Archives For Judgment


“A Radical Revision of Church Teaching
on Hell and Eternity

A review of
Razing Hell:
Rethinking Everything You’ve Been Taught
About God’s Wrath and Judgment
By Sharon Baker.

Reviewed by Karen Altergott.

Razing Hell: Rethinking Everything You’ve Been Taught
About God’s Wrath and Judgment
Sharon Baker.

Paperback: WJK Books, 2010.

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Razing Hell - Sharon BakerThroughout most of this book, I was saying, “yes, but…” to the provocative ideas presented.  Written in a style that is at once informal, because it relies on interjected questions from real and altered conversations, and substantial, because it uses academic theological work and frequent Old and New Testament passages, Razing Hell is a highly readable book.  A slowly and carefully developed argument against a wrathful God who just can’t wait to throw unrepentant sinners into the fires of hell, this book arrives at a most persuasive conclusion that no faithful Christian can deny.  God is, indeed, a God of infinite love and power.  And all that power is devoted to reestablishing a relationship with each human being.

This is an important book.  It goes deeper into the quest to understand Christianity for our time, and for all time.  If you appreciated A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren, if you enjoy the open-minded yet thoroughly faith-centered books by N.T. Wright, I think you will appreciate this treatment of hell.  Other contemporary works are a bit too disconnected from scripture or offer academic arguments that are a bit challenging to follow.  Razing Hell starts with truly significant wrestling with theological ideas, like how can good but non-professing people like Lisa’s grandmother go to a place of never-ending suffering – hell? What possible reason is there to give non-believers that will lead them to accept Christ and live in the Way offered in Christ if there is no hell (Eric’s question)?  And, how can it be justice for God to send weak and helpless human beings to eternal torture in return for merely temporal sins of omission or commission (Brooke’s question)?  After raising questions that real believers and many non-believers struggle with, Sharon Baker examines scripture, church and cultural history, a deep understanding of the Hebrew text, and a reconciling treatment of Jesus that is in line with her new interpretation of Hell in the Old and New Testaments.

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