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.
Three themes dominate James Smith’s You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit. (1) Our loves are like unconscious dispositions we have towards the things and events around us and they reveal our identity. (2) The habituation of godly virtues forms our inner self-our soul. So while gaining knowledge of God and His Word is vital to discipleship, the gaining of virtues—the forming of the soul—is the core of discipleship. (3) The primary way of gaining virtues (of forming the soul) is liturgy in the church.
Chapter 1 explores love and worship. Which is more indicative of our identity? What we love, or what we think? Smith argues that what we love defines our identity. We as humans love something. “You can’t not love.”1 Our loves dictate our choices. Smith compares our loves to our compass, a default orientation of the soul.
Virtues are the habituated, internalized inclinations of the soul “to be compassionate, forgiving, and so forth.”2 “As Aristotle put it, when you’ve acquired a moral habit, it becomes second nature.”3 “Those habits that become ‘second’ nature operate in the same way: they become so woven into who you are that they are as natural for you as breathing and blinking. You don’t have to think about or choose to do these things: they come naturally.”4 “In fact, if I have to deliberate about being compassionate, it’s a sure sign I lack the virtue!”5
"The book's main argument is that Christians of various denominations must create a counterculture and leave a mainstream American culture that is increasingly hostile to biblical Christianity."