Archive for March, 2010

Angels, Hell and Mothers’ Day: 16 March

March 16, 2010

Angels and Hell are two subjects I am working on, Angels for Christianity magazine (www.christianitymagazine.co.uk ), Hell for a book provisionally called The Lie of Hell. They came together at my mother-in-law’s!

We were visiting for Mothers’ Day and I mentioned my angels work. She pointed me to a book she has just picked up again: Angels on Assignment (www.angelsonassignment.org ) While my wife and daughters watched the rugby I read through the book as quickly as I could. (Yes indeed it was that way round. I gave up watching sport on TV a while ago, but not before my daughters and then wife had caught from me the bug or buzz of the rugby internationals.)

Angels on Assignment is the story and message of Pastor Roland Buck, from Boise Idaho, who, from June 18 1978, had a series of meetings with angels. Mostly the angels came to his house in the middle of the night. They talked about many things, chiefly explaining to this experienced Pastor new insights into Biblical theology. The angels told Pastor Buck how important it is to show love in action, more important than ‘giving our testimony’ or trying to talk people into faith. In other words ‘Let you light so shine before others that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.’ The angels explained the Old Testament sacrifices in a new way, showing how Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary was prepared for and should be understood by these old animal sacrifices. The angels’ main message, according to Pastor Buck, was simply ‘GOD CARES.’

The angels also played with Pastor Buck’s dog, gave him a wafer and a drink of water after which he lost excess weight effortlessly and felt fitter than for a long time, and sent him to the Philippines with a list of names of people he would meet. He did meet them all, some locals, some visitors like himself. Some were converted, some healed, some both.

Pastor Buck was reluctant to speak about the angels, but they told him he had to pass on the messages and how they came. One angel came to church to ‘encourage’ him to speak out. (Pastor Buck was not allowed to pass the buck!) Other people heard and asked to write the book. Pastor Buck died about 18 months after the first experience. He never made any money out of it all. His character and his theological soundness have never been challenged. The most likely explanation for his story is that he really did talk with angels.

What about Hell? Pastor Buck was taken to see Heaven or ‘the Throne Room’ as he calls it. On the way out, he saw another ‘place’, a kind of hallway or waiting room. This puzzled him as he always believed that after death there was simply heaven or hell. The last breath we breathe in our present bodies is the last chance we have to be saved or damned for ever. He asked his angel guide about this. The guide explained that he was indeed seeing a kind of waiting room and that what he had always believed about death being the last moment of choice was ‘not necessarily so.’ Pastor Buck was aghast. ‘That’s totally against my theology!’ he cried. He described the angel’s response: ‘He simply stated that he wasn’t trying to compare it to my theology!’

I don’t think the angels would want to compare the Biblical truth to any traditional theology of hell, for most of the tradition ignores a crucial distinction Jesus made. Jesus talked about ‘Hades’ and about ‘Gehenna.’ Translators have taken these two quite different words and merged them into one word ‘Hell.’ So the image and understanding we have of Hell is confused, to say the least. It also owes more to Plato than it does to our Jewish, Old Testament, heritage.

It’s high time we went back to the two words Jesus used, assuming that he meant two different ‘places.’ Hades: a place of ‘weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth,’ but one whose keys are now firmly in Jesus’ hands. Hades, according to Tom Wright, New Testament scholar and Bishop of Durham, a kind of remand prison for the accused awaiting trial, a waiting space, as Pastor Buck saw. Gehenna: a place where body and soul are destroyed, a place destined for the devil and his angels, a lake of fire into which death, hades, and the devil are cast when they have no more use.

The implications of all this are immense and it seems that the angels want the Biblical truth to come out.

Roger Harper

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