The Bestsellers

A short time ago I launched a new series called “The Bestsellers.” The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association tracks sales of Christian books, and awards the Platinum Book Award for books whose sales exceed one million, and the Diamond Book Award for sales exceeding ten million. In this series I am looking at the history and impact of some of the Christian books that have sold more than a million copies—no small feat when the average Christian books sells only a few thousand. We have encountered books by a cast of characters ranging from Joshua Harris (I Kissed Dating Goodbye) and Randy Alcorn (The Treasure Principle) all the way to Joel Osteen (Your Best Life Now) and Bruce Wilkinson (The Prayer of Jabez). Today we look at one of the bestselling Christian novels of all time and one of the very few books to receive the Diamond Award.

The Shack by William Paul Young

lthe-shack_2William Paul Young was born on May 11, 1955, in Grande Prairie, Alberta (Canada). However, he spent most of his younger years in Netherlands New Guinea where his parents served as missionaries among the Dani, a stone-age people group. He later said, “These became my family and as the first white child and outsider who ever spoke their language, I was granted unusual access into their culture and community. Although at times a fierce warring people, steeped in the worship of spirits and even occasionally practicing ritualistic cannibalism, they also provided a deep sense of identity that remains an indelible element of my character and person.” When he was six he was sent to boarding school, but soon thereafter his family left the mission field and his father returned to Canada where he pastored a series of small churches. Later Young would tell how he suffered abuse both at the hands of tribespeople and at the hands of those at the boarding school—abuse that shaped and scarred him.

Young attended Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon where he earned a degree in religion. Shortly after his graduation he married his wife, Kim, and began seminary training while also working at a church. In the years that followed he held a variety of jobs, ranging from sales to janitorial.

When he was thirty-eight Young engaged in an extramarital affair. His marriage survived, but he was forced to think hard about who God is and what he expects of his people. He says that by 2004 he had come to a place of “peace with myself and peace with my sense of who I believe God to be.” But even then he was in a difficult financial situation after a series of bad monetary decisions. In 2005 he was working three jobs and had lost his home.

It was in this context that Young decided to write about his evolving understanding of God in the form of a story, thinking it might be of interest to his children. He called it The Shack. After he sent the manuscript to his children, he began hearing from them and from others that he ought to consider publishing his work. He forwarded a copy to Wayne Jacobsen who offered it to twenty-six different publishers. After the book was rejected by every one of those publishers, Jacobsen and his colleage Brad Cummings created Windblown Media and published it themselves. In 2007 they printed 11,000 copies. Little did they know that the book would go on to sell 20 million.

The Shack is a book that seeks to provide answers to the always timely question “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?”. It is a tale that revolves around Mack (Mackenzie) Philips. Four years before the story begins, Mack’s young daughter, Missy, was abducted during a family vacation. Though her body was never found, the police did find evidence in an abandoned shack to prove that she had been brutally murdered by a notorious serial killer who preyed on young girls. As the story begins, Mack, who has been living in the shadow of his Great Sadness, receives a note from God (known in this story as Papa). Papa invites Mack to return to this shack for a time together. Though uncertain of what to expect, Mack visits the scene of the crime and there experiences a weekend-long encounter with God, or, more properly, with the Godhead.

Each of the members of the Trinity is present and each appears in bodily form. Papa, whose actual name is Elousia (which is Greek for tenderness) appears in the form of a large, matronly African-American woman. Jesus is a middle-aged man of Middle-Eastern descent while the Holy Spirit is played by Sarayu (Sanskrit for air or wind), a small, delicate and eclectic woman of Asian descent.

The reader learns that Mack has been given this opportunity to meet with God so he can learn to deal with his Great Sadness—the overwhelming pain and anger resulting from the death of his daughter. There is very little action in The Shack and the bulk of the book is dialog. The majority of the dialog occurs as the members of the Trinity communicate with Mack, though occasionally the author offers glimpses into their unique relationships with one another.

As the weekend progresses Mack participates in lengthy and impactful discussions with each member of the Trinity. Topics range from the cross to the Trinity and from forgiveness to free will. He finds his understanding of God and his relationship with God radically and irrevocably altered. His faith is dismantled piece by piece and then put back together. As the reader would expect, he leaves the cabin a changed man.

Sales & Lasting Impact

In 2008 The Shack surpassed one million copies sold and was awarded the Platinum Book Award. By 2009 it had sold over 10 million copies and had achieved Diamond status. It will soon be awarded a double-diamond. Along the way Windblow Media sold the book’s rights to Hachette Book Group.

The Shack was widely criticized by conservative Christians based on a number of doctrinal concerns. Though it is fiction, it is fiction with a purpose—doctrine wrapped in narrative. Most critics focused on Young’s understanding of the Trinity and his understanding of what God accomplishes in salvation, even going so far as to suggest Young is outright heretical in some of what he teaches.

Young proves to have an inadequate and often-unbiblical understanding of the Trinity. While granting that the Trinity is a very difficult topic to understand and one that we cannot know fully, he often blurs the distinct persons of the Trinity along with their roles and their unique attributes. He even goes so far as to say that God submits to human beings. Al Mohler says, “The theorized submission of the Trinity to a human being—or to all human beings—is a theological innovation of the most extreme and dangerous sort. The essence of idolatry is self-worship, and this notion of the Trinity submitted (in any sense) to humanity is inescapably idolatrous.”

Though the cross is central to the Bible and central to the Christian faith, it appears only sparingly in The Shack. A person who is unfamiliar with the Christian faith is unlikely to glean from it a biblical understanding of what the cross was for and what Jesus’ death accomplished. Nor would he understand how God saves us and what He saves us from. Of greater concern is a thread of universalism in which God states that “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.” Jesus says, “I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved.”

Since the Award

The success of The Shack propelled Young into the public eye. He was soon able to stop other work and focus on writing and public speaking. In 2010 Young appeared in the news when the Los Angeles Times reported that he was embroiled in a series of lawsuits between himself and the men behind Windblow Media; Young believed he was owed some $8 million. The case was eventually settled and dismissed. More recently, rumors have surfaced that Forest Whitacker will direct and star in a film adaptation of The Shack which will also star Oprah Winfrey (presumably playing the character of Papa). Young travels extensively and continues to write. In 2012 FaithWords published his second novel, Cross Roads.

Today Young lives in Happy Valley, Oregon with his wife and children. Notably, he and his co-publishers no longer attend church for, as he told WORLD magazine, “[The institutional church] doesn’t work for those of us who are hurt and those of us who are damaged.”

A Personal Perspective

I ignored The Shack for a time since I read very little fiction, but received many requests to review it and eventually did so. Many who read this site today first encountered it when they looked for a review of The Shack. I eventually expanded my concerns into a lengthy PDF document which was downloaded hundreds of thousands of times and remains available today. The Shack remains a fascinating phenomenon which exposed just how hungry Christians are for an intimate, personal relationship with God; it is sad that Young’s answers were not more faithfully grounded in Scripture.


23 thoughts on “The Bestsellers: The Shack

  1. I cannot fathom your heart or mind, though based on this, I suspect them to be cold and closed. I respectfully disagree and believe it’s articles like yours that hold God at arms’ length from those who need Him, but are not “good enough.” I am sad for this. If you ever critique MY book, do the work and read it first. I’m sure you will have much to criticize. I *hope* so. Thank you.

  2. Yes, I tend to say read it, or don’t pretend to know. To influence others to be indignant for the strongest of reasons without knowing the material might be seen as self righteous.

  3. You would ward off many of your critics if you read the book before commenting on it. I have read the book. Yes, there are several questionable things (it is fiction). At the very least say, “I have no comment.” Or, at best say, “Here’s what people whom I highly respect are saying….” But, Greg, you’re setting yourself up for all sorts of criticism if you comment on such a controversial work without even reading it.

  4. Diane,

    First of all, I am not a big fan of ?Christian fiction?. The books I have read in this genre tend to take way too much liberty in interpreting the things of God and as is the case here, can lead to a heretical view of God.

    Let’s say that I were to write a book about you, but I portrayed you as a small Eskimo man, would that not offend you? What do you think that God’s opinion is when He is portrayed as an African-American woman, based on His own portrayal in the Bible itself?

    Secondly, did you read the article or just my comments? Tim goes into the reasons why this book is dangerous and a number of other theologians have come to the same conclusions. My comments make no real sense outside of this context.

    Third, I am saddened that you have judged my heart as cold and my mind as closed. You have made this judgement based on 4 paragraphs in a Facebook post since we have not met personally. Also, if anyone is ?holding God at arm’s length from those who need Him?, it is those who do not have the faith to rest in Him and allow Him to comfort them. Jesus said in Matthew 23:37 (ESV):

    ?O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!?

    To say that my post holds God at arm’s length is to give my words WAY too much power. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to change a person’s heart and mind and direct them to Christ, which is His role in this world.

    By the way, who of us is ?good enough? to even approach God? It is only His grace and mercy that keeps us from being incinerated by the fiery wrath of God in the first place. If ?good enough? was the criteria, none of us would survive. Malachi 3:2 (ESV):

    ?But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.?

    God does not accept us based on our own righteousness. If we must stand on being ?good enough? or not, we have an eternity of Hell to endure. And in that place, we will have no comfort at all because God’s patience will have long passed.

    But any distain that I have here is not for anyone who reads the book, or even for William Young himself, it is strictly for the book. God is a jealous God and will not stand for His glory to be taken and given to a figment of someone’s imagination, even if they just happen to call it ?God?. There are plenty of other books out there that help those in immense suffering, beginning first and foremost with the Bible itself.

    For example, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (ESV):

    ?Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.?

    Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV):

    ?Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.?

    This is our God. The God of ALL comfort. Not an African-American woman living in some remote shack in the middle of nowhere.

    Why is ?The Shack? so important that people are willing to jettison the Bible itself and rely on it for the comfort that is promised even by Jesus Himself? In John chapters 14-17, Jesus spoke of the ?Comforter? who would teach us all things. Isn’t that enough? What more does God have to do to show us that He wishes to comfort us? He certainly does not use a book that portrays Him in a heretical manner!

    I said that I would never read the book. I am willing to revise that statement. If the author asked me to read it, I would do so. I just don’t think that it would change my opinion based on what other’s for whom I have a great deal of respect and have much bigger brains and certainly more educational qualifications than I do, have written on the subject. If you wrote a book, Diane, I would gladly read it and would only criticize what is in it if it differs from the clear teaching of Scripture. Not out of a cold heart or closed mind, but out of a heart of compassion and caring.

    For example, if I saw a blind man listening to his MP3 player and walking toward a thousand foot cliff, what is the most loving and caring thing for me to do. To warn him. By every means possible, even if it makes me look obnoxious. Can you imagine him saying ?How dare you? What right do you have to tell me I am headed for a cliff? Who are you to judge me?? The same holds true for my criticism of ?The Shack?. A person’s life is too precious to keep the truth from them.

    Finally, just as Martin Luther said before the Diet of Worms,

    ?Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.?

    (Brecht, Martin. Martin Luther. tr. James L. Schaaf, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985?93, 1:460.)

    Given ?The Shack? or the Bible, I will take the Bible every time. It is more than enough comfort for my soul.

  5. Dan,

    I have not read ?Mein Kampf? either, but I object to it even more strongly than I object to ?The Shack?. I see a huge danger in this book and want to warn as many people as possible to be greatly discerning if they choose to read this book. If that appears self-righteous, for that I apologize but not for my opinion of the book. It is simply a lack of communication skills on my part. If it were not a book of fiction, I would be more inclined to read it, but that is more of a preference in genre.

    For example, I did read Brian McLaren’s ?Everything Must Change? (only because an old friend sent it to me and asked me to read it) and I wanted to beat my head against the wall! If I had any hair, I would have pulled it out by the roots! I am just not willing to go to trouble of reading ?The Shack? only to get to the end and say, ?There is a week I’ll never get back!? (Although, I think it would actually take me longer than that!) I’d rather read some John MacArthur!

    And speaking of self-righteousness, the Apostle Paul called himself the chiefest of sinners. That’s only because he never met me. But God uses the foolish things to confound the wise and that certainly is an encouragement to me!

  6. Phil,

    Thanks for your concern. I have said in the past that I base my opinions on people I highly respect who have a great deal more credibility than I have, but I should have said that here as well.

    As far as criticism is concerned, it isn’t the first time I have been criticized. It certainly will not be the last. Besides, criticism is not a bad thing. If it is valid, it gives me the opportunity to change for the better. If it is not valid, it only means God has used my words to strike a nerve. In either case, my motivation is the truth of the Word of God. To learn it myself, and to be used by the Holy Spirit to teach others.

    People always say ?Avoid talking about religion and politics.? But those are the two things that affect all of life more than anything else. No matter what is said on the subject, someone is always going to be offended. That is not my intention here.

    If someone is offended, I hope that they will examine the issues that offend them in the light of Scripture. Jesus prayed in John 17:17 (ESV):

    ?Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.?

    If anyone can show me where I am off in my assessment of the book, show me in Scripture. I want to be in line with what it says, more than anything else. As for my comments, I just hope that people will be more discerning in their choice of reading material.

    Again, thanks for the concern. I do appreciate it.

  7. Greg Rice, I’ll admit we’ve never met nor do I really know anything about you personally, but I think you just couldn’t wait for someone to criticize your commentary so you could come back with some long “spiritual response.”

  8. I agree that neither of us has to read everything in order to know enough about it to choose not to promote it, or even to advise friends that it will probably be objectionable. In this case, though, you’re offering a series about heretical teachers, etc., implying that you might be in a position to offer some authoritative guidance. I read the book. My objections were based more on the less-than-great writing than on its theology. As I recall, however, it offers one of the best layperson’s understandings of the theology of the Trinity I’ve ever seen. But I digress. The book is allegory. Because it chooses to allegorically teach about God by embodying him as a black woman, is this why you call it heresy? Would you be happier if it was an old man with a white beard in a white robe? I believe the scripture teaches that God is neither of these physical manifestations. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that it is not the race of the God character you object to. If it is the gender…I’m not one to call God by feminine pronouns, but I think fundamentalism leans toward reductionist error to simply say “God is a man, and that

  9. The Shack was written as a novel .. an inspirational novel .. for Paul’s kids .. only. If you only knew the heart of this author like I do, and the background behind some of the characters, and why they were chosen for this NOVEL, you would look at it differently.

  10. Michael,

    Is there something in particular that you disagree with in my assessment? If you have a Biblical case, make it and I will listen and if I am in opposition to what Scripture teaches, I will gladly change. Otherwise, your comment just seems to be an opportunity to attack without cause.

  11. Dan,

    First of all, I did not author this series on the bestsellers. I am syndicating it from Tim Challies who IS in a position to to offer authoritative guidance. So are Patrick Zukeran, Albert Moehler, and Randy Alcorn have all given extensive critiques of the book, even commending the author for some of what he wrote. All of whom are much better qualified to give their assessments than I ever could. I am simply reiterating the dangers of portraying God in a manner that is erroneous.

    Yes the book is allegory. But allegory is a two edged sword because the author runs the risk of teaching things that are clearly heretical about God. Now, let’s be clear. There are two types of heretics. There is a material heretic which is someone that does not realize that what he is teaching is in error, but when he is shown from the Word of God that he isare in error, repents and no longer teaches the error. Then there is the formal heretic. One who may have started out as a material heretic but willingly rebels and continues his false teaching, like the false teachers that Tim Challies has named in his False Teachers series, which I am also syndicating. I certainly hope that the author’s error was on the material side of things (which it may well have been) but after so many criticisms from credentialed theologians, I fear that the line may have been crossed. Only the author and the Lord Himself can make that call, but it is very dangerous ground.

    Just so you know, it is not the author’s portrayal of race or gender that is the issue. It is simply the fact that God refers to Himself in the Bible with male pronouns. God is spirit and has no gender. But when God judges people based on the way they address Him in the Old Testament, does that not raise red flags that God takes His own glory seriously and will not stand for anyone tainting His glory by addressing and describing Him erroneously?

    Second, I did not “invoke” the name of John MacArthur. I mentioned that I like to read his books and they have are of more value to me than “Christian fiction”, even “Christian fiction” that can be considered good. But even Dr. MacArthur’s books are not anywhere near the authority of Scripture, which is my main point throughout this discussion. You also make the assumption that my worldview does not allow for artistic expression. AS a singer, I am all for artistic expression that lines up with Scripture. John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” is a fine example of allegory. But the difference here is that unlike Bunyan, “The Shack” deals with an allegorical depiction of God Himself, whereas “Pilgrim’s Progress” is an allegory about Pilgrim’s journey to Celestial City more than a portrayal of the nature of God.

    As to the use of artistic expression in regard to exposition, of course both can be used. The question is not either or, it is which is most important. Since the Bible is God’s inspired Word, it must take precedence. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 3:4, “Let God be true though every one were a liar”. If our artistic expression is contrary to Scripture, it has the potential to send many to Hell.

    So, why do we need “The Shack”? And why do we feel the need to defend it so? As I said before, if someone wants to read it, read it. But if they end up basing their view of God on it (i.e. their theology), they are putting their soul in danger. And my desire is that we have MORE people in Heaven, not less because of an erroneous portrayal of God, which is idolatry.

  12. Finally, you accuse John MacArthur of “heresy-hunting”. The Apostle Paul was a harsh critic of the Judaizers, even going so far as to say that they should be emasculated since they were saying that Christians must follow the Jewish law regarding circumcision. Pretty strong words there, wouldn’t you say? He also said in Romans 16:17-18:

    “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

    Doctrine? Is Paul saying that theology is important? Certainly! Without a true understanding of theology (theos, Greek for God, and logia, Greek for word or speak, i.e., the study of God), how can we know if we are worshiping the God who is there (to quote Francis Schaeffer) or just a figment of our sinful imagination? Dr. MacArthur takes the study of God’s Word and the study of theology very seriously and when he sees a teacher that is clearly teaching things that are contrary to Scripture, he practices Romans 16:17-18 and calls them out so that all who hear have the knowledge to avoid their heresies. One may call that “nit-picking”, but if it is, it is certainly a “nit” that SHOULD be picked! Was God “nit-picking” when He slew Nadab and Abihu for offering strange fire?

  13. Dana,

    Yes, “The Shack” is just a novel. I realize that it was originally just a gift for his children, but that is still no excuse for an inaccurate portrayal of who God is, no matter what the motivation. There are many sincere people in this world who are headed down the broad road that leads to destruction. Our job is to go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. To be sincere is not a means of salvation. It is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone for the glory of God alone. And all of that is based on the foundation of Scripture alone. That is the foundation on which our salvation is built, not some allegory about meeting God in a shack in the middle of nowhere.

    I don’t doubt that the author has a compassionate heart. But that is not a reason to mischaracterize God. Jeremiah 17:9-10 says:

    “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ‘I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.'”

    We cannot trust our own opinions of who God is without first of all, a clear understanding of the Word of God, and second, the leading of the Holy Spirit to give us that understanding.

  14. Greg Rice, you spend way too much time criticizing others who are reaching many people to come to know Jesus. Just because they don’t do it your way doesn’t mean they’re not encountering Christ. Many you have bashed, have helped made my walk and realization of Christ so much richer. Perhaps you could just write about Jesus and all that He’s revealed to you in your journey without the bashing part. I NEVER buy a product from a salesman if he starts off by bashing the competition first. It’s the one thing that makes me turn and walk away. Please stop now before you cause more to walk away.

  15. Greg, thanks for your response but you cannot rail against a book you haven’t read. Paul’s background informs his view of God and one thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that Paul’s heart is not deceitful or sick. You misrepresent the author and the book has taught millions the lesson of forgiveness and a merciful God. Paul’s view of God is one of an incredible Father and because of the history, the characters all stem from some of the most authentic people he has ever met in his life. You have alot of good things to say in your posts and I enjoy them but in this your are wrong .. Paul cannot be lumped in with the likes of those false teachers you talk about. He wouldn’t like that I’m defending him but it’s nothing he’s never heard before. He approaches each one in a Godly manner and has a conversation .. just like a genuine Christ follower should.

  16. I, for one am really enjoying this thread. Since I know absolutely nothing about the book I will refrain from comment. Like Greg, I don’t find the time to spend on fiction. I have never been one to care “what does this verse mean to me?” But cared more about “what does this verse mean?” So, to me, allegorical fiction is a waste of my time because it’s more of the this is how I see things. I’ll take the Bible over someone else’s expression every time. Good job Greg. I’m sure there are others who feel the way I do. But it’s never the supporter that speaks up. It’s the agenda driven gay activist, abortion supporters who, though in the minority, have the loudest voices. I see the same in Facebook. I’m not saying the people who have posted on this thread support either of these. See, I was using allegory to say those in disagreement seem to speak up while those who agree sit idly by without their voices being heard. Keep up proclaiming His Word and don’t be afraid to post your opinions you’re still allowed to have and others are still allowed to disagree. I think your responses to the comments are actually better reading than your original post. Good job!

  17. Kathy,

    In our society, it seems that to point out any error in a book is construed to be a vicious attack against the author. This is not the case here. I am criticizing the book itself and the errors that have been pointed out to me through the article to which this article is linked, as well as numerous other articles written by those with far more credentials than I possess. Once again, if my assessment is in error and it can be shown to me in Scripture where I am mistaken and that what is written in ?The Shack? is in fact in harmony with Scripture, I will gladly submit to the authority of the Word of God and issue an apology. Otherwise, I cannot in good conscience just sit back and let things ride. I realize that is an unpopular stance and sets myself up as a target. But I will stand for the truth, no matter what it means to my reputation. My desire is to speak the truth of God and be in line with Him.

    That being said, I do want to make a point about how we speak against error. I did a search in the ESV for the word ?hypocrite? and found 18 different instances where the word was used. Of all of those times, 17 of them were uttered by Jesus Himself and most of those were not in a manner that this society would deem as ?kind?. Jesus, in Matthew 23 also called the Pharisees ?whitewashed tombs?, ?a brood of vipers?, ?blind fools?, ?blind guides? and said they were ?full of hypocrisy and lawlessness?. Did Christ spend way too much time criticizing others?

    What about the Apostle Paul and the Apostle John? Paul called out the Judaizers and John called out the Nicolaitans for the heresies they were teaching and for leading people astray in the process. Were they spend way too much time criticizing others?

    Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. David prayed imprecatory prayers against his enemies. John the Baptist called out Herod for his adultery. Did they spend way too much time criticizing others?

    The issue here is not the amount of time spent on illuminating error, it is that unless the error is exposed, people may not discern what the error is. If you consider that as bashing, then is it possible that Jesus, Paul, John, Elijah, David and John the Baptist are guilty of bashing as well? I would hope you would not think so.

    Also, I AM writing about what I have learned by reading Scripture. It saddens me that you think that it is bashing others, but I have come to the realization that truth does not demand an apology. An apology becomes necessary when it is shown that I am in error. I have been in error many, MANY times and have had to backpedal, repent and apologize for it and will gladly do so again if and when I am shown to be in error. But, ironically, isn’t what you just did to me a form of ?bashing?? I can certainly take it, but it just seems a bit incongruous, if you ask me.

    You said you never buy a product from a salesman who bashes the competition. First of all, the truth of the Gospel is not a product and it is not my job to ?sell? it. My responsibility is to proclaim it. If that means shining the light of truth on error, so be it. It is not my job to convince anyone of anything, only the Holy Spirit can do that. If the truth causes people to walk away, it has done it’s job. I am not responsible for what others do with the truth when they are confronted with it. I hope that you notice that I do not get personal and that I do the best I can to steer things back to Scripture. Any authority in the words I use only come from the authority of Scripture and once again, if I am violating Scripture, please show me how and I will repent and do what is right.

    So if you have anything that shows me that I am wrong and need to change, I honestly do want you to tell me what it is. If not, please take my remarks in the spirit of Proverbs 27:17 and Ephesians 4. They are meant to edify and point us all back to Christ and the truth of Scripture.

  18. Be careful…. virtually ALL of those times Jesus went off on people were directed at those who were legalistic, or proud of getting the letter of the law right, exploiting holy places for financial gain, or who refused to show compassion for sinners.

  19. Dana,

    As I said to Dan previously, I have not read Mein Kampf either, but since I know that it is an evil book, I have no remorse in railing against it. ?The Shack? is certainly not in that category, but the issues raised by Tim Challies, Albert Moehler, and Randy Alcorn are serious enough to warn against.

    I have not said one disparaging thing about Paul Young as a man because I don’t know him. I have only attacked the book itself based on the reviews that I have read. There is a lot that is erroneous and that is what I take issue with. I will also say that I appreciate you actually saying that you think I am wrong. That is a bold action in this day and age and I respect your willingness to say it. Now, I ask that you back it up with Scripture and give me the opportunity to either counter the argument or repent. (Galatians 6:1 is the model)

    I highly recommend reading Randy Alcorn’s piece that I linked to previously. Randy not only read the book, he had lunch with Paul Young and discussed it with him. I have the highest respect for Randy Alcorn and it is a fantastic piece.

  20. Dan,

    Yes that is true. But why is that an important distinction here? Is error more erroneous when spouted by a Pharisee? And since when is pointing out error not showing compassion? Have I not called for repentance so that restoration can take place? My desire is that Paul Young come back to orthodoxy, not to condemn him to hell (as if I could do that in the first place).

    But once again, no one has actually pointed out what is wrong in my comments from a Biblical standpoint. What I will do here is quote Tim Challies critique off ?The Shack? to illustrate what bothers me about the book and why reading it is not something I care to do:

    ?One of the most disturbing aspects of The Shack is the behavior of Mack when he is in the presence of God. When we read in the Bible about those who were given glimpses of God, these people were overwhelmed by His glory. In Isaiah 6 the prophet is allowed to see ?the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up? (Isaiah 6:1). Isaiah reacts by crying out ?Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts? (Isaiah 6:5)! Isaiah declares a curse upon himself for being a man whose lips are willing to utter unclean words even in a world created by a God of such glory and perfection. When Moses encountered God in the burning bush, he hid his face for he was afraid to look at God’s glory (Exodus 3:6). In Exodus 33 Moses is given just a glimpse of God’s glory, but God will show only His back saying ?you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live? (Exodus 33:20). Examples abound. When we look to the Bible’s descriptions of heaven we find that any creatures who are in the presence of God are overwhelmed and overjoyed, crying out about God?s glory day and night.

    But in The Shack we find a man who stands in the very presence of God and uses foul language (“damn? (140) and ?son of a bitch? (224)), who expresses anger to God (which in turns makes God cry) (92), and who snaps at God in his anger (96). This is not a man who is in the presence of One who is far superior to Him, but a man who is in the presence of a peer. This portrayal of the relationship of man to God and God to man is a far cry from the Bible’s portrayal. And indeed it must be because the God of The Shack is only a vague resemblance to the God of the Bible. There is no sense of awe as we, through Mack, come into the presence of God. Gone is the majesty of God when men stand in His holy presence and profane His name. Should God allow in His presence the very sins for which He sent His Son to die? Would a man stand before the Creator of the Universe and curse? What kind of God is the God of The Shack?? (

    This is not holding God in His rightful place as the Sovereign Creator over all things who is worthy of nothing less than the continual praise and adoration from all of His creation. If this bothers me that much, how much more does it insult the very character of God? To not acknowledge Him as the Sovereign Lord over all and to address him in such a manner is the height of arrogance.

    Once again, I am asking any who has a Biblical case to make against my assessment, please make it. Otherwise, I must assume that my assessment lines up with Scripture and its authority. Either way, I submit to that divine authority and not any man’s opinion, including my own.

  21. How crazy are we to argue about a book that you haven’t even read?? I can tell you 18 million people have bought the book and read it and been encouraged in Christ .. it’s not theology but it has many Biblical principles. If you had someone argue with you about the Bible and they refused to read it, how crazy is that? Get back to me, Greg, once you’ve read it ..

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