Customer Review

508 of 539 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chan & Sprinkle Leave No Doubt, June 23, 2011
This review is from: Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made up (Paperback)
After watching the promotional video from David C. Cook Publishing I was excited to read a book by an author whom I deeply respect and even admire for their previous emotional & challenging works. After watching the video I expected Erasing Hell to be a exegetical and challenging study of the topic of hell from a Biblical perspective by an author passionate about the truth.

I had expectations when I started reading Erasing Hell. Were my expectations correct? Yes.

Francis Chan and co-author, Preston Sprinkle (whom Chan admits did . . . "the majority of the research" pg. 11) do a phenomenal job of examining the context of scripture and presenting the Biblical truth about the realities of hell. This book is a sobering reminder of how we as Western Christians and the Western church have watered down the language of hell to appeal to our own comfort, when in reality the words that Jesus and others used in the Bible are both intimidating and clear: Hell is a real place and many people will go there.

WHAT I DIDN'T LOVE

Maybe I missed the point but after watching the promotional video I was expecting Chan & Sprinkle to present their own Biblical study of hell, which they did, however I did not expect them to spend so much time challenging the book: Love Wins by Rob Bell. I am not 100% sure why I did not expect this from Chan, but regardless it was my expectation. In no way do they "bash" Bell or throw him under the bus like many other Evangelical authors, pastors and leaders have been doing over the past few months, but they definitively challenge quotes, thoughts and passages of scripture directly from Love Wins. Although this challenge does not overwhelm the entire book, in the seven chapters of Erasing Hell there are 87 footnotes, fourteen of these footnotes directly reference Love Wins, all within the first three chapters. The fact that Chan & Sprinkle have done this make the book relevant to it's counterpart and possibly irrelevant to the general population of readers. It makes me wonder if this book will be relevant in a few years when Love Wins fades off the bestsellers lists.

Another minor thing that bothered me was the cover. I know it sounds petty, and I might just be that in this scenario, but the fact that the cover of Erasing Hell resembles another book by Rob Bell, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, leaves me wondering why they choose the design they did. Maybe it was just happenstance but I wonder the context of why it was chosen.

Lastly, and more importantly the one thing I struggled with from Erasing Hell was the fact that the authors spent so much time emphasizing the context of scripture. Context can be a great thing, in fact it may just be the most important thing other than the words themselves, but when it came to the chapter titled: "Has Hell Changed? Or Have We?", the authors provide numerous references to first century authors yet they provide very little context to the passages they reference. At the end of the chapter I wrote: "I feel like I am supposed to take their word for it, but I know nothing about the context of the passages the authors quoted."

WHAT I LOVED

Maybe I shouldn't use the word love. It is too nice. Hell is not nice, and nobody, myself included should love a book that frames up the realities of what hell is about. After reading this book some may want to use words like: sobering, humbling, motivating and convicting. Chan & Sprinkle do a great job of intertwining truth and emotion. Some authors write only from an emotional perspective, others only from a knowledge-based point of view. Hell is difficult topic to wrestle with, but manipulating the conversation to make us feel comfortable is both irresponsible and selfish; however, so is forgetting that peoples lives are at stake. Chan and Sprinkle make this point clear on many occasions: "This is not one of those doctrines where you can toss in your two cents, shrug your shoulders, and move on. Too much is at stake. Too many people are at stake." Pg. 14/15

The one thing that I struggled with most from Rob Bell's book was context. The exegetical study of the passages of scripture seemed sloppy at best. Erasing Hell flips that on it's head. If context is everything, as one of my professors always pointed out, then Chan & Sprinkle have done the groundwork for the reader to lead them to a solid conclusion based upon research and Biblical truth. I am grateful to the authors for the sincere effort to present both sides of the argument in context.

After reading Erasing Hell, I am deeply challenged by the honesty, transparency, and conviction that Chan & Sprinkle write with. As a reader I am left wrestling with what I believe about hell and how far I am willing to go to know & share the truth. "Coming face-to-face with these passages on hell and asking these tough questions is a heart-wrenching process. It forces me (us) back to a sobering reality: this is not just about doctrine; it's about destinies." pg. 72

The reality that destinies are at stake makes my stomach turn. It turns Francis Chan's stomach and it should turn yours. Hell is tough to read about, study or talk about. However, we must read about it, talk about it and study it. I agree with the authors that hell is too important to get wrong, so if you have read Love Wins you MUST read this book. If you haven't read Love Wins but you are curious what the Bible says about hell, then I highly recommend you pick-up this dynamic book from Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle.

"While hell can be a paralyzing doctrine, it can also be an energizing one, for it magnifies the beauty of the cross." pg. 148
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Comments

Tracked by 8 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 87 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 28, 2011 6:20:42 PM PDT
J. Scott says:
I accidentally clicked that this was "not helpful" while trying to say it was...thank you for an insightful review. (and if anyone knows how I can change my vote, please advise!)

Posted on Jul 1, 2011 8:53:39 PM PDT
josh says:
Just a quick question. Since this book isn't out yet, how did you already read it? I would love to read the book. I'm a little jealous, but your insightful review has made me anticipate this books release even more. Thanks.

Posted on Jul 2, 2011 4:07:59 AM PDT
"hell can be a paralyzing doctrine, it can also be an energizing one" ???? If "Christians" have to resort to "eternal damnation" to be "energized" to share "good news" ... then they don't know God and have no business sharing about God to others.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2011 12:51:47 PM PDT
Try reading the entire quote," .........for it magnifies the beauty of the cross." In view of the cross, every Christian knows what God has done for them.

Posted on Jul 5, 2011 5:28:42 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 5, 2011 5:29:17 PM PDT
Rob Bell is not a theologian. Why would anyone expect anything but 'sloppy exposition" from him? Write a book that tickles the ears of those with 21st century sensiblilities and relieves any angst they might have about hell and your a theologian all of a sudden. Nothing new in Chans books or Bells. I would rather read Charles Spurgeon on the subject of hell, than either one of these guys.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 6, 2011 3:11:28 AM PDT
Rob Bell never set out to present a theological exegesis of the doctrine of everlasting punishment so to accuse him of "sloppy exposition" is silly. He accomplished just what he intended: present a broad view of the issue to incite discussion and inspire thoughtful contemplation and further study on the issue. To that end he succeeded brilliantly (he even got YOU to enter the discussion!). If you're not afraid of having your presuppositions challenged, may I suggest,

"Hope Beyond Hell" by Gerry Beauchemin (free online @ http://hopebeyondhell.net/

"Universalism, the Prevailing Doctrine of the Christian Church During Its First Five Hundred Years" by John Wesley Hanson

"The Evangelical Universalist" by Gregory MacDonald

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 6, 2011 5:36:39 AM PDT
WB says:
FYI: Charles Spurgeon believed in a 'limited atonement'. That Jesus did not pay the price for everyone's sins.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2011 12:13:16 PM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jul 26, 2011 12:53:33 AM PDT
A. Starkey says:
I totally agree with the cover - it looks like books from the 60's. I am surprised they used this kind of cover.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 28, 2011 5:21:33 PM PDT
Kathleen says:
Robert L. Mahlstedt,

Beauchemin did set out to give a theological exegesis of the doctrine of universal salvation and failed miserably. Talk about an ear-tickling exegetical nightmare! He's firmly planted himself in the book of Jude, a waging wave of the sea, foaming out his shame as he denies the Lord God and the Gospel. And what's he going to say when he's standing before Jesus Christ, bright as the sun in all His Revelation chapter one glory, after accusing Him of lying? Will he look right into His fiery eyes and quip, "Ya know, eternal doesn't really mean eternal." Yeah right. Good luck with that, Gerry.
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