Ben Witherington on The Shack

John ArmstrongThe Trinity

BenOne of the very best, if not the absolute best, theological, social and political blog spots on the Internet is that of Ben Witherington, III. Witherington is a highly-esteemed New Testament professor at Asbury Seminary (Wilmore, Kentucky) and the author of numerous academic and popular books that are always of superb quality. I only read a few blogs regularly, mostly because of my personal time constraints. This is one blog that I try to get to as often as possible. After I wrote my simple critique of The Shack last week I was linked to  Witherington’s blog (go to the archives and then go to July 22 and there you will find the review), by a friend. He asked me to comment on Dr. Witherington’s review of The Shack. I told him that Witherington’s review is a thorough and extremely helpful critique. For all the hyper-conservative rant about this book, this particular blog offered a serious reflection with some helpful theological insights that I hope Young will pay attention to if he ever edits his best-selling book.

The basic purpose and story of The Shack remain extremely useful, so far as I am concerned. While some fine-tuning is truly needed, the huge over-reaction to this book is another expression of "left brain" thought dominating "right brain" creativity. The other superb review that I have read of The Shack appeared in Christianity Today. If you go to the site you can type in The Shack and several reviews and blogs will appear. They are all quite helpful.

The review that appeared in World Magazine, however, left a great deal to be desired. I found it predictably unhelpful. World sometimes hits a home run, but more often than not they hit foul balls and just do not advance runners in genuinely creative and fruitful ways. Their ideology rarely allows them to interact with divergent ideas. Instead it seems to obligate them to politicize issues within evangelicalism that will appeal to very strong conservatives, who also appear to be their target audience. I read an issue of World last week and several articles were brilliant; e.g. Marvin Olasky reviewing the gritty and dark HBO series, The Wire, a superb review, to cite one very positive example. World’s reviews are very uneven so you are never quite sure what you will get.