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Erasing hell : what God said about eternity…

Erasing hell : what God said about eternity and the things we made up (edition 2011)

by Francis Chan, Preston M. Sprinkle

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6421315,063 (3.91)1
Title:Erasing hell : what God said about eternity and the things we made up
Authors:Francis Chan
Other authors:Preston M. Sprinkle
Info:Colorado Springs, CO : David C Cook, 2011.
Collections:Your library
Tags:hell, theology

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Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made up by Francis Chan



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I love Francis Chan's writing style. I find him to be equal parts honest, academic, compassionate, and challenging. I don't always agree with where he lands on issues, but his writing style is sufficiently clear so that I can trace how he landed at his position.

Erasing Hell, in many ways, is a response to Rob Bell's popular (and heretical) book Love Wins, in which Bell departs from the historically Christian position on eternal damnation of the lost. This book interacts with Bell's larger arguments. In the first three chapters, Chan and Sprinkle cite Bell 14 times.

There is much to commend in Erasing Hell. It is thoroughly biblical, pastoral in tone, and culturally sensitive. Chapter 6 was perhaps my favorite chapter. Chan and Sprinkle bite off Romans 9, seeking to understand a God who sends people to hell. They write, "[W]e must come to a place where we can let God be God. We need to surrender our perceived right to determine what is just and humbly recognize that God alone gets to decide how He is going to deal with people" (131). The authors want us to see a big, biblical view of God. We need to stop crawfishing, and let God defend himself. "Like the nervous kid who tries to keep his friends from seeing his drunken father, I have tried to hide God at times. Who do I think I am? The truth is, God is perfect and right in all that He does. I am a fool for thinking otherwise. He does not need nor want me to 'cover' for Him. There's nothing to be covered. Everything about Him and all He does is perfect" (133). Amen, brothers!

As I mentioned earlier, I don't always agree with where Chan and Sprinkle land. They almost seem to embrace annihilationism. But, as I mentioned earlier, I can see how they arrive at their position. They even do so by examining Scripture. They write, "The debate about hell's duration is much more complex than I first assumed. While I lean heavily on the side that says it is everlasting, I am not ready to claim that with complete certainty" (86). Furthermore, they opt on the side that says the fire in hell is metaphorical, a position that I find unnecessary. "Fire is used metaphorically thought Scripture, and I agree with the host of evangelical scholars above that fire is probably not to be taken literally when it's used to describe hell" (154).

Erasing Hell is a book that evangelicals need to read. Doing so will help us stop apologizing for God's retributive actions. Our culture denies the existence of hell, not simply because it doesn't like the idea, but because it refusing to acknowledge God's sovereign rule and reign over his creation. Chan and Sprinkle help guide the discussion back to where it needs to be - the authority of Scripture. ( )
  RobSumrall | Mar 15, 2017 |
It's hard to give five stars to a book on Hell.
This is clearly not the kind of inspiring and challenging book that has made Francis Chan so well known, but it is an important book because of all those who want to explain away Hell. In his characteristic way, Chan goes open-handed to Scripture and asks what God reveals about it there.
It is a short book, mercifully. The main book is only about 140 short pages. In the first four chapters Chan unpacks what Scripture says about Hell. This portion is clear, if difficult to read. Then in chapter 5-7 he turns to how Christians should respond to this teaching. Here we see Chan's gift for challenging our thinking with the truths of Scripture. It is worth the payoff.
Perhaps the best summary can be found in this quote from page 148:
"While hell can be a paralyzing doctrine, it can also be an energizing one, for it magnifies the beauty of the cross.
Hell is the backdrop that reveals the profound and unbelievable grace of the cross. It brings to light the enormity of our sin and therefore portrays the undeserved favor of God in full color."

Whether or not recent conversations have left you confused about Hell, gird up and read this book. ( )
  HGButchWalker | Sep 21, 2016 |
In the end, his conclusion was the same as the one he began with, and so there was nothing particularly new here, but I DID appreciate his honest desire to go through the process with such care and detail. ( )
  laurustina | Jan 14, 2015 |
Very thought provoking,and helped me to deal with some questions/doubts I've been struggling with recently. Recommend it for any Christian who is troubled by the idea of Hell as most of us have been taught to understand it. ( )
  TeresaKander | Aug 4, 2014 |
I cannot figure Francis Chan out. Some of the things he says, people he associates with, conclusions he draws. He is a riddle wrapped in an enigma in ways, but he is perfectly clear. What annoys me is that he consistently repels any label I try to attach to Him....and boy do I need to label. Is he reformed? Is he charismatic? Is he emergent? What I have come to love and trust is that Francis is honest. And He loves Jesus and reveres the Scriptures. This is why I love hearing Him speak and why I love reading what He writes. I don’t always come to the same conclusions he does, but I always learn and am challenged when God uses Him to deliver a message.

So when David C Cook Publishing decided to bless the world with three free Francis Chan books over Easter weekend, I was super-pumped. Chan's style of writing is so engaging and simple that it allows his books to be enjoyed and consumed quickly. Enjoyed, however, is a relative term, especially in light of the content of the book.

Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity and the Things We've Made Up is Chan's latest adult book and it has a very adult topic. Coauthored with Preston Sprinkle, who did most of the research, Erasing Hell is a very straightforward and simple exposition of the Biblical topic of hell. For those familiar with Chan, straightforward is assumed and he does not fail to deliver in this book. On the surface, Erasing Hell is a response to Love Wins by Rob Bell. Chan interacts with Bell's work, but only superficially. Beyond the timing of the release and the cover art, what Erasing Hell really is is an Evangelical apology of the orthodox doctrine of hell in light of recent(Bell) and not-so-recent(Origen) attacks. Erasing Hell is an examination written on a popular level. If you are looking for an in-depth theological treatise, I would look elsewhere. If you are looking for good interactions with common objections to the orthodox doctrine of hell applied explicitly to the heart and life of the reader, Erasing Hell is exactly what you want.

Chan begins with a look at Universalism of all sorts. He then looks at Second Temple Judaism's understanding of hell, arguing that if Christ had differed greatly from the prevailing thought of His day on an issue of such import, He would have been explicit in His correction, as He was in so many other areas. This line of reasoning, to me, is sound and applicable to other doctrines as well.

Chan's greatest interaction with Bell's text is with the concept of Gehenna=Garbage Dump that Bell so readily uses. Chan makes some striking claims that highlight to me, once again, how dishonest(intentionally or unintentionally) so many are when dealing with the culture at the time of Christ. As I read and research things, I am consistently shocked by how fast and loose many are with facts from the pulpit(or the pulpit of some written media). It is almost as if truth takes a back seat to whatever makes a good sermon illustration or blog post or chapter title. The Gehenna=Garbage Dump factoid may actually fall into this category, as would apparently Bell's entire thesis. As a disclaimer, I have only interacted with Bell's work through secondary sources, so my understanding of his work is most often viewed through a critical lens.

Chan's honesty will be shocking at times and can be discomforting for those who feel it is wrong to even question traditional teaching/interpretation. His uncertainty on certain issues(the duration of Hell, Paul's intent in Romans 9:22-23) could be seen as fence sitting, but Chan does that nowhere else on much more hotbed issues. I truly believe we are seeing a man who's thinking is in line with the key tenet(in my opinion) of the Reformation:Semper Reformanda, “always reforming”.

Chan, in all of his works, urges the reader to flee the deep desire to “reinterpret Jesus in light of our own culture, political bent, or favorite theological belief”. To not “believe something just because you want to,” or “ embrace an idea just because you've always believed it.” But rather to “(b)elieve what is biblical. Test all your assumptions against the precious words God gave us in the Bible.” Knowing this about the heart of Chan, even the areas where you end up disagreeing, you still are respectful of the position he takes. Erasing Hell may not be everything it could have been, but I believe it is everything it was supposed to be and is more than worth the 2 or 3 hours you will invest. ( )
1 vote joshrskinner | Jul 30, 2014 |
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Chan, Francisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sprinkle, Prestonmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0781407257, Paperback)

How could a loving God send people to hell? Will people have a chance after they die to believe in Jesus and go to heaven?

With a humble respect for God's Word, Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle address the deepest questions you have about eternal destiny. They've asked the same questions. Like you, sometimes they just don't want to believe in hell. But as they write, "We cannot afford to be wrong on this issue." This is not a book about who is saying what. It's a book about what God says. It's not a book about impersonal theological issues. It's a book about people who God loves. It's not a book about arguments, doctrine, or being right. It's a book about the character of God.

Erasing Hell will immerse you in the truth of Scripture as, together with the authors, you find not only the truth but the courage to live it out.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:48 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Addressing a variety of views on hell, the Bible, and the character of God, offers an eloquent response to the recent media storm surrounding questions of eternal destiny.

(summary from another edition)

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