Reviewing the. . .Adventist World: The Shack Edition


(system) #1

May, 2010 - Vol. 6, No. 5

REVIEWS Don’t skip over the CHURCH WORKS section of this issue. The FOCUS ON LEADERSHIP meetings held in Beijing, China, are of particular interest in that the women pastors of China, whose leadership and evangelistic skills are legendary, were not even mentioned. (Pastors Lu and Xu are the only ordained female pastors in the Adventist Church.)

(See: Strong Gospel, Strong China, Strong Women Pastors by Rebekah Wang Scriven, Spectrum, Spring, 2010)

BREAST CANCER SCREENING by Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless makes the case that it is a vital preventative.

BEGINNING TO “ENDITNOW” is a MUST READ. Heather-Dawn Small, director of Women's Ministries for the General Conference, and Charles Sandefur, president of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), speak about a new worldwide initiative to counteract violence against women.

The numbers are frightening: an estimated one third of women around the world will be beaten, raped, or abused in one form or another. In some countries the percentages are even higher. In the United States alone, a woman is abused every 15 seconds. Whether sold into sexual slavery, raped in battle zones, or beaten by a boy-friend or spouse—women the world over are at risk of some form of violence.

This ugly problem manifests itself in numerous ways: sex trafficking in Asia, often including girls as young as 10 or 11; domestic abuse in so-called ‘developed’ nations; military rape in battle zones throughout Asia and Africa; female genital mutilation in some cultures that leaves millions of young girls scarred and damaged.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and the General Conference Women’s Ministries Department have launched a worldwide campaign, ‘enditnow,’ not just to help bring awareness of this terrible problem but to—end it now. The plan isn’t just to talk about it, to bemoan it, to hold workshops and focus groups about it. The purpose is to end it now. Both these global ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have witnessed firsthand the horrible results of this scourge: both are determined to muster all available resources to, well, end it now.

To sign the ‘enditnow’ petition, print out pledge cards, view an informative video, find resources to host a community event, or make a financial contribution to this campaign, go to www.enditnow.org. E-mail the campaign at enditnow@adra.org. Send print enquiries for resources and information to:

enditnow Campaig ADRA International/Women’s Ministries General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists 12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring, MD 20904 U.S.A.

According to Del Johnson, Administer of the North American Division‘s Retirement Plan, IF THE LORD DELAYS HIS COMING, retirement planning does not demonstrate a lack of faith.

SPIRITUAL PERILS: SUBTLE (AND NOT SO SUBTLE) INROADS INTO THE INTEGRITY OF OUR FAITH by Roy Adams takes some shots at Wm. Paul Young, author of The Shack.

A summary of the plot appears on the book’s back cover:

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she must have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.

One thing we should never do is underestimate the power of fiction. And what we have here is fiction with an agenda—a theological agenda.

This “book” was written for Paul’s children at the urging of his wife. It was the story of his eleven-year attempt to deal with the Great Sadness in his own life written as a kind of fable. There were originally 15 duplicated copies made for his children, relatives, and friends. At the urging of family and friends, he self-published this fable as a book. It is now a worldwide best seller.

In the isolated shack Mack encounters the three members of the Deity, and discovers that God is all about “relationships”—a popular word in Christian circles today.

Perhaps if we Adventists stressed loving relationships rather than doctrinal bickering and a quasi-literal interpretation of the Bible, i.e. a pick and choose key text approach, NAD membership and the Adventist Review readership would skyrocket, too!

(As it happened, I was into the book of Jeremiah while reading the novel, and I couldn’t help noticing the huge contrast between the God of The Shack and the God of Jeremiah.

For sure! No wussy “relationship” references from that Old Testament prophet!*

Incidentally, it’s a convivial God we find here--one who needs his morning coffee, goes after alcoholic beverages, and downs the beacon.) [Bacon?]

It’s Paul Young’s fable. His God isn’t an Adventist!

Whether through fictional or (supposedly) real-life narratives. . .there’s a lot of 'soft-sell' going on out there—a subtle approach to the mind every advertiser understands.

Paul is not an “advertiser”. Guilt by association is not argument.

It’s important that we not overreact to every incident that occurs in society, but confusion about what happens when we die is not an inconsequential issue.

I agree.

It can serve as a springboard to spiritualism, a perilous development predicted to play a critical role in the final crisis. Looking down the centuries to our times, John saw “three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon … the beast, and … the false prophet.” They are, he said, “spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Rev. 16:13, 14).

Wow! Reading the Shack makes “unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon. . .the beast, and. . .the false prophet?”

As Adventists, we have a special mission. And sometimes out of naiveté, sometimes from an inferiority complex, we can sabotage our own ‘brand.’

And boy, is our Christian “brand” all-important!

I think I will always be captivated by the music of Ave Maria,

Roy, beware of the slippery slope! You may, though the “captivating” power of music, decide to pray to the Virgin Mary!

but to recommend and endorse the piece to others would be wrong.

Roy, for you it would be wrong, and that’s cool.

I may be impressed by the literary brilliance of The Shack, identify emotionally with the tragedy that led William Young to write it, and even assign the book to my class for academic reading. Sounds reasonable. But to use it as a substitute for the Bible Study guide or endorse it to Adventist students would be to cross a line.

Sounds reasonable.

Given the biblical issues involved and the uncanny power of fiction,

Scary!

it would be as irresponsible as introducing them to Ouija Boards and tarot cards.

But you said you might “assign the book to my class for academic reading!"

For many on the edge, this work, however well-intentioned, could well serve as a segue into the occult.

Roy, the Bible has been “segueing” people “into the occult” ever since it was written. Must we protect the “many on the edge” from reading it?

* Jeremiah 51:20-24 (New International Version) You are my war club, my weapon for battle— with you I shatter nations, with you I destroy kingdoms, with you I shatter horse and rider, with you I shatter chariot and driver, with you I shatter man and woman, with you I shatter old man and youth, with you I shatter young man and maiden, with you I shatter shepherd and flock, with you I shatter farmer and oxen, with you I shatter governors and officials. Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia for all the wrong they have done in Zion," declares the LORD.

JAKOB ERZBERGER: THE FORGOTTEN PIONEER by Daniel Heinz chronicles the story of an exemplary pastor. It’s a MUST READ for Adventist history buffs.

In 1870 Jakob Erzberger “became the first ordained European Seventh-day Adventist pastor. In reality, he was a type of circuit preacher for all of Switzerland and Germany. A humble man, Erzberger was happy to stand in the shadow of Czechowski, Andrews, and Conradi, who came to be seen as the founding fathers of European Adventism. In a sense, Erzberger was the ‘first fruit’ of Czechowski’s mission work in Europe. He often followed up on the evangelistic efforts of the other pioneers as a faithful pastor to the newly established churches and was the one to provide pastoral care and establish new believers in the faith after the other pioneers moved on to new challenging areas”.

THE ELLEN G. WHITE ESTATE does lots more than protecting original manuscripts in a vault, according to Tim Poirer.

“Though Ellen White did not specify it in her will, the church has asked the White Estate to take the lead in acquainting church members about Adventist heritage in general, as well as the prophetic ministry of Ellen White in particular. The Estate uses a variety of means in this effort, such as its own Web site, seminars, workshops, articles, books (such as Messenger of the Lord), CD-ROMs, Visionary—an online magazine designed for children (www.WhiteEstate.org/vez), guided Adventist history tours, and programming (such as “Gift of Light”) on the church’s Hope Channel.

“Free Web Resources. The White Estate Web site has much more than the 75,000 pages of Ellen White’s published writings to study and browse. Click to download a free study guide or dramatized pioneer story. Subscribe to the e-mailed “Thought for the Day.” If you’re a K-12 teacher, check out the resources available at www.WhiteEstate.org/godsmessenger.html. Maybe your church is considering renting its facility to another denomination and wonders whether Ellen White has given any counsel on this question. Suppose you want to learn something about the Pitcairn missionary ship, see photographs of our early health institutions, or find what letters still exist from S. N. Haskell or A. T. Jones. You can find answers to all these interests—and much more—on the Estate’s Web site.”

MORE THAN A FISH TALE by Angel Manuel Rodríguez is an attempt to answer the question: I’ve heard people say that the story of Jonah is only a parable. What do you think?

Rodriguez responds: “If we accept the biblical text at face value, it would not be difficult to conclude that it is a prophetic book in the form of a narrative. In other words the narrative contains a prophetic message; and the one does not exclude the reliability of the other. This was how the book was read until about 200 years ago, when biblical authority was replaced by human reason. This modern approach left no room for divine intervention in human history.”

I would have responded, “The fish episode is true but not real. God works in miraculous ways to save the lives of human beings of all religious persuasions, and he has only us, unworthy, untrustworthy, cowardly, and egocentric human beings, like Jonah, to get the job done. When we are successful, it’s a greater miracle than being transported by a fish to where we are needed.”


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2413