Francis Chan

Mark's #37 - Erasing Hell by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle

Earlier this year, Rob Bell wrote a book, Love Wins,  where he challenged the historic and orthodox view of God's eternal judgment of unrepentant rebels in hell.  While this sparked a firestorm of controversy (and sold a lot of books), one of the great benefits to the church is that it has gotten people to talk about a topic Jesus spent more time talking about than He did about heaven.

In one sense, Erasing Hell is a response to Love Wins, but the strength of this book is that it's aim and tone will most likely serve the church for a much longer time than a mere rebuttal would have.  There is no attacking of Bell in this book, though they do occasionally use Bell's points as opportunities to engage some of the mythology surrounding the doctrine of hell that has grown up through the centuries - For example, the idea that the word ghenna (hell) derived from the burning trash heap outside the city of Jerusalem... The problem is that this idea does not first surface until about 1200 years after Christ!

In short, this book is both an honest look at what God has revealed about eternal judgment throughout the Bible and a passionate plea to feel the weight and reality of such truths in a way that they change the way we live and engage our world.

Or as the authors put it:

This is not just about doctrine; it's about destinies... you cannot let this be a mere academic exercise.  You must let Jesus' very real teaching on hell sober you up.  You must let Jesus' words reconfigure the way you live, the way you talk, and the way you see the world and the people around you (pg. 72).

While this book is not a rigorous academic and expositional study on the doctrine of hell, I do believe it deals with the doctrine adequately and honestly in a way that will serve as a resources for the masses.  I recommend you buy two copies. One for yourself and one to give away.


Jim's #4: Forgotten God by Francis Chan

Forgotten God is pretty much what I expected from Francis Chan.  I really enjoyed Crazy Love when I read that and expected this to be similar, which it was but with a bit more theology to it than Crazy Love.  When I first saw that Chan was putting out this book I immediately got interested because the Holy Spirit has always been the God I know the least about.  The Celtic Christians called Him the Wild Goose and I thought that was always an interesting analogy.

Francis goes through the topic pretty systematically, beginning with why we need the Holy Spirit, moving into the theology regarding the Holy Spirit, and then discussing our lives and the pragmatic side of the Spirit.  He discusses numerous times the general feeling around the church that a day with Jesus would be better than a day with the indwelling Holy Spirit but goes on to show how the Bible (and Jesus) teaches absolutely contrary to that.  I mean, how is God being with us better than God being in us?

There were other parts of the book I really enjoyed as well, including his discussion on quenching the Spirit and point that we often settle for making life on our own accord rather than submitting to the Spirit and in so doing, achieve far less than we could as a church.  He also does a good job of avoiding ostracizing one extreme or the other as it relates to the fruits or gifts of the Spirit.  The middle ground (or right ground as far as the bible is concerned) between charismatics and conservatives is well laid out.

Finally, at the end of each chapter, Francis lays out a story of particular person that he sees as living a life filled with the Holy Spirit.  I found these stories to be the most powerful parts of the book and will come back to those in the future.  Overall, it was a good, quick read (or listen if you do it on audio), and I would suggest it to those who want to learn a little more practically how the Spirit works and moves in our lives.