From the author of the twenty million plus copy bestselling novel The Shack and the New York Times bestsellers Cross Roads and Eve comes a compelling, conversational exploration of the wrong-headed ideas we sometimes have and share about God.
Wm. Paul Young has been called a heretic for the ways he vividly portrays God’s love through his novels. Here he shares twenty-eight commonly uttered and sometimes seemingly innocuous things we say about God. Paul exposes these as lies that keep us from having a full, loving relationship with our Creator.
With personal anecdotes and sharing the compassion readers felt from the “Papa” portrayed in The Shack—soon to be a major film starring Octavia Spencer, Sam Worthington and Tim McGraw—Paul encourages readers to think anew about important issues including sin, religion, hell, politics, identity, creation, human rights, and helping us discover God’s deep and abiding love.
Wm. Paul Young is a Canadian author. Young was the oldest of four. He spend the majority of his first decade with his missionary parents in the highlands of Netherlands New Guinea (West Papua), among the Dani, a tribal people. When he was six he was sent to a boarding school.
The manuscript, that later became The Shack, was intended only for his six kids and for a handful of close friends. After multiple rejections by publishers, Young and his friends published the book under the name of their newly created publishing company. The Shack was one of the top-selling fiction books of 2008 and will be a major motion picture in Spring 2017.
Young lives in Happy Valley, Oregon with his wife and has six children and several grandchildren. He is also the author of Crossroads, Eve and the non-fiction book, Lies We Believe About God.
I should have known better, you know. I'm like the cat who just made it to his eighth life. It was on the shelf at the bookstore, and I had to poke my nose in and see if it was decent or not. Not even being able to finish The Shack, because of theological issues and bad writing, you'd think I could have inferred where he stood theologically.
I guess I just wanted to give him a chance to say he actually did believe in the God of the Bible, the God of the New Testament. To share that the Bible is the only way to life.
At least I can say that the sentence structure of his writing is better.
Well, he didn't. Some of the chapters were innocuous enough, but then (flipping from the back) one of the "lies" is "God wants you to be more like Him." Errrrrr. Then was Jesus shooting the wind when he said, "Go, and do likewise"? Hardly. Of course, Young doesn't use Scripture to back himself up. A couple of generic verses and several paragraphs of his own personal view of who God should be and how no human can ultimately affect God, and how God is sovereign and doesn't need us.
Then the doozy chapter, a bit earlier in the book. "God wants us to be saved." Wow! I have to admit, I was a bit surprised that he came right out and said it straight. He says there's nothing to be saved from, that Jesus dying laid the entire cost and we have nothing to fear. He didn't even deign to address the many verses of "Ye must be born again" and so on. Yes, people, Paul Young is a universalist. He's proud of it.
Apparently this book should have been titled Lies Paul Young Believes About God.
Lies We Believe About God is the latest book from the author of The Shack, WM. Paul Young. The author originally penned The Shack at the request of his wife as a Christmas gift to his six children. First published in 2007, this book has sold over 20 million copies and was recently unveiled as a feature film.
The Shack struck a central chord in people, many of whom confess that the storyline helped them overcome personal pain and tragedy, what the author refers to as, the Great Sadness. Wes Yoder, who endorses The Shack summarizes the ideas in this story. He writes, “The Shack is a beautiful story of how God comes to find us in the midst of our sorrows, trapped by disappointments, betrayed by our own presumptions.” Eugene Peterson adds, “This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good.”
But many reviewers of The Shack were less sympathetic. In the minds of some, the nature of God was compromised and the boundaries of orthodoxy were broached. But since The Shack is a novel, the line between fact and fiction became blurred and the theological intentions of the author were difficult to discern.
Young’s most recent offering, Lies We Believe About God, puts to rest any speculation about his views of God and Christian theology. The truly impressive feature about Young’s most recent offering is its transparency and honesty. The author presents twenty-eight “lies we believe about God” in terms that are unmistakable. Readers will no longer be able to sweep the theological statements in Young’s previous novels under the carpet. His views concerning God are set forth in plain terms, giving readers a better understanding of what was proposed in his previous novels.
The question for discerning readers to ask is whether or not Young’s views measure up to the scrutiny of God’s Word. Three critical areas of concern surface in the book, Lies We Believe About God.
A Flawed View of God
It is a great irony that a book which sets out to challenge the so-called “lies we believe about God,”does in fact, promote views of God that fail to match the biblical record. First, Young promotes a soft view of God. Specifically, he argues that God is not in control.
Instead of accepting God’s will of decree which is settled in eternity past, the author questions God’s sovereign control: “Does God have a wonderful plan for our lives? Does God sit and draw up a perfect will for you and me on some cosmic drafting table, a perfect plan that requires a perfect response? If God then left to react to our stupidity or deafness or blindness or inability, as we constantly violate perfection through our own presumption?”1 John, one of the characters in Young’s novel, Eve concurs: “When it comes to plans and purposes, God is not a Draftsman but an Artist, and God will not be God apart from us.”2
Instead of accepting a sovereign God who ordains everything that comes to pass, Young posits a God who reigns by love and relationship alone. “The sovereignty of God is not about deterministic control … Love and relationship trump control every time. Forced love is no love at all,”3 writes the author.
Yet, Scripture contradicts what Young would have us believe. The Bible presents a God who exercises control in creation, providence, and miracles. Proverbs 21:1 illustrates the control of God in vivid terms: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” In Ezra 6:22, the LORD “turned the heart of the king of Assyria.” In Ecclesiastes 7:13-14, God’s providential control over all things is clearly illustrated: “Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.” And Ephesians 1:11 shows us the overarching purposes of our God: “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Indeed, God exercises sovereign control over all things.
The Westminster Catechism argues, “The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby for his own glory he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.” That is, God is the sovereign king who does as he pleases (Ps. 115:3). God reigns (Ps. 99:1-5). His control knows no boundaries. God acts in order to advance his glory (Exod. 14:4). And we rest in the infinite wisdom of God’s plan, knowing that his purposes can never be thwarted (Isa. 46:9-10; Job 42:2).
Charles Hodge has a sharp disagreement with the soft view of God presented in Lies We Believe About God. Hodge argues,
“This is the end which our Lord proposed to himself. He did everything for the glory of God; and for this end, all his followers are required to live and act … If we make the good of the creature the ultimate object of all God’s works, then we subordinate God to the creature, and endless confusion and unavoidable error are the consequence. It is characteristic of the Bible that it places God first, and the good of the creation second.”4
The errors which result from promoting a God who is not fully in control, as Hodge maintains, will have serious consequences and have tragic consequences on one’s perception of God.
Second, Young presents a God who submits to people. The notion that God submits to the creature emerges in The Shack as well. The Holy Spirit figure, Sarayu, tells Mack, “We have limited ourselves out of respect for you … Relationships are never about power, and one way to avoid the will to power is to choose to limit oneself.”5 And Papa sympathetically responds to Mack who is reluctant to demonstrate emotion: “That’s okay, we’ll do things on your terms and time.”6
The Jesus of The Shack confesses to Mack, “Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way.”7
In Young’s novel, Eve, Adonai says to Adam, “Our Love will not withhold from you the consequences of your choices. We honor and respect you, so We consent and submit to you” (emphasis mine).8 Later in the story, Adonai makes a similar remark to Lily: “Look up and into My face. I am here and will never leave you. In any dance you sometimes lead, but always both submit. So now, dear Lilly, you must choose, and I submit to you.”9
In Lies We Believe About God, the author maintains that the word control is not a part of God’s vocabulary: “God submits,” writes Young “rather than controls and joins us in the resulting mess of relationship, to participate in co-creating the possibility of life, even in the face of death.”10
Yet, we never find God submitting to the creature in Scripture. To the contrary, the creature submits to the Creator. Job learned a quick lesson when he tried to turn the tables on God. He learned the importance of submitting to God, not the other way around (Job 38-41).
John Frame helps us understand the importance of God’s authority and the proper response of the creature: “The first thing, and in one sense the only thing, we need to know about God is that he is Lord …This is a confession of lordship: that Yahweh, the Lord, is the one and only true God, and that therefore he deserves all of our love and allegiance.”11
The soft view of God who submits to the creature must be rejected as it fails to stand the test of biblical faithfulness.
A Fallacious View of Humanity
Young rightly holds that humans are created by God in the imago Dei. Since humans are created in God’s image, they have inherent worth and significance. The author should be commended for highlighting this important aspect of anthropology, which admittedly, is neglected by some Christians.
Additionally, the author believes that humans are sinners. However, sin is redefined and fails to measure up to the biblical test. “Blind, not depraved, is our condition,”12 writes Young. He continues, “Sin, then, is anything that negates or diminishes or misrepresents the truth of who you are, no matter how pretty or ugly that is.”13 Such a view find no biblical support and is a foreign concept in Christian theology.
Young acknowledges that sin involves “missing the mark.” But he adds, “The mark is not perfect moral behavior. The ‘mark’ is the Truth of your being.”14 But Young goes one step further in his redefinition of sin: “And what does the truth of your being look like? God. You are made in the image of God, and the truth of your being looks like God.”15
Now that Young his redefined, sin, he is in a position to pose an additional question: Does sin separate us from God? Young argues that the notion of sinners being separated from God is a lie: “A lot of ‘my people’ will believe that the following statement is in the Bible, but it isn’t: ’You have sinned, and you are separated from God.’” 16 The biblical proof he offers is Romans 8:38-39, that is, “nothing can separate us from the love of God.” Such an explanation, however, fails to consider the context of Romans 8 which is a clear promise to the elect of God, not the entirety of the human race.
Two responses are in order. First, Young’s reformulation of sin is inadequate as the Bible clearly teaches that all people are sinners by nature and choice. John MacArthur sheds light on the real meaning of sin:
“Sin must be understood from a theocentric or God-centered standpoint. At its core, sin is a violation of the Creator-creature relationship. Man only exists because God made him, and man is in every sense obligated to serve his Creator. Sin causes man to assume the role of God and to assert autonomy for himself apart from the Creator. The most all-encompassing view of sin’s mainspring, therefore, is the demand for autonomy.”17
When sin is redefined from a man-centered viewpoint, this only strengthens the resolve of his quest for autonomy. Yet this is exactly what we find in Young’s version of sin – a Creator catering to the needs of the creature and satisfying his autonomous bent.
The Scriptures paint a portrait of sinful creatures which is undeniable and devastating: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5, ESV) Indeed, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9, ESV) Edwin Palmer writes, “Total depravity means that natural man is never able to do any good that is fundamentally pleasing to God, and, in fact, does evil all the time.”18 The biblical evidence for total depravity is overwhelming and conclusive (Ps. 51:5; Isa. 53:6; 64:6; Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 3:23; 5:12).
Second, the Bible clearly teaches that sinners are separated from God. Apart from grace, sinners are without hope and are utterly cut off and separated from God. Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul demonstrates that sinners are separated from Christ. He refers to them as “having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). Our only hope, then, is found in Christ alone who came to forgive us and reconcile us to a holy God (Eph. 2:13-22).
A Faulty View of Salvation
Two major problems can be summarized here. First, Young promotes universal reconciliation. In The Shack, Papa answers Mack’s questions concerning the efficacy of the cross. Papa says, “Honey, you asked me what Jesus accomplished on the cross; so now listen to me carefully: through his death and resurrection, I am now fully reconciled to the world.”19 Mack asks, “The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?”20 Papa answers with resolutely, “The whole world, Mack. All I am telling you is that reconciliation is a two-way street, and I have done my part, totally, completely, finally.”21
In a stunning admission, Young says,
“The Good News is not that Jesus opened up the possibility of salvation and you have been invited to receive Jesus into your life. The Gospel is that Jesus has already included you into His life, into His relationship with God the Father, and into His anointing in the Holy Spirit … God has acted decisively and universally for all humankind.”22
If there is any question about the universalism here, the author removes any cause for doubt: “Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation? That is exactly what I am saying?”23 He continues, “Here’s the truth: every person who has ever been conceived was included in the death, burial, and resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. When Jesus was lifted up, God ‘dragged’ all human beings to Himself.24
The Bible paints a very different portrait. The Bible speaks of people apart from grace who are enemies of God (Col. 1:21; Rom. 5:10) and children of wrath (Eph. 2:1-3). Only the redeemed are reconciled to God.
Appealing to passages like John 12:32 is insufficient and fails to build the case for universal reconciliation. Jesus says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” All people must either mean “all without exception” or “all without distinction.” As we compare Scripture with Scripture, clearly the later is in view.
Jesus proclaims, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:13-14). ). Jesus speaks of two trees, the healthy and the diseased. Speaking of the diseased tree, Jesus says, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt. 7:19). Moreover, Jesus teaches about two kinds of houses, the one that is built on the rock and one that is built on the sand. “And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it tell, and great was the fall of it” (Matt. 7:26-27). Indeed, every person who refuses to build his “house” on the rock and build his or her life on the promises of God; every person who rejects the Son and his work on the cross will endure an eternity of wrath (John 3:36; Rom. 2:8; 2 Thes. 1:9). “At the end of the day, there are only two ways – the way of the kingdom or the way of death.” Scripture is clear: not everyone will pursue the way of the kingdom. Universal reconciliation is a lie.
Second, Young argues that the cross was not God’s idea. The author poses the question, “Who originated the Cross?” Young’s answer is disturbing, to say the least: “If God did, then we worship a cosmic abuser, who in Divine wisdom created a means to torture human beings in the most painful and abhorrent manner … Better no god at all, than this one.”25 In a few words, the author not only repudiates the reality of God’s involvement in the cross of Christ; he casts aside penal substitutionary atonement.
The apostle Paul speaks of the power of the cross (1 Cor. 1:17-18), “making peace by the blood of his cross (Col. 1:20) and even boasts in the cross (Gal. 6:14). However, Young says, “Nothing not even the salvation of the entire cosmos, could ever justify a horrific torture device called a cross.”26
When we contrast the Bible with Young’s view, we find that the cross was God’s idea after all. Two passages in the book of Acts show the sovereignty of God in salvation and demonstrate God’s involvement in the cross from start to finish:
“this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” (Acts 2:23–24, ESV)
“for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” (Acts 4:27–28, ESV)
The faulty view of salvation which is promoted in Lies We Believe About God is deeply troubling and must be rejected by discerning Christians.
Paul Young has shared openly and honestly about some of the hurts in his life. Pain and suffering, while inevitable in this life are regrettable realities. The dark night of the soul will likely affect most of us. And so we sympathize with Young and his Great Sadness and pray that God will minister in deep and abiding ways. But no amount of personal tragedy or loss can excuse the propagation of false views of God.
It is a great tragedy when an author writes a book that minimizes God or misrepresents God. A.W. Tozer helps us understand the importance of understanding God rightly: “Worship is pure or base as the worshipper entertains high or low thoughts of God.”27 How we think about God matters! For “there is nothing more important than knowing God.”28 Our view concerning his essence and attributes is not a mere academic debate among theologians. Our view of God affects how we approach him and how we worship him. Tozer continues, “For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”29
“God does not lower his standards to accommodate us.”30 Therefore, our responsibility is to view God rightly, worship God rightly, and approach God rightly and reverently. Indeed, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”31
The chief problem in Lies We Believe About God is an undermining of biblical authority. It ultimately caters to the creature and encourages the autonomy that he craves. When the authority of the Bible is compromised the people of God always pay a price. It’s not too late to get unshackled. True freedom is found in submitting to Scripture, trusting and obeying Jesus Christ, and worshipping God in the way that he demands!
Ibid, Loc. 329. ↩ WM. Paul Young, Eve (New York: Howard Books, 2015), 181. ↩ Ibid, Loc. 347. ↩ Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology – Volume I (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprint 1995), 536. ↩ Young, The Shack, 106. ↩ Ibid, 83. ↩ Ibid, 145. ↩ WM. Paul Young, Eve (New York: Howard Books, 2015), 239. ↩ Ibid, 258. ↩ Young, Lies We Believe About God, Loc. 355. ↩ John Frame, The Doctrine of God (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2002), 21-22. ↩ WM. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God (New York: Atria Books, 2017), Loc. 296. ↩ Ibid, Loc. 1645. ↩ Ibid, Loc. 1643. ↩ Ibid, Loc. 1645. ↩ Ibid, Loc. 1663. ↩ John MacArthur and Richard Mahue, Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2017), 453. ↩ Edwin H. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1972), 13. ↩ William P. Young, The Shack (Newbury Park: Windblown Media, 2007), 82. ↩ Ibid. ↩ Ibid. ↩ Young, Lies We Believe About God, Loc. 889. ↩ Ibid, Loc. 898. ↩ Ibid. ↩ Ibid, Loc. 1101. ↩ Ibid, 329. ↩ A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 1961), 1. ↩ John Frame, The Doctrine of God (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2002), 1. ↩ A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 1. ↩ R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1995), 88. ↩ Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 1. ↩
Paul Young quotes the Bible about 5 degrees off -- twisting it to his meanings. Gee, where have we seen THAT before? When the devil was tempting Jesus he quoted scripture out of context and that is exactly what Paul Young does. He also claims that everyone is going to heaven (a nice thought, and I dearly wish it were true) even though the Bible clearly states that the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. Don't even bother reading. A great concept -- checking what the Bible actually says instead of viewing it with the frame of mind of what we've been TOLD things mean or what God is -- but Mr. Young is not biblical and his novel is full of false teachings. The book should be entitled Lies Paul Young Believes About God instead.
Simply put, this book denies essential truths of the Christian faith. He teaches universalism (that we don't need to be saved -- all will get there) (Ch.13), denies the reality of hell (Ch. 15), tinkers with the Fatherhood of God (as in The Shack) (Ch. 7), denies that sin separates us from God (Ch. 27), scoffs at the sovereignty of God (Ch. 3), and denies that the atonement was unnecessary (Ch. 19).
These are not simple disagreements or petty squabblings. The Apostle Paul boldly asserted: "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8–9, ESV). Mr. Young's errors strike at the heart of the Gospel message and are indeed another Gospel.
While he writes of other biblical truths in this book that agree with scripture, the heresy overshadows any of the books merits. Those truths can be found in much more orthodox books.
I normally hate book titles that are a run-on the theme of "10 lies we believe about God", or "10 myths about Christianity". Ugh. Snippets of popular but heavily cliched epithets that only confirm what the reader probably already suspects, confirming their bias.
This book is not that, thankfully. These lies are so much more insidious, not ones you might hear tossed around during a Sunday morning. (Although you might.) These are lies we tell ourselves, subconsciously through our actions.
I found it encouraging, brave, and inspiring. Hoping it will be well received when it comes out.
I didn't love The Shack by William Paul Young. I liked that it challenged me to think more deeply, but I fundamentally disagreed with a lot of the theological aspects about God as described by it. Truly the only way I made it through reading The Shack was to remind myself that it was a work of fiction. I wish I'd re-read my review of The Shack before deciding to request Lies We Believe About God, but I didn't. What I did was remember that while I didn't agree with everything William Paul Young said...it did cause me to think. And since I've been overwhelmed with a feeling of how much and how often so many people believe things about God that just flat aren't true, I was intrigued by this book. I was hoping that it would be a great reference to be able to refer people to when they misunderstand God's nature. Yet again...I was WRONG. Instead what I found was that William Paul Young himself believes quite a few lies about God.
You guys...there was SO SO SO much wrong with this book. I truly wish I could break down every single lie within this book...every single misrepresentation and present you with a rebuttal. I wish that I could, but it isn't the purpose of my blog to do so. My purpose is to review the book and what I thought about it. So I'll do my best to do so.
If you choose to believe in God there has to be a standard or a place where you receive your information about Him. You can't just make it up...although many people have. So...where do you go? Where do you find the information needed to find out who God is and what His character is like? HIS WORD. He has revealed Himself to us through His Word--The Bible. God revealed Himself and divinely inspired over 40 different authors from all manners of vocations over a period of 1500ish years using 3 different languages. For this book to be cohesive and non-contradictory is impossible without Him. Yet it is because of Him. So what I expected to find when reading Lies We Believe About God was a bunch of Scripture to back up these "lies". Instead what I found was William Paul Young quoting his own works of fiction. There are 32 references to/quotes from The Shack in Lies We Believe About God. This is not including any references to William Paul Young's other books (Eve and Cross Roads). In a 272 page book, that's roughly every 8.5 pages that he references his own book, his own thoughts as a source of information about who God is. In comparison there were roughly 14 references to New Testament Scripture within the main chapters of this book. That's roughly every 19.5 pages. So William Paul Young references his own books more than 2 times the frequency of Biblical text. (Granted, I didn't search for Old Testament Scripture references, but I also didn't cite his references to his other two books either.) He does have a chapter at the end of book that has an additional 33 references from The Bible. This means that overall the Bible is only used within Lies We Believe About God 15 more times than his own books. You guys...this is unacceptable. If you want to learn about God, you don't go to a human's work of fiction. That's no better than making things up yourself. You go to the Source. God's own Word about Himself.
There were many times when I felt like William Paul Young was arguing over semantics. Yes, I'm a firm believer that our words mean something and it is important to choose to right words in our conversation and speech so that we convey the message we mean to convey. Let's take one chapter titled "God is disappointed in me." He argues that there is a difference between disappointment and grief. "Disappointment largely revolves around expectations and imagination. I expect you to act a certain way, or I expect a specific outcome..." "This is precisely why God is never disappointed in you. God has no such imaginations or illusions. God knows you, completely, fully, and with unrelenting affection. You don't surprise God. God delights in you, as you delight in your own children; God also grieves for and with you when you act inside your lies and darkness--but not because God expected more of you." This is semantics. Whether we "disappoint" or "grieve" God because of our behavior, the outcome is the same. He is not pleased. Yes, He can and does still love us despite our actions, but William Paul Young is giving off the impression that it doesn't matter what you do...how you act...and I don't see how anyone who has read the Bible can come to that conclusion. In fact, if you've read the Bible, you don't get 3 chapters in (on page 3 in my own personal Bible) before man's actions make a huge impact and "grieve" God. Semantics. And this isn't the only time this happens. It happens frequently throughout this book.
In connection with my point about William Paul Young quoting and referencing himself and his own published books more frequently throughout the main body of Lies We Believe About God, I felt often times that he was just "making things up because they sounded good." There were often times when his thoughts were poetic. And that's hard because I believe that God is a poet. His Word is beautiful. His thoughts are beautiful. The magnitude of His knowledge and planning and working is beautiful. He is so multi-layered. Everything about Him from the way that He thinks and acts to His very character. He can be 100% Love while also being 100% Justice at the same time. And so there were times when the poetry of what William Paul Young suggested about God sounded good to my human ear, but when bounced against the Scripture it just didn't add up. I don't claim to know all there is to know about God. I don't claim to be perfect or to have a perfect understanding of Him, but having read The Bible cover to cover each year for the last 5 years and I'm working on my 6th straight read-through I feel pretty confident in being able to spot false teaching about God like this.
I don't want to judge his person...his heart. That's not my job or my duty or my desire. God is the judge. However, I felt like pride and arrogance were pouring from the pages of this book. Nearly every chapter felt full of both. I even read his acknowledgements where he says "I am surrounded by people who love me, but aren't impressed. Thank you!" Even though this was an attempt to appear humble, it didn't read so to me. It read falsely. Or at the very least "thank you all for not being impressed by me because I'm so impressed with myself." It's funny because I told Husband that this felt so starkly contrasted against Shaken by Tim Tebow where humility truly poured off every page. I felt like Tim Tebow is a truly humble person from his book and where he might struggle with pride, the effort to crush it was palpable. And this is not the same vibe that I got from William Paul Young.
I mentioned earlier the chapter at the end of Lies We Believe About God. He titles it "A Catena" which means "a connected series or chain". And ironically, because I've read The Bible from cover to cover it felt so obvious to me that these verses used to convey a specific message were pulled so completely out of context. You can use Scripture to prove just about any point sadly. The Bible even says "There is no God" (Psalm 14:1). But that's pulled out of context because the verse says "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" I think we've all witnessed how words and phrases taken out of context can give a completely unintended and false meaning. Watch any court TV show where a witness's words are twisted by a stealthy lawyer. You'll see it happen. I told Husband that reading those series of verses, Words from God's mouth, strung together out of context made my stomach hurt. Seeing God's Word twisted to mean something that it doesn't...it made those words ugly. And the sad part is that someone who might not know better could be misled by them. Context is so important. I myself have used a verse here and there to prove a point, and I don't know that doing so is wrong if you're not using those verses to make a point outside of what Scripture as a whole harmonizes to say. Yet the person unfamiliar with the Bible and what the context should be would never know. This is why reading it (the Bible) for yourself is so important. It is crucial. Not just taking the word of a preacher or family member. Definitely not taking the opinion of an unbeliever who might have "thoughts" about God and who He is and how He thinks. And not even taking the word of someone who appears to know much about God. You have to search and read the Bible for yourself.
I feel certain that there was much more that I wanted to say about William Paul Young and Lies We Believe About God, but what it truly boils down to is "this man does not know God." Don't read this book to learn about God. Read The Bible. William Paul Young references his own (FICTION) books more frequently throughout the meat of Lies We Believe About God than he does any other source--especially The Bible. This is not the book, nor the man, to go to if you want to know God. And I personally won't be reading any more of his work myself. Lies We Believe About God gets 1 Star. Have you read Lies We Believe About God? What did you think? Let me know!
For those, like myself, who argued that Young's The Shack, was heretical and dangerous, this book provides verification of our concerns. There is nothing new here. It's kind of a baby boomer rebellion universalist work, surely written in response to the popularity of the Shack.
But really, all the introductory disclaimers aside, this book is a theology text-theology according to Young. In this topic, there are myriad better books that discuss God as revealed in the Bible. If you are interested in solid, approachable theology, I recommend "Bitesized Theology" by Peter Jeffrey. If you want more, try the popular seminary text, "The Moody Handbook of Theology" by Paul Enns.
I'm discouraged. I'm frustrated that Christians embrace this Oprahism over the pure milk of the word of God. We have the greatest story ever told! A banquet of Grace and truth, and the freedom to study it in depth. Yet we use our freedom to make and consume various mud pies.
My final thoughts in my review of the Shack (which you can read via the link below) fit for this publication as well.
"I kept thinking, “Why would someone want to write such a book?” What kind of arrogance insists my children have to believe the same way I do about the plethora of divergent views Young discusses? What kind of a person insists the church and the Bible are inadequate to address the questions of who God is and how to interact with others? While Young sets up an emotional situation (a father struggling with the death of his child), do these concepts that tug on our heart strings truly reveal God, or push us toward a flawed understanding of God as we wish Him to be? If understanding God’s relationship to those in suffering and His relationship within the Trinity in this way was so important, why isn’t there a Biblical account of these things? Why does Young find it necessary to give God names He hasn’t given Himself? Certainly Papa fits with the Biblical Abba, but Saruya? The pictures God has given in the Bible where chosen by His infinite mind for a reason… And if this book has sold so many copies…. Is that an indication that it is of God, or that it is meeting a flawed need to create God in our imperfect image instead of allowing Him to define Himself in the Bible?
Oftentimes, when I write a review like this, the post modern challenge is: "Do you have a lock on what the Bible says?" or "How do you know you are right and Young is wrong?" or "Have you written a theology book?" To give some answers to these recurring questions, I am posting additional resources below for those who would like to explore the Biblical teachings embraced by Christians for, literally, hundreds of years. For those who want to hear, there are plenty of strong, researched voices to whom you can listen. Also, see my review of "The Shack" for more referrals to books that deal with suffering.
I have been a fan of the author for a few years, but this is by far my now favorite book of his. After many years, since my childhood, I have had this image of who God was. For the past year and half, I have struggled with that said image and it made me angry and want to abandon my beliefs. This book has being to change my mind and life. I could not put it down. It spoke right to my soul and every thought I had about God, and knowing something was not right. There were times I wanted to scream out, "yes! This is what I have been feeling, or I knew there was more to this." There 26 chapters and only one, will not say I did not agree with, but I just need a better understanding on how to wrap my mind around the author's meaning. I will not say this book totally healed me, but it definitely has given me a huge leap forward. I can't say enough how much I appreciate this book.
If there is a religion that I am willing to join, it is Paul Young's religion. I started with reading The Shack, that entertained as well as shocked me, and made me think. Young's religion is not the one I know and heard about. It is a religion of Love, love yourself and love others. And that is pretty much why everybody that is religious and read this book seem to be furious.
I will add a few of my favorite parts, that will explain why I appreciate him so much: Young goes against people that blame other for not having enough faith. It is something that pissed me off forever, that God hurts humans for not having enough faith. Why would he do that? “If you only had enough faith, your mother wouldn’t be in there dying,” he said. “Wait,” I interrupted. “Can you explain to me how this works? Are you saying that if the majority of us have enough faith, then she won’t die?” Another thing that I liked was that he states that God is not about magic: we had an implicit belief in magic, rather than in a God who joins us to be present and comforting in the midst of loss and suffering. He disagrees that we do not have freedom of choice and that God uses us: If God uses us, then we are nothing but objects or commodities to God. Even in our human relationships, we know this is wrong. Would any of us ever say to our son or daughter, “I can’t wait for you to grow up so that I can use you. You will be Daddy’s tool to bring glory to me”? If you agree with these points, you will probably like Young as well.
What Young call Jesus, other can call many names. What he preaches to is to believe in Love and Relationships, to invest in Love and Relationships. To know that we are already included in this, and we deserve it, and do not need some kind of forgiveness to be part. I would not call this Jesus, but other than that I totally agree. I aspire to have the love, relationships and accepting others as much as Young describes. Here it is: 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.
I will finish with a great joke that he included in this book, that really made me laugh and has a great point as well: A man arriving at the proverbial Pearly Gates is unsure what to do. Do I simply walk in? he wonders. St. Peter, who seems to always be on duty in these stories, recognizes the look of consternation on the man’s face, approaches, and asks him if he might need some guidance. “I’m not sure what I am supposed to do,” the man begins. “Do I simply walk in?” “It depends,” says Peter, smiling. “It depends?” The man is surprised. “On what?” “It depends on how many points you’ve earned,” offers Peter. “Points? I need points? How many points do I need?” “A hundred.” A hundred? the man thinks to himself. That can’t be difficult, surely I have earned a hundred points. He turns back to Peter. “So, for the last fifteen years I have been serving on Saturday nights at the soup kitchen, helping with the poor?” He offers it hopefully, more a question than a statement. “That’s wonderful!” exclaims Peter. “I will give you a point for that.” “One point?” The man is shocked and looks at Peter, who is enthusiastically nodding. In that moment the man realizes that this is not going to be easy. “Well,” he hesitates, “I was a pastor for thirty-five years. I did everything that was asked of me. Preached and married people, counseled and buried people . . . ?” Peter is looking grim, “Ah, I don’t know . . .” “Peter, please, thirty-five years.” Peter thinks quietly for a moment and then smiles. “Okay, I will give you a point for that!” Now the man knows he is in trouble. His whole life had been basically summed up in two points and he has ninety-eight to go. Movement catches his eye, and looking across the way he sees a man who had lived in the same town in which he pastored. He didn’t know him well; he was the sort of person who came to church services on Easter and Christmas. He did remember that this man owned or worked at a coffee shop in town and had always seemed pleasant, but he’d never engaged much with the religious community. To his surprise, the man smiles, waves, and then without hesitation walks right in through the Pearly Gates. “What?” he exclaims, turning to Peter. “Are you telling me that that guy has a hundred points?” Peter laughs, “Oh no, he just doesn’t play this game.” I love this joke—not only because it catches us by surprise, but because we quickly feel its sting of truth. Many of us try to win the affection and approval of God by our behavior, and so it seems that behavior and performance are deeply woven into most religions.
If you agreed with the points above, you might want give Young a chance. I really like it. 4 stars.
Wm. Paul Young takes twenty-six phrases that are found in many parts of traditional Christianity and shows why they are lies. Some of the phrases are commonly spoken verbatim, while others may not be said aloud very often, but are still strongly implied. A few of the phrases are twists on more traditional sayings, but what many actually mean to say or heard. Each of the twenty-six are composed as short essays which can be read in a few minutes.
Having spent a large part of my life in a mostly traditional and conservative Christian denomination, I could relate to quite a few of the phrases. Some others I have seen or heard from a number of popular Christian books and speakers. Finally, there were a handful of essays that didn't speak to me.
Young is the author of The Shack and Eve. That alone should provide readers with a frame of reference: that these essays will challenge the traditional readings of scripture and traditional theological assumptions, especially the Western form of Christianity. That should not, however, dissuade someone honestly wanting to challenge their assumptions about Christianity and her theology from picking up the book and working through the essays.
Readers who have appreciated (or even if they have had argument against) The Shack will find many of the essays enlightening to the theological backgrounds that forms the novel, its characters, and the plot.
Honestly, I probably would not have even picked up this book if not for one simple mistake. For some reason, I deluded myself into thinking that this was a book by William Lane Craig, the brilliant Christian philosopher. Nope. It is William Paul Young, the author of the Shack.
Now don't get me wrong. I loved the Shack. It was probably the best book I read the year it came out. And I have no shame in admitting that it had me bawling like a baby, in public. This is in a Barnes & Noble that I patronized almost daily. So everyone there knew me. But some of WPY's out in left field ideas could be excused for one reason and one alone... The Shack was a work of fiction.
In this book, WPY lays down 28 "lies" and then writes a short chapter on each. Some of these lies are things that nobody would ever believe. Like "God is a Magician". But even still, he uses the lie as a springboard for a very relevant discussion. Others are lies nobody would admit to believing but so many of us actually do. Like "God loves me, but He doesn't like me."
Then there were some lies where I initially disagreed with his statement but once I saw where he was going with it, I ended up agreeing. Like "God wants to use me." We all believe this. And it is true. But Once WPY defines what he is meaning with "use," it is a very, very solid conversation.
Finally, there are some lies where Mr. Young is just plain wrong. They absolutely, definitely are not lies. Like "Sin separates us from God." WPY goes so far as to say that this statement is never found in the Bible. Perhaps he should read again Isaiah 59:2 "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear." The same idea is found over and over again in the NT as well (Eph 4:18 is an example that immediately comes to mind.)
But even in his error, William Paul Young is presenting a conversation that needs to be had. Even when we do not change our minds, it is good for our assumptions to be challenged and WPY does an excellent job of doing that. So I would encourage you to read this book. You are not going to agree with everything he says. Gosh, I hope not. Mr. Young is a borderline heretic at some points. But I would encourage you to examine his fresh perspective on issues we often don't dig deep enough. So read it slowly, with each chapter check it against what scripture says, and let your faith grow deeper.
This is a fresh and honest look at some of the "lies" that we are taught to so readily accept as truth. I don't know that I agree with all of the conclusions made by young here, but I think it's worth a read to gain some perspective.
I didn't care for the motif of blindness throughout the book to describe how we tend to embrace these lies. Also it would probably be helpful to have read The Shack before reading this one. I still haven't and there are a lot of references to it throughout.
Young, author of The Shack, gives us his thoughts on the character of God. He says he is not presenting certainty but is establishing a conversation over rearranging his theology. Each chapter contains a statement he once believed and then his exploration of his change in belief.
While I do not agree with much (or most) of what Young says, I do think this book is good in that it makes us look at what we do believe about God. Young portrays a God he can live with, understand, and like. He is a God who likes us and behaves the way we think He should. He is a God who wouldn't “use” anyone and is submissive in His love relationship with us. He is a God who creates only good things so we humans are all good, we are all children of God.
Young presents us with many thought provoking ideas. These ideas are not a result of an exposition of Scripture but rather Young's thought process. That makes us think about our own ideas of God, where we get them and how we can evaluate them. It makes us think of where we should be getting our information about the character of God. Is it from our own reasoning or is it from the Bible?
Young does identify some areas where Christian have, I think, gotten it wrong. We have sometimes given people the wrong impression of God. Young has come across many who have been hurt by people misrepresenting God's character. That should make us stop and think about how we view God and how we represent Him to others.
Does this book contain what evangelical Christians would call heresy? Definitely. But this is not a theological treatise. This is one man's attempt to define a God with which he is comfortable, one that is rational and behaves the way he would like Him to behave. Is this the God of the Bible? That is what readers must decide.
It would be so nice if God were like the one Young describes. It is up to readers to evaluate what Young says against their source of truth. For me, it is the Bible, the one that says my human thoughts don't even come close to God's. I'll not presume to understand God nor attempt to define Him in a way that conforms to my expectations.
I gave this book the rating I did because it is thought provoking without being dogmatic.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
I only gave this book 1 star because you can't give it zero stars and have the rating show. After the publishing of The Shack there was endless debate about what Young meant. This book should put all of that debate to rest. Young spells it out. Because of space, the whole book can't specifically be reviewed, but there are a few things that are essential. In chapter 13, Young confesses to believing in universal salvation. "Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation? That is exactly what I am saying!" Young says that we are all saved we just haven't all realized or accepted it yet. From that, he denies our separation because of sin, denies hell, & denies the necessity of the cross. He denies the sovereignty of God saying that God just submits to our wills, and also denies that death ends our opportunity to respond to God's grace. Chapter by chapter he denies tenets of the Christian faith, all with very little Scripture referenced. He also argues against things as if they are Christian tenets when I can only assume that they are things he has encountered that turn him off. They may be things some people believe, but they are not Scriptural beliefs of Christianity. Tim Challies said it well in his review, "Time and time again he crafts a sloppy straw man, then beats it into the ground." (Tim Challies review is an excellent summary of this book, from a Biblical Christian perspective. https://www.challies.com/what-does-th...). Instead of Lies We Believe About God, this book would better be titled The Gospel According to Wm Paul Young. It is complete heresy.
This book is filled with so much heresy. He starts off the book discussing how he had deconstructed and reconstructed his faith, which closely resembles how many progressive christians talk about faith. Furthermore but not shockingly the book is filled with new age and progressive thoughts. He first denies original sin (chapter 2) and states that we are all inherently good, this is obvious heresy as we are all sinned and Romans 1-3 discusses this in great detail and disproves this idea. He then goes on to say that God is not in control and that the Almighty submits Himself to us and our wills (chapter 3-4) which is so horribly untrue. He then goes on to say that God is more female than male. While I enjoyed the story of Herald in this chapter, this chapter misrepresents God as He clearly states Himself to be a Father and refers to Himself in masculine ways such as Jesus being the Son as Jesus was obviously a male and Jesus is God. Although God may not have a gender in the way we as humans have, God is clear in the way HE refers to Himself as. I pray that Mr. Young sees the error that this book has entailed and repents. Man I was really hoping that this book wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be but to be fair I didn’t have super high expectations. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Mr. Young is an amazing author. While not his typical fiction...all of which I've read and loved...this book carries the honesty and forthrightness that is present in all he writes. I particularly liked references to The Shack, as it gave me not only a better understanding of what this book presented, but also the particular scenes in The Shack. I've already recommended this to my friends, and would recommend it to all who are looking, maybe not for answers - there where few concepts presented that I didn't immediately understand and agree with, and, often, wonder how others could believe the lie refuted - but a way to explain, in plain English, what you already know to be true, but couldn't articulate.
Twenty-eight vignettes offer readers new ways of looking at commonly-held beliefs about the nature and character of God. Meant to encourage discussion and introspection, not to change individually-held beliefs, these are thought-provoking ideas designed to prompt readers to examine their convictions in light of what scripture reveals.
Rather than being theological, the narrative encourages readers to explore as it provides a starting point for consideration and discussion as it seeks to bring readers into a closer relationship with God.
This is not Biblical Christianity, this is the gospel according to William Paul Young. If he doesn't like a Biblical idea like the atonement, the sovereignty of God, or hell, he just does away with them. If there is a Biblical concept he likes, such as the imago dei, he hammers that point home over and over again. If God submits to you, that makes you god, and that essentially is what Mr Young is claiming in this book. The title is incredibly ironic in light of the lies that infest this book.
What is interesting about this book is that the reviews tend to be quite high or quite low. I read this book to the best of my ability with an open mind and found I agree with almost all of Mr. Young's principals. The reviews don't talk much about how is was written but what it was written about. Sometimes when our beliefs are challenged it doesn't set well.
This book has opened the door of my heart to the things I wonder about in my walk with the Lord. At times it will shake your thinking and with much prayer lead you to truth about our Father whom we lo g to be loved by. Enjoy the journey for yourself.
Don't let preconceptions rob you from the journey of knowing the one who loves you most Father God. Enjoy and Breathe.
This book would be more accurately titled, if it was changed to, "Lies I Believe About God" by Wm. Paul Young.
The infamous author of "The Shack" (and a couple of other titles), has now come out in plain non-fiction to announce his apostasy from Christianity. His intentions are otherwise: Liberalism and unbelief *in the church* have always sought to "save" Christianity, but in their efforts to do so, they always abandon Christianity. If you like guys like Brian McLaren (https://www.challies.com/articles/the...) and Rob Bell, then you'll love this latest "taste of larger conversations" by William Paul Young.
In an era when criticism and refutation (Titus 1:9; 2 Timothy 4:3-4) is shunned as unloving and bigoted, many no doubt will have abandoned this review before they've reached this sentence. For those of you left - let me engage in the easy task of displaying for you why Wm. Paul Young is an open heretic and enemy of souls. The only difficulty is in finding words strong enough to convey the seriousness of his satanic sophistry. Jesus' words are apt, in Matthew 23, "Woe to you, you blind guide, you serpent, you viper, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?" (v. 13-33)
To get to the lies that Paul believes, you have to listen to him explain phrases that he thinks are lies. In the "Introduction" he writes, "Each chapter refers to a statement I once believed and from which I have transitioned" (pg. 18). So, here are a few of his chapter titles, "Lies we believe about God" -
- "God is in Control," according to Paul Young, that is a lie. - "You Need to Get Saved," according to Paul Young, that is a lie. - "Hell is Separation from God," according to Paul Young, that is a lie. - "The Cross was God's Idea," according to Paul Young, that is a lie. - "Not Everyone Is a Child of God," according to Paul Young, that is a lie. - "Sin Separates us From God," according to Paul Young, that is a lie.
You get the idea. I will commend Mr. Young for not be subtle.
As you make your way through this very easily read volume (253 pages, but readable in a few hours), Paul will explain what he now believes, in contradistinction to the alleged lies that he's exposing. Here's Paul Young in his own words:
"Are you suggesting," he asks of himself, "that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation? That is exactly what I am saying!" (pg. 118) "...We were all saved in eternity (2 Timothy 1:9)...We were all included in the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:19). Third, within the context of our own present tense, ongoing experience, we actively participate to work out what God has worked in (Philippians 2:12-13)." (pg. 119) "We don't judge anyone by how he or she is stuck or broken or lost, but see each person for who she is - the one the Holy Spirit finds and celebrates...We don't offer anyone what has already been given; we simply celebrate the Good News with each one: We've all been included" (pg. 120).
"...How can we posit an eternally Good God, whose very nature is love, allowing human beings to be in conscious torment and pain for infinite time, as if that were somehow Just." (pg. 132) As Paul had sought to explain in 'The Shack," through the personification of the wisdom of God in "Spohia," - The keeping a record of people's wrongs, is an activity expressly forbidden in 1 Cor. 13 as something that "love" would never do (pg. 133). "This is a fire of love that now and forever is 'for' us, not against us" (pg. 136).
"I mean that I don't think God would every say that once you die, your fate is sealed and there's nothing that God can do for you" (pg. 182). He believes that we still have "choice postmortem" - we can "change our minds" after we die (pg. 183). Again, quoting Paul Young, "Personally, 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; its implications are myriad and far-reaching" (pg. 185-186).
"God is never disappointed in you; God has no expectations...This God does not do abandonment. We will never be powerful enough to make God's face turn from us" (pg. 214-215).
"We are all eternal beings who are completely loved at every point along the way, and regardless of what our journey looks like, we are relentlessly loved inside every part of the process of this life" (pg. 222).
"If separation is a lie, does it mean that no one has ever been separated from God? That is exactly what it means...Jesus did not come to build a bridge back to God or to offer the possibility of getting separated...There is 'nothing' outside God. There is only God, and Creation is created 'in' God; and according to John 1, Creation is specifically created 'inside' Jesus, the Word who is God." (pg. 232) He asks, "Do we think that we can become so wretched and sinful that we become abhorrent to God? Some of us do..." But that is a lie, that too many believe, according to "Peace...Peace...when there is no Peace," Paul Young.
In his horrific chapter explaining that the Cross was not God's idea, we see him advocating what Steve Chalke and Alan Mann supported in their 2003 book, "The Lost Message of Jesus." Chalke writes, "The fact is that the cross isn't a form of cosmic child abuse - a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offense he has not even committed. Understandably, both people inside and outside of the Church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith" (page 182 of "The Lost Message of Jesus"). That's what it would be, says Paul Young, if the Cross was God's idea, God's plan.
If God originated the Cross, if it was His idea, "then we worship a cosmic abuser, who in Divine Wisdom created a means to torture human beings in the most painful and abhorrent manner. Frankly, it is often this very cruel and monstrous god that the atheist refuses to acknowledge or grant credibility in any sense. And rightly so. Better no god at all, than this one" (pg. 149, "Lies We Believe About God").
The idea of propitiation, which is at the heart of the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ - the bearing of and taking away of the wrath of God - is abhorrent to Wm. Paul Young. He writes in another chapter,
"One of the narratives about God is that because of sin, God required child sacrifice to appease a sense of righteous indignation and the fury of holiness - Jesus being the ultimate child sacrifice. Well, if God is like that, then doesn't it make sense that we would follow in God's footsteps? But we know intuitively that such a thought is wrong, desperately wrong. And herein lies one of the most damning impacts of religion. It wields the power to justify its actions by grounding them in the purposes and will of God" (pg. 169).
There's something deeply ironic and very troubling abut Paul's book as a whole. One of the chapters is titled, "God is Not Good." The lie creeps in, he writes, "We question the goodness of God" (pg. 139). The fact is, Paul Young offers an imaginary god that fits the categories of what he deems "good" and "loving." But the one and only true God revealed in Scripture and in the Lord Jesus Christ - The exclusive Lord of glory, the holy, holy, holy One who offers "the narrow road that leads to life; the God who saves and who threatens wrath and hell to all who don't believe - this God, this God is not "good" to Wm. Paul Young. As a man to be judged by his own words, this false teacher, Mr. Young has bought into the lie, that "God is not good."
There are numerous other lies that Paul Young embraces ("I am fundamentally good" pg. 35; "Love does not abandon me to the consequences of my choices" pg. 48; "We all have the ability to hear the voice of God in our own unique way of hearing" pg. 91-92; "Government is not instituted by or originated by God" pg. 102; "Christianity is not a religion - or even the best of all religions" pg. 58, 110), and even on relatively minor topics, he is often moronic (for example, he strongly objects to the idea that God wants to use us - "If God uses us, we are nothing but objects or commodities to God" pg. 62).
I kept asking myself while reading this book, "Does this man ever read the Bible?" And then secondly, "Why does he even quote the Bible?" His selectivity and distortions of Scripture are appalling.
All of this would be worth merely mocking, if the matter at hand were not so eternally serious. This book is the blatant tongue of the evil one (Galatians 1:6-8). Under the guise of sheepskin and the cloak of "explaining the way of Christ more accurately" (Acts 18:26), Paul Young is an influential false teacher that "shuts the kingdom of heaven in people's faces" (Matt. 23:13). He speaks to prison groups and gatherings of abuse victims, to atheists and to churches; and he beguiles them with the 'good news' of universalism: there is no eternal hell, there is no wrath of God hanging over the heads of unbelievers (there are no "unbelievers" technically - "Belief is an activity, not a category," pg. 203); "every human being...is a child of God" (pg. 206); we're all fundamentally good at the core of our beings - there is no separation from God - don't worry, be happy.
William Paul Young is not a Christian.
This book is not a Christian book.
Don't build your life on the shack, which is Paul Young's lies. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction. Rest your life on the Rock which is Jesus: hear His words, not the voice of the stranger, and find Life in the Truth (Matthew 6:13-27; John 14:6).
I read a number of the one star reviews on goodreads, and they saddened me. They angrily critique Young's orthodoxy, judged by his style and their own narrow tradition of the faith, rather than through a more historical understanding of the breadth of Christian faith or by the ancient creeds, which would be more proper touchstones for questions of Christian orthodoxy, if that sort of thing interests you.
I found Young's book winsome and helpful. He expresses a Jesus-centered view of God that takes seriously the experience and idea that God is entirely good and entirely love and has reconciled and is reconciling the whole world to God in Christ.
My favorite chapter was the seventh, its lie being "God is more he than she." I didn't love this one so much because of the point being made - that God is beyond gender, that God reflects what we consider to be the feminine as fully as the masculine, and that all women as well as all men are fully made in God's image and fully capable of intelligent and creative service and leadership in all spheres of human endeavor. These points seem among the more obvious to me in the book. I loved the anecdote that the chapter centers, though, an anecdote of the heroic, God-imaging leadership of Young's mother. It's a beautiful story.
I suspect I'm not this book's target audience. I haven't read The Shack, which Young understandably refers to often. I also enjoy reading and listening to denser theological tomes that more fully flesh out views and arguments, complete with citations and historical and cultural perspective. This book is simple by design and at times reads as a commentary on The Shack, since that novel was so widely read and its film adaptation so widely seen. Again, not a fault of the book, just a limit on my experience.
Absolutely loved this book! To all of my friends and family, even those remotely spiritual or inquisitive, I highly recommend reading this. Troubled by God's seeming silence before many adversities and trials? Lost in the labyrinth created by many, of a transactional God who favors only the pious and answers only the prayer of the most fervent? I don't agree with everything Mr. Young proposes, but there is a lot here that I have thought about and this book helped coalesce in my heart and mind. I love any book that challenges my positions and pre-suppositions; I either learn something or clarify my own thoughts and beliefs. Its a Win-Win.
I'm about halfway through the book, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I loved the shack and eagerly bought lies we believe... the day it came out. Paul definitely has the gift of my story God's story nailed. I can only read a few chapters, or lies if you prefer, at a time because I have to put my mind back together before I can move on. This book is exactly what I expected, thank you Mr. Young for putting me in touch with my God, my Jesus, and my Spirit. This book is a blessing! My only complaint is that I can only give it 5 stars!!
Excellent...man has made the word of God and his salvation so complicated and this book breaks it down in simplicity....I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to really know the love God has for each of us....complete and unconditional....
We all have a tendency to put God in a box and believe everything the church tells us. Jesus said, it is finished....no buts....no have tos....finished, completed, He did it all for us...