Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Chain of “All”

Truths We Believe About God, Part 6

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

Part 1: Truths We Believe About God 
Part 2: Doing the Universalist Twist 
Part 3: OUR Way or THE Way? 
Part 4: An Imaginary Cosmic Reality 
Part 5: Universalism & Trinitization

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn 

 “Therefore, beloved... regard the patience of our Lord as salvation... just as also our beloved brother Paul... wrote to you, as also in all his letters... which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
—The Apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:14-16, NASB)

A Review of the Book’s Chapters (continued)
A Catena

A catena... is a chain of Scriptures (various translations based on the Greek New Testament) strung together as a commentary on the theme of God’s saving work for all—the grand arc of God’s drama of redemption. When read aloud with a touch of gravitas [‘dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner,’ ed.], the momentum is powerful:
—Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God, 241, color emphasis added.

Commentary on Young’s A Catena: Part 1
Young weaves together a series of Scripture passages, something he calls A Catena. He extracts and intertwines thirty-four Scripture passages in his catena, many extracted from the Apostle Paul’s letters. In this weaving-deceiving he attempts to make biblically believable the conversation he’s having with naïve readers. His Catena only includes passages containing the words “all,” “every,” “world,” “cosmos,” “everything” or “everyone,” passages he personally selects to fit his template and provide cover for his aberrant theology.

My commentary on the Bible passages Young quotes to support “the theme of God’s saving work for all” will appear, Lord willing, in three installments. My commentary will not be presented according to the order he has arranged the passages, but rather will be thematically presented around the highlighted words in his selected passages: “all... world... everything... everyone... whole... every... cosmos...” and two miscellaneous passages. Part 1 will focus on the “all passages.

Why such detailed attention to interpreting these catena-passages you might ask? For two reasons: First, as indicated by the popularity of The Shack, Christian universalism may attract many “converts” from among mainstream evangelicals thereby becoming the future belief of the movement in America and perhaps elsewhere. And second, none of us have the right to “cherry pick” texts to support the unsupportable; that is to proof-text evangelical universalism which designation is in and of itself oxymoronic. We begin with the keyword, “all.”

The “All” Passages (1-12) 

1. Luke 3:6 (NASB, emphasis Young’s):
“And then all flesh [or mankind] shall see the salvation of God.”

To introduce the ministry of John the Baptist Luke quotes Isaiah 40:5 (“then the glory of he Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together,” NASB). Luke saw “the coming of Messiah as the fulfillment of hope for the Gentiles. The grace of God would not be confined to one nation [Israel, ed.] but like a great flood, would overflow its banks to bring salvation to all flesh.”[57] Obviously if all humanity was already secure inside the Trinity, then Luke’s quotation would have been unnecessary for from the vantage point of being inside God they would have already seen the “salvation” and the “glory of the Lord.” But from the earthly perspective seeing is not believing... the Jews saw Jesus’ miracles which demonstrated His glory and authenticated Him to be their Messiah but would not believe. According to Young’s scheme, the Gentiles were already saved inside the Trinity whether they saw Messiah’s glory or not.

2. John 1:7 (Plain English/Greek NT, emphasis Young’s):
“This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that through Him [the Light] all would believe.”

Like Luke, the Apostle John refers to the testimony of John the Baptist in this statement. As he does at other times, Young plays word games with the Word. He quotes that through the Light all would believe when other versions translate the verb as “might believe” (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, NLT, NRSV, ASV, ESV, etc.) So what will it be, would believe or might believe? In the clause “that all might believe” (hina pantes pisteusosin), “The focus is on the intention of the action of the main verb, whether accomplished or not.”[58] When people heard John’s witness about the Light there was no universal guarantee that they would believe and be saved (outcome unquestionable) but only that they might believe and be saved (outcome questionable).

3. John 3:35 (AKJV, emphasis Young’s):
“The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into [the Son’s] hand.”

Ignored by Young, this verse’s context contradicts the doctrine of universal justification-reconciliation. In the next verse John the Baptist states: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36, KJV). The contrast between “he that believeth” (who has eternal life) and “he that believeth not” (upon whom God’s wrath abides) contradicts universal reconciliation. John’s testimony in no way teaches the salvation of all persons, for people are not things anyway. What the statement does teach is that the Father placed all things in the Son’s hand—He’s Got the Whole World in His Hand(s)—which speaks of Jesus’ authority and rule.[59]

4. John 12:32 (Berean Literal Bible NT, emphasis Young’s):
“And , if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw [drag] all men to Myself.”

Young explains Jesus words by qualifying the verb “draw” with a possible meaning of “drag.” So what will it be? Does Jesus draw or drag all men to Himself? Does Jesus influence human hearts to respond to the message of the Cross (“if I am lifted up”), or like fish caught in a net does Jesus drag them to the Cross? (John 21:8) The understanding resides in the Greek verb helkuo, signifying “drawing by inward power, by Divine impulse.”[60] Thus, unanimously Bible versions translate helkuo as “draw.” The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) employs the verb to describe Yahweh’s action toward Israel; “with lovingkindness have I drawn (helkuo) thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). Another verb (Greek suro) means to drag violently (See Acts 16:19). I prefer, as do the majority of Bible versions, the normal meaning of the verb to be “draw” not “drag.”

Jesus does not drag people to Himself against their will. No. Our tender Savior, filled with loving kindness, draws us and others to Himself. He influences us to believe. What a tender image of salvation.

5. John 13:3 (NIV/ESV, emphasis Young’s):
“Jesus knew that the Father had given all things into His hands.”

The Beloved Disciple describes a tense situation. Betrayal is in the air. Likely John and the other disciples felt something was wrong but did not know exactly what. Ominously, the devil had placed it into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus. The situation seemed out of control. But everything was not out of control because Jesus knew that the Father had placed “all things” (Greek neuter panta) into His hands. In other words, Jesus controlled the situation knowing “that He had come forth from God and was going back to God” (John 13:3). Whether coming or going Jesus controlled His destiny! The verse states Jesus’ sovereignty over his situation and has nothing whatsoever to with all humanity being saved by Him. In the immediate context, “all things” includes the timing, location, betrayal, arrest, trials, crucifixion and other details surrounding Jesus’ death. His control of everything became apparent with His resurrection!

God did not sacrifice His “child” on the Cross. (LWBAG, 149, 169) Jesus was a mature man and controlled His own destiny. While Jesus submitted to the cross, He was sovereign over it. The sovereign Son gave up His life! Why? Because the Father “has given all things” into the hand of His Son which includes His power to resurrect and His authority to judge the dead (John 5:27-29). “Here Comes the Judge!” And by the way, neither are people things.

6. John 6:37, 39 (ESV, emphasis Young’s):
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.... This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that all [I add the emphasis Young omitted, ed.] He has given Me I should loose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.”

The question regarding this passage is, has the Father given every human being who has ever lived to the Son to be their sanctuary (“I will by no means cast out”), their security (“I should loose nothing”) and their destiny (“raise it up in the last day”)? Does the Father select everybody and then give everybody to the Son for eternal safekeeping? If one pays attention to the context, the answer is “No!”

The inconsistency of Young employing Jesus’ words to fit his template of universal reconciliation is that just previously (verse 36) Jesus told the Capernaum crowd, “you have seen Me, and yet do not believe,” and subsequently, “everyone who... believes in Him will have eternal life” (verse 40). So the verse Young cites as proof of universal salvation is sandwiched between two statements by Jesus qualifying that only those who behold and believe in Him are safe in Him. Those who behold and do not believe are not safe.

Bruce notes that in John 6:37, “the pronoun ‘all’ is neuter singular (Gk. pan) denoting the sum-total of believers. In the second part (‘the one who comes’) each individual member of that sum-total is in view.”[61] The point: all were not saved because all did not come to Jesus and believe. But of those who come to Jesus by virtue of having been given by the Father to the Son, all of them are promised safekeeping in Christ forever.

7. John 17:2 (NIV, emphasis Young’s):
“For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.”

In his prayer Jesus Christ first prays to the Father for Himself (John 17:1-5); second He prays to the Father for His disciples (John 17:6-19); and and finally, He prays to the Father for the church (John 17:20-26). In His prayer for the disciples Jesus states, “I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition” (John 17:12). Obviously, Jesus Christ does not give eternal life to all humans without exception, Judas being one of them. He experienced perdition, not Paradise (See Matthew 26:44.).

Further, about the world, those who neither come to Jesus Christ nor believe on Him, Jesus said that as the world hated Him it would also hate His disciples (John 17:14; John 15:18-19). If the world includes people (John 3:16), then there are people who chronically hate Jesus as well as those who believe on Him. Remember Foxe’s Book of Martyrs?[62] In light of this, it becomes impossible to lump all humans together into one loving relationship with God. Jesus said that was not going to happen. Hatred of Jesus (He said He would be hated.) leads to hating His Apostles and disciples (Matthew 10:40; 1 John 2:23; 4:6) and His Father (John 13:20).

At the consummation of all things, those who hated and rejected Jesus and His Apostle-disciples will be shocked to discover to their dismay that the Father gave Jesus the power to resurrect all of them and the authority to judge all of them, some unto “a resurrection of life” and others unto “a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:24-30).

8. Acts 3:21 (NIV/Greek NT, emphasis Young’s):
“Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore all things.”

Occasioned by Peter and John’s healing of the lame man outside the temple (Acts 3:1-10), where and when they were going pray that afternoon, Peter, like he did previously on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-36), preached to a crowd of Jews who had observed the healing. It should be noted that Peter’s sermon was to the Jews, and concerned the past, present and future of Israel, God’s covenant nation. “Men of Israel...” is how Peter began his sermon (Acts 3:12, 25). That Peter mentioned Israel’s fathers (Acts 3:13, 25) and quoted from the nation’s prophets (Acts 3:18, 21, 24) further indicates he was addressing the spiritual condition of the Jewish people. What Peter told those Jews involved the nation’s past disobedience, their present opportunity and the nation’s promised future. By ignoring their prophets Israel rejected Jesus (Acts 3:13b-15). By repenting and returning to the Lord, their sins could be “wiped away” (Acts 3:19a) so that “times of refreshing might come from the presence of the Lord” (Emphasis added, Acts 3:19b). Then the nation could expectantly wait for Messiah Jesus’ return to introduce the “period of the restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” (Emphasis added, Acts 3:21).

In short, “the restoration (Greek apokatastasis) of all things” refers to the fulfillment of all God’s promises to His covenant people at the culmination of this age when her Messiah would introduce His Kingdom through Israel to the world. The “times of refreshing” (i.e., apokatastasis) would also reverse the curse upon the earth and restore the planet to Eden’s pristine condition (Genesis 1:31; 3:7, 16-19; Romans 8:18-21). This verse (Acts 3:21) cited by Young in his A Catena has nothing to do with the ultimate reconciliation of all humanity to God, but has everything to do with Israel’s repenting and returning to God so that spiritual refreshing might flood the nation and flow out into the world.

In short, Peter’s statement “restore all things” does not create a package deal by which all humanity becomes saved. As William MacDonald commented:

The times of restoration of all things point forward to the Millennium. They do not indicate universal salvation, as some have suggested; such a teaching is foreign to the Bible. Rather they point to the time when creation will be delivered from the bondage of corruption and Christ will reign in righteousness as King over all the earth.[63]
For example, Bethel Redding (Source)

Insight: By way of application, similar times of refreshing can come to the church from “the presence of the Lord” when the body of Christ, all of us, repents of its worldliness and sins, perhaps committed in ignorance (Acts 3:17), and reconciles (returns to) with Jesus. Then and only then will the smothering air of “churchianity” be blown away by a refreshing breeze from the Holy Spirit as He bears witness to the Person and Work of Jesus Christ (John 3:8; 15:26).

Among pan-evangelicals these days there’s a lot of talk about bringing down God’s presence through worship experiences stimulated by rock n’ roll music accompanied by flashing lights, with congregants swaying and moving in unity with the beat as they become one in worship as together they mouth repetitive lyrics and raise their arms and hands upward to bring heaven down, and all this capped off by a short “feel-good” sermon by the resident communicator pastor; or in an opposite direction, by retreating into solitude and silence and in that state trying to contemplate down feelings of divine presence or receive personal communication from God. But amidst all of this, there’s little if any conversation going on about Christians repenting of and confessing their sins, like Peter told the Jews to do, so that they might experience a renewed sense of the Lord’s presence.

9. Ephesians 1:9-10 (AKJV, emphasis Young’s):
God “purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ... in heaven and... earth—in Him.”

Final culmination in Christ: the Apostle Paul looks forward to the planned transition from history into eternity. When that happens (Swoosh!”), all things from the farthest corners of the universe to the deepest recesses of earth, will be consolidated together in Christ—in Him! The universe does not run the universe (pantheism, as above so below, yin yang). Rather Christ the Creator does and His sovereignty will be revealed when all things are gathered together in Him. About the Apostle Paul’s astounding statement allow some observations to be made.

That everything will be consummated in Christ indicates that everything’s not presently in Him. The universe is not “Christed.” The dispensation of the fullness of the times has not arrived. The cup is not yet full. The assumption and lie of eastern mysticism and New Age Spirituality is that everything’s cyclically moving-evolving (i.e., being and becoming) in oneness of process.

Resembling Young and Kruger’s view of the universe (LWBAG, 127-128), Matthew Fox states that,

The Cosmic Christ is the ‘I am’ in every creature. The divine mystery and miracle of existence is laid bare in the unique existence of each atom, each galaxy, each tree, bird, fish, dog, flower, star, rock, and human.[64]

But the Christian faith anticipates a future movement when everything will become one in Christ. The universe will not collapse into nothingness but will be divinely consummated in the Lord Jesus. If in the fullness of times everything will be gathered together in Christ, this means that the universe is not currently inside the Trinity. The Apostle Paul explains the cosmos awaits future incorporation into Christ. Though that moment has not yet arrived, in the future everything in heaven and earth will be gathered together in the Christ. “For from [the Lord] and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36; Compare Colossians 1:16-17; Revelation 1:8; 22:13.).

Presently, Christ dwells in regenerate Christian believers (Colossians 1:27; 2 Corinthians 5:17, “if anyone is in Christ he is a new creature,” the “if” suggesting that not everybody resides in Christ). In this letter to the Ephesians the Apostle described unbelievers as “sons of disobedience,” “indulging the desires of the flesh,” “children of wrath,” “dead in transgressions,” “separate from Christ,” “excluded from the commonwealth of Israel,” “strangers to the covenants,” “having no hope,” “without God in the world,” “darkened in their understanding,” “excluded from the life of God,” “callous,” “given over to sensuality,” “corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,” and “darkness” (Ephesians 2:2, 3, 5, 12; 4:18, 19; 5:6). Are we to think that Paul is describing the state and sins of people inside the Trinity and reconciled to God? I don’t think so!  

Question: With the proposal that everything’s inside the Trinity, where has God’s holiness (His separation from sin) gone? Further, as the Apostle Paul warned, “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath [not love] of God upon the children (huious) of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6). So it becomes impossible to see how those who are “children of disobedience” (disobedience runs in their spiritual DNA) can simultaneously be considered children of God. Contrary to Paul Young’s assertion, the truth is that “everyone is not a child of God.” (LWBAG, 203-208). Some are not children of God but the children of disobedience and wrath.

Unbelievers do not reside inside the Tri-Personal God. While in the fullness of times “all things” will find consummation in Christ, “all things” does include all humanity because people are not things. Paul’s description of the coming in-gathering to Christ is not personal but abstract, not regarding people but “things.” As one of my seminary teachers Dr. Harold Hoehner wrote, “This does not suggest that everyone will be saved; instead, sin’s disorder will be removed and universal peace will be established (Isa. 2:2-4; 11:1-10).”[65]

But how often have we read these passages not realizing the incredible future that awaits the cosmos in Christ? Meanwhile we can personally appreciate that, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Ephesians 1:7)

10. Ephesians 1:22-23 (ESV, emphasis Young’s):
“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

These words of the Apostle reside in his prayer for the Ephesians (“I... do not cease giving thanks for you... in my prayers,” Ephesians 1:16). Generally Paul prays that “the eyes of their heart may be enlightened” (which enlightening would involve receiving from “the Father of glory... a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge” of the Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 1:17). Specifically, the “enlightening” would come from the Father and involve aspects of: 1. knowing “the hope of His calling”; 2. knowing “the glory of His inheritance in the saints”; and 3. knowing “the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19). All of this “knowing” (i.e., true gnosis) is made possible for reason of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, ascension to His throne in heaven, and exaltation in heaven now and in the universe during the age to come (Ephesians 1:20-21).

Explaining Christ’s exaltation, the Apostle states that from “outside and above the universe” so to speak, God the Creator put everything under the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ thereby making Him “head over all things to the church.” Dr. Leon Morris states that, “it is Christ who completes the church, not the church who completes Christ.”[66] In other words, the Lord Jesus Christ fills the church, His body, and conversely the church does not fill Christ (Ephesians 1:23). What’s the point? The verses Young cites from the Apostle’s prayer have nothing to do with reconciling all humanity within the Trinity, but rather with the Head of the universe filling His church with His fullness.

11. Colossians 1:15-17, 20 (Holman CSB, emphasis Young’s):
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all [Young did not italicize this all, ed.] creation. For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.... and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross—whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

In the flow of these Colossians verses, the repetition of the noun “things” becomes evident.[67] The Apostle wrote these verses to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ above everything in His created universe. The visage of Jesus Christ is that He’s the “the image of the invisible God,” and His title is that He’s “the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). By His incarnation Jesus Christ made the invisible God visible (i.e., image or eikon, John 14:8-9). And for reason of His having created “everything” He is to be the honored head of the universe (i.e., “the firstborn” over all creation). Christ is the uncreated Creator of “all things... in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible... thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities” (Colossians 1:16; See John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2-3.). This presentation of Jesus Christ ought to give us pause and cause to worship the One who created and controls the cosmos.

Thou art worthy, O Lord,
to receive glory and honour and power:
for Thou hast created all things,
and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.

—Revelation 4:11 

Now to the issue: Does this Scripture passage exalting Jesus Christ teach the salvation-reconciliation of all humanity? For several reasons, the answer is “No!” First, just previous to his majestic description of Christ the creator and sustainer of “all things,” the Apostle tells the Colossians (personal pronouns “us,” “us,” “us” and “we”) that in contrast to surrounding pagan culture (i.e., “the domain of darkness” he called it), they had come out of that darkness to inherit “the kingdom” of the Father’s “beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). This kingdom is not now nor will it be the kingdom of all people. “Truly, truly, I say to you,” Jesus said to Nicodemus “unless one is born again (from above) he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5). Unless they are born of the Holy Spirit, people will never, no never submit to God’s rule. But to the Colossians Paul states that in the Son “we [not all, ed.] have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). Personal pronouns are important because “they” make personal and particular the ones who possess “redemption, the forgiveness of sins,” something which believing all humanity is saved does not accommodate. Had the Apostle intended to communicate the teaching of universal reconciliation, he could have written that the Father has rescued and transferred all into Jesus’ kingdom of Light. Obviously the Apostle knew of and used the neuter adjective “all’’ (ta panta) in this very passage. But in reference to those redeemed and reconciled to God, the Apostle used the pronouns “us,” “we” and “you” and not the inclusive adjective “all” or designation “all men” (panta anthropous). The objects of the Lord’s redemption and reconciliation are people not things.

Second, the Apostle designates the universe to be “all things” (ta panta). Paul states that God through Christ has reconciled “all things to Himself” (Colossians 1:20). As one commentator expresses, “I am led to understand God’s reconciliation of all things as encompassing the nonhuman and inanimate worlds, so that ‘even the stones will cry out’ in praise of God (Lk 19:20; see also Rev 21:19-21).”[68] Again, people are not things. Humans have been made in the “likeness” and “image” of God, which image allows them to have from God a lesser, delegated and immediate dominion (i.e. “rule”) over the earth even while the Creator Christ ultimately rules over everything (Genesis 1:26-28). Though man is the king of the earth, Christ is the King of the cosmos. While at the micro and macro levels humans may explore the universe, they do not control it. This brings us to consider the object of the Father’s reconciliation as stated by the Apostle Paul (Colossians 1:20). Does “all things” equate to “all” humans?

Third, the objects of reconciliation were those (“you” not all) who were “formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds” (Colossians 1:21). The Apostle contrasts “all things” with people, most notably in this context the Colossian Christians. Paul states that Jesus Christ, in whom “all the fullness” dwells, “reconciled you [not all, ed.] in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you [again, not all, ed.] before Him [the Father] holy and blameless and beyond reproach” (Colossians 1:22). From a straightforward reading of the text the reconciliation Paul speaks of, while making provision for the future reconciliation of this rogue universe to God (“the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption,” emphasis added, Romans 8:21; Compare 2 Peter 3:11-13.), applies only to those (you and we) who in the flow of history have “now” been reconciled through Christ to God. Call this understanding too narrow or exclusive if you wish, but this is what Paul the Apostle taught. In the equation of reconciliation, “all things” does not equal all people. F.F. Bruce commented, “to deduce from such words as these [as Wm. Paul Young and others try to do, ed.] that every last man or woman, irrespective of moral record or attitude to God, will at last enjoy eternal bliss would be (to say no more) putting on them [the words, ed.] a burden of meaning heavier than they [the words, ed.] can bear.”[69]

12. Romans 5:18 (KJV/Greek NT, emphasis Young’s):
“As through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.”

Universal-reconciliation (all) demands universal-justification (all), and that’s what Young sees in this verse despite the qualification stated by the Apostle in the verse preceding; that “much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness [i.e., justification] will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Emphasis added, Romans 5:17, NASB). There is no automatic equivalence between “all” being condemned in Adam and “all” being justified in Christ. The Apostle writes that, “the free gift is not like the transgression” (Emphasis added, Romans 5:15). There are those who receive Christ’s righteousness and those who bathe themselves in self-righteousness (See Luke 18:9-14; Jesus said the desperate Publican “went to his house justified” while the self-righteous Pharisee just went home.).

While the equivalence may seem apparent, the context informs readers it’s not actual. Only those “who receive... the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). Know that the English words “righteousness” and “justification” derive from the same Greek verb; the verb “justified” is dikaioo, the noun “justification” is dikaiosune and the noun “righteousness” is also dikaiosune. In short, “righteousness” equals “justification.”

As regards condemnation in Adam and justification in Christ, Dr. John A. Witmer commented: “The provision in the one righteous act, therefore, is potential and it comes to the entire human race as the offer and opportunity which are applied only to “those who receive” (v. 17).” [70] Those who receive justification will reign in life through Jesus Christ. Those who reject Christ’s righteousness will not reign with Him in life.

To be continued . . .

[57] F.E. Stallan, Things Written Afore Time (Kilmarnock, GB; John Ritchie Ltd., 1990): 86. 
[58] Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996): 472. 
[59] “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/He%27s_Got_the_Whole_World_in_His_Hands). First published in 1927, many have performed this traditional American spiritual song. 
[60] W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984): 328. 
[61] F.F. Bruce, The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman Publishing Company, 1983): 154. 
[62] John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Prepared by W. Grinton Berry (Fincastle, VA: Scripture Truth, no date). This book has been issued and reissued in numerous editions. Fox was an English martyrologist who lived 16th century (1516-1587). 
[63] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, Arthur L. Farstad, Editor, Kindle Edition (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1995): 1579. 
[64] See Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988): 155. 
[65] Harold W. Hoehner, “Ephesians,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, Volume II, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Editors (Wheaton IL: Victor Books, 1983): 618. 
[66] Leon Morris, Expository Reflections on the Letter to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1994): 38. 
[67] The Son is to be honored (as the “firstborn,” ed.) in the universe because, “by Him were all things [ta panta, neuter plural] created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things [ta panta, neuter plural] were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things [panton, neuter plural], and by Him all things [ta panta, neuter plural] consist. And He is the head of the... the church... that in all things [en pasin, neuter plural] He might [by virtue of His resurrection, ed.] have the preeminence.... And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things [ta panta, neuter plural] unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things [ta, neuter plural] in earth, or things [ta, neuter plural] in heaven.” (Colossians 1:16-17, 20). 
[68] Robert W. Wall, Colossians & Philemon: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993): 77. 
[69] F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984): 75. 
[70] John A. Witmer, “Romans,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, Volume II, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Editors (Wheaton IL: Victor Books, 1983): 460. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Universalism & Trinitization

Truths We Believe about God, Part 5 

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

Part 1: Truths We Believe About God 
Part 2: Doing the Universalist Twist 
Part 3: OUR Way or THE Way?  
Part 4: An Imaginary Cosmic Reality
By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

—The Apostle Paul (Emphasis added, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)

An occult view of Trinitization*

A Review of the Book’s Chapters (continued)
Chapters 20-28 

Chapter 20
“God is a divine Santa Claus.” 
  • Young: “I think there are two basic ways we tend to see God as Santa Claus: as the Nice Santa God and as the Nasty Santa God.... The Nice Santa God is wondrous.... The Nasty Santa God is our imagination of the darkness behind Jesus—God the Father. It is God the Father who requires perfect performance and moral behavior.” (LWBAG, 174, 175-176) [Question: In imagining the darkness of the Father behind Jesus, when might imagination become accusation?]
  • James the Brother of Jesus: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) 

Comments: Young is right. In the imagination of the mind, Christian civilization has corrupted the meaning of Christmas. Thus in the understanding of God has suffered from which Young constructs his nice-Santa or nasty-Santa God. From their childhood people’s imaginations have conditioned them to think that the holiday (i.e., Holy Day) is about Santa’s gift-gigs and not about the remembrance of Jesus’ coming to die for our sins and be our Savior. “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife” the Angel of the Lord told Joseph, “she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save his people from their sins” (Emphasis added, Matthew 1:20-21). The author cites anecdotal evidence (he’s met many people who have had trouble forgetting their childhood imaginations of the Santa-god) for people creating “incoherent views of God,” the false impression that if we’re good He’ll be nice, and if we’re bad He’ll be nasty. (LWBAG, 175-176)

Unfortunately Christians, perhaps brainwashed by the substitution of a materialistic nice or nasty Santa for our good and gracious Heavenly Father and Savior, misunderstand God. It seems engrained in people, irrespective of Christmas, to come to God for what they can get out of Him anyway (e.g., the wealth gospel which is prevalent all over Christianized Africa). But remember: God gives gifts not for reason of our performance but for reason of His promise and providence, not for reason of our goodness but for reason of His grace.

“But my God” wrote the Apostle Paul, “shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). To those who have placed their faith in the Gospel, the good God gives, “no strings attached”! (John 3:16) All God requires for us to please Him is faith in His Son, that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead on account of our justification (Hebrews 11:6; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 4:25). On the basis of faith God gives eternal life to those who believe on “His only begotten Son” (Greek monogenes) to be their Savior. They will be given eternal life and they shall not/no never perish (John 1:27-30). And for reason of common grace, the Father “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). To one extent or another all people share in God’s immediate goodness.

In Jesus’ statement, by the way, do you see how He did not lump humanity in one group? To Him all people did not reside in one Cosmic box; “the just” (dikaios) were categorized to be in one box while “the unjust” (adikaios) in another. There are people whose outward obedience to the Law indicates they are right (just) with the Father and those whose behavior indicates they are not (unjust). Lest any might think that God’s common grace eventuates in universal justification, remember Jesus’ real-life illustration where the Pharisee bathed himself in his own self-justification while the tax collector cried out, “God be merciful to me the sinner!” (Luke 18:9-14) Of the two, the tax collector “went to his house justified,” or right with God (Greek dikaioo, Luke 18:14). The Pharisee just went home. As the New Testament does not teach universal-reconciliation, neither does it teach universal-justification.[48]

Chapter 21 
“Death is more powerful than God.” 
  • Young: “‘I don’t think God would ever say that once you die, your fate is sealed and there is nothing that God can do for you.’...I do believe that the idea that we lose our ability to choose at the event of physical death is a significant lie and needs to be exposed....I propose that the event of death introduces a crisis (krisis—the Greek word, as in ‘Day of... judgment’), a restorative process intended to free us to run into the arms of Love.” (LWBAG, 182, 185-186, 187) 
  • Jesus Christ: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28-29) 
  • The Book of Hebrews: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) 
  • The Apostle John: “This is the second death, the lake of fire.... And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15) 

Comments: At first glace, the chapter’s title is deceiving. At issue with Young is not whether there will be a resurrection from the dead (Contra the New Testament teaching), but whether there will occur a final and forever separation (death means “separation”) between God and the ungodly. To Young, death means restoration, not separation; that after death one’s eternal destiny is not “sealed” or “locked” down. (LWBAG, 182) People who are separate from God in this life will possess the choice to unite with Him in the next. According to Young’s universalism, sooner or later, whether in this life or the next, God will restore all humans into the fold of His “love.” If people live by their wrong choice in this life they will, when confronted up-close and personal with the Trinity’s love, make the right choice in the next.

This amounts to a gospel of a “second chance” and is consistent with his belief and teaching of universal reconciliation. While Young may “believe... think... suggest... propose” (his words) this to be the case, such teaching contradicts the Bible and makes insignificant any choice we might make in this life to either put our faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior for our sins or “no.” That’s why Paul the Apostle wrote: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Chapter 22 
“God is not involved in my suffering.”
  • Young: “Death is always accompanied by suffering. But God refuses to be absent from the Creation and infuses our suffering with Presence and Love.” (LWBAG, 193) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.... Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 5:5; 8:26) 
    Teilhard de Chardin

The “Trinitization” of the Universe

As he does about twenty times in The Shack, Young spells “Creation” with an upper case “C” suggesting he believes that divineness permeates creation. According to Young’s template (that everything’s inside the Trinity), this might be called the “trinitization” of the universe (his version of pantheism). The being and becoming of everyone and everything inside the Trinity, more than the attribute of God’s omnipresence (Psalm 139:7-10), accounts for God’s presence everywhere, which “Presence” he spells with a capital “P.”

Of the universe Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) stated one aspect of his spiritual worldview involves a mystery “of the creative union of the world in God, or Pleromization.”[49] What de Chardin did was take “the fullness” (i.e., Greek pleroma), which dwelt only in Christ according to the Apostle Paul (Colossians 1:19), and illegitimately make a quantum transfer of the Pleroma so that it would permeate the entire universe—from in Christ into cosmos as it were. As it pleased the Father “for all the fullness (pleroma) to dwell in” His beloved Son, so, according to de Chardin, it also pleased the Father to infuse the same fullness into an evolving creation.

Teilhard de Chardin, according to Professor King also called the “pleromization” of the universe the “trinitization” of creation, where “centered on Christ.... The entire cosmic process is seen as going to the Father through the Son in the Spirit.”[50] In reading about the “trinitization” of the universe, one is led to consider whether de Chardin is a seminal source from whom both Young and Kruger derive their thinking that everyone and everything’s inside the Trinity, that “Inside of this moving divine dance of relationship, everything was created: every human being, every plant, every subatomic particle, everything.” (LWBAG, 127-128) 

Comments: Agreeably with Young, the Bible teaches, as indicated by the verses quoted above, that the loving Spirit of the living God co-agonizes with and in believers amidst their suffering in a fallen creation. But the presence of the Comforter is not promised to unbelievers because, “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9b, NASB; Matthew 28:20b; Hebrews 13:5).

Personal Testimony: On November 9, 2006, I can testify of the Jesus’ comforting presence in the person of the Holy Spirit during my heart attack, when seven times I had to be defibrillated during an hour and half emergency ride to the hospital, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Kórház, in Budapest, Hungary. Dazed and slightly conscious, I said several times to the attending doctor and emergency helpers, “Thank you for trying to help me.” For that they called me “The American Gentleman.” God gave me that utterance. I relate this to you dear believer-readers for this reason only: in the hour of trial the same comfort the Spirit gave to me He will give to you. Amidst all our trials, life threatening or not, we can with assurance sing in the Spirit,
Just when I [we] need Him most,
Just when I [we] need Him most,
Jesus is near to comfort and cheer,
Just when I [we] need Him most.

—William C. Poole, Just When I Need Him Most, 1907.[51] 
An occult view of Trinitization*

Chapter 23
“You will never find God in a box.” 
  • Young: “I grew up in a world of boxes: us and them, in and out, worthy and unworthy, believer and unbeliever, saved and unsaved, and on and on. Boxes. Cages. Those Pentecostals. Those Baptists. Those Muslims. Those New Agers. Those Taoists.... Our arrogance is that we could craft something, a box, that can keep God out.... ‘The only time we will find God in a box is because God wants to be where we are.’ And that is all the time.” (LWBAG, 199, 201) [In Young’s world there is no need to “coexist,” because every religion and spiritual tradition already exist together in a “trinitized” cosmos, ed.] 
  • Jesus Christ: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” (Matthew 23:2-3) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9) [The word accursed (Greek, anathema) does not mean “to go to hell”—though that will be the consequence of believing a different gospel which is no Gospel—but advises believers to separate themselves from those who preach a false gospel like universal reconciliation. Believers were to stay in their box and keep the false “gospelers” in theirs, ed.] 
  • The Apostle Paul: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:17-18) [Again, the Apostle Paul put false teachers in a box! Ed.] 
    A popular New Age bumper sticker to unite all world religions
Comments: Consistent with his and Kruger’s universalism which proposes that everyone’s “trinitized,” Young says the only box God puts Himself in is where we are. But Christians, especially fundamentalists and some evangelicals, arbitrarily create boxes to separate themselves from people of other spiritual traditions, religions and practices. This contradicts Young’s imagining that every denomination, spiritual tradition and religion and tradition cosmically reside inside the Trinity, and what God has joined together let no man drive asunder. So boxes are designed by religious land owners to keep others off their property—“No Trespassing!” Yet the leaders of the Jews rejected Jesus because didn’t fit in their box! Jesus told the Jewish leaders He came from His Father and from “above.” Knowing Jesus’ parents, the Jews told Him, “No way!” So they accused Him of blasphemy.

Today, Muslims put Christians as well as Jews in a box. In the Middle East and Sub-Sahara Africa they kill “the infidels,” the people who are not in their box. Evidently in real life, the hypothesis that we are all in the same box does not work out! Come to think about it, the Jesus of Scripture doesn’t fit in a lot of people’s boxes.

Question: Should believing Christians keep false teachers in a box, those who hold “to a form of godliness although they have denied its power”? The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy and his hearers, “Avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:5; See 2 Thessalonians 3:6.) Did Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, instruct the nation to avoid the box of “Canaanite” spirituality? (See Deuteronomy 18:9-14.) Israel was to avoid that box not because they created it, but because Yahweh did. The Lord boxed them in as He boxed the Canaanites out!

Come to think of it, the Bible is filled boxes—the Law forbade the men of God’s chosen nation Israel, one box, from taking wives from surrounding nations, another box (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). There are yet other boxes; believers and infidels (2 Corinthians 6:14-18); light and darkness (Ephesians 5:11); future believers and the coming harlot called Babylon (Revelation 18:4); and so on. Come to think of it, in the Bible there seem to be boxes everywhere, not because man built them but because God ordered them. Yet if as Young and Kruger propose we’re all inside the Jesus-Trinity, there can be no separation, no categories, and no boxes, just everyone singing together, “Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya” (Come By Here My Lord, Come By Here).

Chapter 24 
“Not everyone is a child of God.” 
  • Young: “Every human being you meet, interact with, react and respond to, treat rudely or with kindness and mercy: everyone is a child of God.” (LWBAG, 206) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Emphasis added, Galatians 6:10) 
  • Jesus Christ: (To some Jewish leaders) “Ye are of your father the devil” (John 8:44) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9b) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “But it is not as though the word of God hath come to nought. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel: neither, because they are Abraham’s seed, are they all children (tekna): but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, it is not the children (tekna) of the flesh that are children (tekna) of God; but the children (tekna) of the promise are reckoned for a seed.” (Emphasis added, Romans 9:6-8) 

Comments: As regards this chapter, I would refer readers to my previous evaluation of it, “Truths We Believe about God Part 2.”

Chapter 25 
“God is disappointed in me.” 
  • Young: “God knows you for who you truly are and grieves for the distance between that truth and what you believe about yourself. It is from that gap of darkness and lies that we project God’s disappointment and abandonment. God is never disillusioned by you; God never had any illusions about you in the first place. God is never disappointed in you; God has no expectations.” (LWBAG, 214). 
  • The Lord God: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (Emphasis added, Genesis 6:5-6) 
  • Jesus Christ: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God.... Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:30-31) 

Comments: Often I’ve heard people say that because they don’t get from God what they want they’re disappointed in Him. In that the key concept of how the personal God interacts with humans is “relationship” (“Mack, I am especially fond of you,” says Jesus in The Shack, p. 217), how can it be stated with assurance that never-ever does God become disappointed with us? In that Jesus said He was especially fond of Mack, might He not be so especially fond of someone else? Was God especially fond of me when I failed to walk with Him in my late teens and early twenties? I don’t believe He was. Why was the Holy Spirit pricking my conscience to repent and by grace through faith get life right? Or were my feelings of guilt just my unworthy projections about myself? Granted, our heavenly Father is not petulantly disappointed with us “all the time” as some human fathers might be. (Young: “My father was disappointed in me—all the time.” LWBAG, 210) But there are times... when we fail to live up to our potential for His glory and our good. As I look back on my life, I am comforted by this reminder in Hebrews:

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
—Hebrews 12:5-7 

Further, if during our times of disobedience when God becomes disappointed with His sons, why has He provided a way to restore fellowship with Him through our confession and His forgiveness? (See 1 John 1:9.) To say God does not become disappointed in us to deny the love He has for us and the grace He gives to us. God does not enjoy watching us “mess up” (sin) and thereby complicate both our lives and the lives of others around us. To the contrary, it grieves Him. Personally, I believe that Jesus did not want to disappoint His Father (Our Father who art in heaven, too) by doing His own will, and not the Father’s. When faced by the prospect of His sacrificial death, Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:36; See Philippians 2:8, Christ Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”).

Regarding submission, in Young's The Shack Jesus states to Mack that the beauty he sees in His relationship with Abba and Sarayu is that they “are submitted to one another and have always been so and always will be.” Then The Shack's Jesus tells Mack, “we want you to join us in our circle of relationship (i.e., social Trinitarianism).” (The Shack, 145, 146) Question: When Jesus submitted/obeyed the Father, how then did the Father submit to Jesus in that circle of relationship (i.e., perichoresis)? Unless you believe like a heretical oneness Pentecostal, Jesus and not the Father became “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

In his book Faith of the Fatherless, Paul C. Vitz argues that, “Disappointment in one’s earthly father, whether through death, absence, or mistreatment, frequently leads to rejection of God.”[52] While Young’s admitted mistreatment by his father has not led him to reject God, it appears it may be a factor in his trying to redefine God. (LWBAG, 31, 210) In fairness to both Young and his father, he notes how his dad tenderly loves and cares for his mother amidst her declining health. (LWBAG, 49-50) But to make the comparison between our human fathers and our heavenly Father, between my being a father to my sons and our heavenly Father being a Father to both me and them, is like comparing God to a grumpy old man. The One simply does not compare to the other.[53] Further, God does not grieve about the gap between what He believes about us and the darkness we believe about ourselves. God grieves for reason of how we behave toward Him and toward others (Ephesians 4:25-32; “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,” verse 30).

Chapter 26 
“God loves me for my potential.” 
  • Young: “Does God love me because of my potential? No! Do I love my children because of their potential? No! If I am not yet ‘enough,’ when will I be? How are we to enjoy our children in the present if the focus is on some future potential that qualifies the value of each moment?” (LWBAG, 221) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29) [In this text the word “predestinate” (Greek, proorizo) looks forward to the future when we shall be like Jesus, not backward to eternity past when God chose/elected us (Compare Ephesians 1:4-5.) In Christ God has destined our destiny, and that is, to be like His Son, ed.]
  • The Apostle John: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3) 

Comments: Young asks the question, “If I am not yet ‘enough,’ when will I be?” (LWBAG, 221) The biblical answer, one which Young may not like, is that “when he [Christ Jesus] shall appear, we shall be like (Greek homoios) him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Therein resides our potential! While we are becoming like Christ now we shall in the next dimension of life become completed in Christ. (We shall become like (Greek homoios) Christ, but we shall not become identical (Greek houtos) to Christ, John 1:2; 3:2; etc.). We shall not become the “little-Christs” or “mini-Messiahs” as Young might call us. (LWBAG, 53) This is a purifying hope. Because we are “in Christ” shall become “like Christ”! Though we’re not there yet, by God’s grace we’ll get there. Among other reasons, God does love us for the potential we share in His Son.

By the way, love based upon potential is not all bad. Major league baseball teams, as well as other professional sports franchises, draft players not for where they are in their development, but for their potential, for what they might become.

Chapter 27 
“Sin separates us from God.” 
  • Young: “Sin, then, is anything that negates or diminishes or misrepresents the truth of who you are, no matter how petty or ugly that is.” ...“If separation is a lie, does it mean that no one has ever been separated from God? That is exactly what it means.” (Emphasis added, LWBAG, 229, 232) 
  • The Prophet Isaiah: “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Emphasis added, Isaiah 59:2) 
  • The Prophet Habakkuk: “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” (Habakkuk 1:13) 
  • The Apostle Paul: “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12-13) 
  • The Apostle John: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4) 

Comments: If we’re all together inside the Jesus-Trinity, “relationships,” given sin’s presence, might become broken. It was that way between Adam, Eve and God in Eden (Genesis 3:8-10). Yet according to Young’s template, if everything is inside God, then hypothetically there can be no sin in God’s presence—that is breaking God’s Law—lest inside the Trinity there might be an exchange of sinning between humanity and deity. Hypothetically, in such an exchange man might conceivably make God a sinner for His tolerating that which is against His nature (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22). The Law was given to show what a good relationship might look and behave like, first between man (generic) and God and then between man (generic) and man (generic).

Chapter 28 
“God is One alone.” 
  • Young: “If God has ever been alone, there would be neither a basis in the universe for love nor a framework for relationship. Love is other-centered and self-giving, but if there was no ‘other’ in the beginning and God was alone, then God cannot be Love. Merciful, perhaps, but not Love.” (LWBAG, 239) 

Comments: Interesting.... The most fundamental belief about God in Islam is his absolute unity (i.e., tawhid) and singularity, “There is no god but God,” Muslims confess. Of Allah’s singularity, one pious writing states that before creation, “God was alone; around him was the Void.” See Cyril Glassé, The New Encyclopedia of Islam (Walnut Creek, CA: AltiMira Press, 2001): 44. I point this out to contrast the loving Christian Trinity to Islam’s unloving Unity. The Apostle John stated that “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) But Young capitalizes “Love” as if suggesting “Love” is God. However, the Apostle’s statement does not indicate that “love” is God for the Greek text reads: “Because the God is love.” In that no definite article (“the”) precedes the word love (agape), the text does not say “the love is God.”

But I do agree with Young on the point that a deistic Unitarian God or Muslim “alone-God” like Allah, would be incapable of love. If God was utterly alone before the beginning of time, before the Void, then the divine being would be incapable of loving others because there would be no others to love, and that becomes the dilemma Islam’s believers find themselves in. They cannot love but only submit to Allah who is Will. From such a perspective, the only being God would have the capacity to love would be himself. Samuel Zwemer (1867-1952), noted scholar of Islam and missionary to Muslims, observed:

The human heart craves a God who loves; a personal God who has close relations with humanity; a living God who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities and who hears and answers prayer. Such a God the Koran does not reveal. A being who is incapable of loving is also incapable of being loved.[54] 

So to experience the feeling of Allah’s love, Sufi Muslims turn to mysticism, a search orthodox Islam views as heretical because to the orthodox, “Allah is too rich and too proud and too independent to need or desire the tribute of human love.”[55]

The irony of Young and Kruger’s template of breaking down boxes in order to place Islam inside the Christian God is that to Muslims believing in the Trinity and the deity of Jesus Christ is heresy. Only the Trinitarian understanding of God allows for love to be an (not the) essence of His eternal being (See John 17:24, “Thou [Father] lovedst me [Jesus] before the foundation of the world.”)

To be continued . . . 

[48] Universal-reconciliation demands universal-justification, and one ace text universalists cite to prove universal-justification is Romans 5:15 (Emphasis added), “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many (polus) be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many (polus).” Universalists argue for equivalence between the many who died in the first Adam and the many who receive grace in Jesus Christ, the second Adam. However, the context (surrounding verses) contradicts establishing equivalence. First, the analogy the Apostle Paul invokes is general, not exact. In the preceding verse the Apostle called Adam “a type of Him [Jesus Christ] who is to come” (Emphasis added, Romans 5:14, NASB). The Greek word tupos is sometimes used of the impression or dent left on something after a blow had been administered to it (i.e., like the dent on the fender of a car). Second, though all humans were made sinners because of the first Adam’s disobedience (excepting Jesus of course), all humans are not consequently saved by Christ’s obedience. The Apostle makes this distinction in Romans 5:15 and 17 (NASB). The many-all who died in the one Adam (v. 15) compose one group while “those who receive the abundance of grace and... the gift of righteousness... through the One, Jesus Christ” compose the other group. The contrast Paul invokes is between the many-all who died in Adam’s transgression (all of us) and the many-those who “reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (some of us). In other words as regards the offer of grace and righteousness from Jesus Christ, there are receivers (like the destitute tax collector) who reign in life and there are rejecters (like the self-righteous Pharisee) who do not (Luke 18:9-14). Rejecters may be prominent and powerful, but they do not reign in Christ in life. 
[49] Ursula King, Christ In All Things: Exploring Spirituality with Teilhard de Chardin (London, GB: SCM Press Ltd., 1997): 67. 
[50] Ibid: 68. 
[51] William C. Poole, “Just When I Need Him Most,” 1907, Timeless Truths (http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Just_When_I_Need_Him_Most/). 
[52] Paul C. Vitz, Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism (Dallas, TX: Spence Publishing Company, 1999): inside front cover jacket. 
[53] Ray Befus, “Chasing God: Thursday Night,” VineyardVideos, November 21, 2013 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etTp_ZpLMi8). In this video Ray Befus shares the personal confusion and conflict he experienced about our heavenly Father and the image his father, who was also a pastor, projected into his life when he was young. 
[54] Samuel Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God (New York, NY: American Tract Society, 1905): 111. See also Larry DeBruyn, “Christ or Allah: Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?” December 25, 2015, Guarding His Flock Ministries (http://guardinghisflock.com/2015/12/25/christ-or-allah/#more-3051). 
[55] Ibid. Since reading Zwemer’s book years ago, my conviction is that only the Trinitarian God of Christianity is capable of being, exhibiting, giving and receiving love.

*Ed. Note: The first graphic at the top came from HERE. The second graphic was excerpted from HERE. These two graphics depict the sci-fi cult views of The Urantia Society. It must be noted that their Book of Urantia appears to have borrowed Teilhard's term and greatly expanded his concept of Trinitization. It is NOT recommended that the reader spend any time researching this since it delves deeply into the dark occult. I was exposed to the Book of Urantia while a hippie ~ Sarah H. Leslie

Reprinted with permission of the author. The original article is posted at: http://guardinghisflock.com/2017/06/12/truths-we-believe-about-god-5/#more-3292