What God says about Hell

ReviewErasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made up (Francis Chan & Preston Sprinkle: David C Cook 2011).

This book by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle was released earlier in 2011, and was among several that responded to Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins. As is usual for my particular book-review-niche-market, my reading and review come after the wave of interest and popularity has crested. For the stragglers out there, this is for you.

Chan and Sprinkle present a response of sorts to Bell’s thesis, although it is not completely directed solely at countering his book. They instead use Bell’s arguments by reference to frame their discussion of what Scripture truly says about the subject of hell and eternal punishment.

Erasing Hell is an impassioned plea not to consider the subject of hell purely from a philosophical standpoint, or from the view of detached, scholarly research into what Scripture says about it. Instead, we should recognize the sober reality of hell’s torments and do what we can to ensure that people don’t go there. When we consider the awful destiny that awaits those who reject Christ, Chan and Sprinkle argue, we should find great motivation to proclaim the gospel.

Balanced against this call to sober consideration of hell from the emotional perspective — and giving proper foundation for it — is the responsible and skilled handling of the Scriptural instruction on hell itself. In stark contrast to Bell’s biblical method, Chan and Sprinkle treat the Scriptural material rightly, giving proper deference to languages, context and original understanding to arrive at a conclusion about the Bible on hell: or more accurately, about God on hell.

Erasing Hell is fairly short and is very accessible, despite a thorough treatment of biblical material. It is worth reading.

Rating: 5/5

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4 thoughts on “What God says about Hell

  1. In 2011 world population reached 7 billion (vs. 3 billion in 1960). There are now approximately 2.2 billion Christians. Chan and Sprinkle seem to be saying that 4.8 billion people may be facing eternal hell.

    Concepts of afterlife vary between religions and among divisions of each faith. Not all Christians agree on what happens after this life, nor do all Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or other believers. Rebirth, resurrection, purgatory, universalism, and oblivion are other possibilities…none of which can be proven.

    Mystics of all faiths have more in common than the followers of their orthodox religions. True mystics realize that eternal life is here and now; it does not begin after mortal death. The age of Earth is said to be 4.5 billion years, of the Universe 13.7 billion, yet few humans live to be 100. This lifetime is a fleeting moment.

    Scriptures are subject to interpretation; people often choose what is most beneficial for them.

    • Actually, Chan and Sprinkle are saying that God — in the Scriptures — is saying that 4.8 billion people are facing eternal hell without Christ. Do the numbers change the truth? Would it be more palatable to say that only 1 million are facing hell?

      Are you saying that those who believe as Chan and Sprinkle do find that belief beneficial? It is not beneficial to claim, against the weight of popular opinion, that God says something contrary, especially regarding salvation and hell. What benefits people is to believe that there is no hell, and that all will be saved in the end, because it frees them to leave others in their spiritual error, or to avoid considering them at all.

  2. Francis Chan did not say that belief in hell is beneficial to anyone. My last sentence refers to those people – of all faiths – who pick and choose passages from their scriptures which coincide with their personal opinions.

    Not all Christians believe that people who do not accept Jesus as their savior will be condemned to eternal punishment after this life. There are good and bad people among the followers of any religion or no religion. A good person in this life deserves a better afterlife, regardless of apologetics. That judgement is not dependent on any doctrine.

  3. Chan and Sprinkle, however, are trying to avoid a concept of hell that is dependent on their own opinion, or judgment, but instead relies upon Scripture. I would suggest, as well, that our notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ‘deserve’ should also be informed by Scripture, else we are left simply with what we would prefer to be the case…another problem that Chan and Sprinkle were addressing, incidentally.