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Lowell Brueckner

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Strong Delusion


“The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires (2 Ti.4:3)… Because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved... GOD will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false (2 Th. 2:11)… He also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone… And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night (Rev.14:10-11)… These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (2 Th.1:9)… I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you fear HIM (Jesus, Lk.12>5)… and the Bible references go on and on, because the theme of falling into delusion and the resulting punishment is not a minor one in Scripture. I find it obligatory to join with other concerned Christians in doing the little that I can to counterbalance an avalanche of perverted teaching concerning the love of God. I just celebrated my 67th birthday, have been a Christian since two days before my 10th birthday and I have been in Christian ministry for 47 years. Within that time, I have watched apostasy make huge gains with great rapidity. It has invaded an increasing number of so-called evangelical churches and what is seen, heard and propagated in the name of Christ leaves those of us, who know better, horrified. You and I are exposed today to massive deception.

Powerful signs of upheaval in the last half century or so are seen in every area of society - in world politics, in nature, in moral values, and in economic collapse. Anyone, who will bother to take notice, can see that throughout 2010 and this far into 2011, we are experiencing a very notable upswing in the number and immensity of all sorts of disasters. Even the secular world is beginning to acknowledge it.

Two popular books have been written in the past few years and have sold millions of copies, contributing immensely to the 21st century church’s trip into apostasy. One of them is Love Wins by Rob Bell and the other is The Shack by Paul Young. Both authors are proponents of a Christianized version of universal salvation. That is serious error, for reasons that I will point out, and should be considered heresy. The authors, then, are heretics and I came to that conclusion before I went to the internet and heard Franklin Graham call Rob Bell a false teacher and a heretic. Right on, Franklin! Paul Young is no less a heretic.

I lost the source of the following quote, but the statement is so obviously true that any informed Christian could have said it: “If Bell is right then Clement of Rome (the earliest Christian writer outside of the New Testament), Augustine, Athanasius, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Jonathan Edwards, Whitefield, Wesley, Spurgeon, Warfield, Machen, Francis Schaeffer and Billy Graham are all wrong… Are what these men preached truly “toxic”, as Bell asserts early on in his book? When is it hubris (overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance) to question beliefs closely analyzed and held for centuries?”

Let me try to define what “Christian” universal salvation means. It maintains that Christ is the only way to salvation and that everyone must come to Him to be saved by His death and resurrection. So far, so good – but the universalist believes that everyone, regardless of whether he is a Moslem, Hindu, atheist, or cultist, will eventually come to Christ, if not before death, then after death. The universalist will not tell you that he does not believe in hell; he simply feels that hell is temporal and corrective, somewhat similar to Roman Catholic purgatory.

The scripture gives no hint of hell as corrective discipline. Let me briefly show that there will be no repentance in hell. All I know about hell, Jesus taught me, especially in Luke 16. The rich man in “hades” wanted relief from his suffering. So did the unrepentant thief on the cross. The believing and repentant thief said, “We deserve this.” The rich man still thought Lazarus was his servant, who should bring him water. He still valued his arrogant opinions and argued with Abraham against the saving effectiveness of Scripture. He thought only of himself and his loved ones and wanted Lazarus to leave his repose and comfort and become a missionary for his brothers.

This leads me to comment on an evident prevalence of humanism among evangelicals in our day. I’m thinking of talk about delaying Christ’s coming, “until we can get our loved ones in”. The early church, with its supreme love for Christ and His glory, loved and waited for His appearing. The New Testament ends with the yearning words of John, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

Intending to pass itself off as a teaching about love, universalism is really as cruel as any lie that has ever come from the kingdom of darkness. It seeks to destroy the teaching of Jesus and the means that God uses throughout scripture to awaken the sinner to the extreme wickedness of his sin and instill in him the fear of God. Instead, it comforts the sinner and rocks him to sleep, giving him a false assurance that all will turn out right in the end, even though he refuses to repent and surrender to God in this life. It is an insult to the Kingdom of Truth and Righteousness.

However, worse than that, these men deny and offend the God of the Bible. Pastor Francis Chan wisely said, “It’s time to stop apologizing for God and start apologizing to Him.” Don’t see these men as honest, but mistaken, Bible interpreters. They are enemies of the true God and His Christ, in active rebellion against Him. They eat away at the foundation of all truth, attacking the character of God Himself, as He is revealed in scripture. Nothing could be more serious and it should be considered the highest and most serious form of error. They are dangerous deceivers.

My stomping ground was the Twin Cities area in my early Christian experience. In the 1960’s, I remember well the influx of the same heresy in charismatic circles there. When we left in 1986, there were various Charismatic Universalist Churches. Let me tell you that these are slippery people, who are difficult to pin down (somebody used the analogy of trying to nail Jello to the wall). I know an old man, who is sometimes still invited to speak in decent churches. Years ago, he was one of the chief people to help propagate Christian universalism in Minnesota. His church suffered a split, while we were residing west of Minneapolis, and one honest victim told me, “We sat under J__’s teaching for years and accepted everything he said without seeing another side of him.”

My father had a church in East Saint Paul and sometimes a Sister C__ and Brother S__, who traveled together, came to visit. On a weeknight service, when my dad was absent, Sister C__ arose and spoke of reaching a place of intimacy with God, in which the Bible would no longer be needed, or as she termed it, “this thing”, holding up God’s book. It was the last time Dad allowed the two to come into that building. As it was with the old Quakers there seems to be a disdain for the written Word and certainly for systematic theology. I have seen that those who don’t love good theology, wind up believing bad theology, introduced by another name. Jesus had a lot to say about bad theology to the churches in Revelation.

Some suspected that Sister C__ was a universalist. I was there when a good friend of mine had an opportunity to confront her and asked, “Do you believe in an eternal hell, into which sinners will be cast for an eternity?” She responded, “My god would never send anyone to such a place?” The small ‘g’ is not a typo. Universalists are idolaters, who worship a god other than He, who reveals Himself through His word. It is extremely dangerous to get your theology from a “shack” or anywhere else outside the Bible.

Paul Young’s book is blasphemous. An old friend, whose father was a wonderful missionary leader, asked me if I had read “The Shack” and related some of its contents to me in glowing terms through tears. He traveled in Spain, teaching on the subject “abba Father”, translating the phrase, “daddy”. I find no commentator from the past, who catered to such a misunderstanding of the fatherhood of God. I remember warnings about over-familiarity with God that tends towards irreverence, calling God, “my pal or buddy”. I used to think that only liberal feminists used female terms in referring to God. Certainly, in my youth such a thing was never entertained in Bible-believing churches.

Several Christians told me, “I started to read ‘The Shack’, but I soon put it down. Something was wrong.” How about you? Did you lay it aside or were you able to tolerate the blasphemy in it? How about the false hope given in ‘Love Wins’? Could some of you enjoy reading these books?” I think, in such a case, there is room for some serious heart searching to see if there is hubris inside. I speak bluntly. This is no time to compromise truth for the sake of friendship.

Dk said...
July 29, 2011 at 7:28 PM  

I did read the shack, have not read Love Wins. I appreciate your views here. I have long suspected many of the same things about these two authors. They just take away from the... HOLYNESS of God. It makes Him seem to earthly and human. Like he isn't an all seeing, all fearing God, just a kind "buddy" who wouldn't dare toss a poor ol' sinner into hell.

As far as the shack goes; I found very little wrong with it. It is definitely not Biblical. But it is a fictional story. He says in the forward that most of the material in the book in simply fictional and not to be taken for truth. I feel it reached a new population of non-christians that would never pick up a Rick warren book or any other christian book. But at the same time, I do in my heart wonder if it is portraying to non christians a false view of God.

Lowell Brueckner said...
July 30, 2011 at 5:54 AM  

I thank you for your comments and am happy that you see, at least, the danger to lost sinners in "The Shack". The CHIEF purpose of the Bible is to reveal to mankind, especially believers, the true God. The old hymnwriter said, "What more can He say, than to you He has said." I'm satisfied with biblical revelation. Any extra-biblical revelation of God is to be critically assessed by the Bible. Paul Young's revelation does not stand the test. "Pilgrim's Progress" is also fiction, but there was enough godly fear in John Bunyan's day, so as to avoid any presentation of an image of God. We are far too tolerant and light in this century. God is much to wonderful, holy, and majestic to allow any imaginary depiction of His person. We have no liberty, even in fiction, to portray God as "any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth" (Ex. 20:4). We have no license to use fiction to use our personal imagination and form a god after it. That would include a black or Asian woman, wouldn't it? Jesus said, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father", showing that He was the perfect human representation of the godhead. He is enough for me, but even so, we have been left no sculpture or painting - not even a description of his physical features. I suggest you read, "Burning Down the Shack" by James B. De Young and "Erasing Hell" by Francis Chan.

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