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Raising Hell: Christianity's Most Controversial Doctrine Put Under Fire [Kindle Edition]

Julie Ferwerda , Stephen Ferwerda
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Have you ever considered the apparent injustices, inconsistencies, and even contradictions of the doctrine of hell? For starters, do earthly parents love their children more than God? Does God ask you to forgive your enemies when He is not willing to do the same? Is being punished forever for sins committed in a short lifetime really "justice"? Does everybody really get the same fair chance to believe in Jesus before they die? If hell is the worst possible fate of mankind, and if God is truly loving, then...

- Why did He fail to mention hell in Genesis as the price for sin?
- Why doesn't the Old Testament ever teach about or even mention hell?
- Why doesn't Paul, the apostle to the non-Jewish world, ever once mention hell?
- Why has orthodox Judaism (to whom Scriptures were given) never believed in any kind of eternal punishment or hell?
- Why was hell not the orthodox position of the early Church for five centuries after Christ?

Dare to question. What have you got to lose? If you've ever had doubts or questions about the incompatibility of eternal torment with a merciful God, Raising Hell will open your eyes to a radical view of God's loving purpose for all humanity and what the "Good News" is really about. Picking up where Rob Bell and others leave off, Julie Ferwerda offers compelling evidence historically, philosophically, and scripturally as to why the doctrine of eternal torment is the biggest and most damaging deception of the modern Church.

What people are saying about Raising Hell...

"Such a book as this is seriously needed to liberate people for a loving God!" --Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Author of Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life and Immortal Diamonds: The Search for Our True Self

"The traditional view of hell is highly contestable. If you're ready to venture into some new territory, Bible in hand, you'll find Julie Ferwerda to be a wise, patient, and intrepid guide in Raising Hell." --Brian McLaren, Author of A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions that are Transforming the Faith

"Raising Hell is one of the first books I recommend to anyone who has questions about hell." --Kevin Miller, Director of Hellbound? The Movie

"Julie has devoted a great deal of time and energy to producing such a well-researched and well-written book--probably hundreds of hours! She is right on target in saying that we really need to understand the intent behind the Hebrew Scriptures in order to be able to properly interpret them." --Boyd C. Purcell, Ph.D., Author of Spiritual Terrorism: Spiritual Abuse from the Womb to the Tomb

Editorial Reviews

From the Author

I realize that the premise of this book for some is radical, unsettling, and may initially ignite suspicion or even feelings of antagonism towards me, but please give me a fair chance to build my case. I'm not asking you to go to South America to drink Kool-Aid, or to wear a toga and sell flowers at the airport, or even to send money. Lay your natural defenses down long enough to read one little book from a perspective that's likely much different than what you've always been taught or believed. You have nothing to lose by being open-minded and, in my opinion, a staggering, life-transforming amount to gain.

You may ask, is it safe to challenge over 1,500 years of traditional theology-in-the-making on matters such as whether or not there's validity to the doctrine of hell? You may also be wondering what difference does it make whether or not we believe in hell if we all agree that salvation only comes through Jesus. I'll tell you why we must question the teaching of hell. The very name, character, and purposes of God are at stake! In my opinion, it's not safe to NOT question. Living at the forefront of the information age, I believe we have both the crucial responsibility and the unique opportunity, unlike at any other time in Church history, to make an informed determination of what we believe and why we believe it. We have been offered a prime peek into the looking glass of history.

You might also be asking, who am I to question or doubt the majority of today's mainstream Bible translators, theologians, MDivs, and pastors? I've certainly thought about that, but then I've also thought about what kind of people Jesus gave insight and understanding to. Was it the educated, religious hierarchy in the form of theologians, scribes, and leaders of His day? Or was it the simple, uneducated, illiterate fishermen, tax collectors, and prostitutes, all of whom could easily offer a spiritual parallel to today's folks who haven't been to seminary and who are overlooked, disregarded, or despised by those more knowledgeable?

I know it's easy to want to rely on the strength of numbers for our beliefs, but of all the multitudes of people He encountered, including well-trained, religious leaders and teachers of His day, Jesus had only a handful of simple, unscholarly followers who were willing to hear, follow, and even die for a different message than the orthodox teachings of His day. I believe Jesus' true message, as we'll fully explore, was that He came to save all people with the assistance of a chosen people, in a purposeful plan that extends long past this mortal lifetime. Jesus died for ALL (1 Peter 3:18), and His Father's unrelenting will that "none should perish" prevails in the end (2 Peter 3:9).

Throughout the last 2,000 years, this belief, embraced by a significant segment of Christianity, has been referred to as: Universal Reconciliation or Restoration, Universal Salvation, the Blessed Hope, Christian Universalism, Irresistible Grace, and a host of other names. What is described here is not the same as the New Age belief that there are "many ways to God," or that living a life of sin is of no consequence. Universal Reconciliation is the belief that all people for all time will eventually be reconciled to God--that this lifetime is not the "only chance" to be saved--but that there is only one way to God, through Jesus Christ.

In the end, every knee will have bowed, and every tongue will have confessed Jesus as Lord, giving praise to God (see Rom 14:11, Philippians 2:10).

To see and believe such a beautiful truth requires nothing more than the simple faith of a child. What child in the world would ever believe (without adult influence) that a loving parent would create a fearful place of torment, and then endlessly abandon most of his or her children there, punishing them for a limited duration of unbelief or rebellion, or for choices made from ignorance, distortions, deceptions, or bad influences?

Raising Hell invites your inner child to take a journey. Drop the fear of being rejected or labeled, unshackle yourself from the desire to conform, and allow yourself to ask (or be presented with) some honest, valid questions in order to follow where the evidence leads you. I'm certainly not suggesting the evidence will necessarily lead you to the same conclusions as it did me, but at least allow yourself to weigh the options and make an informed decision. Dare to question what you've been taught, retesting all against the full counsel of Scripture, according to 1 Thess. 5:21: "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good."

Without a doubt, this book will likely challenge many core orthodox teachings you've been taught in church, yet my hope is that your Bible will be illuminated like never before, offering a much more sensical and cohesive story about God's amazing and largely forgotten plan for humankind. No longer will you have to ignore seemingly contradictory passages or do painful contortions to make the pieces fit. My desire is that, through the pages of this book, your God will become more unlimited, more powerful, and more loving than you ever dreamed possible. Of course, He is the same today as He was yesterday; what will change, with perspective, is you.

I wrote this book to share my journey of learning and discovery. My journey didn't just leave me cautiously hopeful, but proved to me that the doctrine of hell is nothing more than a human invention--a "tradition of men." The alternative perspective I'm about to share with you has totally transformed my views of life, God, people, and has given me complete peace about the destination of loved ones who have yet to embrace Christ as their Savior. No longer do I worry about evil gaining the upper hand, no longer do I wonder just how much control God has over His creation, or question His limits on mercy and love. Since this transformation, my life has blossomed with joy, hope, purpose, and excitement like never before. How I long to share it with you.

Again, I don't expect that everyone who follows my journey will embrace it or come to the same conclusions. These are my beliefs, based on the evidences that I have uncovered. But you should also know that, despite mainstream Christianity's attempts to marginalize these beliefs, there has always been a significant number of Christians throughout history who have embraced the same beliefs (news to me!), and there are a rapidly growing number of studious, thoughtful Christ-followers worldwide today who also believe the same.

Ultimately, everyone must decide for themselves what is "truth." If you are comfortable with your current orthodox Christian theology and you don't wrestle with significant theological questions, this book may not speak to you. But if you've ever questioned the doctrines of heaven, hell, election, free will, and evil, or ever wondered why so many scholarly and educated people can't agree on many theological pillars of the faith, then this book will likely speak to you as nothing you have encountered before.

Lastly, perhaps you're relatively happy with your flavor of Christianity, but have never known what questions to ask. I hope this book will challenge and nurture your questions and faith, whether you embrace the message or just listen to the evidence presented.

Dare to ask. Dare to question. Dare to open your mind to the possibilities of a bigger God than you've ever heard about before. It could be the greatest decision of your life! Perhaps you'll find, just as I did, that it's time for all hell to break loose.

Let me take you on my journey...

About the Author

Julie Ferwerda is recognized for teaching Scriptures with compelling simplicity, making them relevant and exciting for all ages. She has authored several inspirational books and hundreds of articles, encouraging people along their faith journey. Learn more at,, or find her on Facebook.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2144 KB
  • Print Length: 302 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Vagabond Group (June 18, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0056U9JHE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,113 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raising Hell is a Proper Title Indeed June 22, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Raising Hell shows exactly how 'hell' was raised and became a part of the church and written in the Bible. Julie provides the who, what, where, when and how 'hell' became such an part of the church and of the Bible itself. She proves without a doubt when and by whom the doctrine came into being.

As one who grew up in churches that believed in a literal hell I understand where most people are at if they are still in one of those churches. It is hard for anyone to listen to something that is totally different than what they have grown up with but as a christian, we have a duty search out the truth. We have a love for the Lord inside of us that calls us to follow him wherever he leads. Julie has done this as many others have also done. To speak ill of her is to do exactly opposite of what Jesus said to do. Jesus said we are to "Love our enemies".

This book includes:
1. Scriptures that take us step by step through her process of unveiling the Truth.
2. Historical proof with dates naming individuals responsible for the false doctrines implanted into the early church. She also provides Historical proof of the major schools of theology that came into being after 70 A.D. and which one is closest or the same as the original teachings of the disciples day.
3. Cultural lessons on how God spoke with the Hebrews all through the Old Testament.
4. Cultural lessons during the time of Jesus. Pointing out how Jesus taught to the crowds verses how he taught his disciples.
5. Julie answers her own questions as well as those asked by many, many people.

Everyone should read this book. It doesn't matter if you are a skeptic or a friend. Julie has done her homework and has found the truth. No matter what others say against her, she knows the truth.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
It isn't often you run across a book which you believe if "viral-ized" has the capacity to change a fixed prevailing condition and mindset. Julie Ferwerda's book "Raising Hell" is such a book. Being a seasoned author; and having now three books and numerous articles to her credit, one might expect such a feat. I was nonetheless astounded as a result of her achievement. I have read several books on the subject but none quite so complete and user friendly. I have read a few books which lean towards the didactic and go to imposing and dreary lengths in scholarly dissection of the Greek and Hebrew which certainly has its place. Other books on the subject seem to approach the subject more from a Heart and feel perspective which is also needful but often lacking in complete and biblical answers. In my opinion, Julie hits a grand slam on this one, hitting on both the mind, heart, and the intuitive. She answers with integrity and prowess questions that have given Christianity a black eye for centuries. At times it reads as if a highly competent investigative journalist was overturning every rock for a critical answer to life and its purpose. Other times, it were as if she had read my mind and put precise words to my analytical query's regarding the seeming hypocrisy of God and his apparent Hell invention. As I read, every page unearthed and overturned my assumptions, which I had founded on the sinking sand of my years of illogical church indoctrination.

At the very LEAST, you will walk away from this book with the very foundations of your theological suppositions regarding Hell and God's love expanded and challenged. At BEST, this book has the capacity to wholly change and reshape your worldview and preconditioning--answering questions that may have plagued your weary heart for years.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Truth shall set you free!" June 22, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"Raising Hell" is a must read for all those who have serious questions concerning the image of God as presented by the church in its "turn or burn" theology that has all but dominated Christian teaching since the days of St. Augustine. If you are not afraid to think "outside the box" and ask questions that will both challenge your faith and prepare you for the "best news" of your Christian life, then this book is for you.

Julie writes with both grace and conviction as she presents a historical and biblically-sound analysis of the doctrine of "hell" as taught by the church for the last 1500 years. As I read her book, I was impressed by her ability to present a difficult subject in an easily understandable way without compromising the systematic approach necessary to tackle such a topic. This is a rare find in Christian writers. Julie clearly has the gift of teaching but delivers the material in a loving and graceful manner. I think of the apostle Paul when he says to "speak the truth in love" which mandate she has clearly followed in the writing of this book.

"Raising hell" is:

1. a book that has substance. This is a not a book of fluff. It is well referenced from both the perspective of church history and the holy scriptures. In addressing the question on whether the concept of "hell" is taught in the Bible, a basic understanding of both biblical Hebrew and Greek is necessary in order for us to begin to unlock the truth, and Julie does a superb job in giving us the tools necessary to aid our search. She presents her evidence clearly and systematically taking care to answer any objection the skeptic or cynic might have.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars There are some pretty simple, fundamental beliefs addressed that I had...
Incredibly thought provoking! There are some pretty simple, fundamental beliefs addressed that I had been raised "not to question" and to just "accept". Read more
Published 1 month ago by Angela Geli
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book! Finally we have a Christian writer who ...
Outstanding book! Finally we have a Christian writer who is not afraid to report the truth. Our Heavenly Father would NEVER have placed his children on this Earth, knowing that... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Greg Castro
5.0 out of 5 stars especially intelligent people who have devoted their lives to bible...
Early in this book the author writes:
If there is no hell, what did Jesus die for and exactly what then am I saved from? Read more
Published 4 months ago by steve
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not done reading
While I have questions, which I'm sure will be answered as I go along, I no longer believe that the Gospel stands or falls on whether we subscribe to eternal damnation or not. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Joseph E Bennett
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
This book is DEFINITELY worth a read. Challenges some "unquestioned answers".
Published 6 months ago by Peter M. Judd
1.0 out of 5 stars Why does the author oppose the idea of Hell? What if the author is...
The author is guided by ego and self-will, just like all of us.

What if the author is incorrect about Hell? Read more
Published 6 months ago by Enthusiast
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
To be read by all fundamentalist Christians
Published 7 months ago by Susan Doreen Hodge
5.0 out of 5 stars I have proven this book with my own research
I have read numerous books, watched many video's, and researched for myself the history of hell. Raising Hell by Julie Ferwerda has been, by far, the best I have ever read. Read more
Published 7 months ago by C. Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars ... be a non-negotiable part of the Gospel which is funny because the...
The majority of the church has "raised hell" to be a non-negotiable part of the Gospel which is funny because the Gospel is supposed to be good news. Read more
Published 8 months ago by M. Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars True Love is
LOVE this book! Thank you for writing it and recording the results of your scriptural and historical excavation. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

I grew up with a conditional view of God's love. This came about through a very legalistic church I attended with my mom and left me feeling very insecure about my relationship with God and my future beyond death. I constantly doubted whether I was a true child of God because I couldn't seem to be "good enough" to please Him. At times it was paralyzing.

This warped view of God, coupled with harsh and unapproachable authority figures in my life, left me feeling unloved and worthless as a child. As a result my life remained controlled by fear and anxiety until I went to college.

In college I got involved in a campus ministry where I began to grow spiritually in a nurturing environment. It was there I made my first conscious step of turning my life over to God out of desire, not fear and duty. After that, He began speaking into my life in ways that I could perceive--not audibly but through His Word, thoughts, other people, and circumstances.

One night while driving in my car, I experienced an unexpected "message" introduced into my thoughts that went something like this: "You are "legally" my daughter. Just as a parent cannot be extracted physically from their child's DNA, so my spiritual DNA cannot be extracted from you. I can never go back on this covenant." Instantly, my uncontrollable fears of some forgotten sin separating me from Him forever melted away once and for all, proving to me that it was truly God speaking to me. This was the first step in a long journey of learning to trust God with the details and controls of my life.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy..." John 10:10

Though fear controlled my life up until college, it was then that anger took over, especially anger toward myself. I hated who I was, and I desperately wanted to change. But it seemed the harder I tried, the worse I got. I begged God to change me, but there was only silence. Battling the same habit pattern sins over and over again, I never experienced any lasting victory, despite my earnest pleadings with God to take them away.

As a young wife and mother, there were several years of depression and hopelessness with no reprieve, and seemingly no progress of becoming a whole person. Through continued cycle of despair, my life was on a path to self-destruction. Rarely did God seem real or involved in my dry and barren wilderness. And therein was the disconnect. The realization that I was a Christian who was supposed to have answers and to live in hope and victory only made matters worse. I described my Christian experience to a few close friends as "a salesman who doesn't believe in her own products." What did I have to share with anyone? It wasn't working for me, why would they want it? I felt jealous of those people who came to belief in Christ and described the feeling of being set free for the first time.

"...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

God spoke these words to me (also Jeremiah 29:11-14) and revived a tiny spark of hope that He indeed had something better for me, far above my defeated life. I knew He wanted to set me free and to give me hope, but how? I came to a huge crisis of belief. But instead of choosing to believe His promises, I sunk to the lowest point of my life, giving up hope that God could improve my life or my failing marriage. I waved my white flag of defeat, giving in to utter defeat. What I never expected was that God wouldn't leave me alone. At my lowest place ever, LOVE followed me into the darkness and didn't give up on me.

"He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me." Psalm 18:16-19

It was a hard road back, but God has given me a new life. Paradoxically, through the "ground zero" of hopelessness and failure, I was finally changed when Mercy met me at the bottom. I have experienced the grace, forgiveness, and redeeming power of a loving and Sovereign God like never before. He has finally broken through the clouds and confusion by teaching me to trust Him and believe Him, and how to live by the truth that sets me free.

"Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31-32

I've been set free--free from sin and death, and free from lies that set out to destroy my life. The road has not been easy, but I wouldn't change a bit of it because I have learned that God is not as concerned with my happiness as He is with my wholeness. It is through the process of *becoming* and overcoming that I am learning true joy.

"But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10

If there is one super encouraging truth I have learned through my human frailty and doubt it is this: With God, there is no "Plan B." In other words, our lives are already written on the pages of "His-Story." Nothing I have done or will do takes God by surprise because He already knew me before I was born. He knows the exact price I have to pay to become conformed to the image of His Son. I am who I am today because of my failures and imperfections, not in spite of them. There is nothing that has brought me more comfort and peace than learning and believing this truth.

The other completely radical truth that has changed me from the inside out is studying and learning the truth of the Gospel message, all but forgotten from mistranslation in today's popular, modern Bible translations:

"So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men." Romans 5:18

As you will see in my latest book and writings, I firmly know today that there is no such thing as hell or eternal torment, but the truth is that God created "all of this" to teach us who He is and who we are--beloved, awakening children of God--not ultimately to punish us. If you have struggled with doubts about the character of God, the "limits of His love," or the afterlife, I hope you will read the greatest message I have ever been given, through my book, "Raising Hell: Christianity's Most Controversial Doctrine Put Under Fire." It is my Magnum Opus; nothing I have to offer you could be more full of the love, grace, and liberation of my new heart and life.

I am a woman who believes in my products now. I know what I have and what I have been saved from. I have experienced the incredible power of grace. God took a completely failing, powerless, weak, angry, fearful loser and made me, by His redeeming power and love, into a confident, joyful, free, purposeful, peaceful woman who is excited about His plans for my future. He has given sight to the "blind," and brought light to my darkness. He has put the power of truth in my mouth, my head, and my heart so that I can stand in faith and defeat every lie that I encounter. My exhortation to anyone struggling in fear, failure, or discouragement is to learn the truth. Your life will be free to the degree that you know, understand, believe, and stand on the truth, which is the living Word of God, found only in dynamic relationship.

From my heart to yours,



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