For the most part the responses to my recent post about the popular book The Shack have been thoughtful and graceful. Alert reader Kristie sent me a link to a response that she thought I would find entertaining.
The website is called postmortemism and author David Robinson made some interesting observations about your humble rambler. He decided that I am illogical, condescending and ignorant. Not much in that list that I can disagree with in the big picture. I have been all of those things now and again. I do believe that in this one little instance Mr.Robinson assigned a lot of motives to my blog that I was unaware of until he pointed them out. So let’s examine where I have gone astray.
In my article I suggested that followers of Jesus be careful about attacking the author of The Shack and to be careful about how we condemn the book to those who have read it. Here is a snippet of that point.
When his theology goes astray I am suggesting that we gracefully point out those areas and don’t attack Mr. Young. Defending truth with grace is always the most effective tactic. But our passion for truth too often makes grace the first thing we jettison.
Mr.Robinson decided that I had an agenda with those points about being careful.
The first two “Be careful” comments can be thrown out the door. Of course, “careful” is only defined by what Burchett wants it to mean. To him, it means not saying certain things that would dismiss the competency or veracity of the author and the book. But those who disagree with the book are “careful” by examining the core ideas within and underneath the text to ascertain certain errors. And it is very “caring” of them to share their “concerns” with others since it may prevent others from having a wrong view of God distort their thinking.
Uhhhhhh….when I said be “careful” what I meant to say was to be “careful”. The definition at dictionary.com was basically what I meant.
Careful…to be cautious in one’s actions.
That’s about all I had in mind when I chose that word. Since I wrote the piece I am pretty sure that to me I believed we could have a better dialogue if we discussed ideas and not attacked people. This was a part of my “careful” point.
Be careful how you share your concerns with others. When I read comments like “are these people just blind to heresy?” I cringe. Because you reinforce the feelings of so many people that are moved by this book. They have experienced a Christianity that is judgmental and sometimes downright mean. If your heart is to be a guardian of truth you will damage that worthy desire by harsh criticism of those who are touched by The Shack.
Later I made it clear that theological areas should be pointed out and discussed. I was simply asking for grace in the debate.
The next point really left me scratching my head. Here is what I wrote.
Be prayerful about why this book has connected so surprisingly with millions. I think I know some reasons why this book is resonating with so many. Those of us raised in the desert of legalism are desperate for the cool, refreshing waters of grace. Those of us who have been wounded by other Christians want more than anything to believe that Jesus does love us and our experience is not how it should be in the church. We need guardians of the truth of God’s Word but we also need those guardians to be shepherds that care and not just condemn.
Here is how Mr.Robinson received those thoughts.
The third command is based on the assumption that prayer and cognition are somehow at odds with each other. It’s not enough to understand why the book is so popular; one must pray in order to have some sort of mystical conformity from God to grasp this unusual and mysterious phenomenon.
I am pretty sure that all I meant was to be prayerful about people that have been wounded, how we can come alongside them, love them and restore them to the body of Christ. Separating prayer and cognition never, to quote Tweety Bird, “ cwossed my wittle bwain”. The critique continues.
I love the fourth comment, especially the use of “Dogmatically”. Who doesn’t have a worldview? Who’s worldview doesn’t guide what they think and how they respond to different kinds of ideas? Even ignorance and apathy are a dogma. Burchett simply doesn’t like dogma that goes against this book. Don’t respond dogmatically? Ok…well I’ll try. But if I read the book, and I don’t like it, can I tell someone “caringly” that they shouldn’t read it?
Honestly, all I really meant was that people hurt by legalism need grace. I have made my worldview clear in blogs and books. Where did I say that I don’t like any dogma that goes against the book? What I said was that this book opens doors to discussion that addresses orthodox theology and how scripture varies from this story. Of course you can tell people not to read the book. You can tell them whatever you desire and you will be accountable for your heart. I am accountable for my heart. The writer assigned lots of motives to my heart that are simply not accurate. I have no ax to grind with David Robinson. Seemed like a good guy when I perused his website. I just cannot understand how he made the judgments about my motives based on what I wrote.
I have had significant ministry success by looking for cultural open doors. I read the DaVinci Code. I watched The Book of Daniel on TV. I read the books by atheists and skeptics. That doesn’t make me special or spiritual. It is simply the ministry I have chosen in my very secular job and environment. I want to be prepared to offer a defense of the gospel whenever a door is open by cultural events, debates and even controversies. Paul confronted false gods in Athens. He chose to engage in debate instead of condemning the citizens for false ideas. And he addressed them with truth and grace.
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.
He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.”
Then they took him to the high council of the city. “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said. “You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.” It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.)
So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.
“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.
“God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”
When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” That ended Paul’s discussion with them, but some joined him and became believers.
Paul went through an open door. He was prepared. He knew his theology and he demonstrated grace. That is all I am saying about how we as followers of Christ should respond to controversial issues.
I disagree with the motives assigned to me by Mr.Robinson. But I believe that he has a genuine heart to proclaim the precious gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope that we can focus on what unites us as we both seek to serve our Lord.