This week, the film The Heart of Man opens in Australia, and one of the Christian leaders featured in the film, gave an interview to the Australian site Eternity News. And along with discussing the documentary, which is about biblical ideas regarding sexuality through the lens of the story of the Prodigal Son parable, William Paul Young also discussed his controversial book The Shack and the theology of salvation.   

At one point, the interviewer says, “I ask Young what he thinks will happen to someone who doesn’t do what the son does in Jesus’s Prodigal parable. As in, what are the consequences in this life, and the next, if any of us do not return to God?”

Young replied: “You’re putting a ‘don’t return [to God]’ as if death is the final arbiter … Romans itself says that death can’t separate you from the love of God. And every time the New Testament talks about the issue of judgment, it talks about krisis–the Greek work for judgment–and it’s a crisis. You’re going to enter a crisis—and I don’t think the story is over; I don’t think death is our damnation.”

In the interview he seems to be suggesting that the traditional concept of coming back to God isn’t limited to when a person is alive, and that God’s judgment (like an eternal hell) won’t last forever.

“I think that Jesus is both our salvation and rightful judge but that judgment is intended for our good, not our harm … So, what does it mean? Well, you get to experience the losses of your choices—and that’s no fun. I mean it’s devastating.”

When asked if that judgment is for eternity, he said: “Potentially for eternity, if you keep holding on to it. But I don’t think the story is over just because you die. I think there is an ongoing relational confrontation between the One who knows you best and loves you best. Potentially forever and, potentially, you could say ‘no’ forever. How someone could do that I don’t know, but definitely that tension is held in Scripture for sure.”

You can read the entire interview here.