In a recent radio interview, The Shack author, Paul Young, told the interviewer he did not hold to the traditional view of the atonement in that he does not believe Jesus Christ bore the punishment (i.e., penalty) for man’s sins when He died on the Cross (transcript).
He also stated, with regard to this topic: “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.” That debate, to which Young refers, is the new theology (or as we call it the new spirituality) that is entering Christianity through contemplative and emerging figures such as Brennan Manning, Brian McLaren, and Marcus Borg.
This “huge debate” states that a loving Father would never send His Son to a violent death on behalf of the sins of others. And while they do not deny that Jesus did physically die on a Cross, they insist that His death was not to be a substitutionary act wherein He was punished for our sins. Rather, they say, He was killed by man, not for man. And he was a perfect model of sacrificial servanthood. As Episcopal new spirituality author, Alan Jones, states, “Jesus’ sacrifice was to appease an angry God. Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine” (Reimagining Christianity, p. 168).
Contemplative proponent Brennan Manning, quoting Catholic mystic William Shannon, says: “[T]he god who exacts the last drop of blood from his Son so that his just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased . . . does not exist” (Above All, pp. 58-59). Mystic Marcus Borg has this exact same view. He is opposes the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement and sees the Cross as merely a metaphor for transformation in the mystical sense. 1 Brian McLaren shares this view (and indeed resonates with Borg) when he says that hell and the Cross are “false advertising for God.” 2
The Shack, still at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list, is being heralded as one of the best Christian books ever. But as Lighthouse Trails and other concerned ministries have reported in a number of documented articles, The Shack is not a Christian book, and it should not be packaged, presented, and promoted as such.
While many who have read The Shack, tout that it has changed their lives, what these people do not understand is that the book appeals to people’s senses; thus, the book is sensual. And because it makes people feel good, they assume (wrongly) that it must be from God. But The Shack is appealing to the carnal man and not the spiritual, and as the Bible warns, there is a “wisdom [that] descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3: 15).
For more information on the denial of substitutionary atonement by Christian mystics, click here.