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William Paul Young has touched a nerve—if sales of millions of books is any sign. Like his sleeper best-selling novel, The Shack, his new book, Cross Roads (FaithWords), covers God, the human condition, and the process of transformation—though ...

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Displaying 1–17 of 17 comments.

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audrey ruth

March 27, 2013  10:56pm

"I am interested that folks are shocked by CTs departure from defending the faith. In my understanding, they moved away from their moniker years ago. Currently, I would view them more as a mere marketplace for religious ideas." I am one who did not realize this, Rene', having heard that Billy Graham (and his father-in-law?) helped to found CT magazine years ago. I do hope it started out much better than it is now, standing staunchly for the truth of God's Word. ITA with your assessment of Young's theology. Well said.

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René Williams

March 27, 2013  1:59pm

Subtlety--the casual insertion of heresy amidst Young's interpretation of God's 'love'. His communication style is both seductive and effective among those who are dissatisfied with the God of the Bible. His creation of this kinder, gentler god has made him and many others like him both rich and sought after. Mr. Galli will get his desired attention for this article and will keep a much broader audience by not correcting Young's apostasy herein. As for The Shack, Young's invention of this trio of gods bears no resemblance to and dissipates before the majesty of the Living God. I am interested that folks are shocked by CTs departure from defending the faith. In my understanding, they moved away from their moniker years ago. Currently, I would view them more as a mere marketplace for religious ideas.

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audrey ruth

March 26, 2013  3:34pm

Kim, please re-read my post. I did not say that was in Young's book. That was in reply to something else you mentioned.

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Kim ODonnell

March 26, 2013  10:25am

Audrey, I'm not sure where you saw that illustration, but it's an inaccurate rendition of what takes place in the book. I just reread the section of Mack in the field with children, but none of them were throwing flowers or had wreaths, they were simply dancing.

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audrey ruth

March 24, 2013  9:48pm

Kim, those things in themselves are secondary to me in comparison to the bigger issues I have with the book -- I've mentioned some here. At the same time, the Lord has told us in His Word that God is a spirit, and those who worship Him will worship Him in spirit and in truth. I did think that Young's "trilogy" was demeaning -- all three. Many things in his book misrepresented the Glory of God. I realize the Aslan issue is OT here; the Holy Spirit raised red flags in my spirit when I read of (and saw in an illustration) the children of the book (TLTWaTW) dancing around the Greek god Pan, throwing wreaths of flowers on him and singing to him. I didn't even realize then the full extent of what Pan represented. When I learned that later, I knew that was indeed the Holy Spirit who warned me about that book.

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Kim ODonnell

March 24, 2013  3:20pm

I am baffled by people who are upset by God taking the form of a warm, funny, black woman in Young's fiction book. Why does no one mention that later on, God takes the form of an older white man with a goatee? So what? God can assume any form He wants! How is His portrayal in this work of fiction any different from Aslan/Jesus in Narnia romping joyfully with kids hanging onto his mane? I have doctrinal disagreements with Madeleine L'Engel and C.S. Lewis, yet my Christian life and understanding of who God is have been immeasurably blessed by their fiction. I found it the same with Paul Young's book.

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audrey ruth

March 24, 2013  2:59pm

Re Young's statement: "I grew up fundamentalist, evangelical, Protestant. Those are my roots, and they are good roots. But it means the Pharisees are my people...I viewed the nature and character of God, a theology that fundamentally taught that Jesus came to save us from the Father." I've attended fundamentalist, evangelical, Protestant churches, and they've had their fair share of Pharisees (tares), BUT the theology I've heard (more importantly, read in the Holy Bible) is that Jesus, God in the flesh, came to reveal the love and good will of the Father to man. Indeed, the angels' words on the night of Jesus' birth were "Peace, good will to man." I've heard Christians excuse Young's unBiblical theology by saying his books are fiction, but, hey, The DaVinci Code (and sequels) are fiction too, and they've also done a lot of damage. Young's denigration of God's Word in his first book by describing its pages as "guilt-edged" showed me where his heart is (and isn't). Very, very sad.

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Paul Wilkinson

March 23, 2013  5:58pm

Many of the comments are focused on Young's answer to the question on page two where he says, "I'm not a penal substitutionary guy. But I am a substitutionary guy." I think a healthier approach to understanding where Paul Young is coming from is to closely read his answer to the next question where he says, "I grew up inside a paradigm that said wrath was punitive and retributive in nature. I now see it as restorative. And part of that is affective." Many people stumbled over and were shocked by his opening metaphor for God in his first novel, but were willing to give him a pass once they understood his personal journey; and I think he's asking us to apply the same grace here, even if we would fine tune substitutionary atonement differently. And at risk of repeating what so many have reminded us elsewhere, let's not forget that at the end of the day, The Shack and Crossroads are works of fiction, which does, whether we like it or not, afford the author a certain measure of latitude.

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Delwyn Campbell

March 23, 2013  11:50am

HE sounds like an Eastern Orthodox, as they do not believe in Penal Substitutionary Atonement. Thus, to say that he is not a Christian because of that is to say that they are not also. He said that he believes in substitutionary atonement, but not PENAL. The issue about the black female imagery, I can pass on. God appeared to Moses as a flame in a bush that did not burn, and to Abraham as a burning Pot that passed between the carcasses. As long as understand that this was just a manifestation, not a statement about being, I can live with a black woman, I have lived with an old white man for most of my life.

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Tom Nash

March 22, 2013  9:40pm

It's not Young's use of bizarre metaphors that bothers me. The Bible itself uses metaphors to describe the Godhead: Christ as the Lion of Judah, the Rock, the Lamb, etc., or the Holy Spirit as a dove, comforter, helper. I think it's okay to tolerate metaphors. However, major problems arise concerning Young's comment: "I'm not a penal substitutionary kind of guy." My heart sank when I read that quote. Christ's substitutionary sacrifice for our sins is fundamental to the Christian faith. We can only be saved because Jesus died for our sins. This is Christianity 101, folks! The reality of the atonement is repeated many times throughout the New Testament and occasionally in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53). Christ's atoning sacrifice for sin is one of those absolute essentials that makes Christianity Christian.

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Frank Keefe

March 22, 2013  7:37pm

It seems to me that Young obviously a born again Christian is of this new way of thinking and believing Christians somehow being hip with a modern world eg God as a black woman.I can see the young Christian progressives shouting YEAH COOL! DUDE keep the white guy with long hair out of it. God is Spirit and that's how He should be worshipped in Spirit and in truth and the only mental image we have of Him is in Christ Jesus who was a Jew "if you've seen me you have seen the Father". The fall of man and seperation from a Holy God through Adams sin is fully implemented in the suffering death on the cross by the second Adam Jesus. He paid our penalty and it was the wrath of God that was placed on Him NOT ON US that is the Atonement.Its true we all of us put Jesus on that cross because of our sin but the wages of sin HAD to be paid and that would mean having the wrath of God placed upon Him WHO KNEW NO SIN.

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Richard Cameron

March 22, 2013  7:03pm

Brett and Linda are spot on regarding the atonement. I'm disappointed in this article and in Young's theology. CT has a responsibility to offer a critique on Young's views, and has failed to do so. And Young seems very woolly in his handling of scripture. 'I'm not a penal substitution guy' sounds awfully like, 'I don't like that teaching so I'll ignore it and come up with something that makes me feel better about God and myself'. To say that the cross is about 'man pouring out his wrath' makes a mockery of scripture which teaches that Christ came to take God's wrath on our behalf. Unless you believe that then you can't really understand what salvation is and what love is about. Love is seen and known through Christ's taking our place on the cross. Without substitutionary teaching God's love is reduced to sentimentality - something Young's work contains rather a lot of.

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David Mueller

March 22, 2013  5:13pm

In response to Brett and Linda--you made several insightful points. As for Galli not critiquing--I suspect that such critique is coming. I was refreshed by Young's emphasis on the Trinity, and on his Augustinian approach to the Trinity as Love. However, he goes off track by trying to "re-image" God with the provocative idea of of the black woman. He is right to criticize the "Gandalf" or "Santa Claus" image (I refer to it as "Grampa God"). However, God Himself has given us the accurate image--the Man Jesus Christ, and specifically Him crucified, the propitiation for our sins, and not ours only.... We are *not* free to "re-image" God in any other way. To do so is to buy into what Young properly connects with--the Lie--"You shall be as gods...." I'm going to reread the Shack, though, in light of this article.

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Jay Lehman

March 22, 2013  2:31pm

Quote from the article: "This is very different from how I grew up. Then, it was, "You are two natures warring it out," and, "Who are you going to feed today?" Instead of: "You're a new creation and you don't know it." " This quote alone is worth the price of admission. It is good to see the church in so many areas, including this interview, moving in the direction of really understanding the provisions of the new covenant. The Romans 7 war - describing Paul's experience before his salvation - is over! The new nature wins. When we put this into practice as a body, we will see more power in the lives of believers as well as more power in evangelism. See: http://jaylehman.com/2011/02/a-new-heart/

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BERNIE KOPFER

March 16, 2013  10:06am

Would like to suggest to the previous commentators that they might like to look into the history of penal substitution. Wikepedia is a good place to start. And probably CT is wise enough to know that coming down on the side of a particular theory of atonement is going to alienate a large % of its readership. Atonement theories have waxed and waned in popularity over the centuries because they are based on our understanding of the character of God. And since we know and understand very imperfectly it follows that our theories and doctrines also are far from perfect and might even be incorrect. But God is not limited by our individual or corporate understanding of Him and how He works in our lives and in this world. God is God, for that I am grateful,l and since I understand Him to be LOVE I will trust that the explanation we receive on the other side will be sufficient! Let us love and respect each other until then.

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JOSEPH F Martin

March 16, 2013  8:58am

Impressive interview. Lots of maters of nuance. But this, "I'm not at war with myself anymore. No. We are in the process of the healing..." is completely wrong in that it confuses rhetoric with reality. Christians are indeed at war with the flesh in themselves and the with the World. There is no avoiding the negative aspects of Christianity, no matter how warm you wish to be, or how cold the Tradition that formed you might unfortunately have been. I agree with the above comment. If CT prints interviews like these without any sidebar comments, it may be impressively objective journalism, but it is also poor handling of a vital teaching moment. The wooosh sound we hear is the closing door as Twenty and Thirtysomethings eschew penal substitution and become emergent.

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BRETT AND LINDA WILSON

March 12, 2013  8:08pm

The CT Interview of William Paul Young was very effective in allowing him to explain "the theology behind his best selling novels"; Mr. Young was open and transparent about his background and beliefs. Kudos to CT for unveiling Young's thinking. In portraying God as a black woman in "The Shack", it is hard not to imagine that Young was intending to provoke. But Young's theology is of more import: "I am not a penal substitutionary guy", he says, "I see the human race pouring out their wrath on the Son". The atonement has many facets, but at its heart is the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, bearing the wrath of God against man. Jesus also bore man's wrath. But how does Christ's absorbing man's fury provide a just basis to forgive sin and make men righteous? Perhaps CT's objective in the interview was to let Young speak for himself. Offering no critique may be good journalism, but for someone as controversial as Young, it seems like poor stewardship not to include a "CT" perspective

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