Friday, August 29, 2008


The Consequence of Role-Reversals
in The Shack

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

To whom would you liken Me,
And make Me equal and compare Me,
That we should be alike? . . .
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me . . .
—Isaiah 46:5, 9, NASB

In his chapter “A Breakfast of Champions” (By the way, I like WHEATIES too!), The Shack’s author, Paul Young, places these words in the mouth of the Holy Spirit, Sarayu, as she addresses Mack, the allegory’s main character:

“Mackenzie, we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or ‘great chain of being’ as your ancestors termed it. What you are seeing here is relationship without any overlay of power.” (The Shack, 122)

The Shack is big on relationships. Forty-odd times the author employs the word “relationship(s).” Indeed, one of the strengths of the story, though perhaps overdrawn, exaggerated, and even at points, profaned, is the emphasis upon “relationships” between the allegorical members of the trinity and Mack.

But to understand the covert message of the book we need to look at the overt picture of God drawn by the author as we ask the question, from whence might Paul the author have derived his image of the goddess? As we proceed, we shall look at pieces of evidence to see if, in goddess religion, there exists any resemblance to “Papa-Elousia,” the first member of the polymorphous trinity in The Shack. We shall attempt to connect the dots to discover where the author’s picture of God might be “sourced.” And then, seeing how The Shack’s composite picture of deity is linked to “goddess-ism,” we will address the potential implications of such theology for those who might seek to cultivate a relationship with the feminine-divine. In developing the implication of goddess-ism’s invasion into the Christian faith, we will employ the Apostle Paul’s paradigmatic description of the fall into apostasy and idolatry in Romans 1:19-32. Generally, the Apostle describes the deconstruction of God to come in three phases.


Allow the obvious to be stated at the outset. The Shack is a work of fiction, a work of imagination. For reason of the caricature of God contained in it, does the “it’s-only-fiction” excuse thereby exonerate the book from the charge of heresy? For a number of reasons, I don’t think so. First, by their very definition, idols are but fictions. As the Apostle Paul warned, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [Might we legitimately paraphrase, fictions?]” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, KJV).

Second, apocryphal, pseudepigraphical, and Gnostic writings are mostly fiction, but are venerated by many. Just because literature is fiction does not mean that it does not carry spiritual clout. Yet, no book in the Protestant Bible is of the fiction genre.

Third, stories often attempt to underscore and strengthen real perceptions. The story of The Shack may represent the manner in which the author struggled with and worked through his disappointments in life. If the explanation and solution are real to him, then we might presume that they will be real to others who have suffered similar experiences in life.

And fourth, imagination is the spawning ground for idolatry (Romans 1:21). Idolatry is thinking wrong thoughts about God, and those thoughts begin when people play mind games with God. Ideas have consequences. So with this in mind, we proceed to look at where Young’s goddess image might be sourced.

The Black Madonna

“Relationship” becomes most evident when “Papa” (a.k.a. “Elousia,” the black goddess) enfolded Mack—haunted by his Great Sadness—into his/her arms and gently invited him to

“Let it all out.” In this poignant moment of emotional catharsis, the story records that Mack, “closed his eyes as the tears poured out . . . He wept until he had cried out all the darkness, all the longing and all the loss, until there was nothing left.” (The Shack, 226).

Thus his “relationship” to the feminine-divine restored Mack to emotional wholeness, something his temperamental and churlish earthly father would have been incapable of helping him with, and by implication, any purely heavenly-Father. This may explain why Paul Young paints God in the image of the feminine-divine. He thinks the image of a mother god can offer solace and comfort to humanity in ways that God the Father is incapable, at least according to the author’s projection of Him. But in linking emotional succor to feminine divinity, Young appears to have borrowed from the imagination of a pagan storyline.

On a previous Herescope posting,[1] we noted that like Elousia-Papa, “The Black Madonna calls us to Grieve. The Black Madonna is the sorrowful mother, the mother who weeps tears for the suffering in the universe, the suffering in the world, the brokenness of our very vulnerable hearts.”[2] On the emotional level, The Shack’s concept of the goddess might be linked to Black-Madonna spirituality.

“Goddess PAPA”

Bearing striking similarity to Young’s naming of Papa-Elousia in his book, there is also a goddess in the Polynesian pantheon known as, “Goddess PAPA.”[3] Of this goddess it is claimed that,

From Her we find comfort and Care
Of Unconditional Love in Times of Crises and Grief
Her intervention instills calming reassurance and Healing
All can call upon Goddess Papa for Guidance . . . [4]

As to name, nature, and nurturing potential, Young’s feminine “Elousia” bears an uncanny resemblance to the “Goddess PAPA” of Polynesian lore. Hmm . . . we can only surmise whether the author might have derived his concept of “Papa-Elousia” from Polynesian paganism, or from places thereabouts?[5] However, there may be more evidence connecting Young’s feminine-divine caricature to the feminine-divine of pagan mythology.

“The Breasted One”

In this regard, the following dialog, I think, sheds additional light upon where Young’s goddess-ism might be sourced. In defending his caricature of God as feminine, and as they discussed the role of anthropomorphisms in describing God, this exchange took place between a talk-show host, Matt Slick, and The Shack’s author:

SLICK: They [various Old Testament writers] know he [God] doesn’t have a nose and nostrils.
YOUNG: Sure, we know that he’s not male or female. So every use of imagery of God as male is just as inadequate as every use of God as female. Sure, we know that.
SLICK: Well, actually that’s gonna come and get you here in a minute.
YOUNG: So—so he is male? You have a God who is male?
SLICK: I didn’t say that. Why does God refer to himself and Jesus refer to him as Father?
YOUNG: Well, why is he called El Shaddai, which is “the breasted one”?
SLICK: Well, that’s nice. But, why is he called the Father? And why is the Son [interrupt]?
YOUNG: Because it’s relational.
SLICK: What kind of relationship?
YOUNG: It’s the relationship of Father and Son.[6]

Added to his apparent allusions to the Catholic Black Madonna and the Polynesian Goddess PAPA, the author again appears to have projected into God a quality derived from a radical-feminist perspective; namely, that El Shaddai means “the breasted one.” But where might Young the author have derived such an idea about God? Does the meaning really reside in a name for God that’s in the Bible?

The name “breasted one” appears to be sourced in feminist spirituality. In Part One (“The Feminine Divine in the Hebrew Scriptures”) of her book, Delighting in the Feminine Divine, Bridget Mary Meehan, states that, “D.F. Stramara translates El Shaddai (a name for the Divine in the Hebrew Scripture as ‘God the breasted one’.)”[7] But for several reasons, the inference that the divine name El Shaddai means “breasted one” is ludicrous. It is a meaning pulled out of thin air. It is an imagined meaning.

First, Shaddai is a masculine noun! If it referred to a goddess, then we would expect the noun to be feminine in gender. Second, Shaddai is a singular noun. If the noun meant “breasted one,” then we would look for it to occur in the plural. Third, the Hebrew name Shaddai is of uncertain origin.[8] Nevertheless, no standard lexical authority suggests the idea of “breasted one” being the etymological base from which this name for God is derived. Fourth, to be constructed to even remotely resemble a meaning of “breasted one,” a second letter “d” (Hebrew, dālet) needs to be added (Though Shaddai possesses two “d’s” in the English transliteration, it possesses but one “d” (Hebrew, “dālet”) in the original text (i.e., Sha-dai).[9]

And finally, if the meaning “the breasted one” be accepted, then it might be considered—God forbid—that Artemis-Dianna, the many breasted goddess of Ephesus, was a type of Shaddai! If with her many breasts Artemis is Shaddai–like, then Paul the Apostle needlessly stirred up controversy at Ephesus when he preached against the goddess in that ancient city (See Acts 19:23-41.). Painting God as feminine for reason of importing a foreign meaning of “the breasted one” into Shaddai is an irresponsible leap into the interpretive dark. Yet, by Young’s own admission, that, in part, explains why he painted God to be “Papa-Elousia” in his spiritual allegory.


After identifying El Shaddai as “the breasted one,” Meehan becomes a “spiritual director” and recommends the following “Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion”:

“What new insights or understandings about God do you discover through this image? What images of God come from your reflection on women’s sexuality? How do you feel about these images? What images, feelings, insights express your experience of your sexuality?” [10]

Set against the backdrop of this spiritual director’s advice, the Apostle’s description of idolatry becomes vivid. He states: “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man [woman?] . . .” (Romans 1:22-23a). Images . . . image, is the composite picture continuing to emerge?


But there is a final question asked in the book, Delighting in the Feminine Divine: “How does your sexuality affect your spirituality?”[11] At this juncture, we must note where the answer to this question might lead. Wrote the Apostle, “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them” (Emphasis mine, Romans 1:24).

This whole degrading process may be tracked back to Israel’s Egyptian captivity and the subsequent post-exodus worship of the golden calf (Ezekiel 20:7-9; Exodus 32:1-35). After their divine deliverance from Egypt, the Israelites imagined they needed “a god” to feel close to, one who was present with them and not some unseen and distant deity who either wouldn’t or couldn’t meet their needs.[12] So in Moses’ absence, they told Aaron, “Come, make us a god who will go before us . . .” (Exodus 32:1, NASB).[13] So under Aaron’s supervision, they collected valuable jewelry which was then smelted and molded into the image of a golden bull, symbolizing the power they felt was needed for their provision and protection in the wilderness.

But failing to “feel” the divine nearness to them [Idols cannot provide that, ed.], the Israelites decided, as they did with making the idol, to stimulate what they felt would be a divine presence. The Scripture records their worship turned sexual as they “rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6b; Compare 1 Corinthians 10:7-8.). The Hebrew word for “play” (tsachaq) possesses a sensual meaning as when Abimelech observed Isaac “caressing” (tsachaq) Rebekah, or when Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of attempting to make sexual “sport” (tsachaq) of her (See Genesis 26:8; 39:14, 17.). The Israelites were “completely given over to their desire.”[14] As to this developing situation, a commentator remarks, “The people themselves assume control . . . a religious orgy has begun.”[15] Israel’s idolatry led them to impurity.

Similarly, where might an imagining of the feminine-divine lead us? Remember . . . ideas have consequences. Might The Shack actually be painting an image of God that if embraced, could lead to a spiritual infidelity that will contribute to the demise of the relationship between people and God? Could an infusion of the feminine-divine into the collective psyche of many contemporary Christians actually stimulate, cultivate, and facilitate the entrance of idolatry into the church?

To be continued, Lord willing. . . .

The Truth:

"And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me." (Jeremiah 16:12)

1. See Pastor Larry DeBruyn, “THE SHACK, ‘Elousia,’ & the Black Madonna”.
2. Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, “The Return of the Black Madonna: A Sign of Our Times or How the Black Madonna Is Shaking Us Up for the Twenty-First Century,” Friends of Creation Spirituality, January 2006, Article Number 8.
3. The Wahine ’o Wānana Institute, “Hawaiian Goddesses, Goddess Papa,” Powers That Be.
4. Ibid.
5. In making this comparison, we can only note that William Young, having spent part of his life in what is now Indonesia, might have been familiar with the spiritualities indigenous to the Pacific.
6. See “Matt Interviews author of ‘The Shack’,” Wednesday, July 09, 2008.
7. See Bridget Mary Meehan, Delighting in the Feminine Divine (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1994) 20.
8. “The designation ‘Shaddai,’ which some think is the oldest of the divine names in the Bible, occurs 48 times, 31 of which are in Job. The traditional rendering ‘God Almighty’ is debated. A consensus of sorts holds that ‘shaddai’ is to be traced, not to the Hebrew, but to an Accadian word that means ‘mountain’ so that the expression produces a meaning like, ‘’El the One of the mountains.’ If so, El Shaddai highlights God’s invincible power.” See Elmer A. Martens, “God, Names of,” Baker Theological Dictionary of the Bible, Walter A. Elwell, Editor (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996) 298.
9. “El Shaddai as the breasted God,” SansBlogue.
10. Emphasis mine, Meehan, Feminine Divine, 20.
11. Ibid.
12. Carl Schultz, “1560,” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Volume 2, R. Laird Harris, Editor (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980) 644. Schultz thinks that the constructed calf might “have been a symbol of God’s presence” among the Israelites. In this regard, I must compare the number of self-confessed evangelicals, not content to walk by faith, are bent upon inducing the presence of God in order to “feel” Him. I only ask, can such spiritual discontent become a spawning bed for idolatry of goddess worship? Seemingly, it did for the Israelites. After all, sexual feelings are some of the strongest possessed by humanity. The New Testament describes the pagan world as characteristically driven by the sensate, by lusts and desires (Romans 13:14; 1 John 2:16; 1 Peter 1:14; Jude 18). There is great danger therefore, when feelings, not faith, drive God’s people.
13. Ibid. Schultz also notes that the name for God (plural, elohim) might have been employed by the Israelites “in a pagan polytheistic way.”
14. U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Exodus, Israel Abrahams, Translator (Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, The Hebrew University, 1967) 420.
15. Brevard S. Childs, The Book of Exodus (Philadelphia; The Westminster Press, 1974) 566.

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"One World - One Dream"

But what about Truth and Freedom?

This is the title of the most recent article posted at Berit Kjos's website today. This courageous article has explicit references to stories behind the gilded Olympics. Be sure to read this article in its entirety HERE.

Note the opening quotation in her article:

"'One World One Dream' fully reflects the essence and the universal values of the Olympic spirit -- Unity, Friendship, Progress, Harmony, Participation and Dream.... It highlights the theme of 'the whole Mankind lives in the same world and seeks for the same dream and ideal.'" Beijing 2008

Follow the link from the quotation above to the "One World One Dream" webpage. The contents of this page are astonishingly similar to the post we put up August 4 about "God's Dream = PEACE."

For instance, the next sentence in this paragraph above links the idea of "dream" to global "peace":

In spite of the differences in colors, languages and races, we share the charm and joy of the Olympic Games, and together we seek for the ideal of Mankind for peace. We belong to the same world and we share the same aspirations and dreams. [emphasis added]

And the next paragraph continues with the theme of global harmony, peace and dream:

"One World One Dream" is a profound manifestation of the core concepts of the Beijing Olympic Games. It reflects the values of harmony connoted in the concept of "People's Olympics", the core and soul of the three concepts -- "Green Olympics, High-tech Olympics and People's Olympics". While "Harmony of Man with Nature" and "Peace Enjoys Priority" are the philosophies and ideals of the Chinese people since ancient times in their pursuit of the harmony between Man and Nature and the harmony among people, building up a harmonious society and achieving harmonious development are the dream and aspirations of ours. It is our belief that peace and progress, harmonious development, living in amity, cooperation and mutual benefit, and enjoying a happy life are the common ideals of the people throughout the world.[emphasis added]

This Beijing 2008 webpage explains that the "words 'World' and 'Dream" are a good match" and that the word "One" is significant because it "highlights the theme of 'the whole Mankind lives in the same world and seeks for the same dream and ideal'."

It is all very mushy and feel-good. But Berit Kjos's article raises serious issues that shatter the image of a peaceful global harmonic dream. At what cost to human liberty will this global dream for PEACE be achieved?

The Truth:

"Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." (Jams 5:8)

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Matthew 5:8 and the mystic vision of God

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." (Matthew 5:8)

If we were to see God, what might deity look like? In a metaphorical borrowing from the imagery of the biblical Tabernacle, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ describes both the process for and image of discovering the god within. That gospel advises,

"Look deep into the temple of your brain, and you will see it all aglow . . . and you are in the Holiest of All, where rests the Ark of God, whose covering is the Mercy Seat. . . . And then, behold the manna there, the hidden bread of life; and he who eats shall never die. The cherubim have guarded well for every soul this treasure box, and whosoever will may enter in and find his own."[1]

Upon such a visage within, the mystic exclaims, "Eureka! God lives in my brain!" The specter of such a god issues from an assumption that people can look for and find their indwelling divinity. But because they are unconsciousness of that "presence," the mass of people go through life ignorant of it. Thus, to realize their higher-self, people need to develop their consciousness of the Christ within by employing certain meditative practices and techniques through which the soul can be purified and see God. As one Hindu website explains, "Men and women, in their essential nature, are divine. We do not feel this divinity because of our ignorance." Then citing Matthew 5:8, the site goes on to say,

"The only goal of our lives is to realize this divinity. It is possible to realize the divinity by removing the ignorance, just as Jesus said: 'Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God'."

Eastern mystics thus claim to follow Jesus' prescription for finding the god within. By ridding their souls of "this-worldly" distractions and attractions, they believe they will create a spiritual climate in which to see God. As one Hindu devotee explains,

"The meaning of this beatitude is that those whose consciousness is posited at the center of their being (spirit), without there being any 'thing' in their awareness but that pure consciousness itself, are 'seeing' God."[3]

So, it must be asked, what might the Bible believing Christian think about the use of Matthew 5:8 to endorse such spirituality? Against the backdrop of the rest of the Scriptures, how might we understand Jesus' words?

To begin with, any such vision of God has neither the endorsement nor authority of Scripture behind it. Though they do not portray God to be unknowable, the Scriptures do describe Him to be un-seeable. As the apostle wrote, God "alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see" (1 Timothy 6:16; See 1 John 4:12; Exodus 33:17-23.). Jesus taught that vision of God belonged to Him and to Him alone (John 6:46; Compare John 1:18.). From the Scriptures, we understand that, apart from Jesus' incarnation, God cannot be seen by any person. The seeing of God the Father belongs to Jesus who, by His incarnation, mediates the visage of God to man (Colossians 1:15). People did not and will not see God, except in and through Jesus Christ. While the Scriptures do teach that one day Christians will see God the Son (1 John 3:2), they do not teach that they will see God the Father. Even in eternity, Jesus Christ will mediate the vision of God to the redeemed (Revelation 22:4). As Jesus told Phillip: *"He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).[4]

So, how might we understand the meaning of this beatific beatitude? Is Jesus advocating purgation of heart in order to enter a realm consciousness in which the divine becomes visible? Insight into the question rests upon two points: first—what it means to be "pure in heart"; and second—what it means to "see God."


Ancient Jews commonly thought that cleanliness approached unto godliness (Matthew 23:25-28). Characteristically, Jews concerned themselves with ritual washings or baptisms (Hebrews 6:2), some of which were, in light of the demands of Old Testament law, justified. Jesus however, exhorted His followers to pursue purity. He was more concerned with His disciples' hearts than their hands. As the Psalmist asked, "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place?" and then answered, "He who has clean hands and a pure heart" (Emphasis mine, Psalm 24:3-4a).

But any attempt at self-purification presents a real problem for a humanity whose hearts are mired in depravity. Is there any prospect that humans can, by their own initiative and effort, purge themselves of depravity? In speaking about what comes out of the human mouth, Jesus did not flatter the human heart. He said, "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders" (Matthew 15:18-19; Compare John 2:24-25.). Thus, the attempt to rid our hearts of moral impurity appears to be an unrealistic task this side of the perfection which awaits us in eternity.

In every instance where other New Testament writers mention the word "pure" it refers to a heart that is simple, sincere, and undivided, a heart possessing no self-righteousness or mixed motives. For example, church leaders must hold to "the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience" (1 Timothy 3:9). In their heart of hearts, they must really believe what they say they do. Paul also instructed Timothy to, "follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22). Inconsequential prayer originates from hearts with mixed motives (James 4:2-3). But those who possess pure hearts approach God without pretense, knowing their helpless state apart from Him (See Titus 1:15-16.). As one scholar summarizes, the "pure in heart" are they "who recognize that God is their only hope."[5]

The difference between an impure heart and a pure heart can bee seen in Jesus' parable of "The Pharisee and the Publican" (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee came to God smug in his self-righteousness, thinking he was better than others. He was not desperate before God. The tax-collector, on the other hand, came to God in desperation. He was not looking for a self-help gospel, or seeking to see a god within. In fact, he turned his face away from heaven, flagellated his chest, and cried out, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" (Luke 18:13). With singular intent and desperation of heart, the sinner knew he needed a Savior, and that was all there was to it. He was pure in heart. Unlike the Pharisee, he was no hypocrite.


We now turn to consider the second aspect of the beatitude, and ask, what does it mean for a person to "see God"? The New Testament employs three basic words, variously translated, for sight. Two of the Greek words (blepo and theoreo) describe sensual seeing, while the other (horao), though describing sight, also denotes spiritual perception and experience.[6] When placed against the backdrop of God’s "un-see-able-ness," this is how seeing God in Matthew 5:8 should be understood. Jesus is speaking of spiritual understanding. Those who, like the Publican, come to God with simplicity of heart will experience His presence. Those who, like the Pharisee, come to Him in a spirit of self-righteousness will not. In this beatitude Jesus did not mean that people might catch a phenomenal vision of God by developing inner purity, for as the Jerome Bible Commentary states, see "does not signify what in theology is called the 'beatific vision,' but admission to the presence of God."[7]

Jesus said: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3; See 2 Corinthians 5:17.). To see "the kingdom of God" is to experience God's presence, authority, and reign in one's life; and it stands to reason that, if persons cannot experience God's kingdom below without being born from above, then neither can they experience God within without being born from above. The personal experience of God depends upon looking without oneself (as the Publican), and not at or within oneself (as the Pharisee). When the intent is pure, then God by His sovereign grace will enable those who are destitute of heart to experience His presence. It is untenable that in this beatitude Jesus stated that self-purgation is a prerequisite for obtaining a phenomenal vision of God inside one's head.

Furthermore, visions of or experiences with the Lord in the Bible were not necessarily blissful or comfortable (i.e., beatific). Peter, when he became aware of whose presence he was in, "fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'" (Luke 5:8). When Isaiah saw the Lord he exclaimed, "Woe is me, for I am ruined!" (Isaiah 6:5). Obviously, the prophet's vision of the Lord, which incidentally was external to him, did not depend upon any purity of heart he was able to conjure up. Rather, upon seeing the Lord "the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted," the prophet became convicted of his heart’s impurity!


An eastern mystic can become "inflated without cause by his fleshly mind," having taken "his stand on visions he has seen . . . not holding fast to the head [to Christ]" (Colossians 2:18b-19a, NASB). The Bible predicts however, that one future day the world will see the Son of God. As The Revelation of Jesus Christ describes, "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen" (Revelation 1:7, KJV). This sighting of God will not be private or esoteric (inside oneself), but public and exoteric (outside oneself).

If we are looking to see God, we must wait. As Peter wrote: "[T]hough you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Peter 3:8). As Paul wrote: "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Meanwhile, "we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Pastor Larry DeBruyn is author of Church on the Rise: Why I am not a Purpose-Driven Pastor.
[1] Levi H. Dowling, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, Section VIII: Cheth: Life and Works of Jesus in Persia, 1920, Chapter 40, Verses 16, 19, 23, 24, ( This book is an extensive Gnostic reworking of the Jesus story with strong Theosophical and Spiritualist influences
[2] "What is Vedanta?" Vedanta Society of New York (
[3] Swami Nirmalananda Giri, "Om Yoga and the Bible," Atma Jyoti (
[4] If ever a request of His disciples annoyed Jesus, this might have been it.
[5] Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 170.
[6] For example, Hebrews says that, "By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see (horao) death . . ." (Emphasis mine, Hebrews 11:5). The sense of "see" is that Enoch did not experience death. The three words for sight are juxtaposed to each other in John 20:4-9. The Gospel reads that an unidentified disciple who ran ahead of Peter to the empty tomb (presumably, John), looked in without entering it and "saw (blepo) the linen wrappings lying there"; shortly after, Peter arrived and "beheld (theoreo) the linen wrappings lying there"; and then, entering the tomb, the unidentified disciple "saw (horao) and believed" --his seeing provoking faith. To see God, a person must look for Him through the lens of simple believing.
[7] Brown, Raymond E., Joseph A. Fitzmeyer and Roland Edmund. The Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1996) S. 2:70. The commentators cite Matthew 18:10 to support that "see" can denote presence: "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven" (Emphasis mine, KJV).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

God's Purposes

By Anton Bosch

What does the Bible reveal about God’s ultimate purpose in his dealings with mankind? What is the theme that runs from Genesis through Revelation and that transcends both testaments?

Some may say it is Jesus Christ. That is true – the whole of Scripture reveals Him. He appears on every page and Jesus Himself said that the Scriptures speak of Him. (John 5:39). But what is God trying to achieve through Jesus? What is that ultimate purpose?

Many say that God’s ultimate purpose is to save man and that the Bible is the account of God’s great plan of salvation. Some even refer to it all as “redemptive history” – the account of God working out His plan of salvation for man. This view is very popular, but is it true?

Personally, I have a problem with that idea. Yes, we read about God’s attempts to save man, in spite of himself, from the very first pages. But what has His dealings with Israel to do with that purpose? If His purpose is to save man, then why did He not go straight to the nations, rather than spend two thousand years dealing with Israel first? And what did the two thousand years between Adam and Abraham have to do with that purpose?

The problem is that if God’s ultimate and highest purpose is to save man, then God is man-centered and not God-centered. This makes man an idol to God and that surely cannot be. Yes, we like to think that it all revolves around us, and that everything that God does is about us, our salvation and our ultimate happiness. But that kind of thinking takes us straight back to the garden where Satan tempted Eve to think about things from her perspective, rather than God’s.

Others will say that the church – the bride of Christ – is God’s highest purpose. For them everything revolves around the church, and the church is the ultimate end of all of God’s dealings with mankind. But that is also not true since it once-again makes us, the members of the church, the focal point, and makes Old Testament saints inferior since they are not part of the church.

Unfortunately, modern Christianity has become so man-centered so that the Lord and His purposes hardly figure in any of our thinking. It has all become about us and what God can and does for us. We have forgotten that the highest of all beings is God Himself. He is greater than you and me and He is greater than the church. God himself said that we should not have any other gods before or next to Him (Exodus 20:3). To many, their salvation, the church or themselves have become things they worship and that has become the end of all things.

But God is the end and center of all things. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).

Look at the end of that verse again. “…of Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” He is the source of everything, everything has to be done through Him and, most importantly, all things are to Him. This means He is the purpose and end goal of all things. Jesus said “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 21:6). Everything begins and ends with Him, not with me, you, the church or our salvation.

Colossians 1:16-18 says: “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” There is the key – all things are so that He might have the preeminence – that He might be the first, the only, and the most important of all. 1Corinthians 8:6 says: “there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him.” Did you get that? We are for Him and His purpose, not the other way around.

So God’s highest purpose is Himself. This does not make God selfish or prideful. He is the Supreme Being and He is the First, the All-in-all. Thus He is entitled to the preeminence. What makes man’s self-centeredness wrong is the fact that man is not entitled to being the center of the universe – that is God’s place, and when we place ourselves there we usurp God’s position.

To be more specific, the ultimate goal of all things is to bring glory to God. The angels exist to give Him glory and even the earth was not created as a wonderful place for man, but rather to give glory to God: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Man was created to glorify God, but rather “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God… and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man…” (Romans 1:21,23).

In the Millennium we will see Jesus restored to His rightful place as King of Kings and Lord of Lords as He becomes the focus and Sovereign of the whole world. “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 14:16).

Even Heaven, the New Jerusalem, is not about us as many think. Heaven is about the Lord and about the worship of the Almighty. The glories of the New Jerusalem are not primarily for our enjoyment, but are a perfect setting to reveal the Glory of the Great King, just as a ring is crafted to display the glory of the stone it houses.

When the angels announced the arrival of the man Jesus, they did not begin their announcement with the words “mankind is so fortunate;” no, they began by saying “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14). Jesus, in giving a model for prayer opens with bringing glory to the name of God and closes with “Yours is… the glory for ever” (Matthew 6:9-13). Almost every book in the New Testament contains the words “to whom be glory forever and ever,” yet we never pay it much attention to those words.

Creation, man, our salvation and the church are not the end goal. These things are all simply there to bring Glory to the One who is the source and end of all things. God’s goal should be our goal as well. Everything we do and say should have one purpose – to glorify Him. If we do things for any other purpose we have lost the point of it all.

Does every aspect of your life glorify God?

The Truth:

"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen" (1Timothy 1:17).

Anton Bosch is the author of Building Blocks of the Church: Re-examining the Basics.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Evangelicals and New Agers

We want to call our readers' attention to a recent article by Constance Cumbey posted at entitled "'The Family and its Hijacking of Evangelicalism: Part 1."

This is a must-read article from the Michigan attorney who first brought the "New Age Movement" to the attention of the evangelical world in the early 1980s in her landmark book The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow (Huntington House, 1983).

In this new article, Cumbey links New Age leaders with evangelical leaders in ways which have heretofore have been undisclosed. Based on the groundbreaking research on the evangelical secret society called "The Family" (or "The Fellowship") made public by Jeff Sharlet in his recently released book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, Cumbey connects the dots to the Institute of Noetic Sciences. And she adds important pieces to the perplexing puzzle of interconnections between key evangelical leaders and ranking New Agers.

This fraternization at the highest echelons has been an ongoing problem for decades.

This blog began nearly three years ago with a series of posts that began on September 20, 2005 reviewing several conferences sponsored by the Billy Graham Association in the late 1970s where key evangelical leaders absorbed the futurist ideals of Willis Harman, whose new-world-order and New Age credentials were impressive. Just what were these "respectable" evangelical leaders doing finding common ground with Harman's Luciferian worldview?

The interconnections continued. Warren Smith wrote a key article in the mid 1990s entitled "Evangelicals and New Agers Together," in which he detailed the working relationship between former U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Robert Muller and evangelical mission leader Jay Gary.

More recently, we noted the significance of Emergent Church leader Brian McLaren speaking at the World Future Society (with Jay Gary also on the program).

Cumbey's recent revelations of key associations add a disturbing new dimension to Sharlet's book, The Family. It is hard enough to grasp the staggering implications of Sharlet's book, but when she adds in the overlapping New Age personnel and agenda, the ramifications are shocking.

Sharlet's book is a must-read for those who want to study the historical roots of the marketplace transformation movement, which is an increasingly active offshoot of the New Apostolic Reformation. The book sheds considerable light on the interworkings behind the the current evangelical mania for leadership training, cell/hierarchical networking structures, covenants, warriors, worldviews, and Rick Warren's global dominionism efforts. Sharlet describes one secret society behind the emerging global framework of dominionism.

Sharlet's book is not for the faint-of-heart, yet much of it is understated. Anyone who has served in leadership in the Christian Right has eventually run into the power elite behind the scenes -- pulling strings, rearranging props, switching lights and changing the scenery for a utopic kingdom vision -- first for America, next for the world. Sharlet's book reveals a few of the men who are behind the curtain.

Knowing this information does not help true believers rest easy as we watch the gathering momentum for building the kingdom of God on earth.

The Truth:

"For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them." (2 Peter 2:21)

Monday, August 04, 2008

God's Dream = PEACE

A Global Kingdom Dream

For years, we’ve dreamed of the day when the three sectors of society: public, private and faith – specifically local churches – could be connected together for the good of a country. In God’s amazing plan and timing, these “three legs of the stool” have come together in the nation of Rwanda to make this dream a reality.
-- Kay Warren[1]

And God's dream for creation is community by way of peace.
– Emergent blogger[2]

What does the term "God's Dream" mean?

After our last post, which we left posted for several weeks due to its serious subject matter, we began an Internet search to see what we could locate to answer this question. We were helped in our quest by Warren Smith, whose impeccable research into the New Age movement helped us to piece together some key elements.

To be quite honest, we were surprised by the results of our search. We had assumed that "God's Dream" was a nebulous sort of phrase that meant different things in different contexts. We knew, from Warren Smith's research and writings, that "God's Dream" had a meaning to the New Age/New Spirituality leaders which was disturbingly similar to the ways in which Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, Brian McLaren and Bruce Wilkinson were using the phrase.[3] But what we didn't realize was how pervasively "God's Dream" has been used in the sense of creating a global PEACE on Earth. Several other terms connected this idea are "reconciliation" and "justice."

"God's Dream" seems to have become the new mantra for peace. It is bandied about by leaders who have very similar agendas, both within and without the church. Below is a summary of the results of our search. This represents only a small summary of the overall picture. We must hasten to point out that we did not simply pick and choose evidence to back up this premise. Rather, it is very obvious that "God's Dream" does have a meaning, and this meaning is universally shared by those who bandy the term about, and the meaning is almost always connected to the idea of restoring paradise type conditions, or building the kingdom of God on Earth, by man's efforts for the purpose of creating peace on Earth.

A few other interesting facts will come to light on this list below: 1) ground zero for "God's Dream" appears to be the continent of Africa; 2) the names of modern-day ICONS are invoked -- The Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Mikhail Gorbachev, etc. (Note: some living "saints" are part of The Elders); 3) this is intentionally a youth movement.


Desmond Tutu, the former archibishop of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has written several books on the topic of "God's Dream," including one for children. His book God Has A Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time has been endorsed by Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama, and Jimmy Carter.[4] Here are some key quotes from speeches he has given:

  • God has a dream for all his children. It is about a day when all people enjoy fundamental security and live free of fear. It is about a day when all people have a hospitable land in which to establish a future. ... God's dream begins the moment one adversary looks another in the eye and sees himself reflected there…. God's dream ends in healing and reconciliation. Its finest fruit is human wholeness flourishing in a moral universe. [5]
  • Dream. Dream. Dream. Dream that this can be a world without poverty. Dream that this can be a world without war. Dream that this is a world that will recognize that every human being matters. Dream. Dream. Dream…. And you realize that this isn't just something that is idealistic, romantic, sentimental. Just look at a Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa and Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela, and you'll see that one of the outstanding characteristics of each one of these is how they have poured themselves out prodigally on behalf of others, of their being so utterly selfless.[6]
  • And you, you young people don't let us oldies with our cynicisms divert you and turn you away from the dreams that you dream. For you dream God's dream. You dream of a new kind of world. You dream that yes, it is possible for there to be no war any longer. You dream of a world where poverty will be history. You dream of a world where there will be laughter and compassion and caring and gentleness. Go on dreaming. Go on dreaming…..[7]
  • And so God said, ‘I have a dream, I have a dream, that my, my children will come to know that they are family. I have a dream. I have a dream that they will recognize there are no outsiders in this family. That all, they all belong.’ Fantastic. Too many of us think it is, oh well, sentimental stuff. That isn’t it. Some of the most radical political stuff that we are family. All, all, held in an embrace of love that will not let us go. God gives up on no one. All. All rich, poor; tall, short; substantial, not so substantial; beautiful, not so beautiful; clever, stupid. All, all, all, men, women, children; old, young; white, black, red, yellow. All, all, all, all, all, gay, lesbian, so-called straight. All, all, all, all, all. [applause]…. God says, ‘Please, please help me realize this dream.’ And some of God’s best collaborators are the young, because you dream. You dream God’s dream.[8]


Sri Chinmoy a poet, composer and pioneer in “Integral Yoga” has often used the term “God’s Dream.” His life was devoted to a modern form of yoga and elevated states of spiritual consciousness, and he offered meditations at the United Nations for over 20 years. "God's Dream" and "Peace" were interconnected in his poetry and song. He even spoke at Tokyo University on the topic of "Peace: God's Dream-Reality's Oneness-Boat, Fulness-Shore. "

  • What is Yoga? Yoga is the language of God. If we wish to speak to God, we have to learn His language. 
What is Yoga? Yoga is that which discloses God's secret. If we wish to know God's secret, we have to launch into the path of Yoga. 
What is Yoga? Yoga is the Breath of God. If we wish to see through God's Eye and feel through His Heart, if we wish to live in God's Dream and know God's Reality, if we wish to possess the Breath of God, and finally if we wish to become God Himself, Yoga will beckon us.[9]
  • What is God's Dream? God's Dream is His Transcendental Reality's embodied inspiration and revealed aspiration….. Meditate on God. You will see God seated inside you. Devote yourself to God. You will see God within, without, here and beyond.[10]
  • Peace: God's Dream-Reality's Oneness-Boat, Fulness-Shore. Peace, peace, peace.[11]
  • Man is the God of tomorrow;…. As God is in Heaven, even so is He on earth. He is here, there and everywhere. Each human being has a God of his own. Sisters and brothers, do not sink into the abyss of despair, even if you have, at the moment, no clear aspiration for God-realisation. Just start on your journey upward, inward and forward-upward to see God's Dream, inward to possess God's Dream, forward to become God's Dream. This Dream is the Dream of absolute Fulfilment.[12]


Sun Myung Moon heads up the world-wide Unification Church and has been involved in business, political, cultural, and mass-media endeavors for the past several decades. His teachings on "God's Dream" are astonishing in their similarity to the New Apostolic Reformation, and indeed Moon has hobnobbed with evangelical leaders, including paid junkets, for many decades. Moon has claimed to be the "Second Coming of Jesus."

  • God's dream still remains unfulfilled. It was not fulfilled 2,000 years ago, or in the home of any religious leader or any American home, and today the Unification Church is here to pledge to fulfill that dream. We don't want to confine that fulfillment to our Church, but to expand it all over the world. Wouldn't that be the Kingdom of God on earth?[13]
  • God's Dream, the Restoration of Heaven: What is God's dream? It is to restore the lost heaven, the lost parents, and the lost children. Now we should restore our nation, our people, and our parents. Therefore, we should become the true children of the True Parents. We have to defeat Satan and forget about the six thousand years of sorrow and resentment, and be able to take pride in the conditions of victory and love. You must clearly know that this is the way for us to become the true sons and daughters in the presence of God, who has gone through a history of sorrow.[14]


Shane Claiborne is an Emergent leader who actually worked with one of the "God's Dream" icons, Mother Teresa in India. He launched The Simple Way Community in Philadelphia and is "a prominent activist for nonviolence and the redistribution of resources to the poor." He has also endorsed a number of Emergent books, often referring to "God's Dream" in the context.

  • The prophets point us to what is ahead - the fulfillment of God's dream for creation. And they invite us not simply to wait but to begin enacting that dream now.[15]
  • A dynamic and hope-filled book to provoke the ecclesial imagination. May it help us grow closer to God's dream for the church. [16]
  • I don't agree with Doug on everything... and that's part of the fun. We need to learn to disagree well, and laugh and spar together as we run after God's dream.[17]
  • People respond well to stories, and I think people, and especially younger generations are aware that the world we've been handed is fragile and are already asking, that is God's dream for the world and is it different from what we see? Extreme poverty and conflict are hard to deny.[18]


Delirious? is a Christian rock band. Their connection to "God's Dream" is on the cutting edge of what is happening globally to create a youth movement for global peace. Rock stars, especially connected with Bono and his agenda, are the wave of the future, especially for the transformation of the continent of Africa. In fact, in Bonos's autobiography is says that he "asked Archbishop Tutu for a blessing. I knelt down -- and he gave me one."[19] In April 2008 Delirious? came out with Kingdom of Comfort, which is about a "shift happening." The following quotation explains the context:

Literature also played a big part in the writing of Kingdom of Comfort, inspiring the songs and the mission. In fact, not only did authors inspire the new album, some have also joined the band in the mission writing stories to encourage charity in conjunction with the new album. Delirious? plans to share these stories with their fans as four authors have been confirmed to participate so far: Graham Cray, Bishop of Maidstone and the chair of the working group who published The Mission Shaped Church; Brian McLaren, author of The Secret Message of Jesus; Craig Borlase, author of The Naked Christian: Taking Off Religion To Find True Relationship; and Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution.

“We are made to live for something bigger than ourselves -- this thing we call the Kingdom of God... God's dream for the world,” writes Claiborne. “This is the realm where the last are first and the first are last, where the poor are blessed and the peacemakers are the children of God. This whole Christian thing is not just about going up to heaven after we die, but it is about bringing God’s Kingdom to earth. This is the Gospel that should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable." [20]

In addition to these names above, many other religious leaders such as Leonard Sweet, Dick Wills and Marcus Borg have used the term "God's Dream" in nearly identical contexts. It is apparent that the term comes loaded with all of the baggage of the New Spirituality.

In this context then, the previous post is not an aberration. It appears that TheCall, the New Apostolic Reformation, and the Emergent groups are going to increasingly invoke this "God's Dream" mantra for bringing forth a youth movement with the idealistic goal of creating peace on Earth -- accompanied by hyperspiritual warfare shenanigans, severe monastic lifestyles, electrifying and mesmerizing rock music, heavy-laden purpose-driven missions, the idolizing of living (and dead) global icons, and -- significantly -- no preaching about the Cross.

The Truth:

"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." (Romans 12:18)

[NOTE: all emphases above added]
1. Issue 14 - 07/09/08, Saddleback Church HIV/AIDS Initiative, July HIV Caring Community Newsletter, Letter From Kay.
2. Z. Hamilton,
3. See Deceived on Purpose by Warren Smith, chapters 11 & 12.
5. "Realizing God's dream for the Holy Land," Desmond Tutu, October 26, 2007.
6. Desmond Tutu, Academy of Achievement A Museum of Living History in WA DC.
7. Desmond Tutu: 'Goodness is Powerful.'
8. Archbishop Desmond Tutu Speech at American University. For more information on Desmond Tutu, see these links: HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.
9. Sri Chinmoy, "What is Yoga," From: Yoga and the Spiritual Life. Biography included at this site.
10.Sri Chinmoy, "God's Dream-Boat And Man's Life-Boat," excerpt from My Ivy League Leaves.
11. Sri, Chinmoy, "Peace: God's Dream-Reality's Oneness."
12. Sri Chinmoy, "Man and God."
SPEAKS ON "The Grieving Father, Son and Daughter 
as They Try to Establish 
the Kingdom of Heaven."
15. Quoted at
16. Book endorsement for Signs of Emergence by Kester Brewin.
17. Book endorsement for A Christianity Worth Believing by Doug Pagitt.
18. "Interview with Shane Claiborne," by Sara Barton, 
May - June, 2007. See also these links: Here, Here, and Here.
19. Bono: in conversation with Michka Assayas (Berkley Publishing Group), p. 278.
20. Delirious? Releases Kingdom of Comfort, April 2008, 22 Feb 2008