Archive for June 8th, 2012

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

This is my first time reading anything by Francis Chan, a popular preacher and much sought after speaker. I admit, I was not sure how the book was going to turn out when I first started reading it, since I am cautious with many books defending controversial issues written for the general Christian popular audience. But it turns out to be a pretty good book. I thought it was a good example of a work engaging in doctrinal apologetics for the general readers. The author made it a good point that what’s at hand is not just another study on doctrines for the academic satisfaction of the mind, but much more is at stake since people’s eternal fate is on the line. It’s important to press people to live out and apply to our lives the implications of biblical doctrines, which in this case compels believers to view the world evangelically. According to the preface, Francis Chan teamed with another co-writer Preston Sprinkle, who has a doctorate in New Testament studies from Aberdeen University. I thought Chan’s decision to have another co-writer with an academic orientation was a great plus to the book. One of the best chapter in the book that I’ve enjoyed was the exploration of the primary sources of Second Temple Judaism and their understanding of the afterlife. This is an important background for understanding the religious and doctrinal climate that Jesus was surrounded with. This survey shows the readers that Jesus picked up the same terms and idioms to describe the afterlife of the loss, rather than break away from it. The following chapter dealt with Jesus’ own teaching on Hell as it is recorded in the Gospels. Having recently read a classmate’s thesis that explored Jesus’ teaching on hell as echoing things taught in the Old Testament, I was much encouraged to see that this book also noted that! The work also interacted with those who disagree with the Orthodox understanding of Hell, including Rob Bell (you can read my attempt at a critique of Rob Bell’s theological method here). Overall, great work, would highly recommend it. I would love to see Chan and Preston team up again to address other doctrinal controversy in our age.

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