The Theology of the Bible is not the theology of The Shack.

Again, I am amazed at how applicable any discussion about this book is. That is – I think I am done with it, and it shows up again.  I have had two friends this week tell me they were reading it, and ask me if I have heard of it/read it.  I gave the short answer.  And, I would not harp on this book so much, except that the number of visitors on my site coming because of this book is actually quite high.  That, and I have just finished a delicious book – that I believe better reflects the Bible’s revelation of God’s part in our suffering.

John Piper has written a series of autobiographies, and the second one is on Cowper, Bunyan, and Brainerd.  These men knew suffering.  And their understanding of God in their suffering is much different than the modern (post modern?) Christian’s.

The Shack would say: 

Mack: “But I still don’t understand why Missy had to die.”
God: “She didn’t have to, Mackenzie.  This was no plan of Papa’s.  Papa has never needed evil to accomplish His good purposes.” 

And Bunyan would say:

“Learn to pity and bewail the condition of the enemy… Never grudge them their present advantages. ‘Fret not thy self because of evil men.  Neither be thou envious at the workers of iniquity.’  Proverbs 24:19. Fret not, though they spoil thy resting place.  It is God that hath bidden them do it, to try thy faith and patience thereby.  Wish them no ill with what they get of thine; it is their wages for their work, and it will appear to them ere long that they have earned it dearly… Bless God that thy lot did fall on the other side…. How kindly, therefore, doth God deal with us, when He chooses to afflict us but for a little, that with everlasting kindness He may have mercy upon us.  Is 54:7-8″

And:

“It is not what enemies will, nor what they are resolved upon, but what God will, and what God appoints, that shall be done… And as no enemy can bring suffering upon a man when the will of God is otherwise, so no man can save himself out of their hands when God will deliver him up for His glory… We shall or shall not suffer, even as it pleaseth Him…. God has appointed who shall suffer.  Suffering comes not by chance, or by the will of man, but by the will and appointment of God.”

Bunyan took his theology on suffering from the Bible.  Look at the following passages:

Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?  Exodus 4:11

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.  Proverbs 21:1

Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Lamentations 3:38,39

The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 1 Samuel 2:6,7

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19

How I wish people better understood this! There is such comfort in knowing the suffering in this life does not happen apart from God’s plan! It is not as though God could have done something, but did not, nor is it that He could not do anything about it – save bring it all to good at the end. It is ALL in His sovereign will.

I know I struggle most with this because I do not see my “suffering” as true suffering. Being martryed? That’s suffering. Having a daughter that is frustratingly sick this week? Part of being human. Having an uncle pass away, or a Grandpa – also being human. And yet, in our easy society, suffering does not always come much more difficultly. I say not always – because I know the burdens people around me carry are heavy. There are strained family relationships. And dealing with addictions. And dealing with deaths. And infertility. And all sorts of loss. I am seeking with Bunyan, with Cowper, with Brainerd to look at it all as a suffering that comes from God, for the purpose of refinement and glorifying God. That I might delight Him in how I respond to headaches and sick kids, and deaths and the plethora of daily struggles…..

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. brittanydavidson
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 11:55:25

    Nicole,

    I read a couple of your blogs about The Shack and thought you might be interested in chatting with William Paul Young live on Abunga.com. The chat is October 22, 2008 at 2:00 pm EDT. Here is the link to join: http://abunga.com/?d=authorsatabunga.

    Brittany
    abunga.com
    blog.abunga.com

    Reply

  2. Nicole
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 13:10:51

    Thanks for the link Brittany.

    Reply

  3. Jenn
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 17:24:42

    Nicole, do you believe that all things (good, bad and ugly) are orchestrated by God (or His will?)

    Reply

  4. Nicole
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 17:31:42

    I believe that is what the Bible teaches. I know that many, many who have suffered for Christ clung to this thought – knowing that nothing they went through was happening apart from His will.

    What do you think?

    Reply

  5. awakeningtolove
    Oct 15, 2008 @ 04:43:25

    Hi,
    I’m Gabi. I hope you don’t mind me reading your blog. Please keep writing, you’re inspiring and blessing me more than you know through what He writes through you You are more than welcome to read/comment my blog anytime, I’d love to hear from you!
    http://www.compelledbylove.wordpress.com

    Reply

  6. Jerry
    Jan 03, 2009 @ 18:09:54

    I believe that God has things happen in our lives to bring our faith closer to him.

    Reply

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