The Truth Versus Lies

The Truth Versus Lies

or, The Bible and Paul Young

By Dr. James De Young

The genie is out of the bottle; the cat is out of the bag; the proof is in the pudding; etc.

All of the foregoing sayings are appropriate, I believe, for what has transpired. Thursday, March 9, 2017, will a be a significant day in Christian publishing . For on this day the first reviews of Paul Young’s newest and seventh book, Lies We Believe about God, have appeared and they reveal that Young’s book is a bombshell. Reading my own copy confirms that Lies is a bombshell for showing what Paul Young really, truly believes.

For thirteen years I and others have been saying that Paul Young embraces the heresy of universal reconciliation, that it is embedded in his novel and now in his movie. I was often rebuffed, even by Paul himself. Now the truth comes out. By Paul’s writing Lies, he shows that I was correct all along and he was lying.

Note that “lies” is his chosen word. He finds it comfortable to use the word abundantly in his novel, Crossroads (“lies” occurs 8x), to put down evangelical truth. Now he puts the word in a title of a book that opposes 28 doctrines that Christians have historically believed (although many of these are “strawmen”—beliefs Christians supposedly believe). Continue reading

The Number in Heaven vs. The Number in Hell

The Sledgehammer of Universalism: “Few will be in Heaven but Billions Will Be in Hell”

By Dr. James De Young, Senior Professor, Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon

One of the great, emotional appeals that those who embrace universal reconciliation, and universalism in general, make is to appeal to reason and emotion. They ask: How can a good God bring only a relatively few into heaven and doom all the vast majority of mankind to an everlasting place of torment, i.e., to hell?

Universalists such as Talbott, McLaren, Bell, and most recently, Paul Young in his several novels (The Shack, Crossroads, and Eve) and in his movie make this pitch. It is the pitch of UR throughout its history. And a sales pitch it is. For instead of selling their universalism by sustained, convincing arguments from the Bible (which the church has adequately refuted) and from church history (which the church has also refuted) they make a highly emotional appeal.

Paul Young is typical here, but untypical as to the extent to which he has gone to make this appeal. His language is quite inflammatory. Note his words from what he wrote in 2004 when he converted to UR. Several (at least five) times Young noted the contrast between billions in hell and a few in heaven (in “Universal Reconciliation,” pp. 22-25). Here are a couple examples. Continue reading

Warning To Pastors Re. Young’s Universalism

A Warning to Pastors about Their Uninformed Support of Young and The Shack

By Dr. James De Young, senior professor, Western Seminary, Portland, Or.

Recently I read a posting by a Southern Baptist leader from Oklahoma, Rev. Wade Burleson, who endorses Paul Young’s newest book, Lies We Believe about God. Burleson claims that Paul Young, the author of The Shack, expresses just another, optional viewpoint about the atonement. He cited Al Mohler and Paul Young as both believing in the atonement but differing only on the issue of its extent. Mohler, following Calvin, believes that the atonement, the sacrifice of Christ for sin on the cross, was limited to providing atonement for believers only. Young believes it is for all human beings. At least this is how Paul Young has explained it to pastor Burleson.

Recently, John MacMurray, a supporter of Paul Young (note that he is named on the last page of the book, Lies), argued similarly and criticizes those who fault Young’s theology.

Now my discussion is not just about what Burleson believes. For I suspect that many pastors are in the same position that Burleson is. They are influenced by their personal experience with Paul Young and give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to understanding his theology. They fail to ask the right questions. But with his most recent publication Young has erased all doubt as to what he believes and how far apart he and Mohler truly are. For Burleson and other pastors to fail to recall their evangelical theology and church history is an inexcusable failure. They are uninformed how universal reconciliation has brought havoc to the church. Continue reading

Universalism: Its Distortions and Dangers

There has been in recent years a resurgence of universalism as a theological option among Christians. Perhaps it is the pluralism of our day, the rise of postmodernism with its debunking of truth, the speed of communication via the internet, the challenges of living Christianly in an increasingly polarized world, and general biblical illiteracy in the West that have contributed to the new appeal of universalism.

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Review of Crossroads, a novel by Wm. Paul Young


During the last ten years Paul Young has written a total of 6 books (2 more novels with also a 365 day daily devotional connected with each of the 3 novels), and now, just released, the book, Lies We Believe about God. What I anticipated, that this would be a real eye opener—an “in your face” rewrite of biblical truth along the lines of universal reconciliation (UR), is exactly this. This book projects 28 lies that evangelical Christians believe and seeks to overturn every one. In chapter 13, the lie, “You need to get saved,” is addressed, and Young confesses that he believes in “universal reconciliation.” Everyone is already saved.  My review of Lies will be forthcoming; look for it on my web site where this review is.

Young’s other two novels (Crossroads, 2012, and Eve, 2015) are filled, like The Shack, with put downs or questioning of the same biblical core doctrines about the nature of God, the judgment of God, the meaning of the death of Christ and penal substitution, the Trinity in other forms, the order and causes of the Fall, what it means to be in fellowship with God, and many more.

Common traits to all 3 novels.

There are several common traits belonging to all 3 novels. All three involve the main character experiencing a dream brought on by a severe accident, medical emergency, or severe crisis (in the order of The Shack, Crossroads, and Eve). All experience an other-world journey of sorts in which the person (man, man, and woman) encounters the Trinity. In the 1st novel, the Father is portrayed or imaged as both a Black woman and an old Indian man; the Son is portrayed by a Jewish carpenter; and the Holy Spirit by a South Asian woman named Sarayu.

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Review of Eve, a novel by Wm. Paul Young

Eve is a novel by Wm. P. Young, but becomes a distorted rewriting of the Bible, of Genesis 1-3. It perverts the account of the creation, the making of Adam and Eve, the serpent, and the Fall. It treats mythology as authoritative as the Bible.


The publication of Young’s second (Crossroads) and third (Eve) novels has great significance for several reasons.

(1) It shows Young’s desire to continue to write in the same style of fiction—theological fiction that uses fiction in the service of a particular theology. (2) It shows his desire to continue to propagate his doctrinal errors, in general stemming from his conversion to UR. (3) It vindicates the critique of his first novel, The Shack, that the claim that it centers on the heresy of UR, is basically correct and justified. He continues to propagate this heresy in his newer novels.

Now that Paul Young has released (March, 2017) his newest book, Lies We Believe about God, there can be no mistake about what he believes and thinks, and why he writes novels. He lists 28 lies that he believes that we evangelical Christians believe. Then he renounces them. A core one (ch. 13) is “You need to get saved.” This is a lie, according to Young, because all people are already saved. Then he states that he believes in “universal salvation” (p. 118). More than ever before any reader should be able to pick up the universalism in all of his novels.

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Comparison of Teachings

“I am love” (101); God cannot act apart from love (102); love is holy (107) “There is one God whose nature is love” (Creed, 1899) God is love (1 Jn. 4:9, 16), light (1 Jn. 1:5), holy (3:25), righteous, (2 Thess. 1:6-7)
God does not punish sin; he cures it; sin is its own punishment (120) There is no eternal punishment for sin. The fires of hell are curative and purgatorial. “Righteous judgment of God” (Rom 1:32); judgment of God is against sin (2:2,3,5-6,9); God will judge secrets by Jesus Christ (v.16; 3:6; etc.)
God “redeems” the final outcome (127) There is no everlasting hell; all repent and go to heaven. There are two ways, one leading to everlasting punishment, the other to everlasting life (Matt. 7:13ff.;25:46; Luke 16:19ff; Jn. 3:16-19).
“Judgment is not about destruction, but about setting things right” (169). There is no final judgment; but “a setting of all things right” (apokatastasis, Origen, 3rd cent.=1st prominent Christian universalist). “Jesus will take vengeance and punish with everlasting destruction” (2 Thess. 1:8-9)
There is no mention of the Devil in the description of the Fall (134-137), of his present work, or future destiny. There is no Devil confirmed in his evil choice but he will repent and go from hell to heaven. The Devil was very real to Jesus as the one who sins from the beginning, who tempted him, is the god of this world, for whom hell was prepared (Matt. 4:1ff., 25:41; 2 Cor. 4:4)
At the cross “mercy triumphs over justice because of the cross”; justice was not exercised(164-165); justice flows from love. Justice is “born of love and limited by love” (decree of 1878). The death of Christ enabled God to be just (Rom. 3:25); “judgment is without mercy to the one who shows no mercy (he shows partiality); mercy triumphs over judgment” (Jam. 2:13)
Jesus is a wonderful companion in a “circle of relationship” devoid of authority, power, prominence of anyone “filling roles is the opposite of relationships” (167). Jesus is progressively humanized. To be a Christian is to confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Rom. 10:9-10; Col. 2:6; etc.) and “head of the church” (Col. 2:19; Eph. 4:15-16)
The whole Trinity became  incarnate and was crucified (99). UR progressively blurs the distinctions within the Trinity (creeds of 1878, 1898). The Father sent the Son (1 Jn. 4:9-10, 14) to be the Savior; the Father “smote him,” “laid on him our iniquity,” “was pleased to bruise him” (Isa. 53:4-10)
God is “reconciled to the whole world” even to those who do not believe (192) The creeds of 1878 and 1899 never mention “faith” or believing. People “are saved by grace through faith”; “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 11:6; 3:12; Rom. 10:9-10).
Love does not force its will; “relationships are marked by submission” (145) God’s will to save all cannot be thwarted; all will choose to respond. “Whosoever will shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13; cf. John 3:16ff.).
“love burns away every vestige of corruption” (227) The fires of hell are corrective, disciplinary, purgatorial, not punitive. Hell is punishment and torment (Matt. 25:41; Luke 16:24-25, 28).
All people are children of God and loved equally by him (155-156) All are God’s children and loved by him. While all are the “offspring of God” only those who believe in Christ are forgiven and receive eternal life (Acts 17:22-34; Jn. 1:12; 3:16ff; 11:25; cf. 1 John 5:11-12).
There will be a new revolution of “love and kindness” when all will confess Jesus is Lord (248). In the end, all in hell repent and go to heaven, and love finally triumphs over all. The enemies of Christ become his conquered footstool (Ps. 110:1; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Heb. 1:3, 13; Rev. chs. 19-22); God the Judge is able to “save and destroy” (Jam. 4:12; cf. 2 Thess. 1:5ff.). The day of the Lord is judgment (1 Thess. 5).
Institutions are diabolical schemes; Jesus “never has, never will” create institutions including the church, government, marriage (178) UR opposes evangelical churches and revival movements. Jesus began the church (Matt. 16:18; 18:15-17) & founded it on the apostles and prophets (Eph.2:20; 4:11-16). There are regulations (1 Cor. 11-14), and officers and ordinances (1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1; 1 Cor. 11-14; 1 Pet. 5:1ff.). Christians are to assemble regularly (Heb.10:25).

The 21 Statements by Which to Identify Universalism in The Shack

All of the following statements, unless otherwise identified, come from the mouth of Papa (who fills the role of God in the novel and in the film).

  1. “The first aspect of God is never that of the absolute Master, the Almighty. It is that of the God who puts himself on our human level and limits himself” (from p. 88).This statement, to say the least, is over stated. God has revealed himself both as being Almighty, as transcendent, as beyond us in omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Yet he also is One who desires a deep relationship with his people, as being immanent or close to them.

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The Shack—Does It Promote Idolatry?

The Shack, the wildly successful novel by William Paul Young, is known now to millions of people. From the year of its publication in 2007, it has been on the NY Times Bestsellers List for over 100 weeks. This is quite amazing since it is written by one who once professed to be a Christian and was written for Christians with a Christian story line—or so it seems. But the story has touched the heartstrings of Christians and non-Christians alike because it deals with great questions: What is the meaning of suffering? If God is good why does he allow people to suffer? And even more significant: If God is loving why does he judge unbelievers worthy of hell and an everlasting judgment?

The answer that Paul Young gives to these questions is surprising. Instead of suggesting that the Bible has answers for these questions, Young propounds a different view of God that asserts that God is so loving that he does not punish sin, that all are his children, that “mercy triumphs over justice because of love.”

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