Saturday, September 23, 2017

Oprah Magazine: God’s “in” Abortions?

“Sacred Oneness”—a Deadly Counternarrative! 


By Pastor Larry DeBruyn and Sarah H. Leslie*


Humane theology was the foundation of Dr. George Tiller’s practice. It dictates that alleviating suffering is a Christian’s sacred responsibility. If God is in everything, and in everyone, then God is as much in the woman making a decision to terminate a pregnancy as in her Bible.
—Dr. Willie Parker, MD, Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice[1]

Because of his “oneness” worldview that God is “in” everyone and everything is “in” God, Dr. Willie Parker believes that God sanctions aborting-killing of babies. The Oprah Magazine quotes him as having written in his book,

Alleviating needless suffering is a Christian’s sacred responsibility. If God is in everything, and everyone, then God is as much in the woman making a decision to terminate a pregnancy as in her Bible.[2]

Having quoted Parker, it needs to be stated that while the “act” of abortion is outside of God’s love neither the aborted baby nor mother are outside of God’s love. In the traumatic aftermath of having aborted a baby, many women have found forgiveness in and through the Cross of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23; 1 Timothy 1:12; 1 John 1:7-9). Further, we harbor no personal malice toward Dr. Parker nor do we wish for any harm to come to him because he is an abortion provider. God is his judge, and along with the rest of us, Jesus will judge all of us (John 5:25-29).

That having been said, we turn to Dr. Parker’s “counternarrative” in which he confesses,

As a Christian, I feel that it’s my job to help offer a counternarrative that God gave every woman gifts and the agency to realize those gifts, and that nothing about choosing to terminate a pregnancy or delay childbearing puts a woman outside of God’s love.[3]

Oprah Winfrey’s magazine touts Dr. Parker, noting that,

As a devout Christian and one of the only physicians performing the procedure in the Deep South, Parker refuses to cede the moral high ground, making an impassioned case rooted in science, history, and theology for the sanctity of a woman’s autonomy over her own body.
The Oprah Magazine
[4]

So to assert the higher moral ground, Parker asserts his “counternarrative,” one he intends to either modify or replace the accepted Christian narrative—one based upon the Bible—that abortion on demand is a crime against God and humanity (Psalm 139:13-14; Jeremiah 1:4-5; Isaiah 49:1, 5; Luke 1:15; Exodus 20:13; 21:22-25). Now in his new narrative Dr. Parker suggests and claims that God, who is the author of reproductive life, morally approves of abortion. He does this because his worldview is oriented not according to the Christian faith, but according the New Age/New Spirituality “oneness” assumption that all persons are in God and God is in all persons. This writing does not concern all the points and counterpoints of the abortion issue, but rather seeks to address the premise upon which Dr. Parker attempts to create his “counternarrative” which, he claims from his Christian perspective, justifies abortion in the name of God.

Because he believes the mother is “in” God and God is “in” the mother (and presumably also “in” the unborn child), Parker’s new counternarrative, evidently, more or less, embraced by the Oprah establishment, announces abortion to be a sacred and divine right. This is a scary development for it transfers power over human life from God to women and their abortion-performing doctors, and this, no less, with God’s approval! Parker creates his counternarrative out of an ungodly assumption that no separation exists between the Holy God and humans, only a “union of oneness.” Of course, this is nothing other than repeating the premise of Satan’s lie to Eve, go ahead and eat what God forbids for “You surely will not die! ...You will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5). So to keep the abortion industry alive even as babies die, Dr. Parker repeats the lie that because everyone’s “in” God and God is “in” everyone that everyone is “as God.” Like a broken record, we have heard this before.

Global Spirituality
This contention—that God is “in” everyone and everything—lies at the heart and soul of global spirituality’s emerging syncretism. For decades, it has been a central tenet of the New Age Movement which increasingly is asserting itself in the evangelical world. For example, speaking in A Course In Miracles the New Age “Jesus” said:

“God is All in all in a very literal sense. All being is in Him Who is all Being. You are therefore in Him since your being is His.... There is no separation of God and His creation.”[5]

Oprah Winfrey has believed in and supported oneness advocates for years. In 1992, The Oprah Winfrey Show promoted a book by Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course In Miracles. Through the show’s promotion, A Course In Miracles along with Williamson, achieved celebrity status in American culture. A foundational lesson of the Course is, “God is in everything and everyone.” Like a mantra, this conceptual understanding of reality had resonated among and been repeated by New Age authors, promoters and celebrities over and over.[6] Now we have a Christian doctor, as well Christian authors like Wm. Paul Young and C. Baxter Kruger, repeating variations of the same old theme-mantra, “everything’s in God and God’s in everything.”[7] To understand the significance of this erroneous theology, see “The Truth” section at the end of this article.


A Deadly Shift
Dr. Parker applies New Age panentheism (God’s “in” everything) to morally justify God’s approval of abortion. As indicated by previous quotes in this article, while Dr. Parker talks about God being “in” the woman, he dehumanizes the unborn child as merely a “pregnancy,” like a tumor that needs to be excised. But it gets worse.

According to The Oprah Magazine, Dr. Parker had his “epiphany” after studying “progressive Christians to find answers to ethical dilemmas in his practice.”[8] He thereafter committed himself to “reproductive justice,” to both advocating and performing abortions. Dr. Parker makes the astonishing claim that,

The procedure room in an abortion clinic is as sacred as any other space to me.... God is meeting both of us where we are.[9]

Thus, Dr. Parker’s “counternarrative” attempts to contextualize abortion as a “sacred” act, endowing it with sacerdotal significance. So abortion is not only a woman’s right but also her rite. The “oneness-union” worldview obliterates all moral distinctions.[10]

Life in the Womb!
The pagan practice of bloody abortion always lurked in obscure feminist literature, but during the decade of the 1980s, the most outspoken abortion advocates were mostly staunch humanists. But Dr. Bernard Nathanson, then an atheist, had his own “epiphany” and recognized that he had been aborting babies whose lives were capable of being saved by the emerging medical science of neonatology. So he produced the film The Silent Scream which depicts an actual first-trimester abortion. With his consent and assistance I (Sarah) was able to show this film on a local TV station. In later public debates with abortionist doctors, I confronted them with their moral relativism as they tried to justify taking human life in the name of “compassion.” But like any humanist, most of them were steeped in situation ethics and made no pretense to possessing religious faith. But now, given his oneness assumption, Dr. Parker employs that religious paradigm to justify abortion in the name of God. It appears that this is where the belief that “love is God” leads. (While God is love, love is not God, 1 John 4:8, 16.) But this oneness concept of “love” now influences even the belief system of the contemporary evangelical church.

Medical Mysticism
Abortion has become so entrenched in the minds and hearts of most ideological liberals, social and political, that reason and science (i.e., knowing) have been cast aside. Yet with tremendous advances being made in neonatal technology, the barbarism of utilizing life-ending violence (abortion) to resolve a complex human problem becomes harder and harder to defend. So how might advocates of abortion continue to argue their case? Amazingly, they turn to religion!—not just any ole religion, but a new mystic religion in which Christianity and New Age Religion-New Spirituality cross-fertilize. Dr. Parker states: “I remain a follower of Jesus. And I believe that as an abortion provider I am doing God’s work.”[11] And of course “doing God’s work” depends upon the assumption that God is not separate from creation, but one with it and in it. In typical New Age fashion Parker reasons, “If God is in everything, and everyone, then God is as much in the woman making a decision to terminate a pregnancy as in her Bible.”[12]

When I was a right-to-life leader,[13] I (Sarah) encountered similar twisted logic like Parker’s, but perhaps on a lesser scale. One woman in particular, a professing evangelical, told me that she was engaging in a sacramental act of compassion by holding a woman’s hand and praying for the tiny baby during its dismemberment and evacuation from the womb (a D & E). Her perspective was a jolting “epiphany” causing me to realize how the human mind can deceive itself into justifying brutality in the name of compassion (See Jeremiah 17:9.). In the name of compassion, Dr. Parker also seeks justification for performing abortions by asserting the New Spirituality’s premise that God is “in” everything and everyone, even the abortion.

As an official movement, Marilyn Ferguson’s book The Aquarian Conspiracy (1980) openly introduced and launched the New Age ideology within American culture (The Beatles, Timothy Leary and others had already introduced eastern mystical-hallucinogenic spirituality to America.).[14] Although some evangelicals have dismissed the New Age Movement’s influence upon culture and church to be passé, Dr. Parker’s quote, which prefaces this article, demonstrates that this spirituality remains influential.

Fifteen years ago I (Sarah) worked with Warren B. Smith to publish his book, Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel (2002).[15] In this groundbreaking book, Smith described how prominent New Age leaders, including Marianne Williamson, Neale Donald Walsch, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Oprah Winfrey, and others engaged in political/religious ventures in which they advocated radical change in American values.[16] The religious tenet which bound them all together was the seminal idea that God’s “in” everyone, that hubristically human beings are both the “Creator and the Created.”[17] This belief possesses astounding implications.

Everyone and Everything Chooses Death 
About death Walsch’s channeled “God” offered these reassuring and soothing words:

Every aspect of divinity has co-creative control over its destiny. Therefore, you cannot kill a mosquito against its will. At some level, the mosquito has chosen that. All of the change in the universe occurs with the consent of the universe itself, in its various forms. The universe cannot disagree with itself. That is impossible.[18]

Such logic might be employed to imply that the unborn, like a slapped-dead mosquito, will “choose” their own abortion. Outrageously this suggests that the tiny unborn baby is pro “choice”! Yet Walsch’s “God” hopes you are naïve enough to believe that “you will not choose to terminate any particular incarnation, nor change any life energy from one form to another, without the most sacred justification.”[19] There it is—“sacred justification.” Is it possible that someone could become inured to such horrific logic to call abortion sacred? In this context, we again point to how Dr. Willie Parker’s employs the word “sacred” to justify abortion:

Human theology was the foundation of Dr. George Tiller’s practice. It dictates that alleviating needless suffering is a Christian’s sacred responsibility. If God is in everything, and everyone, then God is as much in the woman making a decision to terminate a pregnancy as in her Bible.[20]

Another leading New Age leader, Barbara Marx Hubbard, also had conversations with a “Christ” who openly spoke about his “selection process,” a time in the future during which all “cancer in the body” (i.e., human society) must be cut out.[21] Such logic could easily be used to justify abortion, and indeed in the country of Iceland it already is. Approximately seventy-five percent of that nation’s women undergo prenatal screening to see if the fetuses they carry in their wombs test positive for Down’s syndrome.[22] If they do, many are therefore aborted. Needless to say, Down’s syndrome children are disappearing from the nation’s population. Thus selective abortion fits into the “final solution” paradigm for the planned “selection process” advocated by Hubbard’s “planetary Christ.”[25]

Hubbard merely continued the thinking of the esoteric eugenics of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and its abortion industry. Sanger particularly focused her attention on the “unfit” and “feebleminded” and those she considered to be of “inferior” races, especially “Negroes”.[24] Sterilization, birth control and abortion became her methods to stop “uncontrolled fertility” of the unfit.[25] In fact, the more extreme views of Sanger and her radical cohorts influenced the Hitler regime in its genocidal extermination of Jews, Gypsies, mentally ill, handicapped, and other people groups.[26] In Conversations with God Walsch's “God” asserted that,

The mistakes Hitler made did no harm or damage to those whose deaths he caused. Those souls were released form their earthly bondage, like butterflies emerging from a cocoon.[27]

To this point Walsch’s “God” teaches, as other oneness-universalists believe, that “Hitler went to heaven.[28] (At this juncture we can be reminded of the series of articles, thirteen in all, which appeared on Herescope dealing with the subject of Universalism; that everybody’s going to heaven and nobody’s going to hell.[29])

Oneness universalism creates a perfect platform upon which situational ethics and moral relativism can thrive. No matter how distorted the logic and reasoning, anything goes in the name of “love” and “compassion.” Parker wrote:

As a Christian, I feel that it’s my job to help offer a counternarrative: that God gave every woman gifts and the agency to realize those gifts, and that nothing about choosing to terminate a pregnancy or to delay childbearing puts a woman outside of God’s love.[30]

What do all of these New Age leaders have in common? Over the past several decades many of them have formed political and religious alliances with Oprah Winfrey. It should come as no surprise that Oprah would champion the rise of a novel pro-abortion counternarrative claiming to be “Christian” and “compassionate” yet all the while killing babies. As Parker boldly proclaims, “I remain a follower of Jesus. And I believe that as an abortion provider I am doing God’s work.”[31]

Given the evangelical world’s slide into panentheistic oneness-universalism, it is entirely possible that the new counternarrative proposed by Dr. Willie Parker will find a comfortable niche within much of American Christianity. As noted previously, this is already coming into the evangelical church world. Wm. Paul Young and C. Baxter Kruger are repeating variations of the same old theme-mantra, “everything’s in God and God’s in everything.”[32]

The Truth: 
The Truth about Oneness 
We should note that God does not reveal that He is in everyone and everything (Romans 8:9; 1 Kings 8:27). To believe that God is everything is pantheism. God is not the mosquito that bites me on a camping trip. Neither is God in everything, which is panentheism. God does not permeate the big landscape rock that decorates my neighbor’s front yard. The Creator is holy and personal. He is separate from His creation because He existed before creation. As reflected in the image which He created humans to be, God is also personality. In that God is both transcendent and immanent He is both far from and near to His creation. So for Christians to remain Christian, they must never substitute exchange “the truth of God for a lie” and worship and serve “the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 1:25; See verses 18-25.). It is pagan and idolatrous to believe God is or that He permeates nature. No. God is separate from His creation and His creation is separate from Him (Genesis 1:1-31). This explains why the prophet Moses wrote creation account, to separate Israel’s God from the gods and cosmogonies of the surrounding pagan nations.

The Bible Does not Teach Oneness 
Ephesians 4 verse 6 is often cited to support teaching that God is “one” with, in, by and through creation. Paul wrote that there is “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:6). However, the context of Ephesians 4 does not support an oneness or monistic worldview. Paul was not affirming either God’s immanence “in” or omnipresence throughout the universe. What he did state was not truth about the cosmos, but truth regarding the church, the Body of Christ (vv. 1-16). In chapter 4 Paul teaches that being a UNITY (vv. 1-6) and consisting of DIVERSITY (vv. 7-13a), the church ought to grow together into MATURITY (vv. 13b-16). The basis for such unity amidst diversity is that throughout the universal church there is “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (v. 6b, KJV). Being in the Father and Son, and united by the Spirit, the Body of Christ is permeated of the “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:6b, NKJV; Compare John 17:20-23.). In this majestic statement, Paul affirms God’s presence and lordship of the Triune God (one Spirit . . . one Lord . . one Father) over the church. Though God is present in the farthest and darkest recesses of the universe (Psalm 139:7), Paul was not stating that in this context. He is teaching that though God is universally present throughout the cosmos, He is particularly present in and throughout the believing and regenerate church.

Because “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient... without natural affection... Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”[33]
—Emphasis added, The Apostle Paul, Romans 1:26-31

Endnotes 
1. Emphasis added. Dr. Willie Parker, MD, Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2017): 208. George Tiller was a notorious doctor from Wichita, Kansas, who gained national attention for performing late-term (third trimester) abortions in his clinics. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Tiller
2. Natalie Beach, “Parker’s Choice: How a doctor’s Christianity led him to perform abortions,” The Oprah Magazine, May 2017: 110. See also, http://www.oprah.com/book/may-2017-reading-room-lifes-work#ixzz4tVtbZ6W7
3. Parker, Life’s Work: 69. 
4. Beach, “Parker’s Choice.” 
5. New Age Jesus,A Course In Miracles: 119, 147, quoted by Warren B. Smith, False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? What New Age Leaders Really Have in Store for America, The Church, and the World (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2011): 21. 
6. See Herescope post “God’s Relationship to Everything,” January 30, 2008 (http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/01/god-i.html). See Warren B. Smith, A Wonderful Deception: The Further New Age Implications of the Emerging Purpose Drive Movement (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2011): 153. 
7. Pastor Larry DeBruyn, “NATURALISM: Undercurrent in Evangelicalism,” Herescope, August 20, 2017 (http://herescope.blogspot.com/2017/08/naturalism-undercurrent-in.html). Note the quotes: Young—“Being always transcends appearance—that which only seems to be.... That is why Elousia is such a wonderful name. God who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things—ultimately emerging as the real—and any appearances that mask that reality will fall away”; Kruger—“this is the symbol [diagram of the Trinity, ed.] for the Three-Person Oneness of God. Inside of this moving divine dance of relationship, everything was created: every human being, every plant, every subatomic particle, everything. God loves His creation and our participation in it.” See recent article posting by Warren B. Smith, “Wm. Paul Young Teaches New Age Lie About Separation on TBN,” Lighthouse Trails, September 23, 2017 (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=23824). 
8. Beach, “Parker’s Choice.” 
9. Ibid. Emphasis added. 
10. “How to go ‘ecosexual’ and embrace your love for Mother Nature,” Fox News, August 23, 2017 (http://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/2017/08/23/how-to-go-ecosexual-and-embrace-your-love-for-mother-nature.html). The ideology “ecosexuality” could in the name of oneness be used to justify any and all sexual deviations and perversions. It all part of Mother Nature, isn’t it? 
11. Parker, Life’s Work: 2. 
12. Ibid: 69. 
13. See Randall Balmer, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2000): 147-155, 163-165. Balmer documents that indeed, Sarah Leslie was in zealously involved in the pro-life movement during the late 1980s in Iowa. Pages in this book testify to Sarah’s life both before and after her conversion to vital Christianity. Also see her testimony at "Sarah Leslie: Right to Life," Verax Institute (https://vimeo.com/200384740/dad4a2a2aa). See also the accounts in the 2001 Discernment Newsletter (Issue #12, Vol. 5) article by Lynn and Sarah Leslie, "How Can There Be Revival Without Repentance?" (http://www.discernment-ministries.org/Newsletters/NL2001SepOct.pdf)
14. For this history, read Sarah Leslie’s account in her article “Esoteric Evolution” in the Verax Magazine, November 2016, (http://veraxinstitut.ch/flip/VMe-20161101/files/assets/basic-html/page-4.html). See also our earlier article "Altered States: A Different Gate: The sober Christian in a spiritually inebriated age," Herescope, April 28, 2011 (http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/04/altered-states-different-gate.html). 
15. Warren Smith, Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel (Ravenna, OH: Conscience Press, 2002). See online copy at, http://www.spiritual-research-network.com/f/Reinventing_Jesus_Christ.pdf. See also Warren B. Smith's False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? What New Age Leaders Really Have in Store for America, The Church, and the World (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2011) at http://www.spiritual-research-network.com/warren-smith-articles-books.html.
16. In 2011 Reinventing Jesus Christ was updated and expanded by Warren. See Warren B. Smith, False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? What New Age Leaders Really Have in Store for America, The Church, and the World (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2011). This edition includes additional and disturbing facts related to the issues discussed in this article. 
17. Smith, False Christ Coming: 41. Here Warren quotes Neale Donald Walsch’s book, Conversations with God, Book 3, page 350. Walsh's books are dictations of conversations he had with a voice calling itself "God."
18. Ibid: quoting Walsch’s Friendship with God, page 371. 
19. Ibid: quoting Walsch’s Conversations With God, Book 1, pages 96-97. 
20. Emphasis added. Parker, Life’s Work: 208. 
21. See Smith, False Christ Coming, pages 28-29, for discussion the “selection” process set forth in Barbara Marx Hubbard’s book, The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millennium (Novato, Ca: Nataraj Publishing, 1995). 
22. Julian Quinones and Arijeta Lajka, “What kind of society do you want to live in? Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing,” CBS News, August 14, 2017 (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/down-syndrome-iceland/). 
23. “Final Solution” is Hitler’s term. 
24. Elasah Drogin, Margaret Sanger: Father of Modern Society (New Hope, KY; Catholics United for Life, 1989): 25, citing Linda Gordon, Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America (New York, NY: Grossman Publishers, 1976): 333. Drogin wrote: “Sanger described her plan to stop the growth of the blacks in the United States in a private letter to Clarence Gamble dated October 19, 1939. She spoke of a project that would ‘hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities’ to travel through the South and propagandize for birth control. ‘The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population....’” 
25. Margaret Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization: p. 88. Now available on Amazon.com via CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 
26. Read more in Elasah Drogin’s 1989 book Margaret Sanger: Father of Modern Society. See also Richard J. Evans' trilogy of scholarly books on the Third Reich (Penguin Press) that extensively documents the rise of “racial hygiene” and “racial science”. 
27. Smith, False Christ Coming: 44, quoting Walsch’s Conversations with God, Book 2, Book 2, page 42. 
28. Ibid: 44, quoting Walsch’s Conversations With God, Book 1, page 61. Italics in original.
29. Here are links to all 13 parts: 
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 
Part 6: A Catena: The Chain of “All” 
Part 7: A Catena: Universalism's Troubles With “All” 
Part 8: A Catena: Universalism's “World” and “Everyone” 
Part 9: A Catena: The “Catenization” of Universalism 
Part 10: Pretending Evil Doesn't Exist 
Part 11: Evangelical Anarchy & Chaos 
Part 12: NATURALISM: Undercurrent in Evangelicalism 
Part 13: UNIVERSALISM: The Emerging Evangelical Metanarrative 
30. Parker, Life’s Work: 69. 
31. Ibid: 2. 
32. See footnote 7. Pastor Larry DeBruyn, “NATURALISM: Undercurrent in Evangelicalism,” Herescope, August 20, 2017 (http://herescope.blogspot.com/2017/08/naturalism-undercurrent-in.html).
33. The compound word “without natural affection” (Greek, astorgos) consists of the alpha privative (a = “no”) plus a derivative of the verb stergo to “cherish affectionately, especially of parents for their children. The resultant idea meaning of atorgos is “inhuman,” “inhumane” or “without family love.” From the word storgos the name for the bird “stork” derives. See W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr., An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984): 29. See also 2 Timothy 3:1-5. 

*Warren B. Smith contributed to this article by first calling this issue to our attention and then providing helpful support, thoughts, suggestions and comments throughout the writing process. For further reading see Smith's latest article "Wm. Paul Young Teaches New Age Lie About Separation on TBN" at http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=23824

Thursday, August 24, 2017

UNIVERSALISM: The Emerging Evangelical Metanarrative

Truths We Believe About God, Part 13
Conclusion: Part 3 

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


By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables,
when we made known unto you the power
and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
For He received from God the Father honour and glory,
when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory,
‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’
And this voice which came from heaven we heard,
when we were with Him in the holy mount.
We have also a more sure word of prophecy;
whereunto ye do well that ye take heed,
as unto a light that shineth in a dark place,
until the day dawn,
and the day star arise in your hearts
:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture
is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man:
but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
[139]
—Emphasis added, The Apostle Peter, 2 Peter 1:16-21, KJV


UNIVERSALISM 
The Emerging Evangelical Metanarrative 

Metanarrative: An overarching account or interpretation of events and circumstances that provides a pattern or structure for people’s beliefs and gives meaning to their experiences. The Big picture![140] 

Born of pantheism emerges an inebriating belief called universalism, that because we’re all part of God now we shall all be part of God forever. God can’t live without us, even though it seems the Trinity did quite well without us in eternity before creation. This is the evangelical metanarrative emerging out of pantheism . . . UNIVERSALISM! But before there can be a new narrative explaining our reality, the old narrative must be dismissed and a new metanarrative introduced.[141] In other words, a new story must replace the old, and The Shack is just such a new story.

The Old Narrative: The Scriptures 
Man needs personal communications from God, in this instance a hand written note from God to Mack. So God wrote to Mack, The Shack’s lead character. “Mackenzie,” Papa goddess tells Mack, “It’s been awhile. I’ve missed you. I’ll be back at the shack next weekend if you want to get together.” Signed “Papa” About receiving this note (perhaps meant by Young to mimic his conversations with God which he wrote down on pads of yellow legal paper), Young creates this thinking which went on in Mack’s mind:

Try as he might, Mack could not escape the desperate possibility that the note just might be from God after all, even if the thought of God passing notes did not fit well with his theological training. In seminary [Young graduated from Bible college, ed.] he had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course [expository preaching, ed.]. God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects [i.e., theologians, ed.]. It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized.... Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was it guilt edges? (Emphasis added, The Shack, 65-66) 

Young’s derogatory swipe at Holy Scripture (that people prefer God in a book, especially an expensively bound leather one with “guilt edges”) is self-indicting. He too puts God in a book—his book! He too has put God’s voice on paper—his paper! He too has put God in a box—his box! He too interprets what his book means. So the question for seekers after truth is: whose book, paper, box or explanation are they going to believe, Young’s or God’s? Again, via musings of his main character, the author takes another swipe at Scripture. “To his amusement” reads the story, Mack “also found a Gideon’s Bible in the nightstand.” (The Shack, 115)

Regarding his derisive jab at Holy Scripture (that Mack found his discovery of a Gideon Bible to be “amusing” if not irrelevant), I would point to personal testimonies of those who, finding themselves in desperate straits in life, found God’s comfort for their soul from reading a Gideon Bible they found in a drawer in a nightstand next to the bed in a hotel room where they were staying. But to Young the Bible is the old and unacceptable story emphasizing sin, guilt and the Savior. The church needs a new narrative, one exclusively based upon love, universal reconciliation and relationship. Enter . . .

The New Metanarrative: The Shack
In his book A New Kind of Christian, as he does in other of his many writings, emergent church leader Brian McLaren calls for a “new framing story.”[142] In his book tellingly titled The End of Evangelicalism?, one scholar summarizes what McLaren wants, that he “calls for an awakening to this new framing story, the ‘creative and transforming story’ of Jesus, where God’s love, reconciliation, sacred beauty, restoration, justice, and renewal take shape among us and the world.”[143] David Fitch’s description of what McLaren desires to see in a new framing story fits, I think, the story Wm. Paul Young creates in The Shack in which he portrays what a new kind of Christianity and Christian might look like. About his new story Young admits:

Please don’t misunderstand me. The Shack is theology, but it is theology wrapped in story, the Word becoming flesh and living inside the blood and bones of common human experience [Note how Young usurps Jesus’ incarnation, ed.]. If you believe, as I do, that everything finds its meaning, value, identity, worth, security, and significance inside relationship, and foremost in one’s relationship with God, then all life falls within the purview of theology, the living word of God’s reality and presence.[144]

The Shack (as also his books Eve and Cross Roads) is Young’s new metanarrative and Lies We Believe About God explains the frame or template of it. In Lies Young claims to expose the deceptions of the old story while in The Shack he creates and communicates the truths of the new story. This is why Eugene Peterson praised The Shack as follows: “This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!” (The Shack, front cover) There you have it . . . Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is the “old inactive story” for his generation indicating the old way of looking the Christian faith; and Young’s The Shack is a “new interactive story” for this generation explaining the new Christianity. Clever . . . To employ an oxymoronic illustration, this may explain why people formed Bible study groups to study The Shack which is neither in the Bible nor biblical. Bible studies on The Shack? Go figure.

The Shack constantly pictures imaginary conversations taking place in heaven between Papa, Jesus, Sarayu (i.e., the Spirit), Sophia and Mack. But to sell this myth of imagined conversations with God, the Bible has to be discredited, and by innuendo the author, as has been pointed out, does this in The Shack. To communicate this new metanarrative, Christianity needs a new story and theology to enrapture and capture human hearts, and what better entry point is there than getting into vulnerable human hearts by developing concepts about God's relationship to the mystery of suffering where immediate explanations often escape us (Why me, God?). To this issue the Bible speaks about suffering and contains a book called Job.

Nevertheless, Young’s new metanarrative attempts to explain the new Christianity by shedding light on the darkness which surrounds suffering, and to do so Young invents interactive conversations between the members of the Trinity to shed light upon the issues of life, faith and tragedy. But about doing this, A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) cautioned in his classic book The Knowledge of the Holy, that, “It is a real if understandable error to conceive of the Persons of the Godhead as conferring with one another and reaching agreement by interchange of thought as humans do.”[145]

The Basis of the New Story: Vain Imaginings 
On this point and to Tozer’s warning, we note Paul Young bases the origin of his religious allegory about suffering upon personal and private conversations (“notes” he received from God?) he had with God on his daily work-commute from Gresham to Portland, Oregon. In these conversations, Young like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah or Daniel assumes the role of a prophet. He forgets that God entrusted the Jews not Young, with His “oracles” (Romans 3:2). Nevertheless, World magazine reported that, “Young used 80 minutes each day... to fill yellow legal pads with imagined conversations with God focused on suffering, pain, and evil.”[146] Some who knew Young believed his conversations with God were more authentic than imagined. But whether imagined, arising within, or authentic, coming from without, who really knows? Nevertheless, Young admits that The Shack is his theology about suffering wrapped in a story![147] So there you have the new story: from God, to Young to his readers. Oh, really? But from whence did he derive his theology? One can only conclude that the story was sourced within himself and his imagined conversations with God, and that the explanation about suffering was his, not God’s.

The Bible does have something to say about sourcing God’s Word in human imagination, and it’s not good, especially if the imaginings become a “makeover” for God which people in their opinion think He needs and they believe. In his description of idolatry and after growing “unthankful,” the apostle Paul places “imagination” to be the next step into idolatry. He wrote that even though they knew God, the heathen “glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Emphasis mine, Romans 1:21, KJV). The word “imagination” (Greek, dialogismos) literally means, “the thinking of a man deliberating with himself.”[148] Other versions translate imagination by “speculations” (NASB), “thinking” (NIV, NRSV), and “thoughts” (NKJV). The New Living Translation communicates:

Yes . . . they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like.
The result was that their minds became dark and confused.

(Romans 1:21, NLT) 

Dial a god 
Note: The Apostle states that idolatry germinates out of people imagining about God from within themselves. Like using our cell phones, we can simply “dial a god,” oh, and by the way, we can make up any number (mystical-spiritual discipline) we want to reach out and touch the immanent-one, whether God be he, she, her/him, it or whatever. Theology needs authority, and that authority Young finds within himself and his claimed conversations with God. This “authority” allows him to picture God however he wants. So to accommodate society’s sensitivity to patriarchal and racial prejudice, Young ingratiates himself to his readers by picturing the Father (i.e., “Papa”) as an androgynous large African woman all the while ignoring Jesus’ statement that “God is Spirit [He’s above and beyond race, ed.], and those who worship Him [Jesus patriarchally talked about, prayed and called God His Father] must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). In his “shack” (The book's title represents the author's parochial dig at buildings of organized churches.) Young neither worships God in Spirit nor in truth and admittedly, neither do many congregants who might worship in nice buildings. But does not such a caricature of God qualify as a fable?

To this point we can be informed that the word “fable” (Greek mythos) means myth and refers to “a purely fictitious narrative involving supernatural persons, actions, or events, and embodying some popular idea concerning natural or historical phenomena.”[149] So in reality, Young’s story is a cleverly crafted and “cunningly devised fable,” a myth which reads into who God is and therefore either embellishes or contradicts God’s self-disclosure about who He is in Scripture (See 1 Timothy 1:4; 2 Timothy 4:4.). In evaluating Young’s book Lies We Believe About God, it has been demonstrated that the author portrays God to be whatever or whoever he needs, wants or imagines Him to be. This is idolatry, which is where the Apostle Paul moves next in his description.

Pagans turn from worshipping the Creator to worshipping creatures, including themselves. Claiming mystical enlightenment derived from inward deliberations—the unthankful source their understanding of God from what they imagine Him to be. They can’t leave God alone. They won’t let God be God. So they mess with Him, and

Their foolish hearts become darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools
as they change the pristine glory of the uncorruptible God
into idols made like corruptible man,
and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

—My paraphrase, Romans 1:21b-23, KJV

In this “spiritual”spiritual exercise they think they’ve become enlightened, but the spiritual reality is that their prideful hearts have become darkened. It can be noted that out of this spiritual chaos will emerge the end time world super-man, the Anti-Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).[150]

Universalism: The Emerging Evangelical Metanarrative 
In the staging process involving the idolatry of imaginations, as the Apostle Paul describes in Romans chapter 1:18-27, humans break with theism to embrace naturalism. Naturalism in turn gives birth to evolutionism. Evolutionism can lead to atheism, but more “naturally” it ends in pantheism, in nature worship, that God’s in everybody and everybody’s in God (i.e., monism). Teilhard de Chardin called this divinization of creation “pleromization” or as Young and Kruger conceptualize it, “trinitization.” But pantheism needs spirituality, and what can be more “spiritual” than communing with nature and the God within? So to get spiritual, the naturalist must move into mysticism, to seek out conversations with God. These mystical communications assure mystics of their oneness with nature (i.e., monism, all is one and one is all). So they meditate upon nature and nature and it, or spirits, talk to them. There is no real separation between them, the rest of humanity and God—no separation in the past, no separation now, no separation after death. No separation from God ever and forever. God can’t separate himself from nature, including all humanity, because to do so would mean God would have to separate himself from himself, that being an impossibility because nature and God are “one.” So in the end the human heart must fixate upon pantheistic naturalism, in which universalism based on monism becomes the culminating belief. And if the popularity of the book and movie The Shack give any indication, universalism is now the emerging evangelical metanarrative!

THE END*

Endnotes:
[138] I should like to point out Peter’s words, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy.” More sure than what? More sure than the testimony that he James and John heard when from heaven the voice of God said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” In other words, in Scripture God speaks to us in a voice as certain as when He authenticated His pleasure in His Son to the three disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5) and to the crowd at Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3:21-22). In the prophecy of Scripture we have a “sure word” of God. The transcendent God of (not in) the universe speaks to us from heaven, all the while the precious Holy Spirit bearing witness to and personalizing the testimony He inspired to be written about the Lord Jesus. The Spirit brings the Word home to our hearts. As such, we don’t need myths men invent for us about God, “cunningly devised fables” like The Shack (2 Peter 1:16). 
[139] A metanarrative may be explained as, “an overarching account or interpretation of events and circumstances that provides a pattern or structure for people’s beliefs and gives meaning to their experiences.” (https://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4VASV_enUS570US570&q=metanarrative+definition). Through Mack’s experiences in life and at The Shack, Wm. Paul Young gives just such an interpretation of and meaning to life. 
[140] See Brian D. McLaren, A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001). Throughout the book McLaren declares the need for “new framing story.” 
[141] David E. Fitch, The End of Evangelicalism? (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2011): 190. 
[142] Wm. Paul Young, “Foreword,” C. Baxter Kruger, Ph.D., The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (New York, NY: Hachette Book Group, 2012): xi. 
[143] A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: NY: Harper & Row Publishers, 1961): 30. 
[144] Emphasis added, Susan Olasky, “Commuter-driven bestseller,” World, June 28/July 5, 2008, 49. 
[145] Young, “Foreword,” Shack Revisited: xi. 
[146] John Henry Thayer, “dialogismos,” Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975 Reprint): 139. 
[147] Ronald Bridges and Luther A. Weigle, The King James Word Book (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1994): 127. The Oxford English Dictionary entry “myth” is quoted. 
[148] Andrews, Christianity and Anti-Christianity: 264-283

*This article series by Pastor Larry DeBruyn will be published into a book, both hard copy and e-versions, Lord willing. Stay tuned to Herescope for further information when these become available. Prayers are appreciated.

Read the previous articles in this series: 
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 
Part 6: A Catena: The Chain of “All” 
Part 7: A Catena: Universalism's Troubles With “All 
Part 8: A Catena: Universalism's “World” and “Everyone” 
Part 9: A Catena: The “Catenization” of Universalism 
Part 10: Pretending Evil Doesn't Exist

Part 11: Conclusion: Part 1: Evangelical Anarchy & Chaos 

Part 12: NATURALISM: Undercurrent in Evangelicalism 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

NATURALISM: Undercurrent in Evangelicalism

Truths We Believe About God, Part 12
Conclusion: Part 2

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


By Pastor Larry DeBruyn


“Beware lest any man spoil you through
philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men,
after the rudiments of the world
[i.e., naturalism, ed.],
and not after Christ.”

—The Apostle Paul, Colossians 2:8, KJV 


NATURALISM: Undercurrent in Evangelicalism 
Naturalism’s influence upon evangelicalism has earlier been traced in the movement’s history, observing the initial effect of the philosophy upon American Christianity evidenced with the rise of liberalism and its rejection of supernaturalism, then naturalism’s influence upon Neo-evangelicalism with that movement’s accommodation of evolutionary theory, then the Charismatic movement’s protest against naturalism by working of supernatural “signs and wonders,” then by the mega-church’s employment of humanistic means to produce “results” of church growth, and now the emergent church’s reinterpretation of the biblical mandate to fit a worldly vision of reality by adjusting the church’s message to fit the ecological, social, economical, political and spiritual needs of life on this planet. (By saying this I do not suggest man has the right to abuse this planet and its life. God has given humans the right of beneficial dominion over, not destruction of His world, Genesis 1:26. And the Bible also gives instructions, even commands, about how we are to treat others, Galatians 6:10.)


As ideas have consequences, there is however a sequence of “isms” inherent within a naturalistic philosophy of life. We begin with the source, the philosophy of naturalism which at core is anti-Christ because Scripture presents the Lord Jesus as the supernatural creator and sustainer of the universe (Colossians 1:16-17); and that after His Second Coming, the whole cosmos will consummate in Him “so that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). The Lord Jesus Christ is the Omega point toward the universe is headed (Revelation 1:8, 11; 21:6; 22:13).


Naturalism
Naturalism, especially in this modern world in which scientific and technological advantages reduce the insecurities and harshness of life, negatively influences people to be less dependent upon God because the philosophy asserts that nature is king. Nature is viewed as the essence of being. Ah, life is good! that is, until we come to the end of it. Is this all there is? Death has a way of exposing humans to the insecurity within nature. Death brings our vulnerability up close and personal (Romans 5:12). But despite the prognosis of death, naturalism seeks to explain life, even the mystery of it, through knowing “the methods characteristic of the natural sciences.”[123]

Naturalism favors a monistic worldview (that everything which exists is one natural reality) as opposed to a dualistic worldview (that everything which exists is constituted of two realities, one natural (below) and one supernatural (above). (See John 8:21-30.) Respectively, these realities are the cosmos and its Creator, the universe and God. Though supernaturalism holds that God has and can miraculously interrupt the cosmos whenever and however He wills (i.e., creation, the Exodus, the incarnation of Jesus, His resurrection from the dead, His promised personal return, etc.), philosophical naturalism rejects “the supernatural, or world of god and invisible agencies.”[124]

Evolutionism
So enter the theory of evolution, naturalism’s brain child. Might it be said that evolution evolves out of naturalism? To accommodate their faith to the latest advances in science or human knowing and because they think it’s settled theory, many evangelicals believe some aspect of evolutionary theory. Unwilling to consider that the theory might flawed and false, Neo-Calvinists like the well-known Timothy Keller accept “truths” about evolution and try to incorporate the theory into their Christian faith despite the fact that the theory neither needs nor wants God. Evolution is a quite self-sufficient theory and doesn’t need God. But incorporating God into evolution by evangelicals appears as so much Christian “window dressing.” Really I quite like my naturalism they say, but I’ll give God a nod.

After discussing pros and cons of the theory (mostly pros), Keller stated in his best selling book The Reason for God (2008): “For the record I think God guided some kind of process of natural selection,” indicating he believes in theistic evolution, but adds that he rejects “the concept of evolution as All-encompassing Theory [by using capital letters “A” and “T” Keller gives a nod to God that the theory is not divine, ed.].”[125]

Another example is evident in Paul Young’s book Lies We Believe About God, when his friend C. Baxter Kruger encountered an eccentric Indiana Jones looking “systematic microevolutionary botanist” whom he found himself seated next to on a commercial jet flight. After Kruger introduced himself to the botanist as a theologian, the “microevolutionary botanist” responded, “I suppose you want to talk me about evolution.” “Not really,” Baxter answered. “I don’t care much about that, but please tell me more about plants.” (LWBAG, 127) These two illustrations, there are many more I am sure, indicate that vast numbers of evangelicals determine what they believe about God by mixing naturalism and supernaturalism. In their heart of hearts, or mind of minds, they do not entirely believe God to be the cause of all causes, but rather in the natural make-up of the universe, causes are their own causes. Causes cause themselves. In other words, the universe is a symphony without a Composer and a Director.

Enter Intelligent Design—a scientific movement which adapts Thomas Aquinas’ teleological argument for God’s existence. Intelligent designers ask, how can there be natural design in the universe absent a supernatural Designer? Their answer of course is, there can’t. The point is made. But naked knowing does not prove Jesus is God and lead individuals to accept the Gospel and believe in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Don’t get me wrong. There is a place for believing God is the Designer of the universe and the Cause of all causes. Nature bears wonderful testimony to “His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:19-20). But left unto itself this argument takes its believers no further than into Deism, believing that, oh! yeah, there’s a God, but He’s left us on our own to figure life out and fend for ourselves. Intelligent Design, while giving God nodding acceptance, is just another nuance of the philosophy of naturalism. While the popular theory explains God, it does not explain His Son. For that supernatural revelation, the logos, is needed (John 1:1-5, 14).

Many evangelical pastors and theologians, perhaps to enhance their worldly credibility, acceptance and respect, continue to look for common religious ground with scientists. Why argue about evolution when they mutually accept all or part of the theory to be true?

But many individuals think that the consequence of believing in evolution is atheism. Charles Hodge (1797-1868) thought so and stated as much in his book, What Is Darwinism?[126] Maybe evolution does demand atheism, but then, given the innate need of humans to worship someone or something bigger than themselves, there just might be another possibility, and that’s . . .

Pantheism 
Young: God’s in Everything 
Pantheism, believing that nature is God, or panentheism, that nature contains God (as a can contains Coca Cola) or that God’s being permeates nature (like a colored dye poured into a glass of water), is basic to The Shack’s view of God. God participates in and is not separate from nature. As Jesus explains to Mack about “Papa-Elousia”:

Being always transcends appearance—that which only seems to be.... That is why Elousia is such a wonderful name. God who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things—ultimately emerging as the real—and any appearances that mask that reality will fall away. (Emphasis added, The Shack, 112). 

Kruger: Everything’s in God (The Trinity) 
After drawing an intertwined three-circled symbol of the Trinity, C. Baxter Kruger, Young’s friend, relates the following conversation he had with that scientist mentioned earlier which Young recounts in his book Lies: “Look,” says Kruger to the scientist,

“this is the symbol for the Three-Person Oneness of God. Inside of this moving divine dance of relationship, everything was created: every human being, every plant, every subatomic particle, everything. God loves His creation and our participation in it.” (Emphasis added, LWBAG, 127-128) 

Connect the dots . . . Imagine! Young says . . . God who is the ground of all being dwells in, around, and through all things. God’s in everything. Kruger says . . . Everything from particles to people is “inside” the Trinity. This is how Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) imagined reality. He saw the universe to be “pan-Christic,” that “Christ is in all things” and “all things are in Christ.” To de Chardin all things includes “all humanity. . . all creation, all of life, all beings and elements in the cosmos.”[127] Young and Kruger appear to have taken the cue for their worldview from Teilhard, and call it whatever you might wish, this symbiotic worldview of Christ being in nature (Can we say nature incarnates Christ?) is pantheism. About pantheism Samuel Andrews insightfully observed:

The essential element of Pantheism... “is the unity of God and nature, of the Infinite and the finite, in one single substance.” The Infinite is not swallowed up in the finite, nor the finite in the Infinite, but both co-exist; and this co-existence is necessary and eternal. Thus we have the One and the many, the Absolute, the All. It will have no dualism; it will unify nature, man, and God.[128]

Pantheism or panentheism, call it what you wish, philosophically intrudes into who Scripture reveals God to be (Colossians 2:8). In a pantheistic view of the cosmos the worlds of above and below meld into one, the idea of divine immanence (God’s down here) consuming any idea of divine transcendence (God’s up there).


God’s Lesson about Pantheism: Mercy Seat, Ark and Temple
Though the glory of the Lord came to dwell on the Ark’s Mercy Seat beneath the Cherubim in the temple, the materials of the ark and the temple were not permeated with divinity. Solomon knew that the Lord transcended anything he could build. His dedicatory prayer reflected this:

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?
—1 Kings 8:27 

Think for a moment: Solomon, according to the Lord’s revealed instructions and specifications, built a beautiful temple out of valuable materials. The Lord however, was not in those materials and neither was He in the temple until He came to dwell in it (2 Chronicles 5:14; 7:1-3). Evidently God is not in all things. If He was, then all Israel would have to have done is build the temple and worshipped it, like a lot of people do when they reverence their beautiful and majestic churches and cathedrals. But from God’s perspective, there are no sacred places and no sacred spaces (John 4:21-24; 1 Timothy 2:8). That Israel was ordered to build a temple absent God’s presence testified to His transcendence! Yet given the human heart’s propensity to worship nature, the story of the Old Testament faith could be related “in terms of a tension between a spiritual conception of God and worship... and various pressures, such as idolatry, which attempted to debase and materialize the religious consciousness.”[129] Such is the transcendent separation of the Holy God from His material creation.

The Lord is Holy 
The essential attribute of God in Scripture is holiness. As regards God being holy, one Old Testament scholar observed:

The basic idea conveyed by the holiness of God is His separateness.... the One who stands apart from and above the creation.... It is no exaggeration to state that this element overshadows all others in the character of the deity....[130] 

Yet the heathen worldview does not accept God’s transcendence over creation but rather chooses to believe He’s immanent in creation, that He exists and dwells in everything whether it be animate or inanimate (Romans 1:23). Hence pagans could make idols out of materials they believed were indwelt by the universal soul of God, that divinity was in, through, with and around the wood and precious metals they used to fashion their images (Jeremiah 10:8). The problem was that their idols could not act or speak, unless demons would use the idols to deliver fake oracles (Zechariah 10:2). As Isaiah mocked:

They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods.
—Isaiah 42:17 

The point: pantheism, believing that God is wholly immanent, or its cousin panentheism, that nature is permeated-infused of a divine Soul, leads to idolatry. In contrast to the surrounding pagan nations and their worship centers, this explains why the glory of the transcendent Lord came dwell in the temple—He came to dwell on His terms and not Israel’s—and later why when Israel apostatized from Him to worship idols, the glory of the Lord departed from the temple (Ezekiel 8:3-4; 9:3; 10:4; 11:23). The whole point of the coming and going of the Lord to and from the temple was to show His chosen nation that though He transcendently dwelt apart from and above the temple, He could, if He chose to, come to dwell immanently within it! The Lord did not dwell in every ancient temple built by man, only in Israel’s. His indwelling was exceptional and selective. As Paul the Apostle told the philosophers on Mars Hill, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24). By the way, as to the selective indwelling of God, let’s not forget beloved, that in this present age we, not everybody, are “a temple of the Holy Spirit, whom you [we] have from God” (1 Corinthians 6:19). God’s presence does not dwell in everything or every person, but in some people, in believers who have been baptized in, with, and by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13; John 7:39; 14:16-17; Romans 8:9).

“Papa-Elousia” is not holy! 
But the God of The Shack is not holy. He does not live separate from nature. He is part of it. Instead of being called “His Excellency,” we might call Young’s Papa goddess, “her immanency”! In Young’s allegory God is not high and lifted up, but base and brought down (See Isaiah 6:1-7.) This may explain why in The Shack Young consistently spells Creation spelled with a capital “C”; because his scheme of reality involves a panentheistic universe permeated of divinity, that God “is the ground of all being dwelling in, around, and through all things.”[131] Likewise, while denigrating a biblical worldview as one of unnecessary institutions, arbitrary authority, and inhibiting rules, The Shack is big on experiencing “Creation” with a capital “C”—strolling in the garden, hiking in the forests, lying on a dock and looking up at the stars in the night skies, exploring caves, walking on water, and so on. Young’s pantheism leads to communion with nature which eventuates in mysticism, seeing visions, hearing voices, experiencing visitations, whether imagined or real. But as evolution/pantheism is the brain child of naturalism, so mysticism is the soul child of pantheism.


Mysticism 
In connecting the divinity within them to the divinity dwelling in, with, through and around them, mystical meditators (or imaginers, Romans 1:21) become laws unto themselves resulting in spiritual anarchy, one person’s experience either coalescing with or contradicting another’s. Over a century ago Samuel J. Andrews insightfully navigated the mindset of the pantheist in his book Christianity and Anti-Christianity (1899). He observed that, “Every man, being Divine, is a law to himself. The Divinity in him rules and guides him.”[132] So disengaged with the idea that Scripture was and is any kind of direct and binding Word from God, perhaps being but a recollection of people’s “experiences” with the divine, pantheistic mystic-meditators will only “listen to and obey the inward voice.”[133] So the inner voice asks (Compare The Shack’s portrayal of the Bible just covered.):

Why hearken to the voices of the past? Why listen to the [“prophetic,” ed.] utterances of an old Bible? “If a man claims to know and to speak of God, and carries you backward to the phraseology of some old mouldered [“dusty and decayed,” ed.] nation in another country, in another world [ancient Israel to whom were committed the oracles of God, Romans 3:2, ed.], believe him not.” In other words, it is nothing to me what God has said by Moses or Paul; I am concerned only with what He says to me today.[134]

Pantheistic seekers into the divine, and make no mistake pantheism needs, even demands, mysticism, sense God speaking directly to them or experience having conversations with God. Whether imagined within themselves or received from spirits, these voices allow mystic meditators to relate to others their experiences with God. In the “spiritual exercise” of meditation we can be reminded that idolatry is thinking wrong thoughts or experiencing wrong emotions about God. As a result, “No law can be sacred to any man, but that of his own nature. Let every man obey his own Divine impulses.”[135] So as meditators take their mystical journey into themselves or transcendence, let the new metanarrative begin. Here we have it: naturalism leads to imagination and imagination stimulates belief in pantheism which asks people to commune with nature in and around them, and that is mysticism—it’s all within the mind and soul of man, or worse, demonic, as souls cavort with the spiritual principalities and powers in the universe (Greek stoicheion, Colossians 2:8; See Ephesians 6:12).


Communing with and experiencing nature can also be classified as existentialist (For definition, see footnote.).[136] In imagined conversations which he claims streamed into his consciousness from God, Young asserts his beliefs about God. His source of belief is primarily himself. Often he tries to find biblical confirmation for his conversations, but as he distorts Scripture to do so, he does not. Why try to find truth from some old leather Bible with gold edges, or what he calls “guilt edges”? That’s why he calls other sources, including truths from the Bible, Lies. By asserting that his conversations with God make him an authority on theological truth, the author demeans Scripture because for existentialists the Word becomes a “troublesome obstacle . . . in the way of the decisive conversation between the I and the Thou.” So the existentialist asks, “How can I meet a Thou if he has the written Word in between?”[137] So Young cleverly inserts his conversations with God to replace the Bible, and from appearances, record numbers of evangelicals, based upon his talks with God, are buying into and believing the story and theology of The Shack.
Adapted from Pastor Larry DeBruyn's article "Theater Church"

Drunken Spirituality 
About the arrogance pantheistic belief promotes in the human soul, Samuel Andrews offered this insightful impression:

Pantheism is an inebriating faith, of which vanity or sensationalism is apt to be the first word, though not the last.... When you put the Unities, and Immensities, and Abysses in the place of God, you are very apt indeed to feel what a wonderful fellow you must be to front the World and the Eternities in that grand way.[138]

Stay tuned for the final “ism” which derives from a naturalistic worldview, which is . . .

Conclusion: Part 3 to follow . . .

Endnotes: 
[123] Simon Blackburn, “Naturalism,” The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Second Edition (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005): 246. 
[124] Ibid. 
[125] Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York, NY: Riverhead Books, 2008): 98. 
[126] Charles Hodge, What Is Darwinism? (New York, NY: Scribner, Armstrong, and Company, 1874): 102. Hodge says, “We have thus arrived at the answer to our question, What is Darwinism? It is Atheism.” 
[127] Ursula King, Christ In All Things: Exploring Spirituality with Teilhard de Chardin (London, GB: SCM Press Ltd, 1997): 70, 68. 
[128] Samuel J. Andrews, Christianity and Anti-Christianity in Their Final Conflict (New York, NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1899, Second Edition): 126-127. 
[129] J.A. Motyer, “Idolatry,” The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, Editor (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1962): 551. Such is the transcendent separation of the Holy God from His material creation. That is why in the Second Commandment God ordered: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (Exodus 20:4).
[130] E.F. Harrison, “Holiness; Holy,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, General Editor, Volume 2 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982): 725. As another scholar summarizes, “God’s holiness thus becomes an expression for his perfection of being that transcends everything creaturely.” See Jackie A. Naudé, “7727 qadoshNew International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, Volume 3, Willem A. VanGemeren, General Editor (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997): 879. 
[131] It can be counted that the word “creation” occurs approximately twenty times in The Shack, and is always spelled with a capital “C.” By his use of the upper case spelling contra Romans 1:25, is the author assigning divinity to nature? Too, in its first occurrence of the word “nature” is spelled with a capital “N.” (The Shack, 15) On the page preceding, Young also wrote of “the god of winter.” (The Shack, 14) 
[132] Andrews, Christianity and Anti-Christianity: 256. 
[133] Ibid: 257. 
[134] Ibid. 
[135] Ibid: 258. 
[136] “Essentially existentialism is a revolt against rationalism, with its stress on reason alone, for its failure to progress beyond the obvious, its lack of engagement with people, and its ignoring of their real needs.... Existentialism is to be experienced directly rather than taught.” See E.D. Cook, “Existentialism,” New Dictionary of Theology, Sinclair B. Ferguson, David F. Wright, Editors (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988): 243. Based upon the above definition, The Shack qualifies as an existential book as it engages the experience of readers at the level of one great emotional need, that of resolving any great sadness they may have experienced in their lives. 
[137] Emphasis mine, Robert P. Roth, “Existentialism and Historic Christian Faith,” A Christianity Today Reader, Frank E. Gaebelein, Editor (New York, NY: Meredith Press, 1966): 231. 
[138] Mr. H.R. Hutton quoted by Andrews, Christianity and Anti-Christianity: 258.

Images from The Shack, the official trailer of the movie, http://www.theshack.movie/#trailer

*Read the previous articles in this series: 
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 
Part 6: A Catena: The Chain of “All” 
Part 7: A Catena: Universalism's Troubles With “All 
Part 8: A Catena: Universalism's “World” and “Everyone” 
Part 9: A Catena: The “Catenization” of Universalism 
Part 10: Pretending Evil Doesn't Exist

Part 11: Conclusion: Part 1: Evangelical Anarchy & Chaos