By Elizabeth Prata
But it makes me feel good…
But it has Jesus in it…
But what would be the harm if I read it…
In order to seek His face, and to stay on His path, before consuming any book, media, or website, Christians should always ask these questions in daily life,
–“Will this help me glorify Jesus?”
–“Will this help me understand Jesus better?”
–“Will this help me speak of Jesus lovingly and accurately?”
These are questions we ask all the time. We have to, Christian life is hard. We are told in John 16:33 that the Christian life is hard and it’s easy to stray. We face mocking, (Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 28:22; 2 Peter 3:3) persecution, trials and tribulations. (1 Peter 4:12-13, 2 Corinthians 11:24-26). Because of our enemies, we have to do all we can to stay on the straight path and not stray. (Psalm 27:11) We struggle against the supernatural realms, all the powers, principalities, and powers of darkness, so much so that we are given spiritual armor to wear in the battle. (Ephesians 6:12). We battle our own sin. (Romans 7:18–19). It’s war, you know, and the enemy sets mines.
Bad books are one of those mines.
In fact, in 2008, I was so surprised by how many of my friends, and even whole churches, were lauding and consuming William P. Young’s terrible book The Shack, that I decided to start a theological blog, which is this one called The End Time, (originally on blogspot) so I could devote myself to combatting heresies.
We are told that in the end time men will not put up with sound doctrine, instead, they’ll seek doctrines that tickle the ears and match their own thoughts and desires. (2 Timothy 4:3). We are warned that men will be godless, susceptible, hypocritical liars teaching false doctrine sent by deceiving demons (1 Timothy 4:1-3). There will be destructive heresies secretly introduced even denying the sovereignty of the LORD; and false teachers (2 Peter 2:1). Even the elect will not be immune to deception (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22).
The Lord was good and kind to tell us, warn us, and equip us with His word, and to send some with extra doses of discernment to help in our own personal walk into holiness and wisdom. The Shack is one example of how the devilish deception works. It’s a heartwarming, innocuous-looking book that makes readers feel good. They feel good about Jesus. They feel good about God. They feel good that they feel good about Jesus. They feel good because they released from the strict doctrine they hated all along. How? The Shack tells its readers that Jesus is not the only way to heaven, but the best way. The Shack tells its readers that church is old fashioned and the Bible is dusty. The Shack tells readers that there is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell. The Shack tells readers God will never judge people for their sins. (If that is so, then Jesus died for NOTHING!) Even one of those principles in The Shack should be enough to stop a Christian from spending God-given time reading it.
The recent television series The Chosen (produced and written by Mormons) is another example. So well written and photographed, it felt luxurious as I watched the first few episodes. It made many viewers feel good as it tugged on emotional strings. But slowly, in crept the errant doctrine. It came slyly, as the Bible tells us it will. (Genesis 3:1, Galatians 2:4).
Books that satan wants to use to swerve you from your walk will not be bursting with error or heresy. Just as the devil does not come in a red jumpsuit with pitchfork, but masquerades as an angel of light, his doctrines also come candy coated, looking and sounding good. They’ll be pleasing and make you feel good. But be wise as serpents and innocent as a dove! (Matthew 10:16). Don’t fall for it.
When you read a book like The Shack or watch a movie or TV series, or if you consider recommending it to someone, ask yourself the three questions as usual: does what I am thinking, saying, or doing glorify God? And add this one: at the Bema Seat, when I face Jesus, will he accept my excuses for having read or recommended this material, especially if I knew it contained error or misguided doctrine and advice? He wont’ say “Congratulations for eating the meat and spitting out the bones”. The time I used in reading heresy I could have spent in Godly pursuits instead. Which would be more pleasing to Him?
In light of all the end-time warnings we are given, why spend even a moment spending time in an activity that denies Jesus’ sacrifice for sin? Why risk it? Are we smarter than the Bible? No. Straying from that fence exposes us to the wolves we were promised would appear (Matthew 7:15) and makes us vulnerable to the prowling lion seeking to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8) If you were inside a fence and actually saw the wolves and the lion out there, would you wander out? Of course not. Just because the powers and principalities are invisible does not mean they are not there. We are told they are, and if you have faith in Jesus’ swords then you believe that. Don’t stray outside of the fence of solid doctrine! Especially not in these end times when we’ve been warned the risk is all the greater!
There is no label on material that’s polluted with error that says, “Warning, heresy inside!” The destructive heresies that will come are introduced “secretly” meaning, slyly, in a sweet package like The Shack/The Chosen/Jesus Calling/Beth Moore etc. Christian, don’t go over the fence where the lion prowls, and the wolves wait. Frankly, none of us is smarter than the Bible, and the word in His Bible warned us we are at risk from false doctrines in the end time. O, why displease the merciful God who saved you from the pit of eternal hell by putting in your mind the notion that His Son died for nothing?