Texas pastor raises concerns about book ‘The Shack’

KATY?Randy White, pastor of First Baptist Church of Katy, has written an open letter to the trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources after trying to get the company to remove a fictional bestseller from its shelves. White’s letter expresses his theological disagreement with some of things taught in the popular book.

While the pastor acknowledged “The Shack” has been “a comfort to millions and given them spiritual hope,” he contends that the novel “falls tragically short of the biblical revelation of God.”

In support of this claim, the letter, dated Feb. 19 and mailed Feb. 20, listed 10 bullet points signifying problems from the first 100 pages of the 248-page novel. White told the TEXAN he read the entire book but considered the concerns raised in the first half to be typical. His letter was also e-mailed to LifeWay President Thom Rainer and other staff members with whom he had been in dialogue.

A critique of the book, detailing some of the same concerns, was also posted on White’s blog.

Among White’s concerns were a perceived “mocking of the complete nature of Scripture,” the incarnation of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit as women, a flippant attitude toward the role of the Holy Spirit, crude language attributed to the persons of God, and an unbiblical explanation of Christ’s incarnation and sacrifice.

White concludes by calling the decision to sell the book through LifeWay Christian Stores, “unconscionable” and asking the trustees to “take measures to remove the book from LifeWay stores.”

Responding to White’s concerns, LifeWay Christian Resources provided a statement saying that “the overwhelming number of Southern Baptists like the book and expect us to carry it in our stores.” The statement also notes that customers complained during the period last summer when the book was removed from LifeWay’s shelves “for further review.”

LifeWay also said “The Shack,” as a work of fiction, should be evaluated by different standards than a doctrinal or theological work. Their statement cites the example of C.S. Lewis as a popular author who took theological license in an effort to convey spiritual truth.

Each copy of the “The Shack” sold by LifeWay stores includes a “Read With Discernment” flyer that urges readers to exercise “extra discernment” because of the book’s “thought-provoking nature.” The enclosure also directs customers to a book on the Trinity and a basic introduction to Christian doctrine for further study.

LifeWay also provided endorsements of their corporate decision to sell the novel from Texas pastors David Dykes and Robert Jeffress, former LifeWay President Jimmy Draper, and Union University President David Dockery.

Rob Phillips, LifeWay’s communications director, told the TEXAN the company’s trustee chairman planned to send a response in support of LifeWay’s decision to White. The trustee chairman’s response was not available at press time.

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