While reading Erasing Hell, I texted one of my friends the following: “I want to take a pen and poke my eyes out.”
That pretty much sums up how I feel about this book.
Chan and Sprinkle wrote this book in a few months. It shows.
Why did they write it in a few months? Because it’s meant as a rebuttal to Rob Bell’s Love Wins. In interviews, Chan said that he hopes that his book can be read as a stand alone book. Poppy cock. Besides the Bible, he quotes Rob Bell the most, mostly stating why Bell is wrong. Please call a spade a spade. If you’re going to write a book about why Rob Bell is wrong, please come out and name it as such. I’d prefer the title: Why Rob Bell is wrong and I am right. At least that would be more honest.
Piece of Advice #1 for Chan and Sprinkle:
If you are going to write a book that’s a rebuttal of Rob Bell, you should probably come up with a cover design that doesn’t look like a Rob Bell book published five years earlier.
Piece of Advice #2 for Chan and Sprinkle: If you are going to write a book that’s a rebuttal of Rob Bell’s Love Wins, actually do so. Don’t just cherry pick a few parts you disagree with. Write about the entire book.
There are so many reasons why I could barely finish this book. Let’s start with a few.
1) Poor Bible reading skills. Right at the beginning the authors claim that Jesus sends the unbelievers to hell and the believers to heaven in Matthew 25 (p.75). That is simply not true of this passage. Jesus separates the sheep and the goats not on belief, but on what they did for the least of these brothers and sisters. The authors are reading their understanding of hell into the text, when really, they shouldn’t.
2) Simply a matter of words? They write “Again, it’s very easy to get caught up in arguments and word studies and theological views, and yet miss the main point.” (p. 104) Umm…. Arguments and word studies and theological views makeup the main point. The word studies and theological views ARE the point. That’s why Rob Bell wrote his book. And that’s why you wrote your book. And that’s why you quote all sorts of theologians and commentaries and do Greek word studies. WORDS ARE THE POINT! THERE IS NO POINT WITHOUT WORDS! WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT HELL AND WHAT WE THINK ABOUT HELL IS ALL ABOUT THE WORD STUDIES AND THEOLOGICAL VIEWS!
3) Who goes to hell? Maybe this is the same as point #1, but on page 125, they write, “Racism, greed, misplaced assurance, false teaching, misuse of wealth, and degrading words to a fellow human being – these are the things that damn people to hell? According to Scripture, the answer is yes.” I’d agree with this, and so would Jesus, since he said all that. But once again, where is the question of belief/unbelief? Last time I checked, the only people Jesus condemned to hell were rich people and religious leaders (which doesn’t bode well for me…).
4) The authors ask (p. 153), “Are the images of fire, darkness, and worms to be understood literally?” They answer not necessarily. They are meant to be metaphors. Hmmm… So you can use the exact same Scripture passages as both literal and metaphor? I don’t get how you do that.
5) The book is 200 pages long (with big font, lots of spacing, and lots of footnotes), of which the last 25 are a chapter from another Francis Chan book. Who does that?
So, if you like your existing worldview on heaven and hell and are okay reinforcing your beliefs that billions of people are going to hell (and conveniently, not you), then read this book. It’ll give you some good fodder for your street preaching repertoire.
If you are looking for a deeper read, there are far better resources out there (some of them by authors not named Rob Bell). I’ll hopefully write about them in the future.
Final Verdict: 1/5 stars, with apologies to the trees who died in the process of printing this book.