Author and renowned pastor Francis Chan is setting record highs, topping The New York Times bestseller list with three titles including Crazy Love, Forgotten God, and his newest book Erasing Hell.
A first for the California pastor, all three of his books have made its way into the “Paperback Advice & Miscellaneous” top 10 list this week.
His latest book Erasing Hell debuted at No. 3 on the list, while Crazy Love trailed close behind at No. 4. Forgotten God secured its place at No. 10.
Publisher Don Pape and David C. Cook shared in a statement, “Francis is resonating with readers all over the world with his timely and challenging messages.”
“By having all three of his books on The New York Times bestseller lists simultaneously, we see how he is poised to increase his influence not only to the church but in all thoughtful conversations about God and religion. Francis is the face of Christianity for the future millennium.”
The widely praised pastor who founded Eternity Bible College has tackled several, what he calls, “hard topics,” and is not one to shy away from controversy.
He wrote his latest book in response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins, which has been staunchly criticized by several Christian leaders for its universalist ideas and non-traditional beliefs about heaven, hell, and salvation.
Bell insisted that hell was not forever and that love, in the end, would win and all would be reconciled to God, contrary to what many Christians hold to be the Bible’s teachings on the eternity and reality of hell.
Having only been released on July 5, Chan’s Erasing Hell, co-written by Professor Preston Sprinkle, quickly gained momentum most likely due to high public interest surrounding Bell’s book.
“It’s weird to write something that you really don’t like,” Chan previously told Christianity Today. “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.”
“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 amazing blessing! Who’d want to take the time to write about something that’s so, so awful? So painful?”
Despite Chan’s own reluctance to write the book, having gone through a real depression while studying for it, the top-charting figures showed that many were eager to read what the young pastor had to say about the divisive topic of hell.
And what did he have to say? That hell is a real, actual place that awaits those who do not repent.
Referencing Matthew 25:46 (“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life"), Chan penned in the book, “Everything in me wants to interpret it differently, to make it say something that fits my own view of justice and morality.”
But “do you ever consider the possibility that maybe the Creator’s sense of justice is actually more developed than yours?” the former pastor of Cornerstone Church posed. “And that maybe his love and his mercy are perfect. And that you could be the one that is flawed?”
“While [Bell’s] book spurred on this conviction that I need to respond, as I studied, my book became less and less of a response to Rob Bell and his book,” Chan told Christianity Today. “More and more, I saw how studying hell was changing me. I saw a lot of sin I had to repent of and thought, ‘This is a much bigger issue.’”
Confessing that he had watered down Jesus’ words in order to make God more attractive and palatable to people, he repented and vowed to be faithful to God.
“I want to make sure that I’m being faithful to present [God] as he presents himself. I’m not ashamed of this ... I don’t understand it completely, but I surrender to it, I submit to it. And I want to proclaim it boldly now.”
Feeling the urgency, Chan knew what was at stake and what he had to do.
“I have to warn people. I don’t want people going [to hell.] And if they ignore it, there’s a much more likely chance that they’ll end up there. Obviously, I take that in light of the sovereignty of God, but looking at it from a pragmatic perspective, it’s like canoeing before Niagara Falls if you don’t know it’s there or you’ve got yourself deceived that there’s no drop off.”
“We can’t afford to be wrong about this issue,” Chan asserted.