Before reading each article of the series, please take the time to read the (2) disclaimers:
DISCLAIMER #1: The following blog post is NOT theological criticism or a heresy-head hunting game by any stretch of Wm. Paul Young’s The Shack. I am more sympathetic with open & process theisms, so there is no need for this author to scan The Shack for doctrinal errors.
DISCLAIMER #2: Be aware that what I share are from a 2010 joint-presentation I and my friend Adam DJ Brett, a PhD entering his first year of work at Syracuse this fall. Post 5 of this 6 part series will be mostly his research, and his intellectual property. If you wish to use this information, please cite him as the source. Also, given that this setting is a blog, I do not assume that everyone is familiar with the concepts I shall place forth, so, unlike the paper and hopefully forthcoming journal article, I will be making available definitions and sources if need be.
Gentiles in the Hands of a not-so Jewish Savior
In my last post, I discussed Wm. Paul Young’s description of the first person of the Trinity as Papa, the latest re-imagining of the Mammy black female house slave from 17-19th century U.S. American history. In this post, we shall take a look at Young’s picture of the second person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus.
One must be quite aware of the systemic anti-Judaism and anti-semitism passed down throughout history in Christianity. This anti-Jewish polemic, whether it be Justin the Martyr or Martin Luther, has real world consequences for how we treat persons who practice Judaism. When I say this, I know that people will automatically go to the Holocaust in Third Reich Germany, but what about the mob violence against Jews that Cyril of Alexandria was silent on in the fourth century? How about the conservative political label of “Judeo-Christian” as a post-World War II construct, to hide the exclusive nature of white protestant hegemony here in the United States? I would say that these phenomena are the best evidences that we have of Christianity’s anti-Judaic vein.
Does anti-Judaism appear in Young’s The Shack? The answer is an emphatic yes, and in the worst of ways, and by that, I do not mean blatant, but something more of a white liberal mushy-cover up of Jesus’ ethnic and religious identity. Jesus is Jewish to the extent that he has the anatomical characteristics of a Jew (phenotype). “I am Jewish, you know. My grandfather on my mother’s side had a big nose. In fact, most of the men on my mom’s side had big noses” (The Shack, 113). Since when did being a Jew have anything to do with having a big nose? Does not that mean that race is biological and natural, and therefore not a construct passed down from generation to generation, as it is always constantly changing? In this instance, Jesus joins the Jews in always being “the Jews” because race here is seen as something inherent and stagnant. Rather than being a set of religious practices, Jesus’ Judaism is a race of people according to Wm. Paul Young.
Jesus in The Shack calls himself a “Hebrew from the house of Judah” and that he is only a “stepbrother” of Middle Eastern families (The Shack, 88). To be a stepbrother is to be an addition to a family that is formed out of the union of one biological parent and another stepparent. Jesus and his Judean ancestors, are, by extension, culturally something unaffiliated with their ancient Near Eastern context. In other words, the historical Israelites and Judeans that we learn about in scripture are culturally disconnected and outside of the surrounding nations by way of their biology, rather than their theology.
This move by Young gives him the room to shape Christ in the image of Whiteness. Amy Jill Levine, in her The Misunderstood Jew, argues that once Jesus’ Jewishness is dismissed, liberal Protestants can turn him into one of them (AJL, page 9). It is with little wonder that Sarayu, the Holy Spirit in The Shack, informs Mack that he should not look for rules in Scripture, but rather communion with God, as if following laws were exclusive to having a relationship with God. The relational deity of The Shack’s white liberal Protestantism supersedes YHWH the law-giving God in the First Testament and thus providing the means for Marcion’s resurrection.
Next, for part 3, we will look at Sarayu the Spirit