Thursday, September 15, 2011
by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle
David C. Cook, 2011
Reviewed by Diane Busch
Having read the controversial "Love Wins: a Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived" by Rob Bell, earlier this year, (and generally liking it, although having difficulties with parts of it), I felt compelled to read "Erasing Hell" to get another Christian author's perspective on these topics and to get scriptural backing for various views on hell. (See my earlier review of Bell's book on this blog.) I am grateful to Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle, and also to all the other authors, who this year jumped right in to research scripture and write about this hot button topic of hell.
I like the spirit in which "Erasing Hell" is written. The authors were not out to bash Rob Bell, but to delve into scripture and really wrestle to find some answers to questions like: Is hell real? Why did God make hell? What is hell like? Who goes to hell? What did Jesus do to save us from hell? What can we do to not go to hell?
The problem is that we don't like to talk about Hell because it is awful, terrible and ugly. We would rather talk about God's love, heaven, and all the happy stuff. But we can't bury the parts of the Bible or the things that God said that we don't like. We have to take all of it. God is love, but he also is just. God made heaven, but he also made hell. What do we do with the things of God that we don't like? We can't pick and choose what we like about God. God is God. God is Creator. God is Almighty. God is Holy. God is just. God hates sin. God punishes those who do not put their faith in His son Jesus. At the end of the day we have to choose whether we can love and honor and obey and serve a God who made Hell.
Jesus talked a lot about Hell, mostly to warn people about it. This was a loving thing to do. Jesus didn't speak about Hell just so we could study, debate, and write books about it. He did it so we would live holy lives and not go to Hell. Our belief in Hell should rescue our complacent hearts from passivity.
God has the right to do whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). God is perfect and right in all He does. God invented justice and knows what unbelievers deserve. God is free to do whatever he wants...wrath, power, glory, mercy, etc. We must let God be God. He alone decides how he will deal with people. Does the Potter have the right to do whatever He wants with the clay? Yes. Can the clay say to the Potter, "you messed up; let me show you a better way to mold me?" No.
Isaiah 55:8-9 - "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.