Posts Tagged ‘Warren B. Smith’

NEW BOOKLET – SHACK THEOLOGY: Universalism, TBN, Oprah, and the New Age

NEW BOOKLET: SHACK THEOLOGY: Universalism, TBN, Oprah, and the New Age by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 18 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 SHACK THEOLOGY: Universalism, TBN, Oprah, and the New Age, click here.

SHACK THEOLOGY: Universalism, TBN, Oprah, and the New Age

By Warren B. Smith

Shack TheologyI have written a number of short articles pertaining to The Shack and its author William P. Young. My intention has been to shed some light on the leaven of universalism that is at the heart of the book’s often errant theology. This booklet presents seven of these articles.

Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:7-9)

When People Say the Shack is Just a Novel

A woman standing in line outside the theater to see The Shack movie was eager to talk with me about Wm. Paul Young’s best-selling book. She said she “loved” The Shack and couldn’t understand why it had so many critics on the Internet. She was especially perplexed by the number of “negative” comments made by pastors. Obviously confused by all the controversy, she suddenly exclaimed—“But The Shack is just a novel!”

What the woman and so many other Shack readers fail to take into account is that the book is much more than “just a novel.” It is a carefully crafted presentation of Paul Young’s alternative “Christian” universalist theology based on “real” conversations he claims to have had with God. In Young’s forward to The Shack Revisited, a book written by his friend C. Baxter Kruger, Young corrects any misunderstanding that The Shack is just a novel. He writes:

Please don’t misunderstand me; The Shack is theology. But it is theology wrapped in story.1

If you want to understand better the perspectives and theology that frame The Shack, this book [Kruger’s] is for you. Baxter has taken on the incredible task of exploring the nature and character of the God who met me in my own shack.2

According to Young, God came to him in the “Great Sadness” of his own personal “shack” and communicated directly with him. Much of The Shack’s theology is based on what Young learned in his conversations with God.

Paul Young’s Conversations with God

A Christian news source recently reprinted excerpts from several posts Paul  Young made on his personal blog back in August 2007. In these excerpts, Young explained that The Shack is a story, but it is a story based on real conversations he was having with God, his friends, and his family. He writes

Remember, I am thinking about writing this for my kids, so I am searching for a good vehicle to communicate through. I figure a good story would be great . . . but I didn’t have one. So I started with what I did have . . . conversations. So, off and on, for about three months I wrote down conversations; conversations that I was having with God mostly, but which often included friends or family.3 (emphasis added)

Is the story “real”? The story is fiction. I made it up. Now, having said that, I will add that the emotional pain with all its intensity and the process that tears into Mack’s heart and soul are very real. I have my “shack,” the place I had to go through to find healing. I have my Great Sadness . . . that is all real. And the conversations are very real and true. . . .

So is the story true? The pain, the loss, the grief, the process, the conversations, the questions, the anger, the longing, the secrets, the lies, the forgiveness . . . all real, all true.4 (emphasis added)

Young’s “Christian” Universalism

In a February 16, 2008 post on a blog called Christian Universalism: The Beautiful Heresy, an avowed “friend” of Paul Young corroborates Young’s 2007 blog post about his conversations with God. The friend describes how the conversations Young’s main character Mack has with God in The Shack are “real conversations” that Young actually had with God. She reveals how these conversations “revolutionized” Young, his family, and friends such as herself. She says that the “radically dangerous” teachings that Young put in his novel have become her new “systematic theology” and The Shack is her new “systematic theology handbook.” The following are her exact words and punctuation as they were originally posted on the Christian Universalism blog:

I know the author well—a personal friend. (Our whole house church devoured it [The Shack] last summer, and Paul came to our home to discuss it—WONDERFUL time!) The conversations that “Mack” has with God, are real conversations that Paul Young had with God . . . and they revolutionized him, his family, and friends (Paul had a very traumatic past, raised by missionary parents, who left him in the care of the stone-age Dani tribe, while they did “God’s work.” He was abused by them, in the process—and there were other tragedies in his life, later on. When he was a broken mess, God began to speak to him). He wrote the story (rather than a “sermon”) to give the real conversations context—and because Jesus also used simple stories to engage our hearts, even by-passing our objective brains, in order to have His message take root in our hearts, and grow. . . .

I had already come to believe all the “radically dangerous” teachings within this book—so it mostly confirmed what I already believed. But, it most definitely highlighted the reality that I don’t yet KNOW (KNOW!) how much God loves me. I want the relationship with God that I see in Paul Young’s life. . . . This was the first book that I read straight through 4 times. First to absorb it. Secondly, to underline. Third to highlight. Fourth, to put “headers” on the top of each page, so that I could find certain passages again. It’s become my new “systematic theology” handbook.15 (emphasis added)

Thus, by his own account and that of his friend, Paul Young would be the first to deny that The Shack is “just a novel.”

Young the Universalist

Back to my conversation with the woman in front of the movie theater. When she said that The Shack was “just a novel,” I described how his novel was actually a fictional device used as a “vehicle” for presenting some of his own misguided theological teachings—teachings that had more in common with New Age teachings than biblical Christianity. When she acknowledged knowing about the New Age movement, I told her that some of The Shack’s teachings were actually New Age teachings. But before I could explain what those specific teachings were and how I had once been involved in the New Age myself, the theater doors opened, the line started moving, and our conversation was suddenly over. She seemed relieved as she turned toward the theater and away from me. Praying that she would come to understand that Paul Young has more in common with New Age universalism than biblical Christianity. I had no idea at the time that Young was about to publicly declare in a new book what so many of us already knew. In Lies We Believe About God, which was released on March 7th, 2017 Young states that he believes in “universal salvation”6 and that “every single human being is in Christ” and “Christ is in them.”7 Thus, Young himself makes it very clear in his own words that The Shack is not “just a novel” but rather a “cunningly devised fable” (2 Peter 1:16) for presenting some of his own heretical universalistic New Age views.

Who is Paul Young Really Listening To and Conversing With?

Paul Young would have us believe that he has been having “real” conversations with God and that he was inspired by God to write The Shack. Yet he is now declaring himself to be a universalist who believes in the false New Age trinitarian doctrine that God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are already “in” everyone. In other words, Young, as a professing universalist, would have us believe that all of humanity is already saved (universal salvation). The question that naturally arises and that is now before the church is—just who is Paul Young actually listening to and conversing with? The God of the Bible or seducing spirits (1Timothy 4:1)?

Wm. Paul Young’s Universal New Age Lie—Christ “In” Everyone

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; But after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, Having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Young Publicly Endorses Universal Salvation

In his book Lies We Believe About God, Paul Young openly describes himself as a universalist. In chapter 13, Young would have us believe it is a “lie” to tell someone, “You need to get saved.”8 Young asks himself the rhetorical questions, “Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation?”9 He answers, “That is exactly what I am saying!”10 Young then goes on to teach that “every single human being is in Christ” and that “Christ is in them.”11 With this unbiblical teaching, one recalls how Young put these same heretical “God in everything” words in the mouth of his “Jesus” character in The Shack. He wrote:

God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.12

The Trinitarian Lie

Young would have us believe his trinitarian lie that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit inherently indwell everyone.13 This is exactly what the false “Christ” of the New Age teaches. In fact, it is the foundational teaching of the New Age/New Spirituality/New World Religion that has progressively moved into the world and into the church.

New Age in the Church

As I pointed out in my booklet, The Shack and Its New Age Leaven,14 the teaching that God is “in” everyone is the foundational universalist New Age teaching that has been increasingly popularized over the last thirty years by New Age authors and teachers and heavily promoted by people like Oprah Winfrey. Sadly, it is also found in the books and teachings of well-known church figures like Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, Eugene Peterson, Leonard Sweet, and Sarah Young.15 And in a November 1, 2016 Catholic News Service article titled, “Pope Offers New Beatitudes for Saints of a New Age” Pope Francis, in a Catholic Mass in Malmo, Sweden, proposed a new “beatitude”—“Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.”16

What Will the Church Do?

Paul Young wanted to have a conversation about the nature of God, and that conversation is now front and center before the church. Will pastors and leaders and day-to-day believers contend for the faith and fight the good fight, or will they let false teachers like Paul Young have their uncontested say and have their uncontested way?

Shack, TBN, and the New Age Lie

Trinity Broadcasting Network has provided The Shack author Wm. Paul Young with the world’s largest “Christian” stage—his very own television series on TBN. Young’s Restoring The Shack episodes have been masterfully produced on location in beautiful Montana. His presentations are usually underscored and enhanced with soothing music that is clearly designed to evoke a strong emotional response and positive assent from viewers to whatever Young may be preaching or teaching.

In what could also be described as “The Shack Show,” Young brings his own weekly brand of Shack promotion, Shack theology, and Shack therapy to TBN viewers as he hopes to convert them from their own “Great Sadness” to his own “relational” take on what used to be biblical Christianity. The real sadness is that Young’s Shack theology and Shack therapy have more to do with his love for universalism and New Agey trinitarianism than it does with scriptural truth.  Why New Agey? Because when Young teaches about “relationship” he is, by his own Shack definition, referring to the Trinity within—a God and Christ and Holy Spirit that are said to be “in” everyone and everything.17

Somewhat elusive about exposing his own personal universalism in the past, Young has recently made himself very clear on the matter. In his March 2017 book Lies We Believe About God, he asks two rhetorical questions of himself—“Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation?” His immediate and almost defiant response in the book is—“That is exactly what I am saying!”18 Nevertheless, TBN has been only too pleased to not only promote his new book on every episode, but to simultaneously use it as a fund raiser for themselves at the same time. Obviously, with TBN becoming a showcase for Paul Young and his creative, relational, universalistic, New Agey take on the Trinity, TBN is giving new meaning to the “Trinity” in Trinity Broadcasting. And it looks like Young and TBN are in for the weekly long haul as most Christian leaders look on with apparent indifference.

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

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, Paul Young’s new book was prominently featured and even offered as a fund raiser 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,”19 that the statement “You need to get saved” is a “lie,”20 and that Christ is “in” “every single human being.”21 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,22 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? Better yet, why did they ever promote Paul Young and The Shack in the first place?

The Shack’s Universal Papa

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.23—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]24The Shack’s “Jesus” defining “Papa” as a universal New Age God (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 goddess25—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.26 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.

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.”27

In his book Unshackled, Pastor Larry DeBruyn describes how Paul Young’s “Papa” bears a striking resemblance to “the name, nature, and nurturing potential” of this Polynesian Earth goddess Papa.28 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.”29 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.”30

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.”31 A pagan site informs us that a Papa goddess is especially prevalent amongst the Maoris of New Zealand,32 while another site references a South Seas Papa as part of the mythology of the Southern Cook Islands group.33 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,34 he claims to have had no knowledge of this South Seas Papa goddess prior to his writing of The Shack.35

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.”36 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.”37 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.”38

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.”39 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.”40 And just as Paul 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!”41 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?”42 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.”43 Another site expressed the confusion that can result from a female “God” named Papa—“It’s so confusing because Papa is a Mama.”44 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 Paul 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 universalist45The Shack’s “Jesus” proclaims that his Papa “God” is “the ground of all being” because he “dwells in, around, and through all things.”46 In other words,  The Shack’s Jesus says that The Shack’s Papa indwells everyone and everything. This is the same universal God that New Age leader 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 to 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.”47 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)

Universal Shack Therapy: Wm. Paul Young, Kahlil Gibran, and “The Great Sadness

Wm. Paul Young writes that The Shack is “theology wrapped in story.”48 And his Shack theology presents a universalistic Shack Therapy for the “Great Sadness” that plagues his main character “Mack.” Young remarks in numerous interviews that, like Mack, most people have their own inner “shack” where they store their secrets and their own personal “Great Sadness.” This “Great Sadness” becomes Young’s personal metaphor for the inner pain and anguish locked within his and other people’s souls. Lebanese-American writer, artist, philosopher, and universalist Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) uses this same phrase—”great sadness”—in his 1926 book The Madman: His Parables and Poems. He wrote:

Then a great sadness came over the face of my soul, and into her voice.49

However, it seems that the derivation of Young’s phrase “The Great Sadness” was consciously or unconsciously taken from parts of two consecutive lines from yet another Gibran book that Young actually quoted from in The Shack. Chapter 4 in The Shack is titled “The Great Sadness.” Underneath this title, Young quotes a single line about “sadness” from Gibran’s work Sand and Foam—“Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.”50 The next line—one that Young did not quote—has the word “great” in it: “When either your joy or your sorrow becomes great your world becomes small.”51 The word “great” in the second line linked with “sadness” in the line directly above it creates Young’s term—“The Great Sadness.” Whether or not he realizes it, Young seems to have derived the phrase “Great Sadness” from the universalistic writings of Kahlil Gibran. In his essay “Your Thought and Mine,” Gibran writes:

Your thought advocates Judaism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. In my thought there is only one universal religion, whose varied paths are but the fingers of the loving hand of the Supreme Being.52

In the Acknowledgments section of The Shack, Young thanks Kahlil Gibran for his “creative stimulation.” He quotes Gibran not only in The Shack, but also in opening the very first chapter of his second novel Crossroads. Kahlil Gibran is best known for his perennial best-seller, The Prophet—a book that “has long been one of the bibles of the New-Age movement.”53 As a matter of fact, as former New Agers, Gibran’s book was a treasured part of our New Age library. What’s more, “New Age Pioneer” was the title of a 1998 New York Times book review about Gibran and his New Age influence.54 Robin Waterfield, an authority on Gibran and a consulting editor for religious and New Age publishers, wrote a definitive biography on Gibran that was the subject of the aforementioned New York Times book review. Waterfield’s book, Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran, described the biographer’s belief that Gibran was highly influential in the initial formation of the New Age Movement:

I suggest that Gibran has been one of the hidden influences on the New Age . . . I cannot say that without him the New Age movement would not have arisen, but it is, I think, safe to say that he has had an enormous influence on it.55

I think it is arguable that Gibran was one of the founding fathers of the New Age.56

Ten years after the release of The Shack, Paul Young declared he was a believer in universal salvation.57 Sounding much like any New Age universalist, Young is now teaching the panentheistic and heretical New Age doctrines of Christ “in” everyone58 and God “in” all things.59 With The Shack being recently made into a movie and with Shack book sales now over 22 million copies, with countless radio and television interviews and church talks under his belt, and with his own Restoring The Shack weekly TBN prime time television series, Paul Young had done just about everything except appear on Oprah. But then he also did that. On July 9, 2017, Young was the featured guest on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday television program.60 The day after the program, Young suddenly announced—“I want to be more like Oprah.”61 And with that statement Shack lovers should be shocked that an avowed Christian would want to be “more like Oprah”—one of the most influential New Age leaders in the world today.62 But what most people don’t realize is that in regard to New Age universalism, Wm. Paul Young is already like Oprah—and Kahlil Gibran—and this may be one of the greatest “Great Sadnesses” of all.

A Cat Named Judas

The name Judas has been described as the most hated name in all the world. Except for Shack author Wm. Paul Young and maybe a few exceptional others, hardly anybody ever names anyone or anything Judas. It is one of those forbidden names like Jezebel or Lucifer that people would never dream of naming their child, their dog—or their cat. The very name denotes a sense of treachery and betrayal. After all, Judas was the one who openly betrayed Jesus and paved the way for His crucifixion. So what was Paul Young thinking? Why does The Shack’s most endearing character—Missy—have a cat named Judas?63 And it seems especially odd to have a cat with that name in a family where the mother’s faith is described as “deep”64 and Missy is asking sincere questions about Jesus’ death.65

Heresy and Betrayal

Young contends that The Shack is much more than a fictional novel. He describes The Shack as “theology wrapped in story.” He writes:

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.66

This is said in spite of the fact that Young’s Shack characters and universalistic Shack “theology” frequently mock God and God’s Word with their cryptic humor and clever interplay. To be perfectly blunt, the name Judas fits right in with much of what Young is teaching. Like Judas, Young betrays Jesus Christ and biblical Christianity with his heretical Shack theology—a Shack theology where there is, among other things, no Devil and no Christ. Neither of them can be found anywhere in the whole Shack story. The Devil is never mentioned because Young would have us believe that evil and darkness “do not have any actual existence.”67 And The Shack’s “Jesus” is never identified as Christ. In fact, the name of Christ is nowhere to be found in the whole Shack story.68

One well-known pastor gave an impassioned sermon about thirteen heresies he found in The Shack.69 One heresy he did not mention is perhaps the most egregious of all—the panentheistic proposition that God is “in” all things. Incredibly, Young puts this foundational doctrine of the New Age/New Spirituality/New World Religion right in the mouth of The Shack’s “Jesus.” Young’s “Jesus” states—“God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.”70 But this is a false teaching. God is not “in” all things.71 For Young to put these heretical words in the mouth of The Shack’s “Jesus” is an absolute betrayal of the true Jesus Christ.

A Wonderful and Horrible Betrayal

Thus, as Paul Young plays fast and loose with biblical Christianity, should we be surprised that he plays fast and loose with a name like Judas—a name that perfectly describes his role in today’s wayward church. What Young describes as “theology wrapped in story” is really biblical betrayal wrapped in a cunningly devised fable (2 Peter 1:16). The Shack is everything that the true Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for when he said to “be not deceived” (Luke 21:8). And that warning would seem to include authors like Wm. Paul Young who think nothing at all about putting heretical New Age doctrines in Jesus’ mouth and naming a little girl’s cat Judas.

The Shack may seem “wonderful” to countless Shack readers, but in reality it is a betrayal of biblical Christianity and of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah—The Shack may seem “wonderful,” but it is actually “horrible,” and yet the people “love to have it so.”

A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? (Jeremiah 5:30-31)

To order copies of SHACK THEOLOGY: Universalism, TBN, Oprah, and the New Age, click here.

Endnotes

  1. C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going on Here than You Ever Dared to Dream ( New York, NY: FaithWorks, Hatchette Book Group, 2012), p. xi.
  2. Ibid., p. viiii.
  3. Sunny Shell, The Shack, a Biblical and Interactive Review” (http://blogs.christianpost.com/abandoned-to-christ/the-shack-a-biblical-and-interactive-review-28674/, posted 2/16/17), quoting Paul Young from his August 15, 2007 blog titled “The Shack—update—Background #2” (http://web.archive.org/web/20070911092057/http://www.windrumors.com/29/the-shack-update-background-2/).
  4. Sunny Shell, “The Shack, a Biblical and Interactive Review” (http://blogs.christianpost.com/abandoned-to-christ/the-shack-a-biblical-and-interactive-review-28674/, posted 2/16/17), quoting Paul Young from his August 15, 2007 blog titled “Is the story of The Shack true . . . is Mack a “real” person? (http://web.archive.org/web/20070911092319/http://www.windrumors.com/30/is-the-story-of-the-shack-trueis-mack-a-real-person).
  5. Christian Universalism—The Beautiful Heresy: The Shack (http://web.archive.org/web/20080307051159/http://christian-universalism.blogs.com/thebeautifulheresy/2008/02/the-shack.html, posted February 16, 2008 by Dena Brehm). Thanks to Kent McElroy for bringing this blog to my attention.
  6. Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God (New York, NY: Atria Books, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2017), p. 118.
  7. Ibid., p. 119.
  8. Ibid., chapter 13 title in Lies We Believe About God is “You need to get saved.”
  9. Ibid., p. 118.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid., p. 119.
  12. William P. Young, The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity (Los Angeles, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.
  13. In C. Baxter Kruger’s book, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here Than You Ever Dared to Dream, in the foreword, Shack author William Paul Young writes: “I want to say, ‘Thank you, and please read The Shack Revisited.’” He adds, “If you want to understand better the perspectives and theology that frame The Shack, this book is for you. Baxter has taken on the incredible task of exploring the nature and character of the God who met me in my own shack” (p. ix). On page 49 of The Shack Revisited, Kruger writes: “For inside of us all, because of Jesus, is nothing short of the very trinitarian life of God.” C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here Than You Ever Dared to Dream, op. cit. p. 49.
  14. To read this booklet, click here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=12290.
  15. I have documented a short history of how this deceptive New Age teaching has entered the world and the church in my booklet Be Still and Know That You Are Not God. The booklet includes quotes by each of these figures. To read a copy of this booklet online, visit http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17572.
  16. Cathy Wooden, “Pope Offers New Beatitudes for Saints of a New Age” (Catholic News Service, November 1, 2016).
  17. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 112.
  18. Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God, op. cit., p. 118.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid., p. 115.
  21. Ibid., p. 119.
  22. Dave Aldrich, graphic artist for The Shack book cover, said this on his Facebook page on April 4th 2017. See “Artist ‘Deeply Regrets’ Designing ‘Shack’ Cover, Says A Loving God Must ‘Judge’” at https://hellochristian.com/7153-artist-deeply-regrets-designing-shack-cover-says-a-loving-god-must-judge.
  23. 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.
  24. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 112.
  25. 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).
  26. Denise M Alvarado, “Papa Legba and Other Spirits of the Crossroads” (Who is Papa Legba?, Images of Legba, https://exemplore.com/magic/papalegba).
  27. https://journeyingtothegoddess.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/goddess-papa/, “Goddess Papa” September 19, 2012.
  28. 2 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.
  29. Ibid.
  30. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., pp. 43-66, p. 92, pp. 96-98, pp. 101-102.
  31. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papahanaumoku.
  32. The Goddess Papa, http://www.holladaypaganism.com/goddesses/cyclopedia/p/PAPA.HTM.
  33. Wikipedia: Papa (mythology), https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papa_(mythology).
  34. Wm. Paul Young—About (http://wmpaulyoung.com/wm-paul-young-about).
  35. Eric Barger, “Why The Shack Must be Rejected” (Lamb & Lion Ministries, Lamplighter, May 2017, http://christinprophecyblog.org/2017/04/why-the-shack-must-be-rejected), pp. 13-14.
  36. “Papa Legba and Other Spirits of the Crossroads” (Exemplore blog, Images of Legba, Who is Papa Legba?, https://exemplore.com/magic/papalegba).
  37. Ibid.
  38. Ibid.
  39. “Papa Legba for Witches,” How Legba Can Help You (https://exemplore.com/wicca-witchcraft/papa-legba-for-witches).
  40. Ibid.
  41. Ibid., Posted Comments (Nitecat response to babygirl1414).
  42. Ibid., Posted Comments (jacynnavarro).
  43. Ibid., Posted Comments (Nitecat response to jacynnavarro).
  44. http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/oceanic-mythology.php?deity=PAPA.
  45. Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God, op. cit., pp. 118-119 (Young states that he believes in universal salvation.)
  46. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 218.
  47. merriam-webster.com and encyclopedia.com (ousia).
  48. C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited, op. cit., p. xi.
  49. Khalil Gibran, The Madman: His Parables and Poems (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2002, originally published in 1918 by Alfred A. Knopf, New York), p. 55.
  50. Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam (Lexington, KY: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017, originally published in 1926), p. 37. Note: William Paul Young left out the word “but” in quoting this line from Gibran’s work.
  51. Ibid.
  52. Kahlil Gibran, Short Works by Khalil Gibran (Your Thought and Mine). (newthoughtlibrary.com/gibranKhalil/shortWorks/shortWorks).
  53. John Dodge, “Kahlil Gibran and the Fall of the Prophet” (Three Monkeys Online Magazine, www.threemonkeysonline.com/kahlil-gibran-and-the-fall-of-the-prophet).
  54. Liesl Schillinger, “Pioneer of the New Age” (The New York Times, December 13, 1998, http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/12/13/reviews/981213.13schillt.html).
  55. Robin Waterfield, Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), p. 290.
  56. Ibid., p. 289.
  57. Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God, op. cit., p. 118.
  58. Ibid., p. 119.
  59. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 112.
  60. Oprah Winfrey, Super Soul Sunday, YouTube July 9, 2017.
  61. Wm. Paul Young personal blog, “I Want to Be More Like Oprah.” (http://wmpaulyoung.com/i-want-to-be-more-like-oprah-watch-interview/).
  62. It should be noted that although Oprah Winfrey is an exceedingly powerful and influential New Age leader, she still persists in identifying herself as a Christian. But her Christianity is a New Age Christianity that is not biblically based and is no Christianity at all.
  63. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 231.
  64. Ibid., p. 11.
  65. Ibid., p. 31.
  66. C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited, op. cit., p. xi.
  67. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 136.
  68. Warren B. Smith, “The Christless Shack” (article posted at warrenbsmith.com).
  69. Michael Youssef, The Shack Uncovered: 13 Heresies Explained (Leading the Way Ministries, 2017, PDF: https://store.ltw.org/p-315-the-shack-uncovered-13-heresies-explained-pdf.aspx).
  70. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p.112.
  71. Warren B. Smith, Be Still and Know That You are Not God: God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2015). This booklet traces the history of the false teaching that God is “in” everything. It also offers a scriptural refutation of this heretical doctrine. Visit www.lighthousetrails.com.

To order copies of SHACK THEOLOGY: Universalism, TBN, Oprah, and the New Age, click here.

Author Bio: Warren B. Smith (B.A. University of Pennsylvania; M.S.W. Tulane University)—A veteran who worked at the White House Communications Agency and later became a community social worker, serving as a program coordinator for people with special needs, directing several homeless programs, and working as a Hospice social worker in New Orleans and on the California coast. After leaving the New Age movement and becoming a Christian, he began writing extensively on the subject of spiritual deception. He has written seven books and numerous booklet tracts and has spoken on radio, television, and at seminars and conferences for the last twenty-five years. For more information, visit www.warrenbsmith.com.

Universalistic Shack Therapy: Wm. Paul Young, Kahlil Gibran, and “The Great Sadness”

By Warren B. Smith

 William Paul Young writes that The Shack is “theology wrapped in story.”1 And his Shack theology presents a universalistic Shack Therapy for the “Great Sadness” that plagues his main character “Mack.” Young remarks in numerous interviews that, like Mack, most people have their own inner “shack” where they store their secrets and their own personal “Great Sadness.” This “Great Sadness” becomes Young’s personal metaphor for the inner pain and anguish locked within his and other people’s souls. Lebanese-American writer, artist, philosopher, and universalist Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) uses this same phrase—”great sadness”—in his 1926 book The Madman: His Parables and Poems. He wrote:

Then a great sadness came over the face of my soul, and into her voice.2

Kahlil Gibran, promoted in The ShackHowever, it seems that the derivation of Young’s phrase “The Great Sadness” was consciously or unconsciously taken from parts of two consecutive lines from yet another Gibran book that Young actually quoted from in The Shack. Chapter 4 in The Shack is titled “The Great Sadness.” Underneath this title, Young quotes a single line about “sadness” from Gibran’s work Sand and Foam—“Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.”3 The next line—one that Young did not quote—has the word “great” in it: “When either your joy or your sorrow becomes great your world becomes small.”4 “Great” in the second line linked with “sadness” in the line directly above it creating Young’s term—“The Great Sadness.” Whether or not he realizes it, Young seems to have derived the phrase “Great Sadness” from the universalistic writings of Kahlil Gibran. In his essay “Your Thought and Mine,” Gibran writes:

Your thought advocates Judaism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. In my thought there is only one universal religion, whose varied paths are but the fingers of the loving hand of the Supreme Being.5

In the Acknowledgments section of The Shack, Young thanks Kahlil Gibran for his “creative stimulation.” He quotes Gibran not only in The Shack, but also in opening the very first chapter of his second novel Crossroads. Kahlil Gibran is best known for his perennial best-seller, The Prophet—a book that “has long been one of the bibles of the New-Age movement.”6 As a matter of fact, as former New Agers, Gibran’s book was a treasured part of our New Age library. What’s more, “New Age Pioneer” was the title of a 1998 New York Times book review about Gibran and his New Age influence.7 Robin Waterfield, an authority on Gibran and a consulting editor for religious and New Age publishers, wrote a definitive biography on Gibran that was the subject of the aforementioned New York Times book review. Waterfield’s book, Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran, described the biographer’s belief that Gibran was highly influential in the initial formation of the New Age Movement:

I suggest that Gibran has been one of the hidden influences on the New Age . . . I cannot say that without him the New Age movement would not have arisen, but it is, I think, safe to say that he has had an enormous influence on it.8

I think it is arguable that Gibran was one of the founding fathers of the New Age.9

Ten years after the release of The Shack, William Paul Young declared he was a believer in universal salvation.10 Sounding much like a New Age universalist, Young is now teaching the panentheistic and heretical New Age doctrines of Christ “in” everyone11 and God “in” all things.12 With The Shack being recently made into a movie and with Shack book sales now over 22 million copies, with countless radio and television interviews and church talks now under his belt, and with his own Restoring the Shack weekly TBN prime time television series, William Paul Young had done just about everything except appear on Oprah. But then he also did that. On July 9, 2017, Young was the featured guest on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday television program.13 The day after the program, Young suddenly announced—“I want to be more like Oprah.”14 And with that statement Shack lovers should be shocked that an avowed Christian would want to be “more like Oprah”—one of the most influential New Age leaders in the world today.15 But what most people don’t realize is that in regard to New Age universalism, William Paul Young is already like Oprah—and Kahlil Gibran—and this may be one of the greatest “Great Sadnesses” of all.

Endnotes

1. C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited (New York, NY: FaithWords, 2012), p. xi.
2. Khalil Gibran, The Madman: His Parables and Poems (Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 2002, originally published in 1918 by Alfred A. Knopf, New York), p. 55.
3. Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam (Lexington, KY, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017, originally published in 1926), p. 37. Note: William Paul Young left out the word “but” in quoting this line from Gibran’s work.
4. Ibid.
5. Kahlil Gibran, Short Works by Khalil Gibran (Your Thought and Mine). (newthoughtlibrary.com/gibranKhalil/shortWorks/shortWorks).
6. John Dodge, “Kahlil Gibran and the Fall of the Prophet” (Three Monkeys Online, www.threemonkeysonline.com/kahlil-gibran-and-the-fall-of-the-prophet/).
7. Liesl Schillinger, “Pioneer of the New Age” (The New York Times, December 13, 1998, http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/12/13/reviews/981213.13schillt.html).
8. Robin Waterfield, Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), p. 290.
9. Ibid., p. 289.
10. Wm. Paul Young, Lies We Believe About God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2017), p. 118.
11. Ibid., p. 119.
12. William P. Young, The Shack (Los Angeles, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.
13. Oprah Winfrey, “Super Soul Sunday,” youtube July 9, 2017.
14. William P. Young personal blog, “I Want to Be More Like Oprah.” (http://wmpaulyoung.com/i-want-to-be-more-like-oprah-watch-interview/).
15. It should be noted that although Oprah Winfrey is an exceedingly powerful and influential New Age leader, she still persists in identifying herself as a Christian. But her Christianity is a New Age Christianity that is not biblically based and is no Christianity at all.

Related Material:

William Paul Young’s Christless “Shack”

Other articles on The Shack by Warren B. Smith

“The Shack” and a Cat Named Judas

William Paul Young

By Warren B. Smith   

The name Judas has been described as the most hated name in all the world. Except for Shack author William Paul Young and maybe a few exceptional others, hardly anybody ever names anyone or anything Judas. It is one of those forbidden names like Jezebel or Lucifer that people would never dream of naming their child, their dog—or their cat. The very name denotes a sense of treachery and betrayal. After all, Judas was the one who openly betrayed Jesus and paved the way for His crucifixion. So what was William Paul Young thinking? Why does The Shack’s most endearing character—Missy—have a cat named Judas?1 And it seems especially odd to have a cat with that name in a family where the mother’s faith is described as “deep”2 and Missy is asking sincere questions about Jesus’ death.3

Heresy and Betrayal

Young contends that The Shack is much more than a fictional novel. He describes The Shack as “theology wrapped in story.” He writes:

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.4

This is said in spite of the fact that Young’s Shack characters and Shack “theology” frequently mock God and God’s Word with their cryptic humor and clever interplay. To be perfectly blunt, the name Judas fits right in with much of what William Paul Young is teaching. Like Judas, Young betrays Jesus Christ and biblical Christianity with his heretical Shack theology—a Shack theology where there is, among other things, no Devil and no Christ. Neither of them can be found anywhere in the whole Shack story. The Devil is never mentioned because Young would have us believe that evil and darkness “do not have any actual existence.”5 And The Shack’s “Jesus” is never identified as Christ. In fact, the name of Christ is nowhere to be found in the whole Shack story.6

One well-known pastor gave an impassioned sermon about thirteen heresies he found in The Shack.7 One heresy he did not mention is perhaps the most egregious of all—the panentheistic proposition that God is “in” all things. Incredibly, William Paul Young puts this foundational doctrine of the New Age/New Spirituality/New World Religion right in the mouth of The Shack’s “Jesus.” Young’s “Jesus” states—“God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.”8 But this is a false teaching. God is not “in” all things.9 For Young to put these heretical words in the mouth of The Shack’s “Jesus” is an absolute betrayal of the true Jesus Christ.

A Wonderful and Horrible Betrayal

Thus, as Young plays fast and loose with biblical Christianity, should we be surprised that he plays fast and loose with a name like Judas—a name that perfectly describes his role in today’s wayward church. What Young describes as “theology wrapped in story” is really biblical betrayal wrapped in a cunningly devised fable (2 Peter 1:16). The Shack is everything that the true Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for when he said to “be not deceived” (Luke 21:8). And that warning would seem to include authors like William Paul Young who think nothing at all about putting heretical New Age doctrines in Jesus’ mouth and naming a little girl’s cat Judas.

The Shack may seem “wonderful” to countless Shack readers, but in reality it is a betrayal of biblical Christianity and of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah—The Shack may seem “wonderful,” but it is actually “horrible,” and yet the people “love to have it so.”

A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? (Jeremiah 5:30-31)

To read other articles from The Shack series by Warren B. Smith, click here.

Endnotes

  1. William P. Young, The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity (Los Angeles, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 231.
  2. Ibid., p. 11.
  3. Ibid., p. 31.
  4. C. Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited: There is More Going On Here Than You Ever Dared to Dream (New York: Faith Words), p. xi.
  5. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 136.
  6. Warren B. Smith, “The Christless Shack” (article posted at warrenbsmith.com).
  7. Michael Youssef, The Shack Uncovered: 13 Heresies Explained (PDF: https://store.ltw.org/p-315-the-shack-uncovered-13-heresies-explained-pdf.aspx) (Leading the Way Ministries, 2017).
  8. William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p.112.
  9. Warren B. Smith, Be Still and Know That You are Not God: God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2015). This is a free online booklet that traces the history of the false teaching that God is “in” everything. It also offers a scriptural refutation of this heretical doctrine.

 

Rodney Howard Browne – The Man Who Laid Hands on President Trump

LTRP Note: Last week, it was announced in several news sources  that Rodney Howard Browne was one of a number of “evangelical” leaders who laid hands on and prayed for Donald Trump at the White House. Browne is the “father” of the Holy Laughter movement and said on his Facebook page after last week’s presidential prayer, “we are going to see another great spiritual awakening.” We find it sad and troubling that someone like Browne (not to mention some of the others present) is in a position to represent Christianity to both the president and the world. To understand some things about Rodney Howard Browne’s teachings and beliefs, please see the article below by Warren B. Smith. You can read about some of the other leaders present by using the search engine at www.deceptioninthechurch.com.

FALSE REVIVAL COMING?—Part 1: Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?

By Warren B. Smith

Editors Note: Today there is much talk in the church about revival. Some leaders, citing God as their authority, state they have been told that a great “outpouring” of God’s Spirit is about to occur. Other leaders are describing this imminent “move of God” as another “Great Awakening”—a “second Pentecost.” What is immediately troubling to us is that some of the church figures who are leading the charge for this coming “revival” are the very same ones who gave us the “holy” laughter “revival” back in the 1990s—a “move of God” that was dubiously dubbed “The Toronto Blessing.”

Back when this alleged “revival” was spreading throughout the church, author and former New Ager Warren B. Smith wrote an article that expressed his concerns about what was taking place. His 1994 piece was titled “Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?” and was featured in a discernment newsletter and later reprinted in other Christian magazines and journals. The article’s main focus was on South African evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne—the man who was responsible for bringing the “holy” laughter “revival” into the church. As countless people flocked to Toronto to get “hit” with “holy” laughter, Smith urged everyone to take a closer look at what was being called a “revival.”

With no apologies for “holy” laughter and the strange manifestations associated with his “holy” laughter “revival,” a somewhat reinvented Rodney Howard-Browne now pastors a 3,000-member church in Tampa, Florida. He is frequently found preaching on cable channels around the country. Howard-Browne also heads Revival Ministries International and presents “Global Awakening” conferences throughout the world. In the summer of 2014, he organized and headlined a much ballyhooed two-week “Celebrate America” event that was held in Washington D.C. In asking for financial support for the event on his revival.com website, Howard-Browne asked people to “invest in the Great Awakening” that he believes he has been ordained by God to lead. Some of those who spoke alongside him included Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Senate Chaplain Barry Black, Retired Colonel Oliver North, Lieutenant General William “Jerry” Boykin, author/columnist Dr. Ben Carson, and best-selling author Jonathan Cahn (author of The Harbinger).

Because Browne has placed himself at the forefront of the present-day push for revival in the church, we feel it important to revisit the concerns expressed by Warren B. Smith back in 1994.

Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?

I watched the video again. It was titled Signs and Wonders Camp Meeting 1994.1 Pastors of huge charismatic churches were stumbling around the church stage “drunk” with “holy” laughter. Wanting to testify to the fact that “holy” laughter had transformed their ministries and their lives, many of them were unable to speak when called on to do so. But their “drunken” condition became their testimony. Their halting speech was seen as “proof” of the “power of the spirit” that had come over them. The congregation roared in approval as pastor after pastor laughed uncontrollably then fell to the floor. Standing alongside the “drunken” pastors was evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne, the self described “Holy Ghost bartender” who was serving up this “new wine” of “holy” laughter. Many Christians believed that Howard-Browne was God’s appointed channel for imparting joy and revival to the end-times church. Other Christians came to see Howard-Browne as a false prophet who has inflicted great damage to the body of Christ.

Early last spring we received a fax from someone expressing concern about a new phenomenon called “holy” laughter. He said that a San Francisco Bay Area Vineyard Church was experiencing what was being described as “revival” and that the manifestation of “holy” laughter was being cited as one of the signs of this “revival.” Church members and visitors were reportedly breaking into fits of spontaneous and uncontrollable laughter during their nightly services.

Later when I visited the San Francisco Vineyard and talked with several members of the congregation, I was told how hundreds of people were getting “hit” with “revival”—how some people were getting so “soaked in the spirit” they would lose consciousness for up to several hours after falling to the ground with “holy” laughter. The Vineyard members described “holy” laughter unqualifiedly as “awesome” and definitely “the work of the Lord.”

I learned that their Vineyard pastors had recently flown to a Vineyard church in Toronto where God had reportedly “touched down” and where “revival” had “broken out.” The San Francisco pastors participating in the Toronto “revival” had then “brought it back” to San Francisco. It seemed that one of the characteristics of “holy” laughter is that it can be easily transferred from one person to another through the laying on of hands. Thus, the Toronto “revival” had now “spread” to San Francisco. Nightly meetings were being held at the San Francisco Vineyard to accommodate the streams of people wanting to get “touched” by this “move of God.”

Within weeks of my visit to Vineyard, I happened to catch a program on “holy” laughter on a local Christian TV station. The panel of guests was enthusiastically discussing “holy” laughter and endorsing it unquestioningly as a latter days “outpouring” of God’s Holy Spirit. Comparing “holy” laughter to the “work” of the Spirit at Pentecost, they were convinced that “holy” laughter was completely authentic. They equated “holy” laughter with the biblical notion of joy. As far as they were concerned, “holy” laughter was the “joy of the Lord.” Scriptural references to joy were cited; testimonies were given; songs were sung; and by the end of the program, I felt like I had just watched a one-hour infomercial on “holy” laughter.

Then, several weeks later, there was a program about “holy” laughter on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. While preacher Rodney Howard-Browne was giving what appeared to be a serious message, people in the audience were laughing wildly for no apparent reason. But Howard-Browne seemed oblivious to the disruption and kept on preaching. Then when the laughter was at its height, he began incorporating all that was happening into his sermon. He said that the “holy” laughter they were experiencing was a last days expression of God’s “Holy Spirit.” He also compared the “Spirit” that was manifesting to the Spirit at Pentecost. He reminded his audience how those gathered in the upper room had been viewed by others as being “drunk” on alcohol when in fact they were “drunk” in the Spirit.

Howard-Browne’s audience continued to laugh hilariously as he spoke of a present-day “revival” and how “holy” laughter was ushering in this “revival.” At the end of the service, Howard-Browne shuffled around the huge assembly hall, now breaking into long fits of laughter himself. As he walked around, talking and laughing and speaking in tongues, he began to lay hands on people. After he said “be filled” and repeated the phrase “from the top of your head to the tips of your toes,” people fell to the ground in hysterical laughter. As the program ended, the evangelist continued to weave his way amongst the fallen bodies, many of them still convulsed in laughter.

Also during this time, I was sent a copy of a flyer saying that Charles and Frances Hunter, the authors of a new book titled Holy Laughter, were coming to Portland, Maine. The flyer said, “God is filling the church with holy laughter! Come and receive a baptism of joy! You will never be the same! Don’t miss this unforgettable move of the Holy Spirit!” Another book on “holy” laughter titled Fresh Anointing: Another Great Awakening, was also brought to my attention at this time. In it, author Mona Johnian describes the “holy” laughter “revival” that erupted in her Boston church after she and her husband attended a meeting led by Rodney Howard-Browne.

In the midst of this same two-month period, there was yet another program on “holy” laughter. I was watching a locally televised church service, and the guest preacher was Richard Roberts, the president of Oral Roberts University and son of Oral Roberts. His whole sermon was on “holy” laughter and how it had changed his life and ministry. He described how “revival” had come to Oral Roberts University. Roberts explained how he had canceled classes for two days so that his four thousand students could personally experience the “joy of the Lord” and receive the “gift” of “holy” laughter. I was not surprised to learn that the “revival” Roberts was describing had come through the person of Rodney Howard-Browne.

And then to round out my summer crash course on the subject of “holy” laughter, the August issue of Charisma magazine had Rodney Howard-Browne on its cover. He was clearly the man of the hour. The cover story on this by now wildly popular “Holy Ghost bartender” was titled “Praise the Lord and Pass the New Wine.” The article was yet one more endorsement of Howard-Browne and “holy” laughter. And what I was starting to realize was that all of the “holy” laughter I had recently encountered—the TV programs, the books, the various “anointings, and “revivals” could all be traced back to him: Toronto Vineyard, San Francisco Vineyard, the Hunters, Mona Johnian, Richard Roberts, and all the rest. The Charisma article described Rodney Howard-Browne as the “spiritual conduit” for “holy” laughter. But I wanted to know how Rodney Howard-Browne got his “anointing?”

The Charisma article stated that in South Africa, in the summer of 1979, Howard-Browne “spent hours praying for a deeper experience with God.” In the midst of his prayers, he is quoted as having told God, “Either you come down here and touch me, or I will come up there and touch you.” Charisma said that suddenly in the midst of that prayer Howard-Browne’s “whole body felt like it was on fire. He began to laugh uncontrollably. Then he wept and began to speak in tongues.” In Howard-Browne’s book The Touch of God, Charisma quotes him as saying, “I was plugged into heaven’s electric supply, and since then my desire has been to go and plug other people in.”

And certainly one of the most outstanding characteristics of Howard-Browne’s “anointing” and the whole “laughing revival” is that it is so immediately transferable from person to person. Those “anointed” by Howard-Browne can now “anoint” others. And that is what’s happening. The “Spirit” that visited Howard-Browne has exponentially multiplied as it has been passed on from person to person around the world. A video advertised in that same August issue of Charisma documents the spread of Howard-Browne’s “holy” laughter. It is titled The Laugh that was Heard ‘round the World (see a video example below).

The “holy” laughter “revival” started by Howard-Browne is spreading like wildfire around the world. A recent conference sponsored by Toronto Vineyard drew 2300 pastors from countries as far away as Cambodia. They had all come to observe the “laughing revival” that was now being called “The Toronto Blessing.” Even skeptical pastors were getting “hit” with the “Spirit” and then taking that “Spirit” back to their churches and towns.

Howard-Browne’s “laughing revival” has now officially moved into the Christian mainstream with a recent endorsement from Pat Robertson on his popular 700 Club. On October 27, 1994, Robertson said this about holy laughter:

[W]hat this says to me is revival is taking place in the world in a mass wave . . . and we look to the coming of the Lord. I think this is a very encouraging sign in the middle of all this trouble and all these wars and all this confusion. God is saying I’m on the throne and I’m going to touch multiplied millions. It’s wonderful. I applaud it.

But what does the Bible say about laughter?

Last summer, after watching Rodney Howard-Browne on TBN, I consulted my concordance to see if there was any biblical precedent for “holy” laughter. Surprisingly, I found only 40 references to laughter in the Bible; 34 of them were in the Old Testament, while only six were in the New Testament. Of those 40 references, 22 of them referred to scornful laughter, as in Nehemiah 2:19 when Nehemiah said, “they laughed us to scorn.” Of the 18 remaining references to laughter, seven of them referred exclusively to Abraham and Sarah’s initial disbelief and ultimate astonishment that God would give them a child in their old age. Barely into my study on laughter, I was already down to my last 11 references.

In Job 8:21, Bildad, one of Job’s false comforters, wrongly advised Job that if he were in right standing with God he would be prosperous and full of laughter. The Psalmist in Psalm 126:2 recorded that when the captivity of Zion was over, “then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with singing.” Proverbs 29:9 says, “if a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.”

With only eight remaining references, I had seen nothing in the Bible up to this point that suggested anything even resembling “holy” laughter. In Ecclesiastes 2:2, Solomon says, “I said of laughter, it is mad.” Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 7:3-4 says, “sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.” Ecclesiastes 7:6 says, “for as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool: this also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 10:19 says that “a feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry.”

Interestingly the Bible’s last three references to laughter—the only three references to authentic laughter in the New Testament—warn against laughter. These three references actually seemed to underline Solomon’s contention in Ecclesiastes that “sorrow is better that laughter” and that now is a time to weep and not to laugh. In Luke 6:21, Jesus says, “blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.” In Luke 6:25, Jesus says, “woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.” James 4:9 tells us not to laugh but to “be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.”

I had searched the Scriptures to find any biblical precedent for “holy” laughter, and there was none. To my amazement, I had discovered surprisingly few references in the Bible to any kind of laughter. Did this mean that God doesn’t have a sense of humor or that people in the Bible never laughed? No. It just meant that laughter apparently was not something God chose to emphasize very much. And certainly Jesus’ last words on laughter—”woe unto you who laugh now!”—were not ones that would seem to give any encouragement to a “laughing revival.”

The Lord says, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18).

14 Concerns About “Holy” Laughter and the “Laughing Revival”

(1) There is no biblical precedent for “holy” laughter.

Laughter is rarely mentioned in the Bible. Yet, when it is, the Bible seems to make more of a case for holy sorrow than for “holy” laughter. Scripture supports Solomon’s contention that “sorrow is better than laughter.” It does not support the present “laughing revival.”

(2) Substituting the word joy for laughter is a non sequitur. It is inaccurate and misleading.

There is no scriptural authority for equating biblical references to joy with the involuntary manifestations of “holy” laughter. Just because there are insufficient Bible texts to make the case for “holy” laughter, it does not follow that you can simply redefine the word laughter by substituting the word joy.

(3) “Holy” laughter advocates rarely, if ever, discuss the need to test the spirits.

The Bible warns us that not every supernatural manifestation is necessarily from God. 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Charles and Francis Hunter write in their book Holy Laughter, “Once you begin to walk in the supernatural you really have to be ready for anything and everything and never question the way God does it!”

(4) “Holy” laughter advocates rarely, if ever, talk about the Spirit’s express warning that in the latter times some people will be supernaturally seduced by deceptive evil spirits into following them and not the one true God.

1 Timothy 4:1 warns, “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.”

(5) “Holy” laughter advocates rarely, if ever, talk about the Bible’s warnings of false prophets who come in the name of Jesus but bring with them “another spirit.”

2 Corinthians 11:4 says, “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”

(6) Many laughter advocates condescendingly discourage and even openly intimidate sincere Christians who question the “laughing revival.”

According to the August 1994 Charisma article, Rodney Howard-Browne “disparages” people who “try to apply theological tests” to what he does. The Hunters’ book Holy Laughter refers to skeptics as God’s “frozen chosen.” Mona Johnian writes, “skeptics, hesitators and procrastinators do not get anointed.” She warns that “any person or church that wavered could be eliminated.”

(7) Rodney Howard-Browne’s prayer to God just prior to his “anointing” (“either You come down here and touch me or I’ll come up there and touch You”) is unscriptural.

Howard-Browne’s prayer was, in essence, “my will be done.” It was not “thy will be done” as taught by Jesus in Scripture. Why should we automatically assume it was God who answered his prayer?

(8) “Holy” laughter advocates, in talking about “signs and wonders,” rarely, if ever, mention the Bible’s many warnings about deceptive signs and wonders.

In Matthew 16:4 Jesus warns, “a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.” In Matthew 24:24, Jesus says, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” In 2 Thessalonians 2:9, the apostle Paul warns of the coming Antichrist, “even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.”

(9) “Holy” laughter advocates seem to lay hands on almost everybody. The Bible specifically warns against this.

The eighth chapter of Acts describes how the disciples would not lay hands on Simon, a baptized believer, even though he desperately wanted the gift of the Holy Ghost, because his heart was “not right in the sight of God.” 1 Timothy 5:22 warns us to “lay hands suddenly on no man.” Yet “holy” laughter is passed on from person to person without so much as a second thought.

(10) “Holy” laughter advocates blatantly disregard the biblical admonition that things be done decently and in order.

1 Corinthians 14:40 says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Mona Johnian in her book Fresh Anointing says, “decently and in order! We must do things decently and in order. The Bible itself commands it, cry those who are frightened by that which is beyond traditional order.”3 She advises her readers to “break with tradition.”4

(11) The chaos and confusion that usually characterizes the “laughing revival” contradicts the Bible’s description of the Person of God.

1 Corinthians 14:33 states, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

(12) Laughter advocates rarely if ever, discuss the well-documented demonic deceptions that have manifested in past revivals.

To combat the deception that arose during the Welsh revival at the turn of this century, authors Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts wrote War on the Saints: a disclosure of the deceptive strategies used by evil spirits against God’s people. Both were very involved with the revival and were extremely concerned about the demonic manifestations that began to dominate their meetings. The foreword to War on the Saints warns of “the grave dangers that beset the path of uninformed enthusiasm.”

(13) A number of Christians have experienced the equivalent of “holy” laughter when they were in the New Age.

Indian Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was affectionately known by his followers as the “divine drunkard” because he was reputed to have drunk so deeply from the well of the “Divine.” As a former follower of Rajneesh, I met hundreds of Sannyasins who had flown to India “to drink” from “Bhagwan’s wine.” When followers were physically touched by Rajneesh, or even if they were merely in his presence, they would often experience feelings of great exhilaration and joy. Disciples of Swami Baba Muktananda would often manifest uncontrollable laughter after receiving Shaktipat (physical contact) from the guru.

(14) The “laughing revival” could one day merge with what the New Age calls the coming day of “Planetary Pentecost.”

Barbara Marx Hubbard (revered New Age leader and a 1984 Democratic nominee for the Vice Presidency of the United States) writes in her book, Teachings from the Inner Christ, how the human race will soon experience a day of “Planetary Pentecost.” Hubbard, claiming to be in contact with “Christ,” writes, “the Planetary Smile is another name for the Planetary Pentecost. When enough of us share a common thought of our oneness with God, Spirit will be poured out on all flesh paying attention.”5 In her book The Revelation, Hubbard says that “Christ” (in describing the Planetary Smile) said,

An uncontrollable joy will ripple through the thinking layer of the Earth. The co-creative systems, which are lying psychologically dormant in humanity will be activated. From within, all sensitive persons will feel the joy of the force, flooding their systems with love and attraction . . . as this joy flashes through the nervous systems of the most sensitive peoples on Earth, it will create a psycho magnetic field of empathy, which will align the next wave of people in synchrony, everywhere on Earth. This massive, sudden empathic alignment will cause a shift in the consciousness of Earth. 6

Writing in Happy Birth Day Planet Earth, Hubbard repeats what she heard from “Christ.” He said:

As the planetary smile ripples through the nervous systems of Earth, and the instant of co-operation begins, and empathy floods the feelings of the whole body of Earth, separation is overcome, and I appear to all of you at once.7

The controversy over “holy” laughter is splitting congregations and causing deep divisions in the body of Christ. And while many people have already taken sides, there are many more who are still trying to figure out just what is going on. Is this really a move of God, or is this the kind of deception the Bible warns about in Matthew 24, 1 Timothy 4:1, and in the second chapter of Thessalonians?

Unity is indeed the heartfelt desire of every sincere Christian (Psalm 133:1). But the Bible warns of massive deception that will come at the end and in Christ’s name. Before the Church—in the name of unity—free falls into a worldwide “laughing revival,” we had better be sure what it is we are uniting with.

In reflecting on “holy” laughter during these very troubled times, I recalled a music special I had seen on television a number of years ago. In the midst of an otherwise polite Hollywood type crowd, a male vocalist sang straight faced and sober into the teeth of their celebration. His words were electric and piercing, and they seemed to hang in the air. He sang, “You’re laughing now, but you should be praying. You’re in the midnight hour of your life.”

Some Examples of “Holy” Laughter in Other Religions

1) Kundalini Energy is typically described as a powerful energy source lying dormant in the form of a coiled serpent at the base of the human spine. When freed, it reputedly has the capacity to effect great physical healings. Christina and Stanislov Grof, New Age authors of the book The Stormy Search for the Self, describe how the awakening of Kundalini energy can be triggered by an advanced spiritual teacher or guru. And how the awakening can bring up memories of past psychological traumas. The Grofs state that:

Individuals involved in this process might find it difficult to control their behavior; during power rushes of Kundalini energy, they often emit various involuntary sounds, and their bodies move in strange and unexpected patterns. Among the most common manifestations . . . are unmotivated and unnatural laughter or crying, talking tongues . . . and imitating a variety of animal sounds and movements.8

The Grofs also state that “careful study of the manifestations of Kundalini awakening confirm that this process, although sometimes very intense and shattering, is essentially healing.

A. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the former Oregon guru, tells one of his followers in his book Dance Your Way To God:

Just be joyful . . . God is not serious . . . this world cannot fit with a theological God . . . so let this be your constant reminder—that you have to dance your way to God, to laugh your way to God.9

Often referred to as being “drunk on the divine,” Rajneesh encouraged his followers to come and “drink” from him. Bhagwan’s spiritual “wine” was often passed along with a single touch to the head. Many of his Sannyasins would fall to the floor in ecstasy after their encounters with Rajneesh.

B. Ramakrishna, an Indian saint, “daily went into ‘samahdi,’ a trance in which one involuntarily falls down unconscious and enters a rapturous state of super-conscious bliss (ananda), complete with beautiful visions and often involving astral projection. These states could last anywhere from a few minutes to several days and were often accompanied by uncontrollable laughter or weeping. He could send others into this state with a single touch to the head or chest.”10

C. Swami Baba Muktananda would transfer what was called “guru’s grace” to his followers through Shaktipat (physical touch). This “grace” triggered the gradual awakening of the Kundalini, which in turn produced various physical and emotional manifestations. Manifestations included uncontrollable laughing, roaring, barking, hissing, crying, shaking, etc. Some devotees became mute or unconscious. Many felt themselves being infused with feelings of great joy and peace and love. At other times, the “fire” of Kundalini was so overwhelming they would find themselves involuntarily hyperventilating to cool themselves down.11

2) African Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari—The Grofs, in their book The Stormy Search for the Self, also cite an interesting parallel between the Kundalini awakening and the trance dance of the African Kung bushmen. During rituals, the bushmen “enter a profound altered state of consciousness associated with the release of powerful emotions such as anger, anxiety, and fear. They are often unable to maintain an upright position and are overcome by violent shaking. Following these dramatic experiences, they typically enter a state of ecstatic rapture. According to the bushmen tradition, the dance releases from the base of the spine a cosmic healing force called ntum or ‘medicine.’ This is then passed by direct physical contact from one person to another.”12

3) Qigong (ancient Chinese practice)—Yan Xin, a Chinese Qigong master known to most of the over one billion people in China, gave a talk in San Francisco in 1991. Seventeen hundred devotees, most of them Chinese, showed up at the Masonic Auditorium to listen to Yan. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that “minutes into his talk, several began experiencing what Yan Xin calls spontaneous movements.” The Chronicle reporter said that “before long, the scene resembled a Pentecostal prayer meeting with many people waving their arms and making unintelligible sounds.” Yan told his audience, “Those who are sensitive might start having some strong physical sensations—or start laughing or crying. Don’t worry. This is quite normal.” The article said that “since 1985, when a Qigong revival started sweeping China, 50 to 60 million Chinese have gone to see Yan.”13

4) Subud—According to The Encyclopedia of American Religions, the central element of the Subud faith is the practice of “latihan.” Latihan is the way one surrenders to the power of God. It is a group process. The Encyclopedia says:

The latihan proper is a time of moving the consciousness beyond mind and desire and allowing the power to enter and do its work . . . often accompanying the spontaneous period are various body movements and vocal manifestations—cries, moans, laughter and singing. These occur in the voluntary surrender of the self to the power. During this time, people report sensations of love and freedom and often, healings. All reach a higher level of consciousness.14

To order copies of FALSE REVIVAL COMING?—Part 1: Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion?,” click here

Endnotes:

  1. You can watch this video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jduW9apCP1c.
  2. Charles and Frances Hunter, Holy Laughter, p. 65.
  3. Mona Johnian, Fresh Anointing, p. 35
  4. Ibid., p. 45.
  5. Barbara Marx Hubbard, Teachings from the Inner Christ, p. 79.
  6. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation, pp. 234-235.
  7. Barbara Marx Hubbard, Happy Birth Day Planet Earth, pp. 10-11.

Shack Author Says “ I Want to Be More Like Oprah”

By Warren B. Smith

Oprah Winfrey interviewed Shack author William Paul Young on July 9, 2017 on her Super Soul Sunday television program that was broadcast on her OWN network. Young and Oprah appeared to be like two peas in a New Age pod as they talked of child abuse, traded spiritual quips, and seemed to continually marvel at the other’s brilliant insights. At one point midway in their conversation, Young answered his own rhetorical question regarding where Jesus dwells—he stated that “Jesus dwells in our hearts.” His quick, authoritative response was consistent not only with Oprah’s longstanding New Age beliefs but also with The Shack’s “Jesus” who presented this same New Age heresy when he stated that God “dwells in, around, and through all things.” This false teaching is the foundational teaching of the New Age/New Spirituality/New World Religion. The Bible is very clear that God is not “in” everyone and everything.

As the show ended, Young leaned towards the world’s most influential New Age leader and exclaimed—“I so appreciate what you do! My goodness!” Later, in his personal blog, Young proudly titled his observations about the interview by writing—“I Want to Be More Like Oprah.” With Oprah  having done as much as any person in modern times to publicly push New Age occultism, Young’s gushing adulation of the New Age leader was extremely telling. While allegedly writing The Shack to teach his children what he believes and how he “thinks outside the box,” his interview with Oprah makes it very clear. Young doesn’t just think outside the box, he thinks outside the Bible. Wm. Paul Young—like Oprah Winfrey—is a proponent of a New Age “Christianity” that is not Christianity at all.

Related Articles and Research
Other Important Articles by Warren B. Smith on The Shack

RNS Interview Reveals The Message Author Eugene Peterson Changes Mind About “Gay” Issues/Marriage

LTRP Note: The following news story from Religion News Service is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the source or the content. The Message “Bible” has had a huge impact on Christianity. Famous pastors, like Rick Warren, have quoted from it extensively, which has played a huge role in developing the present-day nearly apostate church. It’s too bad more Christians didn’t take heed to some of the warnings about Eugene Peterson and The Message over the past several years (see article links below).

Eugene Peterson – Photo: Creative Commons

“Eugene Peterson on changing his mind about same-sex issues and marriage”

By Jonathan Merritt
Religion News Service

When a journalist has a chance to interview a paragon of the Christian faith like Eugene Peterson, there’s a lot of pressure to pick the perfect questions. I’d asked him about why he was leaving the public eye and if he was afraid of death. I’d asked him about Donald Trump and the state of American Christianity. But there was one more topic I wanted to cover: same-sex relationships and marriage.

It’s one of the hottest topics in the church today, and given Peterson’s vast influence among both pastors and laypeople, I knew his opinion would impact the conversation. Though he has had a long career, I couldn’t find his position on the matter either online or in print. I did discover that “The Message,” Peterson’s popular paraphrase of the Bible, doesn’t use the word “homosexual” and “homosexuality” in key texts. Click here to continue reading.

Articles Warning About Eugene Peterson and The Message:
The New Age Implications of The Message “Bible’s” “As Above, So Below”

BOOKLET: The Message “Bible”— A Breach of Truth

Southern Baptist Convention Rejects Gender-Neutral NIV Bible But Embraces The Message, Renovare Bible, and Contemplative Books

WARNING: Modern-Day “Bible” Versions Used to Promote Liberal Agenda

Message Bible for Little Kids Instructs on Contemplative Meditation

RICK WARREN RETAINS UNBIBLICAL POSITION IN NEW 2012 EDITION OF THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE

NEW BOOKLET: God’s Help and Comfort Through It All

NEW BOOKLET: God’s Help and Comfort Through It All by Warren B. Smith 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 God’s Help and Comfort Through It All, click here.

God’s Help and Comfort Through It All

By Warren B. Smith

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. (Isaiah 50:7)

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:13)

Henry Francis Lyte completed the lyrics of his hymn Abide With Me shortly before his passing in 1847. Aware that death was near, he directed his hymn to God who he described as the “Help of the helpless.”

Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me!

The 1719 hymn O God, Our Help in Ages Past by Isaac Watts and William Croft, reminds us that God has been our help in the past and will continue to be our hope in the years to come:

O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come; Be Thou our guide while life shall last, And our eternal home.

The following Scriptures refer directly to the help and comfort God brings to those who put their faith and trust in Him:

God’s Help

God is Our Helper
Behold, God is mine helper. (Psalm 54:4)

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. (Hebrews 13:6)

God Helps Us
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (Isaiah 41:10)

For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. (Isaiah 50:7)

God is Our Help and Our Shield
Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. (Psalm 28:7)

God is Our Help and Our Deliverer
But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God. (Psalm 40:17)

But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying. (Psalm 70:5)

God Helps Deliver Us From the Wicked
And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him. (Psalm 37:40)

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. (Psalm 94:16-17)

We Pray to God for Help
Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. (Psalm 108:12)

Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy: That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it. (Psalm 109:26-27)

Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. (Psalm 12:1)

O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help. (Psalm 71:12)

Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation. (Psalm 38:21-22)

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. (Psalm 40:13)

Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men. For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD. They run and prepare themselves without my fault: awake to help me, and behold. (Psalm 59:2-4)

God is Our Help in Times of Trouble
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. (Psalm 60:11)

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. (Psalm 116:5-6)

We Rejoice in God’s Help
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. (Psalm 63:7)

God Helps With Our Infirmities
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26)

Our Help is in the Name of the Lord
Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:6-8)

God’s Comfort

God is the God of All Comfort
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3)

God Comforts His People
I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass. (Isaiah 51:12)

Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. (Isaiah 49:13)

God’s Holy Spirit is Our Comforter
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

God’s Holy Spirit Abides with Believers Forever
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:16-17)

God Comforts with His Word
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

God Comforts Those Who Are Cast Down
Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus. (2 Corinthians 7:6)

God Comforts in Our Tribulation
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. (2 Corinthians 1:4)

God Comforts in Times of Despair
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

God Comforts on Every Side
Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee! Thou, which hast showed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side. (Psalm 71:19-21)

God Comforts Those Who Mourn
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound . . . to comfort all that mourn. (Isaiah 61:1-2)

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

God’s Comfort Can be Maternal
For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 66:12-13)

God Comforts us With the Promise of His Return
. . . we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

Forty Helpful and Comforting Verses

The Lord is Around His People
As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever. (Psalm 25:2)

He Goes Before Us
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

He Never Leaves Us or Forsakes Us
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5)

Nothing Can Separate Us From the Love of God
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

He Has Given Us His Word
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

His Word is Quick and Powerful
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

His Word Never Passes Away
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)

He Gives Us Wisdom
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

He Will Guide Us Continually
And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. (Isaiah 58:11)

He Will Direct Our Paths
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

He Supplies all our Needs
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

The Lord’s Compassion Never Fails
It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

He Gives Strength to the Weary
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

He Gives Us His Peace
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

He Keeps Us in His Peace
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3)

His Peace Keeps our Hearts and Minds
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

He is Our Refuge
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9)

He Delivers Us From Affliction
Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. (Psalm 34:19)

He Gives Us Rest
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

He Perfects His Strength in Our Weakness
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

We Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Us
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)

He Works All Things For Good For Those Who Love Him
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

He is Able to Keep Us From Falling
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. (Jude 1:24)

He Protects Us
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (Isaiah 43:2)

He Lifts Up a Standard Against the Enemy
When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah 59:19)

No Weapon Shall Prosper Against Us
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper. (Isaiah 54:17)

He Gives Us the Victory Through Jesus Christ
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

He is Faithful to Complete His Work in Us
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

He is Our Guide Unto Death
For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death. (Psalm 48:14)

He Gives Us Eternal Life
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Eternal Life is a Gift from God
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

God Sent His Son to be the Propitiation for Our Sins
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

If We Confess Our Sins He Forgives Us
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Whoever Calls Upon the Lord’s Name Shall be Saved
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

By Grace We Are Saved Through Faith
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

He Has Prepared a Place for Us
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)

He Will Raise Us Up
Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. (2 Corinthians 4:14)

His Glory Will be Revealed in Us
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

He Will Wipe Away All Tears
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

What God Has Prepared For Those Who Love Him
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Our Helper and Our Comforter

Lines from the following two hymns echo what the Bible makes very clear. God is our rock, our hiding place, our refuge and defense—our helper ever near. He is our shelter in the time of storm, our wonderful Savior and comfort sweet. In good times and in bad, He is our Helper and our Comforter through it all.

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide, A Shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide, A Shelter in the time of storm.

A shade by day, defense by night, A Shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes afright, A Shelter in the time of storm.

The raging storms may round us beat, A Shelter in the time of storm;
We’ll never leave our safe Retreat, A Shelter in the time of storm.

O Rock divine, O Refuge dear, A Shelter in the time of storm;
Be thou our helper ever near, A Shelter in the time of storm.

 Shelter in the Time of Storm
Vernon J. Charlesworth (1878)

There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where we our Savior meet,
Near to the heart of God.

Near to the Heart of God
Cleland B. McAfee (1903)

To order copies of God’s Help and Comfort Through It All, click here.


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