The Shack vs. the Bible?


The Shack, a novel by William Paul Young, has sold over 20 million copies and has been made into a feature film. It’s about a man whose daughter was murdered, leading him to ask why a loving God would allow such evil. He returns to the place where she died and meets God as a woman who goes by Papa, the Holy Spirit, also a woman, and Young’s version of Jesus. Though The Shack is fiction, it teaches unbiblical ideas Young said he believes about God:

“Please don’t misunderstand me. The Shack is theology, but it is theology wrapped in a story.” William Paul Young in the introduction to The Shack Revisited by C. Baxter Kruger.

He believes God the Father was crucified with Jesus (pg. 96 of The Shack), a heresy called patripassianism that was condemned in the 3rd century. The Son of God was crucified on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, absorbing the wrath of God the Father.

“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He has put Him to grief.” Isaiah 53:10

“Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'” Matthew 27:46

Young’s version of Jesus says that He’s the best way to have a relationship with God (pg. 110). But the Bible says He is the only way to God.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6

Young’s Jesus teaches that God submits to us (pg. 145). Psalm 2 says God laughs at such pride and holds them in derision. He opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. God submits to no one, but we are to submit to Him.

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God.” James 4:6-7

Young’s god says that he places no expectations on us (pg. 206). But God clearly commands that we turn from our sin and obey His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who do have eternal life. Those who don’t are under His wrath.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36

Young’s god says that all people are his children (pg. 118) and that he has forgiven the sins of every person (pg. 225). But the Bible says only those in Christ are His adopted sons and daughters. Those who do not believe are children of wrath and their father is the devil.

“Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of the promise.” Galatians 2:28

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:1-3

“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:43-44

The Shack contains a false gospel and teaches only wrong things about God. We know the Spirit of truth from the spirit of error when we understand the text.

“We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” 1 John 4:6

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