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The Shack – False doctrine

One of the great afflictions of the modern evangelical church in America is the absence of biblical knowledge by a large majority of professing Christians in the last decades of the twentieth century and to the present day. This pervasive ignorance of the Bible is consistent with the spirit of the age in which constant and thematic biblical preaching and teaching have substantially declined in many evangelical churches. The preaching of the message of the Bible has been dumbed down and therefore is made a husk without the life sustaining core from which the Christian finds spiritual nourishment. As a result a large segment of American Christianity does not have a solid grasp of the basic elements of the faith as taught in Scripture and confirmed by the doctrinal understandings of their faith. Writing in his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul spoke of the consequences for this remarkable lack of familiarity with the meat of the Word.

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?[1 Corinthians 3:1-3. NIV] [emphasis in original]

Not only was the Corinthian church worldly because a lack of the meat of the Word, the pastors and leaders of the Corinthian church had allowed many to come into the church who claimed to have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior but who had not given up their ungodly lifestyles and practices. These false Christians also were allowed to become a part of the ministry. Their ungodly practices and “incorrect presentation of biblical truth” were tolerated within the church. Donald Stamps wrote in his commentary on verse 3 that, “Among the greatest evidences of immaturity and worldliness among believers are disunity and the strong desire to idolize and follow human personalities rather than Christ.”[1] [emphasis added] Paul’s description of worldliness and immaturity in the Corinthian Church is the epitome of those evangelical churches in modern America that have embraced the Church Growth-seeker friendly model of doing church.

Paul links immaturity and worldliness in the church with human personalities whose message is not that of Christ. Peter called these personalities false prophets and false teachers.

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.[2 Peter 2:1-3. NIV] [emphasis added]

In other words, false teachers will make merchandise of the Christian faith and the message of the Bible and thereby enrich themselves personally while at the same time enhancing their ministries. These false teachers are found not only in the pulpit but in various other ministries and pseudo-Christian organizations including writers and speakers. Christians must be aware that one of the main methods of these false teachers is to use “stories they have made up.”[2]

It is here we examine The Shack, one of those made up stories that has introduced destructive heresies, brought the truth of God’s Word into disrepute, and made merchandise of the faith of Christians with fabricated stories.

The Shack – Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity[3] was written by William P. Young. It has sold millions of copies and was made into a movie. The Shack is a made up story that unquestionably qualifies for all of Paul’s condemnations listed in 2 Peter 2:1-3. But there is another that has specifically brought The Shack and its author to account.

James B. De Young wrote Burning Down “The Shack” – How the “Christian” Bestseller is Deceiving Millions in 2010, three years after The Shack was published. De Young knew William Young well and observed the change in his beliefs that eventually found their way into The Shack. The back cover of Burning Down The Shack, states that De Young “…shows how spiritually flimsy The Shack truly is, and how its enticing yet false doctrine is stealthily cracking the foundations of countless Christians’ faith—rotting away their very concept of the true God.”[4]

This article will not attempt to add to De Young’s very capable critique of The Shack. I would encourage you to read Burning Down The Shack for yourself. However, for those of you who for various reasons cannot devote the time, I have included a link to the Nehemiah Institute for a review of De Young’s book and its critique of The Shack.

Dan Smithwick is the president and founder of the Nehemiah Institute whose primary work is in providing a unique worldview testing and training service to private schools, churches, homeschoolers, and other Christian ministries. Programs are designed for junior high through adult ages. Dan and I have been friends at a distance since we connected about eight years ago following the publication of my book Ye shall be as gods – Humanism and Christianity – The Battle for Supremacy in the American Cultural Vision. This last spring Dan wrote a review of De Young’s book and said that “Burning Down The Shack may be the most important book of the 21st century.” During a phone conversation shortly thereafter, Dan graciously allowed me to reprint his review in Upon reflection, I think it is more appropriate that you read the review on the Institute’s website. You may access the website by clicking on the following link:

Larry G. Johnson


[1] Donald C. Stamps, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:1-3,” The Full Life Study Bible, King James Version, ed. Donald C. Stamps, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1990), p. 2148.
[2] Stamps, Commentary on 2 Peter 2:1-3, The Full Life Stud Bible, p. 2458.
[3] William P. Young, The Shack – Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity, (Newbury Park, California: Windblown Media, 2007).
[4] James B. De Young, Burning Down “The Shack, – How the “Christian” Bestseller is Deceiving Millions, (Washington, D.C.: WND Books, 2019), back cover.

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