Some thoughts on Theological Precepts from the Author of the Shack

The following is a partial transcript of the interview on KAYP by Kendall Adams as he asks the author of “The Shack” some very important questions. Read the transcript, but listen to the audio as well.

Here is the original interview.

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1) On the Penal Substitutionary Atonement (that Jesus Christ took the penalty for our sins on the cross):

Adams: “On page 120 where God says, you know, I don’t punish sin, sin is it’s own punishment, you know, this is when Mack , um, is having a hard time with his view of God pouring out wrath, etc. But then when it says, “Mackenzie, I don’t need to punish people for sin. I guess when people read the scripture my question is, doesn’t God…hasn’t God, and doesn’t He…punish sin?”

William Young: “Some of it is semantics, we’re dealing with the concept of the wrath of God and, and here’s an underlying question. “Do you believe that God does anything that is not motivated by love?”

Adams: “Well I think in scripture we have wrath, we have justice, we have mercy-”

Young: “I understand…but…”

Adams: “…we do have love, so…”

Young: “Do you believe that God does anything that is not motivated by love, cuz love is his onthological character, it’s his being, justice is an activity of God, uh, wrath is an activity of God, so…”

Adams: “So you do believe though, that he does punish sin…”

Young: “I..I believe in the wrath of God, absolutely, but, but the wrath of God is, is always couched, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the ungodly (undecipherable word here) and unrighteousness of men, it’s not against the men, it’s against everything that is damaging them, hurting them, causing them to sin against eachother, everything that is contrary to his nature, and um…so…”

Adams: “But-”

Young “I, I absolutely believe in the wrath of God, yes, but I believe it’s motivated by love .”

Adams: “But this love also, and just as you quoted, you know, you mentioned uh the lake of fire, etc., it does say that there is torment day and night, so there is punishment, torment…”

Young: “Ya, and it, it is in the presence of the Lamb.”

Adams: “Here’s my question, if God doesn’t punish sin, what is the cross then, because if Jesus took our punishment on the cross, if he died for our sins, he was taking our punishment. If God doesn’t punish sin it seems like that demeans the whole concept of the cross.”

Young: “Oh, not at all. Look, the cross is, is the plan of God from before the foundation of the world, to redeem us back from being lost, being in the grip of our sin and lostness and idolatry and everything else, it’s absolutely essential. There’s no hope for any human being let alone the human race apart from the cross.”

Adams: “So you do believe that Christ was punished, then, for our sin.”

Young: “I believe that, that Christ became sin for us.”

Adams: “I mean that he was a sacrifice, that he was punished, he took…”

Young: “Uhuh…by who?”

Adams: “The Father.”

Young: “Why…why would the Father punish His son?”

Adams: “Because sin demanded justice, it, it demanded-”

Young: “Oh, it, but it, where was Father when the Son was on the cross?”

Adams: “In your book, when it says, um, Mack had a problem with ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ and God basically says, ‘Mack, I never left him’…”

Young: “That’s right.”

Adams: “When Jesus said ‘Why have you forsaken me?’ it…”

Young: “Ya, he’s quoting, he’s also quoting and doing the cry of David in the Psalms, and in Psalms that’s totally reconciled within the Psalms. The next thing that he says, even though that’s exactly what he feels for the first time as a human being who was born of the spirit, baptized of the spirit, filled with the spirit, for the first time, he doesn’t sense the presence of the Father, and in that he cries out. But Paul the apostle comes up later, and Jesus first says, but into your hands I commit my spirit, so he’s still saying, you’re here. And Paul says, where was God the Father? For God the Father, 2 Cor. 5:19, was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins against them. So where was God the Father? You…and where did reconciliation happen? I believe it happened on the cross. And it says that God the Father was in His son reconciling the world to himself.”

Adams: “Ya, many see that as Christ being the agency of our reconciliation but that when, you know, that Christ was taking the wrath of God upon him, I, I take it that you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t agree that the cross was a place of punishment for our sin.”

Young: “No. I don’t, I am not a penal substitution …reformation…point of view.”

Adams: “But isn’t that the heart of the gospel? Is that the heart of the gospel?”

Young: “No! Ha, no! The heart of the gospel is that we are, are so pursued, the heart of the gospel is in Ephesians 1:5. He predestined us before the foundation of the world to be adopted as sons and everything is by, for and through Jesus, and when Jesus dies, all die, all die.”

Adams: “But all the sac- all the sacrifices in the Old Testament, they were for the sins of the person, as they laid the hand on the lamb, or, or the Passover, you know the lamb’s blood was shed and put on the doorposts so when the death angel came it passed over, that way…”

Young: “And, and I understand uh, ya, I’m not saying that I don’t agree with some sense of substitutionary atonement.”

Adams: “But you disagree…”

Young: “But it’s way broader (muffled) than that.”

Adams: “But if you reject a penal substitution that Christ died as a penalty for our sins, it seems like that is the, that is the Christian faith.”

Young: “I don’t know if you’re aware, but that’s a huge debate that’s going on in theology right now within the evangelical community.”

Adams: “It is, and I, and I, and I would say everything hangs on that, I mean, there’s so many scriptures that Christ died for our sins, 1 Corinthians 15:3 -”

Young: “Oh, and, and I, I agree with that, I, he became sin for us..”

Adams: “No, he died for our sins. Romans said, the Father delivered him over for our sin. If he didn’t, if he wasn’t delivered for my sin…”

Young: “I’m not disagreeing with any of those passages at all, it’s just that how do we understand it? And how do we define what exactly took place? And I’m saying, that there is a huuuuuge amount of disagreement among theologians, about what all that means.”

Adams: “Kay.”

Young: “And so there is, you know, a degree of ambiguity there. And uh, what I’m saying everything that happened there, is the purpose of father, son and holy spirit, and that purpose is, our redemption, is salvation, reconciliation, and I don’t see, um, that it’s necessary to have the father, uh, punish, in that sense, the son!”

Adams: “Ya, we could, this is, I think this is an important issue.”

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2) On Hell and Ultimate Reconciliation (eternal punishment vs. eternal life – no matter what you believe or choose in this life):

Adams: “I believe there’s an eternal hell and once there, always there, and it’s punishment and torment, I guess I believe in the traditional, evangelical view that, you know, the decisions is made before this life is over, God is not going to redeem those, in hell. I mean it’s a, it’s an eternal place that never ends and it’s not good, so if..”

Young: “I understand that.”

Adams: “If in the other view…”

Young: “But going back to your question. Even if there was ultimate reconciliation, which I don’t know, but even if there were, that doesn’t diminish the damage of sin at all. That doesn’t diminish what sin is doing to the people around us and in our lives, at all. So the burden is not any lessened at all, you know, and it’s never been, you know, hell is never used as a motivator for transformation, ever. Not anywhere in the scripture. And you’d think that, you know, if it was, the ultimate evil, that it would at least be used in some of the sermons, but it doesn’t appear in Acts at all. And uh, you know…”

Adams: “Well Jesus did talk about hell a lot.”

Young: “Ya, we…and I know that. I’m very aware, and I do believe that it is real! That’s not the question.”

Adams: “And he did say fear the one who as the power to throw you into hell, to destroy both body and soul, so, um…”

Young: “Absolutely!”

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3) On the “flaws” in his book:

Young: “Not very many people are getting stuck on that particular, or these particular fine points of theology. What they’re hearing is, that God is about relationship, and desires to be in relationship with us and opens up relationship to us. “

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4) On other books:

Adams: “Um… Pierced for our Transgressions, a book that I highly recommend, if you haven’t read it, rediscovering the glory of penal substitution, it’s full of the love of the father. Cuz if we..”

Young: “I would, I would recommend Brad Jerzak’s book, um, um…that he just came up that he edited which has got maybe 30 different theologians who are opposed to the penal substitution and uh…what’s it called? Um, uh, the wrath of God is in the title, and it’s a question mark, um”

Adams: “They can google the name.”

Young: “Ya. Jersak. J-E-R-Z-A-K”

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This interview speaks for itself so I’m not going to comment. You are welcome to copy and paste this into your own blogs. The truth must be made known.

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