on October 4, 2012
As with millions of people, I was moved by Paul Young's gut wrenching story "where tragedy confronts eternity". But what really captivated me was Paul's take on the relationship of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Though fiction, it gave us a possible glimpse at what the center of the universe is like. And in this regard, it seemed to ring true with both Scripture and my personal experience and as a result sang to my heart!
In Dr. Baxter Kruger's new book, he has invited us to revisit The Shack and examine the theology that shaped Paul Youngs' vision of the blessedness of the Trinity. But this volume is far from being a dry and boring book which tries to dissect finer points of theology. Refusing to give us "the same old, same old", Baxter writes with a simplicity that everyone can understand and yet has captured a vision of God that will take your breath away. And Baxter has done his homework. Academically astute and rigorous with history and Scripture, this southern theologian, who was schooled in Scotland, writes with wit and grace offering us stories that are both humorous and profound. Baxter aims to point us through the Scriptures toward the ideas that shaped those first followers of Jesus that so impacted their world. That is; the passionate, other-centered love of Jesus and His Father that birthed a universe. And when we "broke" bad, He refused to abandon those He had set his love on.
To be sure, there are some provocative thoughts in these pages. Enough that will cause some to think deeply about God and life. And regrettably, motivate others to critique the book with the aim of tearing down anything that doesn't square with their personal view and opinion. But the paradigm Baxter offers us is so beautiful and true that it requires all of us to consider it's words with humility and a teachable spirit.
For my part, I loved how the book challenged and engaged both my mind and my heart! Bravo Baxter! Well done my friend.
on October 4, 2012
In The Shack by Wm. Paul Young, the character Mackenzie Allen Phillips must endure one of the most horrendous tragedies any parent could face. It becomes his "great sadness." Several years later he receives a note in the mail inviting him back to the shack; back to the source of his great sadness; a note from God. There he encounters, not the god of his fallen imagination, but rather the God that is Father (Papa), Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit (Sarayu). There Mackenzie discovers God is not a stainless steel legalist who is bankrupt of love, compassion and mercy. Rather, he discovers the real God of Father, Son and Spirit whose love for one another is intense beyond description and whose love is a mighty river of living water flowing out to all creation and especially, to Mackenzie's amazement, to him. "I/We are especially fond of you Mackenzie" becomes a word repeated again and again until it begins to sink into Mackenzie's consciousness and radically transform his understanding of God. In talking with people who have read The Shack a common response has been; "Wouldn't it be great if God was really like that?" or "Do you think God is really like that?" In The Shack Revisited, Dr. Kruger answers those questions with; "Yes, that is exactly what God is like!"
The Shack Revisited is not a dull theological volume that will put you to sleep. Dr. Kruger uses the The Shack as a backdrop to lay out a description of the deep love and compassion of the Father, Son and Spirit for all human life. For we are his creation, we are his children. It is very readable and filled with stories that will make your heart soar. This is the image of God that turned the ancient world upside down. It is the image of God that has the potential to do the same to our world. Who doesn't want to be loved by Papa? Who doesn't want to be embraced, held and welcomed home? In his book Dr. Kruger has given us a deep theological understanding of who the Father, Son and Spirit are, without making it sound like it is deep and theological. It is written in the language of every man and woman. It is written in the language of love. And that is a language everyone can understand. If you read The Shack and you found your heart soaring when the door flew open and Mackenzie found himself embraced by Papa, you need to read this book. If you found yourself asking or thinking; "Could God really be like this?" you need to read this book.
Thanks Baxter for a great book. And thank you Holy Spirit for the vision you have given us through this book. We'll have more please.
on October 16, 2012
I have a friend who wrote: "We are all Trinitarians. But though we confess God as Triune, we may not be Trinitarian in our daily living. Theologian Karl Rahner asks this question, "If we decided to ditch the doctrine of the trinity what practical difference would it make to our lives? Rahner's answer is that it would make no difference at all. He says, "Despite their orthodox confession of the Trinity, Christians are, in their practical lives, almost mere monotheists." The point Rahner is making is that though we confess the three in One we live before God as a Monad, a single and solitary being."
This book, `The Shack Revisited' is an excellent exposition of `Trinitarian theology' which everyone would benefit from reading, but especially those Christians (particularly from the Reformed or fundamentalist wing of the church) who, whether they realize it or not, are as Rahner describes above Trinitarian in name but not in practice.
For me Baxter Kruger's writings are the most accessible of any `Trinitarian' theologian. Although a scholar of standing himself, Baxter has the ability to explain deep and complex matters simply (a rare gift in a theologian). Standing on the shoulders of giants like St Athanasius, Karl Barth, the Torrance brothers, C.S.Lewis and others, he clearly expounds the wonderful truths of our `inclusion in Christ'. Against the background of `The Shack' Baxter visits every important aspect of Trinitarian theology, including Incarnation and Atonement in a way which every one with a mind to can access and understand. Baxter's writings have revolutionised my own understanding of Christian faith, and I write as a 65 year old Christian and an ordained Church of England (Episcopalian/Anglican) minister of some 40 years standing.
My concern is that those who most need to read this book won't do so. They may consider it to be `lightweight' which it certainly isn't (witness the footnotes and recommendations for further reading); and because it is an exposition of the theology which undergirds `The Shack', there are those who having an inbuilt prejudice against that book won't be inclined to read this one. It will be their loss. This book demands a wide readership. To my mind it deserves as wide a readership as `The Shack' itself. My personal hope is that `The Shack Revisited' will bring the writings of C. Baxter Kruger to the attention of readers in the U.K. and therefore expose him to a much wider readership in what he calls `the Motherland'. May this book advance the `Trinitarian' revival in the church and beyond, and may eyes be opened to see how great and good is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said "On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you" (John 14:21 TNIV).
on September 25, 2012
The Shack Revisited sets it'self apart as the quintessential "Every-man's Theology" Dr. C. Baxter Kruger has a remarkable gift to make concepts of Theology accessible to the average woman or man. Read this book and read it again. The hope and longing to believe that the loving image of God we saw in The Shack is confirmed and explained in The Shack Revisited. I feel more loved and included by God now than I ever have. Thank you Dr. Kruger!
on November 5, 2012
When I first read "the Shack" there were many emotions that I experianced. Many new ideas and images that ran through my head. It broke down every concievable notion of who I Thought God was!! It planted the question "What If". To some this is enough to make them not want to read it but to many it speaks to that place within that says that there is more to this walk than what we have been told so far. It begins to open your eyes to a new understanding. There are so many different things going on inside this book that I am so thankful for Mr. Kruger and Mr Young coming together to uncover the many wonderful truths that it holds. If you have ever read the book you owe it to yourself to read The Shack Revisited. C. Baxter Kruger is an amazing author himself anyway and what he has done with the book is not short of a masterpiece. It simply shows you a Loving Father and amazing focus of the Trinity to involve us in His grand plan. Blessings.
on October 6, 2012
Because we distained Jesus' view of our heavenly Father, we killed him. What repeatedly reverberates within our souls is constantly being contradicted by our mental perspective of the One who has made us, yet in whom we live and move and have our being. This natural way of thinking about God is foreign to his being and to the desired purpose and life he has for us in Jesus.
At the core of our quandary is this fallen viewpoint originating the development from our angle of the nature and character of God. It is humanity's normal but also our nemesis for it comes not from God's self-revelation in Jesus but from our broken side, looking from our side at God whom we do not naturally understand and almost cannot take into ourselves, looking from our logic and not with God's logic. We therefore seek to explain God out of our mental self-awareness, not from our heavenly Father's perspective. My own passage is a continuing testimony to the darkness through which I struggle seeking to find and believe and know a God who is truly good and always loves. I long to be accepted, not for my performance but for my being, because I am. I need a loving savior who has a loving Father who takes me in and home. One who sees and knows my mess and is in it with me and is ok with it for now for He knows where I am in my journey and is not going to leave me but is going to see me through it. I cannot do that for myself. I have tried.
When I read The Shack, I was astounded, and continue to be. I was one of those who bought cases and gave them away and have taught the book several times. I am profoundly grateful to Paul Young and have told him so. I have known Baxter longer and am even more grateful to him. For those who "ask, seek, and knock," The Shack Revisited will help open eyes and ears to the underlying depths of many of the nuances in The Shack and many of the conversations that Mackensie has therein with Papa, Sarayu, and Jesus. Baxter genuinely helps in opening the Scripture, on which The Shack is based, even to one such as me with theological training. He by the Spirit has helped me have a new set of eyes.
This book is written without condemnation for those who may have different outlooks, seeking to assist those whose hearts are broken and whose souls long for healing. If one knew a portion of the pain of the writer's personal journey, that one would not easily throw stones, especially toward one who seeks to help the lonely, lost, and longing. Those who feel they already have all or most of the answers about God and the Scriptures and feel their identity threatened because it is rooted in their traditions may feel some temporary joy amid their anger at a Jesus that is as big and a God that is as good as described in The Shack Revisited. Those few will voice condemnation of this effort. But self-righteousness always seems to have an excluding and ornery spirit. You can probably count on that from the religiously righteous, and each of us has some of that. The Scriptures and history are filled with illustrations of the same.
While I readily admit my knowledge is limited, I see this work as a continuation of the faith and spirit expressed in the Scriptures and in Athanasius, some of the early church fathers, MacDonald, Barth, Torrance, Lewis and others, yet with an application to our place and time in history. Well written and clear, not an academic logic, but the logic of the Spirit poured out on all flesh, in whom the Spirit is working and whom the Spirit is educating that we are desired by the Father, Son, and Spirit to become like Christ. That we as created beings are wanted in the midst of the circle of the life of all the ages. That we as beings, not begotten, but created in a sense separate from God, are, in a way of saying, desired to become divine and to share and participate in the life that is truly life. That requires a change of mind, repentance, and a new birth in the Spirit begins to occur. That is Jesus' gift to us, his relationship with his Father and ours.
For those who long to know more of what our heavenly Father is like and more of who He truly is and who we are, this book is a marvelous assistance in the journey of that knowing. As we are prone to say in the South, "you will be blessed." What I would say is that you will be encouraged and stretched; and you may have one of your feelings hurt. But that's not a bad thing. And, if God is not good and loving as Baxter describes, what chance do you have?
In addition, there will be a forthcoming volume, a Participant's Study Guide, which will be one of the most penetrating aids you have ever encountered. Within it also are songs, hymns, and movies suggested for reflection. It is not for the timid. To go through this aid with a small group of souls genuinely seeking for God's heart and their own could be one of the most rewarding experiences you have ever encountered. I know. I have done it.
Be encouraged. Read this book. Then get the Guide. You too may buy extra copies to give to those you love. My bet is you will. It's that good...and helpful. Not kidding.
on November 7, 2012
From page one I did not want to put this book down. Baxter Kruger can take the most complex theological concepts and speak them from both his head and heart in language both poetic and simple. I continue to read and then re-read to make sure I don't miss anything. This is a superb book.
on September 14, 2013
Usually I don't like books about books. So many of them just seem to "tag along" on the fame of the book they are writing about. But not this one. This could easily be a seminary level exposition on the subjects The Shack introduced. This book places a very strong emphasis on the love of God as the real essence of God, rather than the sovereignty of God (yes, I have no problem acknowledging the sovereignty of God, it's just that within God sovereignty is almost a secondary characteristic that lies within and roots from the love of God.) Kruger really takes the time to explicate many of the themes from the Shack, starting with a compelling examination of what lies behind the hug with which Papa greets Mac.
This book is pretty technical, yet should be fairly easy for a serious reader to apprehend. Not set in the story format that Young utilized, this is more of a thematic exploration of Young's theology. This is not any kind of a "follow up" to Youngs "Shack," nor is it a sequel.
Very powerful and very much worth the read.
on October 5, 2012
If you have read "The Shack" and wondered about the theology behind it, this book is for you! Dr. Kruger, with a little help from William P. Young (author of "The Shack"), fills in the story behind the story of "The Shack" and gives plenty of illustrations that help explain the theology driving the events told in "The Shack". As you read Dr. Kruger's "The Shack Revisited" you'll rediscover the heart of the Father and be pointed towards the incredible relationship of love inherent in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that continues to overflow. You'll be brought to the real God who is not distant and cold, but rather find yourself seated in the lap of Jesus in heavenly realms in the middle of the blessed Trinity. And you'll know why "The Shack" captured your heart in the first place! I believe "The Shack" and "The Shack Revisited" are meant to be read together.
on October 4, 2012
"The Shack", by Paul Young, has, and still does today, strike a chord in the human heart, and through fiction and beautifully crafted imagery, much like the parables of the Bible, given us the ability to have meaningful conversations about the life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
C. Baxter Kruger in his book, "The Shack Revisited", has given us a great gift. Everyone who loved or liked "The Shack" needs to get a copy of Baxter's book. In "The Shack Revisited", you have a brilliant, gifted, humble theologian, that has the amazing, unique, and beautiful ability to sort of narrate in summary form "The Shack" in vivid detail and at the same time present to the world within a biblical framework the beauty of the Trinity, the existence of God revealed in 3 persons, in the Father, Son, and Spirit. In that Holy circle of eternal love and togetherness, through Jesus, we too share in the beauty and love that transforms our earthly existence, and Mr. Kruger, like no other spells this out for us. You don't have to have a Seminary degree hanging on your wall or feel threatened in the slightest that this book may be "too deep" or "too theological". The meaning of theology is simply this, it seeks to put in relevant terms how God has revealed Himself, and C. Baxter Kruger has most assuredly accomplished this in his book, "The Shack Revisited".
Thank you Baxter for allowing the love of the Father, the power of the Spirit, and the life and love of Jesus to pour out of your book and into our hearts that desparately need a fresh vision of the beauty of God.