Erasing Hell by Francis Chan & Preston Sprinkle

August 24, 2011 — 14 Comments

I just finished Francis Chan’s latest book Erasing Hell and I have to tell you, I could not put it down.  From start to finish this book is one of his most accessible books for me to read and I could see his points connecting and it was a great book.  Chan seeks to discuss what Scripture says about eternity.  The title of the book comes from his inward desire to not want to talk about hell.  I must confess, I have avoided talking about hell in many circumstances because it is just uncomfortable for me.  The idea of people spending time in torment is not an easy subject to discuss.  So often we try to “erase hell” from our vocabulary, sermons, classes and conversations.  Chan seeks to give a thorough treatise of the subject and offer his critique of various opinions (Rob Bell’s Love Wins gets a hefty treatment in chapters 1-3).  His chapters are…

  1. Does everyone go to heaven?
  2. Has hell changed?  Or have we?
  3. What Jesus actually said about hell?
  4. What Jesus’ followers said about hell
  5. What does this have to do with me?
  6. What if God…?
  7. Don’t be overwhelmed
I enjoyed the book but I do not want to spoil it by telling you everything that is in it.  Below are some of my Pro’s and cons of the book.  I recommend this book to everyone.

PROS

  • Easy to read
  • Delves into the Greek substantially but on a simplified manner
  • Addresses most of the major issues
  • Has a high view of inspiration of the Scriptures
  • His sincerity, compassion and humility is obvious in his pleas to the readers.
  • Placed Jesus in his historical setting as a First Century Jew and that shaped Jesus’ view on hell.  Loved that!

CONS

  • Sometimes Chan is too simplistic in that he does not flesh out issues enough.
  • He really did not add much to the debate.  As much as I want to say he did he simply reiterated what many have at least discussed from the evangelical perspective.  He adds his eloquent touch and I agree with a lot of what he says but most of it is not new.  (maybe that is good?)
  • Chan’s view of “submission to God regardless of our questions” seems t0o dismissive to me.  I agree that at the end of the day “God’s ways are not our ways nor his thoughts our thoughts” but does that mean we accept that at face value and not question why things happen?  Chapter 6 basically is a sermon telling the readers that the clay cannot be the potter so we should simply (and fearfully) submit.  I struggled with this one.
Hope you enjoy the book.

14 responses to Erasing Hell by Francis Chan & Preston Sprinkle

  1. 

    Thanks for taking the time to give a recap, Robbie. I haven’t been able to get to that book yet, so your insight is much appreciated!

  2. 

    I am going to get a copy of this book! I read Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love and it was incredible so i’m sure I will enjoy this one too.
    I struggle with the idea of Hell. Right now i’m convinced that Hell is not a place of eternal torment but a place where souls are destroyed permanently and cease to exist.

    http://deepcave.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/reality-of-hell/

    Keep writing!

    • 
      Robbie Mackenzie August 24, 2011 at 11:58 am

      Thanks Jeremiah. The struggle of hell is sure to be one that will not leave us soon. Chan discusses the view you believe (namely annihilation) in his book so I do not want to ruin it for you. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. 

    robbie,

    thanks for such a great review. i could not agree more with your points. francis is very approachable and humble, two qualities this topic needs. but there are also some significant questions that he doesn’t address adequately. as i read it, i intuitively felt what you were able to express in your pros and cons.

    i do agree with you, that at the end of the day, it probably is a good thing not to add something new and “unknown” or discovered to the debate.

    YOU ROCK!

    bk

    • 
      Robbie Mackenzie August 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      Thanks again bro! It was a great book and I think it helped at least confirm what I felt that at the core it is a tough issue. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. 

    In 2011 world population will reach 7 billion (vs. 3 billion in 1960). There are now approximately 2.2 billion Christians. Chan and Sprinkle seem to be saying that 4.8 billion people may be facing eternal hell.

    Concepts of afterlife vary between religions and among divisions of each faith. Not all Christians agree on what happens after this life, nor do all Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or other believers. Rebirth, resurrection, purgatory, universalism, and oblivion are other possibilities…none of which can be proven.

    Mystics of all faiths have more in common than the followers of their orthodox religions. True mystics realize that eternal life is here and now; it does not begin after mortal death. The age of Earth is said to be 4.5 billion years, of the Universe 13.7 billion, yet few humans live to be 100. This lifetime is a fleeting moment.

    Scriptures are subject to interpretation; people often choose what is most beneficial for them.

    • 
      Robbie Mackenzie August 24, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      Ron, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to post. I appreciate your diversity as it is something more Christians need to pay attention to. You seem well read on various expressions of religion and I admire that…really. I am curious, did you read the book? I am interested in your thoughts about how he viewed hell and so forth. I agree with your statement that Scriptures are subject for interpretation and you’re right, people do choose what is beneficial. It’s sad. Chan seems to be doing the opposite in his book as it would benefit him to choose an anti-hell interpretation…but he doesn’t. At any rate…more to say…but I am interested in your response.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Feel free to comment again.

  5. 

    I did read both Bell’s and Chan’s book. They each seemed very sincere in their approach and writing, although reaching very different conclusions.

    Francis Chan seems torn between eternal torment or annihilationism; mystics might describe both as awareness of separation from God. What St. John of the Cross called “the dark night of the soul” is when we have given up our ego but have yet to realize oneness with the divine.

    My (free) ebook on comparative mysticism highlights similarities between the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. I hope you have time to read it.

    • 
      Robbie Mackenzie August 26, 2011 at 7:11 am

      I will try to read it Ron. I have a lot of books waiting in line but I may read it. Thanks for your study.

  6. 

    But remember simple is good when you are talking to a non-believer or a young
    Christian. And isn’t that the problem with so many churches…we don’t want to discuss the hard stuff?
    The way he talked about how God’s thoughts are different not just higher but different than ours really humbled me. I really am low on the totem pole….I think this would be a great class.

  7. 

    Is it okay to insert part of this in my personal website if I publish a reference to this web site?

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