As I read my daily emails and blogs this morning, a couple of stories collided in my thoughts.
1. I received an email from Amazon.ca listing their top 50 most popular books of 2008. Number 3 on that list was The Shack.
2. Next, I came upon a blog post by Dr. Albert Mohler in which he refers to a statistical study done by The Pew Forum. What stood out to me from this report was this statistic: "52% of those in churches and denominations that teach that Jesus is the only way of salvation - reject that teaching."
I wondered how that could be true. How could over half the people sitting in a church on Sunday morning, a church that teaches John 14:6, reject John 14:6? What are the people in the pews thinking?
Which brings me back to The Shack (pithy rhyme not intended), and its popularity, even and especially among Christians. I have been stunned to hear how many pastors and leaders see no issues with this book, and even go so far as even recommending their people read the book. It makes me shake my head.
Here is a sample of the kind of confusion that people will read in The Shack.
The author quotes Jesus as saying, “Those who love me come from every stream that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don't vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions” (182). When the main character asks for clarification - “Does that mean...that all roads will lead to you?” - the answer is “'Not at all,' smiled Jesus... Most roads don't lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you'” (182).
Is it any wonder that church attenders are confused? While church and denominational leaders teach the black and white statement made by Jesus in John 14:6, they also endorse gray statements like the ones attributed to Jesus in The Shack.
Mohler is spot on when he says, "Overall, the new findings are "an indictment of evangelicalism and evangelical preaching. The clear Biblical teaching is that Jesus Christ proclaimed himself to be the only way to salvation... We are in an age when we want to tell everyone they are doing just fine. It's extremely uncomfortable to turn to someone and say, 'You will go to hell unless you come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
I take this as a warning and exhortation for myself - a warning to re-commit myself to Gospel clarity and purity in my preaching/teaching, and an exhortation to pray for the men filling the pulpits of our country.