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Archive for May, 2020

by Jim Gordon

My wife and I often discuss using the word Christian these days. We wonder whether we should describe ourselves by the word Christian or not. We think it all boils down to what we mean by the word Christian.

So often the word means many things we are not. Say the word Christian and many people automatically stereotype you to basic beliefs and doctrines of the religion of Christianity and not necessarily to what we truly believe.

If being a Christian is being part of a religious organization that meets in a building on a particular day and follows set doctrines based on a particular denomination then no, we are not Christians. If being a Christian is being part of a group that is opposed to all other people and religions and only accepts those who believe like we do then no, we are not Christians. If being a Christian has anything to do with man-made religion, exclusion, hatred, following old covenant law then no, we are not Christians.

In Acts 11:26 the disciples were first called Christians by people in Antioch. I always heard that they were called Christians because they were acting like Christ. The people there were calling them little Christ’s because of the way they showed the love and power of Christ. Now, if that is what is meant by being a Christian then we are all in.

There are many ways we can described ourselves…believers, Christ followers, disciples of Christ, followers of the way, and even Christians. Yet the term itself really does not matter. What matters is how we live our lives. Is Christ preeminent? Are we living as one with him? Are we allowing the love of Christ to live through us, accepting others, loving others and being little Christ’s to all we meet? If not, whatever word we use to describe our religious belief does not make any difference.

When people see us, they should see Christ. When people see Christ, they should see God who is love. He lives within us and we should be known for the love we have for him and for the love we have for our fellow human beings. Do not worry so much about the label we use. Follow the leading of the Spirit of Christ who lives within us. Share the love of God with each and every person we meet. Be known for sharing the love of God rather than for what religious word we choose to use.

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By Mike Edwards

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

God isn’t nearly as active in punishing in the New Testament as in the Old Testament. One explanation is that OT writers believed, thus wrote, it was sacrilegious to not express God(s) as all powerful and controlling. A God of freedom doesn’t control our cognitions. NT writers seemed influenced by Jesus’ example. Is God waiting to zap you if making a wrong move, or do our actions have their own destructive consequences? Selfish people often don’t have many friends!

Old Testament views of God’s wrath.

The OT is a bit schizophrenic when describing God and punishment. Ancient literature predating Genesis wrote about local floods in their lands. It is not fabrication if biblical writers used a local flood to illustrate global human problems. This was a common literary practice in Ancient Near East times. But there is no denying God is described as actively destroying than letting evil run its course in the Flood story. God in the OT is said to actively punish the Israelites and their enemies.

The Book of Job can be interpreted to paint a different picture. The moral of the story is that good and evil people suffer in this world. God doesn’t control who is punished and who isn’t punished for their deeds. Job is described as blameless and righteous (1:1) and doesn’t escape suffering. God isn’t portrayed as the bringer of pain, controlling when evil or good folks such as Job suffer.

In the New Testament God seems to respond differently to rebellion.  

The New Testament says the wages of sin is death (Rm. 6:23). This seems to say sin has its own punishment which eventually leads to death, not that God is going around killing people or choosing when people die. How do we explain passages such as Romans 1:24: “Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts ….” Our sins often lead to negative consequences when abandoning God’s ways. Jesus was sacrificed on the Cross and God didn’t punish the guilty. The reward for many believing in Jesus was martyrdom.

A punitive God suggests God is arbitrary. 

No one thinks a loving God plays favorites. Those who suggest God actively punishes reveal an arbitrary God. If God does actively punish and carry out wrath, God is letting a whole lot of evil in the world slide. An arbitrary, punitive God suggests God’s grace is not universal. Christians would admonish one another in Christ if mercy or discipline was exercised in such a fashion. God doesn’t love those spared more than those supposedly punished. 

What is God like?  

The only way to understand God’s love is to compare to human love. We all sense what perfect parental love is, even if we did not always experience it. God surely treats rebellion how we think loving, perfect friends or parents of older children ought to respond to wrongdoing. We hate what sin is doing but we don’t seek to pile on. We warn and don’t interfere with consequences, yet we don’t arbitrarily destroy. We hope for change before it is too late. God’s love, mercy, and encouragement, not God’s need for punishment, leads to becoming the person we desire to be.

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by Jim Gordon

When we think about Jesus, many of us automatically think of Christianity. Yet in actuality, the two are completely different.  Jesus did not come to start a religion. Jesus was not a Christian.

We are missing the whole point when we focus on religion rather than the real reason Jesus came to live among us. He came to show us what God is really like. A god who is kind and who loves each and every one of us. No matter what we call ourselves or what group we claim to belong to, God loves each one of us.

According to Wikipedia it is stated that according to some estimates there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jewish, Christianity. In a sense, each of these and every other religion are actually related. They are all human based ways of trying to find and please the God (or gods) they believe in and serve.

In regard to just Christian denominations, World Christian Encyclopedia says that world Christianity consists of six major ecclesiastical-cultural blocs. These are divided into 300 major ecclesiastical traditions and are composed of over 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries. We even break it down more within Christianity with all the different denominations such as Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian or part of the hundreds of other groups. It certainly cannot be stated that people are not interested in some type of higher power.

We want to argue over religion and who is right and who is wrong. All the different religions of the world cannot agree in who we believe or what is right. We argue over whose interpretation or doctrine is right, then condemn and disassociate with those who feel differently.

Needless to say, we all have our interpretations, thoughts and ideas but those just make us unique individuals. They were not intended to cause separations and divisions among us. We should be able to be ourselves and yet love and accept those who are different from us.

If we could get past the religious part of our beliefs and live in the freedom God provided, accept one another and love one another even in our differences, we could certainly get along much better together. Rather than defend our denominational interpretations and our religious doctrines, if we would love and accept others with the love of Christ, people would be more open to hear about our views on God.

Sadly, we are normally busy pointing out what we think are sins and mistakes of others. We are quick to judge and condemn those who we consider sinners. Yet when we do so, the love Jesus told us to show everyone seems to get missed. I personally do not think it is our job to judge and condemn people and determine what are sins or not. We are told to love God and love one another.

Jesus told us to love God, love one another, love your neighbor and love your enemy. When we focus on the gospels and the life of Jesus, we see that he did not condemn people nor point out specific sins. He had compassion and love and forgave them before they even asked. We can certainly see a distinct difference from the way we act today. Jesus mainly seemed to have an issue with the religious leaders who thought they were better than everyone else because of their religious works.

When it comes to saying I am a Christian, I am hesitant anymore because of the stereotypical ideas most people form when hearing the term. If being a Christian means a follower of Christ, someone who wants to be like Christ, someone who shows the love of God to everyone then I am for it. But if being a Christian means someone who follows the old covenant law, who is judgmental, condemning and hateful then I am done with that and prefer not to use the term. In that sense, Christianity is not the answer nor is any other man-made religion.

Jesus is not into religion. Jesus came to show the love of God to every human being no matter who they are or what they believe. Jesus crosses the barriers of religion and loves everyone. Jesus shows us what God is really like, an all-inclusive, loving and accepting Spirit who wants the best for all of us. In the world today we are the only Jesus people see. We should be ready to share that love and acceptance with everyone we meet.

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By Mike Edwards

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I don’t fully understand why I enjoy reading, discussing, and writing about God. I witnessed hypocrisy growing up but stayed with God. It isn’t because I’m more moral. Many seek to live a honorable life but God’s help isn’t sought in their journey. Depending on God or not depending on God doesn’t prove one has a character flaw. Why might some inclined toward more of a connection with God not bother? I am bias such a relationship can help us be more the kind of person we deep down desire to be.

The Bible may be a major reason many aren’t into God.

Many don’t accept the God of the Bible for good reason. In fact, many God-followers wouldn’t claim certain views toward gays or women if they didn’t believe the Bible requires such beliefs. Does it? See here. The Bible should be read literately rather than literally. Genesis is often claimed to be a scientific understanding of beginnings though not the writers’ intentions. People don’t need to lose their faith because they believe in evolution or that Adam was a representative rather than literally the first human. 

Evil and God just don’t mix despite the freedom argument.

God’s inactiveness with so much evil in the world may be the main reason many are atheists. Why doesn’t a supposedly all-powerful God intervene more? How is God allowing evil any different than a parent who stands by and watches this child being sexually abused? Maybe God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. Divine love limits divine power. Maybe God can only stop evil with the help of others freely helping. See God Can’t by Thomas Oord.

Gays and Women! 

Many only hold their views toward gays or women because a Book inspired by God supposedly condemns gays or restricts roles based on gender than gifts. Why would a gay person believe in a God who supposedly condemn them for sexual choices they no more choose than straights? How could a loving God favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face? Why believe in a God who restricts women though obviously gifted?

Hell is another good reason to reject God!

No one would believe God created a place such as Hell unless a Book on God supposedly claims so. Why would God possibly create Hell to torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. Turns out the Bible doesn’t teach such a place exist. See Here.

Friends with a hidden agenda is a turn-off.    

It is wrong to engage in friendships for the purpose of converting them to your beliefs without advising upfront this is your agenda. We should engage in relationships both to love and be loved. Discussions about God best come up naturally. The sinner’s prayer to avoid Hell isn’t in the Bible. When Jesus interacted with a woman caught in adultery, He first stopped the crowd’s stoning attempts. Then, Jesus simply told the woman “go now, and leave your life of sin” (John 8). Pretty good advice. Didn’t Jesus have a better evangelical spiel in case He never saw the woman again? 

Hypocrisy can be a stumbling block.

The truth is that we all are hypocrites. What human being lives up to the standards they know in their heart are honorable? But it is reasonable to expect those who talk about God to act godly. Baptists, Methodists, Protestants, Catholics, etc. fight over their different creeds, yet all supposedly believe in the same message of loving your neighbor as yourself. Some believe Paul called out gays (I Cor. 6:9-10), but they ignore Paul confronting greed in the same breath. Try living a day without greed before judging. Why would one consider God if god-folks don’t walk the talk?

Do you wish to be more focused on being spiritual?  

Focusing on being a better person physically or spiritually does take initiative rather than being passive. But we all are human. I will be more judgmental when I am where I want to be with my physical health goals. Focusing on being more spiritual with God’s help may though be a lot easier if God-followers didn’t put unnecessary barriers in the path of those seeking.

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by Jordan Hathcock

Central to God’s covenant with ancient Israel (the spiritual ancestors of Jews, Christians, and Muslims), these laws describe and prescribe what the new life beyond “Egypt”—at that time seen as a symbol of bondage, economic exploitation, impoverishment, and slavery—is to be like. They embody God’s dream, God’s passion for a different kind of life on earth, here and now, in this world. – Marcus Borg

What do we do when we are placed in a time with so much uncertainty and fear? With the current pandemic we are facing, how do face the reality of death and economic turmoil? Whatever your view on the causes of the covid-19 virus—from conspiracy theory pandemonium to “mainstream media” coherency—we cannot deny the current effects of the onslaught of mental and physical devastation. When we are hit with something that is so out of our control, how do we react in a healing and liberating way? Well, trusting in our first responders (the real heroes) who are putting themselves in harm’s way for the safety of others is what we must do now. But what about the bigger systemic issues that are taking hold?

One idea comes to mind: Jubilee. No, not the chick from X-Men (hehe). The word “jubilee” is derived from the Hebrew word jobel, which means “ram’s horn”; since it was precisely that horn which was used as a trumpet, whose sound indicated to everybody the beginning of the jubilee year. We find the concept of the jubilee in the book of Leviticus, in the code of holiness, which tells us of the significance of the jubilee year: a year of liberation, alleviation and simplicity. It is within this framework that the official reset idea was started. To experience the commonwealth of God, living out this jubilee reality wouldn’t hurt. I believe we find ourselves in such a time where the spirit of jubilee could burst forth and become incarnated in the current coronavirus-stricken world.

Liberation

The Year of Jubilee, which came every 50th year, was a year full of liberating people from their debts, releasing all slaves, and returning property to its original owners (Leviticus 25:1-13). Could we use the essence of this ancient “law” (which really was a vision for a new lifestyle) in our current state of affairs?  Let’s see how this can correlate with our current social issues. Here are some stats (from the U.S. perspective):

Covid-19 has cost more than 33 million Americans their jobs in the last seven weeks – 10% of the entire US population. The official unemployment rate had shot up from 4.4% to 14.7% on Friday (unseen since the 1930s Great Depression).

Forecasts suggest COVID-19 is likely to cause the first increase in global poverty since 1998.

Using the most recent data, the World Bank has predicted coronavirus is pushing 40-60 million people into extreme poverty.

The areas most affected depend on the impact of the virus on economic activity and the number of people living close to the international poverty line.

It isn’t just what the virus is doing to the economic climate now but what it was doing prior to the lockdown. Mass incarceration, education reform, racism (in all its forms), civil rights, climate change, white supremacy, etc. all were issues before covid-19 hit. We are still facing this, as we just witnessed an actual murder on video of an innocent black man: Ahmaud Abrey! If this is not the call for liberation (which includes merciful justice) then I do not know what is.

Alleviation

The other side of this coin is the over exacerbation of western consumerism. If we do not keep up with the “empire money making” machine, we will be left in the dust. Western civilization has over emphasized the competitive spirit into a form of slavery. If we do not work those long hours, we do not move up the corporate ladder (yay). Look, hard work is great when it is done in a way that benefits you and others well-being. Hyper Capitalism (not taking any sides on the socialism vs. capitalism debate) is not helping anybody. We are stuck in the consumerism rat race and we need to take steps to release the chains.

Especially with the current pandemic we find ourselves in, we cannot ignore the fragility of our “economy of exchange” that is not up to handle an onslaught of helpless communities in need of care. This is not to criticize our first responders (nurse, doctors, fireman, etc.). We would be utterly doomed without their heroic service. What I am implying is the current trajectory that western societies are headed, we will see no type of practice of rest (sabbath). You see through popular culture the rise of awareness for the importance of meditation. By this becoming more of a daily practice will be a huge step into this sabbath way of contemplation. Like all mystics of the past, the way to encounter true existence is to be aware of the ever-present moment.

Simplicity

Last but not least, is the jubilee call of simplicity. When its all said and done, the task of one living the “simple life” is to actually stand against the plague of disease, social injustices, and economic woes. I do not know about you, but during this quarantine I found less of the non-stop merry-go-round business of life and found more of a content way of being. Yes, I understand that not all of us our experiencing this. People are losing their jobs, houses, and more. But this is where privileged people like me can step up and really show a service minded outset to bring about the peace that is so needed in our current culture. To quote Richard J. Foster from his book, Freedom of Simplicity:

“Simplicity is not merely a matter of having less stress and more leisure. It is rather an essential spiritual discipline that we must practice for the health of the soul.”

There it is. The Jubilee. Yeah, a pretty hefty proposal, I know (is it really, though?). Look, this is not an attempt to make the utopian jamboree (though it does sound nice). It is also not some idealistic plea to just make me (or you) feel all warm inside (not that I am against that haha). But I do strongly believe it is something we can (and should) explore. Why, you ask? Well, when faced with an entity (virus) which has taken us to a place we have never been before—societal disorder on a worldwide scale—that’s when the spirit seems to move herself to places where we have never seen available. Jesus was not lying when he said: “you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” It starts with the breaking of the fruit of the spirit to entice us to act in love. Placing our trust in a new “abnormal” could just be the ticket to embrace a new kind of communal reality. One that brings the jubilee admonition of liberation, alleviation, and simplicity. That is good news, right? Some good news sounds pretty fucking fantastic right about now…

“Now is the time to give me roses not to keep them for my grave to come. Give them to me while my heart beats, give them today while my heart yearns for jubilee. Now is the time.” -Mzwakhe Mbuli

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by Jim Gordon

I remember when I was a little boy waking up in the middle of the night and calling out in the dark to my mom. I could not see her but I knew she was there. If I went by sight, I would never have called out to her and I would not have received the help I wanted.

The same with God, we cannot see Him but we know He is there through faith. We must realize that we live by faith or we will never call out to Him.

In certain ways, I see all people as people of faith. That is not saying that all people have faith in God but all have faith. Some people have faith in science, some in various religions, some in humanity and others have faith in God.

God loves each one of us no matter what we put our faith in. He calls us to himself, he accepts us and loves us.

None of us can prove there is a God or that there is not a God. None of us can prove heaven or hell. Many things in which we believe in this life are all by faith.

Just as it is by faith that we flip a light switch and expect the lights to come on, or sit on a chair and expect it to hold us. It is by faith we accept God and know He is there to listen and watch over us.

Do not worry about trying to prove God to everyone. Live your life daily by faith in God. Allow Him to live through you to touch others with love and, in his way and time, prove himself to you.

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By Mike Edwards

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The truth is we can’t prove that God exist or doesn’t exist. Either belief takes faith. If a Creator does exist, most agree only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we don’t have some notions of what perfect love is. The only way to understand God’s love is to compare to human love. God surely loves us the way we know how we ought to love others.

God and perfect human love must be the same.

The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We may not always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. God is often claimed a mystery because one’s interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. Such interpreters sense intuitively God and human love are the same.

Moral intuitions are a guide in what true love is.

It is plausible a universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated is how a Creator communicates how to treat others if in that person’s shoes. I don’t know any God or non-God person that doesn’t value the golden rule in relationships. Rational people don’t always agree what is our moral obligation concerning immigration, climate change, abortion, health care, taxes, or responding to evil dictators that murder their own people, but calm dialogue allows evaluating the challenges we encounter and finding what different views have in common.

What does God really think about women, gays, and non-Christians? 

Most intuitively question if a loving God really favors men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face. Most intuitively question if a loving God really condemn gays, who have to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility, when gays can no more choose who attracted to than straights can. Most intuitively question if God would torture infidels forever for beliefs while on earth only for a short time. Humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies.

We can’t know what God’s perfect love is only according to the Bible.

Many don’t question the above views because of the Bible. Did the biblical writers always understand God perfectly as opposed to being on the same spiritual journey we all are on – discovering what God is really like? How would God control every cognition and word written down? Besides, the Bible requires interpretation and biblical scholars, who respect Scriptures, don’t all agree the Bible teaches different roles for women and men or that the Bible condemns monogamous same-sex relationships. Not questioning a Book has led to sick and weak minds carrying out immoral acts contrary to common moral sense.

Uncertainty, rather than certainty, can be a good thing.

Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. It is hard to be relational when so damn certain! It is universally accepted that it is evil to kill or behead someone because of their beliefs unless you are a terrorist. Problems begin when insisting on our interpretation of a supposed inspired Book. God may not communicate more clearly, because God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. The road traveled of learning and reflecting may best lead to lasting convictions. The Bible was more direct communication, but it has been used to force beliefs on others despite subject to interpretation. Different opinions communicated respectively can stand together as we continually evaluate the most loving approach.

Can we judge what is truly evil?  

Terrorists believe that murdering or beheading others for their beliefs isn’t evil. One main clue about extreme behaviors is if our actions demonstrate loving others how we wish to be loved. Would terrorists accept their wives and children being murdered or beheaded for different beliefs from another group claiming God-speak? Even extremists want to be treated with loving kindness. I would ask extremists how we can be certain their Book is really God’s words or that they have interpreted correctly. I assume the conversation would go downhill until one accepts Books can’t be proven inspired or uninspired.

It matters what we think God is like!

Our mental images of God shape our relationship with God and how followers might treat others. The more you respect your earthly parents or God, the closer you are to them. We can’t claim with certainty, which may not be a bad thing, what God would do in every situation but human perfection is our best starting point for discussion. We can’t know what God is exactly like, but continually evaluating the most loving approach openly with others is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. Imagine what God is like. You may be right!

 

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by Jim Gordon

War, terrorism, politics, COVID-19 pandemic, how could we possibly be at peace in our world today with all this turmoil?

How can we be at peace with people with all the different thoughts and ideas, the different denominations, interpretations, beliefs, different religions and ways of life?

The dictionary says of peace: harmony in personal relations; freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. We certain have a lot of strain in personal relations and much unrest and worry in thoughts and emotions about events going on in our world today.

Romans 12:18 reads, if possible, so far as it depends on you be at peace with all men. To me this means we are to live in harmony with others, not allowing any oppressive thoughts or emotions to take control of us. In other words, we live in love. That does not mean total agreement, but love and acceptance of who the other person was created to be.

Jesus told us we were given the peace of God by saying “peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. It is a peace that we, in our finite human minds cannot make sense of or understand.

Jesus also said “in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This world will provide plenty of worrisome events, plenty of turmoil and plenty of things to worry about each day. Yet Jesus said by putting our trust and hope in God we can overcome the worry and fear we have in the world.

The Kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of this world. Our world is a temporary home, yet the Kingdom of God is now. It is within us. The Spirit of Christ is within us. Our spiritual home right now is in the Kingdom of God. We do not recognize all the effects because we are to accustomed to the ways of the world. Jesus said the ways of the world have been overcome by the Kingdom of God.

The more we can focus on the Spirit and the Kingdom within, the more we can enjoy the peace Jesus provides. The peace of Christ works within our spirit, much different than the peace we think about in our world system.

Remember that we are responsible for ourselves in the way we live and trust God. We are not responsible to live as others do or think we should. We are not responsible to tell others how they should live. We are to allow the Spirit to work in our lives and follow the Spirit on the path we are following. Our responsibility is to love God and love everyone we come in contact with, accept them for who they are and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in all our lives. Living in this manner would accomplish much more in showing the love of Christ and allow us to live in peace amidst all the turmoil in our lives.

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By Mike Edwards

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The amount of violence recorded as commanded by God is undeniable such as ordering the death of women, children, infants and animals in war (I Sam. 15:3). Many assume a Book supposedly inspired by God means God approved what was written about God. Who is to say the writers weren’t on the same spiritual journey we all are on – discovering what God is really like! Violent views of God can often lead to justifying wars and killing infidels in God’s name.

It is best to admit we can’t prove God inspired (aka approved) all recorded in the Bible.

Let’s be honest. We can’t prove God took over the biblical writers’ minds to control what’s written. Writers rarely claimed audible God-speak. “God said” written hundreds of times could be a figure of speech expressing an inner impression about God – right or wrong. Writers/editors of the Bible didn’t intentionally lie but were honest about their understandings of God at the time. This may explain violence wrongly contributed to God. I think best to not use the word “inspired” as most associate that with God agreeing with every thought or belief the writers had about God.

Did God approve certain violence to bring the Israelites freely along to the truth?

It is argued Israel’s laws were a step up from other ancient near eastern laws. At times maybe they were, but it is rational to question many laws set forth. God surely didn’t approve a woman being required to marry her rapist (Deut. 22: 28-29) or killing boys and non-virgins but sparing virgins for the warriors (Num. 31:18). Did God accommodate because the Israelites couldn’t handle the truth that requiring a woman to marry their rapist or family murderer is further victimization? I doubt it!

Is violence by God simply warfare exaggeration or hyperbole?  

Warfare rhetoric was common in ancient literature to induce fear and victory. But, even if God didn’t mean to be taken literally, why would God inspire violent metaphors like I Sam. 15 to include women, children, infants, and animals? Imperfect, human leaders don’t even use such language. I question if the writers heard God correctly to command such language even metaphorically.

Maybe the violence commanded by God didn’t take place?

Archaeology can suggest biblical events never happened and were recorded centuries later to convey spiritual truths. The creation account in Genesis may not be an actual historical event. It is also pointed out many of the genocide-like commands supposedly from God were not carried out as survivors are listed later in the story. Maybe extermination passages are meant to be understood within the context of initially driving out the enemy. The problem though is that God supposedly said these violent commands – not if commands were obeyed, didn’t take place, or were hyperbole.

Is violence explained because God can do whatever the Hell God wants?  

It is normal to feel compelled to justify passages above because God’s actions in the OT aren’t always moral from a human perspective. So, it is suggested God’s ways don’t have to be fair because God is God. Yet, the Bible encourages us to be perfect like God or imitate God (Mt. 5:48, Eph. 5:1). If human and God’s morals are different, how can we know how to be perfect like God? We don’t always know what perfect love is, but I doubt God is the parent that says “do as I say not what I do.” God’s morals are not some mystery. God’s good isn’t sometimes evil.

Objections when claiming the Bible doesn’t always depict God perfectly.  

  • We can’t know God if we can’t trust the Bible. See here.
  • God wouldn’t allow so much uncertainty. See here.

 God’s uncontrolling rather than controlling love can explain much of the OT.

Many practices in the OT such as animal sacrifices and other behaviors supposedly desired and commanded by God were humans’ understanding of God during those times. God’s love never controls one’s beliefs but seeks to influence for good. Freedom is necessary for authentic, lasting relationships. I have no doubt that the Bible has God’s blessing. So much wisdom has been gained by reading and reflecting. But, God never intended a Book to not be questioned or to take the place of a relationship with God and others. God seeks to influence so we might make choices in the interest of ourselves and others in the long-run.

 

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Freely Seeking Truth After Religion

The Wild Frontier

The search for infinite Truth and the invincible Love of an incredible God.

Chris Kratzer

Grace // Jesus // Life

Stephen Bradford Long

Religion, Esotericism, Skepticism

A Wilderness Voice

"The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, says the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, says the LORD of hosts." (Hag 2:9)

Entering the Promised Land

by walking in the Spirit

TruthForFree.com

What You Won't Find In A Christian Bookstore

Beyond Church Walls

Done with Religion ... Not Done with God

Escape to Reality

Exploring the wide open spaces of God's amazing grace

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