Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We’ve Made Up by Francis Chan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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Somehow people have gotten the impression that Christians, at least the conservative ones, really like the idea of hell. I do really love the idea of sin and death being cast away for all eternity; can you imagine a world like that? But people must visualize God as Mr. Burns, wringing his hands just waiting for the chance to make the lowly condemned people in sector 7G get what is coming to them for their shoddy disregard for the task he demands of them.
On the contrary, like a parent warning that a knife is not the best thing to put into a light socket, the Christian who is passionate about the topic of hell is so because of the fervent fear that people will indeed find themselves perishing. In fact, it is said to be impossible to really understand Christianity without also facing the reality of our due penalty in hell.
In his book Erasing Hell, Francis Chan does a very good job at describing his own pain when he considers the idea of hell and how his quest for the truth from the Bible about this unpopular concept in effort, at least in part, to simply explain it away.
Not coincidentally written on the heels of Rob Bell’s now infamous book Love Wins, Chan debunks the idea that hell is some general concept about reaping what we sow on earth, and how Jesus himself really did teach that hell is a real place and that people will really go there.
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Audio version of this book available at christianaudio.com.
Legal: a review copy of this work was provided by the publisher as compensation for this review. No requirements for a positive review were made; these are my honest thoughts about this work.
In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life by Sinclair B. Ferguson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I wonder how many people who pick this book up start reading and then think, “I think this book has the wrong title.” I am definitely one of them. In his book, In Christ Alone, Sinclair Ferguson does a fantastic job of laying out the fundamentals about Jesus taught in Scripture while challenging some common misconceptions about his personhood and mission. Gently, however, he moves into talking about the Holy Spirit and then about our lives as Christians.
It may sound like I am disappointed, but on the contrary it strikes me as an entirely unique approach to talking about Christ, the Holy Spirit, and his role in our lives. When I reviewed Forgotten God, I was frankly confused about how so many people could call such a confusing book “important.” Ferguson does everything that I had hoped for in Chan’s book. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit exists to bring glory to Christ. Indeed, the third person of the Trinity operates in submission to the second by spreading the message of Christ and empowering his people to do the work of God.
Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What has a still small voice, is always nearby, and answers to a whistle? If you said “the Holy Spirit,” you may want to talk to your pastor. This is the job description that Jiminy Cricket gives himself in the Disney classic Pinocchio, not the role of the Third Person of the Trinity. Everyone has a conscience, but not everyone has an indwelling of the living God alive and active within them. Granted the Spirit works in concert with our conscience, but to reduce him to such a minor role is unbecoming of the Lord of the universe.
As much as we know about the work of the Holy Spirit from the Bible, his function and activity still remain somewhat allusive and very controversial. Francis Chan seems to have intentionally written his book Forgotten God to challenge our preconceptions of who the Holy Spirit is, how he works in our lives, and how we can discern his activity in the lives of those around us. Beginning with “Holy Spirit 101,” he asks readers to lay down what they believe and the concerns and fears about other perspectives and freshly look at what the Bible teaches.
A book review of Crazy Love by Francis Chan
When I picked up this book, my first thought was that it would be another Lucado-warm-gushy style volume that helped us to really know that God is all we need and that if we follow the teaching of the Bible that everything will work out.
I was both exactally right and incredibly wrong.
Crazy Love is about God’s love and about how once we really begin to understand what God’s love really is we are compelled to respond. Chan talks about how God’s love, mercy, and grace are indeed free gifts, but how once they are fully received we can be nothing less than obsessed with God.
In a profoundly simple language, Chan admonishes us as we, perhaps unknowingly and unintentionally, offer God our leftovers instead of our best. He challenges us to consider that sacrifice should hurt and that being obsessed with God requires us to change.
Habit may have caused us to become unaware and sleepily move through life without considering the ramifications of our day-to-day decisions. Making God first place means stepping away from that comfort and into something that requires all of us, mind, body, and soul. After all if our God is worth following then our God is worth everything we are!
If I had any trouble with this book it is this: the gospel context is implied. Rather than inspire by talking about the beauty of the gospel, our freedom from sin to do good works, and the desire the redeemed have to serve and glorify God our savior, Chan makes an enormous assumption that you get all that. I would have much preferred the book take time to step through the enormity of what Christ did for us as the locomotion for how to live out this crazy love that he talks about.