God’s Thoughts vs. Our Thoughts – Francis Chan on Hell

A depiction of a Buddhist hell realm
Image via Wikipedia

Isaiah 55:8 reads:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. (ESV)

Yesterday (Sept. 7, 2011 – Frank Pastore Show – KKLA) Francis Chan used this verse in a radio discussion with Frank while discussing his latest book Erasing Hell – a response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins.

His point was that while some may dislike the thought of hell, the Bible clearly teaches it and we need to realize that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.

It immediately struck me that anyone could use this verse to make a point, seemingly shutting down the other side since, after all, they don’t know “God’s thoughts.”

I have two points to address regarding this.

  1. What is the possibility that punishment in hell is more of a “human thought?”  It makes more sense to me to see Isaiah 55:8 as standing against what most humans would understand as the right thing to do, in this case punishment in hell.  Think about it, whole societies are based on penal systems and punishment for breaking the laws.  As such, “God’s thoughts” would entertain some notion of non-punishment that makes no sense to humanity.  More on that later…
  2. Read Isaiah 55 in context and ask yourself which direction the chapter is leaning – toward judgment or toward mercy.  So, if toward mercy, then Isaiah is basically driving home the point that God’s love and mercy is so radical that we don’t get it…we think it should be paid for:

Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.  (Is. 55:1 ESV)

So, it seems to me that Francis Chan has it backwards…God’s thoughts are definitely not our thoughts.  So much so, that they just don’t support his claim that God’s thoughts are thoughts of eternal judgment…at least not in this case.

As an aside, I am about half way through Erasing Hell, so I’ll have a review of it shortly.  ;~)

2 thoughts on “God’s Thoughts vs. Our Thoughts – Francis Chan on Hell

  1. Good point. Why do so many of us when push comes to shove tend to fall on the side of retribution instead of forgiveness?

    Another issue I’ve recognized in the hell debate is that when God’s love is mentioned it is immediately juxtaposed with his “justice”. The problem I see every time when that juxtaposition is created is that when challenged the person always says that justice and retribution are the same.

    What gives with our good Christian brethren??

    Tom Christian

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