Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

The Shack vs. Mark Driscoll

In Controversial Books, Universalism on November 14, 2010 at 6:58 pm

This is a comment I recently posted on Jim Henderson’s blog regarding a possible discussion between William Paul Young and Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill church in Seattle. You can read the entire post and comments here: http://offthemap.com/2010/09/02/paul-young-in-seattle-september-10th-free/

Jim, I think I can understand your concern. I’ve seen plenty of Christians, including myself, who have accepted without question a pastor’s preaching as scripturally sound and accurate, failing to consider the subtle but strong pressure to conform to it. To disagree with a prominent church leader, especially if he is your pastor, means not only that you will be labeled as “not Christ-like,” or even a heretic, but you may not even be saved and in that case, you may be risking an eternity in hell – along with all kinds of other nightmares that the institutional church uses to manipulate mass thinking.

So yeah, if we care at all, we would like to see people freed from this misery called church preaching, as long as people are ready to be freed from it. And perhaps that is where you’re coming from in setting up this possible discussion. I am wondering that if Mark does not show up for it, W. Paul would want to voice his side of the story via another avenue, such as an article or essay. I think he has a gift of articulating through written words and I have heard humble and kind pieces here and there from him regarding his defense. These pieces (in interviews) helped to put my mind at ease after hearing the fear-mongering from Mark and others who opposed The Shack.

As far as Mark (or any other preaching pastor whose livelihood depends on the devotion of their church members) being scripturally sound, I think that is a joke. That is only what a teacher would like to make people think. Is any human omniscient? I think not. Is every human fallible and mistaken to some degree. I’m pretty sure that is the case. And yet we become mind slaves to the latest personality. Even Jesus said, “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”

Mark, et al, comes across like W. Paul is a New Age, goddess worshiping, Universalist and that is quite a heavy accusation in the church world. It is considered heresy that should be punished to the fullest extent of the law in the minds of many a Christian. And his accusers supposedly use the Bible to back up this claim.

After slashing the religious rope tied to my own mind, I personally disagree with both Young and Driscoll but respect their opinions as only that.

As far as I understand, the doctrine of the trinity did not gain momentum until after the third century in which you were burned at the stake if you did not believe it. Notwithstanding that the doctrine has caused all kinds of confusion among Believers, I think we should at least question this doctrine full of contradictions. Personally, I do not see it in the Bible, but projected into it.

Concerning New Age philosophies, well the Bible is full of them. We’d have to ignore all the times God spoke through dreams and interpreters and wise men who followed the stars to find the Christ. I also think that religions such as Buddhism and Kabbalism can extricate love and peace from the Bible far better than Christianity, a religion of exclusion and war. In fact, Christians are notorious the world over for preaching but ignoring the first and second greatest commandments.

Universalism is also in the Bible among over a hundred verses which talk about God ultimately reconciling the whole world to himself through Christ. Fans of the Left Behind series, etc. completely ignore scriptures such as, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” While I don’t think that Universalism, nor any other theology, covers the whole spectrum, it at least provides some truth to consider, not ignore. And it’s in the Bible.

The goddess accusation, to me, is void of any and all logic. The Bible calls God a rock. Does that mean God is an actual rock? The Bible is full of metaphors, symbols, similes, parables and anything else that hides the truth from the spiritually blind. An analogy is not the definition of God. It helps us understand one or two characteristics about him. In fact, God cannot be defined. He is the I am… infinite… eternal God. We can’t narrow him down presuming the mystery, although most pulpit preachers sure like to try.

Furthermore, even the Bible alludes to some feminine or motherly side of God and even Christ. He wanted to gather Israel to him like a mother hen gathers her chicks. He is called wisdom who is called “she”. Isaiah 49:15, ““Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?” Also, Job describes creation coming forth from the womb of God – the source and sustenance of all of life.

Christianity claims to be based on the Bible and yet, in my opinion, it preaches the book with heavy biases. These biases are traditions that began not from scriptures but largely from pagan cultures, especially the Judeo-Greco and Roman culture, as far as I understand. Don’t be fooled when someone tells you what the Bible says. Check it out for yourself taking into consideration opposing beliefs. Don’t regurgitate but bravely judge for yourself. And like the Apostle Paul said, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Everyone is free to have their own opinion, and to consider the opinions of others, in my opinion.

References:

The Shack, by William P. Young

Mark Driscoll’s warning of The Shack on YouTube

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