Speaking of natural religion, Bell collapses saving grace into common grace and general revelation into special revelation. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul speaks of the Rock that followed Israel in the wilderness as Christ. “Paul finds Jesus there, in that rock, because Paul finds Jesus everywhere” (144). Literally, everywhere: “There is an energy in the world, a spark, an electricity that everything is plugged into. The Greeks called it zoe, the mystics call it ‘Spirit,’ and Obi-Wan called it ‘the Force’” (144).
According to Bell, heaven and hell are not actual places but subjective states in which people live. To be sure, living “heavenly” or “hellishly” will affect the people around us and the wider society. In the parable of the prodigal son, we are at a party and it’s up to us whether we’ll join in or sit off to the side in protest. “In this story, heaven and hell are within each other, intertwined, interwoven, bumping up against each other” (170).
The title of this chapter reinforces the impression that Bell has simply collapsed the future into the present.
Camping’s reading of the Bible led him to a curiously self-contradictory method which is at some times excessively literal and at other times wildly allegorical. As an engineer he has had a particular interest in the numbers in the Bible. It is this interest that has led him to reach conclusions about the date of the end of the world. His first date was 1994 and he wrote a book showing the method by which he reached this date and to show how certain it was. Since then he has come to certain conclusions about several other dates, some of which he made public and some of which he did not. His repeated failures in calculating the end of the world have not led to repentance on his part or any basic revision of his method of interpreting the Bible.
Word studies dominate the resources available for Christians. Some are good and some, well, not so good. With all the word pictures, Strong’s numbers, footnotes in translations, study Bibles and more, you would think that there’s nothing more that can be said about word studies in the Bible. I’m going to put a little oar in this massive lake anyway. The lake will be reduced in size a bit by only considering New Testament (NT) and Greek examples since this is my field.