If there's a heaven, Gandhi is there, I guaranty you!
by Charlie Leck
"Fans flock to his Facebook page, his NOOMA videos have been viewed by millions, and his Sunday sermons are attended by 10,000 parishioners—with a downloadable podcast reaching 50,000 more. An electrifying, unconventional pastor whom Timemagazine calls “a singular rock star in the church world,” Rob Bell is the most vibrant, central religious leader of the millennial generation. Now, in Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins."Now, most of us would say quite calmly, "What's so controversial or bad about that!" Yet it's just that paragraph that has caused all the stir.
Scripture gets misunderstood so often, I think, because the reader doesn't understand the reasons for the original recording of the words, the stories, the accounts that are written from the real life setting of the one who wrote those accounts; that is, from the place in life of the accounts.
I'm quite certain that ancient scriptures of the Old Testament were oral accounts before they were written down. In other words, they were stories with which ancient, old story-tellers dazzled their audiences. Such story-telling was a part of the traditions and culture of the lands of the Old Testament -- now Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabian, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. Walter Brueggeman, a very famous and brilliant Old Testament scholar, spends a great deal of time on a study of the lands of the Old Testament in order to more fully understand the meaning of those scriptures. He's wrote a number of fine books, but one of them is actually called The Land.
"God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light!"
"The primary purpose of the book, however, is not to present straightforward history but to tell the dramatic story of God's dealings with the world and, in particular, to interpret Israel's special role in God's purpose." [italics are mine]
"But David said to Saul, 'Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it.... The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.' So Saul said to David, 'Go, and may the Lord be with you!'"
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