Millions of evangelical Christians are among the masses who have embraced William Paul Young's "The Shack" as though it were gospel. Even three years since its release, "The Shack" has remained on numerous best-seller lists for more than 100 weeks – a claim no other book can make.
Yet it is infused with counterfeit Christianity, argues "Burning Down 'The Shack': How the 'Christian' Best-seller is Deceiving Millions," a new title from WND Books that publishes June 1.
Worse, says author James De Young, its depiction of God as an African woman who suffered Christ's crucifixion – and the book's exclusion of any existence of Satan and hell – represent just some of its many dangerous deceptions.
If such deceptions, which upend biblical teachings on sin, redemption, salvation and damnation, go unchallenged, says De Young, this "feel-good novel" could prove terribly divisive and destructive to millions of Christians.
"The Shack" has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. A film version is reportedly in the works.
"'The Shack' presents a depiction of God that changes, 'the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man,'" said Joseph Farah, publisher and CEO of WND Books, citing Romans 1:23. "But Paul Young also offers a warped portrayal of the Trinity, denies the supreme divinity of Jesus Christ, diminishes the realities of sin without redemption and shrugs off damnation.
"Christian leaders can no longer countenance this cancerous manipulation," continued Farah. "I'm heartened that Jim De Young is exposing and opposing it."
De Young brings some interesting credentials to his critique. A New Testament language and literature professor at Western Seminary in Portland, Ore., he's also a former longtime colleague of Paul Young, and was his Portland-area neighbor when Young wrote "The Shack." In 1997, De Young and Young even co-founded a Christian think tank, called M3 Forum, and for the next seven years they discussed and probed topics, doctrine and problems facing the church as it approached the New Millennium.
"It's often said that one can understand a book better by knowing the author," said De Young, who wrote "Burning Down 'The Shack'" to "expose the greatest deception to blindside the church in the last 200 years!"
As De Young explains, while writing "The Shack," Young, a victim of child molestation, had recently embraced "universal reconciliation." Identified as far back as the 6th century as heresy, universal reconciliation emphasizes that God's nature in essence renders him "too loving" to let anyone who has refused to seek forgiveness and salvation actually suffer the eternal consequences of sin.
As a seminary professor for 34 years with degrees from Dallas Seminary, Talbot Theological Seminary, and Moody Bible Institute, De Young delivers a chapter-by-chapter evaluation of more than 15 heresies within "The Shack."
He also takes unique creative license and shows readers stories and instruction in Scripture that would have helped Paul Young's fictional character, Mack, find the forgiveness and restoration he so desperately sought – but was not offered.
"Unfortunately, mass acceptance of a viewpoint that denies the existence of evil and the costs and consequences of unbelief isn't surprising," said Farah. "As Americans, we're only now beginning to pay the costs of living as though our choices carry no consequences. As Christians, we're charged with alerting a fallen world to the Truth of eternal consequences. Jim does that by relying on the strength of God's Word to overpower Young's blasphemous manipulations."
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