This is another installment in the blog series on Erasing Hell, by Francis Chan. If you would like to start at the beginning of the series, the first blog is Book Review: Francis Chan’s Erasing Hell « www.whatgoddoes.com. Primarily, this blog series refutes, point-by-point, the errors in Chan’s book.
Continuing in chapter six: “What if God…?”
Chan examines the laundry list of God; dirty laundry, that is. The heading of this portion of the chapter is entitled, “I Wouldn’t Have Done That.” Basically, Chan’s goal is to shock readers into agreeing that “sending people to hell isn’t the only thing God does that is impossible to figure out.” The litany of bizarre and horrific “divine acts” includes:
- A world-wide flood with only eight survivors
- The command to slaughter of 3,000 people
- The command to slaughter the inhabitants of Canaan, including men, women, and children
- The command to stone people to death
- The command for Ezekiel “to lie on his right side for 390 days, to lie on his left side for 40 days, to cook for over human dung, to hold himself back from mourning over his wife’s death when God takes her, and to preach sermons laced with sexually explicit rhetoric…”
- Sending His Son to be tortured and killed
Chan then moves on to the section entitled, “Wrestling with God,” in which he offers the example of Job. Chan writes,
Take Job for example. Job was literally the most righteous person in the entire world (the Bible actually says that), and yet he suffered intensely. In a single moment, God took all of his property, his possessions, and even his whole family. As as if this wasn’t enough, God allowed Job to suffer from a physical disease – possibly elephantiasis – that produced unbearable pain. His skin became crusty and oozed with puss, his bones burned like fire, and his entire body became deformed. Naturally, Job demanded some answers. He deserved to know what God was doing. He had every cause to sit God down and have Him explain a few things.
Or did he? Again, think Potter and clay.
For more on the Potter and clay, please read the previous blog post in this series, What if God is Erasing Hell for Chan? But what about the rest of what Chan says? How do we come to terms with the idea that God allows, causes, or even commands such things? And this is where the Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell blog series intersects with another blog series on theodicy, based on Thomas G. Long’s book, What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith. I do have much more to say about this, but for the time being, I would like to pose a question for readers to consider, the same question, in fact, that Chan poses to his readers:
Could you love a God like this?
Chan proposes that, yes, we ought to love a God like this. After all, the alternative to NOT loving a God like this is eternal torment in hell.
If you answer yes, I have a follow-up question:
Should you love a God like this?
I propose that God has allowed humanity to conjure up ideas about Who He is and what He does, so that these ideas can stand in contrast to Who He REALLY is and what He REALLY does. Why? That’s another blog for another day. Your answer to Chan’s question (and my questions), as well as other comments, are more than welcome, but be warned that they will likely be used in this or the Long series after I am done reviewing the books.
Next blog in this series: Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: A Sense of Urgency