Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in. In today’s program, Tom concludes series of programs with his guest, Warren Smith as they address the topic: That Good, Old-Time, New Age Religion. And now, here’s Tom.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. My guest today in part 2 of this program is Warren Smith. As I mentioned, he’s a former New Ager and certainly has been a blessing to the church in terms of the insights that he’s brought about the New Age movement. God allowed him to go through those experiences, and I honestly believe he’s using it to the glory of God.
Some of the books that he wrote are The Light That Was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace; Deceived on Purpose, and “Another Jesus” Calling, and he’s written a number of booklets produced by Lighthouse Trails and writes for the Lighthouse Trails blogsite.
Warren, thanks again for joining me in Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Warren: Good to be with you.
Tom: Warren, last week we covered a lot of territory, but I imagine some people were concerned: “What do you mean, you mean we don’t hear from God? Isn’t that what Sarah Young’s all about?” And they might even bring up the scripture – Jesus in John:10:27, in which He said, “My sheep hear my voice.” Now, did Jesus mean what Sarah Young is encouraging?
Warren: Well, what I would quickly say is that along with that passage is the warning about a hireling. And what we learned in the New Age is that there are other voices out there. I heard the channeled voice of Jesus through the channeled teachings of A Course in Miracles endorsed by Oprah Winfrey that are clearly unbiblical. The Jesus of – Oprah’s “Jesus,” the New Age Jesus, says that “A slain Christ has no meaning. The journey to the cross should be the last useless journey. Do not make the pathetic error of clinging to the ‘Old Rugged Cross.’” These are wholly blasphemous statements coming from the mouth of “Jesus” in A Course in Miracles. And I believed that it was really Jesus. So he’s saying he’s Jesus, and he’s giving these false teachings, so is that the voice of the Shepherd, of the Good Shepherd? Of course not! When Jesus said, “My sheep will hear my voice,” He’s already given us His voice in Scripture, and we can compare whatever…
If somebody – of course people can hear from the Lord, and He comes at us in a whole lot of different ways. There’s sort of this premium being put on totally subjective – hearing the audible voice or the impressions coming from God, and we’re not being told by any of these teachers – I don’t care if it’s Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer…
I remember Bill Hybels wrote a book on Whisper. It was hearing the voice of God, and he said in that book, “Make sure it’s not the sushi that you ate last night.”
Well, wait a second: we’ve got 1 John:4:1-3 telling us exactly how we test the spirits, but they’re not warning about testing the spirits. It’s like, “Hey, as Christians, because God loves us so much, He’s just going to give us His voice. We don’t have to worry about deception.”
Well, wait a second: He told His disciples when they asked, “What would be the sign of your return and the sign of the end of the world?”
He said, “Take heed that no man deceive you, for many shall come in my name saying, ‘I am Christ,’ and shall deceive many.” We’ve got the Christ of Jesus Calling saying things that are unscriptural. So I think hearing His voice is many things, but I think, first and foremost, what we’re hearing needs to measure up to Scripture, but we want to make sure that it’s really, truly the Lord, and we need to ask for wisdom.
I always tell people to just pray, “Lord, please don’t let me be deceived.” And then if you do hear something that you think is the Lord and you’re…
Well, let me backtrack: a lot of what Sarah Young hears is prefaced by Scripture, and then all of a sudden it’s kind of like something that’s unscriptural. So you have to go, “Wait a sec, this is not the voice of the Lord. I hear the Lord’s voice because I know Scripture, and this is not the Lord’s voice.”
So I don’t know, maybe you can make a little bit more sense of what I just said, but what I’m trying to say is that you can’t just assume because you’re hearing a voice that it’s who they say it is. If it’s Jesus saying, “Hey, this is Jesus, and I want to tell you something. Now this is a little different; it contradicts Scripture…” Wait a second, no. There is no contradiction of Scripture. That’s our authoritative guide, and the reliance that people are now having on subjective experience is overriding Scripture and putting Scripture way in the background, and that’s the danger.
Tom: Exactly. So when Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice,” in my understanding He’s talking about the written Word of God, the Scriptures. He is the Word, the Word of God. And, you know, as you’re pointing out, Warren, you either have it objectively or you have it subjectively, okay? So what do I mean by that? Well, it’s the written Word. Warren, you and I can have a conversation about interpretation of the Scripture, and I might say, “Well, Warren, this here is how I understand it. This is how I interpret it.”
And you’d flinch and you’d say, “Wait a minute, Tom, Tom, Tom, hold it! You have forgotten the context. You’ve missed the context of what the – what it’s saying here.” Or you might say, “The grammar, Tom. You’ve missed the grammar.” You know, we’re talking hermeneutics here, a way that we interpret Scripture, and it’s very objective.
Now, how can I respond to that, or how should I respond to that? I say, “Warren, you’re right!” So with hermeneutics, you have a way of correcting me on the basis of grammar, on the basis of the context, and so on, and I can respond to that and say, “Warren, you’re right! I’ve blown that teaching. I’ve misunderstood.”
On the other hand, if it comes down to subjective – the subjective aspects – where I say, “Well, Warren, you know, I hear what you’re saying, but you can have your own understanding of that, but that’s not the way I feel about it,” that’s the end…as I mentioned last week, that’s the end of our conversation, because you can’t change my feelings. You have no basis – it’s subjective. And that’s what’s going on here.
So when Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice,” He’s talking about the Word of God, and you pointed out we need to hold everything up to the written Word of God, to the objective presentation of His revelation of His Word. And when we get away from that, hey, “Whatever will be will be.” We’ve lost any way of which we can truly understand what God is saying to us, what He’s speaking to us.
Now, to go back to impressions and so on, certainly God can impress upon us some certain things and so on. But, Warren, if that’s the case with me and I bring my impression to you, what can you do? You can say, “Well, Tom, give me chapter and verse for that.” Or you want to bring me back to the objective understanding of God’s Word, and in my view, Sarah Young is leading us and has led us and has led millions of Christians away from that understanding of the Word of God, and it’s going to create nothing but confusion and trouble for us.
Warren: Yeah, and I think that a lot of people say, “Oh, well you guys, you’re all cessationists. You don’t believe that God can move and can speak to His people.” Of course! God could break in right now on this conversation, on this interview, if He wants to. But there’s a premium being put on this that is not in Scripture. There is no premium being put on people’s sitting, quieting their minds, and waiting to hear what Jesus would tell them. We’re to pray for guidance, we’re to pray for leadings, pray that the Lord would help us to know what to do and what not to do in our lives, but a lot of that is done through Scripture.
One of the things that came to my mind is that one of the criticisms is (and you alluded to it): “You have your interpretation, I have mine.” Well, listen to this – probably one of the most underused Scriptures amongst Christian leaders today is 1 Timothy:4:1: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.”
Listen to what Eugene Peterson says in The Message: “The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars. These liars have lied so well and for so long they’ve lost their capacity for truth.” Well, the spirit world just exited, doctrines of devils just exited, and the idea of demons just about exited, because they’re just demonic illusions that Peterson’s talking about.
Here it is in a nutshell: the very scripture that skewers what’s going on – seducing spirits like the one that came through the Course in Miracles that Oprah has endorsed, the ones that Sarah Young is listening to in the name of Jesus, because clearly the Jesus that she’s listening to contradicts Scripture – then you’ve got Eugene Peterson rewriting the Bible, reinventing Scripture, and saying that these are just demonic illusions rather than seducing spirits with doctrines of devils. And that’s why The Message is so repulsive to so many of us, because he takes – he…well, we mentioned in the program last week that he put the occult phrase “As above, so below” – Eugene Peterson did – in Jesus’s mouth in the prayer, the Lord’s Prayer. Instead of “…in earth as it is in heaven,” he used this occult New Age saying that means that God’s in everything: “As above, so below.” So it’s pretty amazing what’s going on.
You’ve mentioned that it’s hidden in plain sight, it’s all over. But I guess people are trusting…reminds me of that old line from a song in the ‘60s – I think Bob Dylan did it – he said, “Don’t follow leaders. Watch your parking meters.” And it’s kind of like, “You better…” Jesus said it a lot better warning about the leaders of His time, that they’re wolves in – some of them are wolves in sheep’s clothing that are bringing in…
I don’t think we’re to try to guess who knows what they’re doing, who doesn’t know what they’re doing, who’s just deceived. We have to measure what they’re saying, and it’s either scriptural or it’s not, and we need to pray and make sure that it’s the shepherd and not the hireling.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Warren, since you brought up The Message, Eugene Peterson’s attempt at writing the Bible, my line for that is: you go through it – you know, the Word of God says over and over again, more than 4,000 times in the Old Testament alone, “Thus sayeth the Lord,” or “The word of the Lord came to me.” The only thing you can say about that book The Message is, “Thus sayeth Eugene Peterson.”
Tom: And that should be enough to put you off. It’s worse than interpretation; it’s man’s imposing his own ideas, his own concepts for whatever reason – for his pride, for his literary esteem, whatever the motivation may have been. It’s “Thus sayeth Eugene Peterson.” And, folks, you’ve got to get rid of it. Sadly, it’s now the Bible in many evangelical churches. I’ve been in churches where, you know, you just pick a Bible out of the pew where it’s put, and it’s just a bad deal.
Warren: Tom, let me just interrupt you for a second, because I want to make a point: this is the difference between an authoritative Bible and the word of Eugene Peterson. If you look at 2 Peter:1:16, the Bible skewers The Shack. Here’s what it says: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
That’s what The Shack is, and we can talk a little bit about that if you want: “cunningly devised fable.”
Listen to what The Message says, and see if this bears any resemblance to cunningly devised fables: The Message for 2 Peter:1:16 says, “We weren’t, you know, just wishing on a star when we laid the facts out before you regarding the powerful return of our master Jesus Christ.” That sounds more like Jiminy Cricket. “We weren’t, you know, just wishing on a star,” as opposed to “cunningly devised fable.” One is sharp as a two-edged sword – that’s what The Shack is, a cunningly devised fable, and we can talk about how that is so – and then you’ve got this other just mishmash that says nothing, just like chasing after demonic illusions.
So I think there are a number of people that are starting to see that there’s something going on here that is exactly what the Bible warned about, and it’s called “deception in the end days.”
Tom: Without a doubt. This is the apostasy, and as we’ve been talking about Sarah Young’s book, this contributes. And there are many other things out there, but yes, we’ve addressed Sarah Young’s book.
But now, as you point out, let’s talk about The Shack. Certainly the book, when it came out a number of years ago, you know, great controversy surrounded it. And, Warren, you and I looked at it and said, “Hey, come on. Christians, you’re not going to buy into this.” As you know, in terms of its publishing, no reputable – that’s maybe a term I shouldn’t use – but no Christian publishing company would touch it. So he had to self-publish it, and you figure, “Well, where is that going to go?”
For people who know about self-publishing, you know, you order 5,000 books, you put them in your garage, you have no distribution, and after a couple of years your wife is sick of it and wants to have her car returned to the garage, and so they’re hauled off to the dump. That is the norm for self-publishing books. However, not with this book! It went over the top. It even blew the minds of many secular publishers, because the economy was at such a point that many of the major Christian publishers were hurting financially, yet this book went beyond it.
Then we have the movie. Now, my view is, Hey, we’ve dealt with… From my movie writing background, I didn’t even want to go see it. But I did see it, and the thing that stunned me was not only now how the book had a kind of reintroduction and influence, but now the movie pushed it over the top. And many Christian organizations… You know, Warren, you and I have talked about this before, so we don’t have to go over that again, but the influence of this book, just like Sarah Young’s book, just like other things that are out there, they are conditioning not just the world, but the church, to accept the beliefs – whether we call it New Age, or whether we call it the religion of the Antichrist, it is encouraged, induced…you know, as it says in Galatians, it has bewitched many within the church, right?
Warren: Yeah. I used to maybe refer to it as baby steps to Antichrist, and now they’re more like giant steps to Antichrist. It’s becoming more and more obvious as we watch this stuff. They’re becoming more and more blatant.
The thing that disappoints me, I guess, is that I’ve heard so many friends of mine, even ones that used to be in the New Age, saying, “I can’t believe how many of my friends are reading The Shack!”
And it’s like, “Well, what are you doing about it? Are you talking to them about it? Give them some things to think about.” And I think, unfortunately, there’s such a tidal wave going on, a lot of Christians just haven’t kind of, like – they’re not fighting the good fight in terms of…and I know there are lots of your people that are at Berean Call, but so many Christians just feel overwhelmed by what’s going on, and they don’t know what to believe. But there are certain things about The Shack that are just no-brainers. Like when Jesus in The Shack says, “God who is the ground of all beings dwells in and around and through all things.” So we now have Jesus pronouncing the New Age, new spirituality, new world religion – foundational doctrine right in the middle of a 20-million best-selling book.
And then we have most recently – Paul Young in his latest book Lies We Believe about God, he comes out and flat-out says, “Do I believe in universal reconciliation? Yes, I do.” And he just almost puts it right in the reader’s face. And what’s interesting is that he gets a lot of mileage out of saying that he wrote this book originally just for his kids so they’d know what he believed. And what he put in that original book was that he was into universal reconciliation, which would be in line with New Age teachings, which is that everybody not only is going to get saved, he’s saying they’re already saved. Everybody is already saved. But when it came time to think about doing the book for publication, his coauthors, Wayne Jacobsen and others, said, “This isn’t going to fly. We better take that out.” So they took it out. And I guess it was some kind of an explanation that maybe Paul Young was a little bit uncertain about that, or whatever. And so it was taken out. So I’m thinking, What did he teach his kids about what he believes? He teaches them that he’s into universal reconciliation, but when it comes time to publish a book for sales, he’ll take it out, because that might hurt sales is the only conclusion I can come up with.
Warren: And now when he comes out with his new book 10 years later, 20 million books later, and he’s confident that he has a lot of Christians with him, he didn’t…
And TBN, Trinity Broadcasting Network, has just completed 20 episodes of Restoring “The Shack” with Paul Young having his own program on TBN. And at the very beginning of the program, they were using his new book where he announced that he was into universal reconciliation, they were using it as a fundraiser for TBN, but there was such an outcry, there were so many people that were having trouble with the fact that Young was now saying he’s a universalist, that they stopped advertising the book.
But watch this, Tom – this was really interesting: they had posted, like, the previous episodes with the ads for Lies We Believe aqbout God online. And just on a hunch, I went back and I looked at those previous programs – they removed the ads for Lies We Believe about God from all but the very first show, because they were so concerned that there was going to be this outcry and protest about them featuring a guy who’s saying that everybody’s already saved. But what happened? There was no outcry, there was no continued protest. There were just a few bloggers and people like you and me that were questioning what was going on, and now they’re running the whole series again. They’re running the whole 20 shows again on TBN, and it’s done in a very beautiful Montana landscape; it’s very beguiling. There’s music. Paul Young is just sort of expounding on the success of his book, and all the people that have been affected by it.
Hey, I can give you story after story of how a lot of us had “meant to be” experiences in the New Age. We felt that God was working circumstances to our benefit. But Shack theology, and that’s what it is – he has said more recently that The Shack is theology wrapped in story. Early on in his interviews, he’d say, “It’s fiction! It’s fiction!” when he’d get cornered. Now it’s “theology wrapped in story.” And Shack therapy is based in the “Great Sadness,” which is a term that comes from Kahlil Gibran, who is a New Age pioneer and universalist himself.
So, anyway, I’m going around in circles, but it’s like this book is so utterly unscriptural, but yet it continues to fly high.
Tom: Let me address some of those things: now, we could do six more programs just on all the blatant heresies that are in The Shack, and as you pointed out, the ground doesn’t seem good for him promoting his ideas, he backs away. Then when it looks like it’s good, then he opens up.
But I want to deal with universalism, because that is the heart of, you know, William Paul Young’s teaching. It came out in the movie, it was certainly a major part of his books. Now, universalism – what is that (for folks that are unaware of the term)? You called it “universal reconciliation.” The point of it is everybody gets saved! Everybody ends up in heaven. Now, folks, when major organizations – whether it be Campus Crusade, or people that we have some respect for – promoted The Shack, in my mind, I think, What are they thinking? Because if universalism is true, then the gospel is false. It’s not just false, it’s inane! What’s the point of it? Because if everybody gets saved, why did Jesus go to the cross? Well, you know, why did He do all of these things?
Warren: I’m sorry, but that brings up an interesting point, because Paul Young has gone on record in at least one radio interview where he says he does not believe in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. In other words, Jesus did not die for your sins.
Tom: And He couldn’t have, because if universalism is true, then the gospel is not only false, it’s a waste of time and energy and so on.
So that said, now I just want to – we’ve got about three minutes left, Warren. I want to go back to just the points that we’re trying to make in these two programs. Sarah Young comes out with a book and influences millions of Christians. It basically conditions them to accept not only New Age concepts, divination, all of these different kinds of things that undermine the Word of God, that draw Christians away from the truth. This is the apostasy, and this is one element of it among multitudes of elements that undermine “the faith, once and for all delivered unto the saints.”
Now we have The Shack, same thing. You know, we talked last week about the New Age movement and its concepts and so on. Now, I don’t think William Paul Young ever mentions [or] uses the term New Age, but it’s there. It’s there blatantly in his book. And again, the bottom line is this is what the religion of the Antichrist is all about: “Hey, there is no substitutionary death. There is no sacrifice on the cross. Those are myths, because we’re all good; we’re all gods; we’re all going to be reconciled in the end through the religion, through the teachings, through the kingdom of the Antichrist,” which is coming. Right?
Warren: Yeah, I think every person that has any inclination to like The Shack needs to ask themselves, “Why didn’t Paul Young ever identify his Jesus as Christ?” The word - name “Christ” is not in The Shack. That Jesus is not Christ. And he proves it by saying there’s no substitutionary atonement. He proves it by the doctrine that God is in everything. He says that evil has no existence on its own and the devil is never mentioned anywhere in there. He’s teaching his kids what he believes, and there’s no warnings about, you know, an adversary who’s going to try to deceive. The whole book just kind of falls apart, but I think what it is is that – you mentioned it earlier – it’s like that scripture about strong delusion has taken hold, and for whatever reason, Christian leaders are just not being very scriptural. They’re being more subjective and they’re getting everybody into this kind of “feeling” thing, which, Tom, is going to lead to a false revival.
Tom: Right. Warren…
Warren: It’s going to be everybody thinking that God’s doing some special thing.
Tom: Now, Warren, we can pray for William Paul Young. We can pray for Sarah Young. No relation, by the way, to one another, except for their belief system. That’s their relationship here. So we can pray for them, but we need to pray for discernment among believers. As believers buy into this stuff, they are, as it says in the warning given in Hebrews 2: “Take heed lest ye slip away, lest ye drift away.” There’s not just a drift, a slipping away, there’s a tidal wave drawing people back. It’s incredible.
So, Warren, we’re out of time here, but I thank you for your input in this. I would encourage people – as I mentioned last week, Warren’s going to be one of the speakers at our conference in the last weekend in August here in Bend, Oregon. So, Warren, I look forward to that. And, folks, if you can’t attend the conference, you can pick up what we’re doing here by livestreaming and so on, which I would encourage.
So, Warren, again, thanks again brother. This is important stuff, and I hope our listeners will take heed, will take the encouragement, really the admonition, that we’ve been giving about not only testing the spirits, but discerning what the Word of God says, being Bereans, checking things out, so that we can not only please God, but we can be fruitful and productive to His glory.
Okay, Warren, God bless you, brother.
Warren: Thanks. Good being with you.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 featuring T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon, 97708. Call us at 800.937.6638; or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael, we’re glad you could join us, and we invite you back again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.