Archive for the ‘Book/Film Reviews’ Category

The Shack’s Universal Papa

By Warren B. Smith

There is nothing new about saying, “I am God.” . . . However, in the Judeo-Christian-Moslem world, God is usually not popularly understood as a universal presence, the ground of all being.1 —New Age leader David Spangler (emphasis added)


God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things [a universal presence]2—The Shack’s “Jesus” defining “Papa” as a universal New Age God (emphasis added)


I‘m not who you think I am, Mackenzie.”3—Papa, The Shack (emphasis added)


Shared Universal Presence

Ask certain indigenous peoples of the South Pacific Islands who Papa is, and they will tell you she is a female goddess4—just like The Shack’s female Papa. Ask certain Haitians, New Orleanians, and Wiccans who are into Voodoo, and they will tell you that Papa is a shapeshifting “trickster” who can appear as either a male or female deity—just like The Shack’s Papa.5 And if you ask, they will all tell you that their Papas are universal Papas who dwell “in, around, and through all things”—just like The Shack’s Papa.

From L to R: Avraham Aviv Alush as “Jesus,” Sumire as “Sarayu,” Sam Worthington as “Mack” and Octavia Spencer as “Papa” in THE SHACK. Photo by Jake Giles Netter.

Papa as Earth Mother
Shack enthusiasts should take note that “Papa” is also the name of a Polynesian Earth goddess who is part of a pantheon of gods and goddesses found in the South Sea Islands. On the “Journeying to Goddess” website, under the heading “Goddess Papa,” we read that Papa is “the Earth Mother who gave birth to all things” and that “Polynesians summon Papa to help in all earthly matters.”6

In his book Unshackled, Pastor Larry DeBruyn describes how William P. Young’s “Papa” bears a striking resemblance to “the name, nature, and nurturing potential” of this Polynesian Earth goddess Papa.7 Quoting from a source on Hawaiian gods and goddesses, DeBruyn cites the references they make to the “comfort,” “care,” “guidance,” and “unconditional love,” that are given to people “in times of crisis and grief” by this Hawaiian Papa and how her “intervention instills calming reassurance and healing.”8 Young seems to parallel the same script as The Shack story wholly revolves around the comfort, care, guidance, and unconditional love that is given by Papa to his main character, Mack, during his time of crisis and grief—how Papa’s intervention instills calming reassurance and the ultimate healing of Mack’s “Great Sadness.”9

Another website elaborates on how the female Polynesian Papa “worshiped by Native Hawaiians” is regarded as “a primordial force of creation who has the power to give life and to heal.”10 A pagan site informs us that a Papa goddess is especially prevalent amongst the Maoris of New Zealand,11 while another site references a South Seas Papa as part of the mythology of the Southern Cook Islands group.12 While Young obviously put a lot of thought into the naming of his Shack characters, and even though he spent his early childhood living on the South Pacific Island of Papua New Guinea,13 he claims to have had no knowledge of this South Seas Papa goddess prior to his writing of The Shack.14

Papa as Trickster
Certain Haitian, New Orleanian, and Wiccan Voodoo practitioners are devoted to a spiritual “Papa” who can appear as both “male and female” and is known as the “trickster.”15 By simply googling “Papa” and “trickster,” a variety of websites emerge to describe this Papa Legba spirit that stands at the gateway to the spirit world. One of these sites—“Exemplore”—states that Papa Legba “is one of the most widely served African deities” and “is always the first and last spirit invoked in any ceremony” because “he opens and closes the doorway to the spirit world.” 16 The site explains that in Voodoo, “Papa” is “the intermediary” who “stands at a spiritual crossroads and grants or denies permission to speak with the spirits of Guinee.”17

On the same Exemplore site, in a special section for witches, Papa is described as a “master shape shifter” who “can help you transform on the astral realm, master dream powers, and advanced magics.”18 But in regards to Papa, it states that “in his shapeshifter form he tends to change genders and forms to delight himself. So don’t be surprised if a woman shows up to help you.”19 And just as Young’s female Papa and the South Seas islands female Papa can be summoned for help, comfort, and healing, this Voodoo trickster Papa can be similarly called upon. One of the posted comments on this witches part of the site states—“Anyone can summon Papa!”20 But sometimes this Voodoo Papa comes when he is not summoned. In another comment, a perplexed woman wrote—“I did not know about Papa at all until he presented his self to me as my spirit guide. Is this normal?”21 A posted reply assured her that “Papa does his own thing his own way, so if he presented himself to you, you can be sure it is him.”22 Another site expressed the confusion that can result from a female ”God” named Papa—“It’s so confusing because Papa is a Mama.”23 But Scripture assures us that the one true God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). He is not a Papa who is a Mama which art in a shack—He is our Father which art in heaven (Matthew 6:9).

Praying to Which Papa?
So what Papa are people invoking when they are inspired to pray to Papa after reading The Shack? Is Young presenting Shack readers with the true God of the Bible or with a generic Papa “God” that overlaps with all the other mamas and papas and gods and goddesses around the world? The Shack’s “Jesus” answers that question loud and clear for any Shack reader who has a heart for the truth. With words purposefully put in his mouth by Young—a self-described universalist24—The Shack’s “Jesus” proclaims that his Papa “God” is “the ground of all being” because he “dwells in, around, and through all things”?25 In other words,  The Shack’s Jesus says that the Shack’s Papa indwells everyone and everything. This is the same universal God that David Spangler describes in the  beginning quote of this article. But this is panentheism, and this is a lie. This is the foundational teaching of the New Age/New Spirituality/New Worldview that has been rapidly emerging both in the world and in the church. All of this is to say—The Shack’s Papa is a universal Papa and The Shack’s “God” is a counterfeit “God” who has cunningly wormed his way into an unsuspecting church.

Trickster Book
As seen with the Voodoo Papa, some of these mama and papa gods and goddesses are also “tricksters.” And they are definitely doing their trickster thing—which often entails cleverly undermining existing societal rules and established religious beliefs as they offer their unique brand of spiritual healing in the name of a more universal alternative spirituality. What can be especially deceptive is that much of their rebellious spiritual activity is cloaked in half-truths, clever remarks, playful humor—and even Christian language. And what seems all too apparent is that The Shack—and particularly The Shack’s Papa—fall into this trickster category. The novel grabs people’s hearts and minds even as biblical Christianity is being dismantled in front of them as they read the book. And only a trickster book can convince people they are reading about Jesus Christ when the name of Christ is never mentioned—not even once—in the entire story. A generic universal Jesus and a generic universal Papa and not a single mention of Christ, or the Devil for that matter—yet The Shack has already become one of the most popular Christian books ever written!

Trickster books for the church will use Christian language to pull the wool over your eyes so they mess with your mind—it’s all part of “messing around” and being a trickster. Toward the end of The Shack’s story, when the female Papa shapeshifts into being a male Papa, Mack asks if Papa is “still messing” with him. Papa’s immediate answer is—“Always.”26 At this point, sincere readers of The Shack need ask themselves a reasonable question—“Is the one true God of the Bible always “messing” with us, or is this what you would expect from a universal gender-bending trickster Papa “God” who bears more of a resemblance to the trickster god of this world than the one true God of the Bible.

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

Endnotes
1. David Spangler and William Irwin Thompson, Reimagination of the World: A Critique of the New Age, Science, and Popular Culture (Sante Fe, NM: Bear & Company Publishing, 1991), p. 148.
2. William P. Young, The Shack (Newbury Park, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.
3. Ibid., p. 96.
4. Part Three: The Chiefs xx Papa and Wakea, http://www.sacred-texts.com/pac/hm/hm22.htm | Godchecker website: http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/oceanic-mythology.php?list-gods-names.
5. Denise M Alvarado, “Papa Legba and Other Spirits of the Crossroads” (Who is Papa Legba?, Images of Legba, https://exemplore.com/magic/papalegba).
6. https://journeyingtothegoddess.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/goddess-papa/, “Goddess Papa” September 19, 2012.
7. Larry DeBruyn, Unshackled: Breaking Away From Seductive Spirituality (Indianapolis, IN: Franklin Road Baptist Church, 2009), pp. 27-28. Author’s reference pertains to the now archived Wahine’o Wanana Institute’s “Hawaiian Goddesses” website: https://web-beta.archive.org/web /20110410205614/http://www.powersthatbe.com /goddess/papa.html.
8. Ibid.
9. William P. Young, op. cit.,  pp. 43-66, p. 92, pp. 96-98, pp. 101-102.
10. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papahanaumoku
11. The Goddess Papa, http://www.holladaypaganism.com/goddesses/cyclopedia/p/PAPA.HTM.
12. Wikipedia: Papa (mythology)— https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papa_(mythology).
13. Wm. Paul Young—About (http://wmpaulyoung.com/wm-paul-young-about).
14. Eric Barger, “Why The Shack Must be Rejected” (Lamp & Lion Ministries, Lamplighter, May 2017, http://christinprophecyblog.org/2017/04/why-the-shack-must-be-rejected),  pp. 13-14.
15. “Papa Legba and Other Spirits of the Crossroads” (Exemplore blog, Images of Legba, Who is Papa Legba?, https://exemplore.com/magic/papalegba).
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid.
18. “Papa Legba for Witches,” How Legba Can Help You (https://exemplore.com/wicca-witchcraft/papa-legba-for-witches)
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid., Posted Comments (Nitecat response to babygirl1414)
21. Ibid., Posted Comments (jacynnavarro)
22. Ibid., Posted Comments (Nitecat response to jacynnavarro)
23. http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/oceanic-mythology.php?deity=PAPA
24. Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2017), pp. 118-119 (Young states that he believes in universal salvation.)
25. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 218.
26. merriam-webster.com and encyclopedia.com (ousia)

Author Bio:

Warren B. Smith (B.A. University of Pennsylvania; M.S.W. Tulane University)—A free lance writer and community social worker who was formerly involved in the New Age movement. He has served as a program coordinator for people with special needs, directed several homeless programs, and has worked as a Hospice social worker in New Orleans and on the California coast. He has written extensively on the subject of spiritual deception and has spoken on radio, television, and at seminars and conferences.

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Kingdom-Now Evangelicals

By Roger Oakland
While I believe Rome leads the way with the bold claim that God chose Peter and the succeeding popes to take the title of “Vicar of Christ” and determine what the sheep should or should not believe, other groups believe they have been called to usher in or even prepare and set up the kingdom of God here on Earth without the presence of the King. Often taking the position that Jesus will not actually physically return to rule and reign for a period of one thousand years, these groups see themselves as chosen by God to be human vessels for this purpose.
Common names for this teaching are: Kingdom Now, Dominion Theology, and Reconstructionism. It is the idea that before Christ can return, the world must be brought together in unity and perfection, and this work will be done by the Christian church. Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan, Jim Wallis’ social gospel agenda, and Tony Campolo or Brian McLaren’s emergent church are a few of the avenues through which this is being propagated. The goal is to basically eradicate all the world’s ills (e.g., disease, poverty, terrorism, and pollution) and thus, we will have created a “Heaven on Earth” Utopia.

While creating such a world sounds very good, it is not what the Bible says is going to happen. Many Scriptures, in both the Old and New Testaments, describe a very different scenario, such as the following:

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:9-14)
The following list of some of the erroneous teachings in Kingdom-Now theology illustrate how dangerous this belief system is, yet it has tremendously pervaded the church today:
Prophetic Scriptures are denied or fulfilled in 70 AD (as is also the belief of preterism).
The church is the new Israel (replacement theology).
Armageddon is the ongoing battle between the forces of light and darkness.
The Antichrist is a spirit, not an actual person.
We are already in the Tribulation, but at the same time, we are in the Millennium. It doesn’t get any stranger! It’s one or the other.
Rather than following traditional Bible prophecy, they follow “new revelations.”
Modern-day prophets must be obeyed and not judged for their inaccuracy.
They want to restore the Edenic nature even though Eden is where sin began.1
This movement has swept the planet, and those who refuse to join hands are considered “colonial,” “militant fundamentalists,” and “narrow-minded crackpots” who are not willing to catch the “new wave” and get on board with the mighty revival that is moving the world toward unity and peace. Many of the leaders in this movement have no problem whatsoever joining with the pope in Rome and the kingdom-of-Earth plans he has for joining together with other religions, including Islam.
While some discerning Christians can see how this trend plays a role in light of Bible prophecy, there is a huge portion of Christianity that does not. These are those who are reading books by authors who promote emerging church (or “progressive Christianity”) ideas for the postmodern generation that reject the teachings of the Bible and embrace establishing the kingdom of God on Earth right now. They are willing to join hands with other religions by reinventing Christianity into a “broad-way” spirituality where all are saved and part of God’s Kingdom. No longer do they believe in the “narrow road” to eternity. The kingdom of God is for all religions, they say (and even for those who believe in nothing). Unity, peace, connectedness, and oneness is all that matters, while biblical doctrine is being set aside as irrelevant to the “new reformation” at hand. Obviously, such a view leaves little room for the Cross and the biblical Gospel. And Scriptures such as this one are overlooked:
And he [Jesus] went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are. (Luke 13:22-25; emphasis added)
Unfortunately, while there may be many pastors, like Rick Warren, who still hold to a personal belief in Jesus Christ as their Savior, the time will come when the path they are now taking may cost them dearly. It is my hope that these leaders might wake up to see what they are doing before it is too late. And let us not forget the countless number of people following these shepherds who may never embrace a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of the truths being withheld from them for the sake of “peace” and “unity.”
It is also grievous to know that a good number of “Christian” leaders no longer believe (or have never believed) in the Cross as a propitiation for sin but maintain their belief that such a concept is both archaic and barbaric. They hold to the view that Christianity needs to be reinvented for our times. Brian McLaren, who in 2015 represented “Christianity” at the Parliament of the World Religions in Utah, holds to just such a view. In one interview, he said that the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death is “false advertising for God” and he equally rejected the doctrine of Hell as well.2
In addition, McLaren has played a significant role in promoting kingdom-now theology as can be seen in his book The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything. McLaren, who was once listed by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 most influential persons associated with evangelical Christianity, has sought to upgrade the Christian faith in order to make it relevant for today. He asks a number of questions at the beginning of his book that imply the church has misrepresented Jesus’ core message and promotes the idea that Christians need to be honest with themselves even if that means altering their faith. In his book, he makes the following statement:
Sadly, for centuries at a time in too many places to count, the Christian religion has downplayed, misconstrued, or forgotten the secret message of Jesus entirely. Instead of being about the kingdom of God coming to earth, the Christian religion has too often been preoccupied with abandoning or escaping the earth and going to heaven . . . We have betrayed the message that the kingdom of God is available for all, beginning with the least and last and the lost—and have instead believed and taught that the kingdom of God is available for the elite, beginning with the correct and the clean and the powerful.3
In McLaren’s 2016 book titled The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to be Christian, he describes this all-inclusive “kingdom of God” that incorporates “multifaith [i.e., all religions] collaborations.” He states:
This kind of collaboration leads to a fresh understanding of what it means to evangelize. I was taught that it meant converting people to the one true religion, namely, my own [Christianity]. Now I believe evangelism means inviting people into heart-to-heart communion and collaboration with God and neighbors in the great work of healing the earth, of building the beloved community, of seeking first the kingdom of God and God’s justice for all. Members of each tradition bring their unique gifts to the table, ready to share and receive, learn and teach, give and take, in a spirit of generosity and vulnerability. Neither my neighbors nor I are obligated or expected to convert. . . . As we work together for the common good, we are all transformed. Those who haven’t experienced this kind of transforming collaboration simply don’t know what they’re missing. . . . Through multifaith collaborations, I have come to see how the language Paul used about one body with many members (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12: 4– 5) applies not only to differing gifts among individual Christians but also to differing gifts among religions.4 (emphasis added)
While many evangelicals have now pushed Brian McLaren to the sidelines of evangelical Christianity, others have continued carrying on his message, sometimes in more subtle ways. But as the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun. Satan’s devices are always in play. His goal is to destroy the message of the Cross, and while he cannot ever actually destroy it, he can cause untold numbers to reject it by offering them substitutes. But we know there is no substitute for the finished work on the Cross by Jesus Christ, who is the only Savior for mankind.
What Does This Tell Us?
There is a common cliché: if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and has feathers like a duck—it is a duck! Efforts are underway to establish the kingdom of God on Earth right now without the King. Is this what Jesus intended would happen, or are we being misled by human beings who are following the thoughts of their own imagination or worse yet the inspiration of Satan?
While the idea that the kingdom of God is being established here on Earth by human leaders has been around for centuries, we should pay special attention when current events reveal that though the world gets worse and worse, we are being told it is getting better and better. When false religions become part of the kingdom, then clearly, this is not God’s kingdom, but rather it is the kingdom that belongs to the god of this world. Jesus made it very clear there are two kingdoms—one of God and one of this world—when he told Pontius Pilate shortly before He was crucified, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Jesus also said to Pilate in that same conversation “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Ask yourself this, are you hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd, or is it the voice of the god of this world who leads a kingdom that is not of God?
Endnotes:
1. Taken from “Kingdom-Now Theology” (Lighthouse Trails blog, March 6, 2007, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=3295).
2. Interview by Leif Hansen (The Bleeding Purple Podcast) with Brian McLaren, January 8th, 2006); Part 1: http://web.archive.org/web/20090103090514/http://bleedingpurplepodcast.blogspot.com/2006/01/brian-mclaren-interview-part-i.html; Part II: http://web.archive.org/web/20060127003305/http://bleedingpurplepodcast.blogspot.com).
3. Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), pp. 78-79.
4. Brian McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration (New York, NY: Convergent Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2016), Kindle location 2768.
(Roger Oakland is the author of several books, booklets, and is featured in many teaching DVDs and films. His latest book, The Good Shepherd Calls, deals with the apostasy taking place in the church today.)
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News Article Highlights Lighthouse Trails: “A Book Publisher’s Beacon Shining in the Dark”

LTRP Note: The following article written by veteran journalist Jim Fletcher is highlighting Lighthouse Trails. While we are so encouraged by such an article, we hesitated in posting it on our own site because we don’t want to be guilty of taking glory for ourselves when God is the one who should receive glory for anything good that comes out of this ministry. But because we’ve heard so many stories from readers trying to share our material with pastors, leaders, family, and church members only to be told “don’t listen to Lighthouse Trails,” we thought this article might help  readers share information from Lighthouse Trails. We count it a privilege to stand with you in the defense of the Gospel when doing so in today’s church and world can be very difficult.

“A Book Publisher’s Beacon Shining in the Dark”

Jim Fletcher

By Jim Fletcher

In my previous life as a book publisher editor, it was my privilege to work with important authors like Henry Morris (the “father” of the modern creationism movement) and Berit Kjos (a leading researcher into cults).

In the past two decades, Christian book publishing has descended into an ideological abyss. A willingness by that community’s leadership to allow non-believers into the fold ensured that Christian publishing would decline. Sure, record sales came from a handful of (mostly dreadful) titles (like “Jesus Calling”). Overall, though, it is quite ironic that strategic decisions made decades ago, for business reasons, signaled the beginning of the end for Christian book publishing.

Of course it exists today; dozens of publishing houses remain, and if you listen to biased researchers like Ed Stetzer, you would believe evangelical leadership is still surging, still strong.

The proof is there to see, however. Leading Christian retail bookstore chain Family Christian Stores just ended and the shockwaves from that exit will be felt for a long time.

Recently I had a publishing representative tell me that selling books to a bookstore is now “almost impossible.”

Only the most innovative houses will continue to live. One I admire greatly is the team at Lighthouse Trails Publishing. A West Coast-based company, Lighthouse Trails exists to equip the saints. There can be no greater agenda, especially today as terrible influences are flooding the American church. Click here to continue reading.

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Another Look: Has the Church Replaced Israel?

LTRP Note: As we approach this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day (April 24th) and in view of a recent article we posted where we referred to God’s view of Israel, we are reposting Mike Oppenheimer’s article/booklet titled Israel: Replacing What God Has Not, which we originally released four years ago. And if you have never watched Caryl Productions documentary film Christian Palestinianism, we highly recommend it. In view of secular media’s bias against Israel and much of the Protestant and evangelical church turning against Israel as well, this is an issue that Christians need to understand. We hope the DVD as well as Mike Oppenheimer’s report will help with that. Both are from a scriptural perspective.

Israel - Replacing What God Has NotIsrael: Replacing What God Has Not
Mike Oppenheimer

At a time when a clear and biblically sound understanding of  Bible prophecy is most important, we find the church, paradoxically, having less knowledge of it, especially as it relates directly to Israel.  Most evangelical Christians throughout history have supported the Jews and the modern state of Israel, but things are changing. The church, from its infancy, believed God had a future plan for Israel based on Scripture (Acts 3:19). This plan included the national  restoration of Israel to the same land from which they were eventually  dispersed. As time went on and the church drifted further and further away from her Jewish beginnings, many began to erroneously believe the church had replaced Israel. But in this day and age when we see biblical prophecy being fulfilled on such an unprecedented and unparalleled scale—with God’s continual protection and restoration of the Jews to their land, there should not be those who walk in disbelief with regard to God’s promises. But there are!

A growing number within the church are holding to the position that Israel as a people and a nation has no further place with God and that Israel is eternally cast off for their rejection of the Messiah. They believe national Israel no longer has a future in any part of God’s plan. They also believe all the promises given to Israel have not only been revoked but transferred to the church and that the church is now the “true Israel.” Some even go so far as to make disparaging and untruthful remarks, which suggest the Jewish people are now no longer a “chosen people of God” and are cursed because of their unbelief or that they have inherited all the curses of the law found in Deuteronomy 28–33.

They believe all the blessings belonging to Israel have now been transferred to the church, but they neglect to include the curses found in Deuteronomy 28. If one is going to lay claim to the blessings of Deuteronomy 28, then one must lay claim to the curses as well. Nor can we live under the Old Covenant and the New Covenant at the same time. But, these teachers would strip the Jews of the inheritance God pledged to them (and never revoked) and apply all these blessings to themselves. But God sees through the arrogance, and jealousy, that is being rekindled in these last days. Ironically, those who have taken such a stance have proclaimed curses on themselves, for God said He would curse those who curse Israel. Deuteronomy 28 is a conditional covenant of Moses that God extended to the nation of Israel, but we would do well to hold fast to the New Covenant of grace that has now been extended to both Jew and Gentile.

Adherents of this Replacement Theology teaching claim the church was already in place in the Old Testament and was an assembly of believers. Therefore, the church, in their mind, becomes the continuation of Israel. Since Pentecost of Acts 2, the term “Israel” now refers to the church, they say. However, if one takes a closer look at how the words in the Book of Acts are used, one will see this is not so. If this is true, then why are there so many distinctions made between Israel and the church throughout the Book of Acts and why are so many distinguishing statements also made throughout Paul’s epistles? Such inconsistency can only originate from a man-made doctrine built on a false presupposition at best.

The very first occurrence of the Greek word ekklesia in the New Testament is found in Matthew 16:18. The word “church” (ekklesia, or assembly) is often thought to mean Israel by replacement theologians as a generic meaning for an assembly of worshipers. Thus, they assume the word church is a Greek word for Israel. They believe this is what Jesus the Messiah meant in Matthew 16:18 for the word church (it is only used again in the New Testament Gospels in Matthew 18:17). This would mean there always was the church (i.e., “the church” is Israel continued in the New Testament). However, in Matthew 16:13–20, the word “church” literally means “those called out,” referring to those who confess Jesus is the Son of the Living God—something that was not yet revealed in the Old Testament (this will be further explained as we look at Romans 11). These “called-out ones” are not in reference to the Mosaic Law that was given to the nation Israel but to a whole New Covenant.

In the New Testament, the term is used also in the narrower sense of a single church, or a church confined to a particular place. There is the church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (Romans 16:5), the church at Corinth, the churches in Judea, etc. As I stated earlier, if one were to keep substituting the word Israel for church throughout the New Testament, they would soon begin to see the problems it would create.
In Acts 8:3, Saul persecuted the “church” from house to house. He certainly was not persecuting Israel.

Acts 2:47: “And the Lord added to the church [Israel?] daily such as should be saved.”

Acts 8:1: “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church [Israel?] which was at Jerusalem.”

Acts 11:26: “And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church [Israel?], and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

And in Acts 15:4: “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church [Israel?], and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.”

The fact that Jews were called out of unbelieving Israel to be part of the church does, in every sense, go against the church being Israel.
In the same way, if one uses the word “church” or “the church” interchangeably for Israel, even more problems occur.

Matthew 2:20 says, “Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel [church].”

Matthew 8:10: “[T]o them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel [the church].”

Matthew 10:6: “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel [the church].”

Matthew 15:24: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel [the church].”

Matthew 19:28: “[Y]e which have followed me . . . ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel [the church].”

Luke 24:21: “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel [the church].”

Would it not be prudent then to let the word “Israel” mean what God would have it mean in its consistent, designated, biblical
context, and the term “the church” be what God would have it mean in its longstanding, God-given context as well?

[T]hey asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6. See also Acts 3:12; 4:10; 13:24.)

Was he restoring the church? Of course not.

As Israel rejected the chief Cornerstone, Peter remarks that the believers are, “coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious . . . as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4–5).

You “are built up a spiritual house”—oikodomeisthe. These have become a congregation of faith among those who disbelieve.

The Nation Israel
Israel was always referred to as the nation made up of Jews who are physical descendants of not just Abraham (as are the Gentiles) but Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Seventy-three times in the New Testament the term “Israel” is used. In the majority of the instances given, Israel is referred to in the national, ethnic sense. There are three main passages used to try to prove the church is Israel. They are as follows: Romans 9:6, 11:26; and Galatians 6:16. I Corinthians 10:18, however, cites “Israel after the flesh” as the true, believing Israel among the unbelieving—just as in Romans 9:6 the Apostle Paul makes a distinction between two Israel’s—one who believes, and the other who doesn’t. And yet, both are ethnic Israelites, but only one has the measure of faith necessary to enable them to faithfully uphold their end of their covenant with God. For without faith, it’s impossible to please God.

Galatians 6:16 is often used to prove that the church is Israel. This view maintains that the “Israel of God” is comprised of Gentile believers. The “Israel of God,” however, clearly is comprised of those Jewish believers who, in sharp contrast with the Judaizers, followed the rule of salvation by faith alone. Here Paul is speaking only of a division within ethnic Israel.

Some of them are believers and thus truly Israel, whereas others, though ethnically Israelites, are not truly Israel, since they are not believers. No Gentiles, therefore, are found in this statement at all.

This Replacement Theology view is often held within groups such as Reconstructionists, Dominionists, and Kingdom Now adherents who hold to a view that we will build God’s kingdom on earth before Christ returns. This non-biblical view presupposes that the Gentile will be able to establish what the Jew could not, but this will never happen.

God, however, has entered into a binding covenant with and is committed to the people of Israel. He has made an everlasting covenant with Israel and cannot break His Word. There are those in the “church” who take the position that His first covenant promises to the Jews are now null and void. Paul makes it clear to the church in Rome saying, “Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1). On this basis alone, we are provided with scriptural proof that Replacement Theology teaching is wrong. In Ezekiel 36, God makes it very clear that He will never abandon Israel—not for their sakes alone, but because His name and His reputation are on the line. Jeremiah writes immediately after the promise of a New Covenant:

Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. (Jeremiah 31:35–36)

God is so adamant about His covenant with Israel here that He would sooner revoke the existence of the stars and planets that He would withdraw His covenant with Israel.

In other words, God cut an everlasting blood covenant with Abraham:

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3)

This has not been revoked. To this nation, God will give a land—the land of Canaan (Genesis12:1, 7; 13:14–15, 17; 15:17–21; 17:8). God will bless those who bless this nation and curse those who curse it (12:3). God laid down a divine principle that has been seen and proven time and time again throughout history.

When you go against Israel (cursing the people like Balak tried to get Balaam to do), you are going against the Messiah who created Israel to be a blessing to all nations.

Another Scripture to consider is found in the Book of Joel:

I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. (Joel 3:2—emphasis added.)

Also, in Genesis we read:

And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.” (Genesis 12:7)

He promised a land—specifically, the land of Canaan. The emphasis of Genesis 17:9–14 is that circumcision is a token of God’s covenant with Israel—being performed on the eighth day of a boy’s life. Circumcision was to be a sign of one’s Jewishness, or the seal of the covenant.
God chose to confirm His covenant with Jacob, as evidenced in Genesis 28:13–15. Then it was confirmed through all of Jacob’s twelve sons, who fathered the twelve tribes that came to comprise the nation of Israel (Genesis 49).

Israel was given laws and instructed in all the ways by which to be distinguished, set apart and separate from the Gentiles. Yet, now we have teachers saying the Gentile church is Israel. Such Gentile Christians who claim they are the true Jews and are of the notion they have replaced Israel, should take heed of and fear the words of Jesus when He states that those who “say they are Jews” but are not, are liars and are of “the synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9; 3:9).

The promises made to both Abraham and his seed are unsearchably rich in blessings which have not yet come to complete fulfillment but await the Messianic Kingdom. The Abrahamic Covenant contains both physical and spiritual promises. The physical blessings were limited to the Jews (such as the land), whereas the spiritual blessings were to extend to the Gentiles through the Messiah only (upon their being grafted into the Olive Tree). In the Old Covenant, the Gentiles had to convert to the religion of Judaism (but this still did not make them Jewish).

God revealed that it was to be through Sarah’s son Isaac that the Abrahamic Covenant would be confirmed (Genesis 26:2–5, and 24). Case in point examples of this include: Exodus 2:23–25; 4:24–26; 6:2–8; 32:11–14; Leviticus 26:46; Deuteronomy 34:4; II Kings 13:22-23; I Chronicles 16:15–19; II Chronicles 20:7–8; Nehemiah 9:7-8; Psalm 105:7–12; Luke 1:54–55, 68–73; and Hebrews 6:13–20. These verses explain how the Abrahamic Covenant is the basis for Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, for giving them the land, for Jewish survival throughout the centuries despite their disobedience, for the coming of the Messiah, the resurrection of the dead, and for Israel’s final redemption and restoration.

Israel has become the focus for a watching world, always making front page news, and yet ironically and unfortunately, much of the church, to their own shame, no longer believes in the nation’s relevance today. It is Satan, of course, who has instigated hatred and anti-Semitism towards the Jewish people throughout the centuries. The closer we come to the end of all things and in the final analysis especially, he will be seething, and his rage will be unchecked, for he knows his time is short, and he will do everything in his power to annihilate them in a more horrific manner than even what Hitler was able to inflict upon the Jewish people.

In the meantime, we would all do well to remember that any teaching, doctrine, or interpretation must be based upon all of what Scripture has to say on a given subject (both Old and New Testament passages), and not just upon a single verse. We must take the whole counsel of God’s Word. When we study Israel, there is a wealth of information in the Bible awaiting our discovery concerning the people, the nation, and its future. Replacement Theology and its antagonistic view of Israel is perpetuating an anti-Semitic stance within the church.

What one believes about Israel is of utmost importance and pivotal to understanding the Bible and the end times. This should be all too apparent, if not self-evident when we study the Word. Old Testament promises made to national Israel will literally be fulfilled in the future just as they were literally fulfilled in the past. The details to support this can be found in abundance in the Old Testament, and we find that both John (in the book of Revelation) and Paul in his epistles often draw on a number of passages to prove their points.

As I’ve stated more than once already, but cannot stress enough, if Israel is truly no longer God’s “chosen people,” we find numerous problems inherent with this position that cannot be reconciled with God’s character, His promises, or Scripture.

Romans 11 contains scriptural precepts which are critical to understand. To get the complete picture, read chapters 1–10 of Romans through thoroughly. Also, chapters 1–2 of Romans points out how all men are without excuse because of the evidence of the truth of God, which has been with us from the beginning, revealed in creation, and found in nature.

Romans 2 discusses the Jew and the law. It points out the futility of trying to obtain salvation through the law—that Jews, God’s chosen ones do not have any advantage over the Gentiles for salvation. For we all have sinned, we all have missed the mark and fallen short of God’s glory. There is none truly righteous—no, not one. The law shows us just how short we fall of God’s holiness. In fact, the Jews who have more knowledge of God, will have even more to answer for. The chapter closes with the statement that it is not enough to be circumcised externally to be a Jew, but rather God’s concern is for the heart to be circumcised or transformed—not an outward change in the flesh but in the inner man.

In Romans 3–8, we are told that the Jews had an advantage over the Gentiles in that they were given the truth of God’s Word (the oracles of God) and were entrusted to keep it. However, both the Jew and the Gentile have sinned, and the law did not, does not, and will not justify any of us. None of us are justified apart from a genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul raises the question in Romans 9–11 regarding the rightful place of Israel. On this matter then, Paul has this to say:

For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. (Romans 9:3)

If the church was in any kind of position to replace Israel, Paul could not have made such a strong statement. However, we need to pay close attention to how Paul defines Israel throughout the book of Romans and his other epistles.

It’s obvious that God’s everlasting Covenant is still in effect with Israel because of what Paul states earlier in his very same letter to the Romans. He goes on to identify his people—distinguishing them from the Gentiles and the church:

. . . who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. (Romans 9:4–5)

Certainly, these are not Gentiles or “the church” of which he is speaking.

In summary, what can be said for Israel? God says that we are to bless them and not curse or turn against them. Of the Jew, Paul stated “unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). Jesus Himself said that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). And though they have been dispersed throughout the world, God has blessed and prospered them wherever they went. We, therefore, owe a great debt to the Jewish people; and Israel is still Israel and will continue to have a special place in God’s heart and significance in the future of our planet. Remember, God has said of the Jew:

 For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. (Zechariah 2:8).

To order copies of Israel: Replacing What God Has Not?, click here

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TBN Pulls Plug on “Shack” Author’s New Book—Sort of . . .

By Warren B. Smith

Now you see Shack author Wm. Paul Young’s new book Lies We Believe About God promoted on TBN, now you don’t. For seven straight episodes of Trinity Broadcasting Network’s weekly series Restoring the Shack, Wm. Paul Young’s new book was prominently featured and even offered as a fundraiser for TBN. Each week’s episode was then posted on the Internet—promos and all. But starting with episode 8, everything changed. Young’s new book was no longer featured and promoted. It also disappeared from episodes 2-7 that had been previously posted on the Internet. TBN editors had actually gone into the previously posted original programs and edited out all their prior offers for Lies We Believe About God. Into the spots where Lies had been offered, a promotional offer for The Shack has been inserted into its place—who would ever know? Only the first episode of Restoring the Shack has retained the original promos for Lies, perhaps as a minor concession to the author or as a way to keep their editing process from being a complete and total whitewash.

Why the disappearing act? From all appearances, it looks like an emergency edit for the purpose of damage control. You would have to ask the publicity department at TBN, but one can only speculate that the network had not done themselves any favors by endorsing and promoting Young’s extremely controversial new book. In Lies, Young had announced, among other things, that he was a proponent of “universal salvation,”1 that the statement “You need to get saved” is a “lie,”2 and that Christ is “in” “every single human being.”3 TBN was probably getting a mountain of questions on all fronts as to why they were promoting this book—a book that in so many ways is at complete odds with biblical Christianity. In light of Young’s new book, one major ministry wrote TBN stating that having Young’s program on TBN was “inexcusable” and “downright blasphemous.”

In a week that saw the graphic artist who helped design the cover of The Shack renounce the book and renounce his involvement with the project,4 TBN made their move. Young’s book Lies has—at least for now—faded into the background and disappeared from TBN. And while some might commend TBN for eliminating their promotion of Young’s new book, the question that still begs to be asked is—”Why did TBN ever promote Lies We Believe About God in the first place?

Endnotes
1. Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2017), p. 118.
2. Ibid., p. 115.
3. Ibid., p. 119.
4. Dave Aldrich, graphic artist for The Shack book cover,  said this on his Facebook page on April 4th 2017 . Also see “Artist “Deeply Regrets” Designing “Shack” Cover, Says A Loving God Must “Judge”

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Artist ‘Deeply Regrets’ Designing ‘Shack’ Cover, Says A Loving God Must “Judge”

By Will Maule
The graphic artist who played a central role in designing the cover for the controversial novel ‘The Shack’ has said he deeply regrets working on the project, now disagreeing with the book’s contentious theology.

“[O]ver 10 years ago, I was captivated by the story and felt honored to be part of the graphic creation of the book. I was so drawn into it, wanting to know the God it portrayed,” Dave Aldrich of Aldrich Design posted on Facebook. “The Shack’s story wonderfully painted this picture to me of an incredibly knowable and loving God, one full of forgiveness, but without being judgmental.”

Aldrich began to read Rob Bell, Brian McLaren and others, and quickly realized he was on a path to holding universalist beliefs. “I thank the Lord that He pulled me back from that edge,” Aldrich wrote. He realized that if God is full of love, he must also be a righteous judge. Click here to continue reading.

Related Information:

Progression to Deception: How New Age Influence is Destroying the Church—One Step After the Next

When People Say, “But The Shack is Just a Novel!”

“Shack” Author Paul Young States in Just-Released Book—Christ Is “In” Every Single Human Being

 

 

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NEW BOOKLET: Progression to Deception: How New Age Influence is Destroying the Church—One Step After the Next

NEW BOOKLET: Progression to Deception: How New Age Influence is  Destroying the Church—One Step After the Next by Gregory Reid is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Progression to Deception: How New Age Influence is  Destroying the Church—One Step After the Next, click here.

Progression to Deception: How New Age Influence is  Destroying the Church—One Step After the Next

By Gregory Reid

Deception—A Progressive Disease
The church has opened the door to the New Age. What started out as just a crack has now become a wide open door. In just a few short decades, the walls of biblical discernment have been so completely torn down that not only do the majority of church goers seem completely oblivious to the deception that has entered, many of the church’s leaders are actually promoting the various avenues through which the New Age/New Spirituality has come in. This is exactly what Theosophist leader Alice Bailey predicted would be part of the New Age infiltration into the church:

The Christian church in its many branches can serve as a St. John the Baptist, as a voice crying in the wilderness, and as a nucleus through which world illumination [New Age thought] may be accomplished.1

This paradigm shift has been underway for some time. It probably began to get a real foothold in our present time with Norman Vincent Peale’s “Power of Positive Thinking” theology, quickly adapted by Rev. Robert Schuller who was really the first modern “megachurch” and “seeker friendly” church pastor. The ideas of these two men were once considered an aberration from mainstream Christian doctrine. But here we are decades later, and seeker friendly and power of positive thinking has become the norm and goes unchallenged. The crack into Bible-based evangelical churches had begun to open just a little . . .

Fast forward: In the last three decades, we have opened our doors to things like the holy laughter movement, barking like dogs and oinking like pigs (calling it the “anoinking of the Spirit”), and worse. A number of leaders challenged these things, but its promoters did not repent.

Eventually came spiritual formation, “be still” meditation, breathing techniques, “Christian” Yoga, “the sacred feminine,” labyrinths, and most recently circle making—all an extension of exotic and pagan religions, eastern mysticism, and Buddhist/Hindu tools to reach “the divine within.” These began to creep into church media, books, music, sermons, seminars, and movies. Even Catholic priest and mystic Thomas Merton came to be revered by many evangelicals though he was a man who once said he intended “to become as good a Buddhist as [he] can;”2 and the writings of the late Catholic mystic Henri Nouwen continue influencing millions of evangelicals, even though his spirituality led him to deny that Jesus was the only way to the Father by the end of life.3

The door opened a little wider . . . where were the watchmen? Where were the shepherds? Even pastors were welcoming these things. And as these heretical movements crept in, the Word of God began to become an addendum to our lives, a devotional nicety but not central in our walk with Jesus, and no longer our final determination of truth.

Slowly, the poison seeped into our ranks . . . one book, one DVD, one conference, one movie at a time. Everyone ignored the subtle twisting of the Word of God in Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis, hailing it as “groundbreaking.” And indeed, it was, but not in a good way. His next book, The Sex God raised a few eyebrows, but youth pastors everywhere still adored him, emulated him, and bought glasses and cool clothes to look just like him in an attempt to “relate to youth.” Millennial youth pastors began diluting (or just plain dismissing) the Word of God and preparing little mini-messages to justify their increasingly party-like youth-group atmosphere which was strong on entertainment and weak on the Word of God.

Then Rob Bell wrote Love Wins, denying Hell and proclaiming universalism—the idea that everyone gets saved. Today, he is sharing platforms with Oprah Winfrey and with New Age guru Deepak Chopra at conferences with titles like “The Seduction of Spirit.”4 Some seducing is going on, that’s for sure!

When Bell was finally exposed as being truly a non-evangelical false teacher, I heard nothing but cricket sounds from all those who formerly sang his praises. But by then, everyone was off chasing the next big thing anyway, the next bestseller, the next circle-making, ear-tickling, Scripture-diluting fiasco. We had formed a pattern of going after the latest “it,” or hottest speaker, or bestselling book, and then when it turned out the thing or person was exposed as fraudulent, in error, or full of deception, almost no one took responsibility for originally supporting or promoting them in the first place—least of all the Christian media and those who peddled their products.

I could give countless examples where Christian leaders and pastors promoted someone who was espousing anti-biblical views, and then later when the wrongness became publicized, these same Christian leaders and pastors did nothing to rectify the damage they did in pointing thousands, if not millions, in the wrong direction. No words of regret, no humility, no warnings to what they should have seen in the first place—just silence . . . until the next big thing came along.

Rarely do people say, “we were wrong.” Rarely do leaders say, “We were in error.” And because of that, unrepentant error in discernment has led to greater and greater error, because deception is a progressive disease.

The more error we receive and engage in, the more the ability to discern goes numb and then finally dies altogether. The church has stepped through the door of deception, and now one step at a time, the descent down the stairway to spiritual destruction is underway.

Few seemed alarmed that Roma Downey had no sooner graduated from a New Age college when she began work on her and her husband’s television series The Bible or that she has never renounced her New Age beliefs.5 And in fact, the highest levels of leadership in the church gave her a pass on those issues because, they said, the benefits of how it would reach people outweighed the theological or doctrinal problems. Downey’s movies have been sprinkled with gnostic teachings; and, to be honest, by the time these concerns were raised, certain denominations and groups had invested far too much money in promoting the movies to retract, recall product, and publicly repent at that point. In the end, I believe financial concerns were more important than truth.

The Shack—A Temporary Fix
By the time the book The Shack came around, we had already been prepped through years of “felt need” theology, experiential-based faith, and cherry-picking Scriptures we liked while ignoring the ones we didn’t.

As the Internet grew, I began to understand the power of the appeal to our emotions. More than once, I had seen almost an entire five to ten-minute video on some issue and found myself in tears before I found out at the end that not only was it not a Christian video and did not have a Christian message, but it was produced by people who represented a view that was unbiblical, New Age, and worse. I got emotionally hooked before I learned the truth. Those without a biblical foundation of truth stay hooked. Basically, they get seduced. They have become addicted to being seduced and need the next sensually induced, carnally-inspired fix because that is what has become the foundation of their “faith,” and they have come to believe they can’t get by without it.

People loved The Shack because it replaced the God of the Bible (which deep down they possibly didn’t feel comfortable with because His ways are beyond our understanding and bad things happen, and it upsets our sunshine version of Christianity) and gave them a God who made them feel good, who took the God of the Bible and said, “That’s not really God, this is what God is like . . .” and gave them a diluted, false version of Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and a dose of Sophia, Greek goddess of “wisdom.”

I was sure that anyone with even a modicum of discernment would throw the book in the trash. I had underestimated how wide the door of deception had opened. I lost friends that were pastors who were furious at me for questioning the book. One pastor railed at me, “I haven’t had a relationship with God for years, but now I have my ‘Papa’ back! You can’t take that from me!”

Nothing jarred me more than seeing grown men of God just abandoning clear truth because something tugged their heart, justifying the scriptural butchering by saying, “It’s just fiction; it’s not the Bible!” I confronted someone on this the other night. “What about the satanic Necronomicon. Can I read it? It’s just fiction. Can I read pornography? It’s just fiction.” They thought that a bit extreme. Of course it was. My point was, what was their criteria, where was their own event horizon they were not willing to cross because it was just too obviously wrong? How much Scripture bending or ignoring would they accept and justify as OK because it was “just fiction” before they had enough and said no more?

The genius of The Shack is how cleverly it has clothed itself in a loose and nebulous garment of Scriptures—just enough to justify the complete butchering of the true nature of God and morph Him into a Trinitarian hybrid god that represents whatever will make you feel better about your horrible tragedies and “great sadness.”6 The fact is, though, God will not appear as whatever we want. One person said, “God appeared as a fiery bush, but I know he’s not a bush!” But He did not appear as a bush. He appeared in a bush. God will not appear as Shiva, Buddha, or Sarayu, because He says, “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14). We can say God is like a rock, but we cannot say God is like Baal. It’s not about imagery; it is about the nature and character of God. And The Shack gives a false representation of both of these.7

Look, I get it. I’ve suffered innumerable losses my entire life, and every one of us at some point cries out, “WHY, GOD?” And in those moments, people either reject Him as uncaring, or call upon His name wherein He brings us into His Kingdom, and we learn to trust Him in the midst of, sometimes in spite of, tragedies that seem to have no reason.

We may find ourselves once again crying out in pain, “Why God!?”

He has answered this in His Word. It’s called having faith, trusting Him, and knowing He loves us.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. (Psalm 18:30)

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. (1 John 3:1)

The Shack is a quick fix to feeling better, a panacea, a spiritual drug that allows you to embrace a conception of God that may temporarily take away the pain but leaves you with an open door to deception because it is not the God of the Word. It is not the real thing! And the Jesus it presents is not the real Jesus.

Is The Shack the God portrayed in Scripture? Is God a woman? Is Jesus a clumsy Jewish kid? Is the Holy Spirit a Japanese girl named after a Hindu river? Is the judge of our lives Sophia? Is everyone saved? Is Jesus just the best way to the Father, as the book suggests, or is He what the Bible says—the only way?

“But they’re just parables! Stories! It’s not the Bible!” some argue. So is it acceptable to distort the truth in the guise of fiction just to make a point? How is that ever acceptable? The Shack presents a God who does not judge, one who can change, and one who suggests Jesus is simply a better way to God, not the only way. But feeling has trumped truth, and the book has become a multi-million bestseller. To simplify the responses I have heard, “Don’t confuse me with biblical facts. It makes me feel good!”

It did not bother leaders and publishers that Young’s second book, Eve—a “reimagining” of the Adam and Eve story—was laced with kabbalistic themes and occultic, gnostic fairy tales. “It’s just a story.” The door opened wider. . . .

You see, Satan keeps pushing the goalpost deeper and deeper into the center of the church, and every time he sees no resistance, he is emboldened and takes it to “the next level.”

In March of 2017, The Shack movie was released. People seem just as fascinated with the movie as they are with the book. But I notice one difference—those who support The Shack appear to be much angrier at those with questions than before. “You’re so judgmental!” “Who do you think you are?” “You must be looking for a book deal or something.” “You’ll never lead anyone to Christ, and I doubt if you ever did before.” I’ve had it all thrown at me with the release of the movie as I have tried to reason it out with folks. And I have come to realize that the level of deception has gone so deep that not only are people willing to embrace a lie and ignore the error, but worse—they see themselves as loyal Christian believers while at the same have no problem promoting a story by a man who claims that everyone is “in Christ” already. And you cannot reason with that level of delusion. It’s gone beyond the intellectual. It’s now in the realm of “seducing spirits” (1 Timothy 4:1).

A Church Enamored with New Age Mysticism
Universalism—the “all paths lead to God” religion—is exactly what is needed to turn millions of proclaiming Christians into participants of the one-world antichrist mystery religion that Alice Bailey wrote about and all Luciferian world leaders are counting on.

We did not accept Rob Bell’s universalism. But now we are willing to ignore William Paul Young’s. That is the malignancy of deception unchecked.

The Shack movie comes at a time when eastern meditation techniques are being welcomed wholeheartedly into the public educational system under the guise of “mindfulness.”8 Mindfulness is a Buddhist technique of detachment, leading practitioners to realizing the “divine within,” which eventually supposedly leads to Nirvana—nonexistence. North American children, as young as pre-school age, are being taught how to meditate and do Yoga to reach this Nirvana state.

This eastern meditation paradigm shift is occurring in the church as well via contemplative prayer and the “spiritual disciplines.”9 In 2017, several “Christian” books came on the scene promoting meditation and mindfulness practices under the guise of “devotional” books and “adult coloring books.” One book on contemplative meditation is The Wired Soul: Finding Spiritual Balance in a Hyperconnected Age by Tricia McCary Rhodes. Her book “reintroduces us to the classic disciplines of Scripture reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation.”10 Rick Warren was promoting Rhodes book, The Soul at Rest: A Journey into Contemplative Prayer, as far back as 2003 on his website that stated:

This book is a quiet-time companion for those who hunger for a greater intimacy with God. It offers fresh insight into little understood aspects of prayer and introduces a step-by-step journey of learning contemplative prayer.11

The site referred to Tricia Rhodes as “one of our favorite authors on contemplative prayer.”12 In The Soul at Rest, Rhodes gives instruction on contemplative prayer:

Take deep breaths, concentrating on relaxing your body. Establish a slow, rhythmic pattern. Breathe in God’s peace, and breathe out your stresses, distractions, and fears. Breathe in God’s love, forgiveness, and compassion, and breathe out your sins, failures, and frustrations. Make every effort to “stop the flow of talking going on within you—to slow it down until it comes to a halt.”13

Rick Warren’s promotion of her book in 2003 helped to make a solid place for Rhodes in the evangelical church, and today she, along with so many others like her, is securely wedged in, all the while presenting a panentheistic (i.e., God in all) eastern-style meditation belief system to an unsuspecting church that’s proved itself to have little or no discernment. Does that bother Rick Warren or any of the others who endorsed her? Do they feel the need to warn the church about an author they promoted to millions of people? The answer to that is a resounding no!

So, the church just keeps on going further on the path to the New Age goal of “east meets west,” where we all become one under a false one-world religion and we all recognize the “Christ spirit” or godhood in each other.

Tragically, young Christians are perhaps the biggest target of Satan. The emerging church got the ball rolling and convinced millions of church-going young people that their parents way of seeing Christianity was old fashioned, colonial, and ineffective. And emerging church leaders had the perfect tool to get a hold of the minds of the youth—meditation. It started back in the late nineties and is in full swing today. A 2013 book titled, God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God by Canadian pastor Ken Shigematsu, is being used in Christian youth groups. According to the publisher, Zondervan, the book “draws on both eastern and western perspectives in writing and speaking.”14 Those are buzzwords for introducing a mixing of eastern religion thought processes with Christianity. The book is packed with quotes by and references to numerous mystics such as Thomas Merton and Basil Pennington. Catholic priest and panentheist Richard Rohr is a major advocate for mystical prayer. He said in an interview that his publisher told him his biggest audience is young evangelical men!15 Are Christian leaders and pastors shocked that their young people are being taught by mystics, panentheists, universalists, etc? Apparently not.

All of this is producing Christian minds that are malleable, soft, undiscerning, half-drugged, feeling good, and completely open to the power of suggestion from . . . whoever, and whatever. That is what eastern meditation techniques do. You empty your mind, “turn off distractions,” enter your “sacred space,” and accept that whatever comes must be good and right and from God.

The High Price of Having Our Ears Tickled
The church has become an entity seeking to have her ears tickled. Christians are seeking to feel better about their painful lives. Seeking to be successful, happy, and prosperous. What is it you seek? Step right up folks . . . we’ve got everything for you right now.

Everything except the whole truth of the Word of God, the way of the Cross, the power of the blood to save and heal and forgive, the altar of God where we come to be broken and changed, healed, and set free. Everything which made the Gospel powerful has and is being systematically removed by the enemy of our souls—not because it is not powerful, but because we no longer wish to humble ourselves, bow to its holiness and its truth. The church has exchanged the truth for a lie.

We are seeing the “fruit” of nearly thirty years of dumbing-down and de-prioritizing the Word of God, giving it a mini-place in our lives while shiny things and baubles and the newest “move” catch our attention and send us off on a fruitless quest for the next experience. It’s no wonder young Christians are falling for it so rapidly—their parents and grandparents have had no discernment and therefore could hardly lead and warn the younger generation of spiritual deception. The seed of the Word of God has corporately fallen on stony ground, without depth, where it grows up quick, shrivels, and dies.

I know I am very passionate about this, reluctant to even use the word passionate, so overused it is in today’s “New Spirituality.” However, I have every reason to be this way. I grew up in the occult—a world of delusions, lies, and darkness. When I tried to turn to New Age thought to dispel the darkness—turning to Hinduism, Buddhism, and becoming an avid follower of Paramahansa Yogananda in my little bedroom devouring his every word as “truth”—I ended up deceived, wrecked, and in utter darkness, even though some of it temporarily numbed my pain and made me “feel good.”

I understand many of these Christians who are so emotionally bound to The Shack and Jesus Calling that they have thrown caution to the wind and ignored the dangerous reality that in fact promotes unbiblical lies. I was a universalist when I got saved. I didn’t know what the Word of God said. I still believed all paths led to God! I was totally brainwashed. Then came this “mean man,” this “judgmental Christian” Bible study leader who dared to get out the Word of God and without holding back challenged me about my beliefs. This “judgmental, mean man” saved my spiritual life. (I thank God for Dave; may his memory be blessed!) I needed a hard word to break through the lies.

In all my dealings with everything from Rob Bell to The Shack, I understand that simple logic and reason isn’t working with people who are emotionally invested in the teachers or the stories. People need a wake-up call, and that may not feel good or seem loving. But I cannot apologize for my approach because I see that in the end, The Shack is not just a book or a movie but a game-changer that is extinguishing some of the last lights of discernment out of the hearts of who knows how many thousands (even millions) of believers. I know how they feel. I have been there. And I thank God that someone cared enough to hurt me with the truth. When a house is burning down and people are asleep inside, one cannot afford to meekly whisper, hoping the people hear. You have to shout at the top of your lungs, “Get out, quickly!” In dealing with these new delusions, it may be necessary to jar people awake.

Jesus said in Matthew 24 that all of this would happen. Paul said, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1). The great falling away is at hand. But a remnant will remain faithful. I can only pray humbly not to be one who falls for the lies in a moment of vulnerability, or weakness, or pain or giving up, for we are all vulnerable, and it’s only by the grace of God we can stand. That is where I understand the motto of the French foreign legion that a friend shared with me: “If I falter, straighten me out. If I stumble, pick me up. If I retreat, shoot me.” Blunt, but as a spiritual warrior, it resonates in my heart. None of us is exempt from having to diligently guard against the lies of this age, outside and inside the church.

These progressive deceptions over the last few decades have been just the build-up to the next great delusion, which could be the final one. God help us to turn away from the slow poisoning taking place in the church through breath-prayers, eastern meditation, mindfulness, Yoga, etc. God help us to surrender our soulish ways of perceiving God based on a book written by a wounded man, William Paul Young —unhealed from abuse and bitter church hurts—whom those seeking to make a profit have promoted regardless of his spiritual fragility and woundedness—a man who rejected the God of the Bible for a god who would somehow ease his pain—one that eases your pain as it kills your soul. The Shack is the spiritual Jack Kevorkian of our age.

Pray for William Paul Young, that God would pull him out of this most dangerous and deadly strange fire. Pray for the multitudes who are believing lies. And may God deal with those mercenaries and moneychangers who care more about what sells and profits them than about the care and protection of the flock of God.

Alice Bailey’s plans are about to come to full fruition. The greatest lie is just around the corner.

Stay strong, saints. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28)

To order copies of Progression to Deception: How New Age Influence is  Destroying the Church—One Step After the Next, click here.

Endnotes:
1. Alice Bailey, The Externalization of the Hierarchy (Lucis Publishing Companies), p. 510.
2. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
3.Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1998), p. 51.
4. http://www.carlsbadlifestylepubs.com/am_event/seduction-of-spirit-i-am-wholeness.
5. See Greg Reid’s booklet/article: Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs. Online at http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16968 or order from Lighthouse Trails.
6. Chapter four of The Shack is titled “The Great Sadness,” and the term is frequently used throughout The Shack.
7. See The Shack and Its New Age Leaven by Warren B. Smith. Online at http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=12290 or order from Lighthouse Trails.
8. Kris O’Donnell, “Mindfulness, Meditation Techniques Being Used in Public School Classrooms Across County on 750,000 Students” (Ivanhoe Newswire, http://www.ksat.com/health/mindfulness-meditation-techniques-being-used-in-classroom).
9. Visit the Lighthouse Trails Research blog for extensive information on contemplative spirituality and the “spiritual disciplines”: www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog or request their bi-monthly research journal mailed to homes and offices.
10. Tricia McCary Rhodes, The Wired Soul: Finding Spiritual Balance in a Hyperconnected Age (from the publisher’s description, found on the NavPress website where the book is being sold: https://navresources.ca/product_details.php?item_id=5458).
11. Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox, (September 3, 2003, http://web.archive.org/web/20081227031846/http://legacy.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=118).
12. Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox (February 18, 2004, http://web.archive.org/web/20081227044251/http://legacy.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=142).
13. Tricia Rhodes, The Soul at Rest (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996), p. 28.
14. Ken Shigematsu, God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013); from Zondervan’s website: http://www.zondervan.com/god-in-my-everything.
15. “The Cosmic Christ with Richard Rohr” (http://podcast.theliturgists.com/e/episode-35-the-cosmic-christ-with-richard-rohr/).

To order copies of Progression to Deception: How New Age Influence is  Destroying the Church—One Step After the Next, click here.

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