Thursday, October 30, 2008

Senator Obama - Either Stand Up or Step Down

I am adding my voice to many others who are demanding that Senator Obama prove that he is “a natural born Citizen” of the United States, as the Constitution requires as a qualification for president, and he must do so with conclusive documentary evidence.

To this date, he is fighting in court to keep his birth records from being made public. What is he trying to hide?

As many of you know, I'm not supporting Senator McCain for president, so this isn't an attempt to sway people in that direction. I'm just extremely concerned about the ramifications of electing a man who seems to be swindling the American people with a media-aided run for the White House while concealing his background and lack of necessary credentials.

Electing a man who might eventually prove to be constitutionally unqualified will have grave consequences, and electing a man who is actually hiding his past might well mean that we will have a usurper in the most powerful human office in the world, one who has evil motives and could spell disaster for our republic.

So, Senator Obama, we the people demand that you come clean, show official documentary evidence of your qualifications, or step down as the Democrat candidate for President of the United States.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Echoes from the Edge Special Deal

This is a quick note to let you know that I am offering the first two books in the Echoes from the Edge series for $15 plus shipping. That's only $7.50 per book. Signed copies would make a great Christmas gift for the readers on your list.

Click here to go to the page for this sale, or click here for my complete ordering page.

The Shack - A Review

If not for the fact that this book has become a major bestseller, I would not be taking the time to do a review. If not for the fact that many people have been deceived by the insidious material in this book, I would not have bothered to finish reading it. If not for the fact that professing Christians are passing this book around and begging people to read it as if it were the inspired word of God, I would have thrown it in the trash and laughed it off as yet another vacuous attempt to water down the truth of the gospel, another slipshod exercise in constructing a house upon the sand that would surely blow away in the next hefty breeze.

Yet, The Shack continues to dominate bestseller lists. Online reviews exclaim in ecstatic verbiage how the story has radically transformed lives. Shoppers arrive at the checkout line with a dozen copies declaring their intention to freely deliver this new gospel to their friends.

Such is the deception.

Although others have undertaken the task of exposing The Shack for the shoddily written, unbiblical, poisonous book that it is, I have decided to write my own report. Why? I will be commenting on issues that I have not seen in other reviews, and, frankly, there are people who have asked me to share my opinions, so I am responding to their requests.

The Shack begins with a man named Mackenzie (Mack) who receives a note from God, inviting him to visit a certain shack, a place where the murder of Mack’s daughter took place. The story then flashes back to describe the daughter’s (Missy’s) kidnapping, thus capturing the reader’s emotions and generating sympathy.
It is a rare parent who isn’t horrified at the thought of losing a daughter to a rapist-murderer, so the author, William P. Young, uses this bait-and-hook technique to its fullest. Once the hook is set, the story then turns to the longest sermon I have ever seen in a story, Mack’s meeting with the trinity in the aforementioned shack.

Since Young puts words in the mouths of all three persons of the godhead, it is crucial that the words reflect truth. Yet, they are often far from truth, as I will soon point out. Some people have defended the book by saying, “It’s fiction!” but that changes nothing. Fiction is a powerful vehicle for dispensing and illustrating truth. Fiction stories have altered major courses of events in nations all over the world and throughout history. If a fictional story teaches a lie, we must reject it and expose the story for the lie that it is.

Young reveals hints of his doctrine early on when he recounts an Indian legend about a princess who jumps from a cliff in order to bring healing to her tribe. Then, Missy asks her father a series of questions about the story. These questions, and Mack’s answers, foreshadow nearly everything that follows. The author ties Missy and the princess together when Missy asks, “Will God ever ask me to jump off a cliff?”
Although Mack replies “no,” the rest of the story makes the reality of an affirmative answer quite clear.

Mack equates the Indians’ Great Spirit with the true God. He also equates repent-free forgiveness of self-inflicted sin with healing of non-self-inflicted sickness. Both equations are troubling. Sure, Mack could simply be wrong, but the rest of story affirms these and many other falsehoods, as we will see.

Young sets up his errant view of revelation and authority in the following paragraph, in which Mack is pondering a note from God inviting Mack to a meeting at the shack:

Try as he might, Mack could not escape the desperate possibility that the note just might be from God after all, even if the thought of God passing notes did not fit well with his theological training. In seminary he had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course.

This paragraph becomes Young’s straw man, that is, the idea that must be destroyed, and, of course, the straw man is defenseless. The author uses the rest of the story (a protracted sermon, really) to destroy Mack’s ideas about the authority of the Bible. When Mack meets with this author’s God, he learns that revelation derived from a relationship with the divine supersedes (and contradicts) what he has learned from the Bible. Although Mack is a seminary graduate, his attempts to defend what he has learned from the Bible become laughable. Young uses Mack as a bumbling foil, apparently attempting to show that serious Bible adherents are incapable of defending the truths gained from Scripture. This is an insidious use of the straw man fallacy.

In fact, Young even denigrates family devotions in which the Bible is used:

Often, it was a tedious and boring exercise in coming up with the right answers, or rather, the same old answers to the same old Bible story questions, and then trying to stay awake during his father’s excruciatingly long prayers. And when his father had been drinking, family devotions devolved into a terrifying minefield, where any wrong answer or inadvertent glance could trigger an explosion.

Does the author provide any contrast? Maybe a view of a family reading the Scriptures with real devotion? A loving father teaching the word with enthusiasm and without hypocrisy? No. Because for Young, Christianity isn’t defined within the pages of God’s holy word. It comes through subjective relationships.

When Mack meets God, “God” is an overweight black woman who claims to be the “Father” of the trinity and wants to be called “Papa.” Some claim that it’s fine to portray God the Father appearing this way, but they misunderstand the trinity. The Bible says of Jesus, “He is the image of the invisible God,” (Colossians 1:15) and “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” (Hebrews 1:3) (These and all other quoted Scripture are taken from the New American Standard Bible.)

To see God the Father is to see Jesus. As Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9) Jesus is the appearance of God the Father. He doesn’t visibly appear any other way. To portray the Father physically in one form in concert with a simultaneous physical appearance by Jesus in a different form is to confuse the truth about the trinity, especially when the author shows nail marks in Papa’s wrists. The Father did not die on the cross. The Son did. Young sets the reader up for a warped view of the godhead.

Young portrays this Papa as a brusque, even vulgar woman. For example, at one point she says, “Don’t just stand there gawkin’ with your mouth open like your pants are full.” Would God use coarse jesting in violation of his own precepts (Ephesians 5:4)? I don’t think so. Young constantly tweaks the reader’s sensibilities and concepts about God in this way, lowering the Father to the status of a bathroom-level jokester, a gun phobic Aunt Jemima, and a lover of anger-inspired rock music (which would be in violation of Galatians 5:20, James 1:20, and Colossians 3:8).

Yet, every complaint I have so far is really minor compared to what I found in the rest of the sermonized story.

I could write on and on about the myriad fallacies the author puts in God’s mouth, the internal inconsistencies, and self-contradictions, which are bad enough, but I will focus on the worst of these errors—the author’s belief that God doesn’t punish sin and rescues everyone in a universal salvation, whether they call upon the name of Jesus or not and whether or not they repent of their sins.

These falsehoods begin when Papa tries to counter Mack’s view of God:

I am not who you think I am, Mackenzie. I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It is not my purpose to punish it; it is my joy to cure it.

The Bible says otherwise. Here are just a few examples:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18)

He also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night. (from Revelation 14:10, 11)

And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. (Revelation 19:15)

Obviously God does need to punish people for sin, and it is in God’s purpose to punish it. Young’s view is clearly unbiblical. He paints a skewed portrait of God, a sugar-daddy deity who doesn’t demand obedience, as the following shows:

For now I just want you to be with me and discover that our relationship is not about performance or you having to please me. I’m not a bully, not some self-centered demanding little deity insisting on my own way.

Yet, God does demand that we please Him. “The person who sins will die” (Exodus 18:20). “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might … for the LORD your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the LORD your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 6:5, 15)

That doesn’t make Him a bully. He is God, and we are His sheep. We are not on an equal plane. And if we don’t obey Him, He sends us to Hell forever. That’s the biblical God, but Young is trying to invent something else, a god who just wants to be friends.

This becomes clear in the following conversation between Mack and Jesus, in which Mack is used again as Young’s bumbling foil (Note Abba is Papa and Sarayu is the book’s representation of the Holy Spirit):

“That’s the beauty you see in my relationship with Abba and Sarayu. We are indeed submitted to one another and have always been so and always will be. Papa is as much submitted to me as I to him, or Sarayu to me, or Papa to her. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way.”

Mack was surprised. “How can that be? Why would the God of the universe want to be submitted to me?”

“Because we want you to join us in our circle of relationship. I don’t want slaves to my will; I want brothers and sisters who will share life with me.”

The Bible doesn’t say anywhere that the Father is in submission to the Son. It’s the other way around. And submission really is about obedience as well as a relationship of love and respect. They are not exclusive. Young seems to want to pit obedience against relationship, as if they cannot exist at the same time. This is a false dilemma, another one of the author’s many fallacies.

Also, Jesus does not call us His friends unless we obey Him, as He said, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:14), which clearly demonstrates the truth, that our relationship with Jesus is based on obedience. As John Wesley wrote about this verse, “A thunderbolt for Antinomianism! Who then dares assert that God's love does not at all depend on man's works?”

There are so many examples in which Young puts words in the mouths of his invented trinity that directly contradict the Bible, it would be impossible to list them all. So I will go on to the most dangerous teaching this book foists upon its readers, and it will take some time to present how the author sets up his emotion-baited trap.

When Mack visits another female, who seems to be the personification of wisdom or justice, he is invited to sit in a seat of judgment. When she begins her instructions, she says. “Judging requires that you think yourself superior over the one you judge.” It’s clear that Young is trying to take away the foundations by which we are to make judgments, and by doing so, the reader is made to feel wrong, perhaps prideful, when he or she makes a judgment.

Yet, we are told to make judgments all through Scripture (e.g. 1 John 4:1). We cannot survive without them. We cannot make sound decisions regarding whom to trust or to whom to render service unless we make judgments. And if the responsibility to judge is taken away and judgment itself is vilified, then the basis for God’s judgment is also swept to the side, which we will see.

When Mack is asked to make a judgment regarding a man who would prey on innocent little girls, here is how the conversation ensues:

“What about him, Mackenzie? Is that man guilty? Should he be judged?”

“Yes!” screamed Mack. “Damn him to hell!”

“Is he to blame for your loss?”

“Yes!”

“What about his father, the man who twisted his son into a terror, what about him?”

“Yes, him too!”

“How far do we go back, Mackenzie? This legacy of brokenness goes all the way back to Adam, what about him? But why stop there? What about God? God started this whole thing. Is God to blame?”

Mack was reeling. He didn’t feel like a judge at all, but rather the one on trial.

The woman was unrelenting. “Isn’t this where you are stuck, Mackenzie? Isn’t this what fuels The Great Sadness? That God cannot be trusted? Surely, a father like you can judge the Father!”

When Mack then says that God is to blame, the woman goes on to demand that Mack become a judge, a judge who fits Mack’s idea about God as judge. She says that Mack must decide which of his children will go to heaven and which to hell, and he must choose only two of them to go to heaven. The only basis the story gives for the judgment is that his children have sinned. But Mack refuses to make the choice and asks if he can go to hell in their stead.

To this, the woman replies, “Now you sound like Jesus. You have judged well, Mackenzie. I am so proud of you!”

Does that sound like Jesus? To the undiscerning reader, it might. Jesus died so that we wouldn’t have to suffer judgment. But our salvation in Christ is dependent on our turning from sin, believing in Jesus’ atoning work, and surrendering to God in obedience. In Young’s world, you obtain salvation automatically. No turning, no faith, no repentance. There isn’t even a hint that anything is required, not even faith in Christ.

Young sets up a false view of God’s judgment, that God arbitrarily sends some sinners to Hell and other sinners to Heaven, without consideration for repentance and faith, and dashes that idea, thus killing a straw man. So, what is left to believe after this contrived debate? That God takes everyone to Heaven, because with Young’s false dilemma, that’s the only option remaining.

The following excerpt should make it clear that Young believes in universal salvation, even for those who don’t call upon the name of Jesus. In the book, Jesus says,

“Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions. I have followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous. Some are bankers and bookies, Americans and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved.”

The key is the author’s words, “I have no desire to make them Christian.” This, by itself, should have raised red flags for every reader. Of course Jesus wants all people to become Christian. In the Bible, He tells people to come and follow Him over and over. They can’t be saved without being His followers. Yet, thousands upon thousands of professing Christians, lacking discernment, are singing the praises of this deceptive book.

Young portrays God as someone who has no expectations on our behavior (“I never placed an expectation on you or anyone else”). There is no judgment. Everything is about relationships. Although our relationship with God is crucial, it is not something that supplants our obedience and God’s justice regarding those who do not obey.

Are you still unconvinced that the author is pushing universalism? Read on.

As the story winds down, Mack is given a vision in which he sees his father in a heaven-like place. Of course, there is no hint given that his father ever repented and turned to God, so we are left wondering how he made it to heaven. Though in Young’s world, turning from sin has no saving value, so this is really no surprise. Mack, in concert with this repentance-free economy, forgives his father, again pulling the reader’s emotions into acquiescence with this false forgiveness.

False forgiveness? Yes. It seems that the church today has fallen for a false definition of forgiveness, that somehow we can forgive someone who has not repented of his wrongdoing. Without repentance from the offending party, the offended party can decide not to hate or harbor a desire for revenge, but that is not true forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the restoration of a relationship from both sides, both the one who offended and the one who was offended. If we decide that forgiveness is merely the cessation of a desire to punish the offender, we will short circuit true forgiveness. Why? Because thinking this revenge-free thought pattern is all we need to do, we will no longer seek the restored relationship only repentance will bring.

Does God forgive those who don’t repent? Of course not. Yet, in Young’s world, God, because of the sacrificial work of Jesus, forgives everyone, whether repentant or not, whether a Christian or not. As “God” says in this book:

“In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship.”

Convinced yet? If this isn’t universal salvation, then what is? I could write pages about Young’s warped view of forgiveness, but here it is in simplicity. Forgiveness is simply deciding not to punish someone, regardless of whether or not that person has repented. So God doesn’t punish anyone, whether they have turned from their sins or not, or even whether they believe in Jesus or not

This twisted view is exemplified in Mack when he “forgives” his daughter’s murderer, though he has no idea whether or not this killer is currently raping and killing another innocent girl. What nonsense! This isn’t forgiveness. The killer hasn’t repented. He hasn’t sought forgiveness at all. All this is is Mack trying to feel better. It is merely the self-centered flushing of negative feelings. It does nothing to redeem the offender, though Young thinks it does.

“Mack, for you to forgive this man is for you to release him to me and allow me to redeem him.”

Somehow, God’s redemption is predicated on Mack’s decision to forgive the unrepentant rapist-murderer. Such is Young’s view of God, a deity who demands nothing but a touchy-feely relationship. There are no expectations, no responsibilities, only a kiss on the lips and a pat on the head when his creatures rebel. Everyone will be saved, no matter what.

God has become the Great Spirit in the bedtime story who sends a princess to jump from a cliff, thereby healing all people no matter the condition of their heart or the confession from their lips.
It is such a tragedy that so many in the church are accepting this blatantly false view of God, judgment, and salvation. A book like this should never have become a bestseller. It is poorly written, it is obviously false, and it is an insult to God. But sales continue to skyrocket, forcing us to sound an alarm that really shouldn’t be needed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Motiv8 Tour Sponsor - Real Armor of God

Wielding swords and wearing medieval clothing was one of the highlights of our tour. At many of the events, Sir Wayne and Sir Christopher put on mock sword battles that proved to be very popular with everyone.

In the photo the two knights are going at it in a mall in Medford, Oregon. They put on a great show.

Kids and parents alike stared at our swords with wide eyes, especially when we let them hold our blades. What a treat!

Where did we get the swords, scabbards, belts, and much of our clothing? At a great online store called Real Armor of God. John Cooper of Real Armor, a tour sponsor, provided the swords as well as much of our garb. We can't thank him enough for his generosity.

Do you want battle-ready swords? Realistic clothing from a variety of historic eras? Chain mail? It's all there at Real Armor of God. And the prices are reasonable. What a great Christmas present for the warrior or sword maiden on your gift list!

Here is the link: http://www.realarmorofgod.com Or just click here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Motiv8 Contest Results

The Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour is over, and so is the contest. I will be posting photos and videos from the tour soon, but now it's time to post the contest results.

First place is KeenEye with 1939 points. He wins books for life.

Second place is Daughter of Thigocia with 1768 points. She wins five books. Since she won three books in the previous contest, one of which she has already received, she now gets the next seven books I publish.

Third place is Galadriel with 1577 points. She wins three books. Since she won two books in the previous contest, one of which she has already received, she now gets the next four books I publish.

Here is a list showing the rest of the top ten. They win The Bones of Makaidos when it comes out. If they won any books in the previous contest, this will increase their book winnings by one.

Iluvhorses - 1168
Makaidos - 1028
Katie G - 857
Shiloh - 835
Malfhok - 633
NoahR - 631
Jessica H - 590

Congratulations winners! Please be sure to keep me up to date on your postal mailing address. If you move and don't tell me, I won't be able to send you the books.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Movtiv8 Tour - Day Four

Today, October 6, we drove from Medford, Oregon, to Sacramento, California, which ended up being about a six-hour journey. Our first stop was Trinity Christian School where we spoke to a great group of fifth through seventh graders.

Next, we went to a Barnes & Noble and spoke to quite a sizable group, most of whom stayed for the entire two hours. We introduced our books, Wayne Batson did a reading from Isle of Swords, and we took questions from the audience for nearly an hour. It was really a great time.

Tomorrow we head for Fresno for two charity events. We're very much looking forward to this new adventure.

For your entertainment, I'm embedding our videos from the first two days of Motiv8 events.



Monday, October 06, 2008

Movtiv8 Tour - Day Three

Yesterday, we left the Seattle area at about 7:00 a.m. and drove to Portland, Oregon, where we met readers at Bridgeport Village. Although it was raining, and we gathered at an outside gazebo, many came out to see us. As you can see in the photo, the authors stood around and chatted with people as they arrived. You can see me on the right in a black sweatshirt.

After that, we drove to Medford, Oregon, where we had a fantastic even at a mall. Dozens and dozens of readers showed up to watch Wayne and Christopher cross swords in a heated duel, ignited by a controversy over who had the proper hair style--Christopher sporting the bald look, or Wayne with the long hair and ponytail. Everyone had a great time.

This morning we will drive to Sacramento for an assembly at Trinity Christian School and then a signing event at a Barnes & Noble bookstore.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Movtiv8 Tour - Day Two

Day two of the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction tour was fantastic! We had a great interview at a TBN affiliate, then a signing event at Harvest Logos Bookstore in North Seattle. Many readers came, some spending the entire two hours visiting with us.

After that, we drove to Enumclaw for another super event at the Salt Shaker Bookstore. The staff there had decorated the store like a castle. It was amazing! I hope to have photos in a later blog post. Jonathan and Wayne did readings from their books, then Wayne and Christopher drew swords and fought. The place rocked with laughter.

Today we travel to Portland for lunch with local fans, then on to Medford for another bookstore event. We're already tired, but after such great turnouts yesterday, the adrenaline is pumping.

Don't forget that you can watch many of the events from wherever you are. If we can get an Internet connection, we will stream them live at our tour site. Click here to go to the fantasy fiction page.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Movtiv8 Tour - Day One

The Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction tour began yesterday with a great stop in Abbotsford, British Columbia. First we spoke to classes at MEI Middle School, then had pizza with students who won an award for writing a book report, and finally had a wonderful assembly for students and parents.

Christopher Hopper was our master of ceremonies (he's a natural for that!). First the Miller Brothers, authors of the new Hunter Brown series, spoke. They shared funny stories about how they grew up with tales of adventure and how that led them to write. Donita Paul told a story about how truth was better handled by hearers if it was wrapped in the clothing of story telling. Jonathan Rogers explained how fiction is such a great vehicle for leading readers to the goal of learning. I told two stories about how God taught me how He was leading me through my writing journey.

Finally, we took questions from the audience, both in the room and on-line. Remember, we're streaming every event we can to the Internet. You can see our events at this website. Please take part!

One non-tour note that I want to add: Remember that October 1 marked the launch of Marcher Lord Press, the new publishing company dedicated to Christian fantasy and science fiction. Marcher Lord Press is the brainchild of Christian publishing industry veteran Jeff Gerke. Be sure to head on over to www.marcherlordpress.com to take advantage of the free bonus books being given away with the purchase of Marcher Lord Press novels. See also the great prize giveaway and other Launch Day fun.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Eternity's Edge is Out

Eternity's Edge, book #2 in the Echoes from the Edge trilogy is now available. Although today is the official release date, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be on the shelf of your bookstore, so please call before you go out to try to buy it.

I noticed that it is showing up as "in stock" at Amazon.com and Christianbook.com, so it is now readily available online, as well.

I hope you'll pick it up soon, but you really need to read book #1, Beyond the Reflection's Edge, first. When you read it, please send me a review.

If you want to buy an autographed copy from me, click here. You'll find a link for Amazon here, and I have provided a link for Christianbook.com below.




715559: Eternity"s Edge, Echoes from the Edge #2Eternity's Edge, Echoes from the Edge #2

By Bryan Davis / Zonderkidz