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Erasing Hell

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The Advocate



Erasing Hell
by Francis Chan & Preston Sprinkle

Reviewed by Dale Lewis

"More about eternal destinies than theological doctrine alone, Erasing Hell pushes beyond an academic approach to this easily ignored topic."

With a humble respect for God’s Word, Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle tackle the tough questions we all have about eternal destiny . . . but would rather not have answered because denial or ignorance works better for most people.
Erasing Hell is a direct response to Rob Bell's Love Wins. I have chosen not to read Bell’s thesis regarding Hell at this point but may reconsider that later. Chan and Sprinkle refer to the former work more than often, addressing with concerted care the significant issues raised in its pages.

Reading Erasing Hell, you will be challenged by the authentic transparency and passionate conviction the authors bring to the table. More about eternal destinies than theological doctrine alone, Erasing Hell pushes beyond an academic approach to this easily ignored topic. I will certainly continue to wrestle with what I believe about hell . . . and what that means practically as l live life each day.

Moving succinctly from “What Jesus actually said about Hell” to “What Jesus Followers said about Hell” in the middle is both fascinating and factual. The bibliography and footnotes are rock solid. Reading the footnotes is necessary and helpful to absorb the full context of the content. Sprinkle is one of the young New Testament scholars worth keeping an eye on in the immediate future.

In one of the best chapters in the book, “What does This Have to Do with Me?” Chan shoots straight from the hip. He pulls himself from further dissection of the scriptures choosing to pen only his raw and transparent thoughts on this study of Hell. It is an authentic, no-holds-barred exhortation to the church.

Chan and Sprinkle’s consistent return to the questions, “Do you want to love a God who would do this?” and “Could you love a God like this?” are such poignant reminders that we are the clay and He alone is the potter. To question a God whose ways and intellect are beyond our finiteness is an exercise in futility to say the least. In Chan’s own words, “It’s time to stop apologizing for Him and start apologizing to Him.”

My personal preference is the publisher wouldn’t have put an excerpt from Forgotten God at the end of the book. It seems to take away from the other content. The promotional one page ad would have been enough. I also would have appreciated a few pages of discussion questions.

Urgent pleas for repentance permeate Chan and Sprinkle’s tone and approach to the impending judgment. It is refreshing to read from authors who believe, "while hell can be a paralyzing doctrine, it can also be an energizing one, for it magnifies the beauty of the cross."

There may be some hesitation in picking up a copy. You may wonder if you’re spending too much time thinking about hell and neglecting other “important” areas in your faith walk. Don’t worry because there will be plenty of "Oh yeah . . ." moments as you are reading Erasing Hell.

Dale Lewis now mans the front desk at the EFCA (The Evangelical Free Church of America) National Office in Minneapolis, MN. He was the graphic designer/pre-press production artist for over twelve years before being asked to step into this new role. Prior to that, he was the publications manager at his alma mater, Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN in the public relations office as well as the adviser to the college’s yearbook. He's a director/actor/writer for the Hope Church (Oakdale, MN) adult drama worship team and was the senior editor of the church newsletter. He's also written two collections of poetry, “Whispers of Assurance” and “On Life: Constant Communion Without Ceasing” as well as a devotional entitled “Eternal Education.” He and his family live in Oakdale, Minnesota.