You may have heard that the Father, Son, and Spirit are all the same God,
but they wear different masks, have different roles,
like I am a mother, sister, and friend, but am just one person.
God the Father is not God the Son and God the Son is not God the Spirit.
If there was only one Person, Reeves explains, He could not have died for us. Neither would they be in a dance with each other!
Yet, still, the Father, Son, and Spirit are one, in perfect harmony.
He doesn’t mean they are the same, but just taking different roles, but rather, taking an earthly and scriptural illustration, that they are like the husband and wife who become one in marriage. The same word Deut 6:4 uses when it says, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one” is the same word Genesis 2:24 uses when, in speaking of man and woman marrying, says, “they shall become one flesh.”The husband is not the wife and the wife is not the husband, yet they are one.
When they listen to the music of the Spirit, when the husband leads and the wife stays in step, they become one, yet they are not the same.
And as we become one with the Trinity, as Jesus prayed in John 17,
we are not God and God is not us, yet, we are one.
He abides in us and we in Him, but we are not the same.
We long to understand this mystery.
We have already seen the weakness in comparing the Trinity
to something as impersonal as an egg,
for the Trinity is personal, loving, and in a dynamic dance.
I think that picture of a loving community
is part of what gave The Shack its enormous popularity.
It tapped into the personal and relational truth about the Trinity.
Opinions vary widely on this, but I believe we have a sisterhood who can discuss this in love and that we can learn from one another.
It is challenging to walk the fine line between legalism and heresy!
I really don’t want to fall off on either deathly side.
Dee and The Shack! :-)
Several of you were concerned we were going to discuss the Shack, and e-mailed me. I do understand, for I share your concerns. Yet I also know so many unbelievers were impacted positively by it — both the book and the movie. Yet if I knew a month ago what I definitely know today, would I have invited Twila and our new friend to see it with me? I’m not sure. I did think God led me to invite this woman and it turned out very well. Our friend has had much tragedy in her life and found it a comfort. I also knew that we were going to have an opportunity to discuss it afterwards over supper. lt led to a great discussion, a deepening friendship, and our friend is now coming to our church, The Orchard, where as before she was unchurched. I have come to think of The Shack as “pre-evangelistic,” helping many who have believed, perhaps because of tragedy, that God doesn’t love them. (That wasn’t the case, however, with our friend. Despite tragedy, she has believed God is good.) For us — it was a very positive experience and the movie made all three of us ponder together and grow closer to God and to each other. All that was so healthy!
But I have since come to also understand that the author definietely believes in universalism, which is heresy. I saw possible traces of that in the book, but it wasn’t really clear, and I didn’t see it in the movie. But in an interview with Tim Challies last March, Young says he does support universalism. He feels since Christ died, all are saved. You can read the whole article here or see my red key pull-out..com/book-reviews/what-does-the-shack-really-teach-read-lies-we-believe-about-god
Challies asked Young:
Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation?
And Young answered:
That is exactly what I am saying!
This is heresy. So that puts Young in the category of Hannah Hurnard, Sue Monk Kidd, and Rob Bell, all of whom seemed to begin with Christianity but then became clearly heretical. Both Bell and Young believe everyone is going to heaven. I understand that desire to believe that, but that is simply not what the Bible teaches. Miroslav Volf, a Croatian theologian, said many Americans have trouble with a holy God who brings judgment, but many Croatians have trouble with a loving God who does not hold accountable those who have raped, tortured, and murdered their loved ones. God is both holy and loving — the Gospel tells us we are lost because our sin offends a holy God, yet He has thrown us a lifeline. If we receive Him as our Savior in repentance and faith, He forgives our great offense. That is the teaching of the gospel, and is the solid foundation of our faith.
So what should we do with the early works of these authors, such as The Shack and Hinds Feet in High Places or Rob Bell’s Nooma videos? It is sad, but I would be hesitant, at least on a general basis, to recommend any of their early works for fear people would go on to embrace their later works. I applauded Zondervan for stopping their selling of the highly lucrative Nooma videos when Bell’s heretical Love Wins came out with another publisher. They were being a careful shepherd.
Yet it is also true God can speak truth through anyone — even Balaam’s ass! I do believe there is gold in The Shack that has led to edifying discussions. For us, as believers, I don’t think we should be so fearful for we have the anointing of the Holy Spirit. To me it is legalistic to forbid all secular books or any edifying works that have questionable parts. (You may not agree — so freely enter into the discussion in love!) If you have read the book or seen the movie, I’d love to hear what gold or mud you saw in The Shack. If you didn’t read or see either, you can still enter into some of the concepts it brings up. Everything outside of the Bible needs to be sifted, but often we can find gold.
The basic story of The Shack is of a father (Mac) who lost his little girl to a murderer and struggles to believe God is good. God then invites Mac to the scene of the murder where the Trinity is then revealed in love. Here are some scenes from the movie.
Here is the gold I sifted from the mud.
God is good — and heaven is real. How wonderful it was for Mac to see his little girl happy and joyful in heaven.
Mac was closed to God after the murder, despite loving attempts from his neighbor. But God came to him in a dream (we find at the end it was a dream.) That is how God is coming to many Muslims today — so it can happen.
The Trinity is loving and relational — and I thought that relationship was portrayed well — they were even dancing.
The Spirit is always feminine in Scripture — and I did like the graceful Asian woman who collected Mac’s tears and led him into a garden that looked like a mess on earth but a thing of beauty from above. (Of course I’m glad the Spirit is not an Asian woman, for then the Spirit could not be everywhere!)
I thought the picture of the wife fighting for the marriage after the death of their precious little girl was beautiful, telling Mac, “we have lost so much — let’s not lose each other.” And the older daughter who felt such guilt needed help — and God opened Mac’s eyes to see that. That all portrayed dealing with a fallen world with wisdom.
And then I saw mud.The love of God was certainly emphasized more than than any need for repentance. Each of us see things through our own filter — that’s why I don’t think a believer who has the anointing of His Spirit would be led astray, but an unbeliever might be, thinking God accepted him without any need for him to repent and put his trust in Christ’s provision.
Many in the Reformed tradition, which I am, are a bit uncomfortable with portraying Jesus — for how can you? I would not go as far as J. I. Packer in Knowing God who doesn’t think you should have pictures of Jesus in children’s Bible storybooks, but I do know it is impossible to portray our Lord accurately through pictures. In my original clip for my upcoming book He Calls You Beautiful, I originally used one movie clip that portrayed Jesus as a Shepherd and showed him walking toward us. Lizzy suggested I find one where you couldn’t see his face — and I did — and I like it so much better. Many were also offended by the portrayal of God the Father as a woman. My son J. R. and his wife Dianne were, saying, “Though God the Father has feminine attributes, He is clearly masculine.” Yet I understood why “Mac,” abused as a child by a male, might not have related to a man. The author himself was abused by “missionaries” when he was in a missionary school, separated from his parents.
Ravi Zacharias, in the following clip, has an interesting commentary on why he was uncomfortable with this portrayal of the Trinity.
I think we have discovered the Trinity is so hard to explain. I appreciated what our own Susan said last week about the illustration of the apple. She felt it was helpful for children but that as we mature we can deal with a more complicated metaphor, such as the dance.
I know we will have a loving, honest discussion here through which we can all grow! I also know you will be so blessed by Mike Reeve’s message on the Trinity.
I do think it is legalistic to confine your reading to only Christian works, for there is gold in secular works. One of my favorite books and movies of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird. And there are so many inferior Christian books and movies — instead of forbidding one and endorsing the other — shouldn’t we use discernment and teach our children to be discerning? Why not sit down (though I know it is a bit painful) and watch the shows your children love with them: Batman, Beauty and the Beast, Bambi… and help them sift the gold from the mud in discussions afterwards?
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
2. If you read or saw The Shack, how would you summarize your thoughts? Did you mine any gold? What
mud did you see?
3. What ideas do you have on helping children become discerning adults? Do you ban non-Christian works from your children? If so, why? If not, why?
Monday-Wednesday Bible Study (1 John 2:18-26 and 1 John 1:4-13)
5. Read 1 John 2:18-28
A. Where did false teachers begin and how did they come to show that they were not really part of the
body of Christ? (vs 18-19)
B. Why do believers have discernment, and how can we spot a false teacher according to verses 20-26?
6. Read 1 John 4:1-6
A. What caution are we given in verse 1?
B. How do you see each person of the Trinity in verse 2?
C. Again, why should we not be so fearful according to verse 3?
D. John gives two tests to discern the spirit of truth and the spirit of error in this passage. What are they?
7. We should always be like the Bereans, sifting for truth and error. Outside of the Bible, even the comments
in study Bibles, need to be sifted. There is gold in secular books and movies, and there is mud in Christian
books and movies. Can you give an example of gold in a secular work and mud in a Christian work?
8. Read 1 John 4:7-12
A. Mike Reeves say that many, when the word God is mentioned, feel guilt. They imagine our God to be
like Allah who controls but, being monolithic, has never learned to love. What do you learn about the
love of Tri-une God from this passage?
B. How can people in the world see an invisible God, according to this passage?
C. What happens to us as we love one another according to this passage? How is this joining in the
9. How, according to 1 John 4:13 do we know God abides in us? How have you sensed the Spirit in your life
this week? (Last week Susan mentioned she found sensed Him, not through an extraordinary experience,
but through truth in a radio podcast.)
10. How long has God loved the Son according to John 17:24? What does this teach about the tri-une God?
11. How much does God love us according to John 17:23? Do you believe this?
Thursday-Friday Message — Free from Mike Reeves
12. Share your notes and comments from the message.
13. What is your take-a-way this week and why?