For New Year's, we're re-airing an episode from Season 1 in which we discuss God and love in the context of suffering, abuse, betrayal, and addiction with William Paul Young and Brad Jersak. It remains one of our most popular episodes to date, and we hope re-airing it will introduce it to new listeners. Enjoy! We'll be back on our regular schedule with new content on January 12.
CONTENT NOTE: This episode contains references to trauma, abuse, suicide, and mental illness. Not recommended for children.
On this episode, we're joined by William Paul Young (author of The Shack and Eve) and Brad Jersak (author of A More Christlike God and Her Gates Will Never Be Shut). We discuss their new co-authored novella, The Pastor: A Crisis, a raw story of a fundamentalist pastor undergoing the judgment of God. But our conversation is much more wide-ranging than just the book. We discuss what it means to say that God is love, the nature of forgiveness, the metaphor of Hell, and more.
You can find the transcript for this episode here.
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NOTE: This transcript was auto-generated by an artificial intelligence and has not been reviewed by a human. Please forgive and disregard any inaccuracies, misattributions, or misspellings.
I'm Randy, the pastor half of the podcast, and my friend Kyle is a philosopher. This podcast hosts conversations at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and spirituality.
We also invite experts to join us, making public space that we've often enjoyed off-air around the proverbial table with a good drink in the back corner of a dark pub.
Thanks for joining us, and welcome to A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar.
Well, welcome, everyone. On this episode, we're excited to bring you a really interesting interview with a couple authors that you may have heard of. So we've got on our podcast today, Brad sureseq, and William Paul Young. And they have authored a new book together called the pastor a crisis. It's a novella. And it's got some pretty heavy themes in it. So it might be a good idea to give at the beginning of the podcast here, a note to content warning. If you have young children, this is probably not the episode for them. We're going to explore some pretty dark, heavy themes, including trauma, abuse, but also the grace and healing and forgiveness that comes out of those experiences. That's the context of the novella that they've written. And it's a really challenging and beautiful conversation.
That's right, I will fully admit that I am a fanboy of these guys full on Fanboy and I am proud of myself and how I conducted myself in this interview I didn't like totally come across as a fan wasn't
as obvious as it could have been. Okay, good. Good. All right. I avoided asking any questions about the shack, so I feel pretty good about that. Yeah, same.
Today, we're super excited that we're joined by two people that I admire so much, Brad, your sec and William Paul Young, thinkers, authors. I'll just start with you, Brad. When I think of you, I think of you as a pastor, as a theologian, as a writer, and just a beautiful human being bred. You're you've gone into the Eastern Orthodox world, and you've you're just a man of rich background, can you just give us a nutshell of how would you describe reg or sec,
I would start with a person who, who has a an adorable wife, Eden, and she's walked me through a lot of my own meltdowns and journey towards grace. I'm after pastoring for 20 years, I did enter the academic world. I'm now the dean of theology and culture at St. Stephen's University in New Brunswick, Canada. And we have an online program, if you want to check out ssu.ca. And I'm also I'm also really pleased to have a close circle of friends that I regard as a healing community. And Paul is right at the center of that. And so, friend of Paul Young feels good to me. In fact, it doesn't feel like name dropping anymore. It's like my dear friend, who has my back. Yeah, that's where I'm at. All
right. In bread, you came through all sorts of traditions, whether it's charismatic, not Mennonite, but tell it tell us the journey of traditions because it's just fascinating to me. Yeah,
actually. 20 years in a conservative Baptist church that was heavy on dispensationalism. All things Armageddon, please. Yeah, then I married into the Mennonites, and I actually am an ordained Mennonite minister. I worked with them for 10 years at my wife's home church. And that's where I became more Jesus centered in my theology and reading of the Scripture. And then we planted a church that I led for 10 years, and she led for five years called fresh wind, with a focus on people at the margins, people with disabilities made up 1/3 of the church. We also had addicts and the poor and children running around. So that was wonderful. Then I had a great meltdown in 2008, and retreated to academia and did a healing journey through a PhD. And by the time I got done that, I knew I didn't want to be a pastor anymore. And, and so I I've, since then, I've been teaching. And I also at the same time, made my transition into the Orthodox Church where I'm a monastery preacher and reader, which is their code for chanting the hymns and, and scriptures so so it is quite a journey from from something that looks like you know, a conservative Baptists to someone who wears a robe on Sundays. That's that is a journey and but it's a good one. Probably
the only person I've ever heard describe a Ph. D. program as a healing journey. That was not my experience.
Yeah, well, I fell in love with Simone de who saved my life. If and her theology of the cross was a part of that healing,
love to do a whole episode just on that. Paul, William Paul Young author of the shack, and many other books, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself?
Missionary kid preacher's kid firstborn. I grew up in a third culture world. So Third Culture kid where exactly that was in Iran. It was Netherlands New Guinea when we got there. So I'm born Canadian. I was a year old when we went there. My sister was born Dutch. My other brother was born under UN control. And my second brother was born under Indonesian control when Sukarno came and annex the country. So we had four children with four passports. And so it's it was pioneer missions at the time, the Dutch bailed out and the interior of New Guinea Guinea is very unusual now popular or West popular, and it has over 800 unrelated language groups, like unrelated language groups, and there's no common language except maybe warfare at the time when we went in. So we went into a very, an touched part of the world at the time, spirit worshipping practice ritualistic cannibalism and adult euthanasia of one sort or another, but incredibly tight knit community structures, and our tribe was huge. It was 20 30,000 people over 100 square miles. And we were first in so yeah, so then, you know, very, very rigid. Also dispensational, in terms of its eschatology, very performance oriented, very transactionally based, holiness, movement, modern Evangelical, that whole that whole thing. And then coming back to Canada, moved around a lot. My I went to 13 schools before I graduated high school. And part of that just reinforced all the disconnect that I had with, you know, Third Culture kid issues. And that was all exacerbated by sexual abuse that happened both in the tribal culture and then in boarding school, missionary boarding school, and also issues of my dad and all that. So, you know, the facade that I picked up was one of performance. So I became a performance addict. And not because I was trying to deceive anybody I was, I was desperate to find a way to integrate my outside world in my inside world, and I thought I was such a piece of crap. ontologically, you know, in terms of the truth of my being that, that, that I had to create a facade as a goal toward which to move. But as soon as you have a false identity like that, then everything is just underground and waiting for exposure, which is the only path to healing. And I drug all my crap into my marriage and then blew it up. 13 years in after our sixth child was born, we have six kids. And that started me on an 11 year dismantling reconstruction process. I was one of those people that didn't need a art restoration person to carefully undo the layers of crap. I needed bulldozers and wrecking balls, and I got them. And I mean, I built the house of cards that came down that 11 years, which it took Kim, I'm married to now 41 years but Kim almost well just celebrated 41 Kim, she she paid a huge price for my healing very unfair price and took her and I 11 years to heal from the adultery that she caught me in a three month affair with one of her best friends in 1994. And that started 11 years of just putting one foot in front of the other and dismantling who I thought God was dismantling what it meant for me to be a human being dismantling. Oh hellish arduous process of, of learning to live inside the simplicity of one day's Grace at a time. And 11 years later, as the 11th year closed off, and my 12th year began, which was the year I turned 50 I finally felt healthy enough, Kim and I had reconciled, which took all of the 11 years. reconciliation means that she she now trusted me. And then I finally felt healthy enough to do this little thing that she had been kind of every once in a while I would bring it up and that was Sunday. You know as a gift for our kids. Would you just write something that puts in one place how you think because you think outside the box and finally the year I turned 50 I feel healthy enough to do it and working three jobs. and took the train 40 minutes, you know each way to my main job and, and that Christmas, my one gift for my kids, because we had nothing at that that year part of the healing journey. But I went down to Office Depot and made 15 copies of the story that I'd written called the shock. And those 15 copies did everything I ever wanted that book to do never intended to be a published author. I never thought I'd ever speak again after I because I taught theology, I gone to Bible school in seminary and done, you know, all the right, all the right things to qualify and then blew up my world. So it was simple. I was going to clean toilets and you know, do hot food processing and hot food line and manufacturer's rep place for circuit boards and soldering tips. I thought that's, that's my life. And I'm good. I'm content took me till I was 50 years old to be content. And, and that's the year I wrote the shack. And John's got a great sense of humor. Yeah. So and here we are, look at that.
Wow, Paul, I mean, what a gift you give us with that story, the vulnerability in the honesty, I mean, man, it
is what it is, you know, we've we've we've hidden our crap for so long, we don't even know that Jesus can heal us.
Well, so through from hearing that from you, Paul, and knowing your story with your meltdown, Brad, it makes all sorts of sense of this book, the pastor a crisis that you wrote together, because it seems like you both have gone through that very crisis in different ways. Would you say? Yeah, absolutely.
Yeah. To the end of ourselves.
I just want to ask you guys a couple contextual questions before we get into the book. Is that okay? Yeah, absolutely. So tell us about your relationship, how you struck up a friendship, that led to writing a book together.
Boy, it's gonna take the whole hour, just so I wrote this little book for my kids, you know. And, as a as a result, I got invited all kinds of places to come and to be present. And to talk one of them was with a community in southern British Columbia, that Brad had once pastored. But now Eden, his wife was pastoring. And Brad was off somewhere doing his really intelligent scholarly stuff. And so I didn't get to meet him. But we got to know each other through a lot of email exchanges, and some phone calls. And just because he was working on a project, and I was working on projects, and, and we just started meshing our, our thinking, and I, when I had a good question I contact Brett, it was the way I described, there are some relationships that don't require any work. You know, some friendships and, and it's, it's more of a Oh, there you are. Kind of thing that just, you know, and there's no looking back. So it always picks up where it leaves off. And it's, and that's, it's a kiss of grace for me. And that's what happened with us. It's a gift. Brad's a huge gift to me. Likewise. Yeah, yeah. So
where did the book come out of you guys? Well,
the way Paul talks about it sometimes is, the genesis of the story comes actually from actual people, and events and situations that coalesced into a narrative that I wrote in a raw form. And then I brought it to Paul, because I was terrified that, that I, you know, I've done a lot of storytelling, but you don't, what you don't want to do is have a theologian bring propaganda to fiction, and I just thought I don't, I don't trust that I can do that without a master. And so I'm a master Torah storyteller, like Paul i. So I reached out to him and said it, I would love to do a work of fiction. And I, you know, I just was wondering if you could guide me through this. And in fact, I dare to ask him if we could co write it. And then and he said, I would love to, and it just made my heart sing so. So although although the raw version of the narrative was birthed in my heart, it was truly a collaboration. And we each went to work on it together, and we would exchange the manuscript and then we would exchange it with our editors. And, and finally, it came into a final form.
In Brad as an as an author. Is this your first fictional work that you published?
Next? Well, first published one, yeah. Okay. I did one when I was in grade two, that was pretty epic. I lost it. And I wrapped over that, and this is a fulfillment of those unrecruited dreams.
Read, can you can you describe just to frame up so it's easier for us and our listeners to understand the book a little bit more? Can you just give us a little taster of your meltdown, your crisis? I remember you saying how many people Bull had died in your community in the last in the year before your crisis. Can you just take us into that a little bit? Yeah,
we, we were working with people who, by their very nature, high risk, you know, people with disabilities and addicts and so on, and the kind of people who become addicts are also in the gang rolls and so on. And so at the beginning of that year, we did sense that a storm was coming, and we had no idea and when i By the time I got to my doctor, I had had me write down 35 major tragedies in our church, including suicides, a gruesome murder, an abduction, a lot of overdose deaths and suicides. Then I presided at the funeral some of those suicides may have also been murdered. I don't know and, and but and then I one of our staff members had his own crash with infidelity. And, and, and then week after week, the people loved him the most of all our pastors, they'd be like, where is he? Where is he? Why can't he be here and, and then when the young woman got abducted in Mexico, and abused, after we'd worked with her for years, I just like I don't know if I trust God anymore. In the midst of that my own issues surfaced around love addiction, which I would describe as a black hole, looking for affection. And that involves crossing lines with dear friends and ruining ruining that and just falling in love with anything that moved in is just a horrendous experience of for my wife took me to the brink of suicide. And I'm so grateful I found a 12 step sponsor I found a spiritual director. And like Kim, my wife, Eden is the wrath of God who, whose love would just refuse to leave me and also refuse to let those things go on looked at. So. So that's that's how I, that's about as explicit as I get publicly with it, I there. But that's pretty explicit as so. And so the pastor a novel in some, in some ways, we'd have to say, you know, it's definitely not an autobiography. But we do identify with the man who comes apart in this book, in our own stories, and also with others that we walk with Paul and I, because of the Mercy we've received, in the midst of our crash, have a heart for walking with the untouchables. And, and we meet Christ in them, and we meet Christ in those encounters. And so we're just how lucky are we? I'm using that word advisedly. How lucky are we, that God did not put us on the shelf, but he used the worst of who he became, turned it on its and redeemed through the help of loving, loving wives and healing teams therapist, to put us in the path of some of these most precious people who are like the pastor and also like the other characters in the book who underwent terrible experiences. And those are composite characters of real life, people we know and walk with today, Paul, and I both could say we, some of the dialogues, both of the damage and of the healing are just like copy and paste out of our own text messages with
real people with real people. Yeah, so a friend who who read the book, called it beautifully brutal. It doesn't pull punches, and, and it's definitely not the gist of normalcy as far as Christian literature would be. So we don't even think of it as Christian literature in that sense. And, but it's real. And it's, it's, it's raw, and it's, it's stunningly redemptive. And, and for those who are listening, who, who may not grasp the depth of what people have experienced, because, thankfully, a lot of us don't, you know, or haven't in that, that there is a capacity within the human crafting and creation that is unbelievably powerful in the sense that the human comp, the person will will actually fracture into pieces in order to protect itself. And, and when we talk about those dissociative parts, those a lot of times historically, those were considered the demonic and where everybody was trying to cast out something that was actually a part of that person's experience in history, that actually played a significant role. And a part can be disassociated, who has taken all the abuse and wrapped it up into its own memory bank, in order to protect the rest of that person from absolutely going insane. And, and the process of healing means to reintegrate, well, on a much lesser scale for a lot of us, it's similar to the false identities that we have created and crafted in our lives, the lies that we believe about ourselves, the ways that we think we have to perform, all the ways we cover up that we don't think we're enough. And the process of integration for us is to dismantle the things that are not true. And move into the light and only, only the ones. And I'm speaking ones in the sense of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who know the intricacies of the human person, the the unique intricacies of you, only that kind of wisdom knows how to navigate through that. And in part, I think all the healing modalities, the 12 step programs, which I think have saved millions of people's lives, are, are, are authored in participation with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to to open up Pathways because of the uniqueness of damage that is done in so many people. So, you know, even though there are commonalities in 12 Step programs, there, there is a uniqueness for how that then plays into somebody who participates in that kind of modality, but, but we're into all kinds of other things that you see all of these rising healing possibilities. And that just to me, just says the Holy Spirit is very aware that there's no quick fix here, you know, there's no red or blue pill, this is, this is really a transformational journey. And problem is that Brad and I both grew up in a world, you know, very conservative world where process was not allowed. You know, it was old things are passed away, all things become new, let's move forward from here. Let's not talk about the history which, you know, which was fine by me, because I didn't want to be humiliated worse than I already thought about myself anyway. And and then to find out that exposure is part of the work of the Holy Spirit, and necessary, you know, the unexposed as the unhealed. And so the move toward authenticity that's happening in a general sense of rising that, you know, the older generations were not aware of, to the degree that there is this rising consciousness that is happening is essential for the moment towards wholeness. And that requires exposure. We're in a year of exposure, goodness, 2020 is a year of exposure. Yep.
Yeah, I want to go, I would love to go down that rabbit trail a little bit, like, so much possible after a year of exposure, right, both on the ugly side, and on the beautiful side. Yep.
Well, the, the ugly side was already there. Right. And it's like, what, what this pressure and this fear and this shame has done in in terms of being exposed is to finally give itself voice Yeah. And then it's like, now, okay. And it needs to happen. I mean, you, you, you have to Lance the wound, you, you you have to allow it expression, and even when some of the expression is, is wrong, and violent and destructive, you know, I've got a son who's a Portland police officer, so Portland, Oregon, so it's not like, we don't feel what's going on here, you know, and it's fine. Finally, these things are coming to the surface. It's like, what do we do now? Well, and Brad and I've talked about this the way forward is toward that's what it is the way forward is toward?
Yeah, it reminds me what you're talking about. Paul reminds me so much of your book in, in that it really is, is I was reading or listening to it. Three hour Listen, super, super quick, in hour by hour, I would give my wife little agitative updates as to how the book is. And it started out saying this book is dark, like it's just flat out. It's a this is dark. And then the second hour, I would say this is really raw, like it's it's visceral. It's, it's still dark, and it's kind of disturbing in some ways. And then the third hour, the conclusion was, this is beautiful. You know, I mean, it's just this full circle, amazing descent, a person's descent into their own hell would you say? Absolutely. And almost feels like being broken by their own brokenness, right? And then also being healed by those that they had wounded. Could you explain that? That journey in the book that just seems so seamless and just one movement almost, but it's just jarring? It's painful? Well, it's, it's hard to get through, both in real life and in the book, we're gonna quote
you on that dark, raw and beautiful. That's the human story though, like so. Paula has not even had a chance to hear this yet. But a woman who was listening to the audiobook this morning was half done her jog. She's a reader who suffered from serious childhood traumas, resulting in compulsions towards self hatred and self harming behaviors, including, including an eating disorder that drives her to run. So on her run this morning, she's listening to the audiobook. She says this while I was listening, near the end, I thought, wow, I hated the pastor. And then I loved him. And then I thought, Oh, I've hated myself. Maybe that could happen for me to come on. But his fear about Trust and Safety Mirrors, everything I feel. Also all the memories coming to the surface at the end, that's what's been happening to me, all these scenes are flashing through my mind in the middle of the night, but not in a bad way. Really, it's like, love is meeting me when I'm ready. And when I noticed I'm there and connected, and I don't want to stop it. Come on. And then it was like, Jesus Christ, he's awake. This is what we this is this, this is just a dream come true for us in the sense of, we had no expectations for the book in terms of outcomes or sales. But when we get a response like that, from the broken of the broken, daughter of addicts, you know, who, who I identifies in some way with one or more of the characters, and it's like the characters take their hand and walk them into the healing encounter, and like an authentic encounter with the living one life itself, right? I'm like, Oh, my goodness. That's what I signed up for. And I didn't even know it. How's that? Paul?
Lee. So, when we put trigger warnings on there, it wasn't to keep people away, it was to just give them notice that this was an invitation to walk on the holy ground of Gods participation inside their brokenness. And, and that, I mean, we're hearing responses like this, and that one by itself would be enough. It would be enough. And it's just like, okay, good. I think about Jesus and and the Pharisees go, like, we're doing just fine. You know, he's why I'm a doctor, I didn't come for well, people, I came for the sick, you know, and we're, we're looking at that, and we're going like, they have no idea what they just missed out on. You know, not that not that that particular doctor is going to give up on them. Either. He's, he's coming. And it's just timing. And I
can I just say, you know, because it gets so dark, I do want to assure readers that it is also not gratuitous. We're not using abuse issues to entertain. It is an invitation to healing, but not only for them. So initially, Paul and I were a little concerned, I would say that this book is not for everyone. I would now say, because we got word from a Spanish translator, who said, it is actually actually everyone who reads it will be able to identify both with the pastor's pain and also with his experience of love. And so that was really reassuring, although we would not recommend it for people under 16.
And I would say to that, there are people that just won't go there yet. Yeah, I mean, and a lot of those would be coming from the well side of the spectrum, you know, and it's like, okay, there's a timing to this kind of exposure. That's, that's necessary as well. True.
So in, in the book, and even just knowing your theology a little bit, both of you, in many ways, it feels like you're metaphorically speaking to some deep theological truths and biblical truths in really beautiful ways like that remind me of Jesus parables, but in it you deal with, I would say, some really heavy weighty issues, in some really wonderful ways. Things like judgment and hell and the wrath of God, right. Yep. Could you guys take your best shot in by take your best shot? I mean, I've heard some of your best shots and they're amazing. So excited to ask this, but your take on thick things like what is judgment? What is the judgment of God? Let's start there.
So the word crisis comes from the Greek crisis. And when it's used in the New Testament, it's normally try insulated judgment. And so it's a crisis. And so this is the pastor a crisis or the pastor. The judgment. Yeah. Right. And, and so we're, we're interplaying, that the idea. And we both alluded to it when we talked about our wives being the wrath of God, right. I've referred to Kim that way. Part of the reason that I'm as whole as I am, is because of the intensity of her fury. Unrelenting fury. And, and as George MacDonald would say, this is not a god standing idly by Well, anything that is not of loves, kind remains in you. So the commitment of love is that I'm, I'm coming after it, I am not stopping. And it may take a long time, but we are going to, we're going to I'm out to destroy evil, not to placate it, not to naysay it, I want to destroy it. And that is the consuming fire. That is the fire that is God who is love. Nothing but Right. And so we frame our perspective, theologically inside of that, and Brad's written a beautiful book called OR gates will never be shut, that really deals with a lot of this as far as just a frame of reference and an overview. But we also I think we've we've grown in our humanity. So we begin to recognize the rootedness of the deepest longings and desires of our own hearts inside the same thing, like I talked about one of our daughters who had who really fought a brain tumor for a decade. And as she grew, and that brain tumor affected her hormonal system and everything else. And she began to hear a whisper in the deep places of her heart, not the deepest, but deep places that she was damaged goods, because of the presence of that thing, you know, that she wouldn't, she wouldn't be altogether lovable, and all of this. And, and I'm her dad, I, I am opposed to that, which is not of loves kind and her and give me the expression of fire, and I would burn that little piece of tissue outs out of her brain, and but even more, so I'd go after the lie. Right. And that's kind of fury is not because she disappointed me at any point along the journey. It's because I love her. And I don't want anything in her that is not of loves kind, nothing
retributive in that at all. It's about redemption and healing and freedom. Yeah, and in that sense, I do want to say this, that the book, the story and our stories, these are not it's not a metaphor for hell. Hell is a metaphor for our story. Yeah, that makes sense. In other words, hell hell is. I'm going to use this word advisedly, mythological in the sense of how things come to be. It's the genre of mythology around our visions of hell, are meant to be metaphors, for the reality of our alienation and the lies, my attachments and my addictions and self imprisonment. That's what he was talking about. Largely, it's, it's a, it's the kingdom, it's the kingdom of that tyrannized is us.
So put it in another way. Hell is not about a destination or a location, it's about a relationship to love. Right? So so if this love is going to come into my life, or is in my life, and has the express intent, because they are love to destroy all that is, it is in me with my participation. Because this love does not. If love takes away my No, than my Yes, doesn't matter. So there is this really beautiful relational reality. But the intent of this love is to destroy that which I might even think to be precious. Right? And, and it's like, okay, so. So hell is a relationship to love when I'm resisting? When I don't want the healing, or I don't want to do the process or I don't want exposure. I don't want to be authentic. I don't want to be honest. Right? And it's also the fiery journey toward liberation. And so Heaven is exactly it's like Heaven is my yeses as opposed to my nose, you know, in that sense. So hell would be on this on on the side of the imprisonment and plus, also the journey of extrication from that imprisonment. So, yeah, so again, that's sort of how we frame it, I think
So one thing I really liked about the book was in the in the depths of the main character, the pastor struggling with his own version of hell. And then you get this voiceover from his therapist describing her experience of what he's going through. And it was it was left open ended whether or not he would recover. And I thought that was really honest. She described, you know, there might be a kind of internal healing that's going on that we can't witness. But it might not. It might not ever come back. We're not determined. Yeah. So how does that tie into your view of what you're describing as hell, the metaphorical
bread? Yeah, so Paul's just exactly hit it, that we're not determinists that to approach it from New Testament theology point of view, that that there is this element of open endedness that preserves our right to say yes or no, the human will, cannot be violated. And that's why love takes so long and why it's so messy. If God wants to just strap us all down to gurneys, then maybe he'd prevent a lot of what goes on in this world. But the reality is, it's some hellish stuff is happening, and God does not stand idly by he enters and participates and experience the suffering with us. But here's a good question. If death has been conquered, then does the New Testament foresee a willing response and ultimate healing? That does not trip into determinism? And I think I think it's pretty clear the New Testament does foresee that but it can't offer it in a way that removes human agency. It's just predicting what human agency will do when it sees love face to face. And, and we know for sure, as a fact, this is not a mystery. There's a lot of people who come to the end of this life, and they have not made that willing face response. And the pastor in the book, there's no no certainty that he would either and and in our lives, I, I am not guaranteed that I won't blow up again. I live on a day by day relationship with the mercy of God that he would give me give me grace. But but I'm still a free agent. And unfortunately, we've called it free will. But I'd say more like this. I'm not sure how free my will is I do know that I make free choices with a dysfunctional will. And He is healing my will. And I think it would make sense to me that at the final judgment, those who face Christ with a dysfunctional will, will will be able to say there yes or no, with a healed will. So sometimes I call it I'm not sure where Paul is on this, but you can jump into I call it a fried will response. Yeah, and my will is for this thing. Yeah, I'm I'm experiencing the the freeing of my will to do what it was created to do naturally. And that is always to respond to love. The degree to which I don't identifies the bondage, the bondage, the dysfunction is not I've not overcome it completely. But what if, what if, in the end, we are empowered to freely choose, without, without the temptation, the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil deceiving us anymore? It's like, but
but Yes, sir. What if that? What if that judgements process even post mortem? Yeah. And here's, here's one of the big impediments that we have, I think from from our modern evangelical background is that we've made death bigger than life. And, and we've reduced our significance. By taking away our, even our freed will post mortem, it's like, you have to make your decision before you, you die morally. And so we ended up, especially with regard to all the framing of the conversation about hell is that we talk about it as if everybody was freed the way we have been by our history and background to make those kinds of decisions. And it's like, you, you have no place for the mentally ill, you have no place for my cousins who both took their own lives because of the intensity of the schizophrenia that they battled with. Right. And, and you've made death. You know, I did these tweets one time, and one of them was words, you'll never hear a God say, and one of them was, I'm sorry, you died. There's nothing I can do for you now. I mean, death wins. And it's like, no,
Roman. Right, Paul. Death cannot separate itself from the love of God. Oh,
there it is. So I was going to just ask you for our beloved Evangelical, Bible based friends and listeners, right? I know what's going off in their heads is where's the scripture for this weekend talking about any kind of post mortem? Can you flush? stood out a little bit. Death cannot even separate us from the love of God and Christ.
Well, one way to one of the gotcha passages that we used to use as evangelicals was was Lazarus and the rich man, as if that weren't a parable. But
and it wasn't a pre harrowing of hell parable.
Right? And that that will be my point is that we are not, we are not welcome into that parable without reference to its punch line. So in the parable itself, it's like, oh, here's a chasm, no one can cross. Here's a desk, no one can come back from here's something, you know. And and then what do you know the punch line? This is from Pope Benedict the 16th. He said, The punch line of every parable and especially that one is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through which he descended into hell destroyed, Hades bounded up and came back. So So now, what we know in when we read that parable through the cross, is that Christ has crossed the uncrossable chasm returned from the place no one can return from and let a host of captives in his train according to Ephesians. And so suddenly, we understand that Hades is no longer if it ever was, but Hades is no longer what we think it was. If we literalized the parable, the rich man and Lazarus, Hades. Hades has been renovated and it has gone from let's say a destination of non being into now we have a doorway into eternal life it's everything's different because of the cross in
what you're saying is extremely orthodox. Is it not? Yeah,
that's basically that's orthodoxy one on one.
I just, I just want to let you guys know I'm like dancing on my inside my soul is just like, in pins and needles right now. This is so much fun. I so appreciate you guys in your just beautiful perspectives. And the the biblically grounded perspectives, and where how that's come about hearing your stories is just overwhelming me the, the integrity with which you speak coming from the depths that you've lived through. It's just a gift to me, just right now I just wanna let you know. Thank you. So in the book towards the end, you repetitively refer to God, just plain plain, plain old is love. Pray to love call God's love. And you don't even explain that you just start doing it in the book, which I really enjoy. And I know that some of our listeners with different sensibilities might have a little bit of issue with that they'd have to go read the book of First, John. But But I also know that for many, many followers of Christ, if we actually decided to make a shift for a while, every once in a while, perhaps even in addressing God as love that might actually change things within us in our perception of God. Can you explain that intention of why you wrote that in? And how, how that influences you guys.
Go ahead, read. Well,
for me, it jumps back to First John, as you said that God is love. And so the word God is a real turnoff for people who have loaded the word God with all sorts of idolatrous crap. And I'm, it's even a call for Christians to remember the nature and essence of God, that is Trinitarian, divine eternal love. And that every single attribute that we would identify with God is only a facet of that nature. He's not love, but also holy love, but also just love but also anything he's loved, but also nothing without remainder. So then we when we say is holy, or just or whatever we're saying, He's holy love. He's just love. He's, and if there's a holiness, righteousness and a justice, that is not love. Well, that's the Pharisees. That's not God. The other the other place where I would say that referring to God as love in that way was birthed for me was hearing about an interview that that Paul did in Europe, where he recommended this praying to love can you share about that poke?
Well, yeah, so then that goes back to this little incident that happened, you know, when when I started getting some notoriety and platform, which I can't stand but, but But it's across, its across, you know, it, it has no ultimate value, but it becomes a place that the Holy Spirit plays with you in and could be gone tomorrow, and I'm fine with that. And the, so there was this Dutch television show that was actually originated with a group of Jesus people, people who love Jesus and, and it was funded by Dutch national television, like public broadcasting and in Holland, and it was called In Search of God and what they did is they contacted like 20 fives Dutch celeb Ladies and said, one are you in search of God to? Do you want to be part of a show that's about this and 23 of 25 said yes. And what they did is they took these folks, and they took them somewhere in the world. And they didn't know where they were going. They didn't know who they were going to meet, but they would meet somebody that had a significant influence on them some time in their life. Right. And the people that put this together was decidedly these were people of faith, right? And that it had an influence in each of each of their lives while the world heavyweight judo champion. They flew to Portland, Oregon to spend the day with Paul Young, he had no idea because he'd read the shack and somewhere in there conversations he had mentioned it, and how, how significant that little book was. So here comes this massive big guy to meet five foot six, you know, balding, little overweight, white guy. And we spent the whole day together. And they filmed most of the day while we were together. But they also we had lots of time where we like, the first thing in the morning is we went kayaking on the Willamette River and, and as soon as I stepped into my kayak, here, I am the one with experience, I flipped. So I ended up in the drink. And I mean, it was great, great TV and all that, in fact, our episode they showed on Christmas Eve, it was the finale episode. And so this whole day, we're having these conversations about, about the nature of God and what it means to be human and all this and that evening, we're sitting around a fire that was down by the Sandy River property that have friends of ours had and, and, and he says to me, he says, You know, I've been I've been trying to have a conversation with God all day, and I don't hear anything. Right. And, and I said to him, Well, tell me what you do believe in, tell me. Tell me what you believe in. And he goes, hmm, I tell you what I believe in, I believe in the love that I have for my kids. He said, I would die for them. I don't know where that comes from. It doesn't make rational sense. And but I, I would lay down my life. And I said, oh, so could you could you define this kind of love? Obviously, it's not romantic. Can you define it as other centered self giving sacrificial love? And he goes, that's that's exactly what it is. And so he has just told me that the love that he has for his children is agape, which is the first John passage about God is agape right. Other centered self giving love. And, and he goes, That's exactly I said, so why don't you pray to love because you believe in it already. And he goes, I can do that. I can totally do that. And so it was just this beautiful little thing that happened. I think inside the kindness of the Holy Spirit. It wasn't planned. It wasn't prepped for was the first time I'd ever said anything like that. And it just spilled the ripple effect of that in his life. Yeah.
Yeah, I've heard I hope well intentioned, evangelical pastors, famous ones, really famous one say these exact words. And this was in response to rob Bell's book, Love wins, you know, and ever, everything the world was getting turned upside down and evangelicalism and a very prominent evangelical pastor said, God is love. Love is not God. Right? As if to kind of explain away this reality and truth that the apostle John got in such a deep, rich, fundamental level, in his being that God is love. And seems like we're a little bit scared of that is good religious people with religious sensibilities. And it's, I think, that's gone so far, to dilute our picture and vision of who God is and what God's like, or what
we believe love is, right. That's what I'm thinking is like, on the one hand, maybe he was thinking, you know, God is love, but he's also all these other things, which could just be a heresy in the formal sense. Not as a pejorative but, but but I'm thinking more generously than that light. And I hear what Paul's hinting at it as we just as we've loaded awful things into the word God such that we should probably say God is not a god. So to we've loaded all sorts of awful things into the word love. And so for some to say, God is love. They might just think that means God is libertine, or, you know, God is sentimentalism, or, and I think that'd be that'd be a fair A fair pushback but then you go okay then what is love? Here's what love is. Love is what Paul described embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ agape. Here's how it First John, right? Here's how we know what love is, that God sent His only begotten Son into the end and the self sacrificial love, his self offering to the world. And there, okay, now we have an image of love Jesus Christ is the image of God, Jesus Christ is the image of love, perfected impure, you know, the pure, in its purest essence.
And then you can talk about Romans eight, right? Then you can say, All right, so here are the things that cannot separate you from that love, which is a personal relational reality of the nature and character of God that you are made in the image of by the way, and, and you cannot separate yourself, these things cannot separate you not not the present, and not the future. I mean, nothing in the future can separate you from that love, nothing, right? Not life, not anything in life, not anything you're going to experience here, not the mental illness, not not anything, and not anything that revolves around death. Death cannot separate you from the love of God, that should tamper with a lot of my people's theology right there. And not any created thing. And that includes you guess what, you are just not powerful enough to separate yourself because the only way you can separate yourself from the love of God is to is to become non existent. Because nothing is separated from the love of God. And this is not a force this is a person is our three persons who are a oneness of being who is nothing but love. Right by Mrs. And this love is not sentimentalism, that's not libertine, this love is furious, at that which has harmed the ones loved and is out to destroy that, without ever being violent. It's
also eternal in His mercy and loving kindness are everlasting and eternal. I would say that, even in my agency, my resistance is not eternal. Only love is eternal. My, my know, can persist for ages upon ages, perhaps, but it's not eternal. But his yes is eternal. And so that's why I'm a very, I'm very hopeful.
I just want to say take that 2020. Like that's, that's so beautiful and hopeful and good. Something that we all need to hear. So speaking of that, how long are no lasts for and how long? Christ? Yes, is in even in the book, you guys seem to? It seems to be hinting that this descent into our own Hill, and passing through the fiery furnaces of the love of God, as you say, in the book is a universal human experience, perhaps, is that going too far? No,
I think it's totally legit. You know, it'd be like, you know, in the, in the book in the movie, Papa says, actually with Sophia think Sophia and the cave says, Mac, you're looking? You want a pain free life? He goes, Yeah. Well, there isn't one. I mean, it's just as this is just woven into, you know, from the beginning, Jesus is slain, not by God, you know? And it's because yes, if we create nature and image crafted into this being who can say no, and there are no matters? They're going to say no. And so right from the beginning, there is suffering introduced into the, into the midst of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by virtue of creation by virtue of our presence. And it's like, Yep, the refiners fire is the love, so you're not going to get away from it. And whatever you want to deal with. Now, you won't have to deal with later. But, you know, what is this mean? Out? We don't know. Lewis would say, once we start, you know, creating imaginations of what this actually how it all works out. We're involved in fiction, which is true. So you know, if you're, if you're a Hitler, or if you're the pastor or whatever, what does it mean to go through the process of reconciliation with everybody that you've harmed? You know, sounds like hell, and that tells you why it's ages. Right? Because it's all relational. Everything at the core is relational. That's the truest thing about the nature of God is that this God who is love that requires a relationship in order to be love.
That's kind of what we're doing a little bit even with, with sages role in the book in terms of can the can the one who has been wounded become an agent of the healing and so Sharon Baker has, she's a theologian who talked about a hospitable hell and what she describes it as she was said, am Hussein as an example, said, what if? What if for Saddam Hussein, the final judgment is a truth and reconciliation commission, where he cannot flee, the harm that he's caused or live in denial of it, he has to actually go through the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Of all those he's harmed in their presence and before the Lord from whom he cannot flee? And what if, in that truth and reconciliation commission, they get to share their victim impact statements? And also their healing? Because it's not Sadam, who will heal up? What if then they will become agents of his forgiveness, through the mercy of Christ. I mean, she's just her vision of it is so expansive. And what I think is that compared to what I grew up with, if you go to Ephesians, three, and you just compare the two visions, and you say which one is wider, higher, longer and deeper in the love of God, then you are required to go with the higher, longer, wider, deeper one. And also to know, that's not even the tip of the iceberg. Right?
So you brought up forgiveness, that was a major theme in the book, and it was a part of that really stood out to me. What do you think Forgiveness means, especially in the context of God being the kind of love you describe. And what I have in mind, in particular is several feminist theologians, for example, have argued that the Christian emphasis on forgiveness can be damaging to to those who have, who have been given a lot in life where they're expected to just accept abuse, and then and then forgive it. So when you put put things into a power structure where some have power and some don't, giving a blanket, nor you should forgive can be really dangerous to those who have been at the bottom of that power structure. So how do you guys think of forgiveness, and especially forgiveness in the sense of forgiving, forgiving one's abusers?
I think inherently in a lot of that conversation, there is a confusion in the language itself between forgiveness and reconciliation, and they blend the two. And as a result, they have an absolutely legitimate if that's, if that's what it is. If Forgiveness means that you need to now trust the person who abused you, or you need to be friends with the person who were who created the harm, then there's a problem. Fundamentally, forgiveness is for the sake of the victim. It's not for the sake of the perpetrator, it's a reconciliation, that is for the sake of the perpetrator. And the victim, in any given situation is locked into a prison by events or persons, whether they, whether they participated willingly or not, and but were harmed yet. And so, for unforgiveness is like carrying the corpse of a memory around, hoping that it doesn't putrefy and infect all the other relationships that you have. And frankly, if you're waiting for somebody to change, in order for you to be freed from this imprisonment, you you may have ages to wait. Because a lot of them don't give a damn, they just don't care. And a lot of them have died already. And it's like the issue of forgiveness can't be that and and when Peter brings it up and says, Well, how many times do I have to forgive that? And you know, because he's feeling that that tension, seven, and Jesus refers to Genesis, without a lot of people knowing about it. When he says 70 times seven, he's going right back because in Genesis, les Mack, who was a bad dude, you know, five generations from Cain, and says, Well, if Kane's going to be benched 77 times I will be them seven times 70 times seven, which is exactly the turn of phrase that Jesus uses going like, No, we're dealing with an infinite, but just because you forgive someone, it releases you from the imprisonment, but it doesn't establish trust or relationship. That's the arduous process of reconciliation. And I think a lot of what these feminists and others are referring to in that conversation is, don't don't be looking for reconciliation. When one there's no ownership on the part of the perpetrator. There's no confession or truth telling apart, you know, on the part of the perpetrator, they haven't asked specifically for forgiveness for the wrongs that they've encountered and they haven't changed over time, which are all the confession repentance processes that are involved in reconciliation. And it's like, no, that's what you mean by forgiveness. No, we're on the same page. You know, Kim, Kim forgave me. But it took 11 years to reconcile because one, she had to know that I owned it. I had to tell the truth about it. We didn't make my adultery the new secret. It didn't become you know, I didn't point fingers at her. I owned it. And the biggest thing was she had to see change over time. You know, and that meant I had to live an open life that meant I had to be open to challenge at any point, anything, you know, along the way. And I saw I was in a conversation with Maria Shriver when Eve came out. And, and of course Maria has been was terribly betrayed in her marriage. And we went for a walk, and she says, she, she finally turns to me, and she goes, so does Kim, trust you. And I said, Absolutely. And she has every reason to. And she goes, like, how did you get there? And I start talking to her about this journey of reconciliation, owning what I did, confessing and continuously telling the truth about it. And then asking forgiveness, not just apologizing, actually giving the right to the other to say yes or no. And, or to ask questions or to pursue or whatever, and then to change over time. And she goes, like, that's never happened. I go, Yeah, you know, but you need to be able to forgive the perpetrator or the betrayer or whatever. We are on health and healing him.
Yeah. Yeah, it seems to me that part of the issue has been that the church has pressured people into forgiving and condemn them. And it's easy enough to even find scriptures from Jesus. Like if you don't do this, you know, and, and, but we've done that in a way that takes away their, their own process and the right to say yes or no, and just guilts and shames for that. One way I think about it is this. Forgiveness is not saying I'm okay. You're okay. It's okay. Or we're okay. So, I may have a lifetime of healing to do before I'm okay. You may have a lifetime of repentance to do before you're okay. We definitely can't make it okay, whatever the the sin or offense was, and we're not okay. If in terms of reconciliation, if both parties are not doing their work, and in fact, some should never be reconciled. If you think about unsafe boundaries and, and so on that but then what is it if it's not, I'm okay, you're okay. It's okay. We're okay. Then, one practice I use. And the woman we talked about this morning, she's been using that herself is in her heart, she takes her offenders to Jesus. And it's not that she just lets them off the hook. So for her, she knows, forgive means let go. But it's not let them off the hook. It's let them off your hook and put them onto Jesus hook. Handing over the letting go is a handing over and then and then she can witness him holding that person removing that person, setting the cross between her and that person but in terms of it takes the hand, her own hand off her own throat, right. And in handing them over to Jesus, it actually some kind of grace is released. I have many stories like this, I'll tell you one, there was a there was a woman whose alcoholic husband left her went and moved into the bush and Burnaby here. And for three years, he was just he was just in a tent with his alcohol and had completely abandoned her. And she was attending a conference that I was at and where I just described this some stories of taking someone and handing them over to the Lord where, where they're where you're still tormented by what they had done to you. So in her heart, she hands this husband over to the Lord and she feels a great relief in herself. Because now she's not holding his burden on herself. She hands out over to the Lord and has a marvelous sense of new freedom. I'm freed from him by doing this. She gets home and he's waiting on her porch. At the time when she was handing them over. He had his awakening like the prodigal son and said, What the hell am I doing here? He dumped out his alcohol and walked out of Burnaby out of that forest across the city, and he's waiting for at home and to begin his healing journey. And somehow I believe that the grace that she received she also released through that handing over process and and at the next conference, they came and gave their testimony about how their marriage was beginning to heal through this. I just so so I sense that our problem is we want to rush to reconciliation. And And as Paul said the feminists are right on that well Nevermind the feminist Paul's own experience of that right you've forgiven people for the abuse you experience where it was some maybe there's not reconciliation yet or it or there were there was it took years and but we want things to be a drive through and I'm afraid that's that's a big error.
Yeah, our choices are so All Powerful. I mean, there, it's been 26 years analysis, I blew up the world. And there's still some relationships that are unreconciled that are part part of part of grieving still, you know, until they are.
So I've got one more question related to the book. And what you guys have been talking about this this whole time parsing through the details, it seems like, and I know from your theology, and from hearing from and reading you guys that you dare to think that maybe this fiery furnace of the love of God is a universal thing that will not nothing will overcome it, including our own death, including our own choices and our own Will everything will submit to the love of God, in the end, this idea of universal redemption that you've ever heard you talk about PrEP as a hope. Yeah, many people would hear that, and say, That's too easy. Right? That's, that's, that's the series, which for me, to me, it actually is extra scary. Because for many Christians, I would say we think that once we say yes to Jesus sign on the dotted line, then all of a sudden, we have nothing to worry about. And it turns out that when you look at your, what you guys are submitting and what you guys are speaking to, it seems as though all of our choices are going to have to meet that fiery furnace of the love of God head on. Whether we said yes to Jesus or not, that love will win over all of our brokenness, and we're going to have to go through that. That, that excruciating process of finding healing from all of that brokenness. I'm just trying to wrap our heads around what I've heard from you guys, can you explain that
you're not, you're not going to be able to escape love. And if love is a flaming fire and fury, guess what? You know. And when it talks about, well, the world is not going to be inundated with a flood again, but with fire, what do you think that is? That's the fire of love. That is intent on restoration. That's why there's a new heavens and new earth that is not new unkind, but an actually refurbished existence that we we know and love and enjoy even now, in part, yeah,
entering the furnace is not easy. That's not going to be easy for us. But I also want to say this for anyone who says that the grace of God and the forgiveness in Jesus Christ is too easy. I have an exercise for you to do I want you to go stand before the foot of the cross. And Behold, the Lamb slain there in his suffering and tell him to his face, that was too easy. Gosh, see, and then actually wait and see what he says, Well, you know, the pastor does. He does that. Yep. Yeah. He goes through that extra, he tells Jesus, this is too easy. Say, just try it sometime. And then you begin to see how our dismissal of grace at the cost of God's own Son is to dismiss that as too easy as some form of blasphemy for sure. I think it's got to be, it's got to be. Yeah.
And then, you know, the truth is, you've never had anything to worry about. The fact that worry exists is because you don't know how much you're loved. Right? That's first John. Take it all the way back there. Right. The one who fears is not that's worry, yeah. Is not perfected in love. That means you don't know yet how much you are loved. If you knew there is no fear in love. Right? So our our hope is in the absolute goodness of God who is love,
gentleman, anything that you guys are working on? I know you're really focusing on getting this out to the world, but anything fun coming up besides the pastor?
Yeah, lots of stuff. I'm working on Eve as a major motion picture potentially. I've got three book projects, they're waiting at different stages of attention. And, and so that's a lot of fun for me as well. And I'm
just, I'm working through new book and my trilogy called a more Christ like Word. So we've done the more Christ like God and more Christ like something way. And this one is a more Christ like Word. And so that's at the publisher, we got some editing work to do, and hopefully it'll build in the spring. Is that about the Bible? Right? It's about that Jesus is the Word of God, and that the scriptures point to him. So it does end up being a hermeneutical book, like how do we read the scriptures through through the presence? Yeah. And I call it the Emmaus way, because on the on the road to Emmaus, Jesus said, here's how you read the scriptures. You see our Moses, the Prophets, and all the scriptures are pointing to me, that the Messiah suffer and come into his glory. So if that's how we read the Bible, well, that'll need some detailing, but that's what I'm working on.
That's fun. So this collaboration, a pastor a crisis, we can find that anywhere we get books, is that right?
The main places to look. One is you can get The hardcover the Kindle version or audio book, which Paul and I recommend you start with actually, on Amazon or audible. And and also if if people for the same price at this moment people can can get an autographed copy of the hardcover book at Premier collectibles.com/pastor premier with an E premier with an E on the end. That's
excellent. Guys, thank you so much for spending time with us such a pleasure really is such a gift. And you're
just an excuse for us to get together
with one or both of you be willing to give us and our listeners a blessing as we close Brad go for
it rather than okay.
We'd love to. So Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, divine love. We're just so grateful for all we've received from you. The mercy that we've received is more than we could ever pay forward. But we ask that you would pay that forward to our listeners today and the readers and they'd experienced not only fascination, but healing in this journey, in Jesus name, amen.
And so it is that I also bring my shades of gray, the emerging of true identity still shedding the skin of the false my intermix of light and darkness my longing to be a truth teller, and my fear of being exposed that keeps me isolated and imprisoned. My sometimes faltering faith admits the surprising sense of your presence. And I ask again, and then again and then again, please, kind loving, faithful one expose all in me that is not of loves kind and free me to be fully human and fully alive. Man,
goodness, Heyman. What is it from Paul?
I just I wrote it, it was just I called it a daily prayer I wrote, which I don't do those kinds of things. I'm gonna just not discipline enough but, but I just I just wrote it a couple of weeks ago, and it's just been sitting sitting here and
you need to, you need to get that out there for people because I want to sweet Thank you. Amazing. Thank you, gentlemen. So much.
Blessings are are honored to be with you.
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