written for Christian school people: “Every day (at school and home) will I bless thee, and I will praise thy name for ever and ever”(v.2). “One generation (parents and teachers) shall praise thy works to another (children), and shall declare thy mighty acts” (v.4).

We can see now how badly mistaken the Christian parents of a generation ago were in thinking that “secular” subjects could be taught in a secular school and the church and home would give the Christian teaching. There is really no such thing as a “secular” subject, for as has often been quoted, “All truth is God’s truth.” The only reason it has seemed there were “secular” subjects is because God’s truth has been secularized by removing Him from the curriculum and from the school program. It is as though man has stepped between God and His creation and, with his back turned to God, is carefully studying the things God has made while refusing to recognize the One Who made them. Science becomes simply a study of things. History is a study of events without recognition of the providence of God. Mathematics becomes something invented by man for man’s benefit. The whole process of education is for the purpose of making man richer, healthier, and with more leisure time.

As Christians, we are studying the same subjects as the world, but we need to walk around to the other side where we can see the things God has made while we face Him and see things in the light of His Word. When we do this, science becomes that which declares the glory of God. History becomes His-story, telling of His justice and grace and how they have been manifested in years gone by. Mathematics and the other abstract sciences are seen as the eternal knowledge of God which has been in His mind through all eternity.

The essentialists are right in giving an important place to subject matter. But they are very wrong in separating subject matter from the God Who created it. The Apostle Paul spoke of those who, “worshipped and served the creature more than the creator” (Rom. 1:25). When we see “things” as independent of God, then they seem to us as so many goodies just waiting for us to pluck them for our own use. Unfortunately, more than one person or more than one nation often arrive to pluck the best goodies at the same time, and conflict results. This is described by James as follows:

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not here, even of our lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and desire to have, and cannot obtain; ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:1-2).

Considering the many “things” in the world to be independent of God will cause us not to recognize God, not to hear His voice, and not to be aware of His presence. The Scriptures say concerning Jesus Christ: “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not” (John 1:10). The people of that day had lived all their lives in the world made by the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet when He came to earth a very few recognized Him. This verse indicates that they should have recognized Him. Indeed, they would have recognized Him had they been seeing His creation in the right perspective.

When we as Christians recognize that the many things in the world are not independent of God but are utterly dependent upon Him, our entire world changes. Everything becomes a reflector of the glory and person of an all-glorious God. God is so resplendent in glory that no one can see His face and live. As a special privilege, Moses was allowed to see of His glory after He had passed by (Ex. 33:20-23). We creatures are permitted to see His glory by way of reflection. He is reflected not only on the sacred pages of Scripture but also in the mirror of creation. If our eyes had not been dimmed by sin, we would continually confirm the truth of Scripture where it states that the “whole earth is full of His glory.” Enlightened by the Spirit, we are enabled to see something of the glory of God on exhibit everywhere. We see it in the things that please us. We see it in our affliction, and with Hezekiah we say, “It was for my peace that I had great bitterness” (Isa. 38:17). In the “thorns and thistles” of this sin age, we see the glory of God’s justice.

The real purpose of non-rational creation is to reveal the glorious attributes of an all-glorious God. The result of this outlook in the field of education is expressed in the following simple poem:

One ship sails east and another west,
With the selfsame winds that blow.
‘Tis the set of the sail and not the gale,
That determines the way they go.
One class sees man and another God,
With the selfsame studies that be.
‘Tis life’s outlook, not the subjects they took
Which determines what the pupils see.

Excerpted from Chapter 2 of An Introduction to the Christian School by James M. Bramblet, Copyright © 1985 by James M. Bramblet

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why “Buffalo Noise?”


I guess the best answer to that question is, “Why not?”

For some reason, I have always liked buffaloes. My wife Janet likes lambs, my friend Ralph likes rhinos, other people like bears, chickens, cows…you name it. I like buffaloes. Maybe it is the size and stature of the buffalo. Maybe it is the sound of the word “buffalo.” Who knows?

The interesting thing is that the animal we so often think of as a buffalo is really a “bison.” There are other animals more truly called buffaloes, but as far as I am concerned, the American bison is the real buffalo. Besides, “Buffalo Noise” sounds a great deal better (at least in my opinion) than “Bison Noise” for the name of a blog.

Of course, most people don’t know the difference between a buffalo and a bison. The actual answer is that a buffalo is a big, powerful, hairy animal, and a bison is what an Australian washes his hands in.

The Authority of God’s Word in the Christian School

by Ron Livesay, September 2008

"The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19:7-11, NKJV)."

In a Christian school setting, and among Christians as a whole, it is very important to establish the authority for what we do. If we operate a Christian school without a firm foundation, our efforts become mere human efforts doomed to failure. What is our authority for what we do? Without apology, we state that our authority comes from the Bible – the unchanging, infallible, inerrant Word of the Living God. Students need to learn the importance of the authority of God’s Word over their lives. Teachers and students alike need to be sure that we base all we do on God’s Word.

”Authority” is not a popular word today. Much of society has rejected authority, and many believe all authority is illegitimate. “Who is to say what’s right and what’s wrong?” Many also take a very selfish approach. “I will do what I want. No one can tell me what to do.” Man does not naturally accept authority. For example, when airline regulations were made to prohibit smoking on all flights, one passenger commented that she didn’t have a problem doing without a smoke for three hours, but she just didn’t like the idea of anyone telling her what she could and couldn’t do.

Without authority, there is no morality and no absolutes, which results in anarchy. Without morality and absolutes, anarchy results. Man knows this. He has traffic laws, rules for games, etc., but man naturally rebels against authority. Some say rebellion among teenagers is “normal.” In reality, it is not “normal,” but it is ”natural.” These are not the same thing. “Normal” implies right. Not everything that is “natural” is normal or right. Sin is natural, but that doesn’t make it right.

Even more than not wanting to submit to the authority of other humans, man does not want to accept God’s authority over his life. However, there are no other options. Man either accepts God’s authority or becomes his own authority. He either accepts by faith the Word of God (who knows everything) or he accepts by faith the word of man (who knows nothing).

While Psalm 19:7-11 refers directly to Old Testament Law, by broad application it also refers to all of God’s Word. It teaches us many things about the authority of the Bible over our lives.

· God’s Word is perfect. It is absolutely without error. A being less than perfect is not God. He who is perfect can do nothing that is less than perfect. God’s Word is perfect because it is His Word. He is the one who does not lie or make errors. Therefore, we must accept all of the Scriptures as God’s Word, and it has total authority over us. Thou has magnified Thy Word above all Thy Name. (Psalm 138:2)

It is ludicrous to reject any part of the Bible (such as literal creation as described in Genesis) and then try to use the rest of it. Rejection of part of the Bible ultimately leads to rejection of the entire Bible. Every man becomes his own authority. If there is no Creator, there is no Redeemer.

· God’s Word is sure. It never changes. Man changes. As we see in Acts 17, man is always looking for something new. Paul presented the unchanging Creator-God to these people.

· God’s Word is right. As Creator, God is the One who determines what is right and what is wrong. Moral truth comes from the very character of God. He didn’t just “make it up.” Man has rejected creation and come up with evolution as a way of removing God from the picture, but truth doesn’t change because we deny it. We need never fear that science will prove the Bible wrong in any detail. Honest science supports the Bible, because what God says is right. But man is not honest. He accepts his anti-God, anti-Bible beliefs by faith. We will never prove the Bible to unbelievers. To try to do so is a waste of time.

An atheist scientist once said, “Even if they find a big boat up on Mount Ararat and drag it down Main Street, I won’t believe that there was a worldwide flood.” This is not a surprise. The Bible says that even if a man were to come back from the dead, people would still not believe.

· God’s Word is pure and clean. Man’s empty philosophies are empty and depraved. Man has turned the world into a sewer. He has made everything into something dirty. But God’s Word is pure and clean. It will guide us away from the garbage of this world.

· God’s Word is true and righteous. The Bible is a true and accurate record of all we need to know about God and His dealings with man. The central subject of the Bible is Jesus Christ. He is the truth (John 14:6), and He is our righteousness. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

· God’s Word converts the soul. The Bible gives us the message of salvation through Christ. …that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)

· God’s Word makes wise the simple. “Intelligent” and “wise” are not the same thing. Proverbs tells us to “get wisdom and understanding.” 1 Corinthians 1:17-29 teaches us that the educated man who rejects God’s Word is a fool, but the Christian who knows God’s Word is truly wise. It is more important to be wise than to be clever.

· God’s Word causes the heart to rejoice. People lack joy and try to fill the void with all sorts of excitement. Only Christians truly know the inner joy of sins forgiven and the certainty of a home in heaven.

· God’s Word enlightens the eyes. The world is in darkness. The unbeliever looks at the world and it makes no sense. Some say, “Life has no meaning.” The believer is enabled, through God’s Word, to see clearly and understand that God has a purpose in all that happens. We need a biblical worldview, which means we need to view the world through “Bible glasses.”

· God’s Word warns us. God’s Word instructs us in daily living as Christians. It warns us by pointing out dangers and pitfalls.

· God’s Word leads to rewards. As we obey His Word, He blesses us. He also promises that we will receive rewards in heaven.

· God’s Word is more desirable than gold. People can spend their lives going after money, but money can’t buy true happiness during this life, and money can’t buy salvation. …what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36) By contrast, there is great joy in knowing we have something on which we can depend – something permanent. Since God’s Word is our absolute authority, we know we can trust it. This is far more valuable than money – which can be lost.

· God’s Word is sweeter than honey. We all enjoy pleasures in this life. The sweetness of honey illustrates this, yet such pleasures are temporary. God’s Word is sweeter yet – because we know it will last forever.

As we analyze our daily actions, it is important to remember that God’s Word is the only legitimate authority for the Christian school and for the Christian’s life. BCS will only remain secure as a truly Christian school as we continue to stand firm of the solid foundation of the Word of God.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cool Things About Being an Evolutionist

If anyone thinks it is cool to be an evolutionist, they should go here for affirmation.

For another article from the same author, go
here.

God’s Purpose In Creation

by James M. Bramblet

As we look about us and view things from our human point of view, it appears that God’s purpose in creating the world was to make us a nice place in which to live. Indeed, it is true that God has provided us with all the necessities of life, such as air to breathe, food to eat, and heat and light for our convenience. But as we examine the Scriptures we find that God had a deeper and more all-pervasive intention as He formed the universe for our habitation, I speak of the fact that God reveals Himself through His creation. This fact is revealed to us in many portions of Scripture and is stated most clearly in Psalm 19:1-4:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge, There is no speech or language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”

In these four verses we are told four things. The first is that God’s creation, the heavens and the earth, reveal the person of God, or at least His glory and His handiwork. The second verse tells us that this message concerning God is a continuous message emanating forth day after day and night after night. The third verse tells us that this message is not limited by language. Peoples of all languages have access to this message. The fourth verse tells us that the message is going forth in every part of the world. No matter in which part of the earth is our habitation, this message is reaching us there.

In light of the above passage, no person on earth can plead ignorance to God’s claim on his life. This is exactly the message the Apostle Paul gives as he writes in Romans chapter 1 concerning the world’s guilt before God. In verse 18 he explains that God’s wrath is revealed against all men. In verse 19 he points out that this is fair since the knowledge of God is revealed to all. In verse 20 he gives the way God has made this universal revelation:

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).

By examining the things God has made, we see certain things about God, especially His power and His Godhead, or the fact that He exists. No wonder the Psalmist says that only a fool would say in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). If you read on beyond verse 20 of Romans 1, you will find that mankind has rejected God and preferred to worship His creation rather than God Himself. No wonder the Scriptures say we are without excuse. But if the pagan peoples of desert and jungle are without excuse, how much more without excuse is the modern man who examines God’s creation in minutest detail through microscopes and telescopes if he rejects this message concerning the claims of God on his life.

A few of the many passages that teach this truth are as follows: “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things” (Rom. 11:36). “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). “0 Lord, our lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth, who has set thy glory above the heavens” (Psalm 8:1).

The Lord Jesus is God the Son, the second Person of the Godhead. He was there and involved in the creation of the universe (Col. 1:16, Gen. 1:26). When He uses things in the creation to point out truths concerning Himself, He does not treat them as independent items that just happen to show certain things about Him. Rather, He declares Himself to be first and the created thing secondary. For instance, in John chapter 15 He does not point out a grape vine in the field and say He is something like this vine. Rather, He says, “I am the true vine.” Before a vine had ever been created, Jesus Christ had those qualities. When God created the vine, He purposely made it to reveal those things concerning Christ. Incidentally, it also produces fruit and grape juice for men, but that is not its primary function. Its primary purpose was to be a physical illustration of the true vine which had existed through all eternity.

What is true of the vine is true of all creation. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). John spoke of Him as the “true” light (John 1:9). They did not speak of Jesus as being like light but rather that He was light. If comparisons are made, then we must compare the physical light to Jesus and not the other way around. When God created our eyes and the eyes of the various animals, He had already created the light that would reflect from the things of earth so we could see. But the entire thing was done to show us the “true” light, which is Jesus Christ.

What is said about the vine and the light could also be said about God creating sheep with their need for a shepherd (John 10:11). It could be said concerning His creating us with the need for food and His provision of bread (John 6:48). In fact, it could be said of every part of God’s creation. Before the fall, Adam saw a great deal more of God’s glory in creation than our sin-clouded eyes can see today. When the animals were brought before Adam what he called them, “that was the name thereof” (Gen. 2:19). He did not just make up a name, but he was able to see the true nature and purpose God had created into that animal and he called it by the name that revealed that nature. The Bible makes it clear that all of God’s creation is filled with divine messages for man.

When Adam viewed creation, he viewed an exhibition. Everywhere God’s attributes were on display. His power, His grandeur, His beauty, His wisdom, His greatness, His majesty, His glory, and His providence were seen everywhere. For Adam, creation must have been like a temple filled with symbols extolling the greatness of God. The beauty of the Garden of Eden was not just that it was physically better than anything we know today, but primarily it was that sin had not yet entered and man’s eyes were still open to the glory of God.

The revelations of God that come to expression in creation are now, because of sin, hid from the view of natural man. It is only through the light of God’s Word and through the illumination of the Holy Spirit that we can again begin to see what Adam saw. That we are to seek to see God and things eternal in the things and events of this life is told us in II Corinthians 4:18:

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

This passage does not mean that we should not look at or examine the things that are seen, but it does mean that as we examine them we should be concerned about the eternal values revealed therein.


Excerpted from Chapter 2 of An Introduction to the Christian School by James M. Bramblet, Copyright © 1985 by James M. Bramblet

Monday, May 11, 2009

Christian Schools Need a Christian Philosophy of Education

by James M. Bramblet

Every teacher working in a Christian school needs to thoroughly understand the Biblical view of life, Biblical methods of discipline, and the Biblical interpretation of the subject matter he is teaching. Well over thirty years ago, Dr. Mark Fakkema wrote, “If we are to meet our educational challenge we need an all-embracing, unified Christian philosophy. To formulate such a philosophy is our greatest need today in the field of education.” (Fakkema, Mark, Christian Philosophy, Its Educational Implications. 1953, p.2.)

In the years since these words were written, Christian schools have proliferated dramatically. Many books have been written and many speeches made on the subject of the Christian philosophy of education. And yet it is still difficult to find teachers for our Christian schools who understand what it means to teach Christianly. Let us hope that we do not beg crumbs from the educational table of the world so long that we become accustomed to this meager fare.

The teachers in our Christian schools need to know what the Bible says about education so well that they not only recognize educational error when they see it but are able to give a reason for the Biblical standards they hold (I Peter 3:15). The God-ignoring, God-denying, and God-dishonoring views of modern educational thinkers are having a tremendous influence in the world. This influence has even invaded the thinking of many Christian educators. Only those who clearly understand what the Bible teaches on this subject can defend Christian standards in education and take the leadership in our Christian school movement. When it comes to educational philosophy, we need to be prepared to meet the world head-on. We must meet their thoughts with God’s pronouncements, their theories with God’s facts, and their philosophies with a God-centered view of life.

But the challenge of the anti-theistic educators of the world is not the most important reason why we need to understand God’s method of education. The primary challenge comes from within the Christian school movement. Christian schools are multiplying across our land. Many churches have begun and are maintaining schools at great expense. Christian parents are sacrificing to send their children. Christian teachers are giving their lives to staff these schools. How tragic after all of this if we fail not only to give a good education, but a good Christian education. We should not be satisfied until every person associated with our Christian schools has an understanding of the Christian purpose of our schools, every textbook is written from the Christian viewpoint, and every teacher is specifically trained for the Christian school ministry. Until these goals are attained, we are going to continue to be dependent upon the erroneous thinking of the world’s educators.

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Excerpted from Chapter 2 of An Introduction to the Christian School by James M. Bramblet, Copyright © 1985 by James M. Bramblet

Friday, May 8, 2009

My Moment at the Wall

by Wayne W. Livesay, August 1990

Perhaps all veterans of military service remember specific dates and events which occurred during their tenure of duty. Each of us remember the classic battles, narrow brushes with death, heroic actions of friends, and the times when life seemed uncertain and suffering became a matter of fact.

The date of August 10, 1944, stands out in my book of memory as the one time when I really believed my life had reached the point of termination. The anxiety, fears, anger, and utter hopelessness I felt at that time cannot be expressed in words, but from time to time, I find it necessary to reflect on that moment of 46 years ago.

I was the navigator of a B-17 in the 8th Air Force. After completing one tour of duty, I returned to the States for a 60 day R&R, and then went back to my base at Polebrook, England. During the bombing missions of my first tour, I experienced attacks from German fighters, constant flak barrages from German anti-aircraft positions, and a few narrow escapes due to mechanical problems, but although I recognized the involved danger, I never really thought that any of the adverse action would befall me.

However, my second tour soon convinced me that I had been living in a fool’s paradise. On August 9, nine days after returning to England, our plane was shot down over the Dutch coast, and I parachuted to safety on a small island off the mainland. Since a garrison of German soldiers was stationed on the island, I and the other members of the crew were captured within three to five minutes. We were moved to a jail in a small town on the mainland, and I was placed in a cell hardly large enough to accommodate the straw mattress I was to sleep on.

Around daylight the next morning, I was awakened by a rifle butt against my ribs and a soldier motioned for me to go outside. He directed me to a truck in the parking lot where four other soldiers and a German officer were waiting. Not a word was spoken by any of them as I was pointed to the back of the truck and directed to climb in. Three of the soldiers then entered the truck and motioned for me to sit with my back against the cab. Each of these three was equipped with a weapon which appeared similar to a Thompson submachine gun. The German officer and the other soldier entered the cab of the truck.

As the truck engine started and the vehicle began to move, a myriad of thoughts filtered through my mind. I thought of my family, my girl back home, the men at the base, ant the others who had been captured along with me. Underneath these thoughts was the distinct possibility that I was making my last ride and that these silent men were intent on just one thing – to finish me off and leave me somewhere in the countryside. The three soldiers with the guns were sitting on a bench just inside the tailgate, and they kept their eyes glued on me the entire journey.

I had always pictured German soldiers as professional and neat in appearance with an inbred attitude of military discipline. The three characters I was facing were just the opposite – unshaven, with uncombed hair, and dirty uniforms which appeared to have never been cleaned. The officer and soldier who drove the truck looked somewhat better but far below what I expected.

We rode for approximately twenty minutes at speeds from five to fifteen miles per hour. Since the truck was covered by a foul-smelling canvas I could not see outside, but judging from the way the truck was bouncing up and down, I was convinced that we could not be on a road but were pioneering a path through open country replete with rocks and gaping holes. We seemed to reach a downgrade and the truck picked up speed only to come to a sudden stop as if we had struck a barricade. Two of the three soldiers were thrown off their seats and one almost dropped his weapon.

After a few seconds, the tailgate was lowered and I was motioned outside. As I jumped to the ground, my heart skipped a beat of two as a thought of utter dismay came to mind. I turned to my right and there about fifty feet away was a rudely constructed rock wall which appeared to me as an ideal background for a firing squad action.

The wall was about eight feet high and had been built across an open field for a distance of about 150 yards. Since it did not branch off in another direction so as to enclose a given property location, I figured it must have been a designated boundary line. Regardless of its original purpose, there appeared to be no doubt as to its present intended use.

One of the three armed soldiers indicated that I should move over to the wall. After I complied, the officer approached, and without saying a word offered me a cigarette. I took a cigarette from the pack which, ironically, was the identical pack of Camels that had been taken from me when I was captured. The officer furnished me with a light and I stood there “enjoying” what appeared to be my last cigarette.

In the meantime, the three armed soldiers positioned themselves approximately 25 feet from me and about ten feet from each other. The officer moved to a spot on my left a few feet from them while the truck driver stayed in the cab of the vehicle.

As I stood there looking at the scene, I started to speak but no words came out. The cigarette was almost burning my fingers, but I hesitated dropping it to the ground. My emotions at that time were a mixture of anger, prayer, and regret as I thought of the many things I should have done in the past as well as numerous things I should not have done. Only one who has experienced a similar situation can truly empathize with my feelings at that moment.

Finally, I dropped the residue of the cigarette and fixed my eyes toward the weapons in the hands of my tormentors. At this point, there was no doubt in my mind as to what was about to happen, and my final decision appeared to be whether I should look or close my eyes. I thought about running but knew this would profit nothing, so I decided to assume an erect position as if someone had called me to attention.

I stood there for what seemed like minutes, but in reality, was no more than ten of fifteen seconds. Suddenly, the officer raised his hand and motioned for me to go back to the truck. I did not wait for a second indication as I hurried to comply with his instruction. About twenty minutes later I was placed back in my cell and given breakfast which consisted of a slice of black bread and a cup of barley coffee.

Subsequently, I was a prisoner of war for nine months. During that time, I experienced the bitter cold in Poland, the march in the snow from Sagan to Spremberg, the three-day journey in a 40x8 box car to Moosburg, and bouts with malnutrition and pneumonia pleurisy. All of these are listed as times of suffering, but none of them approached the magnitude of what I endured during those few minutes with my back to the wall in Holland.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Descent into Captivity

by Wayne W. Livesay, 1985


Although this experience occurred over forty years ago, it still stands out as the most vivid event in my life. As I look back in sentimental memory, I find the story sobering, quite humorous, and worth retelling.

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It was August 9, 1944. The day began as just another Wednesday for me and the other members of bomber crews stationed in England. We were awakened around 2:00 A.M., had breakfast about an hour later, and attended mission briefing at 4:15. The target for this day was Munich with our group scheduled to plaster Nazi airfields on the outskirts of the city. We had been to Munich before and had neutralized these targets, but the Germans had rebuilt the runways which gave us an invitation to return.

Takeoff was uneventful as the fully-loaded Flying Fortress lumbered down the runway and became airborne with all four engines straining in rhythmical accord. Assembling into wing formation was completed with ease, and by 7:30 A.M., we were at 8,000 feet and climbing on course toward the North Sea. Before reaching the enemy coast, all guns were tested and we were ready for what was to become my thirty-third and last time to participate in a bombing run over Hitler’s Europe.

From the standpoint of enemy action, this was one of the easiest missions I experienced. As we moved inland over Holland without seeing a burst of flak, I thought of those rough days during ’43 when we couldn’t stick our noses across the English Channel without doing battle with the cream of the Luftwaffe based along the coast. This day was also a far cry from the missions where much flak and numerous fighters were thrown at us in strikes on Berlin, Schweinfurt, and targets in the Ruhr Valley. On this final trip to Munich, I did not see a single enemy plane and very little antiaircraft fire was dispatched in our direction. Our 54-plane group was just a small portion of the large armada which left England that day to pulverize targets throughout Europe. We were virtually unopposed – the air war had been won.

It was not until were approaching the coast of Holland on our way home that I was forced to reassess my complacent reasoning. Flying over an area where no German antiaircraft guns were plotted and with no fighters in the area, we took an attitude of “mission completed” and were almost ready to begin our letdown from 23,000 feet before adversity took control of the mission. As I gazed down upon the scene below, I was thinking ahead to the huge steak I would receive when we arrived back at the base. Steak was a rather rare commodity for us except upon our return from a combat mission, and each of us looked forward to the routine of selecting a choice chunk of beef and having it prepared under our personal direction. The cook at the combat officer’s mess never served a steak less than two inches in thickness and the caliber of preparation was such as to put most top-rated restaurants to shame.

My thoughts were suddenly interrupted as I heard a loud “Bang” somewhat similar to the noise of an exploding firecracker. In the same instant the plane flipped upward and we spiraled lazily out of formation. I wasn’t sure what had happened as the physical sensation was about the same as running over a rock or metal object in an automobile and having it thump against the underside of the car.

We were able to level off at 21,000 feet and continue on course toward England. Apparently we had received a direct hit from a burst of flak knocking out two of our engines, but at our altitude this in itself presented no reason for panic. No one had been injured by the blast and we thanked God for seeing us through this narrow chasm of disaster.

Since we were now alone without fighter escort, all gunners were cautioned to be alert for the Luftwaffe who might be in the vicinity and looking for cripples such as us. We flew along for about two minutes and I once again started to think of the base, a shower, and most of all…the steak. I then had my dreams destroyed as I heard twelve words that should go down as the most disruptive sentence ever put together. One of the gunners came on interphone and in a voice as calm as an experienced mortician stated, “Sir, you’ve got a fire on top of number three gas tank.”

When I looked out the right window and saw a hole in the wing with fire coming out and the aluminum peeling backward, there was an emptiness in my stomach which defied description. The hole in the wing was rapidly increasing in size and the escaping flame reminded me of a blacksmith’s forge as it shot forth with leaping force. I knew in a glance that my bombing days were over and that I wouldn’t enjoy a steak for many days to come. As the bail-out alarm was sounded, I picked up my chest chute and secured it to the harness I was wearing. There was no panic as I and other crew members seemed to move like precisioned robots in accordance with practiced procedure for abandoning the aircraft. Later, while lying in a cold cell during my first night as a prisoner of war, I experienced a seizure of fear as I recalled the events of the day; but while the incidents were taking place, we didn’t have time to be afraid.

I had never made an actual parachute jump, although all bomber crews received extensive training in both ditching and bail-out procedure. The one concern going through my mind as I prepared to exit the plane was that I might hit one of the open bomb bay doors which were located just a few feet to the rear of the escape hatch under the nose of the plane. We had witnessed one man meeting his fate after a B-17 had been hit by flak over Berlin as his chute seemed to open prematurely causing him to be swept backward into the bomb bay doors. Although I tried to think of more pleasant things, it was impossible to dismiss this adverse image from my mind.

By this time all escape doors were open and members of the crew were bailing out. The plane had become a roaring inferno when it came my turn to crawl to the exit. Without stopping to look, I lowered my head and pushed my feet against a side bulkhead. In an instant I was clear of the aircraft and started my downward journey.

Once out of the plane I experienced a sudden sense of relaxation. There was absolute silence as the noise from the crackling flames and roaring engines was out of range. I felt no sensation of falling but seemed to be floating on a cloud. Slowly and deliberately I began to count, “One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.” I then pulled the rip cord and settled back to enjoy a new adventure as I thought the parachute was opened.

However, as I blinked my eyes I began to realize that something was wrong. I was viewing the sky, then the water in a series of monotonous successions which meant that the world had either increased its pace of rotation or that I was still plummeting downward in a somersaulting motion. Although these events were taking place in a short space of time, it seemed like an eternity before I reached the conclusion that my parachute was still tucked neatly in the pack.

Glancing down at the unopened chute pack I saw the small lead chute extended about six inches but not out enough to deploy the main parachute. I grasped the pack with my left arm and pulled on the extended portion with my right hand. All of a sudden I felt like someone had struck me across the bridge of my nose with a boat paddle and I was stunned to the point of near complete disorientation. As a navigator, I had studied celestial navigation and had learned the identity of many stars, but I had never seen this number together at one time. I do not believe the blow knocked me unconscious, but my reasoning processes were addled for several minutes and my head felt as if it were locked securely in a vise. Two days later when I looked in a mirror, my nose and the underside of both eyes reflected the appearance of a losing participant in a bruising fist fight.

When the chute finally opened, it seemed like I was on an elevator going upward at a fast clip. To see the opened umbrella above me was about the only point of comfort I had garnered from the experience thus far, and although more problems were still to be faced, I now had a chance. My first concern was to account for the rest of the crew as I looked around the sky and began counting the chutes. It appeared that all were safely out of the plane and one thing was for sure – although I had been third from last to exit the doomed aircraft, I was going to be the first one down. All the others appeared to be from 6,000 to 8,000 feet above me as the unscheduled free fall had put me well in out front in the race downward.

I then began to face the prospect of another danger. I had never been the best of swimmers and now it appeared that I would spend a few hours in the water. I estimated my altitude at about 10,000 feet and I was well over a mile from some islands off the Dutch Coast. Under my harness I was wearing a small “Mae West” type life jacket, and as I descended slowly toward the water I began to mentally rehearse the procedure of extracting myself from the harness and inflating the life jacket in a simultaneous motion as I hit the water. If I were to eventually drown, I at least wanted to get clear of the parachute and make a try at reaching land rather than perish while entangled in the lines of the chute.

I then remembered watching some movie heroes manipulate the direction of parachutes by pulling on the shroud lines, and I attempted to follow their actions in an effort to steer myself closer to the islands. About all I accomplished by doing this was to create a severe rocking of the chute which could have led to its collapse. I soon stopped this futile effort and tried to condition myself to the prospects of a long swim.

If I had been thinking clearly, I would have realized that the wind was blowing out of the west onto the Dutch Coast. On this particular day the velocity was stronger than usual which had given us a faster ground speed on our way inland at the beginning of the mission. This fact hit me when at about 3,000 feet above the water I noticed that I was less than half a mile from one of the islands and that I was drifting in that direction. At about 2,000 feet I was sure that my landing would be on terra firma, and I began making plans for my initial movements on the ground.

I took a good look at the island before me and estimated it to be from six to eight miles in length from east to west. It was shaped like a football with two very small villages visible on the western side of the island. I had heard much about the Dutch Underground and wondered if there was a possibility of getting in touch with them. Our chutes were visible for all to see, but my being the first man to land might give me opportunity to hide until nightfall before the Germans got organized to search for me. Many thoughts were going through my mind by the time I hit the ground. I had decided on two things: (1) hide until dark, and (2) work my way eastward toward the mainland while hoping to make contact with the Underground.

During his first parachute jump a man is just not prepared to cope with the speed he seems to gather as he approaches the ground. At about 200 feet, I became aware that I was falling very fast and I had little time to make adjustments to control my method of landing. Just as I was about to hit the ground, a sudden gust of wind took charge, causing my feet to swing forward, making me practically horizontal with the landscape. Then as my body started its return in an arc to the upright position, I abruptly reached the point of touchdown. My heels hit first, then the seat of my pants, followed by the back of my head. I rolled backward two or three revolutions and found myself entangled in the shroud lines like a butterfly trapped in a net.

After getting free from my cage, I stood in utter dismay at the scene before me. Finding a place to hide was my primary concern as I found myself standing on the flattest piece of real estate in all of Hitler’s Europe. My past aviation training had been based upon the premise of finding a place to hide during the initial hours in enemy territory, and here I was in a place without a tree, a haystack, a barn, or anything which could furnish temporary cover. Of all the areas I had flown over which offered a bonanza of hiding places, I went down in a freshly-seeded lowland with nothing but canals crisscrossing the island.

Still hoping to find a place of safety, I moved toward the north away from the villages I had seen from the air. I ran for about two minutes, slowed to a walk, and then stopped to raise my hands in the air. Two members of the German Occupation Army intercepted my exercise in futility and made it quite clear that I had officially become a guest of the Third Reich.

Later that night as I lay in a cold cell in the town of Flushing, I was given a small ration of cheese and two slices of bread. I tasted it but had no appetite since my thoughts were still fixed upon the steak I would have received if some gunner’s aim had been less accurate.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Broken Pitchers: Victory over Midian (Judges 6-7)

by Wayne W. Livesay, June 2008

We live in a world of broken things. A child can display much joy over a toy he or she received at Christmas, but a few days later they will express sadness when that Christmas toy is broken. A youth’s dreams can reach the realm of much joy because of a pledge they have received from a member of the opposite sex, but later they discover that the pledge has been broken. A young man in the military leaves for overseas service with a vow from a loved one that they will remain true to him, but later he learns that this vow has been broken.

In all these examples, we learn a valuable lesson – that there is no making without first there is the breaking process. For example, before a field can yield its product, the ground must be broken, seed must be planted, and then we must wait for the time of harvest. This will be true in every instance, as in God’s time nothing can transpire without this process taking place. In every instance we see that this premise holds true.

The book of Judges records the battle between Israel and the Midianites. Gideon, the leader of Israel’s army was outnumbered, but God told Gideon that his army was too large. God then gave Gideon instruction on how to reduce his army. Of the 32,000 men available, God reduced them to 10,000.

“And the lord said unto Gideon, ‘The people are yet too many’” (Judges 7:4). He then reduced the size of Gideon’s army to a mere 300 men. Imagine the reaction Gideon felt at this number. Nevertheless, he followed the Lord’s instruction which was to give each of the 300 men clay pitchers with each pitcher containing a lamp and each man to carry a trumpet. The men were divided into three companies surrounding the camp of the Midianites.

At the appropriate instant, Gideon blew on his trumpet, and the 300 men did likewise, they broke the clay pitchers and the 300 lamps shined forth. They all cried, “The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.”

The Midianites thought they were surrounded and awakened out of sleep began to fight among themselves. They then fled out of the valley. In this battle, not one of the 300 was injured, but the victory was of the Lord. The example for us today is that we have the lamp (HOLY SPIRIT) within us, and these vessels of clay must not be regarded but broken so that the Holy Spirit can direct our lives.

There is no making without breaking, and everyone who has experienced the new birth has come to the realization that he or she is a vile sinner, and as the Apostle Paul says, “There is none righteous, no not one.” Through the eye of faith, one must look to Calvary and what the Lord did there and must realize that it was his sin that nailed Christ to the cross.

Have you been broken because of your sin? Remember the Lord is now looking at your heart. Does HE see a self-righteous person or a repentant one???

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Review of "The Shack" by Ron Livesay

On occasion, a new book bursts on the scene and takes a large part of the Christian community by storm. The Shack, by William Paul Young, is such a book. There are currently over five million copies of the book in print. Many churches, Christian schools, youth groups, etc. are using it as a Bible study resource, and in some cases, it is supplanting the Bible as the source of wisdom about the nature of God and His desires for man.

Today we do not need more human wisdom, new ways of looking at truth, or new truth, “…because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25, NASB). What is desperately needed is the preaching of the old-time Gospel, a message that has never changed. The idea that we need more “relevance” is simply wrong. There is nothing more relevant than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Watering down and changing the Gospel message in order to be “relevant” to reach a new generation will result in no one really being reached and many false converts being made.

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:21-24, NASB).

There is nothing of greater importance when evaluating books of human authorship than to recognize the supremacy of the Word of God in all matters. If the Scriptures are ignored or denigrated in any way, the value of the book doing so is immediately called into question. The Word of God is the standard by which all other things are measured. Those things that are found wanting should be ignored, and if they are doing harm, they should be opposed.

While I had heard of The Shack and had even skimmed through a couple of reviews of it, I decided to withhold judgment until I had read it for myself and then to write my own review. I further determined not to base my review on anyone else’s review but to read the book and come to conclusions based on Scripture. In reality, it does not matter what I think of the book or what anyone else thinks of the book. What matters is how the book stacks up to the truth of the Word of God.

The story is about a man named Mack and his struggle with the fact that his young daughter, Missy, was kidnapped and brutally murdered. His continued experience with “The Great Sadness” consumed his life, damaged his family, and prevented him from moving on with any level of normalcy. One day, he received a note in his mailbox, presumably from God. His reason for believing it might be from God was that the note was signed “Papa,” which was Mack’s wife Nan’s pet name for God. The note invited Mack to visit the shack in the wilderness where evidence of Missy’s murder was found four years earlier, although her body was never found. Against his instincts, Mack finally went to the shack, which magically transformed before his eyes into a beautiful cottage, as winter magically transformed into spring. At the shack, he met the three persons of the Trinity, and conversations with these three led him to a new level of peace in his life.

It is not hard to believe that many people stop reading this book at the point where God the Father reveals Himself to Mack as a “large beaming African-America woman” who called herself “Papa” (page 82). I could not help but picture “Mammy” from Gone With the Wind. Regardless of all the reasons presented in the book as to why God the Father presented Himself in such a manner, the fact remains that God is always presented in the Scriptures as masculine, never feminine. God the Holy Spirit revealed Himself as a “small, distinctively Asian woman” (page 84), later identified by the name “Sarayu” (page 87). Jesus was a man who “…appeared Middle Eastern and was dressed like a laborer, complete with tool belt and gloves” (page 84).

The Shack has been touted as the most significant piece of Christian fiction in our modern world. Eugene Peterson said on the cover of the book, “This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!” Comparisons to Pilgrim’s Progress are ludicrous. The huge difference between the two books is that Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory based on biblical truth, whereas The Shack attempts to be an allegory to teach truth, but it is based on someone’s newly-formulated definition of the nature of God and His desire for a relationship with all of us.

One defense of The Shack stated that since it is fictional and allegorical, we need to realize that and not worry about what it teaches. That is precisely the problem. If one ignores the fact that this book is teaching falsehood, the power of that falsehood to convince unsuspecting readers is amplified. A well-written allegory about God would most certainly not have Him making false statements, and there are many false statements made by the three persons of the Trinity in the book.

There are a number of wrong and unbiblical views expressed in The Shack, as follows:

An Unbiblical View of Scripture – This book presents a very low view of the Scriptures and elevates our experiences and feelings at least to the level of the Word of God.

“…the thought of God passing notes did not fit well with his theological training. In seminary he had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects. It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerners’ access to God was mediated and controlled by the intelligentsia. Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?” (Pages 65-66).

There are several basic problems with this statement, but we will consider just two. First, there is the implication that God would not have committed His Word to the “ancients and uncivilized” without also speaking directly to “moderns” and “educated Westerners.” That is a very condescending view of those who have gone before – men such as Moses, David, Solomon, Daniel, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the Apostle Paul, etc. It appears the author would call these men “ancients and uncivilized” in comparison to those of us who are “moderns” and “educated.”

It is a very good thing that God did not wait until today to give us His Word. The whole process would likely get tied up in church committees, regulations, lawsuits, and union rules created by “moderns” and “educated Westerners.” Are we to believe that we today are somehow better than they? We should be thankful that God spoke so long ago. It would be very confusing to have to wait for Him to speak to us. We have the advantage of having His whole Word without having to wait for more revelation to come along. There is no wisdom in rejecting or negating the Word of God in favor of the words of men, and we have far less excuse to do so than the “ancients and uncivilized” might have had.

Second, this statement about the Scriptures implies that we are all powerless to understand what God has said in His Word unless it is “properly interpreted, of course” and that it must “be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects.” While there are those who hold to such a view, to peg this onto all Christians is to build a classic “Straw Man” argument, a technique which is found numerous times in The Shack. The truth is that all believers have an anointing to understand the Scriptures, we have the very author of the Scriptures indwelling us and illuminating us to understand, and we are commanded to study the Scriptures in order to be “approved unto God.”

An Unbiblical View of God – Early in the book, Mack takes a very weak stand on who God is. Missy asked him, in the context of an old Indian legend, “Is the Great Spirit another name for God – you know, Jesus’ papa?” Mack responded, “I would suppose so. It’s a good name for God because he is a Spirit and he is Great” (Page 31). The Scriptures make it clear that anyone who worships any “god” other than The God of the Universe, through the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is worshiping a false god. Satan has always desired to be worshiped, and he is happy to receive the worship of those who knowingly or in ignorance worship any other god but the true and living God. Satan is behind every idol man chooses to worship. Mack, the main character of this book, a man who went to seminary, has no idea who God is. On page 79, he even expressed doubt as to the very existence of God.

“Sarayu” (The Holy Spirit) tells Mack, “We have limited ourselves out of respect for you… Relationships are never about power, and one way to avoid the will to power is to choose to limit oneself – to serve” (page 106). Yet the Scriptures make it clear that we are the ones who are limited, and we are to serve the Lord. He is not our servant; He is our Lord and Master. We are His servants. “Serve the LORD with gladness” (Psalm 100:2, NASB). The Apostle Paul repeatedly referred to himself as “a bondservant of Jesus Christ.”

Mack learns from “Papa” (God the Father) that God has no control over His creation. “We carefully respect your choices, so we work within your systems even while we work to free you from them…Creation has been taken down a very different path than we desired” (page 123). This is the kind of thinking that certainly appeals to those who like the idea that man is in charge. However, the Bible very clearly teaches that God is the one in charge.

“… our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3, NASB).

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19, NASB).

“For I know that the LORD is great And that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.” (Psalm 135:5-6, NASB).

“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?’” (Daniel 4:35, NASB).

“All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless. To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him?” (Isaiah 40:17-18, NASB).

“Papa” and Jesus teach Mack that God does not violate the choice or will of humans and that God actually submits to humans.

“We don’t use you…we want to share with you the love and joy and freedom and light that we already know within ourself. We created you, the human, to be in face-to-face relationship with us, to join our circle of love. As difficult as it will be for you to understand, everything that has taken place is occurring exactly according to this purpose, without violating choice or will…If you could only see how all of this ends and what we will achieve without the violation of one human will – then you would understand…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 or coercion, only through a relationship of love” (pages 124-126).

“To force my will on you…is exactly what love does not do. Genuine relationships are marked by submission even when your choices are not helpful or healthy…Papa is as much submitted to me as I to him, or Sarayu to me, or Papa to her. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way…because we want you to join us in our circle of relationship. I don’t want slaves to my will; I want brothers and sisters who will share life with me…we will never force that union on you” (pages 145 and 149).

These statements are in defiance of the glorious, almighty, sovereign God of the universe who is absolutely free to do His own will, and who never asks for or needs our advice. While there are many examples that could be cited of God not only violating, but utterly overwhelming human will, one only needs to consider the Great Flood of Noah’s day and the Tower of Babel in order to realize that God asks no questions and gets no input before carrying out His will.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the LORD, or who became His counselor?’” (Romans 11:33-34, NASB).

God asked Job some profound questions in order to teach him who is really in charge.

"Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it?” (Job 38:3-5, NASB).

On page 141, we learn that God lives in the present. Even this little statement is in opposition to Scripture, which states in Isaiah 57:15 that God “lives forever,” or “inhabits eternity.” God is not bound by time. Time is a created thing which will some day come to an end, even as it had a beginning.

On page 191, “Papa” tells Mack, “My purposes are always and only an expression of love.” This is an expansion of the idea that when the Bible says, “God is love,” a complete definition of God has been stated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Love is an attribute, a characteristic, of God, but it is only one of His many attributes. God is also holy, just, righteous, jealous, etc.

Continuing on page 191, “Papa” tells Mack that God is fully human. “…we are now fully human, so our purpose and your destiny are forever linked.” The truth is that neither God the Father nor God the Holy Spirit have been or ever will be human, nor do they appear in human form. God the Son came into the world as the God man, the only perfect human, without sin, unable to sin. Some might argue that the three Persons of the Trinity are one, which they are, and therefore if Jesus became a man, so did the Father and the Holy Spirit. Yet the Bible tells us that “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19, NASB).

On page 203, “Sarayu” tells Mack that God likes uncertainty. “…contrary to what you might think, I have a great fondness for uncertainty.” According to the Scriptures, God never changes, and He knows the end from the beginning. “Known to God from eternity are all His works” (Acts 15:18, NKJV). “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'…Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it” (Isaiah 46:9-11, NASB). Nothing ever catches God by surprise, and there is no uncertainty in His character.

Clearly, the god of The Shack is not the God of the Bible, and this “god” should be rejected.

An Unbiblical View of the Trinity – There are those who believe that by reading The Shack, one can finally understand the Trinity. Anyone who thinks he understands the Trinity is only fooling himself. Neither The Shack nor any other book can accurately explain a mystery like the Trinity. If people read and study the Bible, God’s book, and still cannot comprehend such a truth, how can anyone believe a book by a human author can accomplish what God’s Word does not? God has told us in His Word everything we need to know. There are some things we would like to know but that we do not need to know. It is really quite possible that God does not mean for us to fully understand certain things like the Trinity. We need to accept some things by faith, not by human understanding. The Bible clearly teaches a triune God, three-in-one, the Trinity. There are three distinct personalities, yet one God. We cannot understand that. No illustration fully explains it. Yet we know it to be true. Not only does The Shack not explain the Trinity, it actually propagates false teaching about it.

On page 99, we learn that the Trinity is fully human. “Papa” tells Mack, “When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human. We also chose to embrace all the limitations that this entailed. Even though we have always been present in this created universe, we now became flesh and blood.”

Mack asked about the hierarchy or chain of command in the Trinity. “I have always thought of God the Father as sort of being the boss and Jesus as the one following orders, you know, being obedient.” Jesus’ response to this was, “Frankly, I haven’t a clue what this man is talking about” (page 121). When Jesus asked the Father if he understood it, “Papa” responded that, “…I’ve been trying to make head or tail out of it, but sorry, he’s got me lost.” Finally, “Sarayu” interrupted and said, “They’re just playing with you” (page 122). It is refreshing to know that neither Jesus nor “Papa” were confused, but it is a bit disconcerting to think that two-thirds of the Godhead would “play with” or “mess with” the mind of a human being. God does not speak deceitful words. “The words of the LORD are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times” (Psalm 12:6, NASB).

“Sarayu” continued, “Mackenzie, we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command…What you’re seeing here is relationship without any overlay of power. We don’t need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us” (page 122).

The Bible makes it clear that all three persons of the Trinity have distinct functions, and that Jesus Christ submitted Himself to the will of His Father. “Then I said, 'Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of Me) to do Your will, O God’” (Hebrews 10:7, NASB).

“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:7-10, NASB).

On page 164, we learn that God the Father also died on the cross. “Haven’t you seen the wounds on Papa too?…He chose the way of the cross where mercy triumphs over justice because of love.” This brings up the classic question, “Did God die on the cross?” The answer is simple. God cannot and does not die. If God could die, then no one would be in charge of the universe while He was dead. Neither God the Father nor God the Holy Spirit died on the cross. God the Son, who is in fact God, took on Himself a perfect, sinless human body so He could die a perfect human death in the place of sinners. God never died. The one who is God died a human death in the body specifically prepared for that event. “Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me’” (Hebrews 10:5, NASB).

An Unbiblical View of the Incarnation – The Scriptures do not teach that either the Father or the Holy Spirit are ever revealed in human form. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24, NASB). When God appears in human form in the Scriptures, even in the Old Testament, it is always God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ who appears. “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18, NASB).

John 1 gives us great insight into the incarnation.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.…He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-3;10-14, NASB).

Jesus Christ is truly the God man. Although some would teach otherwise, He never did cease to be God, nor did he lay aside His power. He did lay aside His glory, and He voluntarily chose not to use some of his power. Yet “Papa” instructed Mack that even His ability to do miracles “proves that Jesus is truly human” (page 99). She goes on to say that “Jesus is fully human. Although he is also fully God, he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being” (pages 99-100).

Are we really to believe that Jesus Christ did what He did on this earth because of a relationship with God the Father that each of us can also experience? Are we to believe that we too can do all those things if we only get our relationship right? Such an idea is unbiblical, but it appears this is exactly what is being taught in The Shack. When Mack asks further questions about miracles, specifically healing the blind, “Papa” instructs him that Jesus “did so as a dependent human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone.” All assertions in The Shack to the contrary, Jesus retained and used the power and privileges of being God. The Gospels are full of accounts of the things that Jesus did, and only could have done, because He is God. Even though He did many other things, the relatively small number recorded in the Gospels were written down for a purpose, and that purpose was not to convince us of His humanity, but rather of His Deity.

“Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20, 30-31, NASB).

This idea that Jesus did what He did as an enlightened human who was in touch with God sounds a great deal like the New Age idea that we all have the potential to tap into the “Christ consciousness” and evolve into a higher state of enlightenment. It also sounds like the old Mormon idea that “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.” Nevertheless, the Bible makes it clear that Jesus retained all of His power as God while here on the earth. Not only did He have power to heal, He had power over life, even His own life.

“‘For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.’ A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words” (John 10:17-19, NASB).

Not only does this Scripture negate what is being taught in The Shack, but it makes it clear that people tend to be repulsed by truth, because a division occurred among the Jews as a result of this specific truth.

It is obvious that the author of The Shack wants to go to great lengths to illustrate the humanity of Jesus, to the detriment of His power as God Almighty. We see on page 104 that Jesus was clumsy and dropped a bowl of batter or sauce on the floor. Then on page 176, He was unable to catch a particular trout He had been watching for some time. “I’ve been trying to catch him for weeks, and here he comes just to bait me.” Such an idea is inconsistent with the nature of the real Jesus. He doesn’t “try” to do anything. He just does it. Jesus did not come into the world to be so human that we lose sight of who He really is. So many people get into the idea that He became a human so we would know that He understands our plight. It truth, that is only a nice side effect of why He became a human, which was to die and rise again for the specific purpose of saving sinners and defeating death forever.

On page 96, “Papa” denies that Jesus understood what was going on when He asked, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” After Mack asked about this, “Papa” replied, “You misunderstand the mystery there. Regardless of what he felt at that moment, I never left him” (page 96). This teaches that Jesus was mistaken and that He relied on His feelings instead of what He knew to be true. However, there is no reason to doubt that God the Father turned His back on His Son when He became sin for us.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB).

“Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness…” (Habakkuk 1:13, NASB).

An Unbiblical View of the Nature of Man – Biblically, the nature of man is defined by his fallen state. Man was created in the image of God, a difficult concept to understand, but when he fell into sin, that image was marred. He disobeyed the only rule God gave him. This plunged the human race into a condition of total depravity, otherwise known as “total inability.” Man is unable to do anything about his lost condition.

However, The Shack treats the fact that man was created in the image of God as if nothing like The Fall had ever happened. “Papa” says, “Humans are not defined by their limitations, but by the intentions that I have for them; not by what they seem to be, but by everything it means to be created in my image” (page 100). This goes hand-in-hand with universalism, which could be summarized by this generic quote. “We are all created in God’s image, so there is enough good in us to save us and bring us into relationship with God. God would never allow anyone who bears His image to be condemned.” Such thinking ignores the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the condemnation it brings.

On page 123, The Fall of man is reduced to merely “choosing independence over relationship.” Again on page 146, The Fall is defined with no mention of sin. “The world is broken because in Eden you abandoned relationship with us to assert your own independence.” This is a very weak view of man’s rebellion against God and his disobedience to what He had commanded. The Fall did not just destroy “relationship.” It condemned man. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18, NASB).

On page 235, there is an overstatement of the importance of man. It is interesting to note that throughout the book, no distinction is really drawn between lost men and redeemed men. The only distinction made in the book is between those who choose “relationship” and those who choose “independence.” Note the following statement made by Sarayu (the Holy Spirit) to Mack:

“Mack, if anything matters, then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again.”

This, statement, like other statements in The Shack, strokes the ego of man, but man does not need his ego stroked. What he desperately needs is the message of redemption from sin through the Lord Jesus Christ.

An Unbiblical View of Salvation – There are several issues that point to a very faulty view of salvation. The first and most obvious is the massive overuse of the word “relationship.” Once the book got going, the word “relationship” came into view on almost every page, and sometimes several times on a page. One would think that Paul must have said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to establish relationships…” What he actually said was, “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (I Timothy 1:15, NASB). It’s not about relationships. It’s about redemption. Humans are not in need of a relationship, and they are not in need of “experiencing God.” They are in need of being saved from sin and its vile consequences. Only then can any kind of relationship with God and His Word become a reality.

It is interesting to note that in three commonly-used literal Bible translations, the word “relationship” is conspicuous by its absence. It does not appear even once in either the King James Version or the New King James Version, and it only appears one time in the New American Standard Bible. This one reference has to do with the relationship between a man and his wife, not some mythical relationship between all humans and God. Even though this word “relationship” is somewhere between nonexistent and insignificant in Scripture, it seems to be the most important word in The Shack.

According to The Shack, it seems that God is disappointed that we chose independence over relationship, but He still wants that relationship with all of His children, although He would never impose His will on any of us. He will try to help us see the need for a relationship with Him by gently persuading and convincing us.

It appears that the author may well believe that all men are brothers and we are all the children of God – an unbiblical idea that has long been called “the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man.” At the beginning of chapter six, the author uses the following quote by Jacques Ellul from his book, Anarchy and Christianity:

“No matter what God’s power may be, the first aspect of God is never that of the absolute Master, the Almighty. It is that of the God who puts himself on our human level and limits himself”(page 88).

That statement is unbiblical. “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3, NASB). The word “Almighty” is used in many places in Scripture, and it is used to emphasize the power and might of God above all human wisdom and opinion. God made it very clear to Job that He is the one in control. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4, NASB). The idea that God “puts himself on our human level and limits himself” is unscriptural and should be rejected.

In his book What I Believe, Ellul declared himself to be a Christian Universalist, writing that "all people from the beginning of time are saved by God in Jesus Christ, that they have all been recipients of his grace no matter what they have done.” This statement stands in contradiction to the Scriptures, which declare otherwise. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14, NASB). The question becomes obvious. Why is the author of The Shack choosing such questionable sources for his inspiration? It would seem obvious that he is likely in agreement with Ellul on this issue.

On page 100, “Papa” declares, “I desire a relationship with every human being.” Nothing is said about salvation or redemption, but one can only assume that this relationship is the The Shack’s equivalent of salvation. This is another man-centered, man-exalting perversion of true Bible doctrine. The bottom line on this is that if it were the sovereign will of God for all humans to be saved, then all humans would be saved. Without getting into a big discussion of the doctrines of grace, it should be sufficient to quote Jesus from John chapter six.

“‘All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day…No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day’…And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.’ As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore” (John 6:37-40,44,65-66, NASB).

All of this is sometimes hard to understand, and some find it offensive. Many of His professing disciples left Him, because this teaching was just too much for them. Nevertheless, God gets to be God whether we like it or not, and the God of the Bible is not some kind of hand-wringing, powerless little god who is longing for a relationship with all humans, if only we would cooperate. That god is not God.

God’s Word makes it very clear that the idea of God desiring a relationship with every human is false. Jesus said in the passage quoted above, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me…” (John 6:37, NASB). Therefore, we must conclude that either all people who ever lived will come to Christ because all people are God’s children, or some will never come to Him because they are not all God’s children. The latter is obviously true, since there are many who do not come to the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, the other part of the verse says, “…and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37, NASB). Jesus will not reject anyone who truly comes to Him. This is not a contradiction. Rather, it is both sides of the same truth. Coming to Christ is evidence of the grace of God at work in a person’s life.

Based on the authority of the Word of God, we can accurately conclude that there are some people with whom God has no desire for a relationship, which means He has no intention of saving them. We are not considering the “why” of this. Why one person is the object of God’s love and salvation and why another person is the object of God’s wrath and judgment is another discussion that is not necessary here.

On page 110, “Jesus” makes a statement that is nothing short of heresy. He says, “I am the best way any human can relate to Papa or Sarayu.” What? Jesus says he is the “best” way to God, thereby implying that there are other ways. Such a statement as this is by itself enough to relegate this book to the trash can. The real Jesus of the Bible would never have said such a thing. Instead, He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6, NASB). Notice the use of the word “the” instead of “a” or “the best.” Reducing Jesus to “a” way to God or “the best” way to God robs Him of His deity, His glory, and the value of His redemptive work.

Jesus also said, “…unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24, NASB). There is no wiggle room in that statement. Jesus did not give people freedom to “sort of” believe in Him but to also make their own way. He is the way. He is the only way. It doesn’t make any difference what anyone thinks or feels about it. If a person believes he can get to God in any other way besides through the Lord Jesus Christ, he is very badly fooled. This truth is further underscored in the Book of Acts. "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12, NASB).

On page 119, “Papa” says, “I’m not asking you to believe anything.” This is in conflict with Scripture, which emphasizes “belief” and “faith” repeatedly. Following are only a few examples:

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’” (John 6:29, NASB).

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24, NASB).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB).

We learn on pages 163, 211, and 224 that all people are God’s children. Even of the man who so brutally murdered Missy, “Papa” says, “He too is my son. I want to redeem him” (page 224). Question – If this man is already a son of God, why does God want to redeem him? Clearly, this “god” as presented in The Shack, has no idea what redemption is and does not understand that salvation is necessary for one to become a son of God. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NASB). By contrast, our Lord Jesus Christ, the real Jesus of the Bible, made if very clear that not all people are children of God. Jesus said the following to some of the religious leaders of His day:

“’You are doing the deeds of your father.’ They said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me” (John 8:41-45, NASB).

On page 225, “Papa” says, “In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship.” There is a big problem with this statement. If God has forgiven all human sin, then all humans are redeemed and are sons of God. However, the Scriptures make it very clear that there are many who are lost in sin and who will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. This is not popular teaching today, but it is biblical, and it is therefore true. Truth is not always popular, but it is always right.

Mack asks Jesus what it means to be a Christian. His response is both startling and interesting.

“Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian…Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims…I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved” (page 182).

On page 192, “Papa” again emphasizes the universal nature of salvation, and yet she places the responsibility for the completion of the work of salvation squarely on humans.

“You asked me what Jesus accomplished on the cross; so now listen to me carefully: through his death and resurrection, I am now fully reconciled to the world…The whole world, Mack. All I am telling you is that reconciliation is a two way street and I have done my part, totally, completely, finally. It is not the nature of love to force a relationship but it is the nature of love to open the way.”

If God is fully reconciled to the world, why does the Scripture command men to be reconciled to God? The rationale behind the above paragraph is the old idea that “salvation is of God, but man has to do his part.” This is simply not true. There is no part in salvation that man can do. Left to our own devices, we would all surely perish.

An Unbiblical View of Christian Living – There is real resistance today among many Christians to the idea of “rules” for Christian living. Some will not even accept the idea of “principles” or “guidelines.” Many would prefer to go to a seminar on Christian living than to read, study, and obey the Bible. This anti-rules attitude is underscored in The Shack. On page 89, Jesus answers a question from Mack by saying, “You’re not supposed to do anything. You’re free to do whatever you like.”

On pages 197-198, “Sarayu” tells Mack that “The Bible doesn’t teach you to follow rules. It is a picture of Jesus. While words may tell you what God is like and even what he may want from you, you cannot do any of it on your own. Life and living is in him and in no other. My goodness, you didn’t think you could live the righteousness of God on your own, did you?…You will hear and see me in the Bible in fresh ways. Just don’t look for rules and principles; look for relationship – a way of coming to be with us.”

This is a bit of a “Straw Man” argument. To define someone who believes that there are such things as rules for Christian living as believing he can “live the righteousness of God on his own” is to totally miss the point. While we understand that rules do not save us and cannot make us right with God, there are, in fact, many commands in the Scriptures for believers to obey. There are numerous things we are “supposed to do” and other things we are not supposed to do. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15, NASB). Colossians 3 gives us numerous instructions relative to what we are to do and what we are not to do. This sounds a great deal like “rules.”

“…consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry…But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices…So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity… Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality” (Colossians 3:5,8-9,12-14,18-25, NASB).

Christian freedom is freedom from the power of sin and victory over sin, not freedom to sin. In Christ, we have freedom to do what is right, not freedom to do anything we please.

An Unbiblical View of Judgment – “Papa” addressed the subject of judgment, with the following three statements: “I am not who you think I am, Mackenzie. I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it” (pages 119-120). “I don’t do humiliation, or guilt, or condemnation” (page 221). “The God who is – the I am who I am – cannot act apart from love!” (page 102).

These statements are in conflict with the Scriptures. Following are some examples:

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19, NASB).

“For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9, NASB).

“And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15, NASB).

“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18, NASB).

Conclusion – This brief review of The Shack is not in any way a thorough analysis of the book. Rather, my purpose has been to provide a measure of insight into the false teaching the book contains so as to warn those who will listen. While there are many more issues I could have addressed, I trust I have addressed enough to accomplish my purpose, with the following general conclusions:

There is a great deal of ignorance of the Scriptures in the church today. This is a very unhealthy condition that cannot be remedied by encouraging people to read and study books like The Shack. There is a great need today to get back to the study of the Bible, the very Word of God, while continuing to deemphasize the use of extra-biblical books and seminars. “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17, NASB).

The Shack is written from an unbiblical perspective and should, therefore, be ignored and/or opposed by Bible-believing Christians. If you have not read the book, I would advise you not to. It is a not-so-subtle attempt to undermine sound doctrine. If you choose to read it, please do so with a prepared heart and your Bible in hand, realizing that anything that contradicts the Word of God is false teaching.

The book makes an effort to “humanize” God and bring Him to our level, thus making us feel better about ourselves. It plays very well into the modern day concept of “self-esteem.” Following is what God has to say about self-esteem: “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think…” (Romans 12:3, NASB). “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh…” (Romans 7:18, NASB). “…I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am…” (I Corinthians 15:9-10, NASB). “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4, NASB). “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3, NASB). In the New King James Version, it is worded this way – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” It is appropriate to note that this last verse is the only verse in the Bible in which both of the words “self” and “esteem” are found, and it teaches the opposite of the commonly-taught concept of self-esteem. Self-esteem is not a Biblical concept. We need Christ-esteem, not self-esteem. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30, NASB). “…so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything” (Colossians 1:18, NASB).

The god of The Shack is not the God of the Bible. The god of The Shack is a very weak god, unable and unwilling to control his creation and to rule in the affairs of humanity. The God of the Bible is all-powerful, totally in control, and ruling in the affairs of men.

Every pastor, youth worker, Sunday school teacher, Christian school administrator, Christian school teacher, and anyone else who leads others spiritually has the responsibility to sound the warning against false teaching. Failing to do so is not fulfilling the command to protect and feed the flock of God. It is very difficult to watch many professing Christians “…turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:4, NASB). It is important to make every effort to point people back to the truth. “…with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil…” (2 Timothy 2:25-26, NASB).

There are several warnings in the Scriptures about false doctrine. We are told that “…we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love...” (Ephesians 4:14-15, NASB). This warning is given because it is necessary. Many will be deceived by false doctrine if no one stands for the Truth, even if it is unpopular to do so. Truth always trumps falsehood, and we must not back away from our responsibility to “…contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3, NASB). God’s Word does not change. Truth does not change. In order to stand for truth, it is often necessary to point out the contrasting falsehood.

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Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright© 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

My further comments on The Shack are found here.