Monday, January 30, 2012

ONE WORD 365 // Book 2, Week 2

The second book in my quest to read one book per week in 2012 was...

Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made up
By Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle
Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2011

Confession: I downloaded Rob Bell's Love Wins the day that it came out and started reading it while sitting in missionary associate orientation. I don't remember how it took me to read. Not long. I finished it rather quickly. Now it's been a while since I've read it so any reflection I type here will be rather vague.

I remember agreeing with Bell about seeing the kingdom of heaven here and now. But things feel apart for me after that -- that hell is here now as well (don't quiz me on his exact position; I'd need to go back and read through it again).

I liked what Chan had to say in Erasing Hell and tracked with him through his process. I think I understood the overall gist of Bell in Love Wins and agreed with some. I also really liked the footnotes in Chan's book; they dug in a little deeper.

I marked a few things (via the Kindle app*) as I read along:

1) "Don't get so lost in deciphering that you forget to tremble." (Page 87)

Creator God invented justice and knows what everyone deserves. And he didn't leave it to me or you or any human to figure out. "He has only asked us to embrace His Word and bow the knee, to tremble at His Word..." (Pages 86-87) This reminds me that we can have these conversations and we can talk about these questions but don't lose sight of God or stop trembling before the One who knows.

2) "Could it be that his [Paul's] drive to reach the lost was directly related to his willingness to ponder their fate if he didn't reach them at all? It sure appears so." (Page 98)

Chan here is talking about Paul's efforts to reach unbelievers and wonders, "Would Paul be so motivated if he didn't also believe that there would be punishment for those who didn't believe?" This sounds like a "if it's good enough for Paul, it should be good for me" theory.

3) "Maybe we don't want to admit that we believe in a God who is so free to do whatever He wants." (Page 128)

And then...

4) "...The more important question is not whether or not you want to, but could you believe these things, if in fact God says they are true?" (Page 130)

These two books (Chan & Bell) cover (or uncover as the case may be) some unpopular and/or difficult-to-swallow topics. But I like where Chan takes this discussion. Ultimately, can we know the answer? I don't think we can be fully certain, though we might have a glimpse of the answer. One phrase I took from seminary is "don't paint yourself in a corner." Don't cling so tightly to your theory that you don't leave room for any other option or God. Chan's point here is: Will you leave room for the idea that God just might show his wrath and judgment in a way that seems unfair to us? Can you still believe in a God like that?

My answer was, "Yes. I could believe in a God like that."And then I continue with: "Now let's work for God's kingdom to come here on earth now."

Have you read both Chan's and Bell's book? One or the other? Thoughts?

*Page numbers above from the Kindle app


Ron Krumpos said...

In 2011 world population reached 7 billion (vs. 3 billion in 1960). There are now approximately 2.2 billion Christians. Chan and Sprinkle seem to be saying that 4.8 billion people may be facing eternal hell.

Concepts of afterlife vary between religions and among divisions of each faith. Not all Christians agree on what happens after this life, nor do all Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or other believers. Rebirth, resurrection, purgatory, universalism, and oblivion are other possibilities...none of which can be proven.

Mystics of all faiths have more in common than the followers of their orthodox religions. True mystics realize that eternal life is here and now; it does not begin after mortal death. The age of Earth is said to be 4.5 billion years, of the Universe 13.7 billion, yet few humans live to be 100. This lifetime is a fleeting moment.

Scriptures are subject to interpretation; people often choose what is most beneficial for them.

Jacqueline Chapman said...

Thank you for the comment, Ron!