Anyone remember “The Shack,” both the book (2007) and the film adaptation (2017)? Of course you do! Many evangelicals were smitten with the story of (g)od’s love and “redemption.” I didn’t read the book or see the movie, but I had read quite a bit about them and wasn’t pleased. The biggest problem with “The Shack” wasn’t the portrayals of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, although they were certainly objectionable. No, the most outrageous problem with “The Shack” was that it pushed author William Paul Young’s Universalist heresy.
Below are some quotes from the book with comments from Albert Mohler from the article below:
Jesus tells Mack that he is “the best way any human can relate to Papa (God the Father) or Sarayu (the Holy Spirit).” Not the only way, but merely the best way.
In another chapter, “Papa” corrects Mack’s theology by asserting, “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.” Without doubt, God’s joy is in the atonement accomplished by the Son. Nevertheless, the Bible consistently reveals God to be the holy and righteous Judge, who will indeed punish sinners. The idea that sin is merely “its own punishment” fits the Eastern concept of karma, but not the Christian Gospel.
The most controversial aspects of The Shack‘s message have revolved around questions of universalism, universal redemption, and ultimate reconciliation. Jesus tells Mack: “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 adds, “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.”
Mack then asks the obvious question — do all roads lead to Christ? Jesus responds, “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.”
Given the context, it is impossible not to draw essentially universalistic or inclusivistic conclusions about Young’s meaning. “Papa” chides Mack that he is now reconciled to the whole world. Mack retorts, “The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?” “Papa” responds, “The whole world, Mack.”
The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment
Those who objected to The Shack and its message of Universal redemption were labeled by many undiscerning evangelical Christians as sectarian book burners.
Like spots on a leopard, William Paul Young continues to promote Universalism as per the recent article below, but you may not want to object because you will be labeled a “book burner” in today’s evangelicalism.
‘The Shack’ Author Disputes Christian View That Those Who Die Without Jesus Can’t Achieve Salvation