the shack

Barbecue Jesus, “Bon Appetit”

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” – Jesus (John 6:53-58 NASB)

Most people stopped following Jesus after he said this. They checked out. This was a hard saying and I can imagine how most deemed and branded Jesus as a heretic. But what of the weight of his testimony? His sinless life? All the miracles God gave him to perform? His gentle loving spirit?

How did people just walk away? How do they still continue to do so?

So what is Jesus getting at when he says “Eat my flesh and drink my blood”?

Good question. Ask him about it!

I recently had an interesting dream that may lend some insight to this… but prolly not =):

I found myself walking down a street and unexpectantly encountered a group of men carrying someone who had died  on a stretcher and covered with a sheet. They seemed to be a tribal people and it was their tradition to laugh as they carried the body. I passed them by and walked on and came upon the home that apparently they were bringing the body to. Once those gathered there began to hear the pallbearers laughing as they approached, they too laughed. ‘Did this have something to do with warding off evil spirits?’ I wondered. I stayed to observe what would happen next.

The body was brought into the home and an older man turned to me and explained that they would now take the body to the kitchen where the body would be cut up and cooked and eaten by all who had gathered as a way to honor their life and absorb them into the life of the community. It was a sign of love and respect for their life and their contribution to this group of perhaps a hundred or so people.

“If we didn’t love you, we wouldn’t eat you.”

I walked on from there and found myself at a home that I believe belonged to Paul Young. I was invited in and asked to speak by Paul to a gathering of about twenty or so people. As I started to share what Paul’s writings had meant to me, I started to weep. I talked about how Paul’s book The Shack rescued me from a toxic and damaged perspective of God. “Our paradigms matter!” I told them. “They way we see God is everything!”

downloadI went on to talk about how healing his book Eve was to my soul. I cried some more.

Later I walked over and talked with Paul Young personally and, because I was a bit shy and awkward, I gave him one of those sideways hugs and patted his shoulder.

I wanted him to know how much I loved him and how grateful I was for his contribution to my faith. I wanted him to know how much the Lord had worked in and through him to bring healing to so many.

So ends the dream.

Later I reflected on why I felt so damaged and where my toxic view of God came from. What did I need healing from?

The only word that came to mind was:

Religion.

It seems to me that any remaining problems in my life and inability to connect with others stems from my lingering misunderstanding of who God is and how we ought to relate… like, in a real relationship.

lieswebelieveaboutgodThis dream also served to remind me of how dearly I love and respect our brother Wm Paul Young. I have been reading his latest book, Lies We Believe About God, and enjoying it. I had to get it for myself to make sure he really wasn’t a heretic. LOL.

We need to honor the prophet’s among us like Wm Paul Young. Anyone who has done their proper research will realize that he is a man of God and loves God and has a high regard for the authority of Scriptures. He is spot on about most everything but as I like to say:

“We all have holes in our theology. Two in his hands, two in his feet, and one in the side.”

Well, I just researched if there exists the tradition of eating the deceased as a way to honor them and found this:

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Did you know that Wm Paul Young grew up for the first years of his life in Papua New Guinea? He was a missionary kid among the Dani tribe. I just so happen to stumble upon another death ritual that was practiced by the Dani in the very same article! Here tis:

So what about that “confusing” passage that Jesus started out with? Let’s look at more of the context:

Well, if you are having trouble understanding this like I do, take it to the Holy Spirit! Ask Jesus about it! Ask him to give you greater insight. Ask the Teacher to bring you revelation.

Right now I am listening to the approaching storm, the crackle of thunder, and the birds chirping out the window on this beautiful morning as I write this. what a beautiful day to be alive in Christ!

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Universalism? (Theology behind the Shack)

A quote from Wm Paul Young:

“Many of us, if we’re being honest with ourselves, interpret the Bible in terms of what’s acceptable. Instead of going to the Bible and asking the Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts to what’s being said in it, we interpret it in terms of what won’t get us in trouble, stir the pot or make too much noise. We don’t want a controversial opinion that might put us at odds with what’s considered “safe,” so we think of it in terms of what won’t cause a racket.

We come to the Bible with fear and insecurity instead of coming with confidence and openness, knowing that the Holy Spirit lives in us, guiding our hearts.”

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Can you relate? Do you agree?

After thinking long and hard about this for the past 20 plus years, I’ve come to this philosophy:

Over and above any teachings (doctrines) we extract from the Bible we have to realize that the Scriptures are carefully crafted by God for one purpose: to lead us into relationship with Papa, Son, and Holy Spirit. THIS is why there is such ambiguity on SO many topics in Scripture. You were never meant to only just extract truths from Scripture, but to be in relationship with the One who is Truth. This is the heart and soul of my philosophy and theology now, to be in relationship with Mr. Truth Himself. He has all his theological ducks in a row. He has all his theology worked out. He is perfect theology. I trust him and I trust him to reveal himself.

All of us have holes in our theology: two in the hands, two in the feet, and one in the side.

In the following interview, Wm Paul Young, (author of The Shack), is asked “In what ways are you a universalist?”

So what do you think of his response? Does he have Scriptural basis for his thoughts? Let’s take a look!

His first statement is that all the kosmos (all of creation in entire universe) was and is being created by and existing in Jesus Himself reminds me of one of my favorite verses:

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17 NIV

I like keeping things in context and letting the author, Holy Spirit, actually say all of what God was intending to say.

For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

Don’t you just love that? This is especially wonderful when we consider that “God is Love” (1 John 4).

Who isn’t one of God’s offspring? Does this differ from being his child? One of his sheep? It would seem so as the Scriptures speak of some being children of the devil and Jesus clearly says to some, “you are not my sheep” to those who don’t believe. But it should be concluded logically that even these lost and fallen ones are still considered his “offspring”. Everyone came from and find their Source in their Creator – Yeshua (Jesus) Himself.

Here is another pertinent Scripture from Paul’s letter to the Colossians:

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (Colossians 1:13-23 NIV)

All of creation exists inside of and from the LORD Jesus Christ who is the Creator. Is this a surprise to anyone? Is this a new way of thinking about Jesus for you? As THE Creator? As the Sustainer of all creation? I think it’s amazing!

So this Scripture also points to the fact that all the cosmos (all things!) has been reconciled. It is our joy now to accept our acceptance and receive our reconciliation. Why shouldn’t this also include even those in Sheol (the grave)? Where did we ever get the idea that there was no hope beyond the grave? Jesus preached to spirits in prison, why do we think that this activity ever stopped? What tangible ways and experiences might his “preaching” take on? Object lessons? Facing harsh hard heart realities? Refiners fire?

Paul Young’s second statement is drawn from Romans 5 and 6 among other Scriptures. In these passages it talks about how, just as Adam was our representative, Jesus was even more our representative before the Father! The thought is this: Jesus didn’t just die for us (all of creation), he died “as us” without exclusions. Without exceptions. Here are some Scriptures to meditate on from Romans 5:

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So this tells us that salvation is already true for everyone. Just as in Adam sin became true for everyone, so Christ has made salvation true for everyone. He already saved you no matter who you are. Now we have the wonderful privilege of believing and enjoying and declaring the joy of an already finished work!

Yes, only those who receive it and believe it will reign in life. Will all ultimately receive and believe it? It’s obvious that many who die in this life do not receive it. Don’t some scorn and reject the gift of the abundance of God’s grace and his gift of righteousness?

1 Corinthians 15:22 says this:

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

“All” kind of means all… kinda sorta… unless it doesn’t?

What if someone read that Scripture and dared to believe what it actually said? Would they be rejected by Christianity at large? Tarred and feathered and branded a heretic?

See what is going on here? And this is only one of many Scriptures that could lead someone to believe that in the end, “all will be made alive” like the Bible says.

More from Romans 6 (keep in mind this flows from the above passage Romans 5):

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus (and based on Romans 5, who hasn’t?) have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.

8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Okay, so what I’m seeing here is pretty amazing. Without consulting you, Jesus has already pulled something off for you. He saved you and didn’t even bother to ask your permission. The nerve!

Just this morning I had my seven-year-old little girl read this on my t-shirt:

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Here is the full context:

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And then we talked about how Jesus has already saved us. He saved us by his grace long before we were born, and as the bible puts it, even “before the foundation of the world”. This salvation is experienced through faith and that faith is “not of yourselves”, it is the gift of God. The reconciliation of all of humanity (and the entire cosmos – all of creation) is something that God has joyfully accomplished through the cross and resurrection of Christ.

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross…” Hebrews 12:2

You and I are part of that joy! I think he wants each one of us to know how uniquely part of His joy we truly are!

Hebrews 12 talks about Jesus as the “author and perfecter of faith”. I don’t believe he is referring here to your faith but His perfect faith.

What do you think of how Eugene Peterson interprets this passage of Scripture?

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So Is Paul Young a Universalist?

Paul Young’s third statement clears up the matter. It depends on your definition doesn’t it? He is not a “universalist” by the supposed common definition. All roads don’t lead straight home to Papa. Jesus is the Only way home to Papa. Everyone should know this.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” -Jesus John 14:6

“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

After thinking long and hard about where I see Wm Paul Young coming from, here is my conclusion:

Wm Paul Young is as hopeful as the Scriptures allow.

And shouldn’t we all be? Of course Paul Young is aware of the tension and ambiguity in Scripture and the realities of “hell” and what it says of judgement and punishment.

Yes. There will be, what some translations render as, “eternal punishment”, upon those who resist their own reconciliation. But what does eternal punishment mean, biblically? Does it mean forever and ever and ever without end or hope? Eternal conscious torment? I wonder if God finds this idea of eternal conscious torment unacceptable and is prepared to do something about it? After all, he has the keys to Death and Hades.

I trust the One with the keys!! I trust his heart! I trust his plan! No matter what it is. He does, after all, have to keep the children in heaven safe from an unrepentant pedophile. The unredeemed MUST be kept out.

Could it be, as some theologians have pointed out, that the punishment is restorative and not punitive? That everyone is eventually redeemed? The Scriptures are unclear.

It is brought up in the book by Brad Jersak, Her Gates Will Never be Shut, that the words the translators have chosen for punishment and judgement do have a restorative and not a punitive tone to these Greek words.

For those people who have misunderstood and refused him now and died in that condition of unbelief, will they somehow be drawn to him and surrender to his love beyond the grave?

Could Papa, Son, and Holy Spirit craft a scenario for each and every heart much like Mack experienced portrayed so beautifully in The Shack?

There are plenty of Scriptures that suggest this very thing and reveal this hope of Papa’s heart. “Love always hopes” you know, and “God is Love” and Love will always love his enemies just as he asks us to do as well. Love asks Mack to forgive the killer of his daughter. Love asks Mack to “release his throat” and for the opportunity to redeem even him.

I was surprised myself while in conversation about this topic when I was reminded of Jesus words:

“For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.” John 6:44 NLT

and this: “The Father and I are one.” John 10:30 NLT

And finally: “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” John 12:32 NLT

So there you have it. Jesus will draw everyone to himself. Why would anyone object? Don’t we all share Papa’s heart that, “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent“?

(Repent is to have a change of mind and receive the free gift of restored relationship – which is the very definition of “eternal life” John 17:3).

Does God get what God wants?

Good question. I just saw this very fitting quote on facebook:

“Wisdom doesn’t seem to even want to know all the answers, but it always asks the perfect questions.” – Jason Upton

I shared those above Scriptures and someone said that “everyone” or “all men (mankind)” doesn’t really mean everyone. I think someone needs to go back to kindergarten. And please tell me this, who would you exclude? Which one of God’s lost kids do you want to suffer eternal conscious torment without hope forever and ever?

Does this mean that I think hell doesn’t exist? Of course not. I know it’s real! I’ve been there and so have you. Hell is primarily the condition of unbelief itself that closes your heart to the unfailing love of your Papa. This unbelief is misery and torment and is suffering and sin. It is everything that Jesus became to make an end of.

Newsflash! He has made an end of it!

I know you don’t believe that. None of us actually seem to believe all of what Jesus pulled off at the cross. God knows this and predicted this long ago:

“Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?” Isaiah 53:1

Many of us are still in our unbelief and still hangin on to hell. BUT, Jesus never gives up and never leaves the side of his Beloved to woo us back to love. And just who doesn’t Jesus love?

From a past blog post:

Another Scripture that points to the mercy of Jesus:

“So he (Jesus) went and preached to the spirits in prison – those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood.” 1 Peter 3:19-20 NLT

I believe this speaks to Jesus extending redemption and the message of salvation to all those who perished in the flood. God gives us all way more chances than we deserve.

A while ago I remember sobbing at one of the closing scenes of “What Dreams May Come”. Robbin Williams character travels to hell in search of his wife who had committed suicide. He was determined to stay with her and to try to instill faith and hope in her that could set her free. At the time I watched that movie I was in a personal hell of my own and to think that Jesus was right there wooing me back to redemption was an absolutely beautiful thought!

Here is what I believe Jesus wants everyone to know:

“There is a seat reserved for you at the table of the feast that God has prepared for all of humanity.”

(By the way, there are doctrines of demons that many Christians have embraced that attempt to limit the extent of Christ’s work on the cross to somehow exclude someone. We seem uncomfortable with the notion that Jesus has included everyone.)

The Bible teaches us, however, that everyone absolutely must “wash your robes” in the blood of Jesus (like applying the blood to the doorpost of your house) and wear the wedding garments of his righteousness to enjoy this feast or you will be thrown out into outer darkness… until you are willing to repent (“change your mind”) and wear his righteousness? See Matthew 22!

The curative and restorative qualities of “hell”?

Wouldn’t it be agony and torment to resist the very Love in whom you live and move and have your being? Could it not be His fiery love that is very lake of fire in which the wicked will burn in his very Presence? Did you actually think there was somewhere you can exist that the Creator and Sustainer of all is not present?

Scripture tells us, “God is a consuming fire”.

Does this mean the torment never ends? Can those in the lake of fire never escape? Could it be that these are the very ones outside the gates of heavenly Jerusalem, to the thirsty ones to whom the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”?

Check this out:

“Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.”

12 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. 15 Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. 18 And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.

20 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

21 May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.” Revelation 22

Those who share Papa’s heart read this and have hope that God will get the reward for his sacrifice on the cross. That Everyone would come to repentance and come home! The prodigals return!

Read verse 15 and then 14 again. Doesn’t verse 17 remind you of the rich man in torment in Hades?

How could anyone who shares in the heart of the Father not rejoice over the possibility of the prodigal coming home? Every. Last. One.

Does this mean that everyone will come home? Not necessarily. Scripture seems vague on this point. I suppose anyone can choose to resist and turn away from his love. I believe He will respect your choice.

Didn’t Jesus share a story of a rich man (the rich were thought to live under God’s blessings because of his wealth) burning in agony, desperately thirsty for a drop of water?

Didn’t Jesus (and the whole Trinity) identify with this sinner when while on the cross he uttered the words “I thirst?” Doesn’t God know all about the deepest agonies anyone will suffer? Doesn’t he have compassion? Of course he does! He promises never to leave them or forsake them. I believe that he holds out hope for everyone in hell to be reconciled. After all, He does hold the keys to Death and Hades. Does he hope that those “hell” holds will find salvation? Love always hopes and He is Love.

Remember the prodigal Son story that Jesus told? Isn’t the real problem child in the story the older brother? Isn’t he the one who wouldn’t go in and to whom the Father came out and pleaded with to come in and join the grace party? This likely represents the religious ones who are determined to be the ones who get to decide who is right and who is wrong, who is in and who is out, still eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil instead of the tree of life (found in relationship and union with the Trinity (Papa, Son, and Holy Spirit).

Jesus Christ is the only One who is “right”. He alone is “the Truth” and he is perfect theology.

I love this quote:

All of us have holes in our theology: two in the hands, two in the feet, and one in the side.

So are you going to judge me? Tar and feather me and “cast out my name as evil” for taking a serious look at what the Bible actually has to say about hell and the possible hope for the “damned”?

Jesus alone knows his Father. Christ is the only One who is “in”. He is the One New Man and the “only human being”. He called himself the Son of Man which is Hebrew and Aramaic idiom which means “human being”. This brings us back to Romans 5 and what Christ has pulled off “as us” – our truest representative.

Check this out:

“My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Mathew 11:27

He is the only One who is “in” right relationship (“righteous”) with the Father which Jesus defines as Eternal Life (John 17:3).

You are at his mercy to reveal himself to you. Thankfully he is delighted to do exactly that! That is why he came after all, isn’t it?

“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.

9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you.” John 17 (a small portion of Jesus prayer, read the rest!)

So “the world” here represents those who don’t belong to God who were destined to reject him and face the fiery judgement and lake of fire?

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 24:14

Could this Scripture just relate to the first fruits, the “called-out ones”?

“The Greek word that is translated as “church” in the Bible is ekklesia. … Thus, ekklesia means “those who are the calledout ones.”. Simply put, the invisible church, the true church, is composed of those who are called by God…” (R.C. Sproul – Source)

Here is a note from Mel Wild on my blog post, The Shack (Response to a Critic):

On the universalist claims, saying that salvation and reconciliation are universal is not the same thing as being a universalist. Young calls himself a “hopeful” universalist, meaning that he hopes that all will accept God’s invitation (which is the same as God’s will – 2 Pet.3:9). There’s a good article from another evangelical in response to Mohler on Paul Young’s site here: http://wmpaulyoung.com/universal-reconciliation/

Young’s theology is almost identical to that of C.S. Lewis and respected theologians like George McDonald and James and T.B. Torrance. Not to mention, most of the early church fathers like Athanasius and the Cappadocian fathers who, ironically, were framers and original defenders of Christian orthodoxy! Nobody calls these people heretics.

It sounds like a lot of objections are Cessationist objections. There is nothing the book and movie can do to make them happy about that.

Her Gates Will Never Be Shut

I have been reading a book called “Her Gates Will Never Be Shut” by Bradley Jersak. You wouldn’t think that a book about hell would bring you much hope or joy right? Well it certainly was a comfort to me. He started out telling his story of how he came from a tradition that was firmly committed to the infernalistic ideas of hell (eternal conscious torment forever and ever and ever and ever without a shred of hope of release or parole for the damned).

The Bible I read tells me that it is God’s kindness that leads people to repentance (lit. “having a change of mind”). Of course when people experience the Love of God for themselves it changes their mind – first about who God is and also about the “sin” that is destroying you. “Sin” is anytime you function as a negation of the intended design of who you are – that which is apart from your essential design and identity of love (source).

You were created in God’s image. He is love. You are love. Anything God defines as sin: fornication, pornography, drunkenness, greed, etc… must be discarded for the truth. You are love. And sin isn’t what love does. Haven’t we all figured that out by now?

If you refuse to change your mind (“repent”) about your sin and turn from it now, there is an appointed time of judgement. His fiery eternal love will burn it away. The Bible says this fiery judgement will happen for everyone! But there is NO condemnation for those “in Christ”. Which begs the question, who isn’t “in Christ” (Romans 5-6) since he wrapped up all of the cosmos (including you) into himself when he died (to sin) and rose again (to new life and new creation)? He left no one out. It is finished! It really is.

So Be Holy! Holy is your essential design and identity of love. Holy is fullness of joy! Holy is Peace. Holy is who you truly are in Christ. So start thinking right (repent) and start being the good boy or girl that you truly are “in Christ”.

But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives in reverent fear during your temporary stay on earth (1 Peter 1:16-18)

I will close with John Crowder’s amazingly refreshing talk that will bring a great deal of clarity from the Scriptures as to how good this “Good News” of Jesus really is and how it relates to hell:

further reading:

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Categories: the shack | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

God is Love (Theology Behind the Shack)

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How appropriate that on the 500th (10 Jubilee years) anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation when Luther nailed his theses to the Wittenberg door, the movie The Shack blesses the world with a picture of who God really is. (The Genius of the Shack)

God is Love

“But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” – 1 John 4:8

John goes on to say:

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.” – 1 John 4:16-19

The “Shack” represents our Great Sadness… the hidden brokenness in all of us. It’s about God’s furious, unfailing, and unconditional love coming into the middle of our deepest darkness and loving the “hell” out of us.

I was praying today:

“Jesus, you are the Great Physician. I invite you into my most broken places to do what you do best… to heal. I trust you completely and commit my whole self – body, soul, and spirit – into your care. You have said, “it’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”. I’m one of the sick God. I have wounds and hurts and it is the wounded and hurt ones who end up wounding and hurting others. That is the last thing that I want! Come Holy Spirit. Infect every ounce of me with your healing joy and peace and righteousness! Kingdom of heaven invade! I offer myself as a portal for the kingdom of God to break into this world which rightfully belongs to you. receive your reward for your sacrifice. Expand the Kingdom of Love through me as I begin to fully experience your perfect love.”

I have to tell you, reading the book, The Shack, about eight years ago or so was life changing. Watching the movie was again life transforming. It has helped to lift the wrong paradigms I had/have about the nature of God.

I was reflecting today on this most important Scripture where we are informed of the true nature of God by the I AM. This is from Exodus 34:

Then the LORD came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, I AM. The LORD (I AM) passed in front of Moses, calling out,

“I AM! I AM!
The Elohim (Mighty ONES) of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.”

I have a sincere belief that this modern day parable presented in The Shack by Wm Paul Young reveals the true heart of Papa, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. God is the One who promoted this because he wants the whole world to know him. I can hear God say, “I am SO proud of my boy Paul Young, just look at what he made that reveals heart so well!”

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The Scandal of The Shack (It Changed My Life)

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When I read the Shack it was a very healing experience for me. It made me question and consider the fact that God loves and wants to save the very worst of humans, pedophiles, porn stars, Muslim terrorists, and even judgmental Christians – and I was among the worst of these!) Through this story he wrote for his children, William Paul Young demonstrates what Scripture tells us:

“Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.” Romans 5:20

I remember reading one part in the book about a son’s relationship to his father. I became so angry that I threw the book across the room. I was angry because it was bringing up my own painful and strained relationship with my father. I was bitter about my parents divorce and I hadn’t talked with my dad in a couple years. He had rejected his family. He had rejected me. I wrote a song you’ll never hear about that pain and the blame.

Well a few days later after I finished the book, I had the most powerful encounter with the love of Jesus. It happened, as it often does with me, in a dream.

Here tis:

I was standing there looking at my dad. My brother was there as well and my first impression was an overwhelming awareness that we are One. Then God started to reveal how he felt about my dad. God’s love started pouring into my heart and it grew in intensity. It just kept growing and growing more and more intense and I thought, “Is there any end to this love?” It became so intense I was convinced I would explode into a million pieces. Fearing for my life I shook myself awake as if to say, “No more!”

That profound experience healed my relationship with my dad. Of course I forgave him! I have treated him with love and respect ever since. I called him up shortly after that and was going to send him the book The Shack but he told me that he had just read it. The book made quite an impact on him as well.

Wow God!

From My friend Robby Dawkins:

robby-dawkinsIs there a Demonic Spirit related to the movie the Shack? The Answer is yes!
I read the book several years ago and weeped so hard. It made me angry then broke my heart. Then watching the movie tonight with my wife Angie Dawkins, all those emotions were stirred once again. This story is really about the authors horrific struggle with the Lord after suffering sexual abuse as a missionaries kid. This deep wound is depicted in the story with a horrific tragedy in a family.
None of the depictions of God are Caucasian (loved it!) And portraits God in both male and female form (loved that too). This movie is so powerful and I felt the Presence of the Lord so strong at various points of it. And felt the theology to be very sound.
So what of the demonic I mentioned you ask? I believe their is a demonic assignment against this book and movie. It’s both by a Religious Spirit and a spirit that insights Prejudice. These Demonic spirits are trying to block people from experiencing healing and freedom from a critical spirit.
I highly recommend you take every atheist, spiritually wounded, orphaned spirited person you know to this movie and then a “sit down” with them afterwards to process it.
It sets us up to bring many to Christ…

I have written much more about the Shack and the other books Wm Paul Young has written. Here are some of the most important ones to check out:

Papa With Scars (Theology behind The Shack) – Biblical discussion looking at the question, was Papa with and in Jesus on the cross?

The Shack (a response to a critic) – Here I take on a prominent critic and address all of what most critics see as the most scandalous parts of the book, The Shack

Your Love Drives My Fear Away (Song I wrote inspired by The Shack)

The Shack Revisited (A conference that Theologians Wm Paul Young and C Baxter Kruger did explaining and discussing the theology behind The Shack)

William Paul Young and his book Crossroads: https://daniellovett.com/2013/07/15/cross-roads-by-william-paul-young-book-review/

William Paul Young and his book Eve: https://daniellovett.com/2015/09/23/william-paul-young-and-his-new-novel-eve/ and

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Papa With Scars? (Theology behind The Shack)

shacGrowing up I never prayed to God the Father. I could believe that Jesus was alright because he saved me from the terrible wrath of the Father. I realized that Jesus taught us to pray to the Father, but I sure didn’t, ’cause I didn’t trust him!

“Jesus, You are ok, but don’t leave me in the room alone with your Father! Thank you for saving me from him and his terrible wrath!” This reveals how messed up my theology was!

The book and movie the Shack bring us back to what the Scriptures have to say about the union that the Father and Jesus share. The author of The Shack, William Paul Young, makes the claim that this union didn’t end at the cross and that the Father never left his Son… hence Papa has nail scars. Of course this summa cum laude Bible college graduate (with some seminary) isn’t alone. He shares this theology with the early church fathers, and theologians C Baxter Kruger, C.S. Lewis, Thomas F. Torrance, etc… and with the Holy Bible as well, as we shall see.

Was Jesus abandoned by the Father at the cross?

Jesus said, “You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” (John 16:32)

Do we believe him? What about when he was abandoned on the cross? Didn’t Papa and Holy Spirit leave him then?

2 Corinthians 5:19 tells us: “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” (NLT)

Was this just one third of God in Christ, or was it the fullness of God like this Scripture says?

“For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.” Colossians 2:9

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This is such a major point of discussion in the movie the Shack, this notion of Papa abandoning his Son. And then the Father shows his scars. Pointing to the truth of the above Scriptures. “God (Papa) was in Christ… the Fullness of God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.”

And apparently he pulled something off because, after all, he did say, “It is finished.” Didn’t he? (I am remembering a scene from Mission Impossible 4 when he says, “mission accomplished!”) And on his end, indeed it is!

When speaking of his coming crucifixion, here is what Jesus says:

“Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will know that I am He,
and that I do nothing of Myself;
but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.
And He who sent Me is with Me.
The Father has not left Me alone,
for I always do those things that please Him.” (John 8:28-29 NKJV)

Ok, so what about when Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

We are left to assume by Jesus words that the Father forsook the Son. But don’t we have to disregard so much of what Jesus has already said to believe this?

What’s going on here? Well, this is how I have heard it presented:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” are the opening lyrics to a popular Messianic song, Psalm 22.

Jesus is beginning to quote the opening lyrics of Psalm 22 which everyone knew. It’s not as if he was even capable of quoting the whole thing as he was gasping and straining for his every breath. I have heard that this Psalm was sung and rehearsed often at Passover. Look at what this Psalm goes on to say:

“They have pierced my hands and feet.
I can count all my bones.
My enemies stare at me and gloat.
They divide my garments among themselves
and throw dice for my clothing.” (vs 16-18)

To those standing by who were familiar with this song/psalm thought about these verses and realized, “Look! They have pierced his hands and feet! Look at those soldiers over there throwing dice for his clothing and dividing up his garments.”

The Psalm goes on to say:

“For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
nor has He hidden His face from Him;
but when He cried to Him, He heard.” (Psalm 22:24 NKJV)

Here was how the NIV rendered it:

For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

So, is “the afflicted” referring to Jesus? Was Jesus abandoned? Was he forsaken?

One of my friends pointed out that Jesus came to show us the Father, and the one time we need the Father to be like Jesus the most, he pulls out?

Remember when Jesus breathed his last and gave up his Spirit?

“And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His last.” Luke 24:36 NASB

So the Holy Spirit was with him through the end? The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as the the Spirit of Jesus.

I am now convinced that the Trinity never “got divided” even on the cross. I’m still in the midst of researching the atonement and what can be known, biblically, about what happened there.

Yes, I still find it hard not to believe that if Jesus said, “why have you forsaken/abandoned me?” that He wasn’t indeed forsaken and abandoned. I have a really hard time seeing it differently. I’m sure many of you do as well.

I just plain don’t understand the mystery. It is indeed a new thought to many of us that Papa was in Christ (the whole time?) reconciling the world to himself. I believe that is what the Bible reveals. I just don’t understand.

I suffered seven long years of depression and despair because I became convinced that God had abandoned me. My healing came when my wife had a vision of me curled up in a closet and Jesus was sitting with me with his arm around me. (Indeed I was sitting in a closet in absolute terror after I felt abandoned by God!)

No doubt, Jesus entered into our sense of alienation when he took all the sin of the world. He was experiencing all our pain and suffering that sin brings and could likely no longer see his Father or experience his love. Indeed, EVERYTHING the Scriptures tell us that Jesus endured on the cross are absolutely true! (Who is denying that?)

I’m reminded of what Isaiah 53 says about the sacrifice our Lord made on our behalf:

But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed. (vs. 5)

But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. (vs. 10-12)

Did Father turn his back on the Son? Besides Jesus words on the cross, does the Bible specifically ever say that he did? Correct me if I’ve missed something.

I am remembering this Scripture from Isaiah 54:7

“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great compassion I will take you back.”

He uses the term, “as though…” just before it to compare. Here is the context:

“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame.
Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you.
You will no longer remember the shame of your youth
and the sorrows of widowhood.
5For your Creator will be your husband;
the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
the God of all the earth.
6For the LORD has called you back from your grief—
as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,”
says your God.
7“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great compassion I will take you back.
8In a burst of anger I turned my face away for a little while.
But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the LORD, your Redeemer.
9“Just as I swore in the time of Noah
that I would never again let a flood cover the earth,
so now I swear
that I will never again be angry and punish you.
10For the mountains may move
and the hills disappear,
but even then my faithful love for you will remain.
My covenant of blessing will never be broken,”
says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

His covenant of blessing will never be broken because neither side of this covenant depends on you. Christ Jesus fulfilled both ends of the covenant and depends on his Mercy. Thankfully he is pure Mercy.

There was a scene in the movie The Shack that captures this idea of how we sometimes feel abandoned:

“When all you see is your pain, you lose sight of me.”

How does this relate to us?

Hebrews 13:5 says this:

“God has said, “Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”

Unless you sin, right?

What about that Scripture that says “you are too holy to look on sin?”

Well, I just looked up the one verse that gave us this idea and this is one of the most literal translations from the NASB:

“Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?” Habakkuk 1:13

He doesn’t approve. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t see.

His face is always toward us. Because He is Love and that is what he does! He can’t help it! I mean, just look at this Scripture I prayed for my daughters when I put them to bed tonight:

The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.’
“So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.” (Numbers 6:24-27)

That is God’s heart for you.

Further reading: The Father did NOT abandon Jesus

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