Thursday, September 25, 2008


The God of Sex versus Sex God

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

Popular author and pastor Rob Bell's latest book, Sex God, picks up where his previous work, Velvet Elvis, left off, weaving a web of stories and insight around a range of relevant topics. This time, Bell has chosen the dimension of relationships and sexuality. . . .
Bell first begins by establishing the balance between our understanding of sexuality and our understanding of our relationship with God. In his estimation, our sexuality is far more than the simple biological functions that sex-ed courses teach or science relies upon. We are more than animals, he contends, made in the image of God with a divine spark within and our sexuality is an indicator of such. In fact, he states that our sexuality, our urges and desires, when boiled down to their base nature, are truly indicators of that "God-shaped hole" Sartre spoke of.
-- Book review of Sex God by Rob Bell [emphasis added]


At this juncture, I return to the statement made by Emergent pastor Rob Bell: “Sex carries within it the power of Life itself. . . . Something given by the creator of the universe. Something divine.” (Sex God, 197.) Personally, I wonder why he accentuates “Life” with an upper case “L” and “creator” with a lower case “c.” As has already been pointed out, New Age author Neale Donald Walsh repeatedly spells “Life” with an idolatrous capital “L” because in one conversation God told him, “The words ‘Life’ and ‘God’ are interchangeable.”[36] In taking a cue from New Age/New Spirituality now rooted in our host culture, did Bell get the idea of spelling “Life” with a capital “L” from some New Age spiritualist?

Though disclaiming that men and women are, or possess the potential to become, gods, Bell does state that,

[I]n some distinct, intentional way, something of God has been placed in them. We reflect what God is like and who God is. A divine spark resides in every single human being.” (Sex God, 19)

To what does the “divine spark” refer? Does the “spark” refer to the soul-spirit of a person, or to sex?

Because of Adam’s fall into sin, and consequently, because people are born spiritually dead, mysteriously, this spiritual deadness is seminally passed on in procreation. Biblically and theologically, the “spark” therefore cannot refer to every person’s soul-spirit (John 3:3-8; Ephesians 2:1-5; Romans 8:9). To believe that it does evidences a Pelagian or mystical worldview which believes that all persons are not quite spiritually dead, or that something divine lives in every human being. Thus, Bell’s scheme suggests the “divine spark” is sex for as he states, “Sex carries within it the power of Life . . . Something divine.” (Sex God, 197)

Is Bell saying that God placed a divine “sex-spark” in His creatures? Is the “sex-spark” something God created? Or, from His being, did He pass it on to humanity? As with spirituality, is sexuality a divine attribute which partially defines God? In that Bell calls sex “divine,” states that our sexuality reflects “what God is like and who God is,” and modifies God with the attributive adjective “sex” in the title of his book Sex God, he seems to suggest that sexuality helps to define God’s being and that sexuality is something humanity shares in common with Him. Thus he creates a fertile ground for goddess-ism.

I also question whether labeling it “divine” refers to the process of sex, as Bell makes it to, or to the product of sex, males and females reproduced in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27). In the Genesis record, the persons God created are distinct from the process by which they are to propagate (“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth . . .”). Calling sex divine introduces eroticism into the nature of God, which becomes an interesting make-over for God, especially in light of the fact that most theologians believe He is Spirit and therefore asexual (John 4:24). But eroticism is an essential component of the goddess-ism endemic to the ancient Near Eastern religious worldview.

Thus, one must wonder whether Bell’s sex construct elevates or degrades the image of God in man, and whether it affirms or denies the transcendence and separateness of the Creator from His creation. I myself look at it like this: If it degrades God, then it degrades man. I shudder to think of the perversity that might result from thinking that sex and God belong to the same cosmic and monistic whole—as below, so above. In pagan belief, sex is the spark that ignites and perpetuates “Life” with a capital “L,” and taps into the cosmic Energy with a capital “E.” So if it is divine, why not spell “sex” with a capital “S”?


We would do well to remember that when practiced in the commitment of a monogamous and heterosexual marriage, sex is the gift of its Creator to His creatures (Proverbs 5:18). Sex draws committed couples into transpersonal oneness with each other and allows two individuals to better know one another. While in this context sex is good, it is not God, nor even a part Him. As such, we dare not to spell it with a capital “S”!

Will and Ariel Durant, a husband and wife team who were among the greatest historians of all time, state in their book, The Lessons of History:

“[S]ex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group.[37]

One must wonder, with all the discussion going on about sex nowadays in the New Age/New Spiritual culture, and among Christians who take their cue from that “spirituality,” whether such prurient interests don’t indicate something deeper is going on that is devastating true spirituality in the church. Because of the idolatrous state of their hearts, is God giving people over (i.e., reprobating them) “to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves” (Romans 1:24)? Like the culture, is the church now too being consumed by sexual chaos? Are we amidst the process of being given over by God to lusts?

The Truth:

"Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness,..." (Ephesians 4:19a)

36. Walsh, Tomorrow’s God, 69.
37. Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968) 35-36.

Read Part 1 and Part 2.
Pastor Larry DeBruyn is the author of Church on the Rise: Why I am not a Purpose-Driven Pastor. This article used with permission. Pastor DeBruyn will be a speaker at the upcoming Discernment Ministries conference Oct. 10-11, 2008 in Niles, Michigan.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


By Pastor Larry DeBruyn


Some “spiritual” issues regarding sexuality include these: Can sex define who God is and what God does thereby investing it with “spirituality” for humanity? Is sex an attribute or an activity of God in heaven to which human sexual activity on earth corresponds—as above, so below?[22] Is there a mystical connection between human and divine sexuality? Does engaging in sex on earth help people to become more spiritual and linked to God in heaven?

The issue at hand is not whether sex, when exercised within His parameters, is God’s good gift to humanity (1 Timothy 4:3). It is. Rather, the issue concerns whether sex in any way is a sacred-spiritual activity, a part of life in God’s kingdom. In relating sex to spirituality, a number of biblical issues regarding the sacred-sexual should be considered.

First, some may attempt to connect sexuality to God on the basis of Genesis 1:27. The creation narrative reads, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” On the face of it, the connection of dual gendering (i.e., “male and female”) with “the image of God” implies the sexuality of God, that a part of God’s image in man is sexual. However, the inference fails because animals, though they are sexual males and females, do not possess the image of God. Being in God’s image, i.e., the Imago Dei, is exceptional to the human race. Therefore, sexuality cannot define God’s image in man.[23] The dual gendering of humanity no more infers God’s image than does the dual gendering of animals. God’s image is something entirely “other” than sexuality.[24]

Second, those who link sexuality to spirituality find precedent for doing so in the biblical book, Song of Solomon. Like Matthew Fox and Richard Foster, churchwoman Susan McCaslin thinks Solomon’s drama suggests, “. . . that Spirit is more like a lover than a lawgiver or judge and that living in harmony with Spirit is more like falling in love than living up to an external standard of rightness.”[25]

But human sexuality in Song of Solomon does not translate into divine spirituality. The book depicts the ideal, wholesome, and faithful courtship and marriage between two earthly lovers. The Song does not describe a love affair between people and God. The love scenes are earthbound. As such, the Song may be understood “as a series of six major poems . . . put together in a sequence that builds from anticipation (Poems I-II) to consummation (Poem III) to aftermath (Poems IV-VI).”[26] Old Testament scholar David Hubbard suggested that this understanding “shies away from any allegorical handling of the text, since it [the text] contains no clue as to hidden or spiritual meanings . . . .” He concludes that, “the New Testament, which does not quote or refer to it, gives no support to attempts to spiritualize the book.”[28] Those who connect sexuality to spirituality for reason of Song of Solomon do so in spite of the fact that the book does not mention the name of God.[28]

But desperate to find some analogical reason or biblical authority to combine sensuality and spirituality, the New Spiritualists allegorize the Song to describe the sensuality between God and His lovers. Yet since the days of Origen (circa 185-254) the allegorical method of interpretation has led to many wild and fanciful scenarios. Employing Song of Solomon to infer or support the idea of sacred sex is just such a fancy.

As an aside, I appreciate how the concept of “my beloved” might be employed to describe our relationship with Christ (Matthew 25:1-13; Ephesians 5:32), and view this to be a legitimate and metaphorical application of the book. However, it is an application. By interpretively employing Song of Solomon to link the two separate realities of earth and heaven (i.e., as below, so above) compromises, I believe, the distinctiveness and separateness of the two separate spheres (i.e., flesh versus spirit). I don’t think that an application of Song of Solomon should dictate the interpretation of it.

Third, though Scripture indicates sexuality is transpersonal, its trans-personality does not equate to, nor is it analogical with, “spirituality.” Humans do not have sex with God.[29] In fact the Bible teaches that “the flesh” (e.g. ‘immorality, impurity, sensuality’) often “sets its desire against the Spirit” (Galatians 5:17, 19). Lusts oppose spirituality. Nevertheless, the Apostle Paul recognized the transpersonal nature of sex when he wrote: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, ‘the two will become one flesh’” (1 Corinthians 6:15-16). But just because sexuality is transpersonal does not endow it to be trans-spiritual. Soul to soul communication on earth does not translate into soul to Soul communication with heaven, especially so because as Spirit, God is asexual (See John 4:24.). This contrasts to the Near Eastern worldview in which, “the sexual activity of human beings” was believed to be “an earthly reflection of what takes place in the divine realm.”[30] But according to the biblical worldview, not every activity that happens on earth translates to be happening in heaven.

Fourth, laying The Da Vinci Code and the forced inferences from Gnostic writings aside, the Gospels do not portray Jesus to have been married.[31] I can think of some reasons that necessitate the singleness of Christ, and those do not include His being against sex. After all, He created it![32] But against the backdrop of Near Eastern paganism, Jesus’ singleness clearly communicated that spirituality does not involve sexuality. They are not to be confused. Furthermore, Jesus’ singleness bears testimony to God’s asexuality. Jesus’ celibacy sends the message that Christianity is to have no part with goddess-ism. If He had married, Jesus would have opened the door to it.

Yet from Jesus’ singleness we should not deduce that spirituality demands people abstain from marriage. Jesus’ disciples were married. Church leaders are to be loyal husbands (1 Timothy 3:2). While Paul recommended singleness for the sake of giving undivided attention to the ministry (1 Corinthians 7:32-35), he stated elsewhere that celibacy for the sake of spirituality is sourced in demonism. Paul wrote: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits . . . who forbid marriage . . . which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good” (1 Timothy 4:1-5).[33]

Fifth, Jesus stated that regards marriage, heaven and earth are worlds apart. As a safety net for the woman, the levirate law required that a brother provide for his deceased brother’s wife by marrying her (Deuteronomy 25:25). Based upon this law, the Sadducees asked Jesus a hypothetical question about a situation in which the eldest brother’s wife outlived six brothers who had consecutively married her, but predeceased her. As she had been married to six of the seven brothers at one time or another, the widow became a hand-me-down sister-in-law-bride. So the trick question the Sadducees asked was, whose wife would the woman become in the resurrection—brother one, two, three, four, five, or six? Jesus answered that she would be married to none of the brothers, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). My point is this: It’s presumptuous to project that because there’s sexuality on earth there’s sexuality in heaven. Furthermore, it’s dangerous to project sexuality into the spiritual being of divinity, to make the Creator out to be like His creatures. This projection, as the ancient Near Eastern worldview indicates, is the seedbed of idolatry. It is not above like it is below.

Sixth, flesh and blood have no part in God’s kingdom. Paul wrote: “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Corinthians 15:49-50). The application of this “no-flesh-in-heaven” statement to any “sexuality-equals-spirituality” theory is evident. Obviously, even though it’s good (not dirty), and God’s gift in a heterosexual-marital context, sex it is a flesh-and-blood activity unrelated to God’s kingdom. As such, sex is not spiritual.

Seventh, some try to inject sexuality into spirituality for reason of the biblical euphemism “know,” which stands for intercourse (Genesis 4:1, 25). One sex-pert opines that “know” expresses, “how men and women through sexuality can deeply connect, truly ‘know each other,’ in the most holistic, ecstatic and divine way.”[34] Such a convoluted idea about Scripture fails to understand that in sexual intercourse a couple grows to know each other, not God. “And Adam knew Eve his wife . . .” (Emphasis mine, Genesis 4:1). No divine gnosis is communicated via sex. Though sex is mysteriously transpersonal on a human level, it is not mystically translational to heaven. In sex, even married, heterosexual, non-Christian couples without the Spirit grow to “know” each other (See Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 7:14.).

Eighth, though it goes beyond the purpose of this essay to try and develop the nature of generic man—whether he is a trichotomous being (i.e., consisting of a body, soul, and spirit) or a dichotomous being (consisting of a body and soul)—it is necessary to point out that the “two-become-one” concept is valid for all humanity, not just for Christians indwelt by God’s Spirit. It stands to reason that if two unbelievers can become “one,” then marital sex is not “spiritual” because they “have not the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9). Those who are not “born from above” are not submissive citizens of the kingdom of God, and therefore, are not spiritual people (John 3:1-8). The very nature of their spiritual constitution (i.e., being unregenerate) militates against sex being a spiritual experience, for the couple possesses no Spirit to make it spiritual. Nonetheless, their sexual communion is transpersonal, soul to soul. They physically and psychologically become “one” on earth (Mark 10:6-9; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20).

Ninth, the Bible frequently warns against sexual lust. In fact, Jesus equated it with adultery (Matthew 5:28). While the apostle exalts the blessing of marital sex, he also sets forth the potential “spiritual dangers” of it. In defining “lusts” that war against the Spirit, the first he mentions are sexual—“adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness” (KJV); or “immorality, impurity, sensuality” (Galatians 5:19, NASB). In that sex, for reason of human depravity (Mark 7:21-22), can easily degenerate into “lusts,” it’s difficult to see how the activity of it can be considered “sacred” or “spiritual.” Though horizontally, sex can be holy in that a man and a woman have in the exclusivity of their marital relationship separated their sexual activity from all other men and women, this does not thereby make sex a sacred activity in a vertical sense. Just because it’s a certain way on earth does not mean it is that way in heaven.

Tenth, I think that the Bible’s metaphor of God as being masculine better represents His asexuality. By themselves, males cannot reproduce. Therefore, the masculine gender of God affirms His solitariness (i.e., monotheism) and sovereignty (i.e., authority). Infusing sexuality into God deconstructs divine monotheism by imagining a mythological way for gods and goddesses to reproduce (i.e., polytheism). It undermines divine authority by imagining a feminine counterpart equal to Him (i.e., egalitarianism). God’s asexuality also possesses Christological ramifications. It safeguards against the Arian or New Age idea that God’s Son was “birthed” in time (See John 1:1.). God’s solitary masculinity dismisses any thought that a first “christ” (i.e., Jesus) resulted from the conjugation of primal “father and mother” gods, thereby becoming the first-born of all spirit beings, i.e., the only difference between Him and us being that He was birthed before us. The myth of the Christ spirit’s primogeniture is believed by many New Age spiritualists and cults, and the idea of sacral sex is essential to perpetuate this myth.

Eleventh and last, I must wonder at how the idea of sex spirituality might influence understanding of the biblical teaching regarding Jesus’ Virgin Birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). If sex is a spiritual activity, why did God alter the way that Jesus entered the world? Evidently, it was to protect Him from the way humanity passes on depravity through sexuality.[35] As David stated, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5, NIV; Compare Romans 5:12-19.). But assuming that the process of sex is a sacredly spiritual activity, then why would Jesus’ Virgin Birth have been necessary? Sex after all, is divine, isn’t it?

I conclude that because of God’s judgment upon sin and the intergenerational passing of the sin nature via the human begetting of life, that there must be sense in which the transcendent and holy God is distanced from the process of life. While sex is a physical, psychological and transpersonal union of two separate bodies and souls, it is not a spiritual activity. Sex does not connect earth to heaven and the human to the divine. It is not above as it is below.

Stay tuned for Part 3 . . . . .

The Truth:

"Against whom do ye sport yourselves? . . . Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree. . . ." (Isaiah 57: 4a, 5a)

22. The phrase, “as above, so below,” assigns unity (monism) and divinity (pantheism) to “everything” that exists. In his Bible paraphrase The Message, Eugene Peterson uses the phrase in Matthew 6:10. See “Decoding ‘The Message’” by Pastor Larry DeBruyn (
23. In Genesis 5:1-3 and 9:6, as well as 1:27, the Hebrew name for man (i.e., adam) “refers to every human being, male or female, not a duality of male or female. Clearly the image of God refers to the structure of the individual, and his or her capacity for companionship with a female or male respectively is an entailment.” See Bruce K. Waltke with Cathi J. Fredricks, Genesis, A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001) 66, footnote #50.
24. In a monistic worldview sexuality is part of the divine, for “God is all.”
25. Todd, “Sex brings Christians closer to god.”
26. David A. Hubbard, “Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon,” The Communicator’s Commentary, Lloyd J. Ogilvie, General Editor (Dallas: Word Books. Publisher, 1991) 257-258. Examples of allegory are extant in the New Testament (See Galatians 4:24; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 10:1-11; etc.).
27. Ibid.
28. Paul R. House, Old Testament Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998) 463. Because Esther or Song of Solomon “do not explicitly quote or mention the name of the Lord at all presents certain challenges to Old Testament theologians,” writes House. Such silence also becomes an obstacle for those who try to connect sensuality to God.
29. Sacred prostitution, like that practiced among the Canaanites and adopted in ancient Israel, believes the opposite. Through the mediation of sacred prostitutes, such paganism believes that “the devoted” are having sex with gods and goddesses.
30. “SEX,” Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III, General Editors (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998) 776.
31. Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code (New York: Doubleday, 2003). Professor Teabing says to Sophie, “No, no . . . As I said earlier, the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is part of the historical record. . . . Moreover, Jesus as a married man makes infinitely more sense than our standard biblical view of Jesus as a bachelor.” (245) In their book Cracking Da Vinci’s Code, You’ve Read the Fiction, Now Read the Facts (Colorado Springs: Cook Communications Ministries, 2004), James L. Garlow and Peter Jones remark about Jesus’ possible marriage to Mary Magdalene: “There is no credible historical record that Jesus was married. None.” (117)
32. Colossians 1:16.
33. On this point, we should note that some evangelical teachers counsel sexual abstinence in marriage for the sake of spiritual development. In this regard, we should note the advice of Paul: “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency” (1 Corinthians 7:5, KJV). As “forbidding in marriage” is a doctrine of demons, so also sexual fasting provides Satan a special occasion for temptation. As such, sexual abstinence in marriage could lead to spiritual disaster.
34. Quoted in Todd, “Sex brings Christians closer to god.”
35. This writer holds that traducianism accounts for how the soul, the immaterial part of a person’s being, passes on from parent to child. Our sinful nature extends to us from Adam through our parents, a spiritual “heirloom.” After Adam’s fall and as judgment for sin, God infused a sinful-death disposition into Adam. In that there is no placental exchange of blood between fetus and mother, this sinful death-disposition seems to come to us via the blood contained in the male sperm of our fathers. As our soul is transmitted to us, so also is our sinful nature (Romans 5:12, 15-19). Though the blood initially gives life, the death sentence in it eventually takes it. Therefore, in Jesus’ Virgin Birth, while His flesh was inherited from Mary, the precious blood of His life came via the Spirit’s impregnation of Mary’s womb. As such Jesus was the sinless Lamb of God who willingly died for our sins (Hebrews 9:12-14). While His precious blood was created, ours, with its inherent disposition to sin and death, is inherited from Adam through our fathers (Psalm 51:5). See M.R. DeHaan, M.D., The Chemistry of the Blood (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1943) 30-37.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Part 1: The God of Sex versus Sex God [1]

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

Believing in the wholeness and sacredness of matter and energy (i.e., monism/pantheism, the theory that God is all, and all is God), New Age/New Spirituality views that sexuality complements spirituality. Sexual people are spiritual people, and sexual experiences are spiritual experiences. Sex facilitates persons getting in touch with the mystical dynamic and rhythm of life. Being one of the most vibrant experiences life offers, it is not therefore surprising that the new religionists should incorporate sex into their spirituality. As one author puts it, “Sexual ecstasy can transport us into union with the sacred Other, whether soul, God, human beloved, or nature. Uninhibited sexual opening powerfully alters consciousness . . .”[2] In a similar vein, the stunning statement of a radical Anglican priest has been noted: “Sex is the spirituality that reveals the sacramental richness of matter.”[3]

Having introduced ourselves to the thinking of the New Age/New Spiritualists, we proceed to set forth their theory that sexuality-equals-spirituality, after which, we will see how this theory seems to be influencing avant-garde evangelical authors, teachers, and leaders, and then submit sex-spirituality to the scrutiny of Holy Scripture.


Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, the defrocked Dominican priest excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), is a proponent of Creation Spirituality. Creation Spirituality claims to be a cure for the ecological crisis the world finds itself in, a crisis the capitalist and Christian West created by separating nature from technology and science. To stop the wanton exploitation of nature by the Christian West, to stop the hemorrhaging of earth’s resources, a spiritual awakening is needed. The old Christian worldview, because it is responsible for getting us into the trouble we find ourselves in, needs to be jettisoned and a new “framing story” embraced.[4] To save the earth, consciousness needs to change. Instead of viewing earth as a machine, humanity, especially the Christian West, must turnabout and embrace the sacredness of Creation. To this end, it is believed that something like Native American spirituality must be accepted.

So Matthew Fox tenders a hypothesis that the Christ and cosmos are co-extensive. Together, they form a cosmic Christ.[5] In his spirituality, Fox advocates a mystical mixing of liturgical Christianity with the religious beliefs and spiritual rites of Native Americanism (i.e., smoking the sacred pipe, visiting the sweat lodge, dancing in circles to the steady beat of drums, etc.). In his panentheistic understanding of Christ and nature, Fox does not hesitate to relate sexuality to the spirituality of creation. He writes: “[T]he Cosmic Christ is encountered in human love and sexuality. Sexuality is revealed in a living cosmology as still one other theophany, one other transfiguration experience.”[6] Again, after extensively treating the presentation of human sexuality in the biblical book Song of Solomon, Fox writes that, “Play lies at the essence of all sexuality re-visioned in light of a Cosmic Christ paradigm.”[7] To Fox’s way of thinking, as well as other New Age/New Spiritualists, sexuality enhances one’s relationship to the spirituality of a self-creating cosmos. Hence, Fox can speak of a Christ who is present in, with, and around sex; that is, because of its value in first, enjoying life (thus endorsing homosexuality, and seemingly any other pleasurable sexual experience),[8] and second, in propagating the life of an ever-evolving human species. Seemingly, this is one way in which sexuality plays into the spirituality of the New Age/New Spiritualists.

Eckhart Tolle (who came to fame by appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show) suggests that one hindrance for people consciously feeling at one with nature is their fear of, and consequent failure to become friends with, their “animal nature.” He writes:

Adam and Eve saw they were naked, and they became afraid. . . . Shame and taboos appeared around certain parts of the body and bodily functions, especially sexuality. The light of their consciousness was not yet strong enough to make friends with their animal nature, to allow it to be and even enjoy that aspect of themselves—let alone to go deeply into it to find the divine hidden within it . . . [9]

New Age author Neale Donald Walsch claims God talks to him. He has stenographed his conversations with his god in a series of books named, Conversations with God. In one conversation, god told Walsch not to condemn that “which you call the lower, basic, animal instincts of man.” Then Walsch records deity to have explained to him,

It is why I have said, play, play, play with sex—and with all of life.

Mix what you call the sacred with the sacrilegious, for until you see your altars as the ultimate place for worship, you see nothing at all.

You think “sex” is separate from God? I tell you this: I am in your bedroom every night!

So go ahead! Mix what you call the profane and the profound—so that you can see that there is no difference, and experience All as One. Then when you continue to evolve, you will not see yourself as letting go of sex, but simply enjoying it at a higher level. For all of life is S.E.X.—Synergistic Energy eXchange.

Such a view of sex makes God out to be a sort of cosmic “peeping Tom”! I make this crude analogy simply to ask, how far are we willing to reduce God’s holiness to crassness, God’s transcendence to immanence?

In that like a harlot the church ever desires to play with and posture toward the host culture, the question emerges, is sexual spirituality—like that of Fox, Walsch, Tolle, and other “New Lights”—influencing the church?[11] It appears to be subtly gnawing its way into the evangelical church and, in some instances, being openly promoted.


Though he makes legitimate observations and provides some helpful counsel in his book Sex God, like a New Age teacher emergent pastor Rob Bell connects sexuality to spirituality. He writes: “Sex carries within it the power of Life itself. . . . Something given by the creator of the universe. Something divine.”[12] We should note how like Neale Donald Walsch, Bell spells “Life” with a capital “L” and “creator with lower case “c,”[13] and how like Eckhart Tolle, Bell views sex as “divine.”[14]

A Canadian newspaper recently reported the view of one evangelical psychologist-professor summarizing it to be that, “the relationship between humans and spirituality is essentially erotic -- some Christians even have peak religious experiences while being sexual.”[15] The article further states that Dr.-Professor MacKnee. “believes humans’ relationship with God is essentially erotic.”[16] Like other psychologists and philosophers, “MacKnee calls God ‘Divine Eros’.”[17]

In The United Church Observer, the in-house magazine of Canada’s largest protestant denomination, Rev. Trisha Elliott, stated: “If our ability to love makes us most like God, then it stands to reason that when we make love we might be in our most holy state. Should we break out the linens, candles, incense, flowers and wine? O God, yes! Great sex is not only possible – it’s divine.”[18]

Similarly, in his latest book, Life with God, well-known contemplative author Richard Foster states: “[T]he luscious imagery of Song of Solomon has forever linked the spiritual and the erotic with exquisite unity.”[19]

Thus we can see that the theory of sexual spirituality is asserting itself through church persons, both liberal and evangelical. The emphasis is not new. The Internet user can observe the sculpture, Ecstasy of St. Theresa by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) displayed at the Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittora in Rome.[20] By means of iconic visualization, the statue compares a mystical orgasm of soul to sexuality. The reporter for The Vancouver Sun writes that, “The Ecstasy of St. Teresa sculpture was inspired by the writing of 16th-century mystic St. Teresa of Avila when she described her vision of an angel who pierced her heart with an arrow ‘to leave me all on fire with a great love of God’.”[21] The sculpture visualizes that mystical moment when the marriage of one’s soul to God is consummated. In seeking God, monks and sisters covet such an ecstatic experience because they feel their being has been fused into God’s. Their soul to Soul union (i.e., theosis) takes place absent mediation by Christ or His Spirit (See Romans 8:9.).

To be continued. . . .

The Truth:
"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." (Romans 8:9)


1. Two titles of recently published evangelical books are juxtaposed to each other; The God of Sex, How Spirituality Defines Your Sexuality written by Dr. Peter Jones (Colorado Springs: Cook Communication Ministries, 2006), and Sex God, Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality written by Rob Bell (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007). In the latter title, as an attributive adjective, sex, adds definition to God. The first title stresses God as the source of sex, as the creator. Bell seems to make sex a part of God while Jones separates God from it. The later is the position held by this pastor. For the joyful purpose of propagating the human species, God created sex ex nihilo (i.e., out of nothing). He is the God of sex. However, it is improper to speak of the sex of God! Sex is not an extension of God. Other than the metaphorical reckoning of God to be masculine—theologians hold that, in His transcendent being, God is asexual—nowhere does the Bible speak of the sex of God. This may surprise many modern Christians who, like modern culture, are increasingly obsessed with sex.
Nevertheless, in His holiness, and because the transcendent God has not, does not, and will not propagate Himself (i.e., polytheism), He, though being provident over and knowledgeable of His creatures, must remain separate from the process by which the planet is populated (contra process theology). As it is below, so it is not above. Failure to keep this distinction leads to idolatry. If God is to be considered holy, what’s happening below must remain separated from what’s happening above. Yet with their monistic world view (i.e., all is one, all is god), and as will be documented in this paper, New Age/New Spiritualists are combining the below with the above. And in their attempt to mimic, to be “with-it,” Christian ideologists are attempting to combine sex (what happens on earth) with spirituality (what’s happening in heaven). We would do well to keep in mind that God is Being (Exodus 3:14), not becoming.
2. Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (Novato, California: New World Library, 2003) 284.
3. Jones, God of Sex, 47, citing Charles Pickstone, The Divinity of Sex.
4. After pointing out three crises our world finds itself in—depletion of planetary resources, disparity between rich and poor, and danger of cataclysmic war—Brian D. McLaren traces their cause to a “spirituality crisis”; which is, “The failure of the world’s religions, especially its two largest religions, to provide a framing story capable of healing or reducing the three previous crises.” See Everything Must Change, Jesus Global Crisis, and a Revolution of Hope (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007) 5. With his dismissal of the collective sinfulness of humanity and fallen-ness of creation as sufficient causes for these crises, the Christian religion, especially that of a fundamentalist of traditional-evangelical variety, becomes McLaren’s scapegoat. But McLaren’s “new framing story” will not stop hurricanes and earthquakes (Romans 8:22), or oppression and terrorism (Ecclesiastes 4:1). Though perhaps to a lesser degree, McLaren’s “new framing story” is as visionary of social, economic, and political perfection as Sir Thomas More’s Utopia. It is difficult to see the picture when you’re inside the frame. Even though McLaren calls his framing story “eu-topian” (297), utopia is a perennial heresy. See Thomas Molnar, Utopia, the Perennial Heresy (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967.). Personally, I prefer the hope inspired by the Apostle Peter who wrote: “[A]ccording to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).
5. Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988); See also author’s Creation Spirituality (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991).
6. Fox, Cosmic Christ, 169.
7. Ibid. 171.
8. One must wonder at how the new sexual-spirituality addresses the issue of when one person’s ecstasy is another’s agony (e.g., pedophilia and child prostitution), when one person’s pleasure might cause another’s pain.
9. Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now (Novato, California: New World Library, 1999) 113-114.
10. Neale Donald Walsh, Conversations with God, an uncommon dialog, book 3 (Charlottesville, Virginia: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc., 1998) 56. I am grateful to Peter Jones for drawing attention to this quote. See Jones, God of Sex, 48.
11. Leonard I. Sweet uses the term “New Lights.” In Quantum Spirituality he links to the writings of Matthew Fox; first in his chapter “PATHOS,” Footnote #67, page 324, and then again in his chapter “THIRD TESTAMENT,” Footnote #c, page 340. Calling, “Light . . . the metaphor for the great mystery of consciousness,” New Lights are those persons who take on a “‘new minded’ approach to the planetary crisis,” those creative individuals who seek a new spirituality to avert a planetary meltdown. See Quantum Spirituality, A Postmodern Apologetic (Dayton, Ohio: Whaleprints, 1991) 43-44. Though ‘light” is a grand biblical metaphor describing God (1 John 1:5), Jesus (John 8:12), the Word (Psalm 119:130), Creation (Genesis 1:3), and much more, we must note that Paul states, “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
12. Bell, Sex God, 197.
13. Neale Donald Walsh, Tomorrow’s God, Our Greatest Spiritual Challenge (New York: Atria Books, 2004) 69.
14. Tolle, Power of Now, 114.
15. Douglas Todd, “Sex brings Christians closer to god,” The Vancouver Sun, July 26, 2008 ( Todd cites the view of psychologist Chuck MacKnee, who teaches at Trinity Western University in Vancouver, British Columbia.
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid.
18. Ibid. Todd quotes Rev. Trisha Elliott and The United Church Observer.
19. Richard Foster, Life with God (New York: Harper Collins, 2008) 113.
20. (
21. Todd, “Sex brings Christians closer to god.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

IHOP & The Latter Rain

"Earlier this year the International House of Prayer (IHOP) sponsored a conference in Kansas City entitled Passion for Jesus that was heavily promoted toward young people. The purpose of the conference was to "cultivate intimacy with Jesus." In the conference's second session, IHOP president and director Mike Bickle preached a message based on an allegorical interpretation of a Matthew 25 parable in which he explained his end times theology and "revelation of the bridal paradigm." Bickle claims that Jesus cannot return until something drastically changes in the church: "He is not coming any day. He is not coming until the people of God globally are crying out in intercession with a bridal identity under the anointing of the Spirit." If you do not understand what he means by that it is likely because you have read the Bible literally and have never found anything regarding a special anointing that imparts a revelation of a "bridal identity." In fact, much of Bickle's terminology will be strange and foreign to most Christians.

In this article I will show that Bickle's movement is based on allegorized scripture, deeper life pietism, and mysticism, representing a slightly modified version of the heretical Latter Rain movement of the 1940s. Bickle claims that he began his ministry through the hearing of an audible voice of God in 1983 that told him to start 24-hour prayer in the spirit of the tabernacle of David. He further claims that he erected a sign to that effect and that he himself did not even know what prayer in the spirit of the tabernacle of David was, despite that God had told him to establish it. It turns out that it is "prophetic singing prayers." Once they figured out what it was, IHOP was born.

The most requested article topic in the past year from Herescope readers has been an in-depth article on the subject of Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer (IHOP) movement. We received numerous requests especially after our May 1st post on "Mike Bickle's Gigolo Jesus" and our July 17th post "God's Dream?" which examined Bickle's involvement in TheCall and related groups with a clear intent on creating a youth movement Joel's Army.

The opening two paragraphs above are from a new article by Pastor Bob DeWaay, posted HERE, which details the controversial doctrines of Kansas City "prophet" Mike Bickle and his involvement in the IHOP movement. DeWaay pays particular attention to the theological details of the Latter Rain theology, refuting it scripturally. He does not delve into the historical interconnections and associations between Bickle and the Latter Rain. However, he refers the reader to an earlier article he wrote on "The Roots and Fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation" which includes some fascinating history. We can also refer Herescope readers to Jewel Grewe's booklet Joel's Army, now posted online, which chronicles Bickle's early involvement in what is now termed the "New Apostolic Reformation."

Pastor Bob DeWaay, who is the noted author of Redefining Christianity - Understanding the Purpose Driven Movement, insightfully comments in his IHOP article that:

The elite-minded leaders at IHOP are selling a bill of goods. They have bought the lie that by imagining "passion for Jesus" along the lines of sensual intimacy that they have ascended into an elite class that will make them like Moses and they will be able to call down the plagues on the world. They have pumped themselves up into imagining that the Great Tribulation will be the stage where they show off their exemplary spiritual powers and prowess.

It gets truly scary when they call for Christians to send their teenagers to Kansas City to get this same "passion." This is actually happening, so be warned. These young people are being inducted into a reworked version of the elitist Latter Rain heresy. If children believe Mike Bickle they will return home convinced that their parents' faith is totally inadequate. They will think that way because Bickle's doctrine is an attack against grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, Scripture alone, and to the glory of God alone. They will have been taught to add "the revelation of the bridegroom God" which amounts to thinking of Jesus as a sensual lover in order to avoid being one of the foolish virgins whom the Lord says He does not know. The foolish "virgins" are supposedly anyone who does not believe Bickle's false teaching.

The Truth:

"...even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." (2 Peter 15b-16)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Adultery & Idolatry

Why the 3-part series on The Shack is such a serious matter:

“For she said, I will go after my lovers,
that give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax,
mine oil and my drink.”

(Hosea 2:5b)

Those who are guilty of whoredom usually grow extremely willful. “She said, I WILL go.” As if she had said, Let all the prophets say what they can, let them talk out their very hearts, I will have my mind, I will follow my lovers still.

Of those who commit this sin bodily, it is said, Prov. 2:19, “None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.” It is a most dreadful Scripture against all adulterers and unclean persons: make it out how you will, there is “none that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.” These are the words of the Holy Ghost: I leave the words with you.

So Prov. 23:27, “A whore is a deep ditch, and a strange woman is a narrow pit;” they cannot easily get out, nor will they easily get out, they are so plunged in. “Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin,” 2 Pet. 2:14. Why cannot they cease to sin? It is not because they have a heart but no power, but their wills are brought into that bondage and subjection that they cannot will otherwise; therefore in Ezek. 47:11, we find that though the waters of the sanctuary were very healing, yet the miry places and the marshes were not healed: miry, filthy, unclean hearts are very seldom healed by the waters of the sanctuary.

AElian reports, that there was a harlot who boasted she could easily get scholars away from Socrates, but Socrates could get no scholars from her, none of her followers. It is true that a harlot is prevalent, and when she has once overcome, it is almost impossible to get away from her. Therefore Heb. 6:6, which speaks of that sin from which it is impossible to be renewed again to repentance, is interpreted by Tertullian to be no other than the sin of uncleanness. The author of this Epistle (saith he) knew no promise of second repentance to the adulterer and fornicator; showing how ordinarily those that are guilty of that sin, and are given up to it, grow willful in it. And therefore in Eph. 4:19, these two are put together,
“being past feeling,” and “having given themselves over unto lasciviousness.” Wantons usually grow past feeling.

And for spiritual adultery, that usually is very willful too, for those who are left by God to superstition and idolatry, seldom return again, but grow exceeding willful in that wickedness. You have a notable text for that, Jer. 44:16,17; the people say there, “As for the word thou has spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee; but we will do whatsoever cometh out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven.” We will go on to burn incense to the queen of heaven, talk as long as you will. And so Jer. 2:10-12, “Pass over,” saith God, “the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods?”

Men are settled in the ways of idolatry, and will never give over worshipping their gods: “but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit:” therefore, “be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord.” So Micah 4:5, “All people will walk every one in the name of his god.” Their hearts are set upon it, they WILL do it.

Spiritual whoredom mightily besots the heart. Isa. 44:19,20, “None considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge and understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it; and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? Shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? ...Is there not a lie in my right hand?" And so Rev. 16:11, where those who were given up to Antichrist, though they were tormented they “blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and their sores, and they repented not of their deeds."...

Willfulness in any sin, but especially in this sin, is a very great aggravation of it. “I will have no mercy upon thee,” I will give them up; why? They have done shamefully, and they have said, “I will go after my lovers.” There are many who, in their passion, think it a brave spirit to say, I will, and I will, and I care not, say what you can, or whatever becomes of it, I will do, or I will have this.…

There is nothing wherein God pours out His wrath upon the children of men in this world, more than in giving them up to their will. Therefore, tremble when thou usest so many expressions, I will, and I will do this. Observe what the Scripture saith of those who had their will in ways of false worship; “Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if you will not hearken unto me,” Ezek 20:39. Go, saith God, you will not hearken to Me; you hear out of the word what should be the way of my worship in its purity, but you say, I love novelty, and you will not have it thus; you answer not God’s arguments, but you cast off His worship, and say you will not hear Me, if you are set your will, to and serve your idols, and take your fill of your own ways.

Psalm 81:11,
“My people would not hearken to My voice, and Israel would none of Me;” they were all upon their will, they would not and they would not. Mark what follows; “so I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lusts, and they walked in their own counsels.” You will have your own counsels, and your own will, and so God gives you up to them; and then woe to you, you are undone!...

If you will be resolute in any thing, my brethren, be resolute in that which is good; be resolute in the work of repentance, with David, Psalm 32:5, “I will confess my transgressions.” Indeed, I had many thoughts, to come and shame myself, and open all unto God, but I could not get it off; at length I grew resolute and said, I will, and I have sworn to keep thy righteous precepts: and as they, sworn to keep thy righteous precepts: and as they, Micah 4:5, “We will walk in the name of the Lord our God:” and as Joshua, I and my house will serve the Lord. This is a blessed willfulness indeed. Oh that the stoutness and willfulness of many people might be turned to this resolution for God and for His truth!

The Truth:

"Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness." (Proverbs 30:20)

The above quotation excerpted from Jeremiah Burroughs, An Exposition of the Prophecy of Hosea (Reformation Heritage Books, 2006), pp. 81-82. This is a 700-page, circa 1600s commentary on the book of Hosea. Some. but not all, spellings were altered to fit modern usage, and reformatting and links were done for blog usage. This quotation concludes the 3-part Herescope series on "The Consequence of Role-Reversals in The Shack" by Pastor Larry DeBruyn here, here and here, including his earlier review here. See also Warren Smith's article "THE SHACK & Its New Age Leaven."

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Part 3: The Consequence of Role-Reversals
in The Shack

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

...[W]ith 3.8 million copies of his Christian novel "The Shack" in print, Young is being hailed as a theological innovator, his book the "Pilgrim's Progress" of the 21st century....

In "The Shack," a man named Mack, grieving over the murder of his daughter, is called by God to the scene of the crime. There he meets—there is no delicate way of putting this—the Trinity. The Father is an African-American woman named Papa who likes to cook. Jesus is a Jewish man wearing a carpenter's belt. The Holy Spirit is an elusive Asian woman named Sarayu. Together, over a long weekend, these characters force Mack to face his anger and his emptiness. Mack eats delicious feasts; with Jesus, he takes a walk on the water. Finally, God convinces Mack of his deep and everlasting love. "I don't create institutions," says Jesus in "The Shack." "Never have, never will."
--"A Close Encounter With God." Lisa Miller, Newsweek, 8/30/08

Solomon’s personal involvement with and public initiation of idolatry at the end of his reign influenced the spirituality of Israel and Judah for generations to come. The common biblical description of Israel playing the harlot with the pagan (i.e., earthly) idol-gods of the surrounding nations is, I believe, more than a metaphor.[29]

As religion, the feminine goddess Asherah (or, Ashtoreth) was fully a part of Baal worship, she being the female consort of Baal.[30] This male-female divinity (i.e., Baal-Asherah) typifies the pagan idolatry where, as one study Bible notes, the “deities symbolized generative power, [and] their worship involved prostitution.”[31]

As ritual, the intent behind religious prostitution was perhaps threefold: one, that worshippers could derive pleasure as they indulged their selfish lusts; two, that by engaging in the primal act by which the continuum of life is perpetuated, they could, in acts of imitative magic, somehow stimulate “the womb of mother earth” to open thereby increasing the fertility of their flocks and crops; and three, that they could, for reason of ecstasy derived from the sexual liaison with a body representing a god or goddess, experience their personality, however fleetingly, become mystically fused with the divine.[32] Thus, ritual prostitution involving males and females became a common occurrence at the many high places constructed “before Jerusalem” and throughout the nation (Jeremiah 3:6).[33] At this juncture of the discussion, we should note a call from some that, in advocating New Age/New Spirituality, “We must allow ourselves whatever time it takes to reestablish the consciousness of the Sacred Prostitute.”[34]

In spite of the outward repression of idolatry by reforms like those initiated by the youthful King Josiah (circa 622 B.C., 2 Chronicles 34:1-7), it has been noted that the idolatrous cancer “was deep and flourished quickly again after a shallow revival.”[35] Not even the Babylonian Captivity would cure the nation of its fascination for and playing harlot with the imagined gods and goddesses of the surrounding nations. In fact, the solution to this spiritual pollution awaits the coming of the One who will cure Israel and the world of spiritual harlotry forever (Zechariah 12:10; 13:2; See Micah 4:1-2.).

Obviously, when the image of God is changed into gods and goddesses (Romans 1:23), when poly-gendering generates polytheism, when the sacred/sexual on earth is believed to mimic the sacred-sexual in heaven (as above, so below), when sacred prostitutes become representative incarnations of the gods and goddesses, and when sex becomes a sacrament linking the human to the divine, the dynamic of “relationship” with God changes.[36] Sensuality controls the spirituality, and the divine mystery is reduced vulgar lust (See Leviticus 18:1-19:4; 1 Peter 1:15).

Solomon’s introduction of an idolatry that included the feminine-divine changed the human perception of the relationship of the gods with each other, the people with those gods, and the people with people. As the apostle wrote, God “gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves” (Romans 1:24). With the projection of femaleness into god (Asherah, being Baal’s consort), in theory it became possible for gods to reproduce gods. Like rats, the gods multiplied (i.e., polytheism).[37] As the gods proliferated and Israel created their likenesses on earth, idols flooded the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The prophet described the apostasy:

Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines . . . Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not (Isaiah 2:6, 8-9, KJV; Compare Jeremiah 2:13, 20; 3:1-10, 13.).

For reason of being influenced by the spiritualities of the East, in which spiritual adultery was exhibited in the people’s sacramental liaisons with male and female prostitutes representing the gods and goddesses, Israel’s relationship with her faithful HUSBAND “hit the rocks!”


Idolism negatively impacted “relationship” among Jehovah’s ancient people in two basic ways—first and vertically, their relationship to the Lord was changed, and second and horizontally, their relationships to each other were affected. Idolatry impacted both the religious life and social stability of the nation.

For reason of playing the harlot with foreign gods and goddesses [As exhibited in the Ten Commandments, they lived in denial of Yahweh’s hierarchical authority over them, ed.], the Lord divorced Himself from the Northern Kingdom of Israel (i.e., the Assyrian invasion and captivity in 722 B.C., Jeremiah 3:6-11). He scattered the nation throughout the ancient world.[38] Like her northern sister, Judah’s pursuit of “relationships” with other pagan gods and goddesses also necessitated her eviction from the land. The Babylonians carried her into captivity circa 586 B.C. The primal cause for evicting both Israel and Judah from the Promised Land was that both sister-kingdoms played the harlot with foreign gods. Openly and unashamedly, they committed adultery with sacred prostitutes of both sexes before their HUSBAND-JEHOVAH. They understood neither the hierarchy of, the authority within, nor fidelity required in their relationship to the Lord (Exodus 20:3). God is not open to an “open marriage” with His people!

But as the spiritual relationship between Israel, Judah, and the Lord broke down, relationships within the social structure of the ancient kingdoms were impacted. Through Isaiah the prophet, the Lord described the state of affairs: “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isaiah 3:12, KJV). Hypothetically, Israel and Judah were two kingdoms under Jehovah. But in their idolism, the two sister-nations denied God’s authority by creating their own gods and goddesses as concurrently, they broke God’s Law. As a result, the stability of their social structure, as Isaiah communicated, lay in shambles.

The Shack’s thesis—that the Trinity exists in “a circle of relationship,” and that “hierarchy . . . is your [humanity’s] problem, not ours”—is not only biblically errant [Any concordance check of the word “authority” in the Bible will bear this out, ed.], but also spiritually and socially utopian. Any breach in the concept of God’s ultimate authority can lead to spiritual anarchy and social chaos among God’s people. If God, in the governance of family and church, doesn’t rule, and consequently and correspondingly neither do the men, then the women and children will. Thus, to the Corinthians Paul wrote, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3, NASB). There can be no relationship where there is no responsibility, and there can be no accountability where there is no economy of authority. In fact, one great evidence of the Holy Spirit’s filling ministry among believers is SUBMISSION (Ephesians 5:21). Without faithful self-denial and submission, both relationship and fellowship suffer as imperfect people live on this imperfect earth.


Some years ago, a rock singer asked, “What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us . . . If God had a face what would it look like?”[39] Thanks to the verbal painting of God in The Shack, some may think they now know what God is like.

As we pointed out, The Shack is big on “relationship(s).” Apparently, to enhance the “relationship” idea for his readers, William Young felt it necessary to inject femininity into the Trinity, a femininity that Scripture neither literally nor metaphorically endorses.[40] But if the femininity of the Trinity becomes ingrained in the collective consciousness of a large number professing Christians, the essential goddess-ism it contains may lead devout souls into versions of spirituality utterly opposed by God and His Word. We must remember verbal paintings can become just as iconic as images carved from wood or smelted from precious metals. Christians should together remember that because, “we are absent from the Lord . . . we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:6b-7).

In our relationship with God, He initiates and we respond in faith. So the question arises, are books like The Shack needed to enhance, even initiate, the feeling “relationship” with God? The answer is, if we have found our spiritual completeness in Christ through faith, they are not (See Colossians 2:10.). The sovereign God will reveal His presence in us as we existentially walk day-to-day trusting Him, obeying Him, praying to Him, witnessing to others, and fellowshipping with believers.[41] By grace through faith, we receive the blessings God gives to us as we become enraptured by His presence with and in us.

We find the experience of faith in the Savior, the Spirit, and the Scriptures. Through Jesus we experience
  • contentment in God. He said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, satisfaction he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35, NASB). In the Spirit we experience
  • companionship with God. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16; Compare 2 Corinthians 13:14.). From the Scriptures we experience
  • confidence before God. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence which we have before Him” (1 John 5:13-14). By resting in Christ we experience
  • comfort from God, for He has promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5, KJV). Such—and much more—is the experiential fruit of our relationship with God, fruits that then extend His blessing to those around us.

Sometime during first part of the 1800s, Catesby Paget wrote a hymn, “A Mind at Peace with God.” The song contained these words describing the closeness to God that is ours through faith in Jesus Christ:

Near, so very near to God,
I could not nearer be;
For in the Person of God’s Son
I am as near as He.

Dear, so very dear to God,
Dearer I could not be;
The love with which He loves His Son,
That is His love to me.

Now, that’s relationship![42] And it’s the relationship of a BRIDE promised to Jesus who is “the true God and eternal life.” And because of the exclusivity of this relationship, John orders,

“Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:20-21).


29. I think that the Bible’s picturing of God as being masculine better represents His asexuality. After all, by themselves males do not have babies. The masculine gender therefore, affirms God’s solitariness (i.e., monotheism) and sovereignty (i.e., authority). Infusing femininity into God deconstructs monotheism by creating a mythological way for gods and goddesses to reproduce (i.e., polytheism). The asexuality of God also possesses Christological implications. It safeguards against the Arian or New Age idea that God’s Son was “birthed” in time (See John 1:1.). God’s solitary masculinity also dismisses any thought that the first “christ” resulted from the conjugation of primal “father and mother” gods, thereby becoming the first-born of all human spirits. Such a myth of primogeniture is believed by many New Age spiritualists and cults.

At this point, I draw attention to a statement by emergent pastor Bob Bell. He writes: “Sex carries within it the power of Life itself. . . . Something given by the creator of the universe. Something divine.” See Rob Bell, Sex God, Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007) 197. Personally, I wonder why Bell accentuates “Life” with an upper case “L” and “creator” with a lower case “c.” It was drawn to my attention that in his book, Tomorrow’s God, Our Greatest Spiritual Challenge, Neale Donald Walsh repeatedly spells “Life” with an idolatrous capital “L” because in one conversation God told him, “The words ‘Life’ and ‘God’ are interchangeable.” (New York: Atria Books, 2004, 69).

I also question whether being “divine” refers to the process of sex, as Bell makes it to, or to the product of sex, males and females reproduced in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27). Clearly, in the Genesis account, the persons God created are distinct from the process by which they are to propagate (“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth . . .”). Calling sex divine introduces eroticism into the nature of God, which becomes an interesting make-over for God, especially in light of the fact that most theologians believe He is Spirit and therefore asexual. But eroticism is an essential component of goddess-ism.

Though disclaiming that men and women are, or possess the potential to become, gods, Bell states that, “in some distinct, intentional way, something of God has been placed in them. We reflect what God is like and who God is. A divine spark resides in every single human being.” (Sex God, 19) To what does the “divine spark” refer? Does the implanted “spark” refer to the soul-spirit of a person, or to sex? In that people are either spiritually dead or alive, the “spark” cannot biblically and theologically refer to every person’s soul-spirit (John 3:3-8; Ephesians 2:1-5). Bell’s scheme will only allow that sex is the “divine spark” (As he writes, “Sex carries within it the power of Life . . . Something divine.”). So God has placed a divine “sex-spark” in His creatures, a spark that because of His asexuality, even He does not possess?

Thus, one must wonder whether Bell’s sex construct elevates or degrades the image of God in man, whether it affirms or denies the transcendence and separateness of God from His creation. I myself look at it like this: If it degrades God, then it degrades man. I shudder to think of the perversity that might result from thinking that sex and God belong to the same cosmic and monistic whole—as below, so above. In pagan belief, sex is the spark that excites, ignites, perpetuates “Life” with a capital “L,” and taps into the cosmic Energy with a capital “E.”

In playing to the New Age/New Spirituality now entrenched in our culture, I wonder again, as with his use of “Life” with a capital “L,’ whether Bell found “seed” for his thinking in Sex God from Walsch who wrote: “Mix what you call the sacred with the sacrilegious, for until you see your altars as the ultimate place for love, and your bedrooms as the ultimate place for worship, you see nothing as all.” Quoted by Peter Jones, The God of Sex, How Spirituality Defines Your Sexuality (Colorado Springs: Cook Communication Ministries, 2006) 48. Such a view of sex makes God out to be a sort of “peeping Tom”! I make this crude analogy simply to ask, How far are we willing to reduce God’s holiness to crassness, God’s transcendence to immanence? In this regard, I note the stunning statement of a radical Anglican priest: “Sex is the spirituality that reveals the sacramental richness of matter.” Jones, God of Sex, 47, citing Charles Pickstone, The Divinity of Sex.

30. In Canaanite religion, the goddess Anath was the female consort of Baal. In addition to being Baal’s sister with whom he committed incest, she also served as a prostitute for other gods. As Unger wrote, Anath was “given the epithet ‘virgin’ and ‘the Holy One’ (qudshu) in her invariable role of a sacred prostitute—another illustration of the utter irrationality and moral indiscrimination of Canaanite religion.” See Merrill F. Unger, Archaeology and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1954) 173.

31. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible, (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1997) 1073.

32. In a chapter titled “Sex and Possession,” Sargant writes: “If man is thought to rise to the level of the divine in mystical experience, it has been believed by millions of people that he can attain the same level in the ecstasy of sex.” See William Sargant, The Mind Possessed, A Physiology of Possession, Mysticism and Faith Healing (Philadelphia and New York: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1974) 86.

On this point, I would note that in sex there appears to take place a union between two persons that is mysterious, metaphysical, and mystical, a transcendent experience that can be thought to, from a pagan point of view, enhance “spirituality.” But the apostle Paul warned, “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh” (1 Corinthians 6:15-16, KJV).

33. “High places housed chambers where male prostitutes and harlots (qedeshim and qedeshot, Heb.) practiced cult prostitution (cf. 1 Kin. 14:23; 2 Kin. 23:7).” See W.A. Criswell, Believer’s Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997) Online Logos Library System by the Criswell Center for Biblical Studies.

34. Deena Metzger, “Revamping the World: On the Return of the Sacred Prostitute,” Anima 12/2 (1986), quoted by Peter Jones, The God of Sex, How Spirituality Defines Your Sexuality (Colorado Springs: Cook Communication Ministries, 2006).35.

35. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible, (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1997) 1059.

36. In John’s vision of end-time religion, one can wonder at the system’s indebtedness to the divine-feminine as the apostle pictures the goddess holding, “a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication,” and having the name, “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Revelation 17:4-5). One must also note the violent side of ancient goddess-ism and how this woman is pictured as drunk “with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Revelation 17:6). Of Anath, the incestuous goddess-sister of Baal, Unger notes that she and other ancient goddesses were “patronesses of sex and war—sex mainly in its sensuous aspect as lust, and war in its evil aspect of violence and murder.” See Unger, Archaeology, 173. My point—ancient goddess-ism possessed a mean streak, and if it did then, it can now, for as the old saying goes, “Hell hath no fury such as that of a woman scorned.” In this vein, Scripture portrays the idolatrous queen and false prophet Jezebel as a murderess and seductress (1 Kings 18:4; Revelation 2:20).

37. It is as if the deities were commanded, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the heavens.” Hindus believe there a millions of gods.

38. This scattering has given rise to the myth of “The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.” But the tribes were never totally lost (James 1:1; Luke 22:30). Nevertheless, by playing the harlot, Israel forfeited her relationship with Jehovah, a forfeiture Israel’s sister, Judah, did not learn from (Jeremiah 3:10).

39. Joan Osborne, “What if God was One of Us?” Lyrics HERE. Performance recorded on YouTube HERE.

40. Obviously, the Father presents a masculine impression to us as does the Son. Over two decades ago, I read an opinion which, supporting feminism, stated theoretically that God’s Son could have been born a daughter—this in spite of the prophet’s contrary prediction (Isaiah 9:6-7). Those who desire to inject femininity into the Trinity, do so by assigning femaleness to a genderless noun, Spirit (Greek pneuma, neuter). But they can only do so by ignoring the fact that Jesus reveals the gender of the Holy Spirit to be masculine. See John 16:13-14, “But when He (ekeinos, masculine gender), the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth . . . He (ekeinos, masculine gender) shall glorify Me . . .” So The Shack’s feminization of the Spirit as Sarayu contradicts Jesus’ masculine gendering of Him.

41. I can only imagine how on this point the super-spiritualists will condescendingly say, “Oh, that’s so quaint and out of date. The fashions of spirituality are changing. Poor fellow . . . his brand of spirituality stands out like a polyester leisure suit of the 1960s. Does he really believe such spirituality is all there is? Give us something new to us, something novel . . . something more.”

42. As Paul the Apostle wrote, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

Lord willing, this current series on The Shack will be published in a booklet and available for distribution from Discernment Ministries. Pastor Larry DeBruyn will be a speaker at the upcoming Discernment Ministries conference Oct. 10-11, 2008 in Niles, Michigan. Pastor DeBruyn is the author of Church on the Rise: Why I am not a Purpose-Driven Pastor. This article used with permission.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Part 2: The Consequence of Role-Reversals
in The Shack

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

So a guy walks into a cabin and meets a black woman, a Jewish guy and an Asian spirit-being. Turns out they're the Trinity. It's not the beginning of a joke; it's the premise of a privately published Christian novel, THE SHACK, that's become a surprise best seller. The guy, Mack, is returning to the shack where his youngest daughter was murdered three years earlier. God, or Papa, as she is known in the book, has invited Mack over to talk love, pain and more love. (The Jew is Jesus, and the Asian is the Holy Spirit.) The story becomes a standard guy-meets-God melodrama, heavy on the heartstrings and full of torrid and often turgid dialogue.
"The Shack Of the Lord," Belinda Luscombe, TIME, 7/3/08


In a little book, The Language of Canaan and the Grammar of Feminism, Vernard Eller noted that, “the God/man relationship is to be understood primarily under three figures—each of which castes God in a clearly masculine role.” Those three metaphors are “(a) husband and wife (or lover and beloved); (b) father and child (normally ‘children’ or ‘son’); and (c) king and people . . .”[16] In these figures Eller states, “God is masculine—and must be for the figure to work.”[17] Again, as the human race relates to God’s masculinity, “Man is a woman—to put it in a way that is linguistically maddening and yet biblically true.”[18] This starkly contrasts to the way in which The Shack's* author, William Paul Young, presents God.

As the Bible pictures God as masculine and the aggregate of His people as feminine, let’s look at the biblical metaphor of “husband and wife,” the “overlay of power” attendant thereto, and explore how role-reversal might affect that relationship.

In the Old Testament, Israel is known as the “wife of Jehovah,” and in the New Testament the church as the “bride of Christ.” Intimating that He was Husband to that nation when they broke covenant with Him, the Lord predicted His relationship with them would be restored. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord” (Emphasis mine, Jeremiah 31:31-32, KJV). Jeremiah pictures the relationship between HUSBAND YAHWEH and WIFE ISRAEL.[19]

Again, Jesus told a story about a wedding in waiting. He likened Himself to be the GROOM. He compared the people for whom He was coming to be His BRIDE—a coming that, though announced and expected, was going to be abrupt and surprising (Matthew 25:1-13). The Apostle Paul further develops this marriage metaphor when, after setting forth the guidelines for intimacy in the marriage relationship, he said, “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32).

Thus, “husband” is a chief metaphor by which God explains His relationship to His people.[20] The figure of marriage connotes the most intimate of “relationships”—the former involving Israel being the Lord’s partner, and the later the church being His promised. The marriage figure is richly endowed with the image of the divine masculine (initiation, wooer) and the human feminine (response, wooed).[21] Such is the nature of divine grace. To invert the relationship creates a spiritual climate in which people can easily initiate creating their own gods and goddesses, and making their own rules (i.e., legalism) by which they, because of their actions, expect to control God and cause Him to react favorably to them.[22] People become manipulators instead of worshippers.

Can the creation of a feminine-divine image as pictured in The Shack impede, even damage, the relational-potential between people and God, something polar opposite from what readers testify the book has done for them?[23] Can this happen when the story invites people into a surreal-spiritual world? Yes it can, for that is how imagination and idolatry relate to each other. But you might be asking, how? We would answer: By projecting femininity to the Trinity in a role-reversal that is opposite from what the Bible depicts the divine-human relationship to be.

Eller comments upon the biblical relationship between God and His people: “It is not wide the mark to say that, in Yahwism, the human race plays the role that goddesses play in the religions of dual-gendered deity.”[24] He continues,

This means that the biblical faith has built into it a much higher anthropology than is possible to any the pagan faiths—and let it be said, an anthropology that not only fully includes women but actually is biased toward the feminine. Consequently, we ought to be very cautious about falling for the temptation our biblical predecessors so valiantly resisted, namely, moving the feminine principle into the godhead and thus jeopardizing the great anthropological (and feminist) advantage scripture had already given us.[25]

The above quotation may need clarification on one point; that goddess-ism is something “our biblical predecessors . . . valiantly resisted.”[26] The fact of the matter is, the vast majority did not valiantly resist the temptation posed by idols. Only a remnant did (1 Kings 19:18; Romans 11:4-5). The Old Testament is littered with examples of idolism in which worshippers projected their gods to be goddesses too. The Lord tells Jeremiah that, “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out libations to other gods in order to spite Me” (Jeremiah 7:18, NASB). The name “queen of heaven” may refer an aggregate of feminine deities extant in the ancient world—Isis (Egyptian), Astarte (Phoenician), Ishtar (Assyrian and Babylonian), Ashtoreth (Canaanite), Anat (Canaanite), and others. The implication of such a relational role-reversal lies at the base of demonic experiences, idolatrous practices, and false religion.[27]

In The Shack’s relaxed, give-and-take, and schmoozing atmosphere created by Young, the biblical roles between people and God are reversed. Mack becomes quite comfortable initiating, and the goddess quite comfortable responding. The author also injects sensuality into Mack’s relationship with the feminine-divine. On two separate occasions—once with the sensual Sophia (the personification of Papa’s Wisdom), and then later with Sarayu (the Holy Spirit)—he experienced kundalini–like ecstasy.[28] Young records that when the sensual Sophia spoke to him, “Mack could almost feel her words rain down on his head first and melt into his spine, sending delicious tingles everywhere. He shivered and decided that he never wanted to speak again. He only wanted her to talk, to speak to him or to anyone, just as long as he could be present.” (The Shack, 153) Then later with Sarayu, Mack “distinctly felt her presence in the tingle down his spine.” (The Shack, 195)


Though feminine idols permeated the religions of ancient civilizations, and though its ideology may have secretly simmered amidst a mass of Israelites since the Egyptian captivity (Ezekiel 20:7-8), goddess-ism seems to have gone public in Israel when introduced by King Solomon. In a turnabout, the same king who had constructed and dedicated the Temple that would house the presence of Yahweh (1 Kings 6:1-38; 8:1-9:9), built worship centers “before Jerusalem” to house, among other idols, images to the goddess Ashtoreth of the Sidonians (1 Kings 11:1-8; 2 Kings 23:13). In his later life, and for reason of his possessing hundreds of wives and concubines [The historian presents the king as an aging playboy, ed.], Solomon’s sensual bent turned his heart unto other gods and goddesses. The sensuality of the king’s adultery led him into idolatry.

To be continued, Lord willing. . . .

The Truth:

"My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away." (Song of Solomon 2:10)

16. Vernard Eller, The Language of Canaan and the Grammar of Feminism, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982) 37. In analyzing the literary implications of Young’s creation of goddess-ism, Eller’s “An Excurses on the Unity of God in the Language of Canaan,” was most helpful (37-44).
17. Ibid. 38.
18. Ibid. 37.
19. In the context of God as husband and Israel as wife, we note the phrase “to go a whoring” (Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 31:16). In acts of spiritual adultery/idolatry, some of which involved physical liaisons with cultic prostitutes, both female and male, God is ever pictured, in spite of Israel’s infidelities, as the faithful husband. The phrase “go a whoring” is “almost never used to describe sexual misconduct on the part of the male in the Old Testament.” The reason for this emphasis is that the “term is used most frequently to describe ‘spiritual prostitution’ in which Israel turned from God to strange gods.” See Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr., “TO GO A WHORING, BE A HARLOT,” Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament (Nashville; Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980) 467-468.
20. Raymond C. Ortland, Jr., remarks that, “God is a perfect ‘husband’ to his people, our sins really are a betrayal of him, and thus a moral category exists for which the image of a harlot is a reasonable fit. . . . [W]hen God’s love is primarily in view, our ‘harlotry’ is a meaningful description of our rejection of his love for the love of others.” See author’s Whoredom, God’s Unfaithful Wife in Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996) 183.
21. Illustrating the initiation-response relationship between male and female, and though in our culture this has changed and is changing, in marriage the man usually initiates (i.e., proposes) and the woman responds (i.e., either accepts or rejects the man’s proposal).
22. “They attributed their lack of plenty to the discontinuance of honor they paid to the goddess.” In other words, the goddess did not respond because they did not initiate. See Vine, W. E., “Queen of Heaven,” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell) 1981. Online Logos Library System.
23. In The Shack’s Front Matter, one enthusiast remarks, “Finally! A guy-meets-God novel . . . When I read it, I felt like I was fellowshipping with God.” (Mike Morrell, In that Morrell was worshipping “with God,” I can only wonder who or what God might have been worshipping. The remark of the enthusiast would better have read “worshipping God.” I recognize that William Paul Young may sincerely be attempting to promote the relational understanding between God and people. I say “may” because only God knows his intent. However, as evidenced by the connection of the caste of characters to goddess-ism, the author may have additional agendum.
24. Eller, Language of Canaan, 40.
25. Ibid. 40-41.
26. Eller, wrongly I think, remarks that, “under the pressures of Canaanite Baalism, Israel failed (or refused) to accept any hint or tinge of such dual-gendered deity.” (Ibid. 40). The histories (Kings and Chronicles) and the prophets indicate this was not the case. Both Israel and Judah, as this paper shows, welcomed Baal-Asherah with open arms.
27. We can only note how in the Word of Faith movement, the game of name-it-claim-it, how God becomes the responder as man becomes the initiator.
28. See Pastor Larry DeBruyn, “THE SHACK, ‘Elousia,’ & the Black Madonna”

*The Shack by William Paul Young (Windblown Media, 2007).

Pastor Larry DeBruyn is the author of Church on the Rise: Why I am not a Purpose-Driven Pastor. This article used with permission.