LTRP Note: The following article is written by free-lance
writer, John Lanagan, who attended a church meeting this
past weekend in which The Shack author spoke. The
church, East Hill of Gresham, Oregon, is presenting a series
on The Shack and began the series by having Young address
the congregation. In view of a recent
interview with Paul Young where Young said he did not
believe in the biblical view of substitutionary atonement
(see links below), Lighthouse Trails is presenting this
article. It is not the intention of this report to single
out East Hill Church but rather to warn believers of The
Shack's interspiritual and universalistic theology and
the book's major impact on many many churches. Because it is
being packaged and presented as a Christian book, we are
compelled to issue this warning.
"For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have
not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which
you have not received, or a different gospel which you
have not accepted--you may well put up with it!" (2
This "different spirit" was
welcomed during a recent church service in Gresham, Oregon.
Paul Young, author of The Shack, spoke to the
East Hill congregation
during the opening night of a five weekend series called,
appropriately enough, The Shack. Sometimes on the
verge of tears, and possessing great rapport with the crowd,
Young was given a standing ovation.
Before the author spoke, a father stood before the
congregation with his young child. His prayer was his child
would love what the Lord loves, and hate the things the Lord
hates. On that same altar stood a constructed replica of
"the shack," a stage prop for the evening's festivities. The
question must be asked, does the Lord love what is happening
through The Shack?
In an interview with Pastor Kendall Adams of KAYP Radio,
Paul Young denied the substitutionary
Atonement of Christ.
click here) In other words, the author of this
bestselling book does not believe Christ was punished on the
Cross by the Father for our sins. This is a central doctrine
of our faith -- that Jesus willingly took our place of
punishment and that through His sacrifice we can have
Increasingly, The Shack is being accepted by
"Bible-believing" churches. Although East Hill Church is not
the first to do so, its promotion and use of the novel as a
teaching tool guarantees more open doors for the author.
Does the book's theology concern East Hill leadership?
The Shack has "theological gaps," agreed Senior Pastor
Jason Albelo, but the five part series will proceed as
planned. Albelo, who had not heard the author's denial of
substitutionary Atonement, emphasized he was not
"arguing the theology of The Shack," but, rather,
"I'm using its theology of healing."
Yes, but why? The Bible is replete with those who have been
saved, sanctified, delivered, defended, and cherished. This
"theology of healing," on the other hand, is not based on
Christ or His Word. For many in the audience that night,
this may not have been understood--or may not have mattered.
With all due respect to Pastor Albelo, who courteously
fielded my post-service questions, East Hill leadership
cannot choose to disassociate from anti-biblical aspects of
the book if they are promoting a five weekend series based
on it. Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? (Amos
According to East Hill's Small Group study guide for The
Shack, "Practice reading/thinking in light of God's
Word. As you read, or re-read, The Shack, highlight
any truths about God and relationships. Take time to do some
Bible exploring, and make notes of scriptures on which those
truths are based."
Perhaps the "reading/thinking in light of God's Word" could
also be applied to those "theological gaps" Pastor Albelo
mentioned. For example (and there are many), the god of
The Shack, unlike the God of the Bible, does not mete
out eternal punishment. The novel's "god" says, "I don't
need to punish 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."
Everyone who has read
The Shack has been exposed to this teaching -- and make
no mistake, it is a teaching.
Does the Bible teach that the Lord does not punish? Well,
no. According to the Word of God, when the Lord Jesus is
revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, "in flaming
fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on
those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These shall be punished with everlasting destruction" (2
This is the good news of the gospel -- that we who repent of
our sin and make Jesus our Lord do not have to suffer
everlasting destruction. But to pretend that eternal hell
does not await those who reject Christ is to deny the
authority of the Bible. And maybe that is the point.
"For God did not send His
Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the
world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him
is not condemned; but he who does not believe is
condemned already, because He has not believed in the
name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:17-18)
A hard Truth? Yes. But a gentle
Savior. "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot
sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points
tempted as we are yet without sin. Let us come boldly to the
throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to
help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16)
When The Shack was originally written and submitted
to publishers, it proclaimed ultimate reconciliation
--"Christian" universalism. This is the belief that
through Jesus all people go to heaven -- Satanists, Mormons,
Hindus, and every Christ-rejecting person that has ever
lived. While the editors of The Shack have stated
they removed UR from the book,
the novel nevertheless seems to subtly and frequently
For the author, the hope for UR apparently has never
changed. He told Pastor Kendall Adams, "Even if there was
ultimate reconciliation, which I don't know, but even if
there were, that doesn't diminish the damage of sin at all."
It doesn't? UR totally contradicts the gospel message of
Jesus Christ. The Bible, the Lord's love letter, is our road
map through life and into eternity.
Your word I have treasured
in my heart, That I may not sin against You. Blessed are
You, O Lord; teach me your statutes. (Psalm 119:11-12)
At East Hill, the author spoke
of his tortured past, and of the love of God. At one point,
speaking of the years spent trying to overcome his pain, he
said praying didn't work, fasting didn't work, and reading
Scripture didn't help.
Those words drifted out there like poison balloons. When I
mentioned this to Pastor Albelo, he said, "Come on, you know
that is out of context." My own Pastor, in attendance that
night, said later, "Think of all the unbelievers and new
believers who heard Paul Young say that."
"But false prophets also
arose among the people, just as there will also be false
teachers among you, who will secretly introduce
destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought
them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves." (2
East Hill is not the first
mega-church to promote The Shack, and will certainly
not be the last. The apostate church is rising, and The
Shack has successfully introduced the beginnings of
goddess worship, a false Christ, and a denial of the purpose
of the cross.
Please understand I am not calling East Hill apostate. All
churches need to be careful that books and movies don't
supersede God's Word as our means of teaching Truth. Many
people cheering for The Shack are looking for God.
Some don't understand He primarily reveals Himself through
Scripture. Some do not understand repentance. Others,
however, simply don't want the God of the Bible. The Shack
has given them a glossy substitute. The apostate church will
consist of those who truly believe they are worshiping
I very much appreciate Pastor Albelo's patience while
listening to my concerns. As we spoke, with that makeshift
"shack" on the altar behind us, he noted he couldn't "police
"No," I said, "but you don't have to promote them, either."
Understanding The Shack (Part 1) Jason Albelo 3/14-15/09
3. William P. Young, The Shack, pg. 120
4. Wayne Jacobsen, "Is The Shack Heresy?"
Quotes from Paul Young's interview with 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
Paul 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." LTRP Note: For more information
on this "huge debate" regarding the atonement, please see
Slaughterhouse Religion: When they reject the blood
atonement ... Also see
Faith Undone, chapter 11, which addresses this issue.
For more of the transcript,
click here. To listen to interview,click
here. For a shorter audio segment,