I didn’t set out to write this book, but it was the book that had to be written.
A story might help. During my sophomore year at Eastern Nazarene College, I worked as a teller at a Boston Savings & Loan. Joel was my fellow-teller, and during slow times, I’d break out a book. One day, I was reading one of Hal Lindsay’s best-sellers about the end times. Joel flipped through the book, then asked a piercing question:
Do you believe all that stuff?
Joel was a non-believer, and his question got me thinking. What if Hal Lindsay was wrong? What if his kind of writing – while seemingly truthful – was making Christianity unattractive to those we are called to reach? So I went back to Scripture and did a re-study. What I found led me away from that kind of sensational view to post-millenialism, a more historic and balanced view that fits better with the whole tenor of what God’s mission is in this world, especially as related to the work of the Church and the Kingdom of God.
That same process happened for me when it comes to the traditional doctrine of Hell.
This time it was many Joels whose voices came across in the threaded comments of websites. They questioned what kind of God would make individuals suffer forever in the flames of Hell. It was a character question, and that got my attention. I took down from my shelf Four Views of Hell (Zondervan, 1992) and re-read the excellent essay by Clark Pinnock. It was a good summary of an alternate view, but I wanted to go deeper. The magisterial The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment (3rd ed.; Wipf and Stock, 2011) by Edward Fudge made a convincing case from Scripture and answered some of the nagging exegetical questions that I’d had over the years.
Yet for all their merits, these kinds of works won’t be studied by the average layperson. So on this blog, bit by bit, I hammered out what later would become chapters to my new book, The Dark Side of Destiny: Hell Re-Examined (Wipf & Stock, 2013). Here’s what the back cover says:
Discussion of Hell is hotter than ever. Yet for all the attention the topic has drawn, few are the resources that provide an overview of the major points in dispute without bogging down in detail.
The Dark Side of Destiny: Hell Re-examined is an excellent primer, yet goes beyond a mere description of options. Dr. Crofford weighs various views of Hell in the light of Scripture and finds them wanting. In the end, he champions a neglected view of last things that both responds better to the preponderance of biblical evidence and safeguards the character of God as equitable, holy, and loving.
With probing discussion questions at the end of short chapters, The Dark Side of Destiny is ideal for Bible studies, Sunday school classes, or small groups.
The book has only 90 pages. It’s short on purpose. I hope to develop a C.S. Lewis side to me, to bring theology into the streets.
You can order the book for just over $ 10.00 directly through the Wipf & Stock website (click on the link). Or, if you prefer, it’s also available here on Amazon.com for $ 13.00. Within 3 months, it will be available as a Kindle e-book.
Some of you may have downloaded the book in its original self-published Kindle e-book format. In a minor revision, this version tightens up some of the arguments and corrects some typos. It also includes a new foreword by Edward William Fudge.
Let me know what you think, and spread the news!
Image credit: Wipf & Stock