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What the Hell: How did we get it so wrong? Eternity, grace, and the message of love Paperback – October 11, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

There is a growing movement within Christian ranks, that of re-examining various long-held Church doctrines. One the most hotly debated is the idea of an eternal, burning hell, where unbelievers go when they die.

Lately, more and more Christians have stepped back to take another look at this theology. "Would a God of love really send anyone to an eternity of torment?" Or, "How can God infinitely punish for a finite amount of sin?"

Rob Bell, former pastor at Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, MI, caused a controversy when his book, Love Wins, hit bookstore shelves and, in turn, the New York Times bestseller list. Yet, Bell isn't the only Christian looking at the issue with new eyes. Author Jackson Baer has an upcoming book titled, What the Hell, in which he takes on the traditional view of hell.

Keep in mind that Baer still considers himself a Christian, believes in Jesus, and anticipates heaven. Even so, he has seen some of the cracks in the foundation and written what I consider to be a courageous book based on his findings. He has read and researched thoroughly and presents his case in a thoughtful way.

While I don't agree with everything in the book, I am stoked to see more attention being given to these topics by open-minded believers, those who understand that individual thought does not necessarily mean the destruction of their own ideas. I applaud this book and encourage all of you to pick up a copy when it flies off the presses in early November. --Craig Hart Online

"What the Hell" by Jackson Baer is a well written story-like presentation of God's unfailing love for all humanity and how it relates to God's judgments. I could identify so well with His story. He writes in a simple, non-confrontational, entertaining way for people of all backgrounds, yet is very profound. He has a humble and gracious spirit. Prayerfully read this book before the Lord and discover God's inexhaustible love for you, your loved ones, and for all humanity. "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things" (Rom 15:13 NKJV). I thank God for the beautiful feet of this author.

- Gerry Beauchemin director of "Dental Training for Missions" and author of Hope Beyond Hell --Gerry Beauchemin

From the Back Cover

Many Christians think that Jesus is the only way to Heaven and those who don't believe in Him will spend eternity in a literal and burning Hell. Is this what the Bible teaches? Will the majority of mankind spend eternity in torment because they rejected God in this life? "What the Hell" will show you what the Scriptures clearly teach about this subject and where this idea of Hell came from. It's not about winning or losing or even changing the Christian faith. It's about the honest pursuit of truth.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Outskirts Press (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1432781375
  • ISBN-13: 978-1432781378
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,771,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I wanted to like this book, I really did - it reads great - very easy to follow, Mr. Baer has a pleasant tone, but ... from a literary standpoint, it left me wanting. I gave this book 1 star because I find it theologically unsound and I would not want anyone to read this book.

First, the jacket notes of the book say, "Jackson Baer has a Bible college degree in youth ministry and has been a youth and teaching pastor for seven years." Now, Mr. Baer may not like to toot his own horn, and I will the first person to say that a "degree" in anything doesn't mean you know what you're talking about. But, I don't recall the last time a "pastor" didn't brag about where he went to school what church he is in now, or what his degree is in.

The next thing the jacket notes say is, "This is his first book and it comes from the passionate study encompassing the past four years of his life." This is where my confusion starts - a four year "passionate study" in my mind involves interviews, reading countless books and prayer... it means "study." And if I were the teacher who received Mr. Baer's paper I would have given it back with huge red ink that says "SHOW YOUR WORK."

This book has no notes, no end notes, no bibliography... no nothing. I have no idea WHERE Mr. Baer got these ideas. Mr. Baer says he did this on purpose to "create an introduction" and yet if that were the truly the case he has given people with questions no place to go.

Let me give you some "for instances" of what I didn't like. First, Mr. Baer makes many unsupported generalizations: "Many of the Old Testament stories are simply metaphorical and didn't actually happen. This belief might sound heretical to some Christians, but it's also a valid interpretation." (p.69)To who? Show your work.
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Jackson Baer's, "What the Hell: How Did We Get it so Wrong?" is a very good book on Christian Universalism (CU). Jesus said that you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32). This book articulates the truth of CU of which Jesus spoke. CU is not rocket science; it is as simple as understanding the love of a devoted mother or father. The love of their parents is something children can feel even before they can understand language. Jackson wisely uses the analogy of parental love in this well-written thought-provoking book. If you are living in a spiritual/emotional prison, due to fear of God and eternal torment in hell fire, this all-loving conception of God will, indeed, set you free!

I stated in my book, "Christianity Without Insanity: For Optimal Mental/Emotional/Physical Health," "Just as surely as the grass is green, the sky is blue, God is in heaven, and Christ is Lord, Jesus taught Christian Universalism." The apostles preached CU and the early church believed and proclaimed it for over 500 years! So, how did the Christian Church get it so wrong? It did so by becoming the state church of the Roman Empire. Thereafter, control-freak emperors and power-hungry church officials conspired to control the masses, by using fear of God and eternal torture in hell. Sadly, today almost all Christians have been taught and believe that the Christian Church has always believed in eternal torture in hell. Baer's book is one of a growing number of books on CU that is setting the record straight. That is why the spiritually liberating message in Baer's book merits a 5-star rating.

Boyd C. Purcell, Ph.D., Retired Hospice Chaplain
Websites: HealingSpiritualTerrorism.com and ChristianityWithoutInsanity.com
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The subject of hell is one that has interested me for decades; I knew there was no eternal torturing hell - maybe annihilation, but absolutely no incessant torturing. But this book, and the books "Hope Beyond Hell" and especially "Raising Hell" by Julie Ferwerda have really enlightened me as to the probability of universal salvation - something I used to scoff at. Good job, Jackson!
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Jackson Baer "has a Bible college degree in youth ministry and has been a youth and teaching pastor for seven years." He has also written the novel, The Earth Bleeds Red.

He wrote in the Introduction to this 2011 book, “My hope for this book is that Christians will at least be open to this discussion and rethink the issue of eternity and Hell. My goal is for those who haven’t put their faith in Christ to grasp how loving and merciful God truly is. This book is for the saved and the unsaved. The born again and the lost. The Christian and the atheist. The religious zealot and the agnostic. It’s for every person who wants to know the truth and isn’t afraid to change what they believe to be the truth… my desire it to get this topic right, not say what people want to hear… When I started searching, I held the traditional view of a fiery and eternal Hell. Eventually, my belief changed due to a variety of factors, which will be covered in this book… I respect people who hold a different view of Hell and eternity if they know why they believe it… Pretend you don’t know anything about eternity and Hell and then reassess what you believe after you’ve finished this book. My sincere hope is that this will motivate you to study the subject out extensively.”

He says of Young's Literal Translation/NLT, “I love reading the NLT and have done so for the past ten years. All the verses used in this book, unless otherwise noted, are from the NLT. Jesus didn’t write the NLT. Jesus didn’t write the NIC, ESV, or even the KJV.
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