Weekend Reading: Erasing Hell
Although they do not specifically say so, it is pretty clear Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle wrote Erasing Hell (2011, David C Cook) in response to Rob Bell’s controversial Love Wins. I have not read Love Wins, so I cannot accurately compare the two, but I can say that Erasing Hell is a good and needed recourse.
Chan and Sprinkle do a great job in laying out the format of the book. They did great research on the topic of hell and answered most reasonable questions. They looked at the historical Christian understanding of hell. They examined the first century Jewish concepts of hell. They pointed out what Jesus said about hell. They looked at Paul’s writings, as well as the authors of the rest of the New Testament epistles. They closed the book with an appendix of frequently asked questions about hell. Most importantly, they did a good job of answering those questions, and the answers were based in scripture.
I see two problems with the book. The first is not their fault. The book, to a large degree, should not be necessary. If pastors and teachers did a more complete job in teaching the truth, all Christians would immediately recognize and avoid error (such as Bell’s likely views on the non-existence of hell).
The second problem has to do with the book, itself. I have not read Love Wins, but I have read other things from Rob Bell. He is a good writer. Not really my style, but still good. There is a real artistic quality to his writing. Erasing Hell is technically good, but it does not have that quality of artistry that Bell’s writing does. I fear the ones who most need to read it will not because it is not crafted as well. This does not take away from its truth nor accuracy.
Personally, I appreciated reading Erasing Hell. Chan and Sprinkle keep the focus where it belongs. Hell is a real place where real people are going. We do well to not forget that fact. I recommend Erasing Hell for any believer, especially one who has read information that needs to be corrected.