The Lie of Hell is on it’s way: 2 March

The Lie of Hell. Is hell the greatest lie in Christian history? You will soon be able to read my answer to that question in a book of that title.

Much of my not-vicar time last year was spent finalising research on hell and submitting a book proposal to various publishers. The research was fascinating: reading one of the first printed Bibles from the 16th century and the latest 21st century book on hell on the same day in the Cambridge University Library.Reading a book from 1874 with uncut pages: I was the first person ever to read this copy. The proposing was depressing. The book was deemed ‘interesting,’ ‘interesting and topical,’ ‘interesting and unique’ but not worthy of publishing.

Eventually one small American publisher agreed. But their terms did not look good for me as author. (They deliberately publish books which will not sell well but which have a significant message.) In the middle of October I faced the question ‘to sign or not to sign?’

The only alternative was to publish it through Ladder Media Ltd, the company a friend and I set up to publish my whodunit, A British Crash. All along I had wanted the kudos and support of a recognized publisher.

I asked Jesus what to do. (see to learn how to do this yourself.) Jesus suggested that I ask other people to pray for me. He knows that I am reluctant to ask other people for help. He didn’t insist, but I have learnt that it is best to go with His suggestions. They are always better than my fixed ideas.

A few people received an infuriatingly brief email from me. ‘Please will you pray for me in making a decision? Please ask for a signpost for me. Some writing on the signpost would be nice.’ I thought the last sentence decidedly cheeky – wanting cake, eating it, and with extra jam on!

The following morning I received a reply from a young woman in my church. She had been baptised a few months before and was learning, very cautiously, about the Holy Spirit and how He flows in us. ‘Saw the signpost.’ she wrote, ‘It says, in capital letters, HOME.’ She stressed the capitals.

Later that day she met a friend in the same ‘Learners’ group. The friend said the same answer, ‘home’, had come to her, but she refused to tell me in case it meant I was leaving the church and the area.

Could ‘HOME’ mean that I was to work at home, publishing the book for the home market?

Over the next couple of weeks, further answers came:

A picture of the steering wheel of an old Alvis car which, uniquely, had a control in the wheel to advance and retard the spark.

Could this mean that I was to keep hold of the steering of the book, especially controlling how soon or late it was published?

‘Chose the ancient paths.’

Could this mean that I was to work like the Bible writers who had no publishers? ‘Whatever it means,’ said a friend, ‘it can’t meanAmerica.’

‘The third way.’

Could this mean that I was meant to use our Christian Equitable publishing Company, neither a shareholder company, nor a cooperative, but a third way?

None of these people had any idea what my decision was.

The Society of Authors confirmed that the contract was not good for me as author and strongly advised me to re-negotiate.

All in all, it was a strong pointer to home publishing. The publisher didn’t seem disappointed when I told them I was not signing.

Suddenly I found myself thinking of the book as publisher. As writer I had envisaged producing the book for September 2012, to be published early 2013. ‘Can’t you do it for early 2013?’ said Roger publisher. ‘It would be really good to have it out sooner to pick up the current wave of interest in hell. How about by the end of March for the Spring Harvest Christian Festival?’ (

Roger writer agreed to try. Until writing this today I had not made the connection between that decision and ‘advancing the spark.’

Writing has gone smoothly and to plan. No late night working. Plenty of helpful coincidences. The Lie of Hell will be published at the end of this month, and will be first sold on the bookstall at Spring Harvest.

Roger Harper

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