Francis Chan puts things in perspective immediately regarding Erasing Hell, which he co-authored with Preston Sprinkle:

“If you are excited to read this book, you have issues.

     Do you understand the weight of what we are about to consider? We are exploring the possibility that you and I may end up being tormented in hell. Excited would be the wrong term to use here. Necessary would be more fitting.”

With that, Chan begins a thoughtful and thought-provoking exploration of what the Bible actually says about Hell, and about the things that the people of God have simply concocted out of whole cloth about the afterlife. Chan freely admits that Sprinkle (a New Testament scholar and professor of biblical studies at Eternity Bible College) is responsible for the research that underpins the book, while Chan’s is the voice in which it is written.

Let’s be honest, shall we? Hell has gotten a lot of play recently, what with the controversy over the release of Rob Bell’s Love Wins (you can see some reviews of Bell’s book here, here, and here). Chan’s reason for wanting to write this book is at least partly personal. He shares the heart-wrenching story of watching his grandmother die, knowing that according to what he knew of the Bible, she was headed for an eternity of suffering. The emotional burden of that incident resulted in years of Chan acknowledging the existence of Hell with his lips, but never allowing his heart to feel its weight.

When it comes to Hell, Chan says that we cannot afford to be wrong in our doctrine.

“This is not one of those doctrines where you can toss in your two cents, shrug your shoulders and move on. Too much is at stake. Too many people are at stake. And the Bible has too much to say.”

In his introduction, Chan stresses the importance of testing our assumptions about Hell against what the Bible actually says. He rightly points out that there are many things that Christians can believe and practice for years, only to change their views after study of the Scriptures reveals those beliefs and practices to be inaccurate.

“I’m not going to hang on to the idea of hell simply because its what my tradition tells me to believe. And neither should you.”

Perhaps the most arresting thing in this introduction is the admonition that we not distance what the Bible says from reality, that we not forget that the doctrine we study might just be the destiny of many people. Francis Chan doesn’t think Hell is a topic to be studied without tears and prayer; we should weep, pray and fast as we beg God to reveal the truth of Hell through His word, because we can’t be wrong on this one.