Joseph Farah, Theologian

Staying with WorldNetDaily, Joseph Farah has turned theologian. Here he is expounding on the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25:

For Christians, the marriage feast represents redemption with Yeshua, our Messiah and Savior. The oil is the Holy Spirit, who provides believers with discernment about biblical truth. The virgins – both wise and foolish – represent the church.

 …Just as there are in this story, there are a lot of foolish virgins in the church today – superficial believers who are not utilizing the discerning spirit God provides us to understand and interpret His Word.

Here’s proof: The most popular book in so-called “Christian” bookstores over the last two or three years is one called “The Shack,” a paperback novel by Paul Young that represents unmitigated heresy in its view of salvation, an anti-biblical portrait of the Creator of the universe as our buddy and a thoroughly paganistic message that there really are no consequences for sin.

What humbug – if Farah is believed in “consequences for sin”, surely he’d be terrified of how he’s going to explain to God why WND publishes so many lies? The use of “Yeshua” is a silly affectaton, too, since Farah is not a Messianic Jew – however, there is an increasing evangelical appropriation of Jewish expression, for reasons I explore here.

As ever, Farah’s pious pose is an attempt to flog books:

…I jumped at the opportunity to publish an enlightened critique of the this dangerous and spiritually subversive book called “Burning Down ‘The Shack: How the ‘Christian’ Bestseller Is Deceiving Millions,'” by James De Young.

It officially releases tomorrow, but you can get it right now, autographed by the author, at the WND Superstore.

De Young brings some important credentials to the project. He is professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Western Seminary, Portland, Ore., where he has taught for 34 years. He has served as chairman of the hermeneutics section within the Evangelical Theological Society. And he’s also personally well-acquainted with Young, the author of “The Shack,” having been part of a small-group Bible study with him for years prior to the latter’s break with orthodoxy.

…I think I can safely say that no “Christian” publisher would touch “Burning Down ‘The Shack'” because it might disrupt the profit stream. Opposition to this thoughtful and enlightening and scrupulously documented book has been vehement – not from the secular world, mind you, but from within those who consider themselves part of the Body of Christ!

A second article has further attacks on The Shack:

Yet it is infused with counterfeit Christianity, argues “Burning Down ‘The Shack’: How the ‘Christian’ Best-seller is Deceiving Millions,” a new title from WND Books that publishes June 1.

Worse, says author James De Young, its depiction of God as an African woman who suffered Christ’s crucifixion – and the book’s exclusion of any existence of Satan and hell – represent just some of its many dangerous deceptions.

“‘The Shack’ presents a depiction of God that changes, ‘the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man,'” said Joseph Farah, publisher and CEO of WND Books, citing Romans 1:23. “But Paul Young also offers a warped portrayal of the Trinity, denies the supreme divinity of Jesus Christ, diminishes the realities of sin without redemption and shrugs off damnation.

“Christian leaders can no longer countenance this cancerous manipulation,” continued Farah. “I’m heartened that Jim De Young is exposing and opposing it.”

Controversy over Young’s book has actually been going on for some time. Farah has picked up the baton from one his columnists, Jim Fletcher, who has attacked the book as part of a wider Jeremiad against the Christian publishing industry, tinged with some conspiracy theory:

 Not surprisingly, actress Demi Moore has “tweeted” her enthusiasm for William Young’s “The Shack.” On her Twitter account, Moore said she’d “definitely recommend” the “life-changing” novel, and fellow intellectual/husband Ashton Kutcher commented that the book sounded like a “must-read.”

…For the record, I am not a fan of “The Shack,” and feel it is a significant boost to the multi-cultural, pluralistic effort to change America once and for all. Young appears to be an amiable chap, and history will one day record whether that persona is real or simply employed by a skillful change agent.

In purely book promotion terms, however, Moore’s endorsement is the kind sought by all authors and their publishers. One is reminded of Amy Grant’s concert endorsement of a novel by a fledgling writer two decades ago. When the Christian music icon recommended Frank Peretti’s “This Present Darkness,” it launched his career.

…More signs of the destruction of American evangelicalism: The Evangelical Press Association recently announced award winners for 2009. Among the publications cited were Sojourners (winner in the General category) and Charles Stanley’s “In Touch” for the devotional category…Sojourners is a periodical loaded with raging liberalism, helmed by Jim Wallis, who cleverly labels himself an “evangelical,” just like his buddy Brian McLaren.

Fletcher also complains:

One of the problems conservative Christians have with “The Shack” is the portrayal of God.

At one point, the (okay, I’ll say it) Oprah-esque figure says to Mack, “Don’t just stand there gawkin’ with your mouth open like your pants are full.”

That kind of dialogue and imagery just doesn’t square with our understanding of God from Scripture.

Of course, many don’t have a problem with that.

Others of us do, however, and the portrayal of God is one of the reasons I urge readers to be very cautious with “The Shack.”

Farah and Fletcher see trends in modern evangelicalism as insufficently conservative – as I’ve blogged previously, Farah harbours a deep hatred of Rick Warren.

The Shack is published in the USA by Windblown Media and in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton (both are Hachette imprints). The Windblown website has a page responding to various theological criticisms. The American edition carries a number of blurbs, including one from Eugene Peterson.

One wonders why De Young has chosen WND Books as the outlet for his apparently serious critique, since the WND website is better-known for promoting crank theories about the Bible. These include support for a book rehashing Pyramidology, entitled The Nephilim and the Pyramid of the Apocalypse; the suggestion that the Bible predicts a Muslim anti-Christ; the suggestion that Jesus named Satan as “Barack Obama”; and a bizarre foray into Biblical astrology.