Last Tuesday I posed the question "Is this book dangerous?" in regard to the bestseller The Shack by William P. Young. This book has generated quite a bit of controversy with many decrying that it is indeed dangerous. Opinions are sharply divided as some claim that the book has resulted in spiritual revelation while others fear that it may lead many to eternal damnation. Burning Down the Shack by James B. De Young is a book that expounds the latter belief. James B. De Young's (I will henceforth refer to him as JB) book is the kind that some may say gives Christians a bad name. Detractors of JB's book may argue that it is exemplary of the divisive nature of Christianity and that it is wrongly judgmental of other members of the faith. The book will primarily be appreciated by a very specific audience. Those who loved The Shack and are not interested in Biblical evidence that disclaims the book as a spiritual guide will most likely thumb their noses at JB's proof. Anyone who has not read The Shack would be unlikely to have any interest in reading this book. Burning Down the Shack is essentially a study guide for those who are looking for Biblical refutation of William P. Young's (henceforth referred to as Paul) best selling work of fiction.
JB's approach is methodical and lucid. The book is written in a style that is easy to read. It is laden with Bible verses and citations to verses which may be a drawback to many readers. However this is the purpose of JB's book--to disavow any relationship between The Shack and traditional Christian doctrine.
The author claims to have been a past associate and friend of Paul and provides his personal insight of what he understands about Paul's Universalist Christian beliefs and personal agenda. The evidence JB provides does seem to indicate that his observations about Paul may be correct. JB feels that the agenda of The Shack and it's author are dangerous to the spiritual well-being of those who are taken in by the doctrine behind the story.
Burning Down the Shack is longer than the book that is being analyzed. In all honesty I did not finish reading the entire book, but read only halfway and skimmed to the end. There is a repetitiveness to the book that becomes tedious for a casual reader. The book is well researched and might be fine for one who wants an in depth study. But fun reading this is not.
One thing I do like about the book is that it takes each chapter of The Shack and carefully breaks it down. JB is to be commended in that he begins with what is good about each chapter. He then provides logical evidence to show what is wrong. For the most part I didn't really need this book to know this, but it is interesting to see the many Biblical citations to which he refers.
This book is essential for any real serious apologist who wants to arm themself for debate against a "Shack" fanatic, but what is the likelihood of this happening? It might also be of interest to a serious student of the Bible. However, there are many other Bible study books that are superior to this one.
The question that came to my mind is how does Paul feel about JB's book? Even though it is highly critical of The Shack it seems that Paul would welcome JB's book. To read one book you would need to read the other--more book sales for Paul. If I were cynical I would say they were in collusion with one another. After all, more sales for one book could mean more sales for the other. Maybe I'm being too much of a conspiracist.