Monday, June 7, 2010

George Washington Wouldn't Have Had a Problem with "The Shack"

From what I've read about it. I'm basing my views on the "orthodox" criticisms of this book. From the link:

For those who are unaware, it is critical to realize that William Paul Young espouses the heretical teaching known as Universal Reconciliation (condemned by the church since 533). This accounts for his heterodox views (e.g., faulty views of the Trinity, Biblical revelation, Christology, eternal punishment, etc…).

Every single above listed "heresy" was embraced by many "key American Founders" and the theologians and philosophers they followed.

I'm not sure if GW embraced "universal reconciliation"; I suspect he did. One thing we do know is he had absolutely no problem with those who did.

This is the link to the book's official website.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, Roman Catholic Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor is a heretic, then.

Seriously, one should use the "h" word with caution; "heterodoxy" isn't necessarily heresy. Although Teilhard de Chardin rejects the Church's normative Thomistic metaphysics, he is not a heretic.

Apocatastasis, or

is considered an open question by the Church, since the final decision is of course up to God.

As for Protestantism, with its plethora of sects [including 75 varieties of Baptists], it's hard to say that there's any definitive Protestant view, only a majority consensus view.

But, again, eternal truth is not a democratic process, put up for a vote.

The irony of the Founding era universalists was that their sense of justice still largely required some sort of penance, punishment or purification, roughly something resembling the Catholic purgatory. this has also been a recent view of the Eastern Orthodox Church. [See wiki entry above.]

As for "heresy," it does seem ironic that God would send you to hell for not believing the other guy's going there.

Phil Johnson said...

I wanted to read the link, the "orthodox"; but, I get a message that the site cannot be found when I try to download it.

bpabbott said...

Phil, the orthodox works for me. Perhaps it was done momentarily?

Phil Johnson said...

When I get to the orthodox site, I click on "Revisiting The Shack and Universal Reconciliation", and that's when I run into trouble.
I guess I wasn't very plain in my first response.

bpabbott said...

Ok, I haven't check, but is this correct?

Jonathan Rowe said...

Re the Universalist of the Founding Era, yeah some of them were pretty hardcore. I remember reading one common sentiment of theirs was the "temporary" punishment before universal salvation was 1000 years in purgatory or Hell.

One argument against universalism is "why are we evangelizing if everyone is going to get into Heaven anyway?" And an answer is to avoid that long temporary punishment!

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, the threat of hell was considered necessary to keep man acting decently.

However, the universalist scheme still accommodates "the future state of rewards and punishments" that was a formulation [cliche, even] used all through the Founding period.

The Catholic Act of Contrition [still with "hell" as normative theology] reads

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all, because they offended you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love...

a nice sentiment.

Of heaven, Benjamin Franklin [no orthodox Christian he], wrote to evangelist and good friend George Whitefield [orthodox Christian, he]:

"For I do not think that thanks and compliments, though repeated weekly, can discharge our real obligations to each other, and much less those to our Creator. You will see in this my notion of good works, that I am far from expecting to merit heaven by them.

By heaven we understand a state of happiness, infinite in degree, and eternal in duration. I can do nothing to deserve such rewards. He that, for giving a draft of water to a thirsty person, should expect to be paid with a good plantation, would be modest in his demands, compared with those who think they deserve heaven for the little good they do on earth.

Even the mixed, imperfect pleasures we enjoy in this world, are rather from God's goodness than our merit; how much more such happiness of heaven!"

...also quite lovely, I think. Although I don't recall him being on record, universalism would rather fit with Franklin's cosmology.

"Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy."---BF

King of Ireland said...


Happy belated(did I spell that right) b-day.

Jonathan Rowe said...


Jonathan Rowe said...


Very nice. I agree. I think if we do a little digging we probably will find more to connect BF with theological universalism of the temporary punishment, eventual reconciliation mode.

Tom Van Dyke said...

And Happy Birthday, Jon. But it saddens me you're going to Hell for not believing in Hell. You frigging heretic, you. Damn! Who knew?

Hope you cracked open a bottle of wine, at least. Enjoy while you can, for eternal misery awaits.

Not to bring you down or anything, man. You know. This salvation---soteriology---thing is tricky. More like Deal or No Deal than Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

Press your luck, and you're screwed. You don't even get the $32K. You get $0.01, just above total destruction.

Is Hell better than nothing, total obliteration? I guess it's a "quality of life" issue, which is a related, but another discussion...


Jonathan Rowe said...


My birthday is on June 6. You'd know that if you had a Facebook page.

Brian Tubbs said...

Jon, you're probably the only human being in the world who thought to associate George Washington with Wm Paul Young's "The Shack." Congratulations on the clever angle. :-)

Personally, I do think you're stretching a wee-bit. GW moved comfortably in all kinds of religious circles and had friends who were Jewish, Catholic, Deist, orthodox Christian, etc. He made it a point to stay above the fray.

Had Wm. Paul Young been alive at the time of GW's time, he would've probably sent GW a copy of his book. And GW would have politely accepted it and returned a letter of thanks. Whether GW would have approved of it would've been something the "old fox" would've kept very close to the vest.