Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: Erasing Hell

What God said about eternity, and the things we've made up
by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle

Rather than refer to 'Chan and Sprinkle' in this book review (though it would sound pretty funny and probably remind you of some crunchy breakfast cereal from your childhood), I'll assume what the book assumes in the introduction and review from the perspective that Francis Chan wrote the book.

This is a remarkably easy book to read. At 163 pages of text (including the appendix), it only took me 4 hours to read it. And that was with a 40 minute meeting thrown in there. It is a book that I was excited to read, though quickly rebuked by the introduction. The introduction states, "If you are excited to read this book, you have issues." That didn't make me feel too good, but served as a needed rebuke and attitude check on this whole conversation about hell.

Erasing Hell is an attempt to add another voice to the current, on-going conversation about the doctrine of Hell, instigated by Rob Bell's Love Wins. Chan adds a needed perspective to this discussion: pastoral. Chan constantly urges the reader to evaluate thoughts and what they mean practically to daily life. In fact, I found myself rebuked on a number of occasions while I read this book. Nothing said in the book is mean-spirited or unkind. And each chapter ends with the focus turned back upon the reader and what it means for daily life.

Chan says surprisingly little about Rob Bell and Love Wins. He quotes Love Wins a few times to contrast with the teaching of Scripture, but from the way that Erasing Hell is written, you wouldn't think that this book is in response to Love Wins. Again, I think that Chan has done an excellent job in simply adding another voice to a conversation and has helped avoid turning it into an argument.

I felt that the most compelling chapter was the fifth chapter entitled, What does all this have to do with me? In it, Chan takes some time to share some devotional thoughts about some various passages from Scripture and what that means for the reader. Chan compels the reader to evaluate whether or not these things that Jesus says deserve hell are a part of your life. It is quite gripping and convicting.

Erasing Hell is a refreshing pastoral voice in this heated (pun intended) discussion about hell. Rather than focus on the discussion at hand, Chan chooses to focus on what really matters, namely, your life.

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