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The following program is a presentation of Grace Communion International and Grace Communion Seminary

and is made possible by generous donations from viewers like you.

On this episode of You're Included, author, Paul Young, examines the view of God as being

angryand that he requires his sons death.

Our host today is Dr. J. Michael Feazell.

Thanks for being with us again. This is great.

Were enjoying every moment of it and appreciate your time in coming back.

I appreciate being here.

The view of God that you present inThe Shackis a sound biblical perspective that

strangely is foreign to the way many people have traditionally thought about God.

We have lost, or a lot of us have never had, the conversation about the nature of God.

Weve been so focused on our ability to keep the rule, or the law, or whatever and

its all been behavioral. We havent had a conversation about what is this character.

We live in such world of uncertainty. Everything about our lives is uncertain. We could get

a call from the boss today and what we thought we were heading toward is no longer there.

A sale could go sideways, a truck comes across the middle line, and changes our lives. So

were filled with uncertainty. And especially about what God thinks about

us, we dont knowwere afraid of him. We try to create something that will get his

behavior to be certain. “If I can just do the right things, in the right order, to the

right degree, then God is rather obligated to do it” – to do whatever it is that

we think we want him to do. That can be having enough faith, for exampleWhatever our

formula is, to get the resultso that we can get Gods behavior to be certain. Theres

a word for that, and its called magic. God doesnt like magic. Magic is, if I have

the right formula, the right incantation, the right something, I can get the right result.

We try to use magic to get certainty. If theres no certainty in our circumstances,

and theres no certainty in Gods behavior, where is there any certainty? It has to be

in his character. If we get his character wrong, or if we think that he is not good,

that he is not lovingand we get that wrong, then we are by ourselves, and were

back to issues of fear and control, because we try to get control over uncertainty in

many ways. Anger, or dulling the pain of it through addictions of one sort or another,

depressiontheres a million ways that we try to gain some control. Instead, if we

begin to understand the character of Godthat he comes into this relationship with us, for

us, to heal usthat is a place we can put our feet down and begin to stand and move

forward. Otherwise, were just on our own. So the characterization of God in the book

is an attempt, in fiction, to try to describe that solidity of character that I think a

lot of us have not trusted. We dont trustThats Macks big issuethat he doesnt

believe God is good. But he doesnt know to get from where he is to believing it either,

and God is very gracious about that process and says, “You cant do it by yourself,

but together we can do it.” In the midst of tragedy or great pain, thats

when its very difficult to believe that God is good

Yeah, because everything has become uncertain. Theres a place in the book where you talk

about the Father versus the Son, the Father being so holy and so great that he cant

be touched by our evil and our wickedness. But Jesus on the other hand is the good guy.

Kind of the good cop, bad copLet me just read that section briefly.

Mack [the central character] says, “But I always liked Jesus better than you, he seems

so gracious and you seem so mean.” “Sad, isnt it? He came to show people who I am

and most folks only believe it about him. They still play us off like good cop, bad

cop most of the time, especially the religious folk. When they want people to do what they

think is right, they need a stern God, when they need forgiveness, they run to Jesus.”

And yet as you portray the characters here, were not talking about two different Gods

of different character, were talking about one God who is for us

Unfortunately, we have some theology that has come alongside and said, where God the

Father is, his issue is our sinfulness. He cant hang around us. That is sort of like

Jesus has made friends with us and God the Father is a little perturbed about it. He

wants to say, “Can you find a better quality of friend? I mean, they come to my house,

they mess it up, they leave things dirty, they dont do the dishes. If you just find

a better quality of friend. I know Ill be ok because you love them.” We have the

mentality that Jesus is trying to convince the Father that were worth enough to love.

We use the wordadvocatebecause hes an advocate with the Father for us, buthe

needs a lot of convincing. And to make even matters worse, we have this

idea that God comes to us and says, “You and I have a problem. Your behavior doesnt

meet up to the standards required, but I have a solution: For you and I to be ok, Im

going to take my innocent Son, whom I love more than anything else in the world, out

to the woodshed, and kill himand then you and I will be ok. Oh, by the way, trust

me.” Were going, “Is there a disconnect here

somewhere? Is that what had to happen for God the Father and me to be ok?” Were

going, “Thats not it at allthat God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself,

it was God the Father that crawls inside of this very thing.”

People say, “What about, ‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me?’” That is Christ

on the cross, for the first time as a human being, experiences a sense of separation.

He doesnt believe that its realbecause the next thing he says isinto your hands

I commit my spirit.” There is no real separation, but he feels the sense of it, but God is in

him in that whole process. There is no abandonment like that. That cry is a cry of those who

have experienced abandonment. For some of us that is such a hope for us.

There is this sense that you get from preaching sometimes that the Father is so angry, hes

furious; the wrath of God is cited, because the word wrath appears in Scriptures. The

sense is that he is so angry that somebody has to pay, and so Jesus steps in and says,

Well, kill me if you have to kill somebody.” So we have the resolution that, “Christ

died for my sins, therefore Im absolved” – but theres still that angry God. He

has calmed down, but when he is going to break loose again?”

Exactlywere always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and we fall back on performance,

we fall back on our behavior being the basis for his mood. We have to maintain at least

an adequate amount of behavior so that he feels good about himself and doesnt take

it out on us. So we have this schizophrenic God, we have thegood cop, bad coptype

of God. We dont know whether were waking up on the side of his love, or the side of

his justiceor his holiness. We think holiness is a manifestation of his reaction

against sin. The truth is, he was holy before there was sin. What makes Godother

[i.e., holy] is his very nature of lovethats what makes himotherthan us. Holiness

then becomes a manifestation of his love, not of his justice, not of his dealing with

sin. Wrath is the right response to things that

are wrong. Anger is the right response when there is pain and hurt, when children are

abused, when people lie to each other, when divorce happens, people taking advantage

to greed, to all of these things, it is the right response. And for God to have that right

response against everything that is in his creation that prevents the freedom of the

human creation, which is the object of his love, for him to come after that with everything

that hes got, [wrath] is appropriate, is right.

My friend Wayne Jacobson has a book called He Loves Me. In it he uses the illustration

of being a child running into a hornetsnest and screaming running in the direction

of his mother, and seeing her coming at him with this look of rage. She wasnt after

him. She was after these hornets, how dare they touch her precious little child. But

if you look at her face, youd think he had done something wrong. We have that mentality

when we deal with God. Hes angry against everything that hurts

us. Jesus showing up at Lazarusfuneralthat intense anger, compassion that comes

out even though he is in the midst of raising him from the dead. Death is wrong, you know.

The impact of sin is wrong. The wrath of God is an element of his love. You cant divide

his wrath from his love, as if hes two separate characters. Everything God does is

motivated by love, and everything has a loving purpose.

Scripture speaks ofthe enemies of God,” andthe wrath of God against his enemies.”

How does the love of God come into his relationship with his enemies in terms of his wrath?

He is constantly saying that we are to love our enemies as well. There is an understanding

that we wed ourselves to our own lost-ness, to our own independence. Its like the surgery.

There is a process that is very painful for us. God, even, in dealing with the Egyptians,

or the wonders of the plaguesthat was a very painful process.

There are people who set themselves up in an independence stance and I tell you, you

can wed yourselfthe people in the New Testament that were most doing that, were

the religious people. They were the most lost when Jesus says, “Woe, woe, woe,” and

he tells them that they are dead men, the inside of them is dead. Thewoeidea

is a warning woe. Its sayingwhoa!”… almost like a horse. “Stop what youre

doing. Dont you understand that this process that youre on, this path that youre

choosingof independence, is going to drive you deeper into the darkness, not into

the light that you think?” One of the other questions that has come up

about book is, “Why isnt Lucifer in the bookas one of Gods enemies?” I believe

in the fallen angels, I believe in the demonic, and I grew up out in the mission field. I

know the reality of these thingsthe spiritual dimension. We dont live in a benign universe

as far as the spiritual dimension. I dont believe God has any rivals, I dont believe

Lucifer is a rival. I think his power was totally destroyed and now all he has is the

ability to lie. All those things being true, the book was

not intended to be another book about Satan. It was intended to say, “This is who God

is, and this is the process that were inthat he comes inside of us to bring us

to healing. We dont need the juxtaposition in this book, and like I said, there are plenty

of books that deal with that. This was not an attempt for a systematic theology.

When we talk about enemies, Christ died for us while we were yet enemies ourselves.

Who among us has not been an enemy? Right. Then, like you said, were told to

love our enemies. Then we proceed with the idea that God doesnt love his enemies,

but he expects us to love our enemies. Suddenly we have this requirement that even

God cannot live up to. The reality is, that he does. The reality is, that the creation

that he has created, he loves, and human beings as the epitome and apex of what he pursues.

We have all been in the position of being his enemy, and in some respects, we still

fight him in this process, but theres no shame to it.

Thats the beautyIn your book, the most poignant scene, to me, is the judgment scene

where everyone stands guilty. Its very beautifully done, and thoroughly scriptural.

Thats what makes it so beautiful. Part of that was to try to get the reality

of this out of the abstract intellectual frameworkjust like using the loss of a child as

the core part of the story. The term agape is used, that God is agape, hes this kind

of love thats so different. The only verse that I can think of (and there maybe other

ones) where somebody who is apart from God experiences agape… (Normally you cannot

be apart from God to express it. But the closest that a human being apart from God can) is

reflected in the verse, “If you being evil…” Its talking about your core independence.

If you being evil know how to agape your children…” Thats the word thats

used. The closest point that we can come to understanding

the way God loves is the way that a parent loves their child, and I tell you theres

nothing like thatnot if theres any kind of health in your life, there is nothing

that comes close to that. That is the kind of way God is, in his very character and nature.

Thats why I wanted to use the thing that is deepest in us, to raise the deepest kinds

of questions, and (for my children) I wanted this to be the conversation around which to

develop the conversation, the processing, the ideas, and the relationship with God.

I tend to be that kind of person who when he sees a bandwagon, I say, “The last thing

Im going do is get on it.” So, as people kept saying, “You ought to read this book,

you ought to read this book,” I thought, “I dont read books thatyou gotta

read.’” But finally I did read it. I read the first few chapters, and this is where

we get into the story of the tragedy and so on, and the very real anger and so on that

Mack has. He enters the shack, and I lost interest after

God entered the shack. I thought, “I dont see how hes going get out of this, because

Im on Macks side here. There wont be a good resolution to this, I dont see

how, in fictional form, were going be able to – [Find our way out.] – get from here

to there, and resolve this anger without it just being facile, just some easy solution

what do we call that, a platitude, sort of thing. [a cliché.] I eventually got back

to it and well, I had to do an interview with the author.

Thatll get to you every time. So I better finish the book anywayThat

judgment scene, to me, that itself could be a full treatment of the subject, it was just

beautifully done. Thank you. That scene has become where the

whole book leads to. From there, everything becomes resolution after that. It was to say,

This is the reality of the heart of God in terms of how he relates to us. Lets

take it out of intellectual, spiritual, religious kind of terminology and make it real to us.

For Mack to have to struggle with this big question about his own childrenthat becomes

something very real to him, and all of a sudden it puts us into a spot thinking, “Are you

telling me that God loves us like that?” Were saying, “He loves you more than

that.” That is as close as we can get to understanding the intensity of that lovehe

loves us more than that, and more pure and better than that. I agree, I love that chapter.

Another section that is striking in the book is where Jesus is talking to Mack:

Remember, the people who know me are the ones who are free to live and love without

any agenda.” And Mack says, “Is that what it means to be a Christian?” “Who said

anything about being a Christian? Im not a Christian,” Jesus said. The idea struck

Mack as odd and unexpected. “No, I suppose you arent.” Then Jesus says, “Those

who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhist or Mormons, Baptists or

Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who dont vote or are not part of any Sunday

morning or religious institutions. I have followers who are murderers and many who are

self-righteous. Some are bankers and bookies, Americans and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians.

Ive no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation

into sons and daughters of my Papa, into brothers and sisters, into my beloved.” “Does that

mean,” asks Mack, “that all roads will lead to you?” “Not at all,” smiled Jesus.

Most roads dont lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road

to find you.” Some people have taken from that or responded

that, “Youre saying that being a Christian doesnt matter,” they accuse you of universalism,

whatever they mean by universalism. Yeah, when somebody asks me if Im a Christian,

I ask them back: “Would you please tell me what one is, and Ill tell you if Im

one of those.” If were on the same page, I dont have any problem identifying myself

as a Christian. Unfortunately, in the world today that has become kind of a Ziploc bag,

and as soon as you say theCword, theres no more communication, no more conversation.

What people think in their minds what a Christian is, is not what Scripture reveals as someone

who is indwelt by the very character nature of

It has become a caricature, a pre-conceived idea depending on a persons experience

of a Christian or Christianity. Exactly. For example, we think of anybody

in the Middle East, as Westerners, we tend to think of them as Muslim. As if they believe

all the tenets of Islam, etc. And theyre all the same, and they all fit

this particular category that we have them on.

Most believers from the Middle East will still tell you theyre Muslim, but theyre Christian.

For us thats a little incongruous. These little boxes, I wanted to get outside. Jesus

died, rose again, ascended to the right hand of the Father before the term [Christian]

had even been created or coined. It happened probably in Antioch, where it was a derogatory

term; they were going, “We like this term.” And so for Jesus to identify himself as a

Christian is moot. The term didnt exist. That was one piece of it.

Then I wanted to push it even further and say, “Its not the label that youre

identified with that is the relationship. A label is a label, and I dont care what

label you have, lets talk about what you mean by it. And then well see.”

I have no problem identifying myself as a Christian, or the validity of being a Christian,

or any of those things. But I want some agreement about what we are talking about. What a lot

of people think of a Christian, I dont want to be identified with, because theres

a bunch of it that is not true, and not right. I want a bridge to be built in a relationship

with anybody. I dont want the wordChristianto become the impediment that stops that relationship

from being built. I dont want it to be an impediment between them and the love of

Jesus Christ, either. That has nothing to do with faith in Jesus

Christ, or belief in the name of Christ, as some would want to say it.

No. If I can say it as clearly as I can, I am convinced that Jesus Christ is THE only

way into the embrace of the Father. There is no other name given among men through whom

we are savedhe is the sole and only road into the Fathers hearthe is the Fathers

heart who has bridged that gap to us. That was the last edit we put into the book,

because somebody who read a pre-version said, “I love this book, I love everything about

it, but Ive got a couple of friends who are going think youre a universalist.”

So that little section where he says, “Do all roads lead to Papa?” Jesus smiles and

says, “No, most dont lead anywhere, but I will travel down any road to find you.”

That was the last edit we made before it went to the printers in the first edition.

Im grateful for the brother who sent that and said, “What do you think?” Because

I wanted it to be clear that we are not talking aboutI want the centrality of atonement

to be central. This is what God has done to reconcile the world to himself. Now, as ambassadors

of Christ, as if you are the very pleading of God, beg, “Be reconciled back to him,

because hes reconciled himself to you.” That, to me, is the centrality and the significance

the exclusivityif I can use that termof the person of God who has come in Christ

in the power of the Spirit to make a way for us. Im not a universalist.

The subject of the Bible comes up in the course of the discussion between the Holy Spirit

and Mackenzie, and in one place here, theyre out together in a canoe. Just reading from

the book: Mack allowed his oar to turn in his hands

as he let it play into the waters movements. “It feels like living out of relationship,

you know, trusting and talking to you, is a bit more complicated than just following

rules.” “What rules are those, Mackenzie?” “You know, all the things the Scriptures

tell us we should do.” “Ok,” she said with some hesitation. “And what might those

be?” “You know,” he answered sarcastically, “about doing good things and avoiding evil,

being kind to the poor, reading your Bible, praying, going to church, things like that.”

I see, and how is that working for you?” He laughed, “Well, Ive never done it

very well. I have moments that arent too bad, but theres always something Im

struggling with or feeling guilty about, I just figured I needed to try harder. But I

find it difficult to sustain that motivation, [I think virtually everyone, with any honesty

would have to identify with that.] “Mackenzie,” she chided, her words flowing with affection,

The Bible doesnt teach you to follow rules, it is a picture of Jesus. While words

may tell you what God is like and even what he may want from you, you cannot do any of

it on your own. Life and living is in him and in no other. My goodness, you didnt

think you could live the righteousness of God on your own, did you?” “Well, I thought

so, sorta,” he said sheepishly.” Youre presenting here the Bible not as

the way its popularly taughtas Gods instruction book for mankind. So it is used

to rule on behaviors and to judge and to tell everyone what theyre doing wrong, and then

goes back on the shelf. But the whole idea of Jesus in the Scriptures is often missed.

If we are only flesh, if thats what we come to this writing with, then well drop

back to see it as a behavioral kind of thing without the illumination of the Spirit and

the work of the Spirit. Even those words are dead to us. They dont produce life. We

are absolutely dependent, even in the words of Scripture, for the presence and life and

illumination of the power of the Holy Spirit. All of us are. We know folks who know the

words very well but have no life in them. Theres that part of it. Jesus on the Emmaus

Road with the disciples: Starting with Moses he showed them himself throughout all of Scripture.

Its a story, its a story of his love, its a story of his attraction to us.

I love Scripture. We are very blessed in the sense that we have this so available and just

at our fingertips. Most of our brothers and sisters throughout history did not. They began

with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I think maybe they have a little bit of an advantage, because

we so easily fall back into our intellectuality and dont even know how to hear the voice

of the Spirit for ourselves. Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice.”

And theres a lot of us who are going, “Well, but dont we just have to hear it through

whatever the leadership is, or whatever the structure is that Im a part of?”, and

he is saying, “No.” Hes saying, “You individually, you hear my voice.” I think

thats part of what the work of the Spirit is. Its to tune us, to allow us, so that

through the purification process, we sense his presence, and we hear him speak to our

hearts. That becomes central. Then Scripture comes, he can illuminate it

but Im not at all convinced that Scripture is the sole and only place through which God

speaks. In my life, its been through movies even, but also music, creation, relationships,

conversation, art, architecture, incredibly beautiful cultural diversity and uniquenesses

that happen there. The Spirit is very able to speak through whatever the Spirit has available

or what weve given the Spirit to be available. And the Scripture provides a rudder, a foundation,

a primary means by which God reveals Christ to us. But isnt that something that is

often misused in order to maintain some kind of control or to subjugate or to rule over

That isnt the Holy Spirit speaking to us through Scripture, thats us manipulating

Scripture for our own ends, our own selfishness. Yeah, it goes back, in part, to not believing

that people can grow up to hear the voice of the Spirit for themselvesthat we need

to interpret that for them so we can maintain control. A lot of people are afraid that if

people move into freedom, and freedom is why Christ cameit was for our freedomthat

if that happens, people will go do crazy things. There is good evidence that suggests that

the amount of coercion and control thats placed on people is the reason why, when the

control comes off, they go out and do crazy things. Theyve just never matured inside

of that framework. The work of the Holy Spirit is to move us toward freedom. That is his

life in us. Freedom within the context of our understanding

of reality is all based in dependence, not in independence. We are a culture thats

full of independence, which makes sense, and the Holy Spirit is constantly driving us toward

dependence. That is the only place where we find freedom, because we were designed to

live our life in freedomin dependencein that union relationship with God.

Scripture is wonderful. It is definitely something through which the frame of our lives are understood.

But if I was thrown in a prison, without it, I know the Holy Spirit would be present with

me. You have a teacher, you have an anointing on you, and in that sense you dont need

a teacher, because the teacher lives inside of you, and in all things will teach you how

to abide in him, 1 John. Sure. And yet theres a submission that

we all have to one another, to listen, to test our ideas, and so on, and make sure that

we are reflecting the self-sacrificial love of God rather than our own agenda. All that

works in communityExactly, it takes us back to this relational

element that exists in the very character, nature of God, that our relationships are

just a reflection of that unity and diversity in the community of the Trinity. The beautiful

thing is that he invites us into that level of relationship.

I was thinking about Christmas this year, and you have God who is working together for

our redemption and they [Father, Son and Spirit] have this circle of relationship and they

crack it open and invite a 15-year old little girl into it and they say, “Would it be

ok if we did this?” They wait until Mary says, “Be it done unto me.” Thats the

God of the universe who is in relationship with us and submitting the process to us so

that we would join in that process with him. Same in our own hearts, same in the process

of our own healing and nowhere does he use shame to try to produce this. He doesnt

use law to try to produce it. The beauty of it is, as we become whole, pure in heart,

we begin to see God everywhere. We see his activity, hes in the details of our lives,

hes in the present with us. Incredible. Is this good news or what?

Youve been watching Youre Included, a production of Grace Communion International.

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