A long time ago, in what feels like a Twittersphere far, far away, there was a great furore because a well-intentioned, communicative, popular pastor wrote a book about hell. The controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s “Love Wins” (which wasn’t that good, didnt bring anything new to the table, and was mostly open-ended Bell-esque questions anyway) resulted in a refreshed interest and requirement for books about Hell. I review another one of these, edited by Al Mohler, and you can find my review of that here. Today, though, I’m sharing my thoughts about a book about Hell written by another well intentioned, communicative, popular pastor. About Hell. Co-written by Dr. Preston Sprinkle. That is, to be honest, pretty good.
The issue of Hell, Heaven, and everything else to do with the end of the world is something that raises many peoples blood pressure. Two great books I’d recommend on the end of the world are Simon Ponsonby’s “And the Lamb Wins“, as well as Anthony Thiselton’s “The Last Things“, which approach the issue from a holistic perspective. Chan, however, goes straight for the jugular, as the subtitle demonstrates; “what God said about eternity, and the things we’ve made up“. And Chan nails it in the opening, asking the reader, “if you are excited to read this book, you have issues“. Because the biblical theology that Chan explores demands that we consider the eternal separation of the lost from those whom Jesus has saved. Its a big deal. And the issue is massive, as I explored in a post on universalism bluntly called “The Suicide of Christian Theology“.
The book follows some of the key questions, and centers on what Jesus says. We open with “Does Everyone Go to Heaven?“, shortly followed by a brief theological and cultural history of Hell, entitled “Has Hell Changed? Or Have We?“. The third and fourth chapters are about Jesus – what he actually said, and what his followers said. The fifth chapter re-personalizes it, “What Does This Have to Do with Me?“. Chapter six rolls into an ongoing discussion familiar to all Christians who have thought a little, “What If God?“. The closing chapter is a plea, “Don’t Be Overwhelmed“, before an excellent appendix of FAQ’s.
This isn’t an easy book to read. But it is a better, more theological, more careful, more pastoral book than “Love Wins”. 100%. I mean it. I’m a fan of nearly everything Chan writes. But I’m a bigger fan of books that seek to honestly and genuinely engage with what the Bible says about tricky subjects. Like Hell. And Chan and Sprinkle do that. Carefully. Theologically. Sensitively. Pastorally. And so I recommend this book, to anyone, of any level, who wants to know what Jesus and the Bible say about Hell.