“Lies We Believe About God, “ Paul Young.
Oh boy, if you thought “The Shack” was fun, this book is a veritable smorgasbord, an entire taco bar of offense just waiting the be had. With guacamole, sour cream, and olives too! I’m just salivating over all those juicy tidbits of theological wrongness just waiting to be gloriously consumed. Praise the Lord too, because I’m absolutely starving! Where’s the fresh meat? Who’s the fresh meat this week? Quite delicious, I tell ya.
So Paul Young himself says, “This book exposes 28 commonly uttered things we say about God as lies that keep us from having a full, loving relationship with our Creator…” He does this by telling anecdotes, tales of his own walk in faith, some of the lies and deceptions he once believed about God that he has since unwrapped.
I myself call this “peeling the layers off the onion.” It can be painful work. No one ever wants to admit to having been deceived, to have taken on faulty thinking, and this is especially true when there has been abuse. We live in a world full of deception, but often struggle to ever admit we can be deceived. Father of all lies is not my problem, I’m one of those rare people who see through the glass clearly….
Uh yeah, about that….
Back to the taco bar of great offense however, I was in complete agreement with 20 of the 28 lies we tell about God. Totally with Paul Young on all of those. He has woven some beautiful tales around these anecdotes. Let’s take a look at one, the lie that says, “God is disappointed in me.” As Young says so artfully, “God is never disillusioned by you; God never had any illusions about you in the first place.”
Oh, ouch! Is that not offensive to the pride? Here I’ve been dressing up for church, putting my best face on for God, checking “like” on all the right things on facebook, and come to find out, I’m actually not fooling God at all! Wut?! He can already see beyond the mask, beyond the illusion I attempt to create? Say it isn’t so….
It’s an exposed lie that is quite biblically sound, however. We are already known by God. He can actually predict our behavior better than we can. He knew Peter would deny Him three times, He knew Judas would betray Him, and He knew that every time you tell Jonah to take a right, he just goes left. The darker aspects of ourselves are not unknown to God. We cannot disappoint God, He already sees us. Most of our defects He’s just waiting for us to recognize in ourselves and place in His hands.
People have inflicted a lot of misery on themselves by falsely believing we can disappoint God, like one might disappoint an earthly father. Forgiddaboutit. Confess all, He already knows the worse and “the worse” placed in His hands, can be molded into something quite beautiful.
The eight things I objected to, are not really objections at all, but things I call green wine. If you’ve ever made wine, you start with juice and sugar, allow it to ferment, and then you get what we call green wine. It just hasn’t aged properly, it is not yet refined. There’s nothing wrong with green wine, in fact, we used to sip it quite happily. It tends to have a lower alcohol content and is still a bit sweet.
Yep, even the parts of what I call Paul Young’s unrefined wine are still sweet…
We all have unrefined wine in our faith. The areas that I am strong in, those are the places God tossed me in the fire, kind of like the way you purify gold. The other parts, the unrefined wine, those are the places God has not gone so deeply for whatever reason. That is why fellowship and leadership can be so beneficial. We are all specialists in our own areas. It’s like when building a house. I know a bit about drywall, but I know a guy who can do it five times as fast, for half the price. It’s what he does, it’s his thing, it’s his area of expertise.
Fellowship and leadership allows us to refine the wine or build the house. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17 If any of us were capable of attaining a perfect faith all on our own, we’d have no need of a Savior……or other people, for that matter.
In my opinion, those 8 things that gave me pause, Paul Young is still responding and reacting to misappropriated and abusive authority. That’s completely understandable given his experiences. I don’t think he would disagree. In his analogy of Papa, a black woman, she is transformed, she does become a Father, once his spirit is prepared to receive that. He, like a lot of writers is working out his faith with fear and trembling. The good kind of fear and trembling, as in, these personal journeys are kind of scary. My God is scarier and He’s on my side.
I think I can see these things in Paul Young because my story is the reverse of his. I don’t come from abusive authority, I come from no authority at all, some vehement atheism. There is no God, there are no hierarchies, there are no rules, we are all just free-falling through the universe, doing whatever we please. It was the 1960’s, so free love, drugs, peace, cults and communes. Abuse too, yes, but from the perspective of you belong to no one and there is no standard or mandate that says anything different. As a child, I went searching for protection, provision, the power to keep me safe, and ran quite happily and enthusiastically into the authority of God. It was the authority of God that protected me from the lack of authority of men.
So, totally different perspective, different histories. I have no qualms about submission, I’ve written about 30 posts praising submission in all it’s forms. I don’t have the same struggles, fearing the Fatherhood of God, what I sometime jokingly refer to as the “Divine patriarchy.” I don’t have to walk that same path, attempting to reconcile abuse and exploitation, with love and authority. God as Father, if “father” has been experienced as a dark thing, is a tough path to tread.
I’m not going to complain about this book, I’m not going to label it heresy, and I’m not going to accuse it of leading anyone astray. It’s simply not that kind of book, and while there may be some theological bits I don’t agree with fully, it is theology shared by a lot of other great men I really do admire, CS Lewis for example.