Wednesday, May 24, 2017

OUR Way or THE Way?

Truths We Believe about God, Part 3

A Biblical & Theological Rejection* of Wm. Paul Young’s book, Lies We Believe About God

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

“Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say still unto them that despise Me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.”
—Emphasis added, Jeremiah 23:16-17 

A Review of the Book’s Chapters 

The Book’s Foreword, Introduction and Chapters 1-14
We turn now to review each chapter of Lies We Believe About God. The reviews will include a summary of Young’s belief, citation(s) of Scripture which contradict or confirm the author’s beliefs, and my personal comments for purpose of clarification. Based upon what you read, you can decide who is telling the truth. Note: I do not necessarily disagree with all the points Young makes in his arguments about what God would not say, but my agreements are sparse. We begin with the Foreword written by Wm. Paul Young’s friend, Dr. C. Baxter Kruger.

  • Kruger: “Who is Jesus, really? What does His existence mean? There are many answers.” (LWBAG, 7) 
  • The Apostle Peter: (Addressing Jesus from a perspective of many answers) “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Emphasis added, Matthew 16:16) 
Comments: Kruger answers the “who is Jesus question” in his Foreword. He explains that speaking the name of Jesus is confessing that there is no separation between the Trinity and humans, only relationship. “Jesus is Himself the relationship;” says Kruger, “He is the union between the Triune God and the human race.” (LWBAG, 11) To Kruger, Jesus’ identity involves being the great unifier of the Tri-Personal God with all humanity which union brings the Jesus-Trinity’s new covenant kingdom to earth. To Kruger the kingdom is totally now and involves no future millennial and messianic reign of Christ on earth (Isaiah 9:6-7; Revelation 20:4, 6; ).

Observation: If the kingdom is already present (this is called realized eschatology), then the Jesus-Trinity’s kingdom is a mess!

Kruger states that Young’s teachings stand “in the mainstream of historic Christian confession....” (LWBAG, 12) A consultation with one dictionary of theology informs that apokatastasis (another word for universalism or restitution of creation to its original pristine condition; see Acts 3:21, “Jesus Christ... Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution [apokatastasis] of all things”) was taught by Clement of Alexandria (c. 150- c. 215), Origen (c. 185-c. 254) who was influenced by Clement and Gnostics and declared a heretic by the early church, Gregory of Nyssa (c. 330-c. 394), John Scotus Erigena (c. 810-c. 877), Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), Karl Rahner (1904-1984) and some others. The Council at Constantinople (AD 543) declared the universal salvation-restoration of humanity, as held by those early church fathers, to be heretical.[23] One scholar informs that, “Jerome, Augustine, and most evangelicals, while insisting on an eschatological restoration by Christ [Acts 3:21], deny the corollary assertion of the ultimate salvation of all men.”[24]

Though in Kruger’s opinion Young stands in Christendom’s “mainstream,” his universalism belongs to a heretical minority, not the orthodox majority. Universalism-apokatastasis might be compared to an upstream tributary that flows into Indiana’s Wabash river which connects to the Ohio and then to the Mississippi. As the waters of the Mississippi totally engulf the waters from the Wabash’s tributary, so the teaching of mainstream Christianity overwhelms belief in universal salvation.

Further, just because the waters of universalism flow within the “mainstream” does not suggest they’re fit to drink!

  • Young: “‘Words you will never hear God say.’ ...I keep a record of wrongs.” (LWBAG, 15)
  • The Apostle John: “The dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20:12; Compare Daniel 7:10.) 

Comments: On this point, Young raises a half truth which he turns into a whole truth, and as such becomes a lie of a different sort, but a lie nonetheless. True. For those who are forgiven, God does not remember sins. Of Israel’s disobedience, Micah predicted that after judging the nation, Yahweh “will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19). For the nation’s disobedience Yahweh stated, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” (Isaiah 43:25) But, as the Scripture from Revelation 20 tells us, God remembers the sins of rebels and will, as any good prosecutor, “throw the book at them.”

Chapter 1 
“God loves us, but doesn’t like us.”
  • Young: “In the religious subculture in which I was raised, we all knew that God is love.... But saying ‘God is love’ does not capture our question [Does God like us?]. . . .” (LWBAG, 27) 
  • Jesus Christ: “The Father himself loveth (Greek, phileo) you [the disciples], because ye have loved (phileo) Me, and have believed that I came out from God.” (John 16:27) 
  • Jesus Christ: “Greater love (agape) hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (philon). Ye are My friends (philon), if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15:3-4) 
  • James the Brother of Jesus: “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend (philos) of God.” (James 2:23) 

Comments: This verb and noun for love (phileo/philos) means “to love... approve of... like... treat affectionately... kindly... [and] befriend.”[25] Yes, God engulfs in the arms of His love those who by faith come to Jesus to be forgiven of their sins and thereby become His sons and daughters. But God also likes us!

Chapter 2
“God is good. I am not.”
  • Young: “Yes, we have crippled eyes, but not a core of un-goodness. We are true and right, but often ignorant and stupid, acting out of the pain of our wrongheadedness, hurting ourselves, others, and even all creation. Blind, not depraved, is our condition.” (Emphasis added, LWBAG, 34-35)
  • Jesus Christ: “And, behold, one [a law-keeping rich young man] came and said unto him [Jesus], Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Emphasis added, Matthew 19:17) 
  • The Psalmist: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Emphasis added, Romans 3:10-12) 

Comments: In reference to God, the adjective “good” (Greek agathos) means that “God is essentially, absolutely and consummately good.”[26] In light of the Scriptural verdict that from birth we’re all sinners (Yahweh indicting: “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”—Jeremiah 17:9, NKJV; Jesus indicting: “Out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”—Emphasis added, Mark 7:21-23, NKJV), can any human justly claim to be intrinsically good? But Young’s template of universal salvation demands that by virtue of their being in union with God (i.e., inside the Trinity), humans like the Tri-Personal God they’re in relationship with, are essentially, absolutely and consummately good.

“How good do you have to be to go to Heaven?” goes the question. Answer: “As good as God.” Young’s twisted theology views humans to be, because they’re inside the Trinity, as good as God. However, the problem of our reality is we’re not as good as God! We’re sinners. That’s why we desperately need God’s Gospel, that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The truth is, because I am not as good as God I need Christ’s righteousness to cover my sinfulness, I need Christ’s righteousness to become my righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Question: How does Young know whether my heart, your hearts, and for that matter his heart, are good? Just after declaring human hearts to be “deceitful and desperately wicked,” Yahweh says: “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:10)

Chapter 3
“God is in control.” 
  • Young: “Do we actually believe we honor God by declaring God the author of all this mess in the name of Sovereignty and Omnipotent Control?” (LWBAG, 37) 
  • Isaiah the Prophet: “I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:6-7) [In the context the Lord identifies Himself as the source of judgment upon Israel for their apostasy, ed.] 
  • The Apostle Paul: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) 

Comments: In my opinion, the paradoxical issue regarding the relationship of God’s sovereignty (which the above verse bluntly states) and human responsibility defies comprehension by the human mind (Isaiah 55:9; Job 11:7-8). The Bible teaches God is sovereign. The Bible teaches humans are responsible. In the paradoxical spectrum, hyper-Calvinism leads to fatalism and radical-Arminianism leads to humanism. Personally, I believe God is sovereign and I am responsible. While God macro-manages our lives, I don’t believe He micro-manages them. I don’t believe God determines where, what or how much I eat. (I would be better off if He did!) I remember once when Dr. Charles C. Ryrie (1925-2016) addressed the controversy regarding sovereignty and free will at a pastor’s conference in Western Michigan in the mid-70s. Ryrie, who had been my professor of theology in seminary, asked the pastors, “How many of you believe that God knows when you’re going to die?” Hands I could see were raised. Then he asked, “How many of you ate breakfast this morning?” Again, hands were raised. His remark: “Every good Calvinist shows himself to be an Arminian at least one-two-three times a day!” To live we all need to eat, right?

Chapter 4 
“God does not submit.” 
  • Young: “If God communicated this same truth [ed., The Golden Rule, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” Matthew 7:12] through so many messengers, it must first apply to God. [Notice Young’s arbitrary inference, ed.] But we often think that God gives commandments as if they are arbitrary tests for us humans rather than expressions of God’s own nature.... The Golden Rule is immensely significant because it is the way God is. God treats me exactly the way God wants to be treated [As if God is not self-sufficient and therefore has wants and needs, ed.].” (LWBAG, 46) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery... kill... steal ... bear false witness... covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself... love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10) 

Comments: That God submits to me because of an inference Young derives from the Golden Rule, is not true. Why? Because first, that’s not what Jesus said. The relationship Jesus was speaking of was human to human, not God to human or vice versa. Second, God does not have “needs or wants.” To say that He does is a pagan perspective. In his Mars Hill Sermon the Apostle Paul stated: “God... made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth.... Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (Emphasis added, Acts 17:24-25). Thinking that God submits introduces us to the concept that God could be wrong.

Regarding the Ten Commandments, they might be understood as “ten tests of love” or “ten tests of faith”; the first four expressing love for and faith in God and the last six, love for our neighbors and belief that God will meet our life needs (Exodus 20:3-17). The question the “ten” asks is this: As demonstrated by obeying the commandments, do we love God and our neighbors? (See 1 John 4:7-8, 10-12.) As such, The 10 are not, as Young states them to be, arbitrary impositions on God’s part. They are for living a good life together, they are about human getting along together by living righteously. But as Israel’s disobedience and Jesus’ words highlight, we do not keep the Lord’s Law (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28). Keeping the law is a “relational” impossibility (Galatians 2:16). “For by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). Therefore, all of us absolutely need grace (Romans 3:21-24).

But in Young’s paradigm of how God and people get along, relationship eclipses grace and relationship requires for God, as a good husband or wife (Young’s god can be either), to submit. Yet the Apostle Paul wrote that in the end, “when all things shall be subdued unto him [Jesus Christ], then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:26-28). Submission it appears is a one not two-way street, everything first to Christ and then Christ and everything to God.

Chapter 5 
“God is a Christian.” 
  • Young: “So is God a Christian? ...If you are asking, does God relate to all of us as beloved insiders who are completely ignorant and miserable, does God love us and incessantly find ways to lead us to discover Jesus as our only way, truth and life... then, of course.” (Emphasis added, LWBAG, 55)
  • Jesus Christ:I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him.... he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” (Emphasis added, John 14:6-7, 9) 

Comments: Jesus is (“I am!”) the only way, truth and life. He is the way despite whether or not He becomes “our” personalized way, truth and life. In typical liberal-syncretistic-pluralistic innuendo (all religions are equally true because they’re all inside the Jesus-Trinity), Young proposes that though we can discover Jesus to be our way, that does not mean He is the way for the rest of the world.

In The Shack, Young makes up the following conversation.
  • Jesus to Mack: “Those who love me come from every system that exists.... Buddhist or Mormon, Baptists or Muslims... I have no desire to make them Christian.” 
  • Mack to Jesus: “Does that mean that all roads will lead to you?” 
  • Jesus to Mack: “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What that does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.” (The Shack, 182) 
The Lord Jesus Christ is to be worshipped because He is God and set apart from the rest of humanity. Another misnomer Young creates in this chapter is referencing the Christian to be a “little-Christ” or “mini-Messiah.” (LWBAG, 53) But dwelling within a Jesus-Trinity does not make humans little-mini Messiahs. For their uncompromising confession to be followers of Jesus—“I am a Christian!”—believers in the early church were martyred.[27]

Chapter 6 
“God wants to use me.” 
  • Young: “God is a relational being; that is who God is. The language of God is about partnering, co-creating, and participating; it’s about an invitation to dance and play and work and grow. If God uses us, then we are nothing but objects or commodities to God.” (LWBAG, 62) 
  • Jesus Christ: “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matthew :10:38-39) 
  • Jesus Christ: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you....” (Matthew 28:19-20) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) 
Comments: The truth is that Jesus wants to use (not exploit) us; that is, if we are going to be His disciples. If Jesus does not want to use us as Young’s chapter title infers, then what’s the point of the Great Commission to go and “make disciples of all the nations”? (Matthew 28:18-20) But if it is assumed that all persons are inside Young’s relational Jesus-Trinity, then there is no need to make disciples, is there? As Young falsely accuses, we do not become God’s commercial “objects or commodities” if He wants to use us. We become Jesus’ disciples and disciple-makers. “Only one life will soon be passed, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

 Chapter 7 
“God is more he than she.” 
  • Young: “All of maternity, as all of paternity, originates in the very nature of God. The image of God in us (imago dei) is not less feminine than masculine. The feminine/masculine nature of God is a circle of relationship, a spectrum, not a polarity.... Is God more masculine than feminine? Absolutely not!” (LWBAG, 73-74) 
  • The Scriptures: The Father is “Father,” and not “mother” (’ab, Deuteronomy 32:6; pater, “Our Father...,” Luke 11:2; abba pater, Mark 14:36). The Son is “Son,” and not “daughter” (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 2:7). The Holy Spirit is “He,” not “she” (John 14:16-17, 26). I accept God to be masculine because in Scripture God reveals Himself to be masculine. 

Comments: Couching the argument for an androgynous deity in an emotional story like Young has done does not make his argument true. Predominantly, ancient pagan religions presented God as female—Aphrodite (Greek), Artemis (Greek), Diana (Roman), Kali (Hindu), Isis (Egyptian), Nike (Greek), and Venus (Roman).[28] That Israel’s God Yahweh is masculine distinguished Him from the “hers”—the pagan gods—of the ancient world. He alone is God (Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”). I also believe that poly-gendering, as was common in the Canaanite religion, gives rise to polytheism (i.e., belief in many gods). For example, Mormonism teaches a divine father and a divine mother generated millions and billions of spirit beings or “little-Christs,” Jesus being the eldest brother of them all.

Chapter 8 
“God wants to be a priority.” 
  • Young: “So how did Jesus answer the question that seemed to be asking about priorities? He said, ‘The greatest and foremost’—remember those two words—‘is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.’ God first, right? God as priority. Not so fast. Jesus then says, ‘The second is like it [the first].’ How? The second is also ‘greatest and foremost... love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:36-40 NASB).... God doesn’t want to be first on your list, but rather central to everything.” (LWBAG, 80-81) 

Comments: Young makes too much out of the adjective “like” (homoios) which means “like, resembling....” Had Matthew understood Jesus to say that the first and second commandments were identical he might have employed one of the adjectives meaning “same” (isos or autos).[29] Though the second great commandment is “similar” to the first, it is not “the same.”

Further, in light of a plain reading of the Jewish Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” as affirmed by Jesus Christ; Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:29-30), how can Young legitimately deduce, excepting by twisting and rationalizing the passage, that God should not be a priority in our lives? God does not need to be a priority in our lives. God does not need anything or anyone. The Trinity is self-sufficient. That He wants to be a priority in our lives is for our benefit and His glory.

By the way, what’s the practical difference between Young’s quibbling distinction that God wants to be central to but not a priority in our lives?

Chapter 9 
“God is a magician.” 
  • Young: “We religious people rely on two common kinds of magic.... The first kind of magic involves faith, and the second is based on performance. . . . With the first kind of magic, faith-magic, you should be able to move mountains,[30] raise the dead, perform miracles, get rich, or have a baby. Then if something goes wrong... you either didn’t have enough faith or you didn’t exercise it properly. Or perhaps there is sin in your life.... The second kind of magic, performance-magic, works like this: if I do the right things... then God will bless me....” (LWBAG, 84-85, 88) 
  • Hebrews: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) 
  • Jesus Christ: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” (Matthew 12:39) 

Comments: Young rightfully calls into question the faith-magic of the Charismatic movement with its emphasis upon “signs and wonders” and the health and wealth gospel. His definition of performance-magic also calls into question the motive for the production of church ritual in any of its ecclesiastical expressions, from smells and bells (e.g., Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and etc.) to altar calls (e.g., Protestant churches), and so forth.

Chapter 10 
“God is a prude.” 
  • Young: In “the tribe in which I grew up... greetings were often graphic and sexual in their expression....” Offended by the sexual overtones... “a Western missionary raised the issue of language with the [church] leadership.... Graciously they told him that they would have a meeting to talk about his concerns and would report back. [Notice Young’s put-down that while the tribal church leaders were gracious the missionary was not, ed.] When they met next, here is what the elders told the missionary. ‘When you are around, we will do our best and not use those words, but we are not going to stop praying that way.’ For them, human sexuality is a good and right language of intimacy. Turns out that it is not God who is the prude; it is us.” (LWBAG, 98) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “Charity [the love]... doth not behave itself unseemly (aschemosune, “behavior which is opposed to modesty or purity”)”; “But now ye also put off... filthy communication (aischrologia, “speech which is opposed to modesty or purity”) out of your mouth.” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5 and Colossians 3:8)[31] 

Comments: God is not opposed to sex. He created it (Genesis 2:18-25). Sex is sacred (set apart) to be shared by a man and woman in marriage (Matthew 19:4-6). Of the Greek words for love, eros is not used in the New Testament though both agape and philanthropia (from which we get the word philanthropy) are. Thus, it might be asked, what kind of praying were the elder-tribesmen talking about? Was the elder telling the missionary that when he was not around they were going to continue to use sexual language in prayer to God? Well, if everybody’s inside the Trinity it must be okay. But where in prayer is the line of decorum between agape (I love you Lord.) and eros (I want to feel you Lord.)? By the way, if any culture is “hung up” on sex it is ours!

Chapter 11 
“God blesses my politics.” 
  • Young: “Government is not instituted by or originated by God. We built it.” (LWBAG, 103) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” (Emphasis added, Romans 13:1) 
  • The Apostle Peter: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by Him [the Lord] for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” (Emphasis added, 1 Peter 2:13-14 
  • The Prophet Daniel: “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he [God] removeth kings, and setteth up kings.” (Daniel 2:20-21; see also Daniel 4:32) 
  • Jesus Christ: Pray, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Emphasis added, Matthew 6:9-10) 

Comments: By their constant colluding, plotting and agitating together, the Psalmist pictures the nations to be united in their rebellion against the Lord and His Messiah (Psalm 2:1-3). Young correctly, I believe, calls into the question the dominionist aspirations of the American Christian Right (We need to make America “Christian” again.). But because of the residual anti-Messiah attitude prevalent among the nations as the Psalmist stated, the Christian Right movement is doomed to fail. But Young’s categorical dismissal of the truth that human government possesses no divine source is not Scriptural.

Remember.... when the Apostle Peter wrote the injunction cited above, the infamous Nero was Roman Emperor! Furthermore, the Millennial Reign of the Lord Jesus Christ will not be of human origin. (Psalm 2:6, 8-9; Revelation 2:26-27; 12:5; 19:15) Christ’s Kingdom will originate from Heaven, not from humans.

Question: If everything’s inside the Trinity, how can government not in some sense be of divine origin? It has to derive from inside the Trinity, doesn’t it?

Chapter 12 
“God created (my) religion.”

  • Young: “God did not start religion. Rather, religion is among a whole host of things that God did not originate but submits to [Mark this concept: God submits to my religion.] because we human beings have brought them to the table. God is about relationship; and therefore, any understanding of church or any community of faith that is centered on structures, systems, divisions, and agendas has its origin in human beings and not in God. ‘Religion,’ by definition, is people-based, not God-based.” (LWBAG, 109-110) 
  • Jesus Christ: “Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men.... Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” (Emphasis added, Mark 7:6-9) 

Comments: True. God does not create religion. But Isaiah and Jesus’ words contradict any notion that God submits to “my” or “your” religion. Jesus’ quote from the prophet Isaiah indicates that God does not submit to commandments and traditions humans invent. Jesus, as the author contrives pluralism-syncretism in The Shack, will not submissively travel any religious road to find us. (LWBAG, 112) True, though God did not create my religion, He did reveal the content and character of it in the Bible. To a point, Young’s protest is right. If churchy religion centers on structures and agendas, the Apostle Paul tells believers to “turn away” from such forms of godliness which deny God’s power (2 Timothy 3:5). Oops... there goes “relationship”!

Furthermore, the Apostle warns true believers against becoming cozy with false teachers who are, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7) In light of his warning, it becomes difficult to see how the Apostle’s injunction to separate from Sophia-teachers (ever learning and unable to arrive at the truth) is compatible with Young’s assumption that such teachers might be in any kind of mutual “relationship,” actual or potential, with God inside the Trinity. Fact of the matter is, professing Christendom is not one big happy family!

Chapter 13 
“You need to get saved.”
  • Young: “Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal reconciliation? That is exactly what I am saying! This is real good news! (LWBAG, 118).... “Further, every human being is in Christ (John 1:3), and Christ is in them, and Christ is in the Father (John 14:20). When Christ—the Creator in whom the cosmos was created—dies, we all died. When Christ rose, we all rose (2 Corinthians 5).” (LWBAG, 119) 
  • Jesus Christ: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18; See Matthew 25:46.) 
  • The Apostle Paul and Silas: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31) 

Comments: On this point Young turns the Gospel upside down. By inverting the Gospel he’s perverting the Gospel. The implications of his universalism destroy the entire biblical-doctrinal structure of the Christian faith, and the dominoes will fall (are falling). If everybody’s saved because everybody’s inside a ubiquitous and metaphysical Jesus-Trinity, then there was/is no need for Jesus’ incarnation (1 Timothy 2:16), penal substitutionary atonement for our sins (Galatians 3:13), physical resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4), ascension into Heaven where He is the mediator on our behalf (1 Timothy 2:5; Colossians 3:1), and future personal return to bring His kingdom to earth (Titus 2:13; Revelation 20:6).

To ask the question again, If everybody’s saved, why believe Christianity? Everybody’s saved anyway! As regards our salvation, he's saying let’s just trust and feel good about the universalism that Paul Young is peddling to the Christian public. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!”

Chapter 14
“God doesn’t care about what I’m passionate about.”
  • Young: Young uses an illustration taken from C. Baxter Kruger’s encounter with a systemic microevolutionary botanist who was about the business rescuing endangered species of plants. Kruger asked the scientist where he thought his passion to save plants came from. The scientist was at loss to explain it. So Kruger offered an explanation based upon drawing three intertwined circles symbolizing his (and Paul Young’s) perichoresis view of the Trinity (also called social Trinitarianism, co-inherence or “the dance” [See Part 1]). “Look” Baxter said to the scientist,” this is the symbol for the Three-Person Oneness of God. Inside of this moving divine dance of relationship, everything was created: every human being, every plant, every subatomic particle, everything.” (Emphasis added, LWBAG, 127-128)
  • The Apostle Paul: “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” (Romans 1:20-23).
Comments: Was the universe created “inside” or “outside” the Trinity? If inside (the perichoresis view of reality), God and the universe are one together. As indicated by Young’s spelling of it with an upper-case “C”, creation shares divinity in the Trinity. (LWBAG, 38, 161) The Trinity, the universe and everything that fills it, inanimate and animate, are dancing together in “Love”! This worldview which proposes that everything’s in God and interchangeably God’s in everything, is monism, oneness or “one-ism” as Dr. Peter Jones defines it.[32] Such a natural view of reality is pagan. (Yin/Yang, or As Above, So Below)
Perichoresis depicted as dance

In the beginning God created everything external to Himself and therefore is not in everything (Genesis 1:1); except of course, in believers indwelt by the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). God is Holy; that is “separate” from His creation and therefore rules over it. (See Acts 14:15; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2; Revelation 4:11.)

Observation: “Passionate” is a buzzword floated around among evangelicals today, I’m so passionate about this... or that. So the question arises, when do passions become lusts? The equivalent Greek word for passion is lust (epithumia), which occurs about thirty-seven times in the New Testament. In three occurrences epithumia means to desire in a good sense (Luke 22:15; Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:17). But in every other instance the word means to “lust,” to be passionate in an fleshly and worldly anti-God sense (e.g., “the lust of the flesh,” Galatians 5:16; “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes,” 1 John 2:16; etc.). Let it be stated that just because someone feels strongly about something does not make it true or good. About strong feelings we need to be careful lest they become or in reality are lusts.

To be continued . . . 

[23] Marcus Braybrooke, “Universalism,” The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology, Alan Richardson and John Bowden, Editors (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press,1983): 591.
[24] Bruce A. Demarest, “Apokatastasis,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Walter A. Elwell, Editor (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984): 67.
[25] Emphasis added, Strong, James: Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996, S. 5368.
[26] W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr., An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984): 493.
[27] The originators of the name Christian “took Christ as a proper name [like Herod-Herodians, Mark 3:6] and not as the designation of his office, the Anointed One.” See R.S Rayburn, “Christians, Names of,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Walter A. Elwell, Editor (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984): 216. During the New Testament era followers of Christ were first called “Christians” at Antioch (Acts 11:26).
[28] “Goddess Names,”, 2007-2017 (
[29] W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr., An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984): 672.
[30] For a take on “mountain-moving-faith,” see Larry DeBruyn, “Little Boy,” April 22, 2015, Guarding His Flock Ministries (
[31] W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr., An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984): 1186, 1029.
[32] Peter Jones, “Two-ism and One-ism Definitions,” truthxchange ( Jones states that Two-ism means “All Is Two. We worship and serve the eternal, personal Creator of all things. God alone is divine and is distinct from His creation, yet through His Son, Jesus, He is in loving communion with it.” On the other hand, One-ism means “All Is One. We worship and serve creation as divine. All distinctions must be eliminated and, through ‘enlightenment,’ we discover that we also are divine.”

*As of May 23, 2019, the title for this series by Pastor Larry DeBruyn has been changed from the word "Refutation" to "Rejection".

Images for this post from Wikipedia, and Google images.  

READ Part 1 and Part 2

Monday, May 15, 2017

Doing the Universalist Twist*

Truths We Believe about God, Part 2 

Wm. Paul Young's website [emphasis in original]

A Biblical & Theological Rejection** of Wm. Paul Young’s book, Lies We Believe About God

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation [“a matter of one’s own interpretation,” NASB]. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
—The Apostle Peter, 2 Peter 1:20-21

William Paul Young’s method of argument in his book Lies we believe about God involves juxtaposing a proof text from the Bible where it says we are God’s children against the lie he claims to expose—i.e., not everyone is a child of God.

In short, and as we shall see, the author forces Scripture to testify against Scripture. Does the whole of the biblical testimony view all persons to be God’s “children” and therefore reconciled to Him? This is the question Young raises and attempts to prove by employing biblical quotations he distorts to say what he wants them to say. Instead of letting the Bible speak for itself, he picks and chooses verses he claims say what he wants them to say. This is called “proof-texting.” Near the end of the book he demonstrates this method in A Catena, “God’s Drama of Redemption,” where indiscriminately, he strings together thirty-four Bible passages. (LWBAG, 241-248)

The Book’s Audience 
Note the book’s title, Lies we believe about God. Though he may previously have believed “truths” he now calls “lies,” as the book’s contents indicate, Young no longer believes the lies he claims to expose. The use of the personal pronoun “we” in the title is therefore disingenuous, but designed to get readers to identify with his faith-struggle and reject what he believes are lies about God (Twenty-eight of them!). In other words, he might not be as “one” with all his readers as the use of “we” in the title implies, unless they too believe the lies.

The book’s title might have been like, “Lies you believe about God,” or “Lies I used to believe about God.” But that would have sounded too preachy and judgmental in an evangelical culture addicted to feeling good about everything and believing nothing. No author or publisher wants to alienate potential buyers and readers. Better that he, his editor and publisher adopt a strategy of first connecting with a reading audience, and then seducing them to reject truths the author calls lies, which the pronoun “we” attempts to do. Even though they might not understand the Christian faith as he does, with the title the author wants to lure readers into a “conversation” he hopes will change what they believe.

The Book’s Assertion 
Young’s Big Lie: Everyone’s a child of God.
By stating one lie that “not everyone is a child of God” (LWBAG, Chapter 24), the author thereby infers the opposite to be true—that because they’re inside with the Tri-Personal God, “everyone’s a child of God.” In a previous chapter (LWBAG, Chapter 13), the author confronts a corollary lie, “You need to get saved.” (He does not like the word saved.) Point blank Young states:

Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal reconciliation?
That is exactly what I am saying!
This is real good news!
(LWBAG, 118) 

Perverting the Gospel 
To him this gospel of universalism is “real good news”! (Contra 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.) Without exception, Young believes all people are children of God, even an atheist friend who he thinks is a child of God not because he believes in God, but because he’s a loyal family man and lives according to virtues like “Love... Life... Truth” (LWBAG, 204-205).

Oh, by the way, it’s okay to have atheist friends. Admittedly, atheists can live moral lives, and that’s good. But like many nominal Christians, not all do.

We can only wonder why Young employed a moral atheist as an example of universal reconciliation and not one of the grossly immoral atheists who deceived and murdered millions of people, villains who did not live according to “Love... Life... Truth.” Yet according to Young’s paradigm, these villains can be considered, even if they weren’t in this life, to have become or are becoming God’s friends (e.g., Marx, Stalin, Freud, Nietzsche, Shelley, etc.). But such negative examples would obviously insult the consciences of readers (they know these individuals were grossly wrong and beyond the pale of decency). A bad atheist illustration would contradict the point the author strives to make: that a good atheist is a child of God based upon the quality of life he/she lives despite not believing in God and Christ. What about atheists who in this life exhibited no standards of goodness, are they in heaven? If “everyone’s saved” as Young believes, then the answer must be, “Yes!” But such a scenario is biblically, morally and theologically repugnant, an affront to the righteousness in and by which God rules the universe. As the Psalmist declared, “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee” (Emphasis added, Psalm 5:4; see 34:16; Habakkuk 1:13, etc.).

Demons Believe in God 
True, believing in God does not make someone a “child” of God or a Christian. Even the demons believe in God and “tremble” (James 2:19). But Young thinks that for his consistent living according to high moral standards (admittedly standards Scripture endorses), the atheist is as much a child of God as any true Christian (Maybe he does exhibit behavior superior to that which some Christians manifest.) But Young advocates this in the face of what the Bible says about atheists: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1, 53:1, 10:4; Compare Romans 1:18-23.). Further, Scripture teaches that per se, people’s lifestyles (i.e., “works”) do not save them and make them right with God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 2:16, etc.). All of us need grace. The flaw in Young’s convoluted theology of salvation is that he mixes hyper-grace (“everybody’s saved” no matter what) with Law-works (he’s a child of God because lives according to virtues). About such a mixture, the Apostle Paul stated, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20; See Galatians 2:16).

Wm. Paul Young's website [emphasis added]

The Book’s Argument—Against the lie,
“Not everyone is a child of God”: Chapter 24

But as we turn to evaluate this chapter in more detail, Young condescendingly anticipates moans and groans from some of us who dare to put God in a box that excludes a moral atheist from being God’s child via universal reconciliation. (I would respond in part by saying that while God does not reside in a box—He has and does work miracles—He has revealed who He is, how He works and what He asks in a Book, The Bible.) So the author anticipates the protest.

I can hear someone at the back of the room say, “well, everyone is a child of God in the sense that everyone is created by God, but...”
...and now comes the rationalization and justification for creating another box, another way to divide people into categories of value.
(LWBAG, 205) 

Twisted Scriptures—Chapter 24’s Arguments 
To prove that all people are God’s children, whether they might be atheists, happy pagans, ordinary citizens, self-righteous church-goers, murderers, profligates or whomever, whatever or wherever, Young claims to biblically expose the lie commonly and traditionally believed by evangelicals, “Not Everyone is a child of God.” He attempts to prove his truth that “everyone is a child of God” by drawing upon two Scripture passages which he twists to fit his universalistic template of salvation that all humans, past, present and future, are saved by virtue of being God’s “offspring.” Both passages need to be investigated to see whether they teach what Young implies. We begin with the Scripture cited by Young taken from the Apostle Paul’s address to the Athenian intelligentsia on Mars Hill. (LWBAG, 206)

Twisted Text #1  
‘For we also are God’s children.’ Being then the children of God... —Acts 17:28-29, NASB (LWBAG, 206) 

The Scripture involves a quotation (“For we are indeed his offspring,” KJV; “children,” NASB) borrowed by Paul from a poet/philosopher named Aratus (315-240 BC). Despite the fact that Aratus was referring to the god Zeus and not the God of Scripture, the quote does contain a germ of truth; and that is, any conscious observer of the universe can deduce there is a God who originated the cosmos. After all, creation testifies to God’s existence. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalm 19:1, 2-6).

Why personality? 
Briefly, the argument for God’s existence from creation might run like this: Something cannot come from nothing. Personality cannot derive from non-personality. Ontologically persons cannot originate from impersonal power(s) like gravity (That’s Stephen Hawking’s view.). As it takes one to know one, so it takes one to make one. So a personal God must have created all persons. Thus, because of the corporate origin of their personalities, human beings are derivatively God’s “offspring” (Greek, genos). By his use of Aratus’ quote this is the point Paul the Apostle made and how he sustained his argument with the Athenian philosophers; by using a source they respected and accepted. He was arguing on their “turf.”

Yet despite that argument, and like Young’s atheist acquaintance mentioned in the chapter, many of those philosophers could not believe in a God who would one day raise people from the dead and judge the world (Acts 17:30-32; Compare John 5:24-29; Jesus said His Father gave the power to raise and judge all the dead to Him.). In short, the philosophers, who were sooner or later headed for their “box” in the ground, did not like the Apostle’s message that one day the resurrection would open it! But for a number of reasons, Young’s implication from the biblical text—that all persons are God’s children—is deceptive. The universalistic inference (because all humans are God’s offspring-children we’re all saved) he draws from Acts 17:28, is not accurate.

Zeus and Elohim 
First as has already been noted, the god of the Apostle’s Aratus-quote was Zeus, not Elohim, the Creator-God of the Bible (Genesis 1:1). About the Apostle’s quote of Aratus, John Stott insightfully commented that “glimmerings of truth, insights from general revelation, may be found in non-Christian authors.” Yet Stott warns that “Zeus is emphatically not identical with the living and true God.”[17] (See Romans 1:18-23.) So without any clarification as to the god the quote refers to, Young makes it appear that by virtue of their descent from Zeus all humans are God’s “children.” Go figure.... In Paul Young’s scheme of redemption the god Zeus is evidently interchangeable with the biblical God Elohim who created human life (“Let Us make man in Our image,” Genesis 1:26, NASB).

All humans are all God’s children originally—the genos group 
Second, the Greek word (genos) for “children” means “race... [or] the aggregate of many individuals of the same nature, kind, sort.”[18] As to origin, genos views humanity corporately, not individually. That is why the majority of Bible versions translate genos as “offspring” (KJV, NKJV, NRSV, ASV, ESV, NLT, Young’s and Darby). Only two translate genos as “children” (NASB, NCV). The context indicates the Apostle is arguing with the philosophers about humanity’s corporate genos-origin (Acts 17:24-26), not their individual destinies. (This comes a bit later in the Apostle’s sermon, Acts 17:30-31.) Larkin comments that, “Being his offspring refers only to creation, not salvation, as the subsequent call to repentance clearly shows.”[19]

When Paul later called upon the philosophers to repent (Acts 17:30-31), many (but not all) mocked the invitation. Thus, by his use of the word genos the Apostle highlights humanity’s creation by God aggregately (which some of the hearers scoffed at), not human relationships with God individually. Both semantically and contextually, the preferred understanding of the word genos is “offspring” or “kindred,” not “children.” When Paul states to the Athenians that God “hath made of one blood [‘from one man,’ NASB] all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26), does not that in context confirm genos to mean “offspring-group”?

All humans are not all God’s children organically—the huoi and tekna group 
Third, in his letters the Apostle Paul uses either “children” (Greek, tekna) or “sons” (Greek, huiois) to describe individuals who by faith have a personal relationship with God (i.e., they stand reconciled to Him). “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). While all human beings are God’s “offspring” generally, only true believers are considered His “children” (tekna) and/or “sons” (huiois) personally.[20] This may be observed in Paul’s letter to the Romans where he stated,

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (huiois) of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children (tekna) of God.
—Romans 8:14-16 

In his Gospel John also differentiated two groups of people based upon whether they received or rejected Jesus Christ. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not [They shunned “relationship” with Jesus.] But as many as received him,” he wrote, “to them gave he power to become the sons (tekna) of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:11-12). According to the Apostle John, some persons received Jesus and were reconciled to Him while others rejected Jesus and were not. No matter how one might want to slant the meaning of this verse, two groups are portrayed, not one. If this is understood as John having created a box, then so be it. It is what it is.

While all humans are God’s children originally (They possess physical life by virtue of being originally created by God.), it does not follow, based upon the New Testament’s teaching, that all are His children organically (They possess spiritual life for reason of being new creations in Christ.). “Except a man be born again [anothen, “from above”], he cannot see the kingdom of God,” Jesus told Nicodemus (John 3:3). We can deduce from Jesus’ words that there are those who by being born from above “see the kingdom of God” and those who are not born from above and therefore are blind to it. The Apostle Paul seconded Jesus’ statement when he wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (1 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV). The only conclusion that can be derived from these Bible passages and others is that, there are those who are organically God’s children and those who are not.
Read Warren B. Smith's insightful article HERE

The Devil’s in the Details 
So Paul Young assumes that because all humanity shares common origin from God, all are therefore God’s children. So let’s observe whether or not the following verses fit Young’s inclusive Father-family template for humanity, that everyone is a child of God.
  • “Ye [Jewish leaders] are of your father (pater) the devil” —John 8:44 
  • “The spirit that now worketh in the children (huiois) of disobedience” —Ephesians 2:2 
  •  “[We] were by nature the children (tekna) of wrath, even as others” —Emphasis added, Ephesians 2:3 
  • “The man of sin... the son (huios) of perdition” —2 Thessalonians 2:3 

These and many other Scriptures testify that while all people are God’s “offspring,” they are not all God’s “children” (See Romans 9:6.). The devil is the father of some (See Revelation 20:10-15.). Others (like us) were once children of wrath and disobedience. (Some people remain in such a state, “even as the rest,” Ephesians 2:3.) Further, the Scripture calls the coming end-time deceiver “the man of sin... [and] the son of perdition” who like Lucifer, attempts to mimic God and usurp His authority (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Compare Isaiah 14:12-14). Jesus also tragically called Judas “the son of perdition” (John 17:12). This evidence and more contradicts any assumption that every human being remains unconditionally and universally reconciled to God.

Those Who Possess the Spirit, and Those Who Don’t 
The line of demarcation as to whether or not a person is a son or child of God involves his/her relationship with the Holy Spirit, whether or not He lives in them, whether by Him they have been placed into union with Christ, and whether as Peter stated, they have been made “partakers of the divine nature” and thereby possess an organic relationship with God (2 Peter 1:4).[21] The apostle Paul qualified this point in Romans 8 when he stated, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9b). The text plainly separates persons who do not have the Spirit of Christ from those who do. Those without the Spirit belong neither to Christ nor to the Father (1 John 2:23-24). So based upon this statement, humanity is comprised of two groups—saints and another group that might be called “ain’ts,” those who organically partake of the divine nature and those who do not. The Apostle Paul’s call for the Athenian crowd to repent demonstrates this (Acts 17:30-31). Many (one group), but not all (another group), mocked Paul for trying to put them in a box! (See Acts 17:32-34.)

Without distinction, not without exception 
Scripture affirms that without distinction (the Christian faith is not racist) God invites every human being into a relationship Christ, into membership in the body of Christ “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Emphasis added, Colossians 3:11). Yes, Christ is in all believers regardless of their ethnic or racial identities. The verse states that. But Scripture does not teach that without exception the Spirit of Christ resides in all humans and they thereby possess a salvation-relationship with God, i.e., are His children (tekna), His sons and daughters (huiois). To repeat: the Apostle Paul stated, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9b). It should be noted that though he could have (He used the word in his Mars Hill Sermon.), the Apostle did not once in his epistles use the word genos (“offspring” or “kindred”) to refer to Christian believers who by faith were God’s children (tekna) or sons and daughters (huiois).[22] 

We turn now to the second text Paul Young pairs with Acts 17:28 and ask, does it support the idea that all people are children of God and therefore personally related to Him?

Twisted Text #2
“One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”  —Ephesians 4:5-6, NASB (LWBAG, 206)
[Emphasis the author’s]

Paul Young twists this verse to teach that because there’s one God and Father of all who is in all (as the chapter title demands), “all” refers to every human being without exception. By virtue of the statement that the one Father is in all, “all” are (they do not “become”) God’s children. His logic might go something like this:

There is one Tri-Personal God who in oneness of Love created “all” humanity. “All” people, along with everything else, dwell inside the Love of the Trinity. Therefore, for their being inside this Love, “all” humans are God’s children. 

For both contextual and grammatical reasons, Paul Young’s use of Ephesians 4:5-6 to support the idea that “all” people are the Father’s children is problematic.

First, in Ephesians 4, the Apostle was not affirming that for reason of His immanence the Father resides “in” all people, but stated truths regarding the Body of Christ, the universal church (Ephesians 4:1-16). Note the context: “one body,” v. 4, “the body of Christ,” v. 12 and “the whole body,” v. 16). About “the body of Christ” the Apostle taught that being a unity (vv. 1-6) consisting of diversity (vv. 7-13a), the church ought to grow together into maturity in Christ (vv. 13b-16). Being in the Father and Son, and united by the Spirit, the Body of Christ is permeated by the presence of God, by the “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:6b, NKJV; Compare John 17:20-23.). In this majestic statement, Paul affirms both God’s providence over (“over all”) and presence in (“through all and in you all”) the body of Christ, the church. Though God is transcendently present in the farthest recesses of the universe (“omnipresence,” Psalm 139:7), Paul was not stating this in the context. He is teaching that the “one God and Father of all” is personally and immanently with and organically in regenerate believers who comprise the church, the body of Christ.

This biblical text which Paul Young employs to support his wishful thinking that without restriction every human being resides in God and vice versa does not support his claim. Rather God is “in all” who are members of the Body of Christ, no less and no more. One God and Father through the Son and the Spirit indwells members who compose the church universal. By His indwelling presence God should govern the church. But far too often humans usurp and corrupt God’s authority in the church by imposing their systems of ecclesiastical government. (On this point, Paul Young is right.) But legitimately interpreted, there can be no comforting application from this Scripture that all people are God’s children because universally He indwells every single living human being.

Second, the basis upon which Christians become conscious of God’s presence is not that of divine immanence, but divine indwelling. The Bible states that divine indwelling (contra New Age or eastern mystical religion) is not common to everyone everywhere since the world began. Jesus told his disciples that “the world cannot receive” the Holy Spirit “because it does not behold Him or know Him.” But then He issued this qualifier to the disciples, “but you know Him because He abides with you and shall be in you” (John 14:17, NASB). Later Jesus promised the disciples that for reason of the coming baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit would reside in them (Acts 1:6, “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”; and 2:4, “they were all filled with the Spirit”; 1 Corinthians 12:13, “we were all [Jews or Greeks, slaves or free] baptized into one body”).

In the whole wide world there are two groups of people, saints, those whom the Holy Spirit has baptized into a relationship with Christ, and those whom have not been so baptized. Those in whom the Spirit of Christ resides are God’s children (tekna) and sons (huiois), “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Those He does not indwell are not. True. By virtue of our origin by our first parents having been created by God, we are God’s “offspring” or “kindred.” But that common origin does not inherently make us God’s “sons and daughters.” To quote Romans again, “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9b).

And third, admittedly this is a minor concern on my part, in the Greek manuscript behind the translation Young quotes (NASB) there is no pronoun humin, translated “you” or “us,” prefacing “all” (pas). By way of contrast, the pronoun “you” or “us” (humin) does reside in the manuscripts from which the King James Version is translated; “and in you all” (Ephesians 4:6; KJV, NKJV; “in us all,” Darby). Paul Young avoids using these pronouns because they suggest a grouping of people (“you” or “us”) separate from the rest of humanity, and this does not fit his universalistic template.

We will now turn to show how Scripture contradicts assertions Paul Young makes in the chapters of his book, Lies We Believe About God.

To be continued . . .

[17] John R.W. Stott, The Message of Acts (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990): 286. 
[18] Strong, James: Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996, S. G1085. 
[19] William J. Larkin, Jr., Acts: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995): 258. 
[20] Teknon gives attention to the prominence of one’s birth (“If ye were Abraham’s children [tekna], ye would do the works of Abraham,” John 8:39) while huios designates the dignity and character of the relationship (“For ye are all the children [huiois] of God by faith in Christ Jesus,” Galatians 3:26). See Vine’s discussion, W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr., An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984): 1060-1063. Obviously the general designation “offspring” (genos) describes neither one of these aspects of personal relationship. 
[21] Larry DeBruyn, “On Theosis, or Divinization: What does it mean to be ‘partakers of the divine nature’?” January 11, 2012, Guarding His Flock Ministries ( or on Herescope:
[22] In addition to his use of “offspring” (two times) in his sermon, Paul uses the word genos six times in his letters. Not once does the word refer to someone in personal relationship with God. His preferred designations for persons who are in relationship in/with/by the Spirit to God are the words tekna and huiois.

Wikipedia public domain images of Stalin, Karl Marx, Hitler and Nietzsche illustrate the points made in this post.  

*The title given to Part 2 as it is republished on the Herescope blog, is inspired by a prior post series that is not unrelated: Doing the Templeton Twist.
** As of May 23, 2019, the title for this series by Pastor Larry DeBruyn has been changed from the word "Refutation" to "Rejection".  

Reprinted with author's permission, with a paragraph adaptation and minor modifications to the textual layout.  For the original article see