I just finished Francis Chan’s newest book Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity and The Things We Made Up. In complete honesty, I purposed my read in locating and executing a Biblical defense to Rob Bell’s latest controversy exposed in his book Love Wins. For me, It was all about exposing true doctrine. Francis quickly put my purpose in check.
Chan wanted his readers to be slapped in the face with reality, and he certainly succeeded with me. The truth found in his book was not about exposing a modern heretic or proving anyone else wrong and him right. The revelation was this: there are real people, real souls, behind every doctrine. Hell is talking about a real place of horrible, heart-twisting, torture to real people; friends and family of you and I. So many times in our “intelligent” christian circles we throw doctrine around so lackadaisically, arguing our position, that we forget that we are discussing souls, souls that God Himself died for. This was a perspective shock for me; a life-altering conviction.
With that lasting imprint, Chan also does a fantastic job, accompanied by Preston Sprinkle, of laying out strict academic research, both from the Bible and numerous outside sources, for the existence and characteristics of Hell. He leaves no room for a Bible-believing thinker to doubt the existence of Hell.
Although the early portions of the book were exceedingly insightful and convicting, the most impressionable chapters were Francis’ last two. In these concluding chapters, Chan reintroduces his opening idea of negating your desire to believe a certain way and embracing the possibility of believing in the seemingly harsh aspects of God’s character. It is not about whether you “want” to believe in this God, but “could” you believe in this God. Francis expands on this idea by pointing out that God does a lot of things we would not have done: making Elijah cook food over human dung, striking Job with sickness and plague, commanding Hosea to marry a harlot, etc. But you know what else God did that I wouldn’t have done?: Send my one and only son to die and save the ones that rebelled against me time and time again. My God is not like me, and thank goodness He isn’t! Why is it so hard for us to realize that God is infinitely above our reasoning? Would we not want to serve a God like this: that is exceedingly more good, powerful, and knowing than us?
The moral is this: we are clay and He is the potter. We are not rightfully created or positioned to question the one who formed every part of us, including our morality and reason. Yes God confuses me sometimes, but I would worry more if I completely understood my God.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
This is the greatness of our God.