Q&A: Francis Chan on Rob Bell and Hell
Why 'Erasing Hell' was his most difficult book, how 'Love Wins' prompted repentance, and whether 'Believe in Jesus or you'll go to hell' is good news.
July 5, 2011
Few books have generated as much theological conversation as Rob Bell's Love Wins—and fewer still have sparked several response books within months of their appearance. Francis Chan, whose books Crazy Love and Forgotten God are still on bestseller lists, is a somewhat surprising addition to the pack with Erasing Hell. (Chan's coauthor, Preston Sprinkle, is associate professor of biblical studies at Chan's Eternity Bible College.) Christianity Today senior managing editor Mark Galli is the author of another of the response books, God Wins, and interviewed Chan last week.
In several places in your book, it's clear that you are conflicted about even addressing this topic.
It's weird. I've never felt a need to really respond to someone else's writing. And yet reading Love Wins set a lot of things spinning in my mind. Some of it was concern, but some was doubt: Am I sure of what I believe? Let me go back and study. Several times in the middle of the night I couldn't even sleep. I really believe the Lord wanted me to do this, but there is a wrestling on that point because I thought, "Gosh, that's just not me. That's not what I'm comfortable with. I really don't think I'll enjoy this at all. I'm not looking forward to all the backlash and everything else."
The other side was that I was really hoping to discover some things I hadn't discovered before—or maybe this was an opportunity to soften my stance on hell. I was hoping to find that in Scripture. And so when I didn't it find it, it made me even more sick to my stomach.
It's weird to write something that you really don't like. It's easy to write for God and about God, because what a thrill to remind the church that the Holy Spirit of God is in you. What a rush! What an ...