Secretly Pleased With The Hell (Chan - 2)

by André Piet
April 5th, 2012

In the preface of the book, “Erasing Hell?” Rev. Arenda Haasnoot writes:

Francis Chan honestly admits that he would prefer there be no hell. But he can not escape reality.

And the author repeatedly says:

Deep inside, I would prefer, not at all, to believe in hell. (…) I had to know whether the Bible really teaches that a literal hell exists. Would it not be wonderful if that were not the case? Then, someday, I would see my grandmother again!

As I mentioned in my previous blog, the doctrine of “hell and damnation” is for everyone, who takes it seriously, enough to be driven to complete distraction and insanity. That’s not just my experience and assertion, even Chan himself recognizes this. A few years ago, Andries Knevel (EO) [a Dutch evangelical radio and television station], wrote:

The idea that your children, or grandchildren, or brother, or friend, or that sweet, gentle, helpful neighbor-lady will be tortured forever, is literally maddening.

The question arises: how is it possible to believe in a totally hopeless fate, and, at the same time, speak of a joyful message of salvation? Chan would love, he writes, to discover that there is no literal hell. Isn’t that strange? Chan himself makes it clear that the word “hell”, literally, is Gehenna, i.e., the valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem. Writing about Mark 9:44,48, Chan states:

With these images (worms that keep on gnawing and a fire that never goes out) Jesus refers to Isaiah 66:24, and it is not likely that Isaiah was thinking of an everlasting punishment (Chapter 3).

“Not likely” is an understatement. Isaiah 66:24 speaks explicitly about decaying carcasses near Jerusalem, during the future kingdom of peace. When Chan, in the appendix of his book, elaborately writes about the question where hell might be located, then he is unable to provide an answer. But is this not audacious of someone who asserts to take Gehenna (a geographical place name!) literally?!

Concerning the extremely contrived manner, in which Francis Chan, in chapter 1, superficially deals with- and disposes of numerous passages (such as Phil.2, 1Cor.15, etc.), I might comment, later. In any case, his approach, does not arouse within me the impression of someone who would prefer there be no hell…

All along, even in the last chapter, Francis Chan continues to repeat not wanting to believe in hell. However, this prevents him not to write that hell also gives him “more cause for joy”. Hell can be a dogma, he writes,

… which gives energy, because it makes the beauty of the cross only greater. (Chapter 7).

So, secretly, he’s pleased with hell, anyway…


Translation: Peter Feddema

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