Gender Bending in The Shack (The Shack Inspection Part 1)
So Mack meets the Trinity at the shack. “Mack decided to bang loudly and see what happened, but just as he raised his fist to do so, the door flew open, and he was looking directly into the face of a large beaming African-American woman”(pg. 82). Mack reflects on this and says, “Since there were three of them, maybe this was a Trinity sort of thing. But two women and a man and none of them white? Then again, why had he naturally assumed that God would be white?”(p.87). Now I could care less in this story what color of skin the Father has, the issue is how Pau l Young portrays God the Father as a woman. Mack asks the question, “Am I going crazy? Am I supposed to believe that God is a big black woman with a questionable sense of humor? Jesus laughed. “She’s a riot! You can always count on her to throw you a curve or two.” (pp. 88-89) Mack has a problem with this new view of God the Father and says, “I think it’d be easier to have this conversation if you weren’t wearing a dress” (p. 93). But what justification does Paul present in the book that would lead him to do such a thing as presenting God the Father as woman? On page 93 we read: “Mackenzie, I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature. If I choose to appear to you as a man or woman, it’s because I love you. For me to appear as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning” (p. 93). When you have God the Father always addressed in Scripture as Father and never called Mother, one would think that if the Father were going to show up in the flesh, he would be in a male form. Fathers are male and to have a Father presented as a woman wearing a dress is gender bending at its worst. Now Mack, “believed, in his head at least, that God was Spirit, neither male nor female, but in spite of that, he was embarrassed to admit to himself that all his visuals for God were very white and very male” (p.93). It is correct to say God the Father is neither male nor female because He is spirit (John 4:24). But the Fatherhood of God is fully and only masculine language and to have a person called Papa (Father) appear as a woman is a very confusing image that deconstructs the orthodox view of the Trinity. The author is saying that since God is spirit then he is neither male nor female so we can switch it around. Scripture never does this—ever.
Now Papa (the large African American woman), explains to Mack why she/he had to be revealed as a woman, “Hasn’t it always been a problem for you to embrace me as your father? And after what you’ve been through, you couldn’t very well handle a father right now, could you?” (p. 93) Mack asks, “why is there such an emphasis on you being a Father? I mean, it seems to be the way you most reveal yourself”(p. 94). He has only revealed himself as Father in Scripture, God is never called “Mother”.
So if Mack has a problem with religiously stereotyping God the Father as a white Gandalf, why trade that stereotype for a worse one? Having “the Father” appearing as a female is really bogus. Since Mack had a bad father figure in his life you would think that you would give him a perfect father modeled before him over the weekend at the shack . After the fall of Adam, there have always been flawed fathers to differing degrees. Why didn’t God mix the metaphor if that is what people needed? Here is reason as I see it: because he is eternally Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No biblical author calls the first person of Trinity mother or any feminine noun or pronoun. God is spirit (John 4:24) and the Father has never revealed himself in a bodily form (John 1:18; 5:37; 6:46). If God the Father were to appear in a human form, I am sure it would be what we think a father would look like, not a womanly, mother figure. Every New Testament author calls the first person of the Trinity—Father. God as Father is used over 200 times in the New Testament. Jesus prayed to the Father. Jesus said he had a glory with the Father before the world began (Jn 17:5). God (first person of the Blessed Trinity) is eternally the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Scriptures were penned over 1,400 year span, composed by dozens of authors, and the resounding pronoun they used for God was—He. Thousands of times the pronoun used for God is he and is never she.
Here are some great articles that deal with the whole gender issue:
How Shall We Speak of God? Seven Reasons Why We Cannot Call God "Mother"
by Randy Stinson and Christopher W. Cowan
Death of Father Language: Attacking the Heart of Christian Identity
by David Lyle Jeffrey
by David Lyle Jeffrey
Our Mother Who Art in Heaven: A Brief Overview and Critique of Evangelical Feminists and the Use of Feminine God-Language
by Randy Stinson
by Randy Stinson
Father of the Fatherless: Women Approaching God as Father
by Mary Kassian
by Mary Kassian
Mary Kassian has some great articles to check out here:
Tampering With the Trinity: Does the Son Submit to His Father?
by Bruce A. Ware
by Bruce A. Ware
Here are some of the NT references to God- the Father:
Matt. 5:16, 45, 48; 6:1, 4, 6, 8f, 14f, 18, 26, 32; 7:11, 21; 10:29, 32; 11:25ff; 12:50; 13:43; 15: 13; 16:17, 27; 18:10, 14, 19, 35; 20:23; 23:9; 24:36; 25:34; 26:39, 42, 53; 28:19; Mk. 8:38; 11: 25f; 13:32; 14:36; Lk. 6:36; 9:26; 10:21f; 11:2, 13; 12:30, 32; 22:29, 42; 23:34, 46; 24:49; Jn. 1:14, 18; 3:35; 4:21, 23; 5:17ff, 26, 36f, 45; 6:27, 32, 37, 40, 44ff, 57, 65; 8:16, 18f, 27f, 38, 41, 44, 49; 10:15, 17f, 29f, 32, 36ff; 11:41; 12:26ff, 49f; 13:1, 3; 14:6ff, 16, 20f, 23, 26, 28, 31; 15:1, 8f, 15f, 23f, 26; 16:3, 10, 15, 17, 23, 25ff, 32; 17:1, 5, 11, 21, 24f; 18:11; 20:17, 21; Acts 1:4, 7; 2:33; Rom. 1:7; 6:4; 8:15; 15:6; 1 Co. 1:3; 8:6; 15:24; 2 Co. 1:2f; 6:18; 11:31; Gal. 1:1, 3f; 4:2, 6; Eph. 1:2f, 17; 2:18; 3:14; 4:6; 5:20; 6:23; Phil. 1:2; 2:22; 4:20; Col. 1:2f, 12; 3:17; 1 Thess. 1:1, 3; 3:11, 13; 2 Thess. 1:1f; 2:16; 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Tit. 1:4; Phlm. 1:3; Heb. 1:5; 7: 10; 12: 9; Jas. 1:17, 27; 3:9; 1 Pet. 1:2f, 17; 2 Pet. 1:17; 1 Jn. 1:2f; 2:1, 13, 15f, 22ff; 3:1; 4:14; 5:1; 2 Jn. 1:3f, 9; Jude 1:1; Rev. 1:6; 2:27; 3:5, 21; 14:1
Why post the following Scriptures? Because I was blessed to go through the NT and think about the relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Gospel of Matthew
5:16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
5:45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
5:48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
6:9 "Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
11:25 At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 "Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 27 "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
13:43 "Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
16:17 And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
27 "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.
20:23 He said to them, "My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father."
23:9 "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
24:36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
25:34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
26:39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will."
42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done."
53 "Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?
28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
3:35 "The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.
4:21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
23 "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
John 5:17-45 Please read this section for yourself… it is incredible!
6:27 "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal."
46 "Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.
John 8:41 "You are doing the deeds of your father." They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God."
42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.
53 "Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?"
54 Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, 'He is our God';
56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."
10:15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
John 11:41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
John 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
John 17:4-5 Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You,
5 "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
Acts 1:4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me;
7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;
Romans 1:7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
8:15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"
15:6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8:6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
15:24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.
2 Corinthians 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
6:18 "And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty.
11:31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.
1:1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),
1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
1:4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
4:2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father.
4:6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"
1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
2:18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
4:6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
5:20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;
6:23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2:11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
4:20 Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
1:3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
3:17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
1:1 Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
1:3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,
3:11 Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you;
3:13 so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.
1:1 Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
1:2 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace,
1 Timothy 1:2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Timothy 1:2 To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Titus 1:4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Philemon 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1:5 For to which of the angels did He ever say, "YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU"? And again, "I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME"?
12:9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
3:9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;
1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1:17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;
2 Peter 1:17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased "--
1:2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us--
1:3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
2:13-24 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.
15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.
23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
Jude 1:1 Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:
Revelation 1:6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father-- to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 3:21 'He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
I take it that God the Father has always been Father and will continue to be throughout eternity.
God the Father= 200x
God the Mother= 0
God with the pronoun--He = 1,000's of times
God with the pronoun--She= 0