Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity and the Things We Make Up - unabridged audiobook on CD
Frances Chan gives us a good reference tool
Chan and Sprinkle do a good job in giving a rebuttal argument to the Universalist discussion of Heaven and Hell. I appreciated the introduction that Chan gave, this was not a topic that he desired to write about, it was not a topic that he enjoys dwelling on, but he felt the need to address it after the current book that Rob Bell wrote, Love Wins. I agree with Chan's opening statement, if you are excited to read this book there is something wrong with you.
Chan and Sprinkle point out that this is a very important subject and that the eternal destiny of people depends on getting this topic correct. If every one gets to heaven (as Universalists claim) then the topic of Hell and Heaven is not that important, because in the long run it all works out for the best interest of everyone. But if there is a Hell and if those who don't accept Christ as their Savior are condemned to an eternity of torment and isolation from God, then this is the most important topic you could ever study.
Chan talks about his great grief that he felt after his grandmother's death, mainly because he believes in an eternal torment in hell for non believers. His grandmother did not believe in God so that condemned her to hell, how devastating. But what if there wasn't a hell and everyone makes it to heaven? Then he didn't need to grieve.
He then asks this question, "do you want to believe in a God who shows His power by punishing non-Christians and who magnifies His mercy by blessing Christians forever? Do you want to? Be honest. Do you want to believe in a God like this? Here's my gut-level, honest answer; NO." I think that Chan hits the nail on the head, who wants to believe in a God that would be so cruel?
Well, the answer is, yes we want to believe in a God like this, not because we are sadistic, but because we understand that He is a loving creator that made us to have a good relationship with Him that would bring us blessing and happiness. The problem is that man sinned, and in that sin man created a gap between himself and God. Now, that same loving God also gave man 'free will' so that he can choose whether to believe in God or not.
My bottom line, well, it's our choice as to whether we spend eternity in hell or heaven, not God's choice. God desires that all would come to know Him and spend eternity with Him. But God knows that there are many who will reject Him. That rejecting will end up costing them.
Chan and Sprinkle base their discussion on this concept, man's choice is what leads him to his eternal destiny.
The question they wrestle with is, does the Bible support that thought? Does the Bible support the concept of Hell? Does the Bible support the concept of eternal punishment and torment?
I think they do a great job of working through the scriptural references that cause many of us difficulty. They then explain the original language and also Jesus Jewish culture and how they would have viewed the comments that Christ made regarding eternity. They do a good job of bringing this information to us.
I further appreciate the fact that Chan suggests that we never take a belief at face value, but that we should study it for ourselves, question the Bible and examine it for ourselves and then come up with an educated opinion based on what scripture says. I appreciated the extensive footnotes that Chan gives. I also appreciated the fact that he kept the book brief so that he wets our appetite for the subject but then expects us to do some research on our own.
If you are interested in the topic of Hell and have read Rob Bell's book and wondered about the other side of the topic I think that you will enjoy reading Chan and Sprinkle's book. Also be sure and go on the web and pull up the Gospel Coalition's web site and look at their blogs regarding the topic of Universalism, it will help you in your study.
August 3, 2011