WorldNetDaily's 'Shack' Attack
WND has spent years obsessing over a spiritual novel for failing to advance its fundamentalist Christian agenda.
By Terry Krepel
James De Young
So what's the big deal?
"The Shack" is a self-published novel that, as Slate describes it, occupies a middle ground between religious and secular fiction, casting God as a path to happiness without serving up dogma. The book has sold more 10 million copies despite, or because of, the book's quirky prose and "too-weird-for-the-pulpit thoughts" that give it a "rough-hewn, handmade quality" but also succeed at "connecting recondite doctrine to the tastes, rhythms, and mores of modern life."
Such success breeds coattail riders, as well as detractors. Enter WND.
WND columnist Jim Fletcher has been denouncing "The Shack" for quite some time:
WND's promotion for its attack book "Burning Down 'The Shack': How the 'Christian' Best-seller is Deceiving Millions," portrays the book as "blasphemous" and filled with "counterfeit Christianity," not to mention "more than 15 heresies":
Worse, says author James De Young, its depiction of God as an African woman who suffered Christ's crucifixion and the book's exclusion of any existence of Satan and hell represent just some of its many dangerous deceptions.
James De Young's WND-published attack book, "Burning Down 'The Shack.'"
Meanwhile, WND editor (and WND Books operator) Joseph Farah went on a May 2010 tirade against "The Shack," calling it "dangerous and spiritually subversive" and claiming it "represents unmitigated heresy in its view of salvation, an anti-biblical portrait of the Creator of the universe as our buddy and a thoroughly paganistic message that there really are no consequences for sin."
(As blogger Richard Bartholomew pointed out, "if Farah ... believed in 'consequences for sin', surely he’d be terrified of how he’s going to explain to God why WND publishes so many lies?") Nevertheless, Farah continues:
Why is it important to dissect the theology behind "The Shack"?
Nowhere in any of these attacks does WND mention that the publisher of "The Shack" has addressed many of the questions raised by its critics, including whether the book promotes easy salvation and a God that is "too nice."
Farah doesn't quite admit that he wants to sell books and make money. Nor does he explain how apparently only he knows the One True Way and that everyone else is a blasphemer and heretic.
So desperate was WND to boost its anti-"Shack" book that it even devoted one article to how a blog nobody has heard of named it the "Most Significant Book of 201o."
(WND tried the same thing a couple of years later when, after its lies and smears failed to keep President Obama from being re-elected, it touted the claim of an obscure fringe website that WND was "trustworthy." There was no mention that the website was operated by a church accused of being a cult and whose associate pastor had been charged with first-degree rape of a child.)
WND's war on "The Shack" escalated with a June 2010 column by anti-"Shack" author De Young, who portrayed fans of "The Shack" as exhibiting "cult-like" tendencies and "Shack" author Paul Young as -- we are not making this up -- akin to Jim Jones:
There are certain characteristics of the people who love "The Shack" that suggest cultic-like devotion. Why would I suggest such a thing? Because the word "cult" suggests certain behavior and domineering personalities that have often arisen among Christians in the past. Remember Jim Jones and his People's Temple cult in the 1970s? More than 800 adults and children committed suicide in blind devotion to their leader who could do no wrong and whose teaching was beyond questioning.
De Young complained about "The Shack's" definition of God as someone who would rather "cure" sin than "punish" it, insisting that "the vast majority of the teaching of Scripture attests that God does indeed punish sin." De Young concluded with more cultic smears:
If you believe "The Shack's" pronouncements about judgment and sin instead of the Bible's, then you are in danger of being swept up into a cultic allegiance to a charismatic leader! And isn't this just the nub of what makes many people uncomfortable about "The Shack"? The novel projects "novel" views of a lot of the Bible's teaching that at least distort the truth and at the most slander God and Jesus Christ (as I show in my "Burning Down the Shack").
With smears like these, De Young appears to be building a case to be sued for libel.
'Shack' movie freakout
An April 2013 WND article by Garth Kant rehashed De Young's attacks on the book, asserting that "The Shack's" message of universal reconciliation is "a heresy that goes back all the way to the third century of the Church. It came to America in 1740 and was propagated among the churches of New England, where it found fertile ground and has been never totally eradicated.”
As the film project moved closer to reality, WND's long knives came out again. Bob Unruh did the duty this time in a June 1 article:
Hollywood insiders report the next major leap for the message in William Paul Young’s million-selling book “The Shack” is a first-run movie featuring the talents of Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba and Forest Whitaker.
Unmentioned by both Kant and Unruh: DeYoung's attack book was published by WND. Since this is WND, neither Kant nor Unruh permit Young or anyone else is permitted to respond to De Young's attacks.
If the film version of "The Shack" does indeed get made, look for WND and De Young to continue to ride its coattails by bashing it.