According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Scot McKnight: Review of "The Shack," Part 3/3

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Baffled by the Criticisms of The Shack?

by Scot McKnight
Mar 10, 2017

Anyone who knows me knows that as a Christian I proudly stand in the Nicene-Chalcedonian tradition. Every time I confess the Nicene Creed in worship, I do so with deep conviction. I am unapologetically trinitarian and I resist any attempts at modern modalist reconfigurations of the essential Christian doctrine of God. I firmly believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus and I strongly object to any attempt to have a resurrected Jesus without his actual earthly body.

I love theology and I love the necessary precision of theological language. But I also love the imaginative narrative that displays theology in ways that speak to the head and to the heart, which is why I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Shack several years ago and found myself rather baffled then, and somewhat mystified now, with the advent of the movie, at so many of the very negative appraisals of the book (and now the movie) on theological grounds from other Christians. (FYI: I have not yet seen the movie.)

Casting aside the aspersions of the book as juvenile and sophomoric literature, what I loved about the book was that in a wonderfully imaginative way it dealt with doctrine, relating it to the always deeply relevant and timely philosophical and theological matters that relate to the problem of evil, forgiveness, the nature of God, and God’s work in this world by God’s very presence. To be sure, there were times when I didn’t agree with a particular narrative move the author, Paul Young, made in a portrayal, but then again, I have yet to always agree with every scholarly and not-so-scholarly constructive theological treatment I have read.

Without precise theological language, the great doctrines of our faith have no boundaries that give them their distinctive character. Without narrative imagination our doctrines will appear to many to be somehow beside the point of life. Theologians may prefer to read something more substantive like Karl Barth, and I love Barth - but they need to know that the folks in the pews (and outside the pews as well) are not reading the great Swiss-German theologian - they are reading Paul Young and now they are going to see the movie. (As example, as much as I love Barth’s Church Dogmatics, I doubt there is a movie about it in the offing.)

I heard Paul Young speak several years ago. If you ever get an opportunity to hear him you must make the effort. As I listened to Paul, I remember becoming rather angry at the charge of heresy that had been leveled against him by those, who may know their theology, but know little about the nature of true heresy, as well as having no idea how to express theological truth in a way that makes a difference in people’s lives. (See my post on the use and misuse of heresy.) C.S. Lewis often complained that the biggest problem with theologians was that they lacked imagination in their theological explications. If Lewis were still alive he would know that little has changed.

There are times when I have wondered if Jesus was accused of “heresy” when he compared the kingdom of God to a mustard seed. On occasion I have considered the possibility that Jesus was charged with a less than orthodox doctrine of God when he, in story form, compared God to the father who gladly threw aside his dignity and self-respect to welcome home a wayward son. There have been times when I thought that perhaps Jesus was ridiculed by the trained theologians for his portrayal of God as an unjust judge.

I love reading theology. I enjoy parsing terminology and honing the sharp edges of doctrine into something finely tuned and precise. But I also enjoy reading the imaginative narratives that help me think theologically about life and faith in ways I had never considered.

I am an unapologetic Nicene-Chalcedonian trinitarian theologian; and I applaud Paul Young for his portrayal of the Trinity and his narrative display of some of our most significant beliefs and convictions in The Shack.

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