William Paul Young, the author behind bestseller The Shack, later turned into a movie in 2017, says he doesn't believe that those who die without knowing Jesus Christ cannot achieve salvation. This is a teaching that is at odds with what many evangelicals believe.
Young's novel The Shack was the No. 1 paperback trade fiction seller on The New York Times Best Seller list from June 2008 to early 2010. In 2009 it was awarded the "Diamond Award" for sales of over 10 million copies by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association
Speaking to Eternity website in Australia, the author was asked what happens to a person who does not know God or does not return to God within the time frame of their life on earth.
"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 [see Romans 8:31-39, in particular]," he argued.
"And every time the New Testament talks about the issue of judgment, it talks about crisis - 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," he continued.
"I think that Jesus is both our salvation and rightful judge but that judgment is intended for our good, not our harm."
He added that he doesn't believe people's stories are 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."