Scripture vs. The Shack - 5 Ways "The Shack" Contradicts Biblical Salvation

5 Ways The Shack by Paul Young is misleading thousands of people with false views of God and salvation.

Please note
: This article was written before The Shack author Paul Young came out with his theology book called Lies We Believe About God. Young's second book clearly describes the god he presented in The Shack. While fans of the book may deny these heresies, Young embraces them.

The Shack is a fictional story that has had great impact on the theology of thousands. Many Christians have recommended and embraced it.

There are good elements of the story, but there are also some disturbing elements for Bible-believing Christians. Please use caution in reading and recommending it, especially to unbelievers.

The Shack presents the author's belief in Universal Salvation, explained in his latest book Lies We Believe About God.

Universal Salvation (also called Universal Reconciliation) is the belief that through Christ, all men, believers and unbelievers will be saved. Scripture refutes this belief.

In this article, I'd like to point out some of the errors of the book especially as they pertain to Universal Salvation. I've listed them together and then unpacked them one-by-one.

1. The Shack’s Holy Spirit says Jesus couldn’t choose to send any of His children to Hell.
2. The Shack’s Jesus describes his followers so loosely that anyone might qualify.
3. The Shack's Jesus says the term "Christian" has nothing to do with Him or His true followers.
4. The Shack's Jesus says those who love him come from every religion.
5. The Shack’s god has forgiven all sins, not just the sins of those who repent and turn to god.

1. The Shack’s Holy Spirit says Jesus couldn’t choose to send any of His children to Hell.

pages 162-164
Mackenzie and the Holy Spirit (“Sararyu”) talk about judgement. The Holy Spirit asks Mackenzie to choose which of his children he will send to hell, and he can’t. He finally breaks down and asks to be sent to hell himself instead of one of his children. The Holy Spirit tells him he has chosen the way of Jesus. Just as he could not choose to send one of his children to hell, neither could Jesus so He died in their place.

This presentation is wrong on so many levels. We are incapable of the perfect judgement of the Lord. Asking a father which of his children to send to hell is an absurd and ungodly question. It does not, on any level, compare to Christ sending wicked men and women to hell.

Scripture confirms that God will send people to Hell:

2 Peter 2:4-10: For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.

2. The Shack’s Jesus describes his followers so loosely that anyone might qualify.

The author admits he doesn't believe traditional Christianity. The Shack misrepresents God in these 5 ways and more.

Page 181

Jesus says “the people who know me are the ones who are free to live and love without any agenda.”

“Living and loving without an agenda” is vague, easily misunderstood, and easily misapplied. The Christian can try to fit a Biblical meaning into that definition. But people of any faith or without faith can also fit their beliefs into that definition.

But the Bible is very specific about what it means to love Jesus:

1 John 2:3-6: We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

John 14:15: "If you love me, keep my commands."

John 14:23: Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

1 John 2:3: We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.

1 John 5:3: In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

Luke 14:27: And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Matthew 10:28: Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

John 15:10: If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. 

3. The Shack's Jesus says the term "Christian" has nothing to do with Him or His true followers.

Page 182 
When Mack asks if living and loving without an agenda is what it means to be a Christian, Jesus says: “Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian.” Later in the conversation the Shack Jesus says he has no desire to make anyone a Christian.

Of course Jesus is not a Christian, but there is no Biblical reason Jesus would deny that name for His followers. The name Christian means Christ-follower and originated among the Apostles in the early church. It signifies belief in Christ and those things He taught.

Acts11:26: for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

4. The Shack's Jesus says those who love him come from every religion.

The author admits he doesn't believe traditional Christianity. The Shack misrepresents God in these 5 ways and more.
page 182 
Jesus says “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions….I have no desire to make them Christians…”

When Mack asks if that means all roads lead to Christ, The Shack Jesus says no, “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.”

The vagueness in this conversation should be disturbing to Bible-believing Christians. Many Christians have taken this passage to mean that God will save people “out of” every background which is true, but that’s not what it says. 

Furthermore, three of the groups specifically mentioned by The Shack Jesus - Buddhists, Mormons, and Muslims, do not believe that Jesus is God, don’t believe in grace, and have many other non-Biblical beliefs. Yet The Shack Jesus compares them with a Bible-believing denomination (Baptists) and political parties. 

This is confusing at best. The Shack's god gives vague answers and often refuses to answer questions directly. The Jesus of the Bible is clear and purposeful in all He says.

Jesus would not hesitate to tell Mack that only one road leads to Him. How do we know this? Because He does not hesitate to state that in Scripture. 

1 John 5:11,12: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

John 14:6:“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except though me.’”

Acts 4:12: There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. 

Revelation 21:27: Nothing impure will ever enter it [the New Jerusalem], nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. 

Revelations 21:7-8: Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

The author admits he doesn't believe traditional Christianity. The Shack misrepresents God in these 5 ways and more.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters* nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

*Having any other god than the True God (Exodus 20:3: "You shall have no other gods before me.)

Ephesians 5:5-6: For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater*—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

Matthew 7:13: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 

5. The Shack’s god has forgiven all sins, not just the sins of those who repent and turn to god.

Page 225

The Shack's God the Father says, “In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship.”

But the Bible says God only forgives the sins of those who repent and follow Him, not all sins. See Why Salvation Requires Repentance.

Matthew 6:14-15: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

1 John 1:9-10: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Acts 3:19: Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

Mark 11:25: And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

And there is one sin God doesn't forgive:
Mark 3:28-29: Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

Dear Christians, let's be very cautious what we recommend, what we embrace, and what we spend our time reading and watching.

For More on The Shack:

5 Ways The Shack by Paul Young is misleading thousands of people with false views of God and salvation.

5 Ways The Shack by Paul Young is misleading thousands of people with false views of God and salvation.


  1. Many people will be led a stray, straight to hell by this book, now it's coming out is a major motion picture.

  2. I have purchased this book, and read part of it. I ended up throwing it out, as I only got through it a little, and it was not Bibically correct. This made me mad as a Christian. Usually, before I read a book, I must know what the Authors beliefs are. In this case, I never checked it out. This was a mistake, and I will never do it again. I feel if you are writing a Christian book, your story and what it is trying to say to you had better follow God's Word exactly, and the author has to be saved and have that personal relationship with Jesus. This author does not have this and I will not go see the movie, it recommend it or the book to anyone. This book portrays beliefs straight from Satan and the pit of Hell. You are correct when you say it will cause people to go to Hell. In order to go to heaven, we must be saved God's way and follow his rules. In other words, in order to be saved we must accept Jesus is the Only way, repent, as God's Word says, and make him Lord of our life! There are so many movies and books out there, trying to portray God and heaven, that look and sound good, but is actually Satan and his demons, trying to deceive you from knowing the truth of God in order to take your soul to hell! This is demonic stuff, straight from hell !

    1. You just don't get it. That's sad.

  3. It is a book of FICTION, a made up story. Some of you need to check your self righteousness. You sound like Pharisees! People could interpret anything the way they want. Perhaps it depends on perspective. The man loses his daughter in a horrific act. He loses his faith in God. How merciful of God to reach him where he is. His faith is restored and he now values his Relationship with God. Perhaps where the Shacks God says ",I have forgiven all humans for their sins through Jesus,but only some choose relationship." Jesus did die for ALL of our sins,and it is a choice for us to accept Jesus and a relationship with him. God doesn't send anyone to hell!! They send themselves, He allows it. The book compares a father/child relationship so that imperfect humans can understand. Also, truth be told, the only reason why any of us are saved is only because Jesus took our sin. Every human is a sinner, we all fit into a category of adulterers,etc.We are all sinners, not one is righteous, not one. That is what the Bible says. A's I said, it is a fictitious story, the author does not portray it as the spoken word of God. There are so many worse things in this world, such as people who profess to be Christ followers but are little more than hate mongers who are the reason why people unfortunately turn their backs on God,not because of stories of fiction.

    1. I publish comments that disagree with what I've written, but I don't typically publish those that resort to name-calling.

      The reason I’m publishing this comment is because it’s representative of other Shack supporters I’ve heard from:

      1. He/She excuses “The Shack” as fiction as if fiction has no influence on people’s hearts and minds. Perhaps he/she doesn’t know that the book has influenced millions of people regarding the character of God. All one needs to do is read a sampling of the 12,000 reviews of the book on Amazon and see how many people have changed their view of God because of The Shack.

      2. He/She also contradicts her “fiction” argument when she explains the story in terms of God (i.e. “How merciful of God to reach him where he is.”) and defends the god of The Shack.
      3. He/She says it's a matter of interpretation or perspective whether “The Shack” disagrees with Scripture even though the quotes and Scriptures listed in the article are clearly contradictory.
      4. He/She calls those who criticize The Shack self-righteous Pharisees. And I’m pretty sure her last comment is directed at detractors of The Shack (i.e. hate mongers who are causing people to turn from God).

      Her response makes me more convinced than ever that Christians need to approach The Shack with greater discernment.

      As Scripture says, we should be guarding our hearts (Proverbs 4:23), contending for the faith (Jude 1:3), demolishing arguments against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5), holding firmly to the true message of Scripture (Titus 1:9), and testing everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1).

      We can let The Shack shape our view of God and we can defend it with passion. Or we can let the Bible shape our view of God and we can defend it with passion. I’m choosing the Bible.

    2. It is not bad to ask believers to exercise discernment over what we fill or minds with or recommend. It is also not bad to choose to voice a rejection of things that will mislead people. That is not self-righteousness. It's protecting people. I believe that God appoints His church to do that. I know He certainly has appointed me to have my eyes open to things that will harm people, and to speak as necessary. That does not mean that I think I'm better than anyone. I have a pretty healthy dose of reality when I look at who I am... A sinner saved solely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as both Savior AND Lord. I'm keenly aware of my need. I imagine that anyone posting on here sharing that this will bring people harm and confusion may also have an awareness of the reality of who they are.

    3. Its FICTION. Don't hold it in the light of the Bible. ITS A STORY, its FICTION....GET IT??

    4. Hi Patti.
      It's fiction.

      It's fiction that has influenced how millions of people view the God of the Bible. Just read some of the Amazon reviews, and you will realize how fully it is doing this.

      It's fiction that is not using fictional names and it's not portraying fictional characters. It's using the names Trinity, Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit and putting words in their mouths that contradict their Words in Scripture. How would you feel if a movie came out using your name and claiming things about you that contradicted your values and your character. Would you be fine with that because it's fiction.

      It's fiction that is making people think that the God of the Bible never punishes, never has expectations and never is disappointed when they sin.

      It's fiction that is making non-believers think that God will save them even if they continue to live a life of unbelief.

      If that doesn't bother Believers in Jesus, Patti, then I don't get it.

  4. One of my daughters gave me this book for Christmas a few years ago. I read it, and much of it is completely unbiblical. My daughter had just heard from somebody that it was a great book, but hadn't read it, either, and so didn't know what it was really about.
    I agree with this article.

  5. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You just don't know how much this means to me. My husband and I were grieved at the content of this book, appalled, and afraid for our believing friends who thought it was great! Thank you again.

  6. Thank you for speaking the truth about this book. A pastor's wife recommended it to me when it first came out years ago. I was appalled by what I read!

  7. How many TV preachers that we have access to listen to today share and relay similar beliefs like the book? I can think of 3 without even thinking at all.
    It's all about feeling good about yourself.

  8. I have also been really sceptical about reading this book. There just was something pushing me away from reading it or anything about it. Thank you for sharing wise, biblical based points about all that is stated and portrayed in the wrong light in the book. Thank you for saving many from such untruth, especially young adults like myself. Be blessed!

  9. I was in a service several months ago when the vicar held up this book claiming it to be the best book he's read. He said I bet you've all read it, if you haven't you should and lots of hands went up to say they'd read it. I was so grieved I never went back. I'm a young Christian and I wish I'd had the courage and knowledge to speak up. Thank you for doing this.

    1. Hi Hannah,
      I'm so glad that God gave you the discernment to avoid the confusion The Shack causes. Bless you in your new walk with the Lord.

  10. Thank you for laying out the beliefs portrayed by The Shack side by side with scripture! Haven't read the book but was considering seeing the movie. Not now! We need only rely on the Bible for our Christian truths but how deceiving the "worldly" men/women writers can be! Dangerously cloaking the truth!

  11. Gail, thank you so much for your posts. This blog in general is great to read through. You are so encouraging and INDEED a woman after God's own heart. Reading through your posts, comments, and response to comments, especially ones that are crass and ungodly, you don't just smell of Jesus, you carry the sweet aroma that is His character and that is to be commended. You are so encouraging and it is apparent that you spend time with Jesus and are not just familiar with His Word, but YOUR words and actions are led by the Spirit. Thank you for your contribution. I know how discouraging even one negative, rude comment can be but as I'm sure you know, we are to face many of that if we are truly actively following God's Word. God bless you.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind encouragement, Brittanie.
      I really appreciate it.

  12. 1) 2 Peter 2:4-10: talks about children of God and the other one ungodly points to nonbelievers who choose their destiny, which is eternal damnation - it does not support to claim that God send some among His children....

    2) Anyone, anybody, whosoever believes He made they qualified...even chief sinner like Paul, a tax collectors like Matthew and Zaccheius, or a woman caught in the act of adultery...even athiest..

    3) we can't deny the Christianity evolved into religion overtime...the Christian he had in mind are by affiliation not by relatiion.

    4) the claim is true - the Gospel is for every tribe, nation and tongue...who believes...

    5) Maybe quoting 1John 1:2 Jesus the propitiation of believers' sin and not only them but the whole world...

    even though I made this comments, I myself do not agree with universal salvation, because we are children of God by faith in Jesus - meaning believing Him... Gal 3:22  But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

    1. Hi unknown,
      I'm not sure what you are saying in #1-3, but in #4, I agree that Christians will come from every tribe and tongue and nation. But they will repent and turn to Christ. People who live and die believing in false gods will not be saved according to Scripture.

      And #5 - Scripture clearly tells us that only those who repent and turn to Jesus will be forgiven and saved.

      I'm glad you do not believe in universal salvation. I don't either. That's why I am concerned with the message of this book and the many people it is deceiving.

  13. I supposed it was just a movie, not a Bible study. The movie 'The Ten Commandments' was not 100% biblically accurate, but it's an epic, and can provide mature believers an opportunity to share sound Bible "doctrine" with unchurched movie fans.

    1. Hi Ingie,
      The author has written a Bible study to go along with the movie.

      He speaks in churches about the views represented in The Shack.

      He describes his characters as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

      He believes all men will be saved whether they love Christ or reject Christ.

      He has written a theology book released last year explaining the theology present in the Shack.

      In this article, I list direct quotes from the book that say the opposite of what the Bible says.

      Thousands of professing Christians are defending this movie despite the fact that it misrepresents the Lord.

      Thousands of people are getting their view of God from this movie...just read the a few Amazon reviews.

      I believe the key word is: deception.

  14. Hello there, maam. Hoping you could read this. I am open for refutation because I honor those who have read the Bible more before me. I am still a "growing child" from being born again years ago.

    Paul Young believes all are forgiven but also all will be saved.

    For me, all are forgiven but not all will be saved. Because I think salvation requires repentance. But forgiveness does not require someone to repent or even be aware that they are doing something bad.
    Just like how the father of the prodigal son forgave the prodigal son even before the son came back home. The father, even though, the son did not know he is doing something wrong in the course of his journey outside his home, back home, his father would always think about him and forgive him immediately. I can say this as implying to how the father welcomed the son in the grandest and most loving way possible.

    Will you not forgive someone who stole from you just because they did not ask forgiveness? I would forgive him but that does not nean he is saved from the consequences of his theft. He must admit that he stole from me and make up for it in genuine manner before I proceed on telling the police to drop the charges and be saved.

    This is not being self-righteous of me but to apply what I have learned and observed on the Bible. I will never equate it to God’s love because His love is uncomparable.
    I would like to know your response. Thank you.

    1. I appreciate your questions and the attitude in which you ask them.

      So let's start with the belief that forgiveness doesn't require repentance:

      The Scriptures listed in section 5 in this devotion clearly explain that repentance is necessary for forgiveness.

      In regard to the Prodigal Son, he did repent when he returned. He clearly explained to his father that he was wrong.

      But you are right in saying that we can forgive someone who doesn't repent. But that doesn't mean they are forgiven by God.

      When we forgive someone who doesn't repent, we are freeing ourselves from bitterness. The person who committed the sin is still guilty of their sin because the Lord only forgives those who repent.

      For example, I can forgive a murderer for killing a friend or family member, but he is still guilty of the crime before God and before the government.

      God's love is incredible because He gives all people the opportunity to be forgiven and He promises to forgive the repentant no matter what they've done. But His love is pure. He will not forgive nor save the unrepentant. If love has no standards, then it isn't love.

      In addition, if God forgives unrepentant men, then everyone is saved because it is sin that separates us from God. And if all men were saved, heaven would contain just as much evil and unbelief as earth.

  15. Oh my gwash the shock for me is endless! Have been loving reading your blog this season. Someone bought the shack for me as a child. I absolutely loved the book. However, as someone who's against false teachings I'm disappointed. The Shack's Jesus says the term "Christian" has nothing to do with Him or His true followers." When you wrote this, I was disappointed with people who have this belief. I believe it stems from ignorance. There's clear Lines in the Bible where God says how 1 can be save.d thank you for this correction. Then this reminds me family and parents should research what spiritual books you gift your kids. Not everyone is worthy.