The Scandalous Good News, Brian Zahnd

Sinners in the hands of a loving God

The Meaning of the Cross?

What do you think of the this statement?

“The cross is not what God inflicts upon Christ in order to forgive. The cross is what God endures in Christ as he forgives.”

Brian Zahnd

Remarkable, Isn’t it? This rings true for me yet I realize it challenges the way some have interpreted the meaning of the cross. I think this is because many have confused ideas about the meaning of the cross. Many of our ideas are based on assumptions and false teaching and not on a full understanding of how the whole of Scripture reveal and interpret the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice.

Instead of pretending that this confusion about the cross isn’t a theologically widespread pandemic I am going to be as honest as I can about the problem. To the best of my knowledge, a large percentage of Western Christianity for the past 500 years has been infected. Calvin was trained as a lawyer in the 1500’s and at the age of twenty seven invented a particular way of interpreting the cross which has been dubbed penal substitution atonement theory. There are famous preachers today who have large influential ministries who preach Calvin’s ideas about the meaning of the cross.

What is God Like?

What God is like is one of the big questions that are raised when we look at what the cross means and what exactly happened and where the Father was and what his role in the whole affair was.

As mentioned in the previous installment of this conversation with Brian Zahnd, “God is like Jesus.”

God is like Jesus

Of course to most of you this seems obvious, but this isn’t something I grew up with in the Christian church. In my mind, Jesus was different and separate from the Father.

God the Father seemed like an impossible to please Monster that Jesus came to broker a deal with on behalf of humanity. The idea is that Jesus came to change God’s mind about us – that Jesus came to pay off this angry God with the blood sacrifice that this “God of wrath” demanded. This was the profound lie I absorbed by osmosis growing up in the Western Christian church. In fact this heresy has a name: Penal Substitution Atonement Theory.

Penal Substitution Atonement Theory

Unfortunately this heretical lie is preached by well meaning but confused pastors all over America. Many pastors might even hear the challenge to this heresy and double down with the lie, further entrenching people in confusion and fear. I have seen this happen first hand!

Those within the movement to expose the problems of Penal Substitutionary Atonement Theory have been very gentle, kind, and sympathetic to its adherents. C. Baxter Kruger in his thesis God in the Hands of Angry Sinners quotes George MacDonald:

“Good souls many will one day be horrified at the things they now believe of God.”

Others like John Crowder are more blunt. He said in a recent Jesus Trip video:

“There’s a lot of foolishness in that idea that we call penal substitutionary atonement. The idea that God was abandoning or punishing his own Son in order to pay off his anger. That is absolute hogwash and the biggest heresy of the western world. It’s not biblical. The early church never believed the ridiculous idea that Jesus was saving us from God. This idea has nothing to do with the ancient faith of the early church fathers. Most importantly this idea does injustice to the Trinity…”

Below is a more in depth presentation of the topic:

Monster God Debate

Brian and I discuss Penal Substitution and Zahnds role in exposing what John Crowder has, in my opinion, quite rightly dubbed a heresy. He has went head to head with Dr. Michael Brown over this issue in a debate entitled Monster God Debate.

Monster God Debate

Dr. Michael Brown seems to have built much of his ministry around debates and being the guy who “answers all your questions”. I’m sure he has a great deal of good things to say in general, but, in my opinion, his contribution to the content of this Monster debate, which I’m safe to assume he perpetrated, is not among them.

For more information about this topic please also visit my blog post: Papa With Scars, Theology Behind The Shack.

Please subscribe to the Sozo Talk Radio Youtube Channel to make sure you don’t miss these exciting groundbreaking interviews and future installments of this conversation with Brian Zahnd.

Brian Zahnd on Jesus, Hell, Letters from Babylon

Brian Zahnd is a full time pastor, author, and would be mountaineer. He is the founder and lead pastor of Word of Life Church, a non-denominational Christian congregation in Saint Joseph, Missouri. Brian is also the author of several books, including,  Sinners in the Hands of a Loving GodWater to WineA Farewell To MarsBeauty Will Save the World, and Unconditional?: The Call of Jesus to Radical Forgiveness and most recently, Postcards From Babylon.

Jesus is what God has to Say

God is like Jesus. Of course to many of you this seems obvious, but this isn’t something I grew up with. In my mind, Jesus was different and separate from the Father.

God seemed like an impossible to please Monster that Jesus came to broker a deal with on behalf of humanity. The idea is that Jesus came to change God’s mind about us – that Jesus came to pay off this angry God with the blood sacrifice that this God of wrath demanded. This was the profound lie I absorbed by osmosis growing up in the Western Christian church. In fact this heresy has a name: Penal Substitution Atonement Theory.

This will be the primary subject of the next installment of this conversation so subscribe and stay tuned!

Brian Zahnd Interview Show Notes:

3:00 Brian Zahnd discussing his latest book postcards from Babylon.

4:30 Discussing Farewell to Mars and Obama

8:14 Open Table Conference & Water to Wine Conference.

10:30 Brian Zahnd and I discuss Brad Jersak’s book “A More Christlike God” which Brian wrote the forward to. For my Interview with Brad Jersak check out: Brad Jersak, A More Christlike God.

11:55 “Jesus is what God has to say. God is Like Jesus, God has always been like Jesus. God has never not been like Jesus.”

13:20 Hell (actually Gehena) and what Jesus meant by it.

19:20 Restorative Judgement and Justice and properly understanding the Wrath of God.

28:00 God is Love in whom we live and move and have our being.

30:52 The Narrow Way that leads to life – love your enemy.

Please subscribe to the Sozo Talk Radio Youtube Channel to make sure you don’t miss these exciting groundbreaking interviews and future installments of this conversation with Brian Zahnd.

John MacMurray, A Spiritual Evolution

“This is the story of a journey towards spiritual change. We invite you to join a conversation that is discovering God is better than we have ever imagined.”

John MacMurray, A Spiritual Evolution

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Catherine and I will be sharing music at John MacMurray’s Open Table Conference June 7-9 2019 in Portland, OR! You can check out our music at

Open Table Conference

For several years now John MacMurray, Wm Paul Young, and C. Baxter Kruger have been hosting the Open Table Conference ( They discuss radical orthodox happy theology, which is basically what his book A Spiritual Evolution is all about.

I say “radical” because this means “roots”. MacMurray, Baxter, and Young are returning to the glorious roots of the Christian faith. Besides good and happy theology is rad dude!

I say “orthodox” because this means conforming to established doctrine. Doctrine is another word for the solid teachings of Jesus Christ Himself.

I say “happy theology” because this is God we are talking about. Can you imagine a more joyful Being in all the universes than God? He is the very definition of pure, exquisite, ‘bursting at the seams’, joy inexpressible and FULL of glory!

Be sure to subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out and to stay connected to these groundbreaking interviews!

Imagine Heaven #NDE John Burke

John Burke’s Story

When John was a young man his father was dying of cancer. Someone gave his father the book Life After Life by Raymond Moody (Life After Life is a 1975 book written by psychiatrist Raymond Moody. It is a report on a qualitative study in which Moody interviewed 150 people who had undergone near-death experiences.)

As an agnostic young man, John read the book in one night. He thought, “If this is true, then this is the biggest news ever!” It propelled him on a journey of faith and on the path to discovering Jesus for himself.

John is now pastoring Gateway church in Austin Texas and has written several books about faith and finally a book about the subject that started it all for him – a book about Near Death Experiences called Imagine Heaven. Connect with John Here:

Here is an article that John wrote about why Near Death Experiences and Christians don’t always get along. It’s pretty interesting and might answer a few questions you may have.

Most Important Lesson from NDE’s

John has researched around a thousand NDE’s. I too have researched a plethora of accounts myself. There wasn’t hardly a story he mentioned in the book that I wasn’t already very familiar with.

With SO much research sometimes the hardest thing is knowing where to start? What are the most important lessons we can learn from Near Death Experiences?

Well, that is something that I highlighted in my interview with Howard Storm and something I tried to highlight in my conversation with John as well. It begins with understanding that God is love. Unconditional infinite love. What God wants from his children is for us to show that love and share his love with others.

John Burke begins his book with the story of George Ritchie:

George Richie encountered an astonishing love. A love beyond his wildest imagination in the brilliant person of Jesus Christ. Jesus asked him, “What have you done with your life to show me?”

The question, like everything else proceeding from Him, had to do with love. How much have you loved with your life? Have you loved others as I am loving you? Totally? Unconditionally?”

George wanted to justify himself and said, “I had not known love like this was possible. Someone should have told me.”

“I did tell you”, Jesus responded.

But how? How could he have told me and I not not have heard?

“I told you by the life I lived. I told you by the death I died. And, if you keep your eyes on me, you will see more.”

Return from Tomorrow, George Ritchie

Howard Storm was told by Jesus, “Love the person that you are with.”

Learning to love others is the meaning of life.

Andre Rabe, Encounter With Jesus #NDE

Enjoy this conversation with Andre Rabe about his Near Death Experience (NDE) where he encounters Jesus. We also discuss some happy theology.

Andre’s Near Death Experience

Andre encountered Jesus at the age of eight after being stung by a scorpion that has been known to cause death in children. Jesus appeared to him holding out both hands. He was inviting Andre to come home with one hand and in the other, the gift of healing.

Andre chose to stay and was miraculously and instantly healed.

Please connect with Andre’s Youtube channel Here:

Andre Rabe’s Youtube Channel

Sovereignty of God

Could it be that we have been wrong all along when we say “God is in control”? What if God just simply doesn’t do “control”? What if free will actually matters? Isn’t it liberating to think that God has entrusted us all with the ability to create and make what we will of this world and shape our own reality and destiny? What will you do with the infinite possiblities that lie before you?

Andre and I discuss how the God of Jesus is the one who continually opens up possibilities for us to walk in. Possibility cannot coexist with certainty. Certainty does indeed offer people a sense of security but often in the form of a prison. Prisons provide security don’t they?

Enjoy this episode where Andre and I discuss these topics and questions and more.

If you are interested in Near Death Experiences, I have interviewed several others which you can peruse in the Archives.

Become a Patron?

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Saint Patrick and a Bit O’ Irish History


The Real Saint Patrick

Interested in learning the real truth about Saint Patrick? You have come to the right place! Saint Patrick’s Confession and his Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus are the only two surviving documents from the man himself. And you must have some Irish in ya cuz, lucky for you, I have recorded audio of both of these documents in some previous podcasts! Here they are:

What’s in this Episode?

The podcast featured in this post is a hilarious episode where my friend Michael and I break out our best Irish brogue and chatted about certain aspects of Patricks story. We also read and discuss some of his Letter to the Soldiers. We get into the Irish Potato famine of 1846 and what came of that.


Saint Patrick Show Notes:

First of all we talk about how Patrick models The Fear of God – this speaks of a deep reverence, respect, and honor for God. “The Fear of God” has been rendered as “reverential trust” by some and I really like that. Especially the trust part. Isn’t love, adoration, and trust a far more beautiful motivation for living a good life than being dictated by fear of consequences or the coming judgement?

Patrick seems like he is mimicking the apostle Paul in so much of his writing.  He seems to model Pauls letters as if, just before writing his confession, he had just read or studied Paul’s letters to Timothy.

I find one fault however in Patrick’s theology.  He didn’t seem to quite connect with the fact that he has a new nature as a believer. He continually calls himself a sinner and perhaps his actions convinced him of this, yet God and the holy Bible calls him a saint. This is important because our perception of ourselves dictates our actions.

How important is it to see ourselves as saints as God has made us?

Which is more true, God’s word about your new nature or your own faltering experience?

You are a saint if you have received Christ!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Drunkenness is Idolatry?

We discuss the fact that a life of choosing sin is the evidence of rejecting God:

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.

Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Potato famine 1845 to 1849

We talk about the Irish PBS Victoria episode in which Victoria asks herself, “What can we do to do what is right for conscience sake? Do we do nothing? and quotes 1 Corinthians 13, “faith hope and love (charity) and the greatest of these is charity”.

Robert Traill was recognized for his compassion during the Great Famine in Ireland from 1846.

His story reminds me of the machine gun preacher who invested his all into service for others and the kingdom of God.

Especially relevant to us is the question:

What should our response be to crisis in our sphere at the present?

How do we practically show love to those in need around us?

Love (or charity as the KJV puts it) is the only answer. “Charity” is indicative of action, is it not?

James chapter 2 says:

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God.f Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?”

In conclusion, the holy Scriptures inform us that when love is put into action that we light up. Our enlightenment only comes through showing tangible love. May we all follow the advice of Jesus and love the people that we are with in the moment as we go through life!

Mike Popovich, Radical Gospel, Supernatural Prayer

Enjoy this interview with Mike Popovich of Freedom Ministries as he shares about the beauty of the radical inclusive Gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of supernatural prayer. The truth of who Christ is and who you are in him changes everything! Subscribe to Freedom Ministry Youtube Channel Here.

I was shocked at how deep we went in this interview. We talk about some scandalous things that our scandalous Savior spoke about that could get you kicked out of church if you were to repeat it. There are so many Scriptures regarding the power and supernatural nature of prayer. Here is one example from the Lord’s own natural brother James:

The Power of Prayer

13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

James 5

Mike has been teaching recently on this exact passage of Scripture. Check out the host of teachings Mike has on the topic here!

How can we lay hold of these promises? I believe many in this next Great Awakening will finally get this and start walking it out. We will soon be doing exactly what Jesus said we would:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”

John 14:12-14 NLT

Quantum Theory Relates to Prayer and Healing?

How closely does quantum theory interact with prayer? You’d be surprised! Mike and I discuss how the world is getting this and often walking in this reality of quantum prayer. Of course many in the church are now claiming their birthright and walking in this Kingdom reality and power.

Check this out:

How does what Mel Robbins presents in the following video relate to prayer?

Can you see the similarities with what she is talking about here and Philippians 4 which Mike Popovich references a great deal:

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.[c

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:4-9 NLT

Springs Of Living Water!

Recently Holy Spirit woke me with the following Scriptures. Only later did I realize that in our talk Mike also shared the one from Proverbs:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Proverbs 4:23 NIV

Another translation speaks of the Springs of Life:

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”

This revelation was paired with John 4:14

“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”


And John 7:37-39

“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)


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Kenneth Tanner, On the Incarnation

I love how Jesus is so central to Kenneth Tanner’s message. I asked Kenneth right away in our conversation about what he sees would be a vital point of reformation in the church. He talked about refocusing the centrality of Jesus Christ. Awesome!

Jesus Christ is the full revelation of who God the Father is. Jesus is the disclosure to us of who God is and also, what it means to be human. Yes, in Christ there is a new way to be human and participate in the Divine Life!

Partakers of the Divine Nature

Imagine that! We are partakers of the Divine Nature! And how? Through the promises of God! His assurance that this is so!

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

2 Peter 1:2-4

About Kenneth Tanner

Kenneth Tanner pastors at Holy Redeemer in Rochester Hills Michigan. You can connect with Kenneth and follow him at his facebook page!

I first heard of Kenneth through John MacMurray. Kenneth will be speaking at a conference with John MacMurray, Paul Young Young, Brad Jersak, C. Baxter Kruger and more at The Open Table Conference in Portland in June. We talked about him in our interview and there are a few quotes in MacMurray’s book, A Spiritual Evolution. The one I bring up in this conversation is this:

“When we read the Bible with the church we learn that not every line of Scripture has equal weight in answering the question, “Who is God and what is God like?””

pg 284 A Spiritual Evolution by John MacMurray

Quotes from Kenneth

Kenneth has a way of sharing happy theology in a way that makes you think. Just today I spent a good hour or more wondering what he was getting at and if Jesus had something in it for me. He highlights in our talk a beautiful point about why Jesus was baptized and we touch on the vicarious nature of Christ’s life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Enjoy these Kenneth quotes:

On Behalf Of ALL

“Christ has taken all humanity down with him into the Jordan, into the waters of repentance, washing all who bear human identify because by Mary and the Spirit he partakes of the one nature shared by every human,

and Christ has likewise taken all humanity up onto the hard wood of the cross, dying a death that causes death to disappear from our shared human nature like straw from fire, and though some may choose to live in denial of their reconciliation to God in the flesh of Jesus, though some may choose to exist apart from Love

—which is to live hell, in this life and in the life of the age to come—

the reconciling work of God in Christ on behalf of all who bear human nature is accomplished, the union between God and human nature is in the flesh of Jesus irrevocable, permanent.

We can, it seems, make a most improbable choice to reject participation in this union but this is not God’s desire, nor the desire of any who love the God Jesus reveals. It is reasonable to hope and pray that no one makes that choice.

This is my earnest hope and prayer.” – Kenneth Tanner

“…the incarnation of God in human flesh, and that co-suffering love—God become this particular human, sinless yet slain, molecular Lord of every cosmic particle executed beyond human semblance—redeems the creation and all living things.”

And here is where Kenneth starts out by quoting someone else and offering some commentary:

On Being Human

“Only near-sighted people can suppose that Christianity has seen its time. Christianity has only taken its first, I would say timid, steps in human history. To this day many of Christ’s words are incomprehensible because we are still moral and spiritual neanderthal men. The gospel arrow is aimed towards eternity, and that which we call Christian history is in many ways a series of clumsy and unsuccessful attempts to bring Christianity about.” — Father Alexander Men

I think this is true.

Humanity does not understand that humans are made in the image of a tri-personal God, so that being in communion, being in relationship, is the way everything is meant to flourish.

Humanity does not yet understand that this divine community is not the origin of evil or death but goodness and life.

Humanity does not yet understand that everyone is already related to this community because the one tri-personal God has made every human in their image.

Humanity does not yet understand that one of the persons of God became human, that the Son took on the *one human nature* all humans share, and so this person who is God become human, Jesus Christ, is now the brother of every man or women who ever has lived, is living, or ever will live.

Humanity does not yet understand that this means that God has already related Godself to every human as their creator, as the invisible image that each one bear, and as the human sibling of Jesus Christ.

This is true whether or not we are indifferent to this person who embodies this truth, hostile toward him, apathetic about him, skeptical about him, or welcoming him.

And I could quite literally go on and on and on.

We are not human until we are human as God is human in Jesus Christ.

Now by the infinite grace of the incarnation—because God comes to share the one human nature all humans share—our flesh too can be transfigured as the flesh of Jesus is transfigured.

This is not merely a reflection of the uncreated light, like that which shone from the face of Moses. Here now is someone greater than Moses. This person on Tabor is God become man. The Light from Light has made his light to shine in our hearts.

“You are the light of the world.” We are being transfigured from glory to glory.

Much love and grace.

I actually share a brand new song (I finished it moments before recording it at the end of the podcast. It is also at my patreon site for a free download. If you would like to connect to this blessed stream of consciousness that is Kenneth Tanner, Follow him on his facebook page!

Florian Encounters Jesus, Father Heart Germany – SOZO EP0031

Florian Berndt from Germany shares his amazing testimony of meeting Jesus. He then shares a time when Jesus comes to him as his “Rabbi” (Teacher) and gives him supernatural downloads about our mystical union with God! This seems to be a major theme of this next Great Awakening! God is waking us up to who he is and who we are in him and being united with him.

I had a very similar experience which I share in a Youtube video called Oneness With God (Mystical Union with Christ)!

Florian also shares about how some other saints visited him like St. Francis of Assisi. He reminds us that Elijah and Moses visited with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, so why couldn’t other saints visit us? BTW: Thomas Merton visited Howard Storm who I have interviewed right here on this website.

Enjoy getting to know our amazing brother Florian Berndt. Please connect with him at:

Supernatural Stories With Will Stone SOZO EP0030

Enjoy these miraculous supernatural stories with Will Stone. Be sure to check out the first part of our interview called Will Stone Meets Jesus Face to Face where we talk about the time when Will Stone meets Jesus face to face.

What kind of miracles do we talk about? Will is healed of Asthma! He received a supernatural word for someone in a coma who was about to be pulled from life support and she was miraculously healed! How about that other hilarious story that had me laughing so hard?

Hope you’ve been enjoying the Sozo episodes! If you want to be more awesome than you already are… well, that’s pretty darn impossible. But, if you want to support Sozo Talk Radio, you can do so at: