#STRask: April 17, 2017

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Published on 04/17/2017

Greg’s on a timer and answers questions about “The Shack,” women’s head coverings, and Jesus’ end times comments.


  • How do you use tactics to help in discussing/dialoguing about the movie “The Shack?”
  • How come Christian women don’t wear head coverings anymore?
  • How does Jesus’ reply in Luke 17:37 apply to the context of the previous verses about “the day the Son of Man is revealed?”


Melinda: Hello there folks, this is Melinda the Enforcer and - good for you, not necessarily good for me - we have Greg Koukl back in the studio.

Greg: Ah yes, good to be back. Thank you.

Melinda: He’s laughing and “not good for me” is because this whole time while the music was playing he’s trying to poke me and distract me and get me to laugh and stuff like that.

Greg: We gotta get this back on film because it just adds so much to the experience, at least for me.

Melinda: Yeah, just for you. That’s it. This is STRask, #STRask. Send us your questions on Twitter using the hashtag so we can find it there. Greg has four minutes or less to answer. He’s on a timer. This is the short podcast. Just want to mention the end of this month, April, Greg is actually gonna be teaching in New York, which is kind of unusual. Smithtown, which I guess is out on Long Island.

Greg: That’s right.

Melinda: Long Island. Smithtown, he’s teaching for New York Apologetics, they’ve got a conference April 28th and 29th. Go to to get information about that.

Greg: Yeah, this is gonna be a lot of fun. Frank Turek is gonna be there.

Melinda: Jim Wallace isn’t gonna be there. Mary Joe?

Greg: Mary Joe will be there. That crew...

Melinda: Mary Joe Sharp.

Greg: Yeah, Mary Joe Sharp. That crew, New York Apologetics group...

Melinda: New York Apologetics.

Greg: Those guys really got it together. They do some great things. They went to CIA a bunch of them for a couple years.

Melinda: Oh, that’s how you know them.

Greg: So we’re thrilled. Yeah, we’re thrilled to be able to be part of that. Hope folks can go.

Melinda: Okay, so let’s get going.

Greg: We almost never do anything in New York. We would if people invited us.

Melinda: Don’t invite, yeah. It’s pretty rare.

Greg: We just don’t get invited, right?

Melinda: Right. You are gonna be in New Jersey again this summer, in Hawthorne, New Jersey?

Greg: Okay.

Melinda: They’ve had you out a couple times, but yeah New York, come on. Invite him. One of the twins is gonna be coming to conference in New York.

Greg: Oh great.

Melinda: You’ll have to guess which one it is when you see him.

Greg: Yeah, lots of luck.

Melinda: Okay, let’s get going. First question comes from 82. Remember that commercial 82? 82 on Twitter, how do you use tactics to help in discussing a dialogue with someone about the movie “The Shack.”

Greg: Well, the game plan and tactics is simply starting with questions, and gathering information was the first step. You can ask people what they thought of the movie. If you saw the movie, you know enough about details to start drawing them out about specifics. I don’t think there’s any real mystery about using tactics to ask somebody about any movie for that matter. What happened? What was the theology expressed there? How do they answer the challenges? Anything that bothered you? Anything that you liked? These are all tactics that you can use to gather information.

Now, it may be that the person who asked the question, the questioner Andy Do or 82, whoever it was, they’re asking the question because maybe they’re talking to somebody who liked the movie, and he has concerns or she has concerns about the movie. Okay, well remember you can also use questions to make a point. That’s the third use of Columbo, or “leading” is the way I characterize it in the book. You’re leading them to a goal or a destination. You have to know what that goal or destination is.

Maybe the goal or destination is that you want them to see something that you thought the movie represented that was not good, and they don’t see it yet. First you have to figure out what that thing is, and then you need to ask yourself...

Melinda: Which one of them are. There are so many of them.

Greg: Well, you have to ask yourself, what questions will serve that purpose well? You might say, well, you had three persons in the trinity, where did you have the unified God? Maybe that’s a question about how the trinity is characterized. Or, how did you feel about the father person being played for much or the movie, most of the movie, by a woman, who’s characterized as a man in a different part of the movie, but how did you feel about that? These are, do you think this is a good way to characterize it or not? These are ways of driving your own point of about something that troubled you, but using questions. To me it’s pretty straight forward with that movie, or any movie for that matter, using the tactical approach.

Melinda: Now, you had seen the movie previously, I guess a preview or something.

Greg: I saw it before it came out to the general public.

Melinda: You said you didn’t really have too many concerns about it. I saw it, and I had a lot of concerns, the same concerns I had when I read the book.

Greg: Well, that isn’t what I said.

Melinda: Okay, what did you say?

Greg: I said I wasn’t concerned about the things that many people were concerned about. I was concerned about other things. Other people were concerned about the way, I think we’ve already talked about this on the air, but just for the record, I think that other people were concerned about the way the trinity was characterized. One, you have the individuation of the person. You have three people there, that looks like tritheism. My point is, anytime you characterize the trinity, whether in film or in writing, you have to individuate the persons, and when you individuate the persons, that can be confusing. We see this in the gospel of John where the Holy Spirit and the Father and Jesus are all individuated at the baptism. Jehovah’s Witnesses see this as one God and two lesser persons, created beings, and Mormons see this as three gods. It is certainly possible, even to take the individuation there you see in the scriptures of the members of the trinity and misunderstand them even in scripture. That didn’t bother me all by itself.

What you have to do is, you’ve gotta unify them in some way, and I thought there were weak attempts to do that. In the movie where Mac asks the three divine beings, essentially, or the three person, let me put it that one, “Which one of you is God?” They all say, “I am,” at the same time. I think that was kind of a clever way. What is a filmmaker going to do to try to unify the nature? That’s the best he can do in that circumstance. I actually had breakfast with the guy who was the filmmaker and who wrote the script. I know what he was trying to accomplish, and he wasn’t trying to give an incorrect definition of the trinity, he was trying to capture it as best as he could. Whether he did that effectively is another question.

Melinda: Yeah, I don’t think he did.

Greg: Yeah, well that part didn’t bother me. The part that bothered me was the issue of the judgment of God. That was a big concern to me. I think there was a big characterization of the mercy of God and the love of God. Man, I’m not that fire and brimstone God kind of thing. Then, I think, the punishment of God, that did show up at different places, “Nobody gets away with anything,” is one of the lines in the movie, I think it got the short shrift. That’s one of the things that should not have gotten the short shrift because of the sensitivities people who are theologically precise are gonna have towards that movie, so I think that was a mistake.

Melinda: Then, there was the scene where he takes Mac out at night, and he sees all of the beings that have passed over, and he gets to talk to his father again. I don’t remember all the nuances now, but it wasn’t totally clear. I thought that scene was implying or you could easily understand universalism out of that.

Greg: Well, that is not the intention of the filmmaker, and I know because I talked to him.

Melinda: Well, we know now that was the intention of the author of The Shack because it turns he came out with the book right after the movie came out.

Greg: Well, see there’s more details to this than most people know. There are not one authors. There are three authors to The Shack. Only one, Paul, what is it?

Melinda: Yeah, whatever, I don’t know.

Greg: I want to say Paul Nelson, but that’s the ID guy. Paul Young is a raving universalist. There’s no question about that. These other two guys aren’t, and what they’re trying to do is take an idea they had and then rehabilitate it with orthodox theology. That was part of this whole messy process of trying to get this book out and then the movie out. He is a universalist, and he’s the one who’s actually the figurehead for the movie because that’s what Lionsgate chose to do. It created problems for the other two guys.

Melinda: Well his is the name on the book too.

Greg: Yeah, well that’s right because that’s the way it started. There’s a whole story behind that, but it’s a messy project.

Melinda: All we can go by is the final result, the thing we all got to see. I think even trying to depict the individual persons of the trinity like that is just doomed to failure. You’re not going to be able to depict the trinity, and it fails the for the reason...

Greg: Well the thing is the scripture depicts the trinity in a written form.

Melinda: Well on those occasions that God does that, that’s God’s business, but I don’t think there’s any way for us, just like you say there’s no illustration that doesn’t teach a heresy, I think there’s no way of depicting the trinity in a story like that that isn’t gonna depict a heresy.

Greg: All right. Well the gospels are a story that depict the trinity. They individuate the person, all right? If the gospels, I know it’s God’s word, but God’s using a motif and that is a story telling motif, actually history in this particular case. If the same thing is done in a film, then it seems to me it cannot be faulted just for individuating the persons. I think the difficulty is trying to capture the unity of God in a film. I think that’s where they faulted. They fell short. That’s a tricky thing to do. It’s a liability to try to do that in any kind of art form.

Melinda: Yeah, I also think, I don’t mean to get into the whole thing with the trinity, I also think there’s a real problem of depicting the father as a woman when the father reveals himself as a father. I know the father in the Bible has some female characteristics, but he has revealed himself in a gendered way.

Greg: That might have been a mistake to do it that way. There were certain storytelling reasons for that, and they weren’t trying to make a theological point, obviously that God is a woman, because he does appear as a man at a different place to accomplish a different place.

Melinda: Right, in the discipline part.

Greg: Yeah, the hard part, to help him walk through a really, really hard part. Anyway, people are gonna have their own reactions to that.

Melinda: Okay, next question.

Greg: I think that was over four minutes.

Melinda: Yeah, well we chose to. Well because when you had seen The Shack, and you made comments about it, I had not yet seen it. Then I saw it, and Amy and I talked about it on the podcast. I just thought this was an opportunity to tell you I disagree with you and I think you’re wrong.

Next question comes from Barios Kirsten. How come Christian women don’t wear head coverings anymore.

Greg: I don’t know. I cannot answer that.

Melinda: You don’t think Corinthians requires it. Why doesn’t...

Greg: Well, I’ve read some odds and ends here and there. You want to be careful how you say this, but this is the only reference to it in the scriptures. Things that are really, really universally critical are mentioned lots of times. It only has to be mentioned once to be truth. I understand that, but the question here is its applicability across ages and across cultures. Is this a universal, moral truth that is being communicated here? Or is this a culturally appropriate way of expressing something that’s got deeper significance, and that is women being under authority? My sense is that this is the cultural way, in the Corinth, under those circumstances, and maybe even in that part of the Mediterranean, or even the Ancient Near East, for women to express being under authority. Therefore, it would be true in the application for which it was intended. It’s not clear to me though that this is meant to be a universal principle. If it was, then why is this the only place that we see it mentioned in this problematic church in Corinth? That’s a clue to me that maybe it isn’t a universal principle.

Melinda: Or a universal practice, but there’s universal principle embedded in there.

Greg: Yeah, that’s right. I misspoke there, a universal practice. The principle is universal, women being under authority, which itself is a controversial notion nowadays.

Melinda: Right, women are authority, but so are men, just in a different way. A lot of the talk about the trouble people have with the role of women in the new testament completely leaves out the conversation, the role and the responsibilities and the authority that men are under too. As far as I’m concerned, loving your wife as Jesus loves the church is a lot harder job. It’s a lot more difficult.

Greg: I guess it depends on the wife, but it’s complimentarian as opposed to egalitarian. I’ve used complimentarian, we compliment the roles, the different functions are complimentary, but they are not equal in an authority sense.

Melinda: Correct. Next question, Luke 17, verse 37. How does Jesus reply in Luke 17:37 apply to the context of the previous verses about the day the son of man is revealed?

Greg: All right well, let me just kind of get the context here. It’s talking about the coming of the lord. “They’ll be just the same,” verse 30, “on the day that the son of man is revealed. On that day, the one who is in the house top and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out. Likewise, the one who is in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife, whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it. Whoever loses his life will preserve it. I will tell you, on that night, there will be two in one bed. One will be taken, the other will be left. There will be two women grinding at the same place. One will be taken, and the other will be left. In answering, they said to him, ’Where lord?’ He said, ’Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.’”

This is a bit of a controversial passage. Those who subscribe to the standard rapture approach that the ones that are left on earth on the ones that, I should say, the ones that are taken are the ones that are taken away to the Lord, to be with the Lord in the rapture. The ones that are left, are left to the ill winds of the tribulation period. Whether that’s, different people characterize it differently, but that would be the person, generally, who’s not the believer at the time of the rapture, but may become a believer later on. Okay? In this passage, there is some question as to whether the roles are reversed. That the one who is taken is the one who is taken away for judgment. That’s why there will be two women grinding away at the same place. One will be taken. The other one will be left. Two men will be in the field. One will be taken, the other one will be left. They answer, and they say to him, “Where Lord?” The question, “Where Lord,” is where are they being taken? Right? Jesus says, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.”

Melinda: Is the body staying here to rot?

Greg: Well it sounds like the ones that are being taken are being taken to the vultures, and the vultures are representative of the instruments of judgment. That’s one way of taking that passage. I’m not gonna weigh in on my view because I don’t really have a view about that, but I’m just letting people know that sure makes sense given the context. Boy, so many people are used to the language, “One is taken, and one is left,” as being taken up in the rapture that it would be difficult for them to read this in any other way. I think it certainly is possible.

Notice in verse 30, where I started it said, “It will be just the same that the son of man is revealed.” Now that’s not the rapture because the son of man is not revealed in the rapture. According to that teaching, he comes secretly in the clouds and snatches the church up, and then returns three and a half to seven years later for the final judgment. This is talking about when the son of man is revealed. He revealed in the heavens in power with great glory, and that, I think we see in Matthew 24, the Olivet discourse. In Luke, it’s in chapter 21. There it looks like Jesus is, there’s a visible, powerful, and conclusive return of Christ.

Melinda: The second coming.

Greg: The second coming.

Melinda: Not the rapture.

Greg: Not the rapture, the visible, powerful, and conclusive “everybody’s gonna see this.” It’s not a secret coming. It’s the second coming on my view. I don’t think there’s three comings. I don’t think there’s a one and a half coming. I think there’s one second coming, and that’s the time Jesus returns as he’s being described there. In verse 30 of Luke 17 it says, “It will be just the same on the day the son of man is revealed.” That seems to tie it to the Matthew 24 passage.

Melinda: Excellent, very good timing. All right, well that’s it. Thanks for all those.

Greg: Ba da bum.

Melinda: Thanks for those good answers. Send us your questions on Twitter using #STRask. We post episodes of the podcast every week, Mondays and Thursdays. Greg is here on Tuesdays for the long podcast recording, talking to people. Call him on Tuesday afternoon. Call him on Tuesday afternoons between 4 and 6pm Pacific time. That’s it, I’m Melinda the Enforcer here with Greg Koukl.