Francis Chan

Itching to Write a Blog

Well, it’s home stretch again for the Spring 2012 semester at UCF. Unfortunately, when school gets busy, my blog must be pushed to the back burner. In the meantime, I’m always tucking away little notes, photos, emails, or links for future blogs. I chuckle to myself when I read blog-help…

Book Review: Francis Chan’s Erasing Hell

Book Review: Francis Chan’s Erasing Hell

Given the title, back cover, and introduction of the book, unsuspecting readers might assume Francis Chan’s book, Erasing Hell, is about, well, erasing Hell. It is anything but that. I wrote a blog, 5 Observations on Let’s-Talk-Later-People, a while back about an interview I watched in which Chan and his expert buddy, Preston Sprinkle, give some background about why they wrote the book. It basically started as a response to Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins, and then turned into something else. In Christianity Today’s article, Q&A: Francis Chan on Rob Bell and Hell, Mark Galli asked Chan, “Why did you write a book just on hell? It’s only one chapter in Bell’s book.”

What I Like about Chan’s Attitude

What I Like about Chan’s Attitude

What I like about Chan’s attitude: He is genuine and transparent in his willingness to explain his inner conflict regarding eternal torment. If I were to name every time Chan made a statement similar to the one below, quoting interviews, sermons, and his book, this would be a very long blog. Chan writes: “Even as I write this paragraph, I feel sick. I would love to erase hell from the pages of Scripture. […] Until recently, whenever the idea of hell – and the idea of my loved ones possibly heading there – crossed my mind, I would brush it aside and divert my thinking to something more pleasant…”

Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell

Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell

Chan and I agree wholeheartedly on a few things, and this is one of them – what God wants, God gets. In the opening pages of Chan’s “Erasing Hell”, he makes the point very clear: “God has the right to do WHATEVER [emphasis not mine] He pleases. If I’ve learned one thing from studying hell, it’s that last line. And whether or not you end up agreeing with everything I say about hell, you must agree with Psalm 115:3. Because at the end of the day, our feelings and wants and heartaches and desires are not ultimate – only God is ultimate. God tells us plainly that His ways and thoughts are infinitely higher than our (Isa. 55:9). Expect then, that Scripture will say things that don’t agree with your natural way of thinking.”

Chan’s Theological Monkey Paintings: God Swears

Chan’s Theological Monkey Paintings: God Swears

When Chan examines Philippians 2:9-11, he sees what the doctrine of eternal torment tells him to see “that there will come a day when Christ returns to reclaim His creation, and everyone will acknowledge this […] none will be able to deny it.” Although Chan’s assessment is accurate, it is inadequate. It sucks the worship right out of Paul’s words. Paul is actually providing commentary on a quote from the prophet Isaiah in this passage. Isaiah writes, “By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear (swear = an oath, an act of allegiance).”

If God Swears, Then What About…

If God Swears, Then What About…

I take for granted sometimes that many people, if they read the Bible at all, just read it in the English translation. It is easy for me, these days, to read Chan’s objections and know that they are not sound, because I can see the holes in them. But it hasn’t always been that way. For well over a decade, I did not know how to dispute with someone who taught eternal torment. Although I was annihilationist in my beliefs, there was still a tiny bit of doubt in my mind, a theological splinter, that eternal torment could be true after all.

Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: The Anathema of Scrutiny

Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: The Anathema of Scrutiny

The apostle Paul writes, “In Christ, all will be made alive.” And he also writes, “All who belong to Christ will be made alive at His coming.” Should we assume that those who are not made alive at His coming will never be made alive? According to Francis Chan, the answer is yes. In his book, Raising Hell, he comments on Paul’s letter, “[It] can’t mean that everyone will be saved in the end.” Think about it. If Paul writes, “In Christ, all will be made alive,” then why should Paul’s explanation about the order in which this reality takes place nullify his first statement? Chan attempts to explain why, but his explanation, in my opinion, falls flat on its face if it is accompanied by a bit of scrutiny.

Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: All = Some

Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: All = Some

While it is true that “all” does not always mean everything or everyone, it is also true that “all” is not always limited to “all types” or some other subset. Chan draws attention to the truth that suits his argument, while he draws attention away from the other truth that is just as valid. Proving that “all” is sometimes limited to all types in no way negates the fact that “all” is in fact used many times throughout scripture to mean everything or everyone.