One doctrine upon which almost all religions agree throughout history is hell. They may not agree about the details, but they agree that there is a hell. In A Visitor’s Guide to Hell: A Manual for Temporary Entrants and Those Who Would Prefer to Avoid Eternal Damnation, Clint Archer describes what we can know about it.
I’ll say up front, I don’t know how to do this book justice. I had started writing a review while reading it (aloud to my husband). Then last night, after the last chapter and conclusion, my husband and I were speechless for a couple of minutes. You need to read this book! But please don’t read the end first. At only 141 pages in eight short chapters, you won’t have to wait long.
To write about hell, Dr. Archer bases his observations on the Bible, not ideas from philosophy and religions. He reasons that Jesus is the Authority on the topic. No one else has the knowledge or resources to know what they’re talking about. A few people claim to have been there and come back, but Jesus said that once you’re there you can’t escape. So we have no eye witnesses on earth, not in all of history. In contrast, Archer quotes verse after verse from the Bible to back what he writes with the testimony of the One who made hell.
Dr. Archer treats this hot topic respectfully while applying a few cold packs of humor to cool and lighten the atmosphere, at least for the reader on earth, starting with the table of contents. Here is a sampling to ignite your interest:
- Introduction: Raising Hell
- To Hell and Back: Who Has the T-shirt?
- Downtown Abyss: Learning the Lay of the Land
- The Gated Community: Hell’s Population
- Dead-End Streets: How to Go to Hell
- The Great Escape: Rescued from Hell
Starting with Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus, Archer then weaves that story throughout the book. It effectively engages the reader personally and practically. The rich man was surprised that he landed in hell. He couldn’t get out. He couldn’t even warn his family. What a cost for his lack of understanding about hell!
Archer mentions some common misconceptions about hell. One is that Satan is the head honcho there. What does the Bible say about that and other misconceptions? If you don’t know, Clint provides quotes of Scripture for you so you can see for yourself what the truth is.
All people begin life on the road to hell but, like the rich man, most don’t believe they’ll arrive. How do they think to avoid or escape it? In most cases, people take one of three avenues, all of which lead to the same surprise the rich man received. We all like to think we’re the exception. To find out if you’re on one of those “Dead-End Streets” read the book.
For those who want to avoid the heat, Archer tells you the Bible’s solution. How is God’s grace applied to us? Only Jesus is perfectly righteous and only He can rescue the sinner from hell. How? Read all about it in “The Great Escape: Rescued from Hell.”
Finally, there is a chapter on heaven and it is…well, heavenly! One Person especially makes it so. What a bright reprieve that chapter is. I hope that all readers of this post are rescued in “The Great Escape” so as to arrive safely in heaven.
My husband and I read A Visitor’s Guide together. Of all the crazy things to do, we read it at bedtime. Just before you close your peepers for sleep may not be the best time to scorch your mind with hell, but do read the book. It provides an unearthly tour from the horrors of hell to the heights of heaven and back. As you travel, you keep bumping into the poor rich man. Consider what he says. Don’t be in a hurry. Let each chapter simmer in your thoughts.
Finally, read chapter 8 and the conclusion in one sitting. The contrast is profitably sobering.
A Visitor’s Guide to Hell: A Manual for Temporary Entrants and Those Who Would Prefer to Avoid Eternal Damnation, Dr. Clint Archer, 2014