Wm. Paul Young’s Problems with the Truth about God (Pt.2)

Part One

Universal Salvation

When I speak of Young’s universalism I am not referring to the belief that Jesus Christ provided an atonement for every sinner; a position which I hold.  I am instead talking about the liberal theological teaching that God will save everybody, whether or not they have placed their trust in His Son.

Because of the author’s encounters with hurt and pain it is understandable that he has searched for a god who is safe and accepting.  In his striving to push past the debilitating burden that bitterness carries with it, perhaps he has embraced a god that characterizes his wish to move on and forgive – everyone?  One can’t be sure.  But Young wants to remove what he sees as the hard edges off of the traditional concept of God:

Every human being you meet, interact with, react and respond to, treat rudely or with kindness and mercy: every one is a child of God.  If we considered that we are all together members of one family, might we care for one another with more consideration and kind intention?  Every human being is my brother, my sister, my mother, my father… a child of God (206)

Naturally, he has just appealed to Paul’s statement before the Areopagus in Acts 17:28-29 (though he also grabs at Ephesians 4:5-6, which is aimed at Christians, for help).  Once more his inability to read the Bible coherently is troubling. When Paul quotes the pagan poet Aratus in Acts 17:29 he is not using him to teach that we are all adopted into God’s family, no matter what we believe.  If that were the case he certainly wouldn’t have spoken of future judgment and demanded repentance (Acts 17:30-31)!

What the quotation above demonstrates is that Young conceives of humanity as a set that is properly related to its Creator.  we’re all one big family, but we don’t treat each other like we should.  Of course, this is a logical result of his thinking about sin in Pelagian terms as ignorance and bad habit.

Here’s the truth: every person who has ever been conceived was included in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. (119) 

If we take Jesus seriously, then we are not dealing with outsiders and insiders; we are dealing with those who are seeing and those who are not seeing, trusting and not trusting. (55)

Since we are “all on a journey”, a continuum, it is wrong, says Young, to think in terms of believers and unbelievers (57).  In actual fact, he assures us that since we are created in the image of God, “the truth of your being looks like God” (229).  Our violence, insensitivity, arrogance, and selfishness are a result of our lack of understanding of the central truth of our being in and like God.

If you think this is starting to sound slightly panentheistic, or at least that Young’s god is just a big kiss (to borrow Joseph Parker’s term), I think you are hearing right.  This is the way Young’s theology is tending, and I expect him to veer in that direction in the years to come.  You’re okay even if you didn’t cut it in this life.  Young opines,

I don’t think God would ever say that once you die, that your fate is sealed and there is nothing that God can do for you. (182)

Well that’s nice.  But we ought to make sure that we are taking Jesus seriously like the author tells us to. The Lord Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23), which included an intentional betrayal (Jn. 13:11).  He said that the world, that is, the ungodly rebellious people whose thinking is not subordinated to God’s revelation, hated Him (Jn. 15:18).  He excoriated the religious leaders with language which was unmistakably non-inclusivist.  He called some of them children of the devil (Jn. 8:44), and the Apostle John broadens the category considerably (1 Jn. 3:10).  It takes no real effort to discover that the Lord’s attitude to “insiders and outsiders” is at variance with Wm. P. Young.

He that is of God hears God’s words: you therefore hear them not, because you are not of God – John 8:47   

A person who refuses God’s words is a person who is “not of God”.  To this the rest of the New Testament clearly agrees (e.g. Mk. 4:11; Eph. 2:12; Jam. 4:4; Jude 4, 18).  How, for instance, can you wring a positive message out of this?

Serpents, brood of vipers!  how can you escape the condemnation of hell (gehenna)? – Matthew 23:33     

Young’s idea of taking Jesus seriously is to ignore what Jesus says wherever His words cross Young’s idea of what Jesus should be like.  It’s all of a piece, the view of sin, the universalism, including postmortem redemption, the transformation of hell into love’s fiery embrace; these are all the family of products which Young’s concerted lack of attention to God’s words yields.  It is undiluted liberalism. Promising people that they are adopted into God’s eternal family just on the basis of their humanity is as big a lie as could be told.  The god that sustains his doctrines is not the true God of the Bible.

Dreadful Exegesis

I feel that there is no to go into detail about the awful interpretations of Scripture which the author adduces in support of his doctrines.  Whether it’s his distortion of the tale of the Rich Young Ruler to teach that we’re all inherently good (34), or his miscue about the meaning of the English word “categorize” based on its derivation from the Greek term kategoreo (56, though Young misspells it), where he also incorrectly reads Revelation 12:10 as saying “the Satan is an accuser”, his interactions with Scripture are always quite wretched.  On pages 170-171 his understanding of the episode about Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac is that “God will step into our darkness”.

The darkness that surrounds Wm. Paul Young prevents him from reading the Bible fairly and squarely. No wonder that when he wishes to recommend a book to his reader he picks another confirmed heretic; this being the Canadian “teacher” Brad Jersak’s book Her Gates Will Never Be Shut (131), a book denying the biblical doctrine of Hell.  Jersak is the architect of the appalling and vapid teaching of “listening prayer”, whereby everything that happens to a person can be interpreted as the voice of God. (For more information on Jersak see Lyndon Unger’s MennoKnight blog).

Not Recommended… but Pastors Might Want to Have it

Lies We Believe About God is a terrible book when judged against the criteria of truth, whether it be biblical or theological.  It is not the sort of book any Christian ought to read for spiritual help.  But it is perhaps useful for pastors to read and teach against.  This is, after all, the author of The Shack!  I decided to do just that, and gave four mid-week Bible Study hours to taking my congregation through the errors in the book.  Several times I have been told that those studies have been of real help at separating the wheat from the chaff.

This is what Wm. P. Young believes.  He is a false teacher, and his all books should be avoided by those concerned with glorifying the true God of the Holy Scriptures.

 

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3 comments

  1. Actually, I think universal atonement unavoidably leads to universal salvation. If one works with a biblical definition of atonement, operates within the simple rules of grammar, one must conclude that either Christ actually atoned for everyone’s sins or only a specific group, or no one’s in actuality. There is nothing in the text that supports the idea of a potential atonement with Christ doing most of the work and man taking it across the finish line. I have no part to play in atoning for my own sins. That is front to back the work of Christ alone. I equally have no part to play in the application of that atonement. That is the work of the Holy Spirit, not of human will nor of flesh and blood. I have no part to play in the act being one of those whom God selected as an object of that atonement.

    1. I realize you understand things this way Ed. I am not sure what you mean about “a biblical definition of atonement”, but I have never been persuaded by the numerous presentations of definite atonement I have read or heard. I hold that they arise from NOT heeding the text, and, like other theological deductions, is based mainly on autonomous reasoning.

      I dealt with the Scope of the Atonement here: https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2007/03/01/christs-atonement-its-purpose-and-extent/

      1. To atone is never potentially atone. It’s like the word forgiveness. If your sins have been atoned for, they have been forgiven, not potentially forgiven or potentially atoned for. If Christ is the punishment for our sins, then he is the actual punishment for our sins. God’s wrath is actually turned away and his favor is actually turned toward, not potentially. He is the atonement for our sins…not he is freely available to atone for our sins. The atoning work is finished! It is not on-going based on the will of men or their free-decision. This is why the less-than-five-point Calvinist system collapses into incoherence and contradiction.

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