Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sacking "The Shack"

After hearing so many glorious reviews on the Shack by WM. Paul Young I was really excited to have the opportunity of reading it for our church book club. In fact, on the recommendation of many good Christians who had read it, I had given several books away as gifts. It sounded perfect and our local PARABLE had a wonderful sale going. I could hardly wait to start my own reading.

Settling down one evening for my first good read I found the plot enticing, indeed. Here we had a disillusioned father, “Mack” coping with the loss of his adorable 6 year old daughter, who had been kidnapped and murdered. I supposed that was why his favorite T.V. program was the avowed atheist Bill Moyer. I could hardly wait to see how God was going to confront, comfort and restore his faith.

Imagine this readers surprise when it turns out that God is meeting Mack in a shack posing as a grammar impaired black goddess.
The BIBLE says in Romans:1: 21-25 Because that, when they knew
God they glorified him not as God…………….and changed the in-
corruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man…..
Wow -this was nothing like I expected. I guess the author didn’t know those verses. Well, in no time all I met Jesus, who looked more like one of our fisherman friends and the goddess explained he is no more than a perfected human. Whoops, maybe the author is Mormom or Jehovah’s witness. We believe as the BIBLE says in John 1;1 that In the beginning was the word and the word was God ………..Matt 28:18 “All authority in Heaven and Earth is given to him”, …Hebrews 1;3 ”he reigns at the right hand of The majesty of high” and the list goes on.
Now the holy spirit comes in and she is a nice little Asian lady. I think it‘s important that we diversify and represent as many people as possible when we are going to un deify the trinity don‘t you?

Yes, I finished the book and here is what I learned:
1) God was crucified with Jesus.-Page 96 (She even has scars too!)

The Bible says in Matt 27:46 and Is 53: 4-10 that God turned his eyes and could not look on his Beloved son.

2) God only acts out of love Page 102

The Bible says in Is 61:8 “I the Lord love Judgement”, John 3:18 “He that believeth not is condemned already……………” etc etc. He is both a God of love and a God of judgment.

3) All was forgiven at the cross Page 225 per the goddess,”I will never bring up what they did, whether or not they chose a relationship”

The Bible says in John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life, and no man cometh to the father except by me”

4) Pages 161-164 There is no such thing as eternal punishment because eventually every knee shall bow etc..

The Bible says much on this including that Hell is real/ see Luke 12:5 “But
I will forewarn you whom you should fear: fear him, which after he hath killed hath the power to cast into hell‘…Luke 16;23 “And in hell he lifted up his eyes in torment………” etc etc.

5) page 120 says that God will not punish people for their sin as the sin is it’s own punishment.

The Bible says in Rev 16:2 that the punishment will most certainly come. t Also 1st Cor. 6:9 “those found guilty of sin will not enter his heavenly rest
And many more verses. How about Rev 20;15 “and whosever was not found in the book of life was cast into the fire”,

6) Hierarchy is evil--pages 178 and 179 Jesus did not create institutions.
Freedom for everyone--Do your own thing!!

The Bible speaks much about order. Job says in 25:2 that he is a God of Order. God tells us how to set up a church and how to use the gifts of the spirit I Cor 12:and Timothy 3rd chapter. The Bible also points out a hierarchy in the trinity in 1 Corinthians 11:3. I.e. the “head of every man is Christ and the head of Christ is God” We are even to submit to government authority.

7) Page 145 The goddess explains that we should all submit to each other and even God submits to us. Wow--The God of the universe submits to me.
Can this be right?:

The Bible says, in Exodus 20;18 that God is so powerful, omnipotent and holy that the people could not even touch the mountain from which he spoke for fear of death.

8) No need for rules. Page 203 In Jesus, all things are lawful. Rules only bring about a reason for judging. Rules cannot bring freedom. Liberation for all!

If this is true--Why does the new testament speak so much about how we should conduct ourselves? The Bible says in 1st John 1:6 “ If we say we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth.”
Or how about 1 John 3:24 “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in Him….

9) Conspicuously absent from the book is Satan and his demons, I guess that’s because we now know that evil comes from rules and trying to make
Rules to over power others.

The Bible says n Acts 26:18 “ to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God…..

These are just a few of the things that astound me about this book and theology, so I decided to found out who wrote It and why. Well it turns out that W.P. Young has gone through some grief in his own life by being molested as a child, the son of missionaries and later by commiting adultery agains his wife, the mother of his 6 children. (USA today) The first time the book was published, it was only for family and friends but others encouraged him to publish it and his chief apologist, Wayne Jacobson, is also one of his editors. He ,Young, is a former pastor and was among some of the theoligians who used to be part of a seminary think tank in Oregon.

Former colleagues state that he left the think tank because of his views being so outrageously unbiblical such as the fact that he believes in Universal Reconcilliation. That means that everyone will be saved no matter they believe. So much for judgment, hell etc. This view is confirmed by the fact that his editor Wayne Jacobson, states that when the book was published in 2004 he edited out anything about Universal Reconcilliation. (see website) Well, I still spotted it--didn’t you.? Now Jacobson states that while Young believed this when he wrote the book, he has since evolved in his thinking. Could it be that Jacobson, as editor, has much to lose in the Evangelical community if this fact is known? Christian Universalism is also taught by Young I.e. Jesus is not the only way to heaven though he is the best way. Well, that thought didn’t get missed in the book

In doing a research on the book, I was at first amazed at how many people absolutely found nothing but good in it. Some were leaving the church
And enjoying life as they see it I.e. liberation and freedom. At first, I could only find good reviews and I began to wonder how small the remnant of believers was really going to be. Then about my third night of research I stumbled on many many who were as dismayed as I was including Chuck Colson (read Stay out of the Shack on Breakpoint.org), Janet Pashal, Albert Mohler, president of So Baptist Theological Seminary, Eric Barger from Stand Up and the Christian Worldview Network. I even conversed with a Prysbeterian minister in Georgia who has some good thoughts but isn’t being received too well for downing the shack. New Horizon Fellowship in San Diego had a good sermon on it but hear he is being pummeled by a few who like the new theology better. (Less tithes, less church ,less rules and more liberation sounds better there too. ) Anyway, many solid Christians are coming out on this and we should see some good book rebuttals out on it soon.

Go to Heresy on the Shack to find a lot better theological comments than mine. I didn’t have time to read all of them as there are so many from concerned pastors, theologians etc..

Matt 24--24 “ For there shall arise false Christ’s and false prophet’s who deceive many and shall show great signs and wonder’s ; insomuch that, if it were possible, they will deceive the very elect
And Galatians 1: 9. If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

If you are one of the unlucky ones who received this book from me, I apologize and I will be replacing it so don’t join this new cult yet. God is still on the throne and not in the shack.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Caution: "Destined to Reign" by Joseph Prince

I recently became aware of a young man in our congregation who is involved in the vilest of sexual addictions, yet considers himself a believer who has no qualms at all about admitting his sins and the pleasure that he gets from them. He has no concerns about his salvation either as he has received assurance from a new (?) doctrine that has been popularized by the book by Joseph Prince called DESTINED TO REIGN. It was probably no coincidence that a friend sent the book to me to look at. My curiosity and concern was definitely piqued.

As prudent Christians, many evangelicals realize that we are very possibly in the end times that Jesus talked about in Matthew 24. Knowing this, we need to be all the more aware of deception in our church and in doctrine. Remember Jesus himself said in Matthew 24:24 “For false Christ’s and FALSE PROPHETS will arise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Again in 2 Thessalonians 2:11&12 Paul says, “And for this reason God will send them a strong delusion, that they should believe the lie and they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Even during the busy Christmas season, I could not keep away from this book and the theology it promotes. While there are too many ideas to expound on here, the main ideas seem to be 1) Nothing but blessings for the believer, 2) No longer a need to be concerned about God’s judgment as Grace has done away with the law 3) All sin, past and future, was forgiven at the cross for the believer and 4) repentance and confession of sin is never necessary.

In Chapter 1, I learned that God has called us as Christians to be a success, to enjoy wealth, to enjoy health, and to enjoy a life of victory. As soon as we understand his principals , we will see how easy and effortless the Christian walk really is. Prince uses Romans 5:17 …“For by one man‘s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through one Jesus Christ” He then states that the word reign used here comes from the word basiluo (Greek) translated to basilica in English.. Since, he says, basilicas were used as law courts, that means we would have a kingly rule. Well, that’s a stretch to begin with. A basilica is simply a style of building that makes it good for any assembly including meeting places, law courts, funeral homes and often churches. Adam Clarke, translating from the original Greek, along with any major Bible Scholar I am aware of takes this scripture to mean that we will reign over death as a result of Jesus death and resurrection..
Prince fails to mention what Jesus says to expect if we follow him.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” and again in Luke 6:22 Jesus said, “Blessed are you when men hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and caste your name as evil for the Son of Man’s sake.

Jesus also said in Luke 9:23 “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” In Matthew 7:14 Jesus said , “Narrow is the gate and DIFFICULT is the way which leads to life and few there be that find it. And in Luke 9:25 Jesus warns about riches saying, “For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and is himself destroyed or lost.” !st Peter 3:17 “For it is better , if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

In Revelations 6:9, John says “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they maintained.”

Living in a country with abundant wealth such as Singapore (where Prince lives) or the United States certainly makes it more plausible for persons whether Christian or simply diligent citizens to have a measure of wealth, But, is that God’s plan for everyone who loves him? Certainly and clearly it is not. In fact, Jesus said in Matthew 19:23 that it would be harder for the rich to get into heaven, and in Luke 18;24 he again lamented about how hard it would be for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus calls us to be willing to give up everything, including our life, to follow Him. Paul, himself, who wrote Romans 5:17, was often beaten, shipwrecked, and finally martyred. (Prince foolishly states that Paul’s thorn could not have been illness--he fails to note in Galatians 4 : 13-14 Paul clearly states he was sick with an infirmity of the flesh). Christians are daily persecuted and martyred around the world for the sake of their faith and the very survival of Christianity depended on the martyrs who came before us. Reigning might sound good for itchy ears but it isn’t what we are guaranteed in this present life.

A GOD OF MERCY ONLY--(New Revelation)
On page 32 Prince reveals his belief that God is continually restoring his truths to the church and the revelation of the finished work will continue to get stronger. Any time new revelation is taught, we must be reminded of how often this has been the basis of new cult’s such as Mormonism, Jehovah‘s witness, Christian Scientist etc. This new revelation of Prince’s continues to be the gift of righteousness to reign in life. I.e., more grace and less judgment. The loving and merciful side of God is always emphasized in Prince’s teaching.

While Prince speaks much of the fact that the new covenant does away with the old covenant , he fails to distinguish between the commandments which are still in effect and the ceremonial law that was necessary only until Christ became the sacrifice. Paul was often speaking to new Christians/Jews who kept going back to ceremonial law. --after all as Jews that was very natural for them and , no doubt, they still had many friends who were still in ceremonial law. Paul confirms this in Galations 4:10 when he says “You observe days and months and seasons and years.

As for the commandments, read Matthew 19:17-21 when Jesus clearly told the rich young man he should keep the commandments if he wanted to enter into life……“shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Prince states a merciful God would not Judge America or any other country because of what was done at the cross(pg 49). That, he says is because God is not willing that any should perish. Wow that’s a relief--or is it? In 2nd Cor. 5:11 Paul says that knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men………..Heb 10:30b & 31 “ The Lord will judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ and Luke 12:5 … “Fear Him who…has the power to cast into hell:,, Of course Revelation has an entire book on the judgments that will be forthcoming on Nations and people. If we believe that God is all powerful, we must believe that whether or not he caused 9;11, He could have stopped it so therefore did allow judgment to come.

Prince continually assures the Believer that, although he does not condone sin , all was forgiven when Jesus died for the Believer so we never have to worry about it again. On pg 53 Prince says ‘If you receive a word from someone which brings your sins to remembrance or instills an expectation of punishment for sins in your life, don’t fear it, just throw it out the window..” On page 45, he says that , for the believer, ‘God took all your sins, even the sins that you have not yet committed, and put them all on Jesus. All future sins have been fully judged at the cross.’ On page 138, he states that “Believers are forever righteous. On page 233 he says “you cannot be under grace without becoming holy.” On page 99 he states that he has never encountered anyone who after receiving grace says “now I can go out and sin”. Really???I know of many people who truly served and loved the Lord at one time and have returned to a life of sin--don ‘t you? Just get any church directory from a few years back and you will see how many did not stay the course.

Prince does not attempt to explain the many examples that were given in the Gospels such as the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins, the seed that fell on good ground but was choked by the things of this world, or the seed that sprung up and then withered or the ninety and nine when the shepherd searched for the one who had left the fold. Even Jesus taught in the Lord’s Prayer that we should examine ourselves daily when he said “give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

In Colossians 1:22 & 23 Paul admonishes the believers “ to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable in his sight IF indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the Gospel which you have heard…… Also 2nd Peter 2:20 &21 say ‘For after they have escaped the pollutions of this world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome. The latter end is worse for them than the beginning, for it would have been better for them to have never known the way of righteousness than having known it, to turn from the bold commandment delivered to them. John 15:10 “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love…….”

What Prince believes and teaches is almost beyond Calvinism because most Calvinists, including John Macarthur, will say of a person who practices a sinful life, that they never knew the Lord in the first place I.e. they never studied God’s word to see what would be required of them.

Prince teaches that the word Repent actually only means to turn around.
The new Webster’s inter-collegiate dictionary refers to the root word penitent to describe repent as remorse, sorrow, for sins, contrition etc.
Prince also teaches that since sins are already forgiven, there is no need to repent of them anyway. What we need instead is to be forgiveness -conscious. See page 103 where he says “even when they (Christians) say a wrong thing, do a wrong thing or have a wrong thought…….they see the blood of Jesus continually washing them……..because they are forgiveness-conscious. they experience victory over sin.” Prince uses the example of the sins committed by the Corinthians to say that Paul simply reminded them that their bodies were temples of the Holy Spirit (pg 107) and did not tell them to repent. Well, Paul didn’t exactly ignore the sin either as though it were already forgiven.. See verses 1 Cor 5:5 when Paul told them to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that that his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Clearly, the sin required more attention than simply reminding the offender that he needed to be aware that he was already forgiven. How about getting his attention to the seriousness of the sin and repentance from it? Also note 2 Cor 12:21 written to the Believers at Corinth in which Paul states “Lest when I come again, my God will humble me among you & I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented. On page 234, Prince states that we are not told to repent (I.e. turnaround) from sins but from dead works which, he says, are not really sins. I.e. if you pray thinking that makes you right with God , that is a dead work. Similarly, If you study the Bible because you think doing so makes you right with God--forget it. You need, he says, to study and pray knowing you are right with God. So, in effect we should not be concerned about our sins but do need to be sure we never pray or search the scripture for answers simply to learn what is right--we just need to accept that we are right because at some time in the past we “turned around“.

While Prince writes his book as the secret to effortless success, wholeness and victorious living, the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:11-16 that we will need to put on the whole armor of God so that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places ………………

My heart breaks for the young man who thinks he can continue to practice any kind of sin and be considered holy before God, for the Bible says in Eph 4:7 & 8a “ for God did not call us to uncleanness, but to holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God..”.
Yes, it is wonderful to hear a message of Grace, but until we understand that God is also a God of judgment, can we really know the depths of his Grace? As Paul admonished the believers in Romans, 2:2 “ But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things” and again to the believers In Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.”

Remember, it is in God’s commandments that we learn the heart of God and what he expects of us. . How many will pay the ultimate price for the belief promoted in Destined to Reign? It is, after all, the same old lie, that Satan told Eve when he convinced her, that deliberate sin could go unpunished.