A few years ago I wrote a couple of papers on The Shack. At the time, lots of people were talking about its portrayal of the Trinity but I chose not to address it, partly because I didn’t feel I had the theological know-how and partly because I thought there were other issues to address. However, I have felt that I would like to work out what I think about the Trinity in The Shack at some point.
This semester’s theology paper gave me an opportunity to do that. Answering the question ‘Why do we believe in divinity of the Spirit?’ I applied what I learnt to The Shack. I thought I’d put it up here to complete the trilogy.
It’s a 3000 word paper so if you’re just interested in The Shack you might just want to read the last 1000 words that address the novel specifically – pick it up from page 4 under the sub-heading Belief in the divinity of the Spirit today: evaluating The Shack. Also, I’ve included the abstract below if you want the short version!
Abstract: Why do we believe in the divinity of the Spirit?
This paper explores the question of why we believe in the divinity of the Spirit from a historical and practical perspective. How is it that Christians have come to believe in this historically and what were the triggers? I consider the evidence from the early church before moving to examine the reasons that were accepted at the Council of Constantinople and continued to be affirmed even as the church split in 1054. These reasons include that the Spirit is described in the same terms as God in the Bible; that these terms necessitate personhood, which completes the Trinity; that the Spirit is one with the Father and the Son; and that the Spirit’s work of sanctifying, because it is a saving work, is a work that only God can do. I argue that the divinity of the Holy Spirit was not only true but also necessary to guard against heresy.
With this in mind, I turn to today’s world and ask whether there are practical reasons for believing in the divinity of the Spirit today. The lens for doing so is the popular novel The Shack: how does believing in the divinity of the Spirit shape our approach to this novel and what does it protect us from? Although The Shack attempts to uphold the divinity of the Spirit in terms of its place in the Trinity, it fails to come to terms with the Spirit as sanctifier, that is saviour. This is of vital importance because without the Spirit as sanctifier, Christians are robbed of hope.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.