Lies About God – What The Shack Really Teaches: #TheShack

When I first read the book The Shack by William Young several years ago, I was very troubled by its content and message. Like many other emergent teachings prevalent today, there was a very anti-church and anti-Bible sentiment in the book that didn’t sit well with me. And the fact that it was a fiction book didn’t take away from that at all. But because it was a fiction book, many well-meaning Christians didn’t see the inherent danger in some of the subtle messages – the lies about God – that the author was conveying.

Until now.

Lies About God

(Perhaps a better cover for Young’s book?)

This past week, Young released his first non-fiction book: “Lies We Believe About God.” I thumbed through a copy of the book at Chapters today and was shook to my core by some of the things that he was teaching that contradicted Bible-based, orthodox, historical Christianity. And what saddened me the most was the fact that many people are going to be readubg the book – undiscerningly and apart from their Bibles – and will be deceived by his lies about God.

And that’s why I’m sharing a few snippets from Tim Challies’ blog post: “What Does the Shack Really Teach? “Lies We Believe About God” Tells Us.” If you have read The Shack, I want to encourage you to read through this article to see some of what WM Paul Young really believes about God.

What Does The Shack Really Teach? “Lies We Believe About God” Tells Us

The Shack has sold twenty million copies and along the way generated at least twenty million conversations. Many of these have been attempts to discern the fact behind the fiction, to interpret what Paul Young means to teach through his story. Some have read the novel as a fresh expression of Christian orthodoxy while others have read it as rank heresy. In the end, only Young knows what he really believes.

At least, that was the case until the release of his new non-fiction work Lies We Believe About God. In this book he tells what he believes about sin, religion, hell, substitution, submission, salvation, and a number of other issues that cut to the very heart of the Christian faith. He does this by addressing a series of twenty-eight “lies” people—evangelicals, that is—tend to believe about God. In Baxter Kruger’s foreword he insists that Young “is standing in the mainstream of historic Christian confession.” For the sake of time and space, I cannot evaluate that claim against all twenty-eight chapters. Instead, I have chosen to focus on the few that are most central to the Christian faith.

Twenty-Eight Lies

In this section I provide a brief overview of the most important chapters in Lies We Believe About God. As much as possible, I allow Young to speak in his own words.

Chapter 13: (The Lie): “You need to get saved.” Here he turns to the matter of salvation. I will excerpt this at length so you can see his full-out embrace of universalism—that everybody has been or will be saved by God.

So what is the Good News? What is the Gospel?

The Good News is not that Jesus has opened up the possibility of salvation and you have been invited to receive Jesus into your life. The Gospel is that Jesus has already included you into His life, into His relationship with God the Father, and into His anointing in the Holy Spirit. The Good News is that Jesus did this without your vote, and whether you believe it or not won’t make it any less or more true.

What or who saves me? Either God did in Jesus, or I save myself. If, in any way, I participate in the completed act of salvation accomplished in Jesus, then my part is what actually saves me. Saving faith is not our faith, but the faith of Jesus.

God does not wait for my choice and then “save me.” God has acted decisively and universally for all humankind. Now our daily choice is to either grow and participate in that reality or continue to live in the blindness of our own independence.

Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation?

That is exactly what I am saying!

Young leaves no doubt that he espouses universalism.

* * *

I want to encourage you to click HERE to read this article in its entirety. But be forewarned! Not only will you see Young defend the false teaching of universalism, but you will also see him deny the reality of hell as a place of everlasting punishment for sinners, teache that the Cross was not a part of God’s plan to save mankind, and that you are basically a good person, and your sin doesn’t separate you from God.

I’ll be honest and say I don’t like the doctrine of hell. I wish it was true that everyone was going to be saved. But the Bible clearly teaches that only those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved (see Romans 10:17), and that those who reject Christ are doomed to spend an eternity apart from Him in a place of eternal torment called hell (see Matthew 7:13-23). This is what is so dangerous about Young’s heresy! If people believe his false teaching of universalism, then why would they need to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus? That’s why I feel so strongly about this issue and want to warn people to beware of these false teachings, because eternity hangs in the balance!

Finally, I want to challenge you to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, the believers who “were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” Anytime you hear a sermon or read a Christian book or teaching, don’t always take the pastor or teacher’s word for it! Always go back to the Bible to make sure what they’re teaching is true…



About Chris Jordan

Husband. Father. Author. Pastor. High School Bible Teacher. Follower of Jesus. And I enjoy a good cup of coffee!
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4 Responses to Lies About God – What The Shack Really Teaches: #TheShack

  1. Mel Wild says:

    Hey Chris, thanks for this information. I haven’t read Young’s latest book. I’ve read The Shack and seen the movie. I did read the article you referenced. As I told you in your comments on my post, that I agree with your issue on The Shack coming across anti-church, etc. As I said there, I think it’s a bit of an overreaction to bad church experiences. Jesus’ church is still how He intends to reach the world.

    But I would caution people to conclude that Young is a universalist, in the traditional sense of the word, which is considered heterodoxical. The term “saved” here may be used in different ways here. I’ve heard others use it the way Young does ( I don’t like how he uses it because of the confusion it creates). To say you believe in universal salvation, or universal reconciliation, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a universalist. In other words, we can say that God’s reconciliation is universal in the sense that He died for the sins of all mankind (2 Cor.5:19; 1 John 2:2). All are reconciled from God’s point of view. When Christ died, all mankind died with Him (2 Cor.5:14). But whether we accept that salvation is another story. We must receive the free gift by faith. In other articles, Young called himself a “hopeful universalist” which simply means his HOPE is that all accept what Christ has universally done for them. Of course, Calvinists who believe in limited atonement would disagree with this. But there is a balanced article from Wade Burleson about that would also be good for people to read in this regard…

    We have to be careful when we say that Young is outside of orthodoxy. He may be outside of accepted evangelical orthodoxy, but his views on atonement, salvation, and hell are very much in line with those of C.S. Lewis and respected theologians like George McDonald and the Torrance brothers, also early church fathers like Athanasius and the Cappadocian fathers, who were the framers of church orthodoxy (Nicene Creed, etc). Young often challenge some of our traditional Reformed doctrines and theories of atonement that are popular today. Those are not the only theories that were accepted by the Church, historically. And I think some of our popular assumptions need to be challenged.

    I agree with you that we should be Bereans and search the Scriptures for ourselves, and not automatically read them through the lens of what we’ve been taught, but ask God to show us if there is any validity to what’s being said here before we dismiss it as heretical. Because people are responding to Jesus because of the movie, who would not otherwise have responded to our traditional views, and we must tread carefully, so they are brought to Christ and not our doctrines. Jesus said we would be known by our love for one another and unity in Him (John 13:35; 17:23), not by our perfect doctrine and total agreement. I think this is an opportunity for all sides to take a fresh look at what we believe. God just may be in this. 🙂

    Thanks again, brother, for your gracious comments on my blog, and for opening the dialogue here. Much love.

    • Chris Jordan says:

      Hi Mel – thanks for adding your comments to the discussion. I agree that most of Young’s anti-church sentiment (and that of several people within the emergent church movement) is birthed out of either negative personal experiences with the organized church, or with frustrations with the current expression of the body of Christ. However, I simply refuse to give up on the bride of Christ – who Jesus loved and died for – but rather want to do what I can to help her become that pure and spotless bride that Jesus is returning for! Our response to problems with the church should not be to give up on the church, but to do whatever we can to make her better, amen?

      I like your comments that you think this is an opportunity for all sides to take a fresh look at what we believe. Amen! Blessings to you today my friend…

      • Mel Wild says:

        Amen, Chris. I think if we respond to these challenges gracefully and thoughtfully, hanging on to what is good and changing what needs to change, people will seek out the local church again. One thing I know for certain, Jesus may prune us and continue to shape us as an organized community of believers called the “church,” but He is NEVER giving up on His beloved bride!
        Blessings to you, bro.

      • Chris Jordan says:


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