I just finished reading Francis Chan’s and Preston Sprinkle’s new book, ‘Erasing Hell.’ Basically, it is an exploration of what the Bible has to say about hell and the afterlife triggered by Rob Bell’s controversial book, ‘Love Wins’ (read my review of Bell’s book here).
Francis Chan is just one of a dozen or more authors to write a rebuttal to ‘Love Wins,’ and this is clearly a rebuttal, with Chan directly referring to, or quoting, Bell’s book in just about every chapter. What makes ‘Erasing Hell’ jump out of the growing number of books on the subject for me is his prominence as a communicator – he and Bell in many ways are similar when it comes to being amazing communicators in person, on video and in their books. The two are often compared, so it was fascinating to see Chan come out strong in contrast to Bell – not that it was surprising that Chan would have an opposing viewpoint.
One of the things I loved about the book is that Chan brought in scholars to help him research the topic. Combining his gifts of communication with their resources made for a very thorough exploration on hell. Where Bell was vague, paraphrased, and used verses out of context, Chan went to the opposite extreme of using a ton of scripture to back up his points.
I only had one negative response to ‘Erasing Hell.’ From time to time Chan would paint the picture that he was just passing on what the Bible says, as though Bell gave opinion, but Chan is giving the inside scoop on what God actually thinks. The reality is, as thoroughly researched and well presented as the book is, it is still man’s interpretation of scripture – he’s not passing on what God says, simply trying to relay his impression of what God says. He used a LOT of scripture, which was awesome – but it was still his presentation of scripture, his ordering of scripture, and his explanation of scripture.
That being said, I agree with it 100%. It’s incredibly well written – especially given the time frame in which he did it. His heart in communicating this message about hell is always present, and it’s done in such a loving way – not the heavy handed, doom and gloom that so many ‘turn or burn’ preachers use. And of course, his reputation as a brilliant communicator holds true in this book. It’s definitely one that I would recommend for anyone to read on the topic of hell in general, and a must read for anyone who has read ‘Love Wins.’