Although there are many who wish it weren't so, there is no question that The Shack is the publishing phenomenon of the year.
Author William Paul Young had not originally intended the novel to be for public consumption, but since its debut on the market last year, The Shack has shot surprisingly to the top of best seller lists and set up camp there, generating large amounts of buzz – both positive and negative – within Christian circles.
Not surprising, however, is the development of up and coming books and materials that hope to counter the bestseller.
"It was the most disturbing book that I had ever read in my life," writes John Langemann in the yet-to-be-published book Beware the Shack, according to an advanced copy.
"The evil hidden in between the warp and the woof of this amazing tapestry is insidious," adds the author from Cape Town, South Africa, who is pursuing his doctorate in theology. "The writer drops little 'pearls of wisdom' of language, theology, history, philosophy, etc. into his narrative to intimidate the reader into believing, mistakenly, that he has quantitive or qualitative knowledge in any, or all those areas, 'so he must know what he's talking about.'"
While many of the arguments presented in the new books are nothing new considering the months of debate The Shack has inspired, they are the latest in efforts by opponents of a book considered to be even more harmful than The Da Vinci Code, which centers on the alleged conspiracy to conceal the offspring of a married Mary and Jesus.
"Indeed, because it is being promoted as Christian fiction, it is much more dangerous than books like The Da Vinci Code, which never claimed to be Christian," argued ministry leader Tim McGhee of Powell, Tenn., in a review of the book. "The Shack is nothing less than rank heresy disguised as Christian literature."
According to Eric Barger, who has produced the DVD "The Death of Discernment: How The Shack Became the #1 Bestseller in Christianity," the real problem with The Shack and other books, movies, and television shows like it, is that Christians can fail to use scriptural discernment if they let their emotions rule.
"We can be taken captive by 'evil imaginations,'" argues Barger, who runs Take a Stand! Ministries.
And it is for reasons such as these that opponents of the bestseller are producing anti-Shack materials.
"As one who wears his emotions on his sleeve and who found himself being swayed by the heartbreaking storyline of The Shack, I must again caution," Barger says. "To allow a gripping story to cloud our ability to detect even the subtle theological errors strewn throughout its pages is exactly what Dr. Michael Youssef meant when he described The Shack as 'a deep ditch that's covered by beautiful landscape.'"
To date, The Shack has sold more than 4.4 million copies in 24 different countries after being initially spurned by 26 publishers.
It has remained on the New York Times Bestsellers List for Paperback Trade Fiction for 29 weeks and currently retains the No. 1 spot.
The book has been openly criticized by conservative Protestant heavyweights including R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.; Chuck Colson, founder of the Prison Fellowship Ministries; Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle; and influential blogger Tim Challies, who wrote a downloadable 17-page review/guide on The Shack that compares the novel's assertions to Scripture.
According to reports, Young is not a member of a church and is somewhat reticent about being labeled a Christian. Despite the book's success, Young said he isn't contemplating a sequel though The Shack may possibly be turned into a screenplay.