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Showing 1-11 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 22, 2011, 5:14:29 PM PDT
"Bold as Love."

As an exegete and Hebrew and Greek scholar, I can say the fuss about this book is very much overblown. It it seems everyone who does not own a Hebrew and Greek concordance is anxious to attack to Rob Bell without even reading his books. Rob Bell believes Jesus is the only way to heaven. He believes there is a hell and people do go to it. He believes God loves everyone and sent Jesus to die for them to save them. He believes Jesus is God and the Bible is the word of God. BUT he believes that people have free will which God does not interfere with. They are free to make choices, including rejecting Jesus and God, committing rape and murder, and that those choices have consequences. AND he believes it's the Christian's job to bring the message of Jesus' love to everyone. He believes the primary way to do this involves a change in our ethical behavior: our job is to love here and now as much as possible regardless of the risks involved and in order to do that we have to remove from our thinking every obstacle to that, and leave the judgment of those who refuse God's love and refuse to love to God. To put it bluntly, we do not get to decide who goes to heaven and hell and who doesn't. Our choices can permanently affect how others see God. This means Rob must force us to question our beliefs in order to get us to see the world as God sees it. While making those statements that intend to force us to ask questions Rob at times appears to be provocative. These statements are the source of the controversy surrounding him, but if you do not follow Rob's reasoning to its goal--the goal I have outlined, you must inevitably take those statements out of context. Do NOT begin to read this read this book unless you are willing to read it all the way through; otherwise you will get a distorted view of Rob's mesage. We are either vehicles of God's saving love to a lost world or we are obstacles to what God wants. Too many of us are obstacles. We believe God will fill heaven with only our church and our denominational sect and everyone else is left out. According to Rob Bell, that's not the kind of God we have. This will be an unpleasant message for many Christians. With the extreme lack of love in the churches, this message, no matter how unpleasant, is actually good news. This is the book's main strength. Contrary to the pre-publication claims of his critics, Rob does not preach a gospel of universalism. As a seminary grad who's studied liberalism for 30 years, I found the liberal bias Rob is always accused of nowhere in this book. Controversial questions, yes, and plenty. Liberal bias, no. I wish that we all were. I have been wishing for many years that someone would wake the church at large up to how cruel and vicious they can be.

This is not to say the book doesn't have flaws. It does. It does not
seem to have been proofread very well; on page 147 Rob says "orbiter"
when the context plainly demands "arbiter." The book clocks in at less than 200 pages, yet at least 50 pages take up simply asking controversial questions. When Rob does start dealing with Biblical and exegetical questions, he handles the Hebrew and the Greek just fine, just exactly as I've seen it in scholarly lexicons, and he explains Biblical passages adequately from the first-century Jewish background. But that's the problem: it's just adequate. Rob barely scratches the surface. The book needs more exegesis and background. You'd expect a lot more Bible and a lot more reasoning aimed at convincing scholars. I have serious doubts that the book will convince anyone to change their position. There needs to be far more Bible and scholarly meat and far less N. T. Wright. Many people will fail to take Rob seriously. Which is sad, because I believe Rob's call for bold love is really the greatest need of the church and the world.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 22, 2011, 5:24:42 PM PDT
J. Kreider says:
May I suggest you post this as your review of the book? Well written, succinct and objective, and non-malicious.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 22, 2011, 5:26:53 PM PDT
Tell me where to post it, and I will.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 23, 2011, 11:54:48 AM PDT
J. Kreider says:
On Amazon's page for the book, there should be a link to "96 customer reviews" (or however many) right below the title. Click on that - and then look for a yellow button on the left hand side that says "Post your review." You'll have to be signed into your account, of course. That way your thoughts would get more views than if just posted on the discussion forums... :)

Posted on Apr 7, 2011, 3:09:00 PM PDT
Reading Rob Bell Is Like Learning Sumerian

I can say the fuss about this book is very much overblown. It it seems everyone who does not own a Hebrew and Greek concordance is anxious to attack to Rob Bell without even reading his books.

And I'll be bluntly honest. If it were not for the furor these people create about Rob Bell and this book, I would not have read it. Rob Bell didn't cause me to read this book: they did.

I'll start with the basics.

We shouldn't give up the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, justification by faith, the virgin birth, the incarnation, and the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Those are absolutes, and Rob Bell would say they're absolutes.

Rob Bell believes Jesus is the only way to heaven. He believes there is a hell and people do go to it. He believes God loves everyone and sent Jesus to die for them to save them. He believes Jesus is God and the Bible is the word of God. But he believes that people have free will and out of love God does not interfere with that free will. People are free to make choices, including rejecting Jesus and God, committing rape and murder, and that those choices have consequences. And he believes it's the Christian's job in spite of this to bring the message of Jesus' love to everyone.

Bell believes the primary way to do this involves a change in our ethical behavior: our job is to love and win others to Christ here and now as much as possible regardless of the risks involved, and in order to do that we have to remove from our thinking every obstacle to that, and leave the judgment of those who refuse God's love and refuse to love to God.

To put it bluntly, we do not get to decide who goes to heaven and hell and who doesn't.

Our choices can permanently affect how others see God and Jesus. Our unkind actions-or worse--can hinder people by making them see God as unspeakably vicious and cruel. These people will listen to our actions, not our words or "correct" beliefs. And nothing on earth can win them back.

This means Rob must force us to question our beliefs in order to get us to see the world as God sees it. While making those statements that intend to force us to ask questions and think for ourselves Rob at times appears to be provocative. Deliberately so, because he wants us to start that process. He means to challenge you to the very core of your being.

These statements are the source of the controversy surrounding Rob Bell, but if you do not follow Rob's reasoning to its goal--the goal I have outlined, you will inevitably take those statements out of context, because Rob Bell is speaking a different language than you're used to.

In that way, reading Rob Bell is like learning Sumerian.

an-gal-ta ki-gal-šé ğeštug2-ga-ni na-an-gub (Inanna's Descent 1,1).

Do NOT begin to read this book unless you are willing to read it all the way through; otherwise you will get a distorted view of Rob's message.

We are either vehicles of God's saving love to a lost world or we are obstacles to what God wants.

Too many of us are obstacles. Too many of us are like the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son.

We believe God will fill heaven with only our church and our denominational sect, or maybe only the twelve people sitting in our room--and everyone else is left out.

We really don't believe God loves us, but we certainly don't want to believe He loves anyone else. And we act like it. That leaves us burnt-out, broken, and empty.

Our concept of God and hell is really shaped by Dante's Inferno, where la diritta era smaritta (Inferno, I,3).

But according to Rob Bell, that's not the kind of God we have. The message that "God so loves the world" and "whosoever will may come" has been lost.

This is a book about l'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle (Paradiso XXXIII,145).

Contrary to the pre-publication claims of his critics, Rob Bell does not preach a gospel of universalism.

I found the liberal bias Rob Bell is accused of nowhere in this book. Controversial questions, yes, and plenty. Liberal bias, no.

Rob Bell wants you to ask challenging and disturbing questions, think, and formulate your own answers. That's his goal.

This is not to say the book doesn't have flaws. It does not seem to have been proofread very well; on page 147 Rob says "orbiter" when the context plainly demands "arbiter." The book clocks in at less than 200 pages, yet more than 100 pages take up asking controversial questions.

Rob does deal with exegetical issues from the Hebrew and the Greek, and he explains Biblical passages adequately from the first-century Jewish background in an elementary way. This book is not aimed at scholars, and will not convince anyone to change their position. The book needs more exegesis and scholarly meat and less N. T. Wright to do that. Many people will fail to take Rob seriously.

As I said, reading Rob Bell is like learning Sumerian.

an-gal-ta ki-gal-šé ğeštug2-ga-ni na-an-gub (Inanna's Descent 1,1).

Like the Sumerian language, the keys for us for understanding Rob Bell in terms of traditional theological language are all missing.

So how would a Sumerian speaker, if we could beam him into the 20th century, understand English? Or if we beamed a 20th-century average English speaker back into ancient Sumeria, how would they understand Sumerian? (Without the benefit of the Enterprise's computer)?

I applied that analogy to Rob Bell's language in Love Wins, saying that he's speaking a different language from those using traditional theological language.

But the analogy is even more appropriate if we apply it to the language and culture of the Bible itself. We don't have the right to transform the Bible into a 20th-century American Christian document. Unfortunately we've been doing that all our lives, and so have our parents and grandparents. That is to commit what D. A. Carson would call an exegetical fallacy. There is an exegetical proverb that "a text, taken out of its historical context, becomes a pretext." That's what we've been doing to the Bible.

We read the Bible as a twentieth-century American Christian document. I think the issue concerning Bell's book arises because people have the misconception that their church has done a complete exegesis of the Bible, when in fact they haven't. It's never been done.

That tendency to create the Bible in our own image was at work in the church in the Apostolic Fathers in the second century, and it is at work with us today. Walk into any Christian bookstore and you'll see evidence of it everywhere.

For those who believe the Bible is a 20th-century American Christian document, I have bad news: it's a first-century Hellenistic Palestinian Jewish document from the Roman empire, a form of Judaism of a type rooted in the Pseudepigrapha, not bearing much resemblance to later rabbinical Judaism (like the Mishnah). It was typical of the mainstream Palestinian Judaism of its day. In today's terms, if Rabbinic Judaism was on the left, the Dead Sea Scrolls would be on far right, and the New Testament would be in the center.

The New Testament is a Jewish book from start to finish, every word of it, not a Christian one. The New Testament writers' thinking was Hebraic, but not necessarily Hebrew.

The Judaism of that day would soon cease to exist (except for Christianity) after the revolts of 66-70, 112-117, and 132-135: the Bar Kochba revolt was four times more destructive to Israel and Judaism than the revolt of 66).

Those events changed (and separated) both Judaism and Christianity completely, utterly, and forever.
Rabbinic Judaism is a different Judaism. After the middle of the second century Christianity was a Gentile religion.

Martin Goodman says all Jews were acculturated to the Greek language (Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations, page 107), and bi-lingualism and tri-lingualism was common in the Roman empire (page 146).

A glance at the indexes in Nestle's Aland's Novum Testamentum Graece (pages 800-806) will show you that Paul used the Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha more than all the other New Testament writers combined--the last thing you'd expect would be that Paul would be so thoroughly conversant with all that "heretical" literature.

The tiny epistles of James and Jude use the Pseudepigraphal and Apocryphal books of Enoch, Sirach and Wisdom more than all the other New Testament writers combined.

That's how Jewish the New Testament is. And the rest of the New Testament is no different.

Those who object to Rob Bell's work interpret him by making him into their own image and making him speak their own language, often settling for a repeated quote out of context coming from someone who has never read his book in its entirety--before his book even came out.

That's dishonest and not a fair representation of Rob Bell.

Now for specifics.

For the meaning of olam as "a long time or a duration" on page 31 of Love Wins, see Kohler-Baumgartner, The Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, volume 1, pages 798-799. As my professor in seminary pointed out, olam means "a good long time."

For the use of aion on page 31 of Love Wins as "age, generation, long space of time" to translate the Hebrew olam see Lust, Eynikel, & Hauspie, A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, pages 18-19.

On page 54 Bell mentions Jesus hanging on the cross "between two insurgents."

Bell has this right: see Martin Hengel, The Zealots: Investigations into the Jewish Freedom Movement in the Period from Herod I until 70 A. D., pages 24-36: the Greek term used in the Gospels, lestes, was the Roman word for an "insurgent." Hengel's entire book is about those who "pick up swords and declare war" (page 80).

On the Hebrew concept of the afterlife, pages 64-65, see Alexander Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic, pages 137-223.

The Greek word for "hell," gehenna, (geenan) on page 67, is actually a transliteration of the Aramaic phrase, ge hinnom. It appears, in Hebrew, as geyʾ ben hinom in 2 Chronicles 28:3 and 33:6, and Jeremiah 7:31-32.

It was the "Valley of the son of Hinom," on the south and just outside of Jerusalem that ran from the Essene Gate to the Pool of Siloam where it connected with the Kidron Valley on the east.

Here the Israelites sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire as a burnt offering, but also to "Molech." This practice made the place what was called a Tophet among the Canaanites (Jeremiah 7:32). There was a god named Milku and one named Milcom, but in the Bible the term appears to be the name for a sacrifice in fulfillment of a vow, "as a Molech sacrifice" (see Jack M. Sasson, Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, Volume 3, page 2054). The remains of thousands of such sacrificed children have been found by archaeologists at Carthage (Jack M. Sasson, Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, Volume 3, page 2054; Glenn E. Markoe, Phoenicians, pages 132-133).

And, as Bell describes, in Jesus' day, the Valley of Hinom was the Jerusalem garbage dump. This was what Jesus called hell.

The presence of dogs in the Valley of Hinom was the reason why the Essenes forbade the presence of dogs at Qumran: "and one should not let dogs enter the holy camp, because they might eat some of the bones from the temple with flesh on them" 4Q397:58-59 {4QHalakhic Letter, 4QMMT, Miqsat Ma'aseh Ha-Torah, Fragments 6-13}, see Florentino Garcia Martinez and Eibert Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, Volume 2, page 799; compare Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, and Edward Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, page 459, no. 17; and the fuller explanation in Jodi Magness, The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, page 120). The oldest manuscript of the Halakhic letter is from 75 years before Jesus: the letter itself dates from the foundation of the Qumran community in middle of the second century B.C.E.; Qumran was fifteen miles from Jerusalem, but its layout was modeled on that of the Temple-including where they put their toilets and dumped their garbage. They knew about the Valley of Hinom.

The Valley of Hinom in Jerusalem was where all the waste from the thousands of animal sacrifices taking place daily in the Temple was disposed of. That's why the fire was always burning and the dogs were always there.

It was the Valley of Slaughter when Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar, and would be the Valley of Slaughter when Titus took Jerusalem again. And as Jeremiah predicted in Jeremiah 7:33, even in Jesus' day it was the Valley of Slaughter for the Temple sacrifices and the carcasses would be food for "the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away."

For Jesus' listeners, because of its national associations, the word gehenna or hell carried an emotional connotation it does not carry for us. But there are words that do: words like Ground Zero, Omaha Beach, Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, Nagasaki.

A reference to the source of the horticultural usage of kolazo on page 91 of Love Wins would have been nice.

On Christian leaders believing all men will be saved, on pages 106 -108 and 114-115 of Love Wins, Bell says that Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Eusebius, Jerome, Basil and Augustine and "very many" believed in the ultimate reconciliation of all men to God.

Eusebius said "They [the Hebrew prophets] all with one voice foretold a light of true religion would come to all men, purity of mind and body and body, a complete purging of the heart" (Proof of the Gospel; see W. H. C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity, page 478).

Does Eusebius mean every individual, or every ethnic group? It makes a difference.

W. H. C. Frend, in The Rise of Christianity, page 377, says about Origen: "Evil, like death, was not a positive force, so and so even the blackest devils and Satan himself could be restored."

Clement of Alexandria's optimism "seemed to be even more Bhuddhist than Christian" (Frend, The Rise of Christianity, p. 372).

That some Christians, such as Origen and Clement, believed such things is true. But logic demands that a full and accurate exegesis of the text determines what we believe, not what some church Father believed.

The text of Revelation 21:25 does indeed say the gates of the heavenly city will never be shut. It's there in the text for a reason: it's there because it's something John intended to say. It's there for a reason.

Bell states on pages 151-152 that Jesus transcends any Christian culture, denomination, church, or theological system. None of us own him exclusively. Bell's opponents seem to forget this. Those who argue against Rob Bell need to be more like Gamaliel in Acts 5:34-39: if what Rob Bell is doing is not from God, nothing will come of it.

And one more typo in the book: the last sentence on page 198 says "that loves wins."

I would suggest that in the future Bell use a set of footnotes to the chapters concerning controversial issues added at the end of the book, in the manner that George W. E. Nickelsburg does in Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah, so that the reader can read the text without being bogged down in the footnotes, but still find them if he/she wants to, as well as a more comprehensive bibliography at the end.

Those reading this book without hearing Bell preach are definitely missing the key to his language, which is why my Sumerian language analogy is so appropriate.

an-gal-ta ki-gal-šé ğeštug2-ga-ni na-an-gub (Inanna's Descent 1,1).

Posted on Apr 11, 2011, 8:42:54 AM PDT
CS Louis says:
Thank you Jerry for this discussion and for the time you have taken to lay out your thoughts and wisdom regarding this book/issue. In trying to defend Rob's point of view I do feel like I am speaking another language and that there needed to be so much more groundwork laid before diving into this issue so publicly somewhat "half-baked." Yes, thorough footnotes would have been excellent (he did quite a bit with his other books so I was surprised).

Personally, I have been utterly undone by the "painting" of this view through Love wins but only because I had been studying this understanding for a couple of years. (I DO own an interlinear, concordance and lexicon so I have done my homework). So his book was just beautiful to me. However, I must say it was beautifully painful for it brought a level of conviction I have rarely seen (never?) in myself. The chapter on the kingdom as now in league with the God who truly loves all of creation brought me totally to my knees and changed my behavior, immediately. I no longer have an over-desire for things. I want to give out of love and not out of guilt. I see God's heart for His creation and my heart breaks with His for the Restoration of what He loves. This is a big change from the shadow of Calvinism I lived under for most of my life that created a detachment from the world (after all 95% of humanity was going to be "destroyed forever," so how can you let yourself become attached?) I knew the language, the paradigm, before reading the book and consequently it truly took my breath away.
That's bit of my story and response to the book. I wrote a review based on the fruit in my life if you want to read it. ("What About the Fruit?")

Thank you again for your honest layout of the book and very helpful critique. (Sharp eye there too, to find those typos. I didn't even see them and I am a real stickler about that). : )

In Gratitude, CS Louis

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 11, 2011, 2:22:46 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 11, 2011, 2:24:16 PM PDT
Jonathan says:
Thank you for starting this thread Jerry. Do you think you could summarize for those who may not have the time to read "like reading Sumerian"? I almost didn't. ...But so glad I did! Very helpful. Thanks again.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 11, 2011, 3:30:31 PM PDT
It it seems everyone who does not own a Hebrew and Greek concordance is anxious to attack to Rob Bell without even reading his books.

Rob Bell believes the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, justification by faith, the virgin birth, the incarnation, and the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He believes Jesus is the only way to heaven. He believes there is a hell and people do go to it. He believes God loves everyone and sent Jesus to die for them to save them. He believes Jesus is God and the Bible is the word of God. He believes that people have free will and out of love God does not interfere with that free will. People are free to make choices, including rejecting Jesus and God, committing rape and murder, and that those choices have consequences. He believes it's the Christian's job to bring the message of Jesus' love to everyone.

Bell believes the way to do this is to change our behavior to love here and now as much as possible.
We do not get to decide who goes to heaven and hell and who doesn't. Our choices affect how others see God and Jesus.

Rob must forces us to ask questions and think for ourselves to get us to see the world as God sees it.

But if you do not read the book in its entirety, you will take those statements out of context. Rob Bell is speaking a different language than you're used to.

Reading Rob Bell is like learning Sumerian.

Do NOT begin to read this book unless you are willing to read it all the way through; otherwise you will get a distorted view of Rob's message.

We are either vehicles of God's love or we are obstacles to what God wants.

We believe God will fill heaven with only our church, our sect, and everyone else is left out. Our concept of God and hell is shaped by Dante's Inferno.

According to Rob Bell, that's not the kind of God we have. Rob Bell does not preach a gospel of universalism.

I found the liberal bias Rob Bell is accused of nowhere in this book.

Rob Bell wants you to ask challenging questions, think, and formulate your own answers.

On page 147 Rob says "orbiter" when the context demands "arbiter." The book clocks in at less than 200 pages, yet more than 100 pages take up asking controversial questions.

Rob deals with issues from the Hebrew and the Greek, explaining Biblical passages adequately from the first-century Jewish background.

Like the Sumerian language, the keys for us for understanding Rob Bell in terms of traditional theological language are all missing.

He's speaking a different language from those using traditional theological language.

People think their church has done a complete exegesis of the Bible. They haven't. It's never been done.

We create the Bible in our own image. Walk into any Christian bookstore and you'll see evidence of it everywhere. We believe the Bible is a 20th-century American Christian document.

The New Testament is a Jewish book from start to finish, every word of it, not a Christian one. The New Testament writers' thinking was Hebraic.

Rob Bell's work has been interpreted by forcing him to speak traditional theological language, settling for a repeated quote out of context coming from someone who has never read his book in its entirety--before his book even came out. That's dishonest and not a fair representation of Rob Bell.

For the meaning of olam as "a long time or a duration" on page 31, see Kohler-Baumgartner, Hebrew and English Lexicon, volume 1, pages 798-799. For the use of aion on page 31 as "age, generation, long space of time" to translate the Hebrew olam see Lust, Eynikel, & Hauspie, A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, pages 18-19. On page 54 Bell mentions Jesus hanging on the cross "between two insurgents." See Martin Hengel, The Zealots, pages 24-36: the Greek term used in the Gospels, lestes, was the Roman word for an "insurgent." On the Hebrew concept of the afterlife, pages 64-65, see Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic, pages 137-223.

The Greek word for "hell," gehenna, on page 67, is a transliteration of the Aramaic phrase, ge hinnom. It appears in Hebrew as geyʾ ben hinom in 2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; and Jeremiah 7:31-32. It was the "Valley of the son of Hinom," on the south and just outside of Jerusalem. Here the Israelites sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire as burnt offerings, but also to "Molech." This practice made the place what was called a Tophet among the Canaanites (Jeremiah 7:32). There was a god named Milku at Ugarit and one named Milcom, but in the Bible the term appears to be the name for a sacrifice in fulfillment of a vow, "as a Molech sacrifice" (see Jack Sasson, Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, Volume 3, page 2054). The remains of thousands of such sacrificed children have been found by archaeologists at Carthage (Glenn Markoe, Phoenicians, pages 132-133). In Jesus' day, the Valley of Hinom was the Jerusalem garbage dump. This was what Jesus called hell. The presence of dogs in the Valley of Hinom was the reason why the Essenes forbade dogs at Qumran: "and one should not let dogs enter the holy camp, because they might eat some of the bones from the temple with flesh on them" 4Q397:58-59 {4QHalakhic Letter, 4QMMT, Miqsat Ma'aseh Ha-Torah, Fragments 6-13}, see Wise, Abegg, and Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, page 459, no. 17; and in Magness, The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, page 120). the foundation of the Qumran community in middle of the second century B.C.E. The Valley of Hinom in Jerusalem was where all the waste from the thousands of animal sacrifices taking place daily in the Temple was disposed of. That's why the fire was always burning and the dogs were always there. It was the Valley of Slaughter when Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar, and would be the Valley of Slaughter when Titus took Jerusalem again. And as Jeremiah predicted in Jeremiah 7:33, even in Jesus' day it was the Valley of Slaughter for the Temple sacrifices and the carcasses would be food for "the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away." For Jesus' listeners, because of its national associations, the word gehenna or hell carried an emotional connotation it does not carry for us. But there are words that do: words like Ground Zero, Omaha Beach, Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, Nagasaki.

A reference to the source of the horticultural usage of kolazo on page 91 of Love Wins would have been nice. On Christian leaders believing all men will be saved, on pages 106-108 and 114-115 of Love Wins, Bell says that Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Eusebius, Jerome, Basil and Augustine and "very many" believed in the ultimate reconciliation of all men to God.

Eusebius said "They [the Hebrew prophets] all with one voice foretold a light of true religion would come to all men, purity of mind and body and body, a complete purging of the heart" (Proof of the Gospel; see W. H. C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity, page 478). W. H. C. Frend, in The Rise of Christianity, page 377, says about Origen: "Evil, like death, was not a positive force, so and so even the blackest devils and Satan himself could be restored." Clement of Alexandria's optimism "seemed to be even more Bhuddhist than Christian" (Frend, The Rise of Christianity, p. 372). That some Christians, such as Origen and Clement, believed such things, is true. The text of Revelation 21:25 does say the gates of the heavenly city will never be shut. Bell states on pages 151-152 that Jesus transcends any Christian culture, denomination, church, or theological system. Those who argue against Rob Bell need to be more like Gamaliel in Acts 5:34-39. One more typo in the book: the last sentence on page 198 says "that loves wins."

Those judging Bell without reading his book completely through are definitely missing the key to his language. Reading Rob Bell for them is like learning Sumerian.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 11, 2011, 3:43:47 PM PDT
I'm a seminary grad who spent 20 years studying Hebrew, all of the Semitic languages, and the history and archaeology of the Ancient Near East and its languages, and then spent another decade studying the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Second Temple period. My review is the fruit of reading the book six times and comparing it with my knowledge. Bell is definitely not speaking the language of Calvinism: you have that quite correct. He himself told me he's coming from a Hebraic perspective. I actually did present the Sumerian language analogy to him in person. And I did see the tremendous change in the perspective on God's love: that's why I wrote the review, along with the fact that I realized that much of his handling of the Bible was quite accurate. THAT needed to be defended.

Posted on Apr 27, 2012, 11:47:04 AM PDT
MBarley says:
Dear Jerry,

I was wondering if you have read the book, Hope Beyond Hell The Righteous Purpose of God's Judgments by Gerry Beauchamen. He does a much thorough examination of the Scriptures than Rob Bell and I believe it is a very definitive work in support of Universalsm. With your background, I would love to hear your thoughts. You can read the book at hopebeyondhell.net

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2012, 4:27:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 17, 2012, 4:33:08 PM PDT
> Jerry D. Neal wrote:
> I'm a seminary grad who spent 20 years studying Hebrew,
> all of the Semitic languages, and the history and archaeology
> of the Ancient Near East and its languages, and then spent
> another decade studying the Dead Sea Scrolls and the
> Second Temple period. My review is the fruit of reading
> the book six times and comparing it with my knowledge...
> much of his handling of the Bible was quite accurate.

Its so refreshing (and so rare) in the world of religion to see an intelligent person, who is educated enough to know what he is talking about, give a thoughtful review of a book they have ACTUALLY read.

Thanks, Jerry!
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