The Shack

     The Shack is a fantastic book, written by Wm. Paul Young in 2007, which made the New York Times bester-seller list.  This wonderful book is about God’s unconditional love and amazing grace.  While the author does not come right out and say it, The Shack appears to clearly articulate the truth of universal salvation. 

     I counted over 50 allusions to the Bible.  The Shack just does not give the Biblical references.  As I read this outstanding book, I wrote verses in its margins from the Bible which are expounded in The Shack.  Just three examples will suffice to make this point:

     The Shack states the truth that the love of God will “burn” away every last bit of corruption in a person (p. 227).  The Bible says that God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29). 

     The author of The Shack wisely and insightfully wrote that God may “mix metaphors” in order to keep people from being a victim of “religious conditioning” (p. 93).  Jesus mixed the metaphors of salt and fire both of which, individually and jointly, symbolize purification (Mk. 9:49).  The best translation of Jesus’ “final answer” on the purpose of hell is in The Good News Bible, “Everyone will be purified by fire as a sacrifce is purified by salt.”

     Young apparently understands that universal confession of faith in Christ  means that everyone will be saved.  Young stated that some day all creation will bow and confess that “Jesus is the Lord of all creation” (p. 248).  The Bible says, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth and things under the earth:  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11 KJV).  

     Bowing is a universal sign of submission.  This confession of faith cannot be forced from unwilling tongues, as many who believe in eternal punishment contend, since it is to the glory of God.  Also, it would be no glory to God if this confession is sincere but eternally too late.  It can only be to the glory of God if the bowing is freely done and the confession is sincere and is not too late.  It is, therefore, the grand finale of redemptive history.  God will have become all in all–“everything to everyone” [RSV] (I Cor. 15:28) and the worship by every created being in the universe will be eternal (Rev. 5:13). 

    Critics of The Shack say that it is not Biblical because God is also a God of wrath.   Some of the people who have read The Shack and have also read my book, have said, “If you liked The Shack, you will love the same message of the all-loving God in Spiritual Terrorism because it gives the Biblical references.”  Others have said that The Shack is just wishful thinking because God is not that loving and forgiving and The Bible does not teach this.  Spiritual Terrorism contends that the truth that God is all-loving and forgiving is exactly what The Bible teaches. 

In April of 2010, I had the opportunity to meet William Paul Young, the author of The Shack, and sit down and talk with him.  When I asked him if he believes in Christian Universalism, he told me what he has publicly told others, “I am hopeful.”  He said about my poem, “God at Bat,” which portrays God as the ultimate, total, and final winner of the cosmic conflict between good and evil, “I love it.”  Young stated that while he does not endorse books he will recommend mine!