An open letter to YC regarding having Brad Jersak speak at your conference.

P1130858

Dear YC.

I want to start off by saying that YC has been responsible for many kind memories. I first attended in 1997, back when they were only a few thousand people in Red Deer.  I remember being dismayed when Reality Check had to cancel their show, but then you guys brought the house worship band in and they were tremendous and was probably my favorite and most impactful worship experience I ever had. I remember when you released the YC Shine CD. I wore it out listening to it so much. [And in fact if anyone has a copy of it, I would do near anything to have it] I remember going for almost 7 years as a youth,  and then later on supervising a Church group there as a Youth leader. I had many, many wonderful memories of attending hearing the speakers,  particularly Miles McPherson, as well as jumping on people in my sumo wrestler suit and watching early morning Veggie Tales. In short, I was deeply impacted by the ministry and wish it to be used as a way to shape the hearts and souls of Christians kids so that they can be bold, authentic and faithful believers.

Understanding this, it was for this reason that I was deeply troubled to read that Brad Jersak will be attending YC and doing a workshop there. I first became aware of Brad Jersak through his Listening Prayer series, and later on when he came to my city and did a weeklong workshop at one of the Churches here.  The more I heard him and the more I became aware of him, the more I realized how many unorthodox positions he holds. Even though I know that YC is a non-denominational Christian gathering, many of Brad Jersaks beliefs go far outside the realm of Biblical orthodoxy and I think this may be cause for concern.

Among some of his unorthodox beliefs is that he does not believe in an eternal hell. Instead, much like the view Rob Bell promulgated in his book “Love Wins”,  Brad Jersak teaches a variation of ‘Hopeful inclusivism” and believes that because a loving God would never send people to eternal hell, we should be hopeful and trust that all will be saved eventually.  He believes that people still have the ability to freely deny the love of God in the afterlife, or freely accept the love of God in the afterlife, and that many will choose God after they die.

He categorically denies penal substitutionary atonement, or actually any form of substitutionary atonement and considers the idea evil. He finds the notion that “Christ took on the wrath of God for our sins on the cross” to be wrong and in fact, considers that notion a form of “cosmic child abuse.” Brad Jersak has an illustration called “The gospel in chairs” where he contrasts the “traditional view” which he believes to be outdated, erroneous and harmful, and his new version which he calls the “restorative” version.

Quoting Brad Jersak directly where he tells us what the “traditional view” of the gospel is.

“They [Adam and Eve]  are expelled for all time because God is holy and pure and righteous and cannot look on sin and he turns away from man. In this state, man cannot work his way out of sin. All our efforts to please God and justify ourselves and make ourselves righteous are filthy rags, we’re totally depraved and desperately wicked. But God in his love sent his Son to stand on behalf of humanity, who turned toward God himself and walked in perfect fellowship with his Father, preached good news,  healed the  sick and was perfectly obedient to the father. At the end of his life Jesus is put to death and the father puts all the sins of the world on his Son and he who knew no sin became sin, [on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of Christ] he became a curse, And while he was on the cross God poured out all his wrath on his son in our place. He appeased the father’s wrath and anger. Jesus then rises from the dead, and those that believe in him can have a relationship with the father. At that point the chairs are again facing each other.”

Whereas I would say that’s a decent summary of the arc of scripture and what Christians have historically taught and what the Bible teaches, Brad Jersak does not. He completely disagrees with his above summation and does not believe it to be the gospel. Continuing in this vein, he says

” There’s this idea that if we don’t  believe in Jesus and what he’s done for us we remain in our sin and God must remain at enmity with  us and we’re alienated from God. And if we die in that state, of course we experience the eternal conscious torment of the wrath of God for all times as sinners condemned to hell… This is not the gospel.”

“What bothers me about this version is how fickle God is. He is the God who turns from us and turns towards us and turns from and turns toward us and also he’s a little bit like…. you know…. the one who has to torture his own Son in order to get his anger off his chest. I shared this with Archbishop Lazaure of the Eastern Orthodox Church.. and he goes “that’s not Yahweh, that’s Molech. Molech  was the god who [the] Israelites would try to appease, they would try to suck up to him and try to get his blessing by sacrificing their own children so that his wrath would not come against them. And when in the book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah says ” that’s not ok”. He says this; ” God would never even think of such a thing. It would never even enter his mind.”

Furthermore, because he believes that God is exactly like Jesus in every respect, he believes that God never exhibits any wrath or anger towards anyone. He does not believe that God has ever directly and purposefully visited punishment, judgement, or wrath upon the Israelities or any of Israel’s enemies. From his perspective, God would never, ever purposefully kill a human being in the scriptures and all allusions to God’s wrath are strictly metaphorical. From his perspective, Jesus is all loving, and so the God of the Old Testament and New can only be all loving, and did not do anything of the righteous and holy judgements that he is accused of doing in the writings of the prophets. He also denies the notion that humans are born with original sin, which ties in close with his denial of an eternal hell. There is also some question about his view of scripture and whether or not he believes scripture to be innerant and infalliable.

From what I can tell he does not, and in fact in a recent interview at beyondtheboxpodcast.com, he agreed with his guests that we need to get over our fundamentalist, evangelical belief in the  innerancy of scripture, and even plugged the book that elaborates on this.  He lauded and commended the book that states these things. For example, at one point they stated

“If  I could redo the New Testament, I would put Revelation as the first book in the New testament, as it’s an abortive attempt to talk about Christ. It’s still locked into the vengeful God stuff, so I see it as an abortive attempt. I would put Matthew after Revelation, as another attempt that tries to get there, but doesn’t succeed. And then I would put Mark, Luke, John, Paul etc…we need to have a complete re-understanding from the old, worn out evangelical idea of innerancy and infallibility and really look at the text the way we say it was written”

Brad also spoke of his belief that Satan is not a creation of God- that is to say that Satan is not an angel, spirit, person or entity, but rather is mental construct that humans have conceived. Satan is “real” in a post-modern sense, but he has never actually existed as a creature that interacts in a meaningful way with Jesus or mankind. For example, it is said that Jesus never literally cast out Legion from the herd of pigs. Instead,  that story is metaphorical and represents an allusion to throwing off the shackles of the Roman empire. Satan never spoke to and tempted  Jesus in the wilderness either. It is said that is a inner metaphor for the potential evil that Jesus could have been accomplished had he given in to temptation, and in fact that whole conversation was only happening in Jesus’ mind between two factions of his thoughts.

I’ve written a bit about some of these issues at my blog, linked below. Please read and reconsider what this man teaches and preaches and read my biblical, exegetical critique Here and Here. Brad Jersak also is one of a few writers who blog on http://www.clarion-journal.com/ They are all close-knit and very similar in theology, and I would encourage you to read his writings there to get an idea of what else Brad Jersak believes.

Ultimately it’s your decision to bring in who you will. I see some excellent artists and speakers attending, specifically Francis Chan and Propaganda, both whom I personally love and would love to hear speak in person and whose ministries have shaped my life.  YC is and has always been a nondenominational gathering, which I think is part of its strength and appeal. People from all walks of life and possessing all different understandings of Christianity can go there and be fed and uplifted. This is a good thing. Not everyone is going to agree, and I believe it is a testament to the unity of the Body that we can all attend an event like this as brothers and sisters, holding the gospel to be central, and not having unimportant areas divide us.

But these issues that Brad Jersak believes are not unimportant. They are supremely important, and I believe there is a limit many unorthodox beliefs one man can espouse before we ask ourselves whether it is wise to include him in the teachings of our youth. Even if he is not speaking on these subjects specifically, we need to guard them from false and destructive doctrines, which I believe these to be. The culmination of heresies and false teaching is broad and expansive, and I believe it is detrimental to our goal of unity to have someone who lies so far outside of historical biblical orthodoxy speak at your conference. I don’t believe I am unique and alone in my concern, and I wonder how many Pastors and parents would have equally grave concerns and would think twice about entrusting their children’s spiritual care in your hands if they knew the extent of Brad Jersak’s beliefs. From the pastors and parents of Churches I know sending their kids to YC, such revelations would be like a bucket of cold water thrown in their faces.

I would encourage you to read what I wrote, do some research at his own blog [the clarion] , and contact him directly and ask him about these things. I am confident he will confirm them, though please be mindful that Brad Jersak has a propensity for post-modern semantical word games, and so you may have to be firm and really nail him down on what specifically he believes and what he repudiates.

In the case of the Church where I first heard him speak at and which they invited him to,  they have taken down their recording of him speaking, and have chosen to have his message not be propagated further. For all the reasons I stated, I would appeal you to reconsider inviting him to your conference, or having him as a speaker. There are many faithful pastors and ministers in the Alberta and Edmonton area who could step in and offer a robust, Christ-centered, Biblically faithful presentation to our Youth, and I would encourage you to contact them to fill in.

Thank you for reading.

In Christ,

Dustin Germain

26 thoughts on “An open letter to YC regarding having Brad Jersak speak at your conference.

  1. Good Job Dustin! It gets lonely on the wall,few understand this. Many won’t listen to todays Watchmen.

    Jer_6:17 I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.

    Jud 1:10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.
    Jud 1:11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.
    Jud 1:12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;
    Jud 1:13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
    Jud 1:14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones,
    Jud 1:15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

    • Close this scat themed website. And no more comments about dr jersak. Close the blog and get some learning. Ok? No more blog posts please. One time I stepped on a poo but realized it was paper thin!

      Good night and good luck!

      • Thanks for the heads up Jim, I rushed right over to tell you that I simply don’t care much about Brad Jersak and I don’t follow him (you apparently don’t recognize the fact that out of 225 posts on my site, around 5 of them have to do with Jersak).

        He’s a false teacher of little consequence in the circles of which I travel. I’m not surprised that the people at YC have invited him to present something, though I also don’t see him listed on the YC website as a guest.

        Dustin, where did you get the info from on Jersak?

      • Hi Mennoknight, I’m writing a blog about this later, but it looks like Brad Jersak was listed, but then I contacted several people about this, and he has since been removed from the schedule. As far as my information- from multiple sources. I got some from his books, some from several talks I downloaded from websites, including the one from the church. some from clarion journal and beyond the podcast, and some from independent interviews. I plan to edit this post in a few days ago and i’ll cite and source everything directly, so people can find it themselves and verify accordingly

    • Mennoknight. Glad you came over to paperthin. Great place isn’t it? What are your thoughts on Geza Vermes’ death? He passed away yesterday. Heard the news from Mark Goodacre.

      • One of the things I’ve been wondering is when the mennoknight and paperthin will produce some more posts about Dr. Jersak. Some thoughts on listening prayer and universalism would be relevant to the present theological debate!

        Good night and good luck!

      • Hey Mennoknight – thinking about becoming a charismatic? You should apply. I believe your qualifications would put you at the top of the list!

        Good night and good luck!

  2. Pingback: Brad Jersak and YC 2013. Fall out, rough-and-tough, and a resolution | The Paperthin Hymn

  3. I remember those YC days of yore from Red Deer! Devastated when Reality Check couldn’t make it! Those were good times.
    I agree with Jersak on some things and disagree with him on others, I won’t go into what is what here. I do believe your statement that Brad Jersak’s “beliefs go far outside the realm of Biblical orthodoxy” is mistaken. Whether he is right or wrong, or where you have disagreement with him you are right or wrong, the positions you’ve outlined here are theological points that have been actively debated in Christianity for the last 2000 years. In fact, when it comes to his views on hell and penal substitution, his views are closer to the early church father’s than most North American Evangelicals. We can disagree, but to throw out without consideration what he preaches is to throw out the teachings and questions raised by some of the Church’s greatest thinkers.

  4. actively debated by the tiniest minority in spotty patches throughout history, perhaps, but that does not mean it has ever been given serious consideration, particularily his view on the scriptures. we could likewise say “arianism and pelagianism have been actively debated for two thousand years, and so they are also within christian orthodoxy. i don’t believe everything he says is wrong, but i would suggest that the fact that he can look at the new and old testament, and commit himself wholly to a view of non-violence, means that he must necessarily abuse and molest the scriptures to such an extent that it tarnishes almost everything he says. you are not looking at a man who believes the bible is inspired, infalliable and innerant- not even close.

  5. Tiniest minority????? Actually out of the seven great early church centers (Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople) only the church of Rome and the churches that came out of her ie the Protestant and Anabaptist churches interpret the scriptures with the aforementioned juridical soteriology. There are millions of Orthodox continuous with the churches (II Thess. 2:15 & 3:6) of the Apostles who have always rejected this concept of God. It was first successfully promulgated by Augustine who albeit well meaning, projected the neo Platonic assumptions of his pre-Christian learning onto Christianity. He changed the meaning of original sin from the inheritance of a propensity to sin because of distortions in the image of God within us (especially in the areas that our ancestors were prone to) and although he was the champion against Pelagianism he swung to the opposite extreme that of total depravity, Also he projected the Roman penchant for legality onto the scriptures.

    • Mr Bartlett, don’t bother trying to argue with these people. You would have a hard enough time trying to explain to these people that the bible is not really “infallible” (at least not the way they understand it) let alone trying to explain two thousand years of true Orthodox Christian History. Let us just accept the gift our Lord has given us by adding Brad to our flock and pray that he will open the eyes of these people who love the lord with such passion, but understand his Church so poorly.

      Kyrie Eleison
      Fr Matthew Anderston

      • i understand orthodox christianity- essentially pelagian philosophy on steroids . i also would want to know how you understand infallibility
        .

      • Thank you for your advise Fr. Matthew. I do not want to engage in vain disputes but at the same time I don’t want to write off anyone who is open to seeking an objective view of the truth. These teachings have so permeated our culture and seminaries that they seem normal and the one, holy , catholic and universal church, the body of Christ, seems perverted to all we have been taught. I’ll give this one shot. There are so many issues and this is a limited forum to discuss them in.

        One of the pivotal issues here is who gets to interpret scripture. All sides it seems are diligently trying to find the truth.
        The Protestant church (I was raised a Baptist) Has “each man doing as seemed right in his own eyes” casting private interpretations upon the Holy scriptures and rather than heeding 1 Tim 3:15 they place “their interpretation of scripture” as the pillar and ground of truth. Sola Scriptura is neither “Sola” ie. it always has an interpretation and neither is it Scriptural. It’s fruits are a church that is fractured into thousands of denominations which was anathema to Christ and Paul because it is the exact opposite of the oneness of God. (As an aside this is the reason that marriage became monogamous to show the One Church, the bride of Christ.)

        I’d like to kind of turn this on it’s head and start from the person of God who is the Truth and show where all the Eastern churches derive their soteriology (condensed version). I hope that this might just crack the door open to some that their interpretation is not the only one and that there is the possibility that there may still continue to be a church that has heeded Paul and held fast to the traditions of the apostles whether delivered by letter or word.

        . The Holy Trinity is three persons (not individuals, the more of an individual we become the less of a person we are) They each have their own personhood but in love they defer to the other two and are so interconnected that if one has an idea the other two are already figuring out how they can help with it. They do everything together. This is one of Martin’s “proofs” of the Trinity. Scripturally you can find a number of actions attributed to each person of the Trinity in different places, ie. raising Christ from the dead. We were created to grow into such communion with God and His creation both directly and through the experience of the image of God in each other. When Adam broke this communion the eye of his nous, the part that communes with God was turned inward and Adam became self centered and related to God and all of creation in that way. His virtues became passions ie. selfless love became self love. Christ came and joined Himself to His creation in every way even entering into Hades with us so that He could take all who will ever exist into Heaven (led captives in his train) To those who have “worked out their salvation with fear and trembling” ie. by cooperating with the power of the Holy Spirit working within us we are becoming like God, selfless love, humble, forgiving, etc., the full communion with God and thereby all of creation will be like a river of life flowing from the throne of God as in Revelation. To those who wish to remain apart from others who maintain our selfish love, our pride and unforgiveness etc. will experience God as a river of Fire flowing from the throne of God as in Daniel. God does not change from Love to angry condemnation and judgement we are the ones who change. We have been given a rift in eternity called time in which we can change before the rift closes and all things become incorruptible ie. Unchangable. Now is the time for salvation. In the scriptures there is a lot of forensic language and projecting of human emotions and attributes upon God and the church still uses these pedagogically. To try and interpret the scriptures apart from the Church and the “traditions of the apostles” that it has held fast to leads to many diverse and often very distorted ideas of the nature of God, salvation and just about every other teaching. God and His ways are far above ours and any language that tries to describe Him is deficient at best.

    • I was unable to post this as a reply to your comment “paperthinhymn” so I am posting this here.
      The Orthodox Church teaches that The Bible is the revealed Truth of God as preserved by The Church. However, while the Truth is infallible, people are not. Fallible people wrote the bible therefor the bible can not be infallible. Remember nobody but our Lord can be infallible. The bible was inspired by our lord, not written by him.

      • even though falliable people wrote the bible, they did so as they were moved by the holy spirit, and so we believe that as the scriptures are theopneustos, that they are god breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. when we presuppose that, as brad does, the gospel of matthew to be an abortive attempt at the truth, or that the writers of the old testament that jesus quotes 24 times were lying or deceived about what they were recounting and prophecying, that is profoundly disturbing. Essentially Brad Jersak wants me to believe my subjective experiences about god speaking to me, and discovering truth in community, above the scriptures, which cannot be trusted? I hope you can see how that is highly problematic

  6. My comment in response to you would be, “By your fruit you will recognize them.” I know Brad personally and have read all his books, and I can say with confidence that he is one of the most dedicated, committed, loving, and joy-filled Christians I have ever met. The views that you say are “unorthodox” here are actually views held by some of the greatest Christian thinkers in the last 2000 years of church history. Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Karl Barth (though not openly) all held views of hopeful universal reconciliation. Actually, so does the Apostle Paul (see Colossians 1:19-20, Romans 11:32, Philippians 2:10-11, Romans 5:15-19, and many other verses). Penal substitution was an idea from the reformation which built on a medieval scholar named Anselm. It’s not biblical, and if you look closely it’s really hard to find anything about it in the New Testament. Brad’s view on inerrancy is definitely outside of the majority of Christian thinkers, but if you really read the Bible, trying to lay aside your presuppositions about its perfection, you’ll find a lot of ideas that are contradictory and many others that don’t match the way that Jesus lived his life. So his theology isn’t mainstream, but he is deeply committed to the truth, and his life bears out the fruit of the spirit in every way possible. He really, truly loves Jesus and is committed to teaching the truth. Publically denigrating him like you have done here is … well, it’s troubling to me. I hope you take the time to really think through the issues that you seem so certain of. You may find that they aren’t as certain as you always thought.

    • Brian, I have no doubts that Brad is a nice guy who loves his friends and family well, That’s all well and good, but that personal kindness and affability means little if not nothing whatsoever in this context. As far as your peeps who support universal reconciliation- so what? Origen was a smart guy, but he also had some really unbalanced views, many i’m sure you would disagree with, and in fact many beliefs that Gregory of Nyssa disagreed with. His means of interpreting scripture was imbalanced at best, and so what Origen believes is of little consequence. I would also suggest that As far as penal sub goes being a construction of Anselm, I would point you to this link http://www.letterofmarque.us/2013/02/penal-substitution-in-the-writings-of-the-church-fathers.html

      As far as Brad’s views go, “Brad’s view on inerrancy is definitely outside of the majority of Christian thinkers, but if you really read the Bible, trying to lay aside your presuppositions about its perfection, you’ll find a lot of ideas that are contradictory and many others that don’t match the way that Jesus lived his life” What ideas are contradictory, and what don’t match the way jesus lived his life?

      What I see are two options. |Some people can hold that the scriptures are inerrant and infallible, and and work within that framework and come to a consistent biblical worldview. Others, like Brad, approach the scriptures with presuppositions and then discard the bible or adopt a hermeneutic to allow for their presuppositions. I think this is the case here, particularly with his foundation of the non-violence of God. When you hold that view, how does something like Ezekial 22:17-22 make sense, when we hear God talking, and he says” Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, the people of Israel have become dross to me; all of them are the copper, tin, iron and lead left inside a furnace. They are but the dross of silver. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because you have all become dross, I will gather you into Jerusalem. As silver, copper, iron, lead and tin are gathered into a furnace to be melted with a fiery blast, so will I gather you in my anger and my wrath and put you inside the city and melt you. I will gather you and I will blow on you with my fiery wrath, and you will be melted inside her. As silver is melted in a furnace, so you will be melted inside her, and you will know that I the Lord have poured out my wrath on you.’”

      In this case, under the non-violence theory, we are left to conclude that not only did God never say that, but that Ezekial is lying or is utterly deceived in the prophecies that he gave, whereas I would say that we are able to incorporate these facets of God’s character in our understanding of God’s holiness and justice, and come to a cohesive hermenuetic that doesn’t involve dissolving the authority and integrity of the scriptures.

      When Brad’s idea of truth involves the necessity of deconstructing the biblical texts, and painting them in a way that they cannot be trusted, or that we cannot trust the words of God, then he needs to be opposed, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter how nice he is- his ideas are toxic to the faith, and they need to be pointed out.

      • As has been pointed out earlier, Augustine was responsible for promoting the idea of an “eternal” hell. Problem was that Augustine was self-admittedly not well-versed in the Greek language so he relied upon the Vulgate for his understanding of the word aion and its adjective aionios. In most translations, these words are rendered eternity and eternal, everlasting, etc. The problem is that Augustine attributed his own meaning to aion which is foreign to the original text. A more accurate translation of aion is age or finite period of time. G. Morgan Campbell who is known as The Prince of Expositors in his book, God’s Methods With Men wrote:
        “Let me say to Bible students that we must be very careful how we use the word ‘eternity.’ We have fallen into great error in our constant use of that word. There is no word in the whole Book of God corresponding with our ‘eternal,’ which, as commonly used among us, means absolutely without end.” (p. 185-6). For those who are serious about getting to the crux of this matter, engage yourself in an in-depth word study, research the writings of the early church fathers and come to your own conclusion.

      • There’s almost nothing true in this statement

        On Fri, Nov 8, 2013 at 9:25 AM, The Paperthin Hymn wrote:

        > New comment on your post “An open letter to YC regarding having Brad > Jersak speak at your conference. ” > Author : stuart (IP: 108.178.188.13 , rrcs-108-178-188-13.west.biz.rr.com) > E-mail : stuarts_@yahoo.com > URL : > Whois : http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/108.178.188.13 > Comment: > As has been pointed out earlier, Augustine was responsible for promoting > the idea of an “eternal” hell. Problem was that Augustine was > self-admittedly not well-versed in the Greek language so he relied upon the > Vulgate for his understanding of the word aion and its adjective aionios. > In most translations, these words are rendered eternity and eternal, > everlasting, etc. The problem is that Augustine attributed his own meaning > to aion which is foreign to the original text. A more accurate translation > of aion is age or finite period of time. G. Morgan Campbell who is known as > The Prince of Expositors

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