I’m really thankful for the comments on the prior post. The Shack and Paul are raising the question of what is the LORD like in powerful ways. As long as it goes back to Bible, rather than what I’m comfortable with, I’m happy. But even when we go to the Bible we tend to see and return to what we are comfortable with, I’m finding. Weird how we do that.
Now to the excellent comments: Terrance wonders if The Shack will be read in fifty years. My guess is that it won’t. But the verdict of history could be in now! But whatever the long term impact, the immediate impact is huge. It is being read by millions now. The assessment needs to be done wisely and biblically.
I also remember Charles Sheldon’s book, What Would Jesus Do? which was written as standard liberal social gospel trash which emerged into real popularity in young evangelicals who put the "missional" writing back into the context of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then it became a national joke. So it’s hard to predict the future of a book. I wonder that about Vintage Jesus (shorter life) and Death by Love (longer life). Thinking of no one reading the books I work on makes me all the more committed to not writing! But I’m working on Doctrine: What the Church Should Believe now.
Terrance and Cal are right on when we question the balance between otherness and closeness. That’s exactly where the rub comes. Most in my camp (Reformed Evangelical more or less) tend to otherness. They also go toward holy justice and wrath as key attributes and see grace and love in the setting aside of His righteous anger rather than a genuine compassion and desire to come alongside and help. Exodus 34:6-7 is the best balance I know.
Mike and I agree: Really seeing God is a relatively rare thing for Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and such folk. It’s virtually a never thing for ordinary people. Even David never saw the LORD. At least it’s not mentioned in the Scriptural account if He did. It is a commentary on our self centeredness that I want to see God RIGHT NOW!
But there’s a sense of His reality that comes through the Spirit and through the body. It can go a bit nuts, but it can also be quenched by sin or lack of pursuit. I think of intimacy in marriage as a similar concept.
Glenn, when I heard Mark’s criticism of The Shack, I suspected that he’d followed his on advice and not read the book. I can’t for the life of me see how anyone could accuse Paul of teaching goddess theology in The Shack. The issue of authority relation in the eternal Trinity is a big debate in the books, blogs, and in Evangelical Theological Society I’m doing a paper on that topic in November. I’ll argue there’s not enough biblical data to decide if the Son was submitted to the Father in eternity. The early church went that way as they developed the fourth century creeds of course.
Bottom line: Exodus 34:6-7. The most quoted verse in the Bible by the Bible.
And a historical note: Sherry is doing a scrapbooking day with Bonnie Holland tomorrow. She’s going through old pictures to do a brief family history. We’ve been laughing over lots of things. This was 27years ago, my first computer. 64k memory (kilo, not mega or giga!) was huge. TWO floppy disk drives with 92k-bytes each. CPM operating system and Wordstar. It was wonderful. I did most of my dissertation on this machine. But I’m really glad it’s gone now, replaced by my new "little guy" that has far more power of the huge IBM 360 that was in the basement of Milliken Hall in those days.
Also you see my coke bottle glasses. I’m totally thankful for Lasik surgery that means no corrective lenses of any kind for me now.