The SHACK Author Writes: NO ONE EVER HAS, nor EVER WILL BE separated from God because of SIN

Posted: March 21, 2017 by pastorerichann in Apologetics, Books, Cults, Theology
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This is part 3 of a review of Wm. Paul Young’s (author of THE SHACK) recently released book Lies We believe About God. Part 1 “No Need to Get Saved…” can be found by clicking right here, and part 2 “Hell is Not Separation from God…” can be found here. Know, again, this is based on his most recently released book (March 7, 2017), and these excerpts are taken from my personal copy:

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We now explore chapter 27, where the author introduces as “lie” #27: “Sin separates us from God.”

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The straightforward message the author heralds here is that sin does NOT separate, anyone, from God, ever – and to believe this is to swallow a “lie.” Young interjects that this thinking comprises a “theology of separation,” and he further elaborates: “A lot of ‘my people’ will believe that the following statement is in the Bible, but it isn’t: ‘You have sinned and you are separated from God'” (Lies, p. 231, see below).

One obvious flaw with what Young is saying can be found right here:

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God…” (Isaiah 59:2b).

There it is, almost word for word in the Bible. But significantly more telling than this is the theology of the entire Bible. Young has a penchant for making blunt declarations about particular words he hasn’t found in the Bible, and then he uses that as a straw man support to negate it as a teaching. The perfect example is found in THE SHACK book itself on p. 205, when Sarayu, the Holy Spirit, says “… you won’t find the word responsibility in the scriptures.”

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Whether or not this English word is found in the particular translation the author is using, the theme of responsibility is all throughout the Bible. Just a nominal gleaning of Jesus’ parables (landowners leaving, coming back, holding servants accountable) makes the authors’ word search findings irrelevant. As for whether the theme of sin separating people from God is found in the Bible, just the Old Testament teaching on the Tabernacle is replete enough for anyone to reach an obvious conclusion. In Exodus 25:8 the Lord says to Moses “Let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” Why is this sanctuary needed for God to dwell with them? Because God is holy, and people are sinful. Sin has separated them from God. That’s one of the basic teaching points of these narratives. Virtually every aspect of the instructions for building the tabernacle – including the gates, laver, altar, veil, priestly duties, sacrifices, has to do with God being holy and separate from people because of their sin (unholiness). This is very simple Sunday School stuff. If you think I’m overstating this, go here, and read how many times the word “separate” is used. As the veteran Christian artist Phil Keaggy once crooned, “you should have believed Sunday School.” Of course, metaphysically speaking, God is omnipresent, and didn’t merely dwell spatially inside the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle. But relationally, which is the context Young’s premise, God is distinctly separate (for more discussion on this, see William Lane Craig article here). Be reminded that virtually every article in the Tabernacle also points to Jesus and what He has done for us, and our sin, so that we can approach God and not be separate. The language of Ephesians 2:12-13 alludes to this as it reads “that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the common wealth of Israel and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (13) But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (NKJV -emphasis mine). Like in the Romans 8 passage from the previous article, the context here is clearly exclusive to believers in Jesus Christ. A. Skevington Wood writes:

“In the first place, they were without, or apart (NIV, ‘separate’) from Christ (choris Christou)… as a consequence, they lived in a world devoid of hope (I Thess. 4:13)…. ‘But now’ stands in sharp antithesis to v. 12. They are no longer ‘separate from Christ’ (v. 12) but ‘in Christ Jesus…’ those who trust in Him possess a present salvation as well as a future hope. ‘Jesus is the ‘meeting point’ with God for all mankind’ (A. Skevington Wood Expositor’s Bible Commentary c. 1978 p. 39 – Emphasis mine)

To Young, nevertheless, this theology of sin separating people from God is false. Therefore, let’s examine very carefully from his own words in how this plays out (below Lies p. 232):

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Be very clear about what the author is saying. In Young’s mind, NO ONE EVER has, nor EVER WILL BE, relationally separated from God because of sin. Aside from his spurious usage of Romans 8 (contextually speaking of believers – which was addressed in this article) the implications here are more than a bit provocative. No one (not Nero, Adolf Hitler, Judas), has EVER BEEN, nor will EVER BE…  separated from the love of God in a relational way. Keep in mind, this is even an affront to the punishment Jesus took for our sins – the penal atonement. Ponder the following passages of scripture and the ensuing comments:

Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (25) whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, (26) to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (NKJV)

2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (NKJV)

Galatians 3:13 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'” (NKJV)

Mark 15:34 “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying ‘Eloi, Eloi, loama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'” (NKJV)

“The orphaned cry of Jesus reflects something of the depth of meaning of Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5:21: ‘God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us.’ Interpretations that suggest that Jesus began to recite Psalm 22 with the intent of reciting the entire psalm, which ends on a note of triumph, but died before getting past v. 2 are desperate attempts to dodge the reality of Jesus’ forsakenness”  (Walter W. Wessel; Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol. 8 c. 1984 p. 782 – highlights mine)

“At the ninth hour, Jesus expressed the agony of His soul when He cried out from the cross, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ (see Ps. 22:1). The darkness symbolized the judgment Jesus experienced when the Father forsook him (Warren Wiersbe Bible Exposition Commentary c. 1989 p. 165)

“This was more than the cry of a righteous Sufferer affirming His faith that God would cause Him to triumph (contrast Psalm 22:1 with Ps. 22:18). Nor did Jesus merely feel abandoned … Breaking the curse of sin and God’s judgment on sin (Deut. 21:22-23; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13) He experienced the unfathomable horror of separation from God, who cannot look on sin (Heb. 1:13). This answers Jesus’ question ‘why?’ Dying for sinners He experienced separation from God (John D. Grassmick The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures By Dallas Theological Seminary – New Testament Edition c. 1983 p. 189 – highlights mine)

For someone reading Mr. Young’s books and listening to his interviews, it shouldn’t be a huge shock he would side with an idea that negates the penal, substitutionary atonement of Jesus for our sins. He regularly dodges this theme as the meaning of the cross event, and when he does refer to the doctrine of Christ’s blood atonement, he does so in a derogatory manner:

“Who originated the cross? If God did, then we worship a cosmic child abuser... And how would we religious people interpret this sacrifice? We would declare that it was God who killed Jesus, slaughtering Him as a necessary appeasement for His bloodthirsty need for justice  (from Lies pp. 149, 150, 151 – emphasis mine)

Beyond this, Young had apparently gone so far as to deny the penal substitution of Christ as long ago as 2009 (see link here). Do go back and read Romans 3:23-26 again if you’re having any doubt about the meaning of Christ’s cross event.

If you’re following along the author’s sequence of logic, many of the aforementioned ideas stem from Young’s designer view of sin itself. In Lies, He does concede to the reality of “sin” and that the Grk word hamartia means “missing the mark” – but he then further explains it this way (below, from Lies p. 229):

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Based on this, Young explains his version of what Jesus has done for us:

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In other words, separation is a mere delusion. If you think sin has separated you from God, you’re deluded. Your true being is like God, and you’ve never been relationally separated – even if you’re not a believer in Christ or you never will be. So, try to get this straight: Jesus, instead of dying to take the penalty of our sin because we were actually separated from God as the result of sin, merely helps us to break through our self-delusions, by witnessing someone who has knowledge of his TRUE self, so we can know our “TRUE selves,” which, as it turns out, looks just like God! (Got it? – Wait, did God really say this? What did God really say? See Gen. 3:1-5 for the earliest version of this plot line). For an actual example of what the Bible says our true selves looks like, let’s take a look at Romans 3:10-19:

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10 As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”[a]
13 Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God (NKJV)

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No wonder our sin separates us from God who “cannot look on wickedness” (Habakkuk 1:13).

No, don’t throw out those old Gospel tracts. No matter what popular “Christian” authors say, sin still separates people from God, and Jesus is still the Savior who paid the wages for sin on the cross, rose again, and offers the free gift of eternal life – to everyone who repents and believes on Him for salvation (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-10; 10:13; Acts 16:31).

Gospel Tract

Gospel Tract 2

 

-E (coming next, as promised: Wm Paul Young and Monism)

 

 

 

 

 

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