Thoughts on ‘Erasing Hell’

I’m in an airport @ 4:45 am and am beginning to read Chan & Sprinkle’s Erasing Hell. Here are some random comments from someone who doesn’t know much, ha.

When I heard that Chan was putting out a book on Hell, I was a bit nervous for him. His other books were a little “footnote/endnote- less” than one would expect or want. He’s a great speaker and passionate writer. But it seemed that the current discussion on Hell needed someone with more caliber in research and discourse, like a Tim Keller. Preston Sprinkle seemed like a good partner for Chan for the book. I felt that it was natural to discern which sections were written by the different authors; kind of a didache and kergymatic flow. #depthandproclamation

The back cover says, “This is not a book about who is saying what” and yet I’m on page 24 and they are already naming names. What do they mean by writing a book that, “is not about who is saying what?” #unclear

I like how Chan/Sprinkle use a creative means of sharing extra-biblical content for historical purposes to an audience who would be nervous to hear them using content outside of the Canon. (pg 50) #eggshells

Wish some time would’ve been given in chapter 2 to share with readers about the apocalyptic genre written by oppressed religious cultures between 200 BC to 200 AD. What they wrote is intimately connected to when they wrote it. Texts have contexts, right? #genre

All for now… Need to shut down my phone so we can fly to Chicago… #sleepytime

Finished the book way before I showed up to Grand Rapids… which makes me wonder if a book on the topic like Hell should be this brief. #imalreadyfinished?

I appreciate the tone of the book; Chan is a fascinating human being. I’ve heard how he lives his life and how inspiring he is. I’ve seen a couple of his videos, read his other two books, etc. There is an authenticity in the book and an honest struggle with the concept. I think that authenticity¬†goes a long way. #chanisaballer

I’m still a bit confused about how he and Sprinkle say that this is not a book about “impersonal theological issues… about arguments, doctrine, or being right.” (back cover) I admire the authors for trying to stay neutral and on a task to defend God’s character, but the book is full of doctrine, arguments, making verdicts on how others get it wrong, etc. If the reader wasn’t convinced that is was a book with doctrine, then the FAQ section helps to seal the deal. #nicetry

Even though I enjoyed the book, as a reader, I also felt a bit disappointed by its marketed intent. I wouldn’t go the whole way and call it, ‘bait and switch’. I wouldn’t even refer to it as a game or agenda. In my opinion, it seems that some of the more ‘conservative’ evangelical voices are tired of being perceived as cranky, narrow-minded, and mean. #changewouldbegood

So, in writing a book one might say, “I’m not going to decide for you, I want to take what I see from the text, put it before you and let you decide.” However, in this scenario, all that you and I as readers get to choose from is what someone else has already chosen. A real person, with real thoughts and feelings, perceptions, biases, and ‘agendas’ is writing it for us. Fasting, praying, and patience can’t take all of the bias and subjectivity out of written content. In my opinion, it would be best to be forthright and name our vantage point/tribe/bias. #itsoktobewhoweare

Overall, I think that the book is what I would expect from the author’s particular seat at the table. It will be a good resource for a small group or small church to struggle through together, as well. #bestsellerlistfosho

On a side note, after finishing Erasing Hell, I brought out my other book for the trip, James Bryan Smith’s The Good and Beautiful Life, part 2 of his Apprentice Trilogy. I chuckled about the vast difference in tone and voice between the two books and authors. To be fair, they are writing on different subject matters and probably to different audiences. On the one hand, you have Francis Chan writing about meltdowns that he is having in Starbucks as he reflects the different people he sees there and the possibility that they could go to Hell. On the other, you have Jim Smith, sharing a story about walking alongside of an elderly man named Ben that he met during an internship who was struggling with how shipwrecked his life had become. Over the course of time, Jim saw this man become a Christ follower and walk in the richness of Christ during the remaining 13 years of his life. #amItheonlyonewholaughswhilereadingnonfiction?

The tone may have been different between the two, but there is some overlap in their messages. It provoked me to praise God for the diversity. #kingdomadvances

For the record, I’d personally want to go to Jim’s church. #jimsmithisaballertoo


Published by joeskillen

I'm a husband, dad of 2, Pastor at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita, KS.

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