Os Guinness’ book The Global Public Square: Religious Freedom and the Making of a World Safe for Diversity is an important book … and a frustrating one, too. It’s important because Guinness analyzes the culture wars in light of the eternal need for freedom of conscience for all. It’s frustrating because I have little hope his rousing call for civility, persuasion and responsible engagement in the “global public square” will actually happen. I’m not sure he’s so sure, either.
This book is really an exposition of a document I’d never heard of: “The Global Charter of Conscience.” This document was published in 2012, and it’s designed as an addendum to the United Nations’ 1948 “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” another document I’d never heard of. Some readers may be put off by United Nations resolutions, and ecumenical documents about freedom of conscience. If that’s you, then don’t go away!
Any Baptist should be interested in this book. If you have visions of poor Felix Manz in your head, or vaguely remember reading about the Acts of Uniformity in Leon McBeth’s Baptist history textbook, then it’s time to broaden your horizons a bit. Guinness’ main concern is to protect the right of soul freedom for everybody:
The two small letters of Paul to the young Thessalonian Church are among the earliest of his writings. This means that they are also among the earliest writings of the New Testament – even for those of us who opt for the traditional dates of the Gospels. Although I am pretribulational it has to be admitted that Paul does not settle the date of the rapture in these letters. Therefore, what I look for is careful exegesis informed by salient considerations of other biblical teachings on the subject. Attempts to spiritualize the “naos” in 2 Thessalonians 2 count as a mark against any work.
This contribution to the Expositor’s Bible Commentary is, to my mind, the best single exegetical treatment of the Thessalonian Correspondence. Although space restrictions were imposed on the author, Thomas makes very good use of his allotted pages. The work is based on Thomas’s “Exegetical Digests” of these books.
The Second Advent shows up in every chapter of these letters, and the material on the Day of the Lord and the Antichrist have to be treated with care, not squeezed into a theological box. Hiebert’s exegesis is thorough enough for most pastors, and his conclusions are well thought through.
The first installment of the WBC still holds its own as an excellent commentary on these epistles. A lengthy (for Bruce) Excursus on Antichrist is included which is worth pondering, even if all will not come out where Bruce does.
Read Part 1.
When I speak of Young’s universalism I am not referring to the belief that Jesus Christ provided an atonement for every sinner; a position which I hold. I am instead talking about the liberal theological teaching that God will save everybody, whether or not they have placed their trust in His Son.
Because of the author’s encounters with hurt and pain, it is understandable that he has searched for a god who is safe and accepting. In his striving to push past the debilitating burden that bitterness carries with it, perhaps he has embraced a god that characterizes his wish to move on and forgive—everyone? One can’t be sure. But Young wants to remove what he sees as the hard edges off of the traditional concept of God:
Wm. Paul Young is best known as the author of the astoundingly successful book The Shack. He has also written two other works. All his books deal with pain and suffering and seek to offer hope.
Unfortunately, Young’s brand of hope, although it presents itself as Christian, and indeed has been understood as such by many, is not anchored in the biblical portrait of God at all. This book, Lies We Believe About God, lays bare Young’s understanding of some of the central tenets of Christianity for all to see. Those of us who were unhappy with the portrayal of God in The Shack have had our suspicions vindicated. Young’s conception of God is very unbiblical.
Saying that this book contains a false view of God is not the same as saying that it is entirely false. He has some strong words for the word-faith people (86-87). He correctly states that for God to change this world into a monument of His grace “speaks volumes” about His character (39). He is also spot on when he says that we are all individuals and God will relate to us as such (158), and in his insistence that we have intrinsic worth (32). There are a few things in the book where the author makes a good point or two. He can get you to agree with him.