Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We've Made Up

Erasing Hell What God Said about Eternity and the Things We ve Made Up Viral Books Rating this book is an extremely difficult task To rate it one star would do my heart justice and I ll exp

Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We've Made Up Viral Books Rating this book is an extremely difficult task. To rate it one star would do my heart justice, and I'll explain why. I began reading Erasing Hell the day I finished reading Love Wins by Rob Bell. I was feeling pretty good that day, after reading Love Wins and all. I finished reading Erasing Hell today, after which, I didn't feel so great. I was so heavy-hearted. Chan takes every New Testament passage about Hell and dissects it. This-as Chan warns-could get tedious if you're not into Greek, but it's necessary and interesting (to me. I'm into Greek) and doesn't carry on much past the third chapter. Reading Erasing Hell is much like reading Romans chapter 9, except in modern language and about 150 pages longer. If you've read Romans 9, you'll know this is a bit of an intimidating statement. In Erasing Hell, Chan answers all of my questions about Hell and then some (especially in the fascinating FAQ section at the end of the book). As I passed this book on to my mother and tried to find the words to describe "how it was," the only words I could muster were "This book is...hard." In the short hours that I read it, I wrestled so much.All of that being said, I must give Erasing Hell five stars. It is wonderful in a literary sense, and I wholeheartedly believe the things Francis Chan has written here are true. That doesn't, however, mean I like it. Chan doesn't like it. I don't know of anyone who would. It is hard-hard to read, hard to stomach, hard to set down-but in a discussion about Hell, soft just isn't going to cut it. I urge you to read it for yourself, wrestle with it for yourself, and question: If this is true, what does it mean for me?. 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 cHow 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.. The best Book Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We've Made Up "Erasing Hell" should have been subtitled: Universalism Is Definitely False, But We Don't Know WhyI listened to the audiobook edition of this work, which contains an elaborative interview with the authors (to whom I will refer collectively by the headlining name, though I understand that the greater part of the work was Sprinkle's). In the interview, the authors admit that the book is a response to "Love Wins" – a fact, as I recall, not acknowledged in the book – making Bell's book required reading for a fair shake. But that both books are rather theologically, logically, and exegetically weak should be of concern to anyone caring to honestly approach the subjects at hand."Love Wins" is a dabbling introduction to the debate between Everlasting Conscious Torment and Universal Reconciliation. "Erasing Hell" is a dabbling introduction to this subject, as well, but one in rebuttal of another.The main difference in this regard is that "Love Wins" embraces its role as an inadequate introduction a little more honestly than does "Erasing Hell." This is likely due in no small part to one of the very reasons Bell is ridiculed so continually: he's more interested in making you think than in telling you what he thinks, so for some he can come off as a dodgy problem-starter with no answers. I don't know the man; this criticism may be more or less true: God knows him – though I think it is a supremely Christian thing to give the benefit of the doubt. But if you are going to write a book deliberately shallow on intellectual argument (which certainly is fine), but written on the subject of a highly-controversial intellectual debate, you would do your readers a service to propose your positions with more than the usual diffidence: this is more Bell's strength than Chan's.Despite Chan's incessant repetition of "I don't want to believe this, but I have to," "Erasing Hell" comes off more like a hurried "Cliff Notes to 'Everything You Need to Know About Hell'" than an introduction to the subject. And no wonder: "Erasing Hell" was conceived, at least partially researched, written, edited, printed-en-mass, marketed, and released within just four months of the publication of the book it is attempting to refute. "Love Wins" eeks by with just a little more modesty and a little more trust in the reader's willingness to continue thinking after they finish the book.This is only a literary criticism, however, and may after all have quite a lot to do with the stereotypical psychological influences of the two positions: the stress-relieving effect of a strong hope that God will inevitably succeed in reconciling all the dead non-Christians you've ever known, and the converse anxiety-inducing effect of a strong conviction of the impending and unending torture of all the non-Christians you've ever loved.I should move on to more ultimate perspectives: the theological and exegetical (Biblical interpretation).One problem is an apparent blurred line between Calvinism and Arminianism, causing the book to suffer from an overall lack of an integral system.Some background: Arminianism and Calvinism function as internally-consistent rational systems for explaining how God can allow some people to become ultimately condemned. Arminianism remains consistent because it claims, "God loves everyone unconditionally, but is unable to save everyone he loves because his character prevents him from infringing on human will (assuming that it is not possible to save everyone without infringing on human will)." Calvinism remains consistent because it claims, "God is in fact able to save everyone (regardless of human volition), but because he has chosen to hate some people in order to demonstrate his glory through wrath as well through grace, he chooses to not save everyone from condemnation, or as it may be, decides apart from any quality or act of their own who he will condemn." These are the two integral Protestant non-Universalist solutions to the dilemma.A traditional approach to refuting Universalism, therefore, would be either clearly Arminian or clearly Calvinist. "Erasing Hell," on the other hand, sometimes looks like one, sometimes the other.Thomas Talbott states the above synopsis of Arminianism and Calvinism in other words, via his now-famous propositions:"(1) It is God's redemptive purpose for the world (and therefore his will) to reconcile all sinners to himself;"(2) It is within God's power to achieve his redemptive purpose for the world;"(3) Some sinners will never be reconciled to God, and God will therefore either consign them to a place of eternal punishment, from which there will be no hope of escape, or put them out of existence altogether."If this is indeed an inconsistent set of propositions, as I believe it is, then at least one of the propositions is false. Calvinists reject proposition (1); Arminians reject proposition (2); and universalists reject proposition (3)." (see "The Inescapable Love of God" for more)Though Chan proposes a Calvinistic understanding of God's wrath, his position on God's love remains transparently Arminian. By the end of the book, his solution is – if I may broadly paraphrase: "God wants to save everyone and is capable of saving everyone, but he doesn't, so we must conclude that we do not know what 'God's love' means [— I would add here as well: 'despite Biblical definitions and examples of God's love']." In other words: "Universalism is definitely false, but we don't know why." Both typical Calvinists and Arminians claim to know why. Thus I suggest a fourth proposition with which Arminianism, Calvinism, and Universalism agree:"(4) A basic knowledge of the moral character of God is possible, and therefore at least a preliminary rational system of theology is also possible."The authors of "Erasing Hell" appear to agree with propositions (1), (2), and (3), but reject (4). They have chosen to give up a rational, coherent system of theology: something all three traditional positions maintain.I applaud the authors' ability to embrace a certain level of mystery and ambiguity – this is a trait sorely needed in Christianity today – but as this is a question that concerns the moral character of God, which is a much more fundamental issue than the existence and nature of Hell, I cannot agree with Chan and Sprinkle. If I must choose to be uncertain either of Everlasting Conscious Torment or of God's inherent moral goodness, I cannot choose to be uncertain of God. I cannot condone their position, because I cannot condone the theological method which results in that position. Holding to the character of God is more important than holding even to the character of the Bible, in logical order.The problem lies in majoring on "Theology General" and allowing our conclusions there to shape our beliefs on "Theology Proper." I ask you to consider whether this is right. Shouldn't the nature and character of God ("Theology Proper") be the absolute basis of all other theology ("Theology General")? We must start with who God is, and allow the answer to that question to ripple through all the theological satellite issues (rather than the other way round): "The goodness of God must be true, but I cannot reconcile this other doctrine at hand, so I must postpone judgment on it until he has taught me further. God must make me see the goodness in it – he must change my conscience – before I can believe he does something which I am not convinced is good, right, loving: fitting with his character. I may not refute the doctrine yet, but I also cannot in all good conscience embrace it yet – to do so would be to sin against my conscience, as Paul in Romans warned. God's goodness, and my simple faith in that one fact, must be enough for me for now. I will take not one intellectual step which contradicts His development of my heart thus far."Another problem is that one of the most important exegetical issues for a Biblical investigation into the possibility of Universalism or Annihilationism, is the interpretation of the usages of the Greek "aeon" and "aeonios." Even during my fundamentalist "hell fire" seminary days, I knew the traditional translations of these words are often questionable, and the original semantic range was quite broad and various."Erasing Hell" does broach the issue, but the result is the most disappointing attempt at an argument in the book. I was hoping for some real work here, but the book leaves one of the two or three strongest Biblical bases in favor of Christian Universalism nearly untouched. Exegetically speaking, this was where the authors' battle was lost.CONCLUSION: "Erasing Hell" will hardly sway anyone on the fence who was not already leaning toward Everlasting Conscious Torment. It may sate those who do not wish to contend with the issues any longer than is necessary to read the book, as well as those who were never willing to reconsider what they were taught in the first place. These will point to "Erasing Hell" every time "Love Wins" is mentioned, but few others will.For a more substantial book weighing the options between Universalism and Exclusivism, see "Universal Salvation?: The Current Debate", edited by Robin Parry.Another good review.Other Books Referenced in This Review:

  1. Francis Chan is an American pastor and teacher, who lives in California with his wife, Lisa, and their four children He is the former pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, CA, which he and his wife started in 1994.

384 Reply to “Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We've Made Up”

  1. Rating this book is an extremely difficult task To rate it one star would do my heart justice, and I ll explain why I began reading Erasing Hell the day I finished reading Love Wins by Rob Bell I was feeling pretty good that day, after reading Love Wins and all I finished reading Erasing Hell today, after which, I didn t feel so great I was so heavy hearted Chan takes every New Testament passage about Hell and dissects it This as Chan warns could get tedious if you re not into Greek, but it s ne [...]

  2. Erasing Hell should have been subtitled Universalism Is Definitely False, But We Don t Know WhyI listened to the audiobook edition of this work, which contains an elaborative interview with the authors to whom I will refer collectively by the headlining name, though I understand that the greater part of the work was Sprinkle s In the interview, the authors admit that the book is a response to Love Wins a fact, as I recall, not acknowledged in the book making Bell s book required reading for a fa [...]

  3. In Erasing Hell, Francis Chan speaks with compassion You can almost feel him trembling over the issues at stake He recognizes this debate is about God, His nature and His authority I sensed both humility and prophetic power in this book.I ve talked with Francis personally and been at a few conferences where he s spoken It s like watching a fire burn you don t know exactly what s coming next That same passion is on the pages of his book Chan lays his heart on the table It s rare that a book mixes [...]

  4. THE GOODFirst, I have to commend Chan for the tone of his book One major detraction for me in reading and rereading Love Wins is Bell s sometimes not so subtle jabs at New Calvinist theology Even though I agree with a lot of Bell s jabs, they re subtle and feel underhanded If we re going to talk about it, let s just put it out on the table To Chan s credit, he does this for the most part He directly cites Bell and other authors with whom he takes issue , and even applauds Bell a few times.It see [...]

  5. Erasing Hell is, in large part, Francis Chan s response to Rob Bell s Love Wins After reading both books After reading both books, I have to confess to feeling oddly perplexed by the whole debate not because the topic is unimportant, I believe it s vitally important, but because both books are ultimately very lightweight For the life of me, I can t understand why two books of such low caliber have created such an enormous debate I m getting a bit ahead of myself though Regardless of the quality [...]

  6. The way this book was written is something I incredibly appreciate When reading a book such as this about such topics, I hate reading things that are constantly people s opinions with not enough Bible foundation to back up their beliefs Francis Chan writes purely from a Biblical and historical point of view with less opinion and factual evidence from the Bible itself and his deep theological studies of history It s not an I m going to force you to believe my opinion written book it s focused o [...]

  7. I really believe it s time for some of us to stop apologizing for God and start apologizing to Him for being embarrassed by the ways He has chosen to reveal Himself 102 Essentially, that s what Erasing Hell is all about as the subtitle states, What God has said about eternity, and the things we ve made up This book was certainly written in response to Rob Bell s book, LOVE WINS I thought that Francis and Sprinkle did a great job on tackling this issue by describing the biblical doctrine of hell [...]

  8. In 2011, Rob Bell made headlines and caused an uproar in the Christian community with the release of his book Love Wins where Bell improperly argued that everyone goes to heaven because hell doesn t really exist and is not a Biblical concept Erasing Hell is Chan s cogent response Chan counters Bell s assertion by walking through the first century context of hell in Jewish theology discussing the Scriptural references to hell and examining the arguments made by Bell and other universalists More i [...]

  9. So I finally got round to reading Erasing Hell by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle this week I have to say it was a good read Chan and Sprinkle write in a persuasive and agreeable manner and I found myself being drawn towards their arguments They begin apologetically, seemingly coming along side the reader and admitting how difficult the subject it I like how they admit straight away which hasn t happened with people I ve spoken with the reality subject There is the emphasis throughout that thi [...]

  10. After reading both Rob Bell s Love Wins and this book, perhaps both authors have achieved what they set out to do I ve spent time thinking about Hell than I ever had before I m just sure if I ve accomplished anything with that yet.In the end Rob Bell s book is an easier read, theologically, because to me it outlined a Hell that is self inflicted in which a person s rejection of God brings about their eternal fate while God is waiting with open, loving arms, only to be rejected by sinful individ [...]

  11. Suffers from the same faults as most evangelical Bible study books, namely Assuming that God wrote everything in the Bible, and nothing not in the Bible, and that his writing has been passed down without error since then This is a pretty clearly absurd proposition there are enough internal contradictions that this can t be true By refusing to be skeptical about any passages even ones that don t seem to fit , and by refusing to consider very much that didn t make it into the Bible with a capital [...]

  12. This book seemed to be a response to Rob Bell s Love Wins and the suggestion of universalism As an annihilationist, I didn t need convincing against universalism, but the quick and rather shallow review of the biblical evidence against it was useful The main thing that I liked about the book was the tone of sincerity and spiritual earnestness Repeatedly they remind the reader that this topic is not merely fodder for theological debate these are issues of eternal destinies for real people and tha [...]

  13. This is Rob Bell he says this youtube watch v ODUvw2ancis chan thinks rob bell is an idiot okay he never actually says that, but it s pretty clear he is if nothing else not a fan this is francis chan I was expecting him to be an old idiot crumugeon I m not sure what to do with the fact he s actually not bad looking he says this youtube watch v qnrJVTI think he s an idiot and a jack ass this book is an attempt to prove rob bell wrong there were some weird facts in this like the idea that the jewi [...]

  14. 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 clea [...]

  15. Chan responds to Rob Bell s recent Love Wins The quick turnaround shows When you subtract the page breaks, double spacing, chapter end notes, appendix, and sample chapter from another book of his, this 208 page book is actually 50 75 pages of content.What results is an all too simple engagement with the issues This wouldn t be as annoying if Chan s tone of voice was similar to Bell s allusive, pondering, reflective Instead, Chan tries to settle most matters on hell This backfires in different wa [...]

  16. OK, I picked this up over Easter weekend when three of Chan s books were available for free in Kindle editions And because I ve been in several conversations recently about the doctrine of Hell I decided to read this, mostly in airports and on planes flying home yesterday And I finished the book during that time so it is a quick read.Chan, with the assistance of researcher Preston Sprinkle, takes on the difficult question of is there a hell, what is it like and why should we believe in a God who [...]

  17. I love listening to and reading Francis Chan While I was at APU, he used to have a whole week at our Chapel worship and a message It was always one of my favorite weeks.Why He preaches truth and isn t afraid to deal with the hard topics He backs everything with scripture and brings to light incredible scriptural truths His writings have seriously changed my life Just read Crazy Love.Erasing Hell by Chan and Preston Sprinkle, was written in response to a controversial book published by Rob Bell, [...]

  18. There are a few good things in this book I think it s a great essay on what the Bible says about hell And Chapter 5 is a great thesis on the things we miss as Christians Jesus condemns those who attack each other with words, he condemns racism, and not helping the poor But it s hard to overlook the rest of it The point of the book seems to be to label Rob Bell as a Universalist someone who thinks everyone goes to heaven no matter what prove that he s wrong about what he wrote about Heaven and He [...]

  19. The voice that stick out in Chan s books consistently is a voice of humility Chan writes from a humble perspective recognizing that he is not going to have all the answers He also hands this response to Bell though Chan wouldn t call it that very carefully He starts off the book talking about the many people involved in editing and correcting the theology of the book Chan s most poignant refutation against Bell is when he pointed out that a historical fact that Bell used was misdated about a few [...]

  20. I m giving this book 5 stars, not because it is all encompassing or because every page is strong in both intellectual and writing although, the book is strong in both of these Rather, I m giving it a 5 because Chan has take a difficult subject namely, the existicence of hell and fused it with a deep commitment to Scripture, a historical perspective on the church, a hermeneutical healthy practice of looking at the context of the writers, and a deep, deep call to action, humility and gratefulness [...]

  21. Francis Chan takes on the suddenly popular topic of hell with a huge dose of humility and careful investigation His tone plus Preston Sprinkle s research make for a thoughtful yet simple read on a tough issue Without a doubt, Chan shows from the Bible that there is a literal hell and people are going The complaints against the book are expected a sometimes shallow pop treatment of the subject, long endnotes, and a disconnect between believing there is a hell and being okay with it While the crit [...]

  22. I have to start by asking that if this book is a response to Rob Bell s Love Wins, why does the cover look similar to Rob Bell s Jesus Wants to Save Christians Bell s book and Chan s book were written for different audiences Bell says his book is for anyone who have heard some version of the story of Jesus that completely turned them off In other words, people who are told that their friends or family who happen to have the wrong beliefs are going to be tortured for all eternity those who have b [...]

  23. My 4 star rating is heart over mind in a broad sense, but in a narrow literal, inerrant, inspired regard toward the books deemed collectively as The Holy Bible , I would rate it 4 stars intellectually also Not that I have any grounds to rate it since I ve barely scratched the surface on the viewpoint of hell as something other than eternal torment I m currently an atheist, but I in no way assume the position of atheist spokesman since it is a very broad term, encompassing a variety of views on a [...]

  24. Eternity is at stake and every person must decide if Heaven and Hell are real It is easy to believe in Heaven, but not so with the literal Hell We tend to think that a loving God would allow such a place to exist Well, in this book, Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle challenge everyone to rethink Hell Why do you believe what you believe Through the study of Scripture, the authors look at Hell and make the reader pay attention to the magnitude of his decision They answer questions like, Would God [...]

  25. Reactionary polemic written in response to Love Wins Not much serious interaction with Christian Universalism, tradition, modern theology, etc Makes some interesting points, but for the most part this is a predictable defense of the traditional doctrine of hell as eternal conscious torment using the Bible.Was unsure whether to give it 2 or 3 stars, so I erred generously.

  26. Really disappointing and I like Chan This felt like it was prematurely written and he was admittedly still working through the doctrine He should have waited to write it, if at all All the best to Francis as he s done a lot of good for many people This book, however, is not part of that good.

  27. I was going to rate this 4 stars, because it wasn t particularly HAPPY and therefore not in that sense, amazing But it was a super good read, very challenging, but very important So in that sense, yeah, this book was an amazing eye opener.

  28. This is a popular level rebuttal of Rob Bell s Love Wins Chan and Sprinkle are humble and conversational and tone and review a number of texts I don t think they are right about everything, but I don t think Rob Bell is either.

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