Right away, we need to address the fact that this book was written as a response to Rob Bell's book "Love Wins." In fact, without Rob's book, this book does not have much to contribute. Typically an author is inspired to write a book about something that they are passionate about, something that they feel needs to be said. And arguably, Francis Chan is passionate about the scriptures and about orthodoxy, and about doctrine, but because the book was written as a "response" it feels like "the other half of the argument" as you read it.
When Love Wins came out, I did read a lot of the criticism that followed, I felt it was wise to see what 'the other side' was saying; and I will say that Chan's book is the most thorough, most considerate of the responses I have read. I do recommend that those who have read Love Wins go back and read this volume.
Second, this book is not a typical Francis Chan book. Those of you who loved Chan's earlier works should notice that this book is co-authored by Preston Sprinkle who I am sure did a lot of the leg work and study. When you read the book, it certainly has Chan's "voice" and is peppered with his stories and passion, but this book does not have the same caliber feel as his earlier two works.
Third, like most of Bell's critics, Chan fails to understand why Love Wins was written and who Bell's audience is. Chan's book is concerned with letting the reader know that Hell is a real place and that Jesus preached Hell as a real and literal place and that his audience would have first and foremost heard Christ's Hell as a real and literal place - and I don't think Bell would disagree. Chan even admits (unlike most critics) that Bell actually admits to Hell being a real place in Love Wins, but he admits it in the end notes of his book and not within the main text. (oh, that's another thing I didn't like - I hate books with end notes).
Fourth, Chan argues against universalism - another "rookie" mistake of Rob's critics. A closer reading of Love Wins reveals that Rob does not argue for a "sweeping arm" that eventually brings everyone into Heaven. Rob makes it perfectly clear in his book that many people will "choose hell" and never enter glory.
I did appreciate Erasing Hell and felt it was a great companion volume to Love Wins, but if I were grading this, I would hand it back to Chan and ask for a rewrite. Chan failed to truly address the main thesis of Love Wins and was only concerned with arguing that Hell existed - and that not everyone will go to Heaven. The bottom line is, years from now "Love Wins" will still be in print and be relevant because it has something to offer as a stand alone work - and "Erasing Hell" will be erased....
Erasing Hell speaks well to the discussion on whether everyone eventually goes to heaven. The authors do an excellent job of comparing popular thought to what scripture has to say about the existence of hell, and who goes there.