This Week

Truths We Believe about God 11

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn for Discernment, False Teaching

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A Biblical & Theological Rejection of Wm. Paul Young’s
 book, “Lies We Believe About God” (Eleventh in a series.)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the Lord. They continually say to those who despise Me, “The Lord has said, ‘You shall have peace’”; And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.’”
—Emphasis added, Jeremiah 23:16-17, NKJV

Conclusion: Part 1

Evangelicalism
Anarchy & Chaos

Wm. Paul Young admits The Shack is a story, but that it’s wrapped in theology. Readers are thus challenged to discover the theology behind The Shack, and this has been the purpose of interacting with Young’s book Lies We Believe About God. “Strictly, theology is that which is thought and said concerning God.” [111] So what does Young think and communicate about God? What is his underlying theology?

God’s Word, it has been demonstrated, is not core to Young’s beliefs. The assumption of Young’s story which contradicts Scripture is that God is reconciled to everybody and everybody’s reconciled to God—that from time immemorial all people either had, now have or will develop a loving relationship with God. That The Shack has sold upwards of twenty-two million copies and the movie has attained star status indicates the “feel good” message of universalism has become popular among evangelical Christians. So what’s going on here? It begins with authority because theology must be based on authority, on God’s Word, the Bible.

Pan-Evangelicalism
As they look at the development of American pan-evangelicalism over the last decades, conservative Christians try to understand and explain the phenomena of both the book (2007) and movie The Shack (2017). Beliefs that were subtly implied and peddled by author Wm. Paul Young in The Shack are now openly declared in his non-fictional work Lies We Believe About God, in which he claims to expose lies commonly accepted as truths among evangelicals. To expose the twenty-eight lies he believes plague evangelicalism’s psyche, the author cleverly frames arguments around his life experiences, impressions, conversations, questions, convictions and understanding of the Bible. In his “conversation” with his readers, he intends for his core beliefs to influence theirs and bring them to along with him reject lies he claims to reveal about God. After all, if what Young exposes are really lies, shouldn’t his readers embrace his truths?

So as he wrote The Shack to explain to his children what he grew to believe about God, ten years later he’s written a theology, well sort of, Lies We Believe About God to make credible to his followers what he believes about God. Many pastors and Christian leaders have spoken out and written against The Shack, and their criticism has not been well received by those who love the book and movie.
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“Relationships of Spiritual Man” by Ruth Paxson

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn for Discernment

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Bio:
Ruth Paxson (1889-1949) was Bible teacher, missionary, and author. Born in Manchester, Iowa in 1889, and accepted Christ as her personal Savior when a child. She graduated from the State University of Iowa, and afterward spent one year at Moody Bible Institute. She served as YWCA secretary for Iowa and eventually traveled as secretary for the Student Volunteer Movement. Sponsored by the YWCA, in 1911, Ruth sailed for the mission field in China. Later she left that work to devote herself to evangelism and summer Bible teaching among missionaries in China. In that country her Bible lessons to pastors, evangelists, and teachers during the 1920s were well received. In response to requests from both Chinese and missionary friends, the lessons were expanded and originally published in three volumes, now combined in a one-volume edition of Life On the Highest Plane.

Leaving China for health reasons, Miss Paxson went to Switzerland; then followed a period of Bible teaching on the European continent and at the Keswick Bible Conference in England. For fifteen years prior to World War II, Miss Paxson, with her friend and companion of 34 years, Miss Edith Davis, also a gifted Bible teacher, ministered the Word of God in various countries, including Holland. In Amsterdam alone there were forty-five Bible classes taught by people to whom these two Bible teachers had ministered previously.

In 1947, Miss Paxson, with a traveling companion, flew across the Atlantic to minister the Word of God in Europe and at Keswick, England. The impact of the testimony and Bible teaching ministry of Miss Paxson has been felt around the world because of the circulation of her books. Miss Paxson was called Home to be with the Lord, October 1, 1949. This selection is taken from the third volume contained in her one volume book, Life On the Highest Plane. [1] In this selection she writes that one “relationship” to which the Spirit calls all Christians is discernment (See 1 John 2:18-27.).

Note: To this point, we can contrast Wm. Paul Young’s emphasis upon “relationship” in The Shack (“We are a circle of relationship . . . Submission . . . is all about relationships of love and respect.” (The Shack, 122, 145) Centuries ago Paxson wrote about relationships, but not the kind of relationships Young would stand for; that in days of “deepening apostasy” God calls every spiritual Christian “to three things; discernment, devotion and division.” Nine decades ago Ruth Paxson wrote this encouraging word to Christians who engage in their relationship with God and His Word through discernment [2]:

_______________________

Prophecy of Apostasy
Under the inspiration of the divine Spirit Paul foretold the apostasy that would sweep the entire professing Church and would eat at its very vitals. Into a veritable whirlpool of doubt, disbelief and disloyalty multitudes would be drawn.

1 TIM. 4:1-2, R. V., “But the Spirit saith expressly, that in the later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron.”

2 TIM. 4:3-4, R. V., “For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; . . . And will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.”


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Truths We Believe about God 10

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn for False Teaching, Spiritual Discernment

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A Biblical & Theological Rejection of Wm. Paul Young’s
 book, “Lies We Believe About God” (Tenth in a series.)

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
—Jesus, Matthew 7:21, Emphasis added.

A Review of the Book’s Chapters (concluded)

“A Final Word from Dietrich Bonhoeffer” and “Acknowledgments”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Paul Young concludes his book by drawing upon the emotional memory of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) who has achieved iconic status among evangelicals. Bonhoeffer is to be admired for opposing the evil of the Reich and paying the ultimate sacrifice for his resistance. But as Young’s quotations from Bonhoeffer’s book Ethics indicate, he apparently believed in universal salvation. [105] (LWBAG, 249-250) As William Macleod assessed:

Bonhoeffer was a universalist, believing in the eventual salvation of all. He wrote that there is no part of the world, no matter how godless, which is not accepted by God and reconciled with God in Jesus Christ. Whoever looks on the body of Jesus Christ in faith can no longer speak of the world as if it were lost, as if it were separated from Christ. Every individual will eventually be saved in Christ. [106]

The soteriology (teaching about salvation) articulated by Wm. Paul Young and C. Baxter Kruger (that Jesus’ incarnation revealed His primordial identification with humanity, that all people were positioned in Him before creation, LWBAG, 9-10, 119) bears similarity to that of Bonhoeffer’s; that people are saved not because Jesus atoned for their sins on the cross, but rather that from before time they shared being in union with Christ. Thus Jesus’ incarnation becomes a cosmic announcement of His identification with humanity and their salvation for reason of their being in Him. Ignoring the fall, the entrance of sin into the world and the curse upon creation (Genesis 3:1-7, 17-19; Romans 5:18-21), universalists believe the incarnation was the event which shows that from eternity all humanity was, is and forever will be united with Jesus inside the Trinity. Jesus’ incarnation and suffering highlighted His identification with humanity and that corporately, they shared in Jesus’ suffering, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. The incarnation was the event in which God wrapped His arms around humans to remind them that they’re not alone in a suffering universe, but that they really do live, move and have their being inside Jesus and the loving Trinity (Acts 17:28). Hugs all around! To quote Macleod again,

Indeed Bonhoeffer [ed., as Young and Kruger] would argue that we are saved by the incarnation—Christ taking our nature—rather than by His atoning death. He taught that in the body of Jesus Christ, God is united with humanity, all of humanity is accepted by God, and the world is reconciled with God. [107]


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Truths We Believe about God 9

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn for False Teaching, Spiritual Discernment

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A Biblical & Theological Rejection of Wm. Paul Young’s
 book, “Lies We Believe About God” (Ninth in a series.)

“Therefore, beloved . . . regard the patience of our Lord as salvation . . . just as also our beloved brother Paul . . . wrote to you, as also in all his letters . . . which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
—The Apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:14-16, NASB)

A Review of the Book’s Chapters (continued) 

A Catena (My Commentary on Young’s Catena: Part 4)

The “Whole, Every, Cosmos and Other” Passages (29-34)

The “Whole” Passage

29. 1 John 2:2 (Berean Study Bible, emphasis Young’s): “He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.”

Prevalent in the ancient world was the belief that the gods were offended, and that the sacrificial rite would “atone” for the offense. In short, sacrifices to the gods were the way ancient people sought to appease their gods so that they would become kindly disposed toward them. Leon Morris wrote that, “In the ancient world the universal religious rite was sacrifice.  All over that world people offered animals on their altars, trusting that their gods would accept their sacrifices and that their sins would be forgiven.” [91] In her national life in that ancient pagan world, Yahweh ordered Israel to annually observe the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16-17). The idea of “atonement” is rooted not only in the sacrificial systems of the Gentile peoples, but also by the Law God gave to Israel. But does John’s use of the word “atonement” (Greek hilasmos) in this verse to describe Jesus’ death—that He died not for our sins only but for the sins of the whole world—communicate that all humanity is therefore saved? Again the answer again is, “No!”

Though Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, the whole world is not of consequence saved. John’s Gospel clearly communicated that the benefit of Jesus’ atonement applies only to those who, as Jesus stated, exercise acceptance by faith; that “whosoever believeth should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). In his last testimony about Jesus, John the Baptist bore witness to Jesus as follows: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). So what does it mean that Jesus’ death was the atonement for the sins of the whole world?

Disregarding the debate as to whether the atonement’s scope is limited (Calvinism—Jesus died only for God’s elect) or unlimited (Arminianism—Jesus died for everybody), I believe that there’s another sense in which “the atonement for the sins of the whole world” can be understood (1 John 2:2); and this against the backdrop of all the sacrificial systems prevalent in the ancient world, including Israel’s. It is this: Jesus’ “once-for-all” atonement is the only sacrifice by which people may find atoning forgiveness for their sins from God! No more sacrifices, animal or human, need be to offered by any people anywhere to obtain forgiveness. Completed in the Son, God accepts no other atonement for sin other than Jesus’. Exclusively, His atonement is for the whole world. As Jesus is “the only way” to come to the Father, so Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross is “the only basis” upon which people can find forgiveness for their sins from the Father. So this atonement statement (See also 1 John 4:10) not only forbids any continuance of sacrifices, but also sends a message that both syncretism (an ecumenical system that tries to combine—synthesize—all religions into one) and pluralism (there are many—plural—paths leading to God) are wrong, both of which Wm. Paul Young espouses (The Shack, 182). As Dick Lucas insightfully wrote:

Christians have always confessed that there is but one God; they have also found themselves in loyalty bound to confess that there is but one way to that God, the God-man Christ Jesus. He alone is the God-given mediator. God has made him the agent of reconciliation for all just because there is no other mediator capable of reconciling any. [92]


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Truths We Believe about God 8

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn for False Teaching, Spiritual Discernment

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A Biblical & Theological Rejection of Wm. Paul Young’s
 book, “Lies We Believe About God” (Eighth in a series.)

“Therefore, beloved . . . regard the patience of our Lord as salvation . . . just as also our beloved brother Paul . . . wrote to you, as also in all his letters . . . which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
—The Apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:14-16, NASB)

A Review of the Book’s Chapters (continued) 

A Catena (My Commentary on Young’s Catena: Part 3)

The “World” and “Everyone” Passages (23-28)

The “World” Passages

23. John 1:29 (NASB, emphasis Young’s): “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

John the Baptist’s recognition of Jesus occurs at the beginning of His public ministry.  “Behold the Lamb (amnos) of God who takes away the sin of the world,” John proclaims. Though Jesus was born after John, the prophet testified to Jesus’ preexistence by stating He “existed before me” (John 1:30). In John’s statement about Jesus the repetition of the definite article is evident: “the” Lamb (ho amnos), “the” sin (ten harmartian) and “the” world (tou kosmou). That Jesus was “the Lamb” indicates He was/is the only Lamb from God (Greek tou theo, is a genitive of source meaning from). God would require no further sacrifice than He provided (Genesis 22:1-14). With the Cross all sacrificial systems end. The focus for the Lamb’s coming was to die for the sin (singular) which constitutes humanity and the world’s system. The sins (plural) which people commit are not the focus of John’s statement though Jesus’ sacrifice provides also for their forgiveness (1 John 1:8-10). Jesus died for the sin of the world (cosmos). Fulfilling the anticipation inspired by the one-thousand and four-hundred year old sacrificial system demanded by God’s Law, John declared the scope of the Lamb’s coming could/would not only be the final sacrifice for the sin of the Jews in particular but also for all humankind in general, “Samaritans” and “other sheep” (John 4:42; 10:16).

In contrast to the Day of Atonement which required the sacrifice of goats on a yearly basis (Leviticus 16:1 ff.), John identified Jesus as “the Lamb of God.” This designation associates His sacrifice with the slaying of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:1-13), as well as the Suffering Servant the prophet Isaiah portrayed (Isaiah 53:13-53). While other Jews, as regarded the Levitical sacrifices, were so parochially minded that they were no “worldly” good, John the Baptist understood the worldwide mission of Jesus from the beginning. But “In all of this, John the Baptist’s testimony is clear:” comments Pate, “Jesus is the Messiah, not him.” [86] The Apostle Paul too associated Jesus’ self-sacrifice with the Passover Lamb, “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed,” he wrote (1 Corinthians 5:7b).

Now we turn to the issue raised by Young’s quotation of John’s statement about Jesus: Does John the Baptist’s mention of “the world” imply universalism, that all will be saved? If understood, the Apostle John’s concept of the world answers “No!” W. Robert Cook offered the following definition of “world”: “It is a way of life ordered apart from and contrary to God, ruled by Satan, and encompassing all mankind who are not in the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ.” [87] The antagonism of the world toward God is such that though Jesus prayed to the Father for Himself, His Apostle-disciples and the church, He did not pray for the world (“I do not ask on behalf of the world,” John 17:9). Though Jesus loves all people, He viewed the world’s system to be both deceptive to and destructive of the very people He, His Father and Spirit love. That Satanic system—“the lust of the flesh” (the love of Pleasure), “the lust of the eyes” (the love of Possessions) and “the boastful pride of life” (the love of Position/Power)—utterly hates the Father, His Son and those who believe on the Lamb (1 John 2:16; John 15:18). The world is a satanic and unloving system which blinds people to the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). So if people love the world, love for [objective genitive, ed.] the Father is not in them (1 John 2:15). Might it be said that in God’s eyes and taken in this sense, the world is a “lost cause”? So Jesus neither prayed nor sacrificed Himself for the system called the world and those who love to live in it. Such people demonstrate they do not love the Father. That many people love the world indicates that these “worldlings” are not saved because love for God has not been poured into their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

The lesson: unbelievers whose life purpose is to bask in the adulation of society, to indulge their fleshly wants and desires and to accumulate wealth unto themselves indicate they do not love God. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15b). In the end, these systematic worldlings are not “fond” of the Father, and neither is the Father “fond” of them.

That Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world indicates that forgiveness can only be obtained through faith in the only begotten Son of God (John 1:14). He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, KJV; See Hebrews 9:27-28; 1 Peter 3:18). We should not look to anybody or anything else for salvation—to the church, priests, rituals, prayers or good works—but only to Jesus. “Behold the Lamb from God!” Lord Jesus, we praise you! Your sacrifice alone is the only basis whereby our sin and sins can be taken away.
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Truths We Believe about God 7

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn for False Teaching, Spiritual Discernment

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A Biblical & Theological Rejection of Wm. Paul Young’s
 book, “Lies We Believe About God” (Seventh in a series.)

“Therefore, beloved . . . regard the patience of our Lord as salvation . . . just as also our beloved brother Paul . . . wrote to you, as also in all his letters . . . which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
—The Apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:14-16, NASB)

A Review of the Book’s Chapters (continued) 

A Catena (My Commentary on Young’s Catena: Part 2)

The “All” Passages (13-22)

13. Romans 11:36 (NASV, emphasis Young’s): “For from him and through him and to him are all things.”

To begin with, “all things” [Greek neuter gender, ta panta] does not refer to people. People are not things. The purpose of the movement of “all things” in the universe—deriving from, passing through and arriving to the Lord—is described in the exultant praise which follows, “To Him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36b) The Apostle means God, not the universe, would be exalted, glorified and honored! (Contra Romans 1:21; New Age Pantheism.). As Dr. Witmer summarized how the second half of the verse clarifies the beginning, “God is the first Cause, the effective Cause, and the final Cause of everything. . . . The all-sovereign God deserves the praise of all His creatures.” [73] The glory of God, not the salvation of humanity, is the message which explains the future and final movement of everything to God. While people may be part of that movement they are not the sum of it. “For he [the Father] hath put all things under his [the Son’s] feet. . . . And when all things shall be subdued unto him [the Son], then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him [the Father] that put all things under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:27-28).

14. Romans 11:32 (DBT/Greek NT, emphasis Young’s): “He has shut up all to unbelief so that he might have mercy on all.”

At the end of Romans chapter 8, the Apostle Paul states that “nothing” will separate Christian believers from “the love of God” (Romans 3:39). If the “no separation” rule is true, the question arises, what about Israel? For their disobedience did not the Lord separate the Jews from His love, and if Israel became separated from God’s love, how can Christians be confident that will never happen to them? Is not the love of the Lord “everlasting”? (See Jeremiah 31:3.) So the overriding question answered by the Apostle Paul in Romans chapters 9-11 is this: Has God separated His covenant love from the Israel? Is God through with the Jew? While in these chapters his answer includes the role of all Gentiles in general, it also regards all Israel in particular. The following references Israel to be the Apostle’s focus: Romans 9:3-4—“my kinsmen . . . who are Israelites”; 9:5—though Christ is descended from Israel’s fathers, He “is over all”; 9:6—“they are not all Israel”; 9:7—“they are not all children” of Abraham; 10:12—“the same Lord is Lord of all” (Jew and Greek); 10:16—“they did not all heed the good news” (Jews and Greeks); 11:26—“so all Israel will be saved”; and 11:32—“God shut up all [Israel] in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all [Israel and the Gentiles]. Thus, “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in,” the Lord’s work in the world is currently centered on the Gentiles (Romans 11:25). When this interim period ends, when the cup of time is filled, the Lord will return His attention to Israel. He will keep the covenant promises He made to Israel because “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). But until then, “God has shut up all [Israel] in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all [Jews and Gentiles]” (Romans 11:32). At the end of this period of Gentile ascendancy in world history, the Lord will return His blessing to the Jews. Gentiles, we’re on the clock!

About the “alls” used by the Apostle Paul, do they mean that salvation-reconciliation is universal as Young’s “catena” quotes them to mean? In alternating reference between Israel and the nations in these chapters (Romans 9-11), all can refer to Gentiles exclusive of Israel, or all can refer to Israel exclusive of Gentiles, or all can refer to the sum of both groups. The Apostle is not discussing the eternal salvation of “all” humans, but rather the working out of His earthly plan among “all” peoples/nations whether they be Jew or Gentile. Statements in the context raise contradictions to Young’s teaching of universal salvation. Consider the following: “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel” (Romans 9:6); “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Romans 9:13-15); “He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires” (Romans 9:17-18); “God . . . endured with much patience vessels of  prepared for destruction,” or “vessels of mercy . . . prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:19-23); “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”; et cetera. I raise these texts not to engage the questions they stimulate, but rather to point out that contradictory statements reside in the very context from which Young extracts a text he thinks asserts universal reconciliation. These statements do not fit Paul Young’s salvation template at all!
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Truths We Believe about God 6

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn for False Teaching, Spiritual Discernment

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A Biblical & Theological Rejection of Wm. Paul Young’s
 book, “Lies We Believe About God” (Sixth in a series.)

“Therefore, beloved . . . regard the patience of our Lord as salvation . . . just as also our beloved brother Paul . . . wrote to you, as also in all his letters . . . which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
—The Apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:14-16, NASB)

A Review of the Book’s Chapters (continued) 

A Catena (My Commentary on Young’s Catena: Part 1)

A catena . . . is a chain of Scriptures (various translations based on the Greek New Testament) strung together as a commentary on the theme of God’s saving work for all—the grand arc of God’s drama of redemption. When read aloud with a touch of gravitas [‘dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner,’ ed.], the momentum is powerful:
—Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God, 241.

Note: My commentary on the passages Young quotes to support “the theme of God’s saving work for all” will appear, Lord willing, in three installments. The commentary will not be presented according to the order he has arranged the passages, but rather will be thematically presented around the highlighted words in his selected passages:  “all . . . world . . . everything . . . everyone . . . whole . . . every . . . cosmos . . .” and two miscellaneous passages, thirty-four passages in all. Why such detailed attention to interpreting these catena-passages you might ask? For two reasons: First, as indicated by the popularity of The Shack, Christian universalism may attract many “converts” from among mainstream evangelicals thereby becoming the future belief of the movement in America and perhaps elsewhere. And second, none of us have the right to “cherry pick” texts to support the unsupportable; that is to proof-text evangelical universalism which designation is in and of itself oxymoronic. We begin with the keyword, “all.”

The “All” Passages (1-12)

1. Luke 3:6 (NASB, emphasis Young’s): “And then all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

To introduce the ministry of John the Baptist Luke quotes Isaiah 40:5 (“then the glory of he Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together,” NASB). Luke saw “the coming of Messiah as the fulfillment of hope for the Gentiles. The grace of God would not be confined to one nation [Israel, ed.] but like a great flood, would overflow its banks to bring salvation to all flesh.” [59] Obviously if all flesh or mankind was already secure inside the Trinity, then Luke’s quotation would have been unnecessary for from the vantage point of being inside God they would have already seen the “salvation” and the “glory of the Lord.” But from the earthly perspective seeing is not believing . . . the Jews saw Jesus’ miracles which demonstrated His glory and authenticated Him to be their Messiah but would not believe. According to Young’s scheme, the Gentiles were already saved inside the Trinity whether they saw Messiah’s glory or not.

2. John 1:7 (Plain English/Greek NT, emphasis Young’s): “This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that through him all would believe.”

Like Luke, the Apostle John refers to the testimony of John the Baptist in this statement. As he does at other times, Young plays word games with the Word. He quotes that through the Light all would believe when other versions translate the verb as “might believe” (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, NLT, NRSV, ASV, ESV, etc.) So what will it be, would believe or might believe? In the clause “that all might believe” (hina pantes pisteusosin), “The focus is on the intention of the action of the main verb, whether accomplished or not.” [60] When people heard John’s witness about the Light there was no universal guarantee that they would believe and be saved (outcome unquestionable) but only that they might believe and be saved (outcome questionable).

3. John 3:35 (AKJV, emphasis Young’s): “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.”

Ignored by Young, this verse’s context contradicts the doctrine of universal justification-reconciliation. In the next verse John the Baptist states: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36, KJV). The contrast between “he that believeth” (who has eternal life) and “he that believeth not” (upon whom God’s wrath abides) contradicts universal reconciliation. John’s testimony in no way teaches the salvation of all persons, for people are not things anyway. What the statement does teach is that the Father placed all things in the Son’s hand—He’s Got the Whole World in His Hand(s)—which speaks of Jesus’ authority and rule. [61]
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Truths We Believe about God 5

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn for False Teaching, Spiritual Discernment

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A Biblical & Theological Rejection of Wm. Paul Young’s
 book, “Lies We Believe About God” (Fifth in a series.)

“Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
—The Apostle Paul (Emphasis added, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)

A Review of the Book’s Chapters (continued) 

Chapters 20-28

Chapter 20
“God is a divine Santa Claus.”
• Young: “I think there are two basic ways we tend to see God as Santa Claus: as the Nice Santa God and as the Nasty Santa God. . . . The Nice Santa God is wondrous . . . The Nasty Santa God is our imagination of the darkness behind Jesus—God the Father. It is God the Father who requires perfect performance and moral behavior.” (LWBAG, 174, 175-176) [Question: In imagining the darkness of the Father behind Jesus, when might imagination become accusation? Ed.]
• James the Brother of Jesus: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)
Comments: Young is right. In the imagination of the mind, Christian civilization has corrupted the meaning of Christmas. Thus in the understanding of God has suffered from which Young constructs his nice-Santa or nasty-Santa God. From their childhood people’s imaginations have conditioned them to think that the holiday (i.e., Holy Day) is about Santa’s gift-gigs and not about the remembrance of Jesus’ coming to die for our sins and be our Savior. “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife” the Angel of the Lord told Joseph, “she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Emphasis added, Matthew 1:20-21). The author cites anecdotal evidence (he’s met many people who have had trouble forgetting their childhood imaginations of the Santa-god) for people creating “incoherent views of God,” the false impression that if we’re good He’ll be nice, and if we’re bad He’ll be nasty. (LWBAG, 175-176) Unfortunately Christians, perhaps brainwashed by the substitution of a materialistic nice or nasty Santa for our good and gracious Heavenly Father and Savior, misunderstand God. It seems engrained in people, irrespective of Christmas, to come to God for what they can get out of Him anyway (e.g., the wealth gospel which is prevalent all over Christianized Africa). But remember: God gives gifts not for reason of our performance but for reason of His promise and providence, not for reason of our goodness but for reason of His grace. “But my God” wrote the Apostle Paul, “shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). To those who have placed their faith in the Gospel, the good God gives, “no strings attached”! (John 3:16) All God requires for us to please Him is faith in His Son, that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead on account of our justification (Hebrews 11:6; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 4:25). On the basis of faith God gives eternal life to those who believe on “His only begotten Son” (Greek monogenes) to be their Savior. They will be given eternal life and they shall not/no never perish (John 1:27-30). And for reason of common grace, the Father “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). To one extent or another all people share in God’s immediate goodness.

In Jesus’ statement by the way, do you see how He did not lump humanity in one group? To Him all people did not reside in one Cosmic box; “the just” (dikaios) were categorized to be in one box while “the unjust” (adikaios) in another. There are people whose outward obedience to the Law indicates they are right (just) with the Father and those whose behavior indicates they are not (unjust). Lest any might think that God’s common grace eventuates in universal justification, remember Jesus’ real-life illustration where the Pharisee bathed himself in his own self-justification while the tax collector cried out, “God be merciful to me the sinner!” (Luke 18:9-14) Of the two, the tax collector “went to his house justified,” or right with God (Greek dikaioo, Luke 18:14). The Pharisee just went home. As the New Testament does not teach universal-reconciliation, neither does it teach universal-justification. [50]
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Truths We Believe about God 4

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn for False Teaching, Spiritual Discernment

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A Biblical & Theological Refutation of Wm. Paul Young’s
 book, “Lies We Believe About God” (Fourth in a series.)

“My people know not the judgment of the Lord. How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? . . . the pen of the scribes is in vain. The wise men . . . have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them? . . . from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”
—Emphasis added, Jeremiah 8:7-11

A Review of the Book’s Chapters (continued) 

Chapters 15-19

Chapter 15
“Hell is separation from God.”
• Young: “Anyone who speaks of separation from God assumes that a person can exist while separated—as if our life is not contingent upon the presence of God, who is Life. . . . I propose the possibility that hell is not separation from Jesus . . .” (Emphasis added, LWBAG, 136-137)
• Jesus Christ: “And then will I [Jesus] profess unto them [professing Christians who prophesied and worked miracles in Jesus’ name], I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Emphasis added, Matthew 7:23) [Reader, do you think Jesus’ judgment “depart from me” means separate from Me? Ed.]
• Jesus Christ: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels . . . Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:41, 45-46) [The immediate interpretation involves how Gentiles treat the Jews, Jesus’ brethren. But this interpretation does not mean Jesus’ words do not possess wider social applications, ed.]
• Jesus Christ: “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” (Luke 16:22-23) [In difference to those who want to reduce Jesus’ insight about the afterlife to be metaphorical, His story does introduce readers to the reality of the afterlife as He understood it, ed.]
• The Apostle Paul: “[Those] that know not God . . . shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.” (Emphasis added, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)
Comments: To many, the sense of the word hell is confusing. I shall try to unpack the meanings of the word hell in the Bible. Translating three different Greek words (gehenna, 12 times; hades, 10 times; and tartaros, 1 time) the English word “hell” occurs twenty-three times in the New Testament. Exclusively Jesus uses the first Greek word hell-gehenna to picture after-death judgment to be like ancient Jerusalem’s city dump, as a place of defilement for castaways “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44, 46, 48); as a sphere of darkness (“outer darkness,” Matthew 22:13; 25:30); and as a state of depression in which human souls experience emotional extremes of sorrow and anger (“weeping and gnashing of teeth,” Luke 13:28). The second Greek word, hell-hades (the equivalent to the Old Testament hell-sheol, which can refer to the ground-grave) describes the after-life reality temporally inhabited by the living dead who exist in separation from God and Paradise (Luke 16:23). The third Greek word used by Peter, hell-tartaros or “chains of darkness,” describes the place where disobedient angels are currently confined as they await their future and final judgment (Compare 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; and Revelation 20:10). In the span of history, all of the above spheres of judgment, hell-gehenna-hades-tartaros, are temporary, and as such, might be compared to the confinement of convicted criminals in a city jail until they are transported to serve out their life sentences in a state or federal prison.

The final destination-prison for which unrepentant God–defying humans and spirit beings are headed is the place the Apostle John calls the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10, 14). At the end of the age, Jesus (John 5:27) will cast the following into the Lake of Fire: 1. “the beast and the false prophet” (Revelation 20:10); 2. “the devil” along with his rebel angels (Revelation 20:10; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6); 3. anyone whose “name was not found written in the book of life” (Revelation 20:15); and 4. the temporary holding cells of “death and Hades” (Revelation 20:14).

Many, even Christians, reject the teaching of the Lord Jesus and His Apostles regarding the eternal punishment of the wicked. They point out that no biblical word expresses the concept of “eternity,” but only “a long period”or “remotest time” (Hebrew ‘olam) or “age” (Greek aion). They argue that because of these words’ multifaceted meanings there is no word in Scripture expressing a forever category of time. Therefore it is presumptuous for anyone to think hell will never end. But the Apostle John describes the state of being consigned to the Lake of Fire as one of being “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). The time frame expressed is in multiples of forever-s, one of ages of ages. These multiples of ages is the longest concept of time the Greek language, or perhaps any language, can express (Greek plurals, eis tous aionas ton aionon, Revelation 20:10). Combined with “day and night” (Greek, hemeras kai nyktos), “for ever and ever” nuances a timeless existence in which 24/7, for ages of ages, the unholy trinity—the beast, the false prophet, the devil—and others will be confined. Together, the clauses express the “the unbroken continuity of their torment” in perpetuity. [33]

Yet Young’s imaginary worldview, where in relationship to the Trinity everyone’s a “beloved insider” (LWBAG, 55), does not allow for the existence of two separate after-life realities (heaven and hell). To him there’s only one reality, that would be in the heaven of being inside an eternal Jesus-Trinity in a loving and dancing relationship. So there’s no way for anyone, no matter what they do, to become separated from God. Young’s worldview will not tolerate belief of any separation from God either immediate in this life or ultimate in the next life, and this contradicts what Jesus Christ and His Apostles taught. Rather Young might join John Lennon (1940-1980) and sing,

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky
Imagine . . .
And no religion too

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one [34]

We should observe that such an imaginary cosmic reality postulated by the human mind, where in oneness everyone and everything’s inside God, is idolatrous. “Because that, when they knew God,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations (Greek dialogismois, “the reasoning process within the human mind), and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:21). The text teaches four stages to developing a pagan mindset: First, humans do not glorify or honor God as God. They reduce Him from who He is into who/what they willfully want or emotionally need him, her, or it to be; Second, they become unthankful. Life and all that it consists of is ours as much or more than His. It’s all about us, about me . . . I want . . . I want . . . I need . . . I need; Third, in their own minds they speculate about who God is and in the process of trying to comprehend Him let their imaginings (dialogismois) run wild; and Fourth, amidst their intellectual sophistry their hearts do not become enlightened as they arrogantly claim, but darkened. The God they design becomes ordinary and tame and eclipses any fear they might have of Him. (See Psalm 36:1; Compare Romans 1:18.)

The universalism that reduces the Lake of Fire into non-existence destroys ultimate moral accountability in the universe. Perhaps that’s why Paul Young proposes that it’s only possible that hell is “separation from Jesus.” Maybe he doesn’t know what to do with Muslim jihadists who in their depravity (Young does not like this word, LWBAG, 29-36.) believe that killing infidels in the name of Allah will land them in Paradise where seventy virgins await their arrival. But terrorism is an obnoxious affront to belief in universal salvation. There just something about the belief that everybody’s saved . . . it offends the human conscience and therefore doesn’t seem right (Romans 2:15). Better the biblical perspective of Franklin Graham who remarked after the terror attack in Manchester by Salman Abedi and fellow terrorist conspirators, “I’ve got news for them: Hell awaits, with real flames and real fire.” [35] All of which begs the question: How does one explain evil’s existence in the world? In a veiled way, Young touches upon the issue in the next chapter.
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Truths We Believe about God 3

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn for False Teaching, Spiritual Discernment

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A Biblical & Theological Rejection of Wm. Paul Young’s
 book, “Lies We Believe About God” (Third in a series.)

“Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.”
—Emphasis added, Jeremiah 23:16-17

A Review of the Book’s Chapters

The Book’s Foreword, Introduction and Chapters 1-14

We turn now to review each chapter of Lies We Believe About God. The reviews will include a summary of Young’s belief, citation(s) of Scripture which contradict or confirm the author’s beliefs, and my personal comments for purpose of clarification. Based upon what you read, you can decide who is telling the truth. Note: I do not necessarily disagree with all the points Young makes in his arguments about what God would not say, but my agreements are sparse. We begin with the Foreword written by Wm. Paul Young’s friend, Dr. C. Baxter Kruger.

Foreword
• Kruger: “Who is Jesus, really? What does His existence mean? There are many answers.” (LWBAG, 7)
• The Apostle Peter: (Addressing Jesus from a perspective of many answers) “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Emphasis added, Matthew 16:16)
Comments: Kruger answers the “who is Jesus question” in his Foreword. He explains that speaking the name of Jesus is confessing that there is no separation between the Trinity and humans, only relationship. “Jesus is Himself the relationship;” says Kruger, “He is the union between the Triune God and the human race.” (LWBAG, 11) To Kruger, Jesus’ identity involves being the great unifier of the Tri-Personal God with all humanity which union brings the Jesus-Trinity’s new covenant kingdom to earth. To Kruger the kingdom is totally now and involves no future millennial and messianic reign of Christ on earth (Isaiah 9:6-7; Revelation 20:4, 6; ). Observation: If the kingdom is already present (this is called realized eschatology), then the Jesus-Trinity’s kingdom is a mess!

Kruger states that Young’s teachings stand “in the mainstream of historic Christian confession . . .” (LWBAG, 12) A consultation with one dictionary of theology informs that apokatastasis (another word for universalism or restitution of creation to its original pristine condition; see Acts 3:21, “Jesus Christ . . . Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution [apokatastasis] of all things”) was taught by Clement of Alexandria (c. 150- c. 215), Origen (c. 185-c. 254) who was influenced by Clement and Gnostics and declared a heretic by the early church, Gregory of Nyssa (c. 330-c. 394), John Scotus Erigena (c. 810-c. 877), Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), Karl Rahner (1904-1984) and some others. The Council at Constantinople (AD 543) declared the universal salvation-restoration of humanity, as held by those early church fathers, to be heretical. [23] One scholar informs that, “Jerome, Augustine, and most evangelicals, while insisting on an eschatological restoration by Christ [Acts 3:21], deny the corollary assertion of the ultimate salvation of all men.” [24]

Though in Kruger’s opinion Young stands in Christendom’s “mainstream,” universalism belongs to a heretical minority and not the orthodox majority. Universalism-apokatastasis might be compared to an upstream tributary that flows into Indiana’s Wabash river which then connects to the Ohio and the Mississippi. As the waters of the Mississippi totally engulf the waters from the Wabash’s tributary, so the teaching of mainstream Christianity overwhelms belief in universal salvation. Further, just because the polluted waters of universalism flow within the “mainstream” does not mean they’re fit to drink or the fish safe to eat!

Introduction
• Young: “‘Words you will never hear God say.’ . . . I keep a record of wrongs.” (LWBAG, 15)
• The Apostle John: “The dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20:12; Compare Daniel 7:10.)
Comments: On this point, Young raises a half truth which he turns into a whole truth, and as such becomes a lie of a different sort, but a lie nonetheless. True. For those who are forgiven, God does not remember sins. Of Israel’s disobedience, Micah predicted that after judging the nation, Yahweh “will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19). For the nation’s disobedience Yahweh stated, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” (Isaiah 43:25) But, as the Scripture from Revelation 20 tells us, God remembers the sins of rebels and will, as any good prosecutor, “throw the book at them.”

Chapter 1
“God loves us, but doesn’t like us.”
• Young: “In the religious subculture in which I was raised, we all knew that God is love.  . . . But saying ‘God is love’ does not capture our question [Does God like us?]. . . .” (LWBAG, 27)
• Jesus Christ: “The Father himself loveth (Greek, phileo) you [the disciples], because ye have loved (phileo) me, and have believed that I came out from God.” (John 16:27)
• Jesus Christ: “Greater love (agape) hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (philon). Ye are my friends (philon), if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15:3-4)
• James the Brother of Jesus: “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend (philos) of God.” (James 2:23)
Comments: This verb and noun for love (phileo/philos) means “to love . . . approve of . . . like . . . treat affectionately . . . kindly . . . [and] befriend.” [25] Yes, God engulfs in the arms of His love those who by faith come to Jesus to be forgiven of their sins and thereby become His sons and daughters. But God also likes us!   
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