“The Shack” – book review

The Shack”

By William P. Young

Published by Windblown Media (2007)

 

11 hours; that is the amount of time it took me to read this book. This is truly one of those books you can’t put down.  I started one evening and only slept a few hours out of necessity, but when I awoke I immediately began reading it again.  Young has weaved a tale that many are saying is destined to become a classic among Christian literature.

Using the tragic event of a missing child, Young develops a story of a father meeting God in a very unusual way.  Through this meeting he learns of God’s ways and purpose in many things.  He dares to ask God the questions that many of us harbor deep in our souls, but are afraid to voice.  Through the meeting he finds answers, forgiveness, and hope; and he faces his own past and hurt.

There will be criticism of this book.  It challenges modern day institutions and theology.  Fundamentalists of all Christian sects will be forced to examine their assumptions and biblical interpretations.  Some will choose not to and dismiss it outright, and will unfortunately miss the meaning contained in its pages.  For those who choose to read it thoroughly they may find Sarayu teaches them something about knowing God that they had forgotten or never known.

I highly recommend this book to all lovers of God, grace, redemption and well-told stories.

 

Edit added on 8/19

 

I wanted to add some additional information, yet retain my original review intact.  Here is a statement I made in the comments in response to someone’s elses comment.  I think it helps clarify the above:

A Quick Follow-up on my review….

Every reader is going to find some challenges to their theology in this book – including me.

People will have problems with his use of a woman to represent Father God, his view of the church, his lack of a Reformed approach to God’s dealings with man, etc.

My encouragement for people to read this book, does not mean I don’t see problems with it. It just means that I think he makes some good points and uses a great story to make them.

He also deals with age-old questions that some will agree with him on and some won’t. For example, as you point out, the problem of evil. Everyone will have a different theological answer for this (thus the phrase ‘problem of evil’).

So, read the book with your eyes wide open, but I still say, “read the book.”

Added Sept 20, 2009

A response by a collaborator on the Shack to criticism regarding this book can be found at the  http://windblownmedia.com/about-wbm/is-the-shack-heresy.html. It addresses the charges of universalism, distorting the trinity, lack of Scripture, etc.  Very good read.

 

 

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29 Responses

  1. An amazing plus for the book is Young’s willingness to point out Nietzsche’s “Will To Power” as a dominant motivator for human-to-human relationships and therefore within this “chain of command” or “great chain of being,” we are stunted in true community altogether.

    An amazing negative for the book is his obsession with God being so very careful not to encroach upon human freedom. If independence is what prevents us from trusting God, then, why would our free choice be so carefully guarded by God?

    I see no reason for God to behave this way. I certainly don’t see it in Scripture either. We may prefer that this were the case, because it easily exonerates God from the “problem of pain or evil.” But I’m afraid this is where the book exercises great imagination. From a human standpoint, we feel the need to be free in order for love to exist, and we feel that God must be free of any guilt for any pain. How can God be absolutely free, if we are. I don’t subscribe to Open Theism or universalism? How ’bout Willie?

  2. A Quick Follow-up on my review….

    Every reader is going to find some challenges to their theology in this book – including me.

    People will have problems with his use of a woman to represent Father God, his view of the church, his lack of a Reformed approach to God’s dealings with man, etc.

    My encouragement for people to read this book, does not mean I don’t see problems with it. It just means that I think he makes some good points and uses a great story to make them.

    He also deals with age-old questions that some will agree with him on and some won’t. For example, as you point out, the problem of evil. Everyone will have a different theological answer for this (thus the phrase ‘problem of evil’).

    So, read the book with your eyes wide open, but I still say, “read the book.”

  3. I completely understand your post, your review, and your disclaimer. I too would like to clarify my last paragraph since I’ve had another day to digest the book:

    Lastly, I don’t subscribe to

    1. “the wastefulness of Grace” such as suggested in Open Theism (“The God Who Risks”) when he gives man a temptation and a choice. He implies that God would thoughtlessly yet deliberately lavish all mankind with His love, but we would only receive it if we choose to. Thus, when we chose independence over trust, God’s Creation was taken down a path that He didn’t intend. Young believes that God limits himself before He would limit man’s free will. or

    2. Universalism (that God is redeeming everyone to Himself). If you look again, you’ll notice that no one is outside of God’s grace in The Shack. Is there anyone whom God is not “especially fond of?” or

    3. Process Theology (that God is making us better over time–much of which is very cognitive) in effort to establish better community between man and God. If this is so, then why would we need Christ’s atonement? And wouldn’t mentally immature individuals or children be last to get it–if ever? How ’bout Willie? Is he not a modern theologian blending several of such views?

    The real tragedy here is that in effort to better understand the infinite within our minds, we’ve given the Infinite human traits–i.e. fallibility-:

    Did Jesus’ slippery fingers drop more than the sauce bowl– Did he drop the whole planet, or just a few of us? Can he not skip stones better than Josh?

    Sorry, one last problem: if living loved is the goal that Sophia is teaching, and not getting justice, why does Mack insist on framing the Little Lady Killer at the end of the story?

  4. I would submit that the author is not promoting universalism, but instead unlimited atonement.

    Thus, God’s grace is available to all and Christ died for all, but it does not become effective until faith is exercised. This is in line with 1 John 2:2 which states that, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”(nkjv)

    Unlimited Atonement teaches that Christ’s sacrifice covers the sin of the whole world, but does not provide justification for everyone until they believe (trust) in who Christ is and the promise of forgiveness he offers.

    As I mentioned in my review, Reformed theologians will have a problem with this.

    Thanks for your comments.

  5. Correction…I mentioned in my comments not the review that Reformed theologians would have problemswith this book.

  6. As far as I understand The Shack is based on true events and if so what happened to the Little Lady Killer. Is there anywhere where we could find out more about the trail ecxt.?

  7. Check out http://www.theshackbook.com. The author gives a little insight into how he developed the storyline and where the ideas came from. He also discusses some of the characters – however slightly.

  8. What is so interesting about the book and possibly one reason it is receiving so much attention is it dares to cross conventional thinking in the way we have understood God in the past. Our stereotypical concepts for how we see God have stopped us from seeing Him in some instances as a loving, caring person who wants to connect with His kids.

    One interesting and somewhat controversial comment Paul Young makes in his book is sure to make a lot of people think differently about a cliche we have been throwing around in the church for years. It is found on page 149, Paul writes in Jesus’ words “My Life Was Not Met To Be An Example That You Can Copy”. For years, we the Christian community have held onto the idea that Jesus’ life or “behavior” was to be followed. We have all heard and even used the cliche “What would Jesus do?” or WWJD for short.

    We have seen it on bracelets and tee shirts for years. Problem is that when you look at it from a new covenant aspect it you would never hear Jesus tell us to mimic his behavior. Instead Jesus would tell us that we are to mimic or copy the relationship he experienced with the Father through the Holy Spirit. It is out of this relationship that behavioral issues, difficulties and temptation finds answers, not through some pull yourself up by the bootstraps mentality. Bottom line is that this book will challenge old belief systems that probably need to be challenged. Only then can you truly experience Christ as life, which beats religion any day!

    Scott Johnson
    Join a Christian Social Network and create your own profile
    http://www.ChristianWorshipers.com

  9. Hey Shawn. I’m not trying to kill a dead horse, but I’m referring to Universalism, not mere free-will Arminianism. William “Paul” Young shares his influences publicly in his blog. He is influenced by universalism in the modern theology of Schleiermacher, and philosophers such as Locke and Barth.

  10. Hi Breadandsham,

    I guess I did not interpret his story to mean universalism; where everyone will eventually be reconciled to God.

    I saw that he was promoting unlimited atonement and the extension of God’s grace to every person. The difference being that although God loves every person and has provided possible justification for every person through Christ, not every person will believe. Thus God has done his part for all, but not all will do theirs – to have belief or faith in Christ.

    I’ve read some of his blog, but didn’t notice the influences you’ve mentioned in what I read. Perhaps I missed an article.

  11. Hey, Shawn,

    Check out the review at…

    http://www.challies.com/archives/book-reviews/a-review-of-the-shack-download-it-here.php

    Also Ray Pritchard at …

    http://www.keepbelieving.com/blog/2008-7-14-the-shackmdashsome-preliminary-observations/

    What Young is propagating through this books is not so much unlimited atonement which is biblical, but an unbiblical devaluing of the trinity as revealed in Scripture, salvation as revealed in Scripture, and the authority of the Word and sound doctrine in the life of the believer, as well as a direct attack on the importance of the local church (which is evident on his webstie).

    I read the book and see the great sadness in Young’s life and we all know it in our own lives and even ministries. But Young’s prescription is worse than the hurt. Healing is always found in the Truine God as revealed in Scripture, the inspired sufficient Word of God, the community of believers (even when they are part of our great sadness), and finally the Lord Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life! I KNOW YOU AFFIRM THESE TRUTHS, but unfortunately Young does not! What Young is promoting through his fiction is not a Reformed vs. Non-Reformed Theology issue – it is a Sound Doctrine vs. Unsound Doctrine issue!

    There is greater hope for our great sadness in the person and work of Christ than can be found in The Shack. Yes, in reading the book I cried during parts of it (hard not to do if you have a daughter!). And yes it connects with those who can relate to the “great sadness”, but the medicine offered by the book is worse the wound!

  12. I loved this book.
    It opens up discussions and touches people in deep places.
    A missionary visited our church recently and he read this book twice while here.
    It made him think and brought about healing in deep places, of course with the help of our wonderful heavenly Father.
    His wife had a baby after an act of indescribable violence was commited against her on the missionfield.
    They kept the baby, who is now a beautiful little girl, but it has been a painful issue for the husband all these years.
    This book helped him to reflect on many things surrounding what happened to his wife and he is better off for it.
    I think people have to read this book with an open mind and they will find a lot of help in it.
    I also think the danger may be, if someone doesn’t have a sound doctrine base already, or if they take this book and replace the Bible with it, then it can be a problem.

  13. Hey…just found your site…..LOVED the book. As someone who also lived through more than one tragic event in her life, this book FINALLY helped me to understand the true SOVEREIGNTY of God. I couldn’t recommend it more !!

    Great stuff on here, btw….

  14. Just finished the book,and I must say it has made me think,on what exactly,I am not sure yet.Though I CAN tell you that the part about forgiveness really got to me,especially as I am struggling to forgive someone who did me a terrible wrong as a child.

  15. Werd, yea ther seems to b alotta ppl hu luv this book.. an a few hu dont… yer.. mynameisrush.com has a killer (an i mean killer… scathing) review of the book.. which i recommend. i personally loved th book. yea.. buuut… i did wanna checkit bak 2 the scriptures like paul recommends.. annnd yea.. rush.com seems to have done just that… and didnt like th results… anywho peace to y’all cause Jesus luvs ya, an as the Prince of Peaces, wishes to bringit yo… i dont usually type like this.. im just tired… yea… ah hi…

  16. Hi, I have just had the journey of a lifetime. Struggling for so many years with so much doctrine and others opinions of what Christians should be and never knowing which one was right, I find the truth. This book I believe is God inspired because it confirmed God’s still small voice that has been trying to speak to me through all the nonsense. I have ignored it for fear of being deceived and therefore separated fro God. But I can’t escape the change that has happened to me in recent months and through reading the words in this book. True peace is only God given – it comes from no-where else, because it is no-one else’s to give. That is what I feel having read this book.

    Yeah there are a couple of bits that I thought “Don’t know if I agree with that”, and there are other bits that will cause upset, but as it says so many times in the Bible, old and new testament, God wants us to know how much He loves us, to love Him in return. That is the message we need to take from this.

    Too often we start bickering about what we believe to be true according to our understanding of scripture and end up fighting to defend our corner and not doing the one thing that Jesus told us to do…..Love one another. Suddenly our beliefs become more important than showing love or grace. Love is not something a person can do, it is a “happening” when you just “be”. When you allow God to be in control and trust Him. Trust is something I have very little of . But I see now, as Sarayu, I think says, that even the tiniest amount of trust is enough to start the journey. That’s where I am.

    I don’t know all the ins and outs of the mysteries of God – thankfully – but I have eternity to learn. For now I want to learn how to really love and I can only do that by knowing I am loved. For me that is the most important message I read in this book.

    Thank you Mr Young for your perseverance with a such a hot potato. May God bless you. xx

  17. I am 12 and i absolutley loved this book. I read it in 8 hours and couldnt put it down. My life relates to this book in a few ways. I have no relationship with my dad right now and this book defenitley helped me to see things in a different way. This book is amazing it is beyond words. And i recomend it to everyone and anyone who enjoys reading. For a girl who is 12 I do have many problems with my family. I always thought that i was unloved and that everything wrong that was happening to me was God’s fault. I have a father who has told me to my face that he is picking my step-mom (a real witch) over his own kids. The only thing that used to get me through this all was my dreams. I write music and I have been told i have an amazing voice. Anf the only thing that kept me going day after day was the hope that my dreams would one day come true. I had no friends during 5th grade and the only family i was close to were my 3 dogs. i thought they understood me and everything that was going on. i loved those dogs soo much they were all i ever talked about. then one day during the summer i was told i had 2 weeks to say godbye to the dogs. that was the hardest thing i ever had to deal with. i went into a deep depression and couldnt come out. i didnt believe that anything could get me out. and believe it or not a boy pulled me out. his name was chris and he was always so full of energy. I yhad never felt the way i did about anyone before. I wrote a song about him and everything. then one day when he broke up with me i fell again. I’m finally starting to have some hope becauwse of this book. this book helped me so much and i now have a closer relationship to God and many others. I think that Mackenzie is literally amazing and he is also my hero. and i really think that when you read this book your life will be changed. May God Bless Mackenzie Allen Phillips and Willian P. Young!!
    thank you both without you i don’t know where i would be.
    xoxox

  18. thank you,

    i am going to see my dad. tomorrow. he has cancer and i am going to recommend he read this book..I know he is afraid, and that this book will help him…..Chad

  19. The artistic literary ways that Young chooses to use in this book make it just as interesting as the content itself, if not more so. Before criticizing, pay closer attention to what his motivation appears to be. It seems as if Young is just encouraging us to seek after the Father when we are faced with the difficulties of life that we don’t understand. Stop reading so much into things…it’s funny that Christians and “church folk” complicate things more than the world. Let’s take more time to get to know our Father, our Saviour, and our Teacher & Comforter, to develop relationship with them…so that they can answer the questions that fellow humans can’t. I know that’s what I’m going to do after reading this.

  20. This book… It was well written. But how can you NOT be angry at god for letting someone KILL your innocent little 5 year old. Why doesn’t God, who is all seeing and all knowing, at least TELL Mack where his little daughter is buried? I have my own issues with God, my own things which, if He is up there, I will never be able to forgive him for.

    From Shawn…I am so sorry for the hurt you’ve experienced which has made you angry toward God. I wish I had all the answers. All I can say is…He is good; humanity is bad; Christ is the answer to reconcile the two. I’ll pray for you today.

  21. I agree with candace, when “christians” are sooooo overly concerned with arguing over words and commas they miss the entire point. I can’t wait till they get to meet God face to face (as it were) and finally realize all the uptight arguing just pushed them farther and farther from relationship. Follow the fruit people, the fruit is not “God blessed me with the powere to memorize so I can argue better.”
    just the opinion of someone who understands relationship.

  22. I usually don’t take part in online debates because I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, this is a topic that I feel strongly about, and I can’t keep quiet. I understand that there will always be people who either don’t believe in God or simply don’t want to, but my heart breaks for every single person who does not have complete trust in God. The message that I got from this story (which came at a critical time in my life, as God intended) is what anyone who has read the Bible will already know. The only thing that we are COMMANDED to do is love.
    And as for Lara, my heart also breaks for you and your anger at God. And I want to ask you something, but please don’t think I’m attacking you or your beliefs. You say you can never forgive God, what would you do if he felt the same way about you? What if he would never forgive you? And so ask yourself, why DOES he forgive you? The answer is because he loves you, because true love is forgiving. So how can you say that you love God, when you can’t love him enough to forgive him? Does that minimize your suffering? Absolutely not. And I understand that. Just something to think about when you feel angry at God.
    This book also taught me that God doesn’t do these horrible things in our lives. People make decisions, and he loves each of us enough to allow us to carry out those decisions. But the great thing is that he WILL make something wonderful out of the bad things, if you TRUST him. And I have seen this in my own life.
    After reading this book, I have felt more free than I have ever felt in my life, because I realized that God LOVES me. And we hear that all the time in Sunday school and at church services. But think of the way you love your parents, or better yet, your children. This is the love that God has for YOU. The Creator of the universe loves YOU in such an intimate way, I can’t even describe it. Really think about that, and think about what he has done for you and heat he continues to do for you. Now if that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will.
    God Bless.

  23. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

  24. Shawn, I read the book about a year or even two ago. Thoroughly enjoyed the book so I got it on CD which was amazing! I was amazed at how different it was to read the book vs hearing the book! ANyway… while I have to say I didn’t read the book to evaluate the deep theological prespectives, I found that the book made me examine my views of God and how I tend to put God in my box. This is what He does, this is what He doesn’t do, etc. It brought down some walls that I had placed around God. It also opened my eyes to the topic of forgiveness. It helped me immensely to let go of grudges and I find that I don’t try and pick grudges up anymore. They are just tooo heavy for me, so I let God do my packing (so to speak). Loved the book, would like to read something else from this writer!
    Tracey Dale

  25. Joe, what part of the book do you object to? I know, of course, that there are many, many of my friends who do not appreciate, nor approve of the book. Is it his views on the trinity? heaven? etc. I would be interested in your thoughts.

  26. In the first century A.D., when the apostles were still alive and still writing the New Testament, there was a horrible heresy called “legalism” that was spreading like wildfire. It seemed that wherever the apostle Paul preached, there followed certain Jewish teachers who were subverting the faith of new believers by telling them “Yes. Jesus is the Messiah but you must also obey the law of Moses to be saved.” In his epistle to the Galatians, the apostle Paul refuted the heresy of legalism soundly. The Holy Spirit gave us the definitive word on the issue of legalism in that epistle.

    (Galatians 2:16) Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

    The great spiritual threat of our current day, however, is not legalism. The Bible predicts a problem in the last days that is the exact opposite of legalism. Here is Peter’s prophecy of false teachers. I have copied and pasted only a part of verse 1 and verse 19 for brevity’s sake but the entire 2nd chapter is a prophecy describing false teachers in the church. It should be read it in its entire context. It is very relevant to our day.

    (2 Peter 2:1… 19) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you… While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.

    Just as there were false prophets among the people of Israel in the Old Testament, there shall be false teachers among God’s people of the New Testament. One very important characteristic of these false teachers is “they promise liberty.” This is quite the opposite of legalism.

    In my 32 years as a Christian, I have never heard any preacher (other than cultists) make even a remote attempt at preaching “you must obey the law of Moses to be saved.” Nevertheless, there are many teachers who have gained acceptance within contemporary churches that promise liberty and would have us believe that legalism is a huge problem in our day. They are quick to label almost any exhortation to personal holiness as “legalism.” But I really don’t think that people who so hastily use the term of “legalism” truly understand what a gravely serious accusation they are making.

    (Galatians 5:4) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

    William P. Young’s view of God typifies this kind of contemporary preaching that I am referring to. He places the very origin of law with man and not with God. In Young’s scheme of things, the concept of final authority, hierarchy and the so-called resulting “need” for rules are all man-made.

    “Mackenzie, we [the trinity] have no concept of final authority among us, only unity… Hierarchy would make no sense among us… Once you have a hierarchy, you need rules.” (p. 122)

    Galatians 3:19 tells us plainly that the law was added because of transgressions, not because it was necessitated by hierarchy. Mr. Young is making an assertion about the very nature of God here and he is giving his readers false information. I realize that The Shack is a work of fiction but this is an attempted assertion of truth made within that work of fiction and it is grossly unbiblical.

    Without a doubt, the message of The Shack is corrective in nature. That seems to me a colossal contradiction coming from a man who rejects Biblical concepts like final authority, hierarchy and rules.

    How can Mr. Young presume to correct his readers if there is no such thing as final authority, no hierarchy, no rules in an ideal relationship with God? That is a logical absurdity – a big one. The author has taken an enormous illogical leap from the beautiful Bible truth of “God does not save man by rules” to the terrible error of “God does not establish standards defined by rules.”

    The author’s view of God goes very wrong with the downplay of sin. Any doctrine that would cause you to have a light regard for sin is not of God. Mr. Young sets forth the idea that man’s “pain” prevents him from seeing God clearly. This notion is not found in the Bible. In fact, there are numerous passages in which man’s pain actually cause him to seek God and begin to see Him for the first time. Without a doubt, it is man’s “sin” that separates him from God and prevents him from seeing God clearly, not man’s pain.

    (Isaiah 59:2) …your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.

    There were quite a few things in The Shack that I would take exception with, but the main one is the downplay of sin. Any doctrine that would cause us to have a light regard for sin is not from God.

    “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.” (Pg. 120)

    This is a frightening, boldface contradiction of the scripture. The Bible does not say that sin is its own punishment. The Bible says that the wrath of God is the punishment for sin. Although the Bible says nothing about God having a “need” to punish people for sin, it definitely says that God is going to do so. Go to biblegateway.com and do a search for “I will punish” and see how many hits you get.

    (Revelation 14:10) The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb

    The Bible does not describe God’s patience as “endless.” Numerous times, the Bible tells us that God is “slow to anger” but it does not say that His patience is endless. God’s patience has a limit. (Matthew 18:23-35).

    (Genesis 6:3) And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man… [The story of the great flood follows].

    (Nahum 1:3) The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked…

    (Revelation 10:5-6) And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer

    If William P. Young wanted to give The Shack a subtitle, perhaps a quote from page 164 would be fitting. “Maybe your understanding of God is wrong.” (p. 164)

    The Shack: Maybe Your Understanding of God is Wrong

    William P. Young probably has good intentions. He obviously believes that stuffy old religion needs a shot in the arm to give it some vitality. He obviously believes that the true and living way to have a relationship with God through Christ got lost and buried in man’s stuffy old boring religion. But make no mistake, cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons and Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God all began on the basic belief that the “true gospel” had been long lost and buried by the corrupt religious institutions of man. While I would agree that the religious institutions of man are corrupt, and I have been involved in “home church” since 1987. I most definitely do not believe that the “true gospel” has been lost or buried for one second.

    (2 Corinthians 4:3) But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost

    (Matthew 24:35) Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

    (Matthew 16:18b) …upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

    William P. Young’s purpose in The Shack is to present an alternate view of God that is based on his own speculation. That is why it is necessary for him to build a fictional bridge that links sound Bible doctrine with all things tedious, boring and phony.

    “That’s okay, we’ll do things on your terms and time.” (Pg. 83)

    The Lord Jesus Christ did not do things on man’s terms and time. He said things like “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29) “Ye fools and blind.” (Matthew 23:17&19) “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33) He told men that they were wicked and that they needed to be saved. You just won’t find Him going around buddying up to people in the pages of the New Testament like the god of The Shack. Sinful men hated Him for telling the truth so bluntly. They plotted against Him and killed Him. Can you, by any stretch of the imagination, hear the god of The Shack saying words like those to any man? The true message of God is direct and blunt. It brings forth either an angry reaction from the sinful human heart or a reaction of broken humility followed by profound gratitude.

    (Hosea 4:6a) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…

    With love,
    Joe

  27. Hey Joe,

    Thanks for your thorough response. It’s been about 3 years since I’ve read the book – to make appropriate responses I would need to read it again. I may do that sometime in the future; but at this point I do not have the time. I would refer you and the readers to my 3rd paragraph of the review and to my statement in the edit on 8/19, “Every reader is going to find some challenges to their theology in this book – including me.”

    One thing I will point out in view of the reference to false teachers (2 Peter 2) is that they are characterized by much more than an appeal to Liberty. They also are accused of:

    1) denying the Lord (vs 1)
    2) being covetousness (vs 3)
    3) walk according to the flesh (vs 10)
    4) (have the) lust of uncleanness (vs 10)
    5) despise authority (vs 10)
    6) (are) natural brute beasts (vs 12)
    7) have eyes full of adultery (vs. 14)
    8.) speak great swelling words of of emptiness (vs 18)
    9) allure through lusts of the flesh (vs 18)
    10) (use) lewdness (vs 18)

    I do see these kinds of teachers today – using their influence for personal gain, sexual depravity of horrendous nature, inflating their egos, etc. While there may be some problems with the book; I don’t see that the author, in light of the entire context about false teachers in this passage, meets the critera. But, I know some would see it differently.

    I think a little too much has been read into his statements about the trinity as being definitive about the points he was trying to make. It is obvious there is a heirarchy of authority in the trinity – he misses it there and could have explained this much better.

    He also makes a comment, if I remember correctly, about the Word being used as some kind of “guilt-trip” tool (or something). I’ve read several bloggers who’ve had problems with that. The question is, “are there people who actually do that?” I think that is the point he was trying to make.

    Anyway – I need to read it again before commenting further.

    Thanks truly for your thoughts. Shawn

  28. It has been a while since I read the book as well. I cut and pasted my remarks above from a January 2008 email that I wrote to a young person who gave the book to me as a gift.

    In regard to 2 Peter 2, my primary point is that legalism is not listed among the traits of false teachers described here prophetically. Yet it seems to be a chief concern of the author. Libertine thinking is what the apostle warns us of, not legalism. It is clearly evident that Mr. Young is not concerned with the threat that libertine thinking poses to God’s people. Plus, I think it is also evident from the book that Mr. Young meets several more of the criteria of 2 Peter 2.

    You simply cannot go tampering with the nature and character of God. Setting aside the characters that Young used to portray the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it is nature and character that he ascribes to them that is heretical. Moreover, the words that he puts in their mouths are unbiblical.

    Who do men say that I am, asked the Lord Jesus. Men are full of false notions about the person of Jesus Christ. We don’t need more.

    I will make this as simple as I know how. I reject the god of William P. Young. I want nothing to do with him. I do not want to go to the place in eternity where he dwells.

  29. I see your point about legalism – as Paul discusses it in Galatians. Many people incorrectly identify “traditionalism” as legalism. But there is also the problem of the Pharisees who added man-made rules and regulations to the doctrines of God. Jesus addresses them in Mark…

    5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” 6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:`This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men– the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” 9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. (Mar 7:5-9 NKJ)

    Perhaps this is what Young is referring to; but again, I would have to reread it to refresh my memory. Notwithstanding the other issues with the book, I believe that he was pointing out traditionalism and manmade rules pollute the pure Gospel of Christ. He may confuse the true definition of legalism from a Pauline perspective, but I believe looking at the issue in Mark he has a point.

    But I’m just impressed you can find an email in your archives from 3 years ago 🙂

    This is about all the time I have for an exchange until I look at it further. Hope you are well.

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