The Shack Revisited

  • March 15, 2017
  • Articles
  • lucasmiles

Since the release of my article, The Shack:  A Story of Freedom or Force?, I’ve received an almost constant stream of hate mail regarding the concerns that I expressed, not about the film itself nor even the book, but rather the beliefs of the author, which he himself expressed clearly in his new theologically driven book, Lies We Believe About God.  In this Young states, among other things, “Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation? That is exactly what I am saying!”

My article in response to such bold and blatant theological error, which has received significant traffic and support over the past few days, was criticized as being unfair to Mr. Young, judgmental, and offering unsubstantiated accusations.  Because I am simply unable to respond to each individual diatribe that I have received over the past few days, I felt it best to assemble my response and to clarify my position, in a single follow up post – which I felt is only appropriate to call, The Shack Revisited.

To begin with, let it be known that I have never met Mr. Young, though I am certain that we have nothing short of a long-list of mutual friends and acquaintances, including pastors, journalists, filmmakers, etc.  From all of these mutual relationships combined, not once have I ever heard anything but wonderful things about Young’s disposition, character, and personal integrity.  As a fellow author and filmmaker, I also have the utmost respect for his creativity and talent, which are beyond evident in The Shack.  In fact, I have nothing against the man. I simply don’t agree with his theology, especially that which is expressed in his new book.

Contrary to this generation’s thin-skinned opinion, disagreement doesn’t equal insult.  I’m absolutely certain that Mr. Young and I agree about many things regarding the nature of God and the gospel of grace, but I would ask, “Are a few commonalities reason enough to ignore the false doctrines that he also holds, such as Inclusionism and Christian Universalism?”  The Apostle Paul didn’t think so.  He and Peter had much in common, but this didn’t stop him in Galatians 2:11 from calling Peter out for his doctrinal drift and theological error.  In doing so, I’m not questioning Mr. Young’s salvation, nor the beauty of his book, rather his love affair with progressivist theology, which is as equally harmful, if not more so, than Peter’s unwillingness to let go of his legalistic tendencies and constant people pleasing.

I’ve been amazed this past week at countless Christians who have been presented with excerpt after excerpt of Mr. Young’s own words describing his adherence to spurious doctrines such as Inclusionism, “Open Hell” (if he believes Hell exists at all), and Universalism, only to look the other way or justify his beliefs as being taken out of context.  Ironically, these same individuals, I have found, are among the first in line to call out legalistic tendencies in mainstream authors as an aspersion against the gospel itself.  Yet, when the pendulum swings the other direction, into liberalism, progressivism, and at times, antinomianism, all remain silent.  The consensus seems to be that there is no evidence for Mr. Young’s doctrinal drift and that The Shack is only a work of fiction, but this just isn’t the case.

In fact, Mr. Young’s own co-writer of the Shack, Wayne Jacobsen, said in an article he penned himself for that when he first received the manuscript from Mr. Young that “universalism was a significant component in the resolution of that story.”  Mr. Jacobsen, in reference to his objection to Mr. Young’s position on Universalism, states, “Paul hoped to convince me I was wrong and sent me his paper on universalism.  We spent some time discussing it, but in the end I felt it took too much linguistic gymnastics to bend Scripture to that conclusion.”  As the article continues, Mr. Jacobsen explains that Mr. Young agreed to allow him to remove the theme of Universalism from the Shack in order to make the story more palpable to the audience that needed it the most.  Although Mr. Jacobsen was successful in removing the overarching concept of Universalism from the story-line, he says nothing of removing this line of thinking from his co-author, Mr. Young.  In fact, if anything, Jacobsen only further reinforces my concerns, that Young is not simply an Inclusionist, but a Universalist as well.

With that being said, I don’t believe the issue for the church is as much Mr. Young’s personal theology, as it is the obvious idolization of a fictional story by believers.  Hearing people speak about The Shack, one would think that Mr. Young has presented a clearer gospel than Jesus himself.  This is problematic for multiple reasons, but most importantly, it demonstrates the love lost in the heart of the church toward Christ and his word.  Like a desperate housewife bored with her first love, the church has revealed that it is on the prowl for a new gospel that is more exciting than the first.  This I intend to address further next week in a new post entitled, “Legalism or Progressivism:  Which is More Deadly to Faith?”

Until then, those who know me, should recognize that if the issues I’m describing where merely related to a movie, I would never take the time to present such a case, but in no way is this about a single author or a current film, but an evolving distrust for the church, the Bible, and ultimately for God.

“Who is wise?  He will realize these things.  Who is discerning?  He will understand them.  The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”

– Hosea 14:9



  1. Tandy Clifton left a comment on March 15, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Thanks for having the courage to discuss this.

  2. Tricia Gunn left a comment on March 15, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks for another thoughtful and excellent article, Lucas.

  3. Steve Prager left a comment on March 15, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    I’m with you Lucas. Thanks for sharing the truth. We have surely reached the point where itching ears are in the foreground.

  4. Dave Orrison left a comment on March 15, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Lucas, here’s my take. When the foundations of our doctrine are systematically taken away, we are left to seek truth that makes sense and feels right to us. For too long, people have been told that the traditions of the church are bad, the theological history is compromised, the teachers are broken, and even the Scriptures must be questioned. That leaves us with little other than our poorly-developed reasoning. But reason we will, and then we will defend the results of our reasoning with inarticulate passion. Name calling, inconsistent logic, emotional outbursts become the order of the day because we have nothing else to say. Like the song says, “That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!”

    There is a way back. Psalm 11:3 asks the question for our day. “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The answer is in the next line: “The Lord is in His holy temple.” Rather than seek the answers we need in the shallows of our own wisdom, we must seek the Lord. I believe He will lead people back to His Word and to the teachings the church has held for so many centuries. Those teachings may not feel good or be consistent with our flesh-compromised reason, but they will once again provide the solid ground on which we may take our stand. Because the day is coming, very soon, when believers will need to take a stand.

    It isn’t wrong for us to question the traditions, history, and status quo of the church. Errors have certainly crept in. But the answers are in the simple and loving revelation of the Scriptures. The Lord Himself invites us to “come and let us reason together.” Those who discern the deception should pray—and make sure they are grounded in truth.

    So keep preaching it!

  5. Dr. Lewis Gregory left a comment on March 18, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Thanks for the helpful post Lucas. I like Dave Orrison’s comment as well.

  6. Christian Atkins left a comment on March 20, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Good stuff Lucas

  7. Christine Clinton left a comment on August 8, 2017 at 1:03 am

    God Bless. I just had the privilege to hear you for the first time listening to your interview with Andrew Wommack. His every day practical and straight to the hip teaching of the word of God sure helped to change my life, and I already had over 20 years of Bible Study and Research under my spiritual belt! In response to…
    [ it demonstrates the love lost in the heart of the church toward Christ and his word. Like a desperate housewife bored with her first love, the church has revealed that it is on the prowl for a new gospel that is more exciting than the first. ]
    sad huh? …I might even say it’s even worse than love lost…I would say far too many self-described Christians have never found the love of God. To know God and His true nature requires personal seeking and personal relationship with God, not their church and it’s traditions… and most Christians don’t bother. The pleasures and pressures of this world keep them much too occupied. How can they be on the prowl for a new gospel…when they haven’t found the true one?
    I tell you what…ONE word from God (and the good news pertaining to Jesus Christ)…will change one’s life, forever!
    Two verses to hold close for every believer…
    …for you have magnified your word above all your name. – King David in Psalm 138:2 and in Malachi 3:6 God declares to his chosen,
    I AM the Lord, I change not.
    If “believers” only knew 1 scripture and decided to believe it and act on it…it would turn their life around…and stop them from such foolish thinking…
    II Timothy 3:16-17
    “ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction in righteousness – so that the man of God may be perfect (fully matured) toward all good works (of faith, not of the law)”

    Anyway…enjoyed the interview…thank you and God bless.

    ps. don’t laugh at my website…totally new and learning as I go. 🙂
    oops…your box below will not receive my URL…keeps telling me to enter it. It is

    • Christine Clinton left a comment on August 8, 2017 at 1:06 am

      oops! “…for correction, for instruction in righteousness…
      IF “believers” can believe that…why would they want another gospel?

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