Author Wm Paul Young has released a book "Lies People Believe" which explains his beliefs in Universal Salvation and his claims that the Cross was both unnecessary and not of God. His representations of God in The Shack flow from Young's beliefs.
It's critically important that Christians use discernment with popular teachings and let God's Word judge men's words (Romans 16:17; Acts 17:11; Colossians 2:8; 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 1 John 4:1).
Below are excerpts of longer articles written by solid Bible teachers.
I hope these will whet your appetite to read some of the longer articles, and I pray they will help you discern the message of The Shack.
Note that the Coulter excerpt offers both pros and cons as do many of the other articles in full length.
The Shack: Helpful or Heretical
"THE SHACK may do well for many in engaging the current culture, but not without compromising Christian truth. The book may be psychologically helpful to many who read it, but it is doctrinally harmful to all who are exposed to it. It has a false understanding of God, the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, the nature of man, the institution of the family and marriage, and the nature of the Gospel. For those not trained in orthodox Christian doctrine, this book is very dangerous. It promises good news for the suffering but undermines the only Good News (the Gospel) about Christ suffering for us. In the final analysis it is only truth that is truly liberating. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). A lie may make one feel better, but only until he discovers the truth."
The Shack- Impressions
Keller starts by saying Young’s attempts to explain evil and suffering are “noble.” He goes on to say:
“However, sprinkled throughout the book, Young's story undermines a number of traditional Christian doctrines… Anyone who is strongly influenced by the imaginative world of The Shack will be totally unprepared for the far more multi-dimensional and complex God that you actually meet when you read the Bible. In the prophets the reader will find a God who is constantly condemning and vowing judgment on his enemies, while the Persons of the Triune-God of The Shack repeatedly deny that sin is any offense to them. The reader of Psalm 119 is filled with delight at God's statutes, decrees, and laws, yet the God of The Shack insists that he doesn't give us any rules or even have any expectations of human beings. All he wants is relationship… The Shack effectively deconstructs the holiness and transcendence of God. It is simply not there. In its place is unconditional love, period. The God of The Shack has none of the balance and complexity of the Biblical God. Half a God is not God at all.”
Keller also makes some interesting comments about the contrast between Young’s depiction of God and C.S. Lewis’ Aslan. Well worth the read.
The Shack: good news or bad story?
“Despite my initial open-mindedness to The Shack, and my determination to read and review it charitably, I conclude my thinking over its contents feeling very disturbed. I began by thinking it may have been a good-hearted book which made some innocent (if serious) missteps, but having carefully considered it I have changed my mind. Sadly I can see only a partially-disguised tract for a Unitarian brand of universalism, decorated with some post-structural philosophy and nods to Eastern mysticism. In the end, The Shack is hardly a Christian book at all.”
How the Shack Distorts Our View of God
“Even though The Shack is fiction, I believe it is dangerous, particularly for new Christians, because they don’t have enough knowledge of the Bible and of God, and so they might confuse these fictional characters with the way God really is…In the author’s fictional view, Jesus’ sacrifice allows Christians and non-Christians to spend eternity with God, in what is deemed, Universal Reconciliation. In other words, everybody goes to heaven, not just followers of Jesus, and some in this camp even include the devil and his demons.”
Exploring the Shack
The Shack is firmly orthodox in a number of important respects:
“• It portrays a personal God who is Creator of all things and who is actively involved in His creation and especially in the lives of people.
• It places Christ at the centre of God’s historical purposes.
• It emphasises the need for a personal relationship with God based on His grace rather than a legalistic religion of works righteousness or a fearful belief in a God who must be appeased.
On the other hand, the book has several theological weaknesses:
• Its portrayal of the trinity is at best confused and at worst unbiblical.
• It undermines the concept of authority and belittles the importance of Scripture.
• It seems to belittle the importance of the local church in God’s purposes.
• It calls into question the idea that belief in certain objective truths is important in Christian faith.
• It is imbalanced in its depiction of God’s character, emphasising His love at the expense of His holiness.
• It is soft on human sin and seems to leave no room for the wrath of God or for judgement.
• It fails to present the cross as the sole basis for redemption or to explain how the cross could have achieved salvation.
• It is unclear about whether or not all people will ultimately be saved.
These are not minor, peripheral issues in theology.”
The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment
“In evaluating the book, it must be kept in mind that The Shack is a work of fiction. But it is also a sustained theological argument…the really troubling fact is that so many readers are drawn to the theological message of the book, and fail to see how it conflicts with the Bible at so many crucial points. All this reveals a disastrous failure of evangelical discernment…The answer is not to ban The Shack… We need not fear books — we must be ready to answer them…The Shack is a wake-up call for evangelical Christianity….The popularity of this book among evangelicals can only be explained by a lack of basic theological knowledge among us — a failure even to understand the Gospel of Christ. The tragedy that evangelicals have lost the art of biblical discernment must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine.”
“Young's intentions are good. He wants to introduce readers to a loving God who was willing to sacrifice his own Son to save us from our sins. But all heresies begin with misconstruing the nature of God. From Jehovah's Witnesses to Mormonism to even Islam, they all get it wrong when it comes to understanding the God of Scripture. Young joins their company. Part of the problem arises because his story is confused and inconsistent. He doesn’t set out to mislead, but he himself is misled, either by himself or others.”
Critique of the Shack
“Throughout his book Young emphasizes the relational aspect of our walk with God and downplays the need for proper doctrinal beliefs about God... An essential part of growing a deep intimate relationship with God involves the learning of Biblical and doctrinal truths about God. The Apostle Paul refers to this in Ephesians 4:13 when he says, “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ...One cannot take lightly erroneous teachings on the nature of God and salvation.”
What Does The Shack Really Teach?
"In Lies We Believe About God [Paul Young's recently released non-fiction book], we see Paul Young apart from the subjectivity of narrative. And as he proclaims what he denies and affirms, he outs himself as beyond the bounds of Christian orthodoxy. This book is a credo for false teaching, for full-out heresy. I do not say this lightly, I do not say it gleefully, but I do say it confidently. Christian booksellers should be utterly ashamed to sell this book or any other by its author. Christians should not subject themselves to his teaching or promote his works, for he despises sound doctrine that leads to salvation and advocates false doctrine that will only ever lead away from God."
How Should a Christian Think About the Shack?