Review: The Shack – Salvation

The Shack In Challies second, “Salvation – What has Christ Accomplished?” it seems like he is much more concerned with Young not presenting the gospel precise enough than he is concerned that Young is wrong. I think Challies misses the point of the book entirely. Young may not have been as exact as he could have been, however, this book is about the journey a church-going Christian goes on to truly find a relationship with God. Part of that journey is finding out that many people are on this long journey and will learn different aspects to this relationship at different times. However, Young does discuss reconciliation, redemption, the cross, and more. In fact, Challies even quotes “‘Honey,’ says Papa, ‘you asked me what Jesus accomplished on the cross; so now listen to me carefully: through his death and resurrection, I am now fully reconciled to the world.’ ‘The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?’ ‘The whole world, Mack. All I am telling you is that reconciliation is a two way street, and I have done my part, totally, completely, finally. It is not the nature of love to force a relationship but it is the nature of love to open the way.'” [10] Yet, Challies complains that Young isn’t precise enough in his language as to what reconciliation is. However, this is not a systematic theology. The point Young is trying to get across is what he believes reconciliation is. That reconciliation is a two-way street – the first of which was completed with Jesus’ sacrifice – the second of which is accept that gift. In fact, later on in this section Challies explains redemption in very similar terms as Young, just different wording. [11]

Many other reviewers have claimed that Young is a inclusivist or universalist based on one specific quote from The Shack, “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions.” (182) Challies is one of the few reviewers that also continue the quote, “‘Does that mean,’ asked Mack, ‘that all roads will lead to you?’ ‘Not at all,’ smiled Jesus . . . . ‘Most roads don’t lead anywhere.'” (182) Challies main concern is again that Young is not strong enough here in admitting that Jesus is the only way to salvation. However, Young’s use of past-tense, “were Buddhist or Mormons…” (emphasis mine) seems to indicate that they are at least no longer Buddhist or Mormons (or Baptist for that matter). Further, within the context of the chapter and book as a whole it seems to indicate that Young is merely explaining to his reader that Jesus saves all walks of life. It’s hard to deny this fact, it is quite Scriptural.

Challies also seems to want to get into a verbal argument over trivial things. At one point in The Shack, Young writes, “[H]e too is my son. I want to redeem him” (224) – Challies is upset because he believes that redemption has already been accomplished on the cross. However, within the context of what Young wrote, Young is not using the word redeem in the same way that Challies is using it. By this time, Young has already admitted that we are all redeemed in Christ. Further, in this quote, the point Young is making is not when/how someone is redeemed. It is about our response to people who do us wrong. God is teaching Mack that when we forgive people we are handing them over to God to redeem – when we do not forgive people we then are trying to take the place of God. I do not know what Young would say about redemption, but I do not get the impression from this quote that Young is talking about the same thing that Challies is concerned about. Challies ends this section by saying

[The Shack] teaches that God does not punish sin, but that sin is sufficient punishment in itself. It opens the possibility that people can come to God in ways other than a saving faith in Jesus Christ. It obfuscates the doctrine of salvation that the Bible makes so clear and so central. It muddies the very heart of the faith.

I believe an accurate reading of this book will reveal to you that Young affirms the punishment for sin, does not open the possibility of universalism, nor does it obfuscate salvation or faith.

Table of Contents:

  1. My Thoughts
  2. Subversion
  3. Revelation
  4. Salvation
  5. Trinity
  6. Conclusion


  1. Debra Pepin says

    The above “review” of the Book “THE SHACK” says that, “God does not punish sin”… Take A Good Look At The Cross Oh foolish men… both author and readers better do more than a cheap book review on the subject.Before it’s too late!!