| Francis Chan & Preston Sprinkle
What God Said About Eternity, and the Things We've Made Up
Chan and Sprinkle are right: “When it comes to hell, we can’t afford to be wrong.”
This book was written as a response to Rob Bell’s, ‘Love Wins’ which seems to promote a universal approach to salvation and could be said to be an "inclusivist," which is the cousin of universalism and teaches that people who don't even know Christ, will nevertheless, unconsciously, be saved through Christ; regardless of their religious beliefs.
This is no easy topic to write on because our emotions can often hinder us from interpreting the scriptures correctly and we are often driven by our prior assumptions in our exegesis of the text. Chan and Sprinkle emphasise the fact that scripture should be our final authority, even when we dislike what it says at times. Throughout the book, they attempt to move the reader beyond mere doctrinal truths, to the implications of those truths for our daily lives. The essence is that right thinking about God is crucial to the right living because all beliefs have implications on the way that we live.
What they do so well in this book is ensure that we feel the weight of this doctrinal truth rather than it being a far removed theological debate. What is clear from their intentions in this book is that they firstly want to dispel any unbiblical positions about hell and secondly cause the reader to be moved by the nature of the implications to act upon that belief.
The book is written in an investigative manner and attempts to answer several crucial questions. It attempts to investigate what the first century Jews believed about Hell, what Jesus actually said about Hell and lastly what Jesus’ followers said about Hell. It is a well-researched book and what it does well is to look at scripture as well as external sources such as early Jewish literature. It presents an irrefutable case for the existence of Hell.
The book has an extensive list or sources in the bibliography and answers many of the foreseen questions in an appendix at the end. One of the most important things Chan and Sprinkle want their readers to focus on when considering the question and the implications of the answers is that we need to understand that Gods actions are not in submission to our reasoning.
Erasing Hell would be more appropriately titled ‘erasing common misconceptions about hell’. It is definitely worth reading but I would caution any new Christians when considering reading this book. The only other drawback of this book is that it places little emphasis on the integral part that hell plays in the overall redemptive storyline. It focuses more on the fact that as Christians we are bound to what Jesus said about hell.
TYB Rating: 4/5 stars
book review by michael els