Author: Francis Chan & Preston Sprinkle
First published: 2011
Topic: The Gospel, afterlife, biblical interpretation, Hell
Erasing Hell is primarily a book about discovering what Scripture says about Hell, what did Jesus say about it and what to do with that information. I think it’s written as a semi-response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins (review here) in which Bell proposes the idea that we are reading Scripture incorrectly and that the view of the true God will eventually melt resistance in every heart in the afterlife and that all people will wind up in His presence (Christian Universalism). Chan & Sprinkle go through all the verses that speak of Hell and destruction and approach them with a clean view of the topic, exploring the Jewish ideas of Hell inside and outside the Bible, examining the words of Jesus and His followers and trying to create a clear picture of what’s going on and why Christians believe in Hell.
Positives: it’s written like Pastor Chan is preaching it and I do like his sermons, he’s quite a good speaker. It’s not written in academic talk which is great, although it relies on quite a few academic sources throughout as well. It draws on a lot of academic research for all of it’s talking points, but it also reminds the reader that this is a very serious topic and that one should always keep in mind that people’s eternal destinies are involved.
Negatives: the pages can get a bit inundated with footnotes. While that’s not in itself, it can make for a distraction where you lose the point of that section because you’ve flipped to the end of the chapter so much to see what is meant by a particular word or phrase. Apart from that, I feel like the book could have touched on a few more points, it felt quite narrow in scope. I understand that there is only one topic, but the book felt like it lacked some oomph and that it could have explored a couple other sub-topics.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and would say it’s a good book to read to start one’s research into the topic of Hell, or at least it’s one worth reading when exploring that. Recommended? I’m not sure I’d recommend it for general reading but I would certainly say the book is worth reading if you’re interested in the topic. Otherwise it feels just a bit too narrow-focused to make it recommend for just general reading. If the book explored other topics such as Heaven or the views of Hell in other religions/faiths/worldviews, then it would be worth reading for everyone, but as it is, I’d say the book is more for a direct interest is in seeing the Biblical view of Hell specifically.