Everyday I check the kindle freebies. I’ve downloaded quite a few books that way…totally free of charge…all neatly stored on my kindle. I probably tote around close to 500 books in my purse every day. 500 and counting.
And sometimes the free books are written by popular mainstream spiritual authors. I have books by Gary Smalley, Deepak Chopra, Beverly Lewis, Adam Hamilton, Brennan Manning, Lee Strobel, Paramhansa Yogananda….free Bibles (love the HCSB) and devotionals….and a couple Qurans. All free.
Last week there were three free books by Francis Chan. All on the same day. I know he’s had several books on the New York Times Bestseller List….and is a well known pastor. A while back, I happened upon a You Tube video of him promoting his latest book…Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We've Made Up. The book is written as a rebuttal to Rob Bell’s very popular, very controversial book, Love Wins. I watched a few of Chan’s other short videos. Not bad…interesting…witty. But that was it…the extent of my exposure to Francis Chan. And that probably would have been it….but then I saw his three free books on amazon.
I read most of Erasing Hell at the gym. On the treadmill. Walking fast. Even forgetting to keep an eye on the timer. 30 minutes came and went. I lost track of time. So many “yes, buts” to so many of his points. And I am no scholar…and I am certainly not a well known Christian pastor/author….but I can (and will) shoot holes in many of his arguments. Or at least present another possible explanation to so much of his theology. The book pretty much…ahhhhh… pissed me off.
It wasn’t so much that he believes in hell. Some of my favorite preacher/teachers believe in hell (or lean in that direction) It was his “buddy buddy, I know how you feel….and oh, man, I don’t want to believe in hell either. Who does!!??” It felt like he was trying to schmooze his readers. Pull the wool over our eyes by leaving out important facts and information. Manipulative is the word that keeps popping into my head. He said he was approaching the whole thing with an open mind and really taking a look at the scriptures….but his mind was anything but open.
To set the tone he cites the following experience early on in the book. First chapter….first few pages.
For some, this discussion will open up old wounds. It certainly does for me. The saddest day of my life was the day I watched my grandmother die. When that EKG monitor flatlined, I freaked out. I absolutely lost it! According to what I knew of the Bible, she was headed for a life of never-ending suffering. I thought I would go crazy. I have never cried harder, and I don’t ever want to feel like that again. Since that day, I have tried not to think about it. It has been over twenty years. Even as I write that paragraph, I feel sick. I would love to erase hell from the pages of Scripture.
Good news Francis….you don’t have to erase it because it’s not there….not the way you envision it….or explain it….or encourage your readers to embrace it. Your grandmother knows the truth….and someday…you are gonna’ know the truth too.
More to follow….