Here’s a snippet from a response to criticism Tim Challies received for his biting review of the “Christian” smash hit The Shack. He points out two fallacious arguments often used in support of such controversial works. This quote speaks to the age-old perspective of “the ends justify the means” as opposed to a discerning sola Scriptura approach. I liked what Challies had to say about this way of arguing, which can be applied to all sorts of Christian fiction, literature, theology, and purposeful works.
“…The first is pure pragmatism, implying that the book should be judged not on theological arguments, not on the basis of comparing it to Scripture, but on the basis of how people have reacted to it. Because so many people are responding positively to this book in opposition to ‘stodgy old religion,’ we must believe that it is good. ‘William Young wrote a novel – a story that inspired me and thousands of others to want to have a closer, more intimate relationship with God. All your theological arguments can’t erase that.’ The danger of such an argument is that it effectively places us over the Bible and over God. No longer do we judge right and wrong by what God says, but we judge right and wrong by how we feel. If the book inspires people to be intimate with God, we must judge it to be good. If it stirs emotions we like, we judge it to be good.
“There are profound implications here. Pragmatism necessarily causes us to lose our focus on the absolute standard God has given us in His Word to determine right from wrong. When we lose that focus, the church is placed on the slippery slope to becoming like the world. When we discard God’s standards we must depand on our own deeply flawed standards. We begin to trust in ourselves and lose our trust in God. We lose our reliance on His Word as the tool for discernment.”
-Tim Challies in a follow-up to his review of The Shack (2008)