By John Lanagan
My Word Like Fire 

Yet I have sent you all My servants the prophets, again and again, saying, “Oh, do not do this abominable thing which I hate.” (Jeremiah 44:4)

Concern about The Shack, the novel by Paul Young, has skyrocketed since revelation of the author’s denial of the substitutionary Atonement of Christ.[1] Paul Young does not believe that Jesus Christ was punished on the cross by the Father to atone for our sins. In the month of May, Bill and Gloria Gaither will host the 19th Annual Family Fest, and the author of The Shack is scheduled as one of the speakers.

For decades the Gaither Singers have helped millions of believers worship the Lord. Promoting The Shack, however, cannot benefit the Body of Christ in any way. Association with this well known music ministry will instantly create further opportunities for the author to spread his aberrant theology.

The following is a partial transcript of Paul Young’s startling admission to Pastor Kendall Adams on KAYP Radio:

Kendall Adams: “I, I take it that you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t agree that the cross was a place of punishment for our sin.”

Young: “No. I don’t, I am not a penal substitution … reformation … point of view.”

Adams: “But isn’t that the heart of the gospel? Is that the heart of the gospel?”

Young: “No! Ha, no.” … I’m not saying that I don’t agree with some sense of substitutionary atonement.”

Adams: “But you disagree…”

Young: “But it’s way broader (muffled) than that.”

Adams: “But if you reject a penal substitution that Christ died as a penalty for our sins, it seems like that is the, that is the Christian faith.”

Young: “I don’t know if you’re aware, but that’s a huge debate that’s going on in theology right now within the evangelical community.”

Young is correct that there is a concerted effort to deny the very purpose of the cross. His novel’s “jesus” differs markedly from our King of Kings. My wife and I recently attended a large church where the author of The Shack was speaking. The woman in front of us, when told that the novel often contradicts the Bible, replied, “Well, I was reading it as fiction, not theology.”

This artificial division between Biblical obedience and entertainment is common, and explains the book’s popularity among many people. Christian acceptance of such movies as ‘Bruce Almighty’ and many others has done much to take away our Fear of the Lord. An increasing number of believers no longer seem to care if a novel or movie portrays a “god” that directly contradicts, insults, or disrespects the Lord.

For some, lack of Biblical knowledge is often because entertainment supersedes Bible study. With the woman at the church where Paul Young spoke, however, we were encouraged, for she was clearly assessing her acceptance of the novel.

Although none of us does this perfectly, we are instructed to know and obey the Word. From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path. I have sworn and I will confirm it, That I will keep your righteous ordinances. (Psalm 119:104-106)

There are those who believe The Shack has helped them understand or draw closer to God, although the book’s deity is anti-Biblical. James De Young writes, “Does Christian fiction have to be doctrinally correct? In this case the answer is ‘yes,’ for [the author’s] intention is to teach theology throughout The Shack. … Although a story may be quite helpful, if an author uses doctrinal impurity to teach how to be restored to a redefined god, is one restored to the God of the Bible? Jesus warned that a house built on the wrong foundation will collapse. (Matthew 7:24-28) So will a shack.”[2]

May our Savior grant those who are seeking healing through this novel an understanding that the God of the Bible, a gentle and faithful God, waits for them.

The Shack has successfully introduced goddess worship, a false “christ,” and a denial of the very purpose of the cross. This book is sweeping through the Body of Christ because the apostate church is rising. Many do not want the God of the Bible. They want a “god” like the one in The Shack.

It is a certainty Paul Young is not a Biblical Christian. It will be surprising, then, if the Gaithers have anything to do with The Shack at their upcoming 19th Annual Family Fest. Don’t sing the hymns if you don’t honor Him.


1. http://morebooksandthings.blogspot.com/2009/03/transcript-of-interview.html

2. James De Young, Christian News Northwest Commentary, 12/08

Republished with permission, bold in original.

See also:




The Shack Author Denies Biblical Substitutionary Atonement

Link to A Partial Transcript of Young Interview

A Strong Defense of Penal Substitution