William Paul Young, best-selling author of The Shack with 18 million copies sold, released his second book, Cross Roads, this week and said that his new book may even be better than his first.
"Cross Roads is a broader story and in some respects it's a better story just because I've grown some," Young told Walden Media president Michael Flaherty during an interview webcast live on Tuesday. The event was co-hosted by the promotional company Brewing Culture and publishers FaithWords.
While both fictional stories, The Shack is more about an individual's spiritual experience, while Cross Roads is about relationship within a community, Young explained.
"We are not designed to do this (life) by ourselves. You cannot heal yourself. You cannot heal anybody else. We're designed to do this in community because we were created inside community for community by community. That is a nuance of Cross Roads that is deeper," he said. "The Shack will [always] be The Shack. It kind of tore up new ground. Nobody saw it coming, especially us."
The Shack was originally written as a Christmas gift for Young's six children without intending to publish the book. He was encouraged by friends who read the book to publish it. In 2006, Young worked with Wayne Jacobsen, Brad Cummings (both former pastors from Los Angeles) and Bobby Downes (filmmaker), to publish the book.
His first book did not come without controversy. In 2010, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote in his blog that "The Shack is a wake-up call for evangelical Christianity."
Mohler argued that Young wrote a storyline that reflected "a theology that is unconventional at best, and undoubtedly heretical in certain respects."
He stated, "The popularity of this book among evangelicals can only be explained by a lack of basic theological knowledge among us – a failure even to understand the Gospel of Christ. The tragedy that evangelicals have lost the art of biblical discernment must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine."
However, Young was not asked to address any controversy about his previous book during the interview. His focus for both books has been about a loving God that wants relationship, he said.
"Part of my journey is to say that the soul of the human being must be a massively intricate, wonderful creation that God has a respect for in ways that we do not and that leaves a huge amount of space to go explore," he said. "He (Jesus) didn't come to start a new religion. Jesus is not the 'founder of Christianity.' He came to destroy religious thinking by introducing relationship – and relationship always moves you away from control, which is a major theme in both The Shack and Cross Roads, and into the mystery of relationship."
Flaherty told Young during the interview that he believes that the author has another captivating story and bestseller on his hands.
"You have now beaten the sophomore slump because I have read Cross Roads and I am a huge [The] Shack fan and I like Cross Roads even more than The Shack. I think this is going to have a really great impact for people and once again introduce them to an all loving, all forgiving, compassionate God," Flaherty said.