After Rob Bell’s public confession to universalism with his latest book Love Wins in which he dismantles the notion of hell, there have been a considerable amount of books written in response to prove the doctrine and defend it against secularism. This book is not one of those books.
If you’re looking for an argument to refute Bell’s best seller, Hell is Real (But I Hate To Admit It) by Brian Jones is not going to do much to withstand criticism. However, it is an excellent testimony from a pastor who once shared similar sentiments to Bell, but was brought under fiery conviction for the authority of Scripture. Jones is a graduate of Princeton Seminary where his original convictions were challenged and he eventually abandoned his conservative notions, until the weight of the Word of God was too much to sustain. Jones is currently serving as the senior pastor of a prominent ministry, actively reaching the lost in the suburbs of Philadelphia. His book is really his testimony and a challenge for all believers to take the doctrine of hell seriously and become apocalypically focused in evangelism.
The book reads like a story centered sermon you might hear at a seeker sensitive church, each chapter beginning with a long, personal story. Sometimes funny, sometimes thought provoking, the real meat is when he gets into his arguments for why this doctrine is so important in the Christian faith and why it ought to motivate us. Though entertaining and easy it read, it seemed unnecessarily long – 268 pages – so that the points at the end might not get the same consideration as the first few chapters.
A Few Noteworthy Points
Beyond defending the doctrine of hell, Jones points out the reasons why many people do not share their faith. In this section, Jones is spot on. There is a serious problem in our churches today where Christians are ashamed, deceived, or sidetracked from sharing their faith. His arguments are compelling to motivate believers to get over their fears and start to fear the reality of hell.
Jones’s second major contribution to the doctrine of hell is the sense of urgency to share the gospel. Driven by a passion for lost souls, Jones has been very effective at evangelism. This passion is fueled by doctrinal understandings of the wrath of God and the propitiation of Christ. These points alone could have been the strongest argument for the whole book. It would have been nice if he had spent more time developing the argument in Romans 3:21-26, yet this is the only section where he seems more interested in summarizing his thoughts instead of elaborating.
A fire and brimstone sermon, this book is not. It doesn’t say much with very heavy authority, but it really doesn’t need to. The arguments are simple enough for anyone to comprehend and solid enough for anyone to build on top of. Standing alone it would not be enough to convince anyone, but it’s a good introduction to the importance of the doctrine and an interesting testimony of this pastor’s journey from heresy to biblical inerrancy. I recommend it to anyone interested in some extra credit reading.
The Giveaway is officially over. Check back every Wednesday for our current giveaway.