02
Aug
11

erasing hell review

I promised to write a review of Francis Chan’s book Erasing Hell. I shall keep my promise, even though I don’t feel like writing about it. I just returned from a trip to Nigeria, where I had the privilege of speaking to approximately 80 pastors and leaders in two different leadership conferences about Christ-formed Leadership. I greatly enjoyed this second trip to the wonderful country of Nigeria, and I couldn’t help but noticing the difference between the Nigerian believers’ attitude towards the Word of God compared to the climate we have in many evangelical circles in the Western world today, which makes Love Wins a book that can confuse people and cause many believers to start believing things they  wouldn’t believe if they knew their Bibles very well.

The Nigerians we met love God, know and understand the importance of encountering God – through his Word, through him speaking directly to them, through nature, through whatever..! But they understand a piece of truth that so many have lost in 2011: God will never ever reveal something or speak something that will contradict what’s already written in the Bible! We are all called to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who searched the Scriptures, and examined what Paul was saying to them to see if it was true or not.

I loved that the Nigerian pastors and leaders kept asking us questions from the Bible. I loved that they would ask questions when we taught something that seemed to contradict what they know from the Bible. And I loved that they were open and teachable to allow God’s Spirit to show them new realities, truths and bring them to a greater degree of freedom.

Enough about the Nigerian believers, and back to Francis Chan’s book. I guess there is not that much to say. It’s a good, short, well-written book that clearly spells out what the Bible teaches about Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. Chan writes from a position of humility. He is not out to attack anyone who might disagree with him. He is not on a crusade to hurt anyone. But he loves God enough and respects his authority to allow him to have the final say about what will happen eternally with people on Planet Earth, he is the creator of all things and all people after all. Chan writes with pain about the many people who will end up in Hell. Chan echoes the pain of C. S. Lewis who wrote this in The Problem of Pain:

There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this (the doctrine of Hell), if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of our Lord’s own words

I share his pain. And so does every other soft-hearted believer. No-one, if they truly know Jesus Christ, will rejoice in the fact that evil will have eternal consequences. It’s by no means a pleasant thought. In fact it’s tremendously unsettling, but as Francis Chan keeps saying in Erasing Hell: we simply cannot afford to be wrong about what we believe about Heaven and Hell and who will end up where. We have to ask God, and we have to be open to listen to his revelation about those realities. And then we are to go and be the vessels that Jesus will love people through and bring them to himself. Not just for salvation, even though that’s obviously the main point of this book, but also for Life – life today, and life forever more!

I appreciate Francis Chan’s effort to write this book in a humble, pastoral way. He obviously cares for people. I felt cared for and pastored through reading it.

I pray that we as believers will see more of the truth of who God is, and what he has done for all people. Jesus hung on the cross and cried out: “It is finished!”. It is finished. Salvation is available. And Jesus wants to tell other people about this miracle through us. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is not something for us as believers to do. It’s something Jesus is doing through us.

And as I was finishing up reading Erasing Hell, I was, once again, reminded of the verse from Romans 2:14 that talks about that it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. God’s kindness. Not his wrath. Not his judgment. I hope that’s what people see when they look at my life. The kindness of God.

I definitely saw kindness in Francis Chan’s book Erasing Hell despite the difficult nature of the topics discussed in the book.

Blessings, Torben

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