Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dan Kimball on "Erasing Hell"

Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made upDan Kimball writes why he endorses Francis Chan's new book, Erasing Hell.  He writes:

  • it comes from a heart that is broken about hell. The pages themselves almost weep it is so heartfelt written. I know that sounds kind of corny, but it is true. This is written from a broken heart on the topic and that makes all the difference.
  • it stresses how even when you wish something wasn't in Scripture or in the words of Jesus, we have to be very careful we don't then ignore it or create something else from our own human thinking or hopes - instead of what is in Scripture. If we create theology or beliefs from our own hopes or feelings of what God is or isn't like, in many ways we then create God in our own wishful image, rather than what He revealed in Scripture. We may say we don't want to follow a God as described and revealed in Scripture, and that's a choice we make. But then whether we realize it or not, we then create and follow our own version of "God" instead of what Scripture does reveal. We certainly may not like when hell is in the Bible (who does?). But when we alter Scripture or create a God or Jesus from the parts of Scripture we like while ignoring other parts is other words is not good biblical hermeneutics in my opinion. Very often (sadly) I keep hearing people describe Jesus, but only talk about aspects of His teachings that they like while ignoring other parts of His teachings. Or entirely ignore Paul's writings or other parts of the BIble and dismiss them as being wrong or not inspired. So we can do a pick and choose Jesus and a pick and choose God using passages from the Bible that align with our often good and understandable hopes or desires. But again, this is not good biblical hermeneutics. It may align with culture easier and may then be easier to talk about God to those who don't know Him. But we then aren't faithful to the whole of Scripture and what God revealed in Scripture about Himself. Again, one may not believe in the Scripture as inspired. So they then can do that and say that Paul was wrong or focus on parts of the Bible and not others. But for those who do believe that the Scriptures are fully inspired, then we have to be so careful with creating theology to match what we may wish God is like or isn't like.
  • it is not a "here is every answer on hell" book, but it leaves questions and mystery in places about hell where questions are needed to be left. But it also states what is more clear in Scripture and in the teachings of Jesus too.
  • it is not a just written with a "pray a prayer so you get to heaven and avoid hell" mentality. When a reductionist form of the gospel happens and following Jesus for people is about avoiding hell, that is not what they Bible teaches. The sadness of if that develops, it then becomes easy to ignore those in need and desire to see change happen in this life and just wait for "heaven". Jesus taught on the Kingdom of God here and to come. And for those who follow Jesus, our role is to be involved in justice, compassion and caring for the needy. What I appreciate about Francis, is that he is very passionate about those in need around the world. In fact, I don't know how public he will be about this, but for those who may even think this book is written because it is a hot theological topic right now and is jumping in and will generate big book sales and money etc. - Francis is not making any money from this book. He is giving all the money to charities and to the needy that comes in from this book.
  • it is from a pastor, but Francis also brought in theologians to help with this book. For one, Preston Sprinkle, the co-author of this book has a PhD in New Testament from Aberdeen University in Scotland. But it didn't end there. he also had scholars from Cambridge University, St. Andrews University, Westmont College, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary also involved in looking it over for theological credibility. So Francis has theologians (multiple ones) look over the book so it wasn't just Francis' thinking on it.

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