I have to admit, off the start, I had no intentions of reading Chan’s book on hell. I only picked it up because a friend was also reading it, and I just couldn’t say no.
This is a book in response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins – which I liked, but I wished it went further and pushed more. Now Chan’s new book I find disappointing because it’s basically an interpretive version of a systematic theology chapter on hell. It doesn’t really land anywhere, it just relates the verses and interprets a little bit of the original languages and contexts.
Then there is the ‘contra Bell’ stuff. Some of it is really helpful, some of it is just silliness. I really appreciated the good stuff, and just skimmed the silly stuff. It is obvious that this book was written in a couple of months – with Chan doing the stories and Preston doing the actual theological work… and of course, Chan doing the selling.
That is the part of the book that made me not want to buy it. Bell’s book on hell was published by Harper Collins (which is related to Zondervan) and Chan is published by David C. Cook.. It leaves me wondering, who is going to write a book against Rob Bell’s version of the afterlife from Crossway, Lifeway and Multnomah Press.
I’ve babbled enough and now here are some interesting words from the pages:
- p.11, “As we wrote the book, we decided to write it with one voice (Francis’s). Truth be told, the majority of research was done by Preston.
- p.14, “When it comes to hell, we can’t afford to be wrong.” (This is actually where I have a huge problem with the theology in this book – we absolutely can afford to be wrong when it comes to hell. This line only works if we are saying that the afterlife is the point of Christianity…which I don’t think at all. Christianity is about eternity, which includes now as opposed to starting later when we all die.)
- p.22 Here Chan begins his theme of struggling to believe in God who would put people in hell forever. I don’t, and he thinks I’m weird for that. No biggie, I’ll write a book about it called Erasing Love Wins Hell.
- p.47, the beginning of chapter two, “Has Hell Changed? Or Have We?” You can guess the answer. The chapter should have been called, “What the Apocrypha teaches on Hell”
- p.50, the authors mock my interest in first century biblical contexts. If we were sitting down and talking, this would have been the point I got up and left.
Ok, so apparently I ddidn’t underline much. I did write a lot of notes in the columns though. Most were angry.
So, if you want to read this book, I’ll give you mine. It would be good for people who have never read a systematic theology, but I would sooner suggest you pick up Grudem’s systematic and read it instead. It’s better, and would take up more space on your bookshelf.