One of the popular books in Christian bookstores today is William P. Young’s tale, The Shack, which describes a journey of faith and discovery. In Burning Down ‘The Shack’, James De Young approaches the story from a biblical standpoint. It is De Young’s belief that The Shack rests not “on a concrete foundation but on wooden pillars that are rotted and insect-infested and in time will fail” (p. 220). De Young bases his criticism on a long-term acquaintance and working relationship with Willaim P. Young and allows us to see into the making of The Shack.
According to De Young, the course of William P. Young’s thinking shifted dramatically several years prior to the writing of The Shack. It was a dramatic shift towards the theology of universal reconciliation that prompted Young to rethink much of his own beliefs and eventually led to the loosely autobiographical story under discussion. De Young was part of the sphere of influence around William Young at this time and the book goes into great detail outlining the position taken both privately prior to the book’s release and now publicly since it has been published. What De Young ably does is present a point-by-point critique of The Shack from a biblical basis.
De Young proceeds through his dissection of The Shack chapter by chapter, outlining both the good and the troublesome points. Where differences occur, related biblical passages are brought out and examined to shed light on the issue. In this regard, De Young does very well to let Scripture be its own defense. Throughout the book, De Young does not present his personal view as much as he allows both Young and the Bible to say what they will about the subject material. As it turns out, Scripture is more than capable of defending its own position.
De Young’s largest concern is the Universalism flavor permeating the primeval setting of the tale. While Young does not claim to be a Universalist, he holds to universalistic reconciliation – that God allows all to dwell in heaven with Him. According to this belief, all sin is eventually purged away, sometimes through hell fire, so that man and God can be united forever. The key phrase of this belief is “mercy triumphs over justice because of love” – a quote from The Shack and a misquotation of James 2:13.
De Young takes careful and deliberate steps to show how placing any one of God’s characteristics in subservience to any other character quality diminishes the whole and creates a being who is no longer God. A Universalist desire to be free from institutions is not a biblical position, nor is it a godly one. Indeed, it is God Himself who ordained families, government, and the church – three critical institutions that universalism seeks to destroy subtly and surreptitiously.
For those who have read The Shack, this book presents a great counterpoint to the arguments for “relationship over truth” and is well worth reading. For those who have not read The Shack, this book would be a great help to digest its teachings and would adequately prepare one to discuss it on a competent level. – Pastor Charles L. Eldred, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Who would have thought that a small paperback novel,written by an unknown, could land on the bestsellers list for over 100 weeks, altering millions of readers’ perceptions of god?
Since its release in 2008, The Shack, by Paul Young, has been praised as an amazing source of spiritual renewal. But is the bestseller all it seems? Are Young’s views orthodox? More to the point… are they truth?
In Burning Down ‘The Shack,’ James B. De Young, Th.D., a graduate-level professor of Greek and biblical studies for 30 years, shows just how spiritually flimsy The Shack truly is, and how its enticing yet false doctrine is stealthily cracking the foundations of countless Christians’ faith—and rotting away their very concept of the true God. With the skill of an investigator and the heart of a counselor, De Young addresses essential issues about biblical doctrine and scriptural truth. Bringing to light a series of troubling questions about The Shack and its author, De Young clearly shows how this runaway hit is little more than a runaway from truth.