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Archive for March, 2021

by Jim Gordon

As a follower of Christ, I feel a great importance in treating all people kindly, fairly and with respect. We are told that as his followers we will be known by our love, not only for one another but for all people.

Unfortunately, I do not see a lot of this sentiment in our christian world today. So many of us would rather condemn, argue and stand our ground for our particular doctrine, interpretation or denomination.

When reading about the life of Jesus while on earth, I see a person who loved his Father and loved people. He went about treating all people with love and respect. When people were brought to him doing something questionable, he told them to go and sin no more, but he never condemned or made anyone feel like a person of lower degree. He never said because you have done this or that I want nothing to do with you. He loved them no matter what.

As I mentioned in my last article, my chosen profession was firefighting. As I think about this line of work I see it as more like true Christianity should be.

Firefighterpledge

As firefighters we treat all people the same. It makes no difference whether we are treating male or female, rich or poor, white or black, religious or atheist, gay or straight. We do not differentiate between Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Taoism or Christian. It makes no difference if you are American, European, African, Middle Eastern or Asian. All people are treated the same no matter who they are, what they believe or how they live.

To me this is the way we Christian people should live each day. Treating others with equality, respect, kindness and with the love of God. We will not always agree on things but living this way will have more of an impact on others and will show the love of God in action.

I always wonder how the church world can be so mean, how it can separate itself so much from those who see things differently. How can we, who profess to follow a loving God treat people with such disrespect? Why is it that most of the time, christian people are known more for what they are against rather than for the love they are to show to all people.

I feel it is time that we Christian people take on a firefighter mentality in the way we treat others, showing love and respect to all people. Rather than fight and argue it is time we help lift up, encourage and be respectful to everyone we meet along this journey through life.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Let’s be honest. More prayers are unanswered than answered. The amount of evil in the world suggests God doesn’t intervene most of the time. Many answered prayers could simply be humans taking action. God didn’t make your partner stop drinking; they finally hit bottom and got sick and tired of being sick and tired. Supposed miracle workers don’t go into hospitals. I bet hospital folks have as much faith as those healed at their rallies. Many are rightly disheartened about God when claims about prayers don’t match up with reality.

Wouldn’t a truly loving God be doing all they can before we ask?

Do we really think God is waiting to help others until we ask God to do something? Prayer must be more than manipulating God to act. God may wait for our invitation for personal help to be more the person we deep down desire to be, but God is tireless in doing all they can for others and desperately seeks our help to change the world.

Love can’t be controlling or arbitrary.

Your view of God determines your perspective and how you pray. I experienced as a child and learned as a parent controlling love is an oxymoron. It isn’t that God has the power to do something and doesn’t. God can’t change people or circumstances without them freely cooperating. Miracles don’t happen because some people are less sinful or beg better at the feet of an arbitrary God. Miracles happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless seen and unseen factors including human and organic agents.  

But the Bible says….

The truth is for almost every passage on prayer, there are opposing interpretations. Mathew 7:7 is used to support the false prosperity gospel: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Isn’t this passage in context simply saying that if we parents give good gifts despite our imperfections, will not God as our perfect Parent always want to give good gifts? First-century readers didn’t assume this was a blank check for requests. The Apostle Paul expected persecution for beliefs (2 Tim. 3:12), thus God obviously is not a genie! 

Prayer reminds us to offer help. 

God is an omnipresent Spirit. God already knows needs before spoken. It is easier sometimes to pray for someone than take cooperative actions with God. This is the most common way that God answers prayers. Rather than praying your friend’s partner stop drinking, which is harming their family, see if your friend would rather you say something to their partner. When you know two friends are in conflict, speak to the one wrongly denying any wrongdoing. God always desire our permission to use our lives to help others. 

Praying keeps us connected to God.

We could replace the word “praying” in the Bible with “talking.” We can talk to God for many reasons including pursuing a closer relationship with our Creator to be more like God, for self-examination, for sharing our concerns, and not feeling alone in a chaotic world. We tell our children associating with the right people leads to making wiser choices. Talking to God can influence us to be more loving like God toward others. 

Freedom and evil! 

Pretending God can simply wave a magic wand, without accounting for freedom, can make one’s suffering worse. Did I not beg enough? Did I not behave enough or have the right attitude? It seems God creating freedom necessitates one being able to do as much harm as they can do good. Authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. While God always loves to the greatest extent possible, God is not in control of everything and everybody. It isn’t that God had the power to do something about it, but chose not to, it is that God could not. Divine love limits divine power. Simply put, God’s love is uncontrolling.

So, why pray?

God is always listening. God has endless mercy and forgiveness so we don’t give up no matter how demoralized we may feel. God is always available in times of loneliness. Friends can’t always be available in the middle of the night, or we may feel that we are overburdening our friends by constantly going to them. God speaks to us mostly through self-reflection as God wants us to feel free to make decisions based on our gifts and aspirations. God only has moral biases for our best interests. We know God is speaking to when we hear: I love you; I forgive you; I won’t abandon you; I always have your and others’ best interests in mind.   

 

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

This article focuses more on those of us who are, let’s say a little further along in life. Most people have a dream, something they want to do or want to become. Most often, this is in regard to some type of a job or career.

I certainly had a dream, and it started when I was ten years old. I wanted to be a firefighter. A lot of young kids have that dream, but I never lost interest in pursuing that dream.

I can remember the excitement I felt just thinking about one day doing this job. My heart would pound when I saw a fire truck going down the street with its lights flashing and siren blaring.

Over the next many years, I would dream about being a firefighter. I would read about it, watch TV shows about it, think about it, prepare and study. I constantly visited different fire houses and talked with the guys actually doing the job. Once I was old enough to do something about my dream, for various reasons it just never seemed to work out, at least not when I wanted it to become a reality.

When I was eighteen, there was a height and weight requirement for the job, and I was always underweight (wish I still had that problem). I could not do anything to gain enough weight to qualify for the testing process.

I ended up taking a job that I had never thought about or wanted to do, but since I needed to work, I took it. Not long afterward I got married and in time had a couple children. At that point, I could not afford to make a job change even though the height and weight requirements for the job were dropped. Yet after all this, my dream continued and I could not get the desire and the excitement of the job out of my mind.

Fortunately, when changes were made to the hiring process, the age requirement was dropped also. Finally, even though I was into my forties, I finally made the decision to give it a try. I was extremely fortunate to have a wife who knew how bad I wanted this job and who was willing to do whatever it took to help me and to keep the family finances in decent shape.

So, after all the years of dreaming, preparing, studying, taking tests and physicals and waiting, I finally got the job I had dreamed about for so long. Once actually on the department, I absolutely loved it. I am one of the lucky ones who actually got to live their dream job.

Now the issue was that since I started later in life, when I turned sixty-five years old, I knew it was time to retire. I had fulfilled my dream and loved doing it, but now I was ready for the next chapter in my life.

I certainly have not regretted leaving my dream job at all. I was blessed by God to get to fulfill it and I was blessed to have a wife who supported and encouraged me throughout the process and the job. But now I was ready to enjoy life outside of work.

Of course, this left the question of ‘now what’? After all the years of dreaming, preparing, studying, testing, day-dreaming about a job, then doing the job, it was over. So now what do I do after the dream is over?

At first, it can be quite confusing about what to do and how to handle this change. After having a specific identify for many years, then all of a sudden it is gone, it can take some time to adjust back into normal life. Then once you do, you wonder what can you do after you have fulfilled your dream.

The good thing is that it does not take long to start enjoying a life of no schedules, a life of never missing a family event again, a life of spending quantity and quality time with your spouse. Once you get into the groove of daily life outside of work, there are still plenty of things to do to enjoy life and fulfill a sense of purpose.

There are all types of hobbies, volunteer work, there is plenty of time to spend with kids and grandkids, there are plenty of parttime jobs out there, and for us, there is plenty of time to travel and see some places we have always dreamed about seeing.

So maybe the main dream is over in regard to a career, but there are plenty of other dreams out there just waiting to be fulfilled. The thing we need to remember is do not give up. Do not just sit day after day thinking there is nothing more to do. Focus on some of the other things you always would have liked to do if you just had the time.

I truly believe no matter what our age, God has a purpose for us to fulfill. We can do things that will bring us joy and give us purpose, and can also bring joy and be a help and encouragement to others. It is never to late. After the dream is over you can focus on the next dream to look forward to fulfilling.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

It seems doubtful a Creator would communicate to their creations only through a Book, since the majority of people born into this world didn’t possess a copy of the Bible. Even the Bible suggests to look for God’s guidance through a Spirit than a Book (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). We can think of the Holy Spirit as God’s Spirit or Presence.

God mainly guides through influence. 

Since God isn’t visibly or audibly for most of us, God must guide through influence. We are not entirely unfamiliar with such guidance. If we were close to our parents, even if they have passed, we still are influenced by them. It could be loving on God’s part to allow human parents to guide us in the beginning, rather than a visible God who we may be overwhelmed by or unable to relate to as much. The example a parent sets, and our mental image of God, can guide though not physically present.

Our image of God is everything. 

The Bible frequently uses the analogy of God as our Heavenly Father/Parent to understand God as best we can. God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for we cannot be in all places at one time, but an analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities. The Bible says to strive to imitate or be perfect like God (Eph. 5:1; Mt. 5:48). It is only intuitive to think a Creator would love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. Said another way, how you wished to be loved by your parents is how God loves us. God’s image is a perfect, loving Parent!

How does God’s influence work?

We know the Spirit’s influence when we continually strive to be the perfect partner, parent, or friend despite our failures. We know the Spirit’s influence when we recognize violence begets violence and respond non-violently when able. We know the Spirit’s influence when we have wronged someone, we quickly confess and make amends. That is more supernatural than natural. The Spirit speaks like a loving parent would: I love you; I forgive you; I won’t abandon you. 

What about moral guidance?

Moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Universal moral outrage toward murder, adultery, stealing, etc. hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. There is practically universal agreement concerning the golden rule. We don’t always know what perfect love entails, but we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others as I wish to be loved or as our Creator loves us. Some matters declared moral aren’t necessarily. There are two sides in handling challenges such as immigration, taxes, climate strategies, etc. Open discussions can lead to creative solutions not chaos. 

What about future decisions?

It is natural to think an all-knowing, powerful God has special insights into future outcomes to avoid problems. To say God knows the future suggests a predetermined future making freedom nonsensical. God’s plan is not a detailed blueprint but a general one to set us free to love. God can’t tell you if the person you want to marry won’t end up betraying you or the job you take won’t end up being phased out. God joins us in an open future. We surely have God’s blessing choosing the wisest, more loving path at the time based on past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations. God seeks only to influence us to do all the good we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as we can. Such a plan leads to true happiness in the long-run for a better world.

We don’t always have to be certain if mental impressions are the Spirit’s voice.

God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to consuming guilt or fearful obligations to obey. When parents push their agendas, even if in their child’s best interests, they may resent or rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. Many moral decisions are clear and agreed upon. Some though declare supposed certainty often in God’s name. Civil discussions, proclaiming uncertainty not certainty, can led to new understandings.

 

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

As followers of Christ, we have a hope within us that can be an encouragement to us, and that can uplift us during the events of our daily life. Because of this, we want others to know and share in having that hope for themselves.

Yet, we often go a little overboard on when and how to let others know about that hope. Have you ever felt guilty because you did not say something to someone about Christ? Do you feel obligated to speak your mind about a particular sin? Do you feel it is your duty as a Christian to force every opportunity into a chance to tell someone about salvation?

Quite frankly, I disagree with all of those thoughts. I agree that some people have the gift of evangelism and should be using that gift to the fullest. I also feel that not all of us need to be forcing the issue with those we come in contact each day.

We all have probably at one time or another taken (or forced) an opportunity to tell someone about the love of God. It seems even to the point of wanting to make converts more than wanting to make friends. I have experienced a few times when people I just met in a store or restaurant were extra nice and doing their best to talk with me. I thought they were just being nice, or maybe this will be a new friend only to find out they were just trying to make a new convert to their church.

As Christians, we are told to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love others as ourselves. When we live our lives each day under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the love of God, the way we act will be a witness to God’s love, and usually no words are necessary.

Anyone can speak words…words of needing salvation, words of how we should live for God, words against particular sins, but words themselves have no strength. It is the daily life we live allowing the love of God to show through that makes a difference. When we consistently live what we believe, it has more impact than thousands of words.

We need to remember that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts and draws people to God. It is not our job to try to convert people. It is not our job to condemn or judge anyone. We are only to love God and love the people that we meet each day.

1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12 tells us that we should live a quiet life, working with our hands and be ready to give an account of the hope that is within us.

Notice we are told to be ready to speak up when asked. Go about your daily routine minding your business and living a peaceful life, but be ready to give an answer about God’s love when someone asks. Of course, this should be done in love and with no ulterior motive attached. Always follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, knowing that our words on their own will not make an impact on anyone.

By living this way and not forcing our views on others, the words we do say will have more meaning to those who are wondering what the hope is that we have within us.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

I am close to my grown kids and still living by the way, but they don’t always seek out in-person advice. But are we always knocking down doors to get in-person advice about life decisions? Lasting convictions often are best caught not taught. We all seem to value space. The road traveled of learning and reflecting in our own time, without any direct pressure, may best lead to lasting convictions. Influence, not direct communication, may often be the preferred and best megaphone. 

Does God have to be visible to influence? 

It is true God is never visibly present in our lives, but then neither are our parents when they pass away. If we were close to our parents, we still benefit from their wisdom by their influence. Could it be loving on God’s part to allow human parents to guide us in the beginning, rather than a visible God, who we may be overwhelmed by and not able to relate to as much? God’s or a parent’s presence or voice doesn’t always have to be visible or audible to be the most powerful. The example a parent sets, and our mental image of God, can be a guiding force.

God may communicate more than given credit for.

Moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Universal moral outrage over murder, lying, stealing, etc. and an inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Criminals don’t defend but deny their actions. It is only natural to think a Creator would love us in the same way we wished to be loved by our parents. God has revealed themselves. God’s image is a perfect, loving Parent!

We know that murder or adultery is wrong. What about less obvious decisions? God can’t always give us answers to life’s complications even if visibly present. Should we go through with divorce or give our partner another chance? Is our partner’s promise to change and asking for forgiveness one more time sincere or not? Many issues don’t have clear answers but involve making the wisest decision we know at the time. We or God can’t peer into the future to know how things turn out.

God, even if in person, can’t advise about future outcomes. 

It is natural to think an all-knowing, power God has special insights into future outcomes to avoid problems. To say God knows the future suggests a predetermined future making freedom nonsensical. God can’t tell you if the person you want to marry won’t end up betraying you or the job you take won’t end up being phased out. God joins us in an open future. We surely have God’s blessing choosing the wisest path at the time based on past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations. It turns out God, as loving parents, is uncontrolling.  

Is it God’s fault the Bible isn’t clearer?

Interpretation is still required even if God dictated the Bible. It is often said we best know God according to “biblical truths.” The truth is contrary biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here.   What we do with the communication we have, then lack of communication, may be the bigger challenge. Open discussions can steer us away from demanding “supposed truths.” Jesus had a 24-7 relationship with twelve men, yet they struggled to believe His words in person. Jesus’ influence seemed greater after He left this world.

God may speak to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!

God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to consuming guilt or fearful obligations to obey. When parents push their agendas even if in their child’s best interest, they may resent or rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. God’s interference and presence might prevent a superior world from emerging as a result of limiting the moral development and improvement of free creatures to make independent choices. Finally, relationships that require more faith and trust due to the unknown may reach great heights. Is our love in relationships greater when we have to trust than know for certain what the future holds together?  

 

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

The Word of God is important to us today, just as the Word of God has always been important. The question is what actually is the Word of God?

Growing up in church, I was always taught that the bible was the perfect, inerrant word of God. People would tell me if the bible was not perfect, then how could we believe anything about God? To me, that seems to put a lot of emphasis and importance on the bible rather than on God. Remember, it is not the Father, Son and Holy Bible.

Just because a book written by many men over many, many years is not inerrant does not mean God does not exist or cannot be trusted. God is much bigger and more powerful than to be controlled by a book.

The bible was written by men who were inspired but not controlled by God. It was writings of their views, opinions and experiences learning about God, and trying to relate to and follow God. They were not over powered and used as God’s hands to write the words of the bible.

The bible, even according to the bible itself, is not the word of God. We are told in John 1:1 that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. It later says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The bible is not the word of God but it leads us to the Word of God (Jesus/God) and to our own experiences with God.

The bible is certainly worth reading, especially since it does say in 2 Timothy that all scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness. Inspired and directly written are two different things. I may be inspired by someone to write an article or a book, but what I write will be from my experiences, opinion and knowledge.

The bible comes to life when the Spirit illuminates what God has for us. Apart from the leading of the Holy Spirit, the bible is only man’s views and experiences with God. It is the Spirit that lives within us that teaches and brings to life the words that were written. It is the Spirit that leads us to a life with God that has purpose and meaning. And it is the Spirit that gives us strength to show the love of God to other people as we live our lives daily for him.

Read the bible, ask the Spirit to speak to you while doing so, but do not elevate the bible to a position it does not even ask for. The Word of God is alive, powerful and inerrant, but the Word of God we are talking about is Jesus, by his Spirit, living in you.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

It’s hard to know why some believe in a God and not others. Neither is a personality flaw. I doubt a loving God plays favorites, giving special insights to some and not others.  I do know certain beliefs that lead to many leaving the institutional church. See here.  It is understandable why some interpret the God portraited by writers of the Old Testament among other things of being a misogynist and homophobe. Who blames anyone for not believing in such a God?

Let’s though debunk the myth that those who don’t believe in God are simply rebellious.

The first chapter of Romans in the Bible is used to suggest all who don’t believe in God are suppressing what they know to be true. Actually, the writer refers to those who don’t doubt but ignore God and morality to justify their evil ways. Let’s not accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God as being wicked and ignorant of their feelings. If wrong to doubt God exists, Christians sin if doubt God in tough times.

Is God really a God of chance?

John Hick acknowledges: “…in the vast majority of cases, probably 98 or 99 per cent, the religion to which anyone adheres (or against which they rebel) depends upon where they are born. When someone is born into a Christian family they are very likely to become a Christian, whether practicing or nominal; when into a Muslim family, very likely to become a Muslim; if into a Buddhist family, to become a Buddhist – and so on round the world” (Who Or What Is God, p. 73). Also, some misunderstand God because of certain claims. Is God a God of chance?  

We may not seek God because God doesn’t seem to really care. 

It isn’t easy to understand why some miracles happen and not others. Lack of healing obviously isn’t always related to lack of faith. One can speculate that prayers can only be answered if freedom isn’t thwarted in major ways. I do know our language can be harmful when claiming God’s grace saved a life in an accident. What about other lives? Such language understandably leads to unbelief. It is understandable that many question why God doesn’t prevent more evil. The argument that all evil, such as sexual abuse or murder, always leads to good isn’t true. 

What about you?

Let’s stop judging others not into God as if because of moral inferiority. We wish some God-people had less to do with God. I was taught early on there was a Creator. I was also taught many views of God that I questioned. I have no idea why I questioned rather than rebelled against the whole idea of a God.  Many care to become more the person they want to be deep down without God. You don’t have to attend church, synagogue, mosque, or even be into God to embark upon being the kind of person you wish your parents were. I can tell you I am a better husband, father, and friend than I normally would be because of the insights, encouragement, and forgiveness that I sense from my Creator. God may be exactly what you thought a perfect God is like.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

The political situation in the United States right now is really not the best in my opinion. Seems most every country has political issues and difficulties, but here it seems unusually different.

After one of the most different elections I can remember with all the talk of fraud, the events of the extremist’s groups and all the arguing about who is right and who is wrong, it would feel good to get back to some peace and calm in our political arena.

Politics can be very divisive. It can cause anger and hard feelings among friends and family. We want to take sides and argue our case even when it causes division among us. All the while we are arguing and losing friendships, the political party or the politician we are supporting could not care less about us.

Speaking to christians only, we know that the political system is not our answer. Jesus said that his kingdom is not of this world. As followers of Christ, we are living spiritually in the Kingdom of God. For us to get caught up in the anger, hatred, divisiveness and all the arguing over political parties and politicians is really sad to see. We know that Jesus came promoting another Kingdom. It was not one of this world or like the governments of this world. Nothing wrong with supporting those who govern the country, but it is aggravating to see people fighting and rebelling because of it and putting all their faith and hope in a political party.

It is sad to hear and read about so many christian people being more concerned over who is president and which party is in control than we hear about Jesus. It seems that many in the American church system have forgotten Jesus and the Kingdom he reigns over, and are looking to human beings as the answer. They seem ready to commit their allegiance and support to another human rather than trust in God.

We also tend to forget that the USA was founded upon the principles of freedom of religion. I do not know if this is completely true or not, but there seems to be a push by some christian groups and politicians to force biblical laws and Christian ways of life on the country. I have heard of some who want to put into law what they consider to be biblical rules and force them on everyone. This is something we just cannot do. Freedom of religion means there can be no one religion forced on everyone in the country. We are all free to choose which religion, if any, we choose to follow.

As believers, we are to pray for our leaders. Not just one leader or one party but all leaders of the government. Yet we need to remember that Jesus is King, not a president or political party. Earthly politicians and political parties come and go, but as followers of Christ, we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, and it is an eternal kingdom. Let’s invest our efforts and allegiance to this Kingdom rather than spend our energy on something that is only passing.

Another good article on this topic is by Stephen Mattson and can be read by clicking this LINK:

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

I disagree with images of God that are frequently claimed by Christians according to their understanding of the Bible. An objection I get in my writings is that I am attempting to make God in my own image. It is defended God can be a sexist, racist, or homophobe if God wants to be. To even claim God can be a sexist implies a universal view toward mistreating women. Does God?

You can’t make God in the Bible’s image. 

Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures don’t agree that God condemns homosexuality or that God forbids women from being preachers or priests. See here.  See here. Do you really think God would deny women being preachers or priests or CEO of a business though more qualified than all male candidates? We can’t be certain what the image of God is according to the Bible because literature is subject to interpretation. “Biblical truths” are debatable.

You can’t make God in a “male” image.

We don’t think of God having more of the male than female anatomy. Both male and female best describe God’s image (Genesis 1:26). God is described as a woman in childbirth (Isaiah 42:14), or “a great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors” (Ezek. 17:3).  Clearly, God is neither male, female, nor an eagle in terms of gender or form.  The gods of the nations in biblical times were described as either male or female; the Jews did not speculate about the gender of God. The reason for more male references is the patriarchal cultures writers lived in. 

Whose image do we make God in? 

An analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities in understanding God. The Bible refers to God as our Heavenly Father/Parent. God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for we cannot be in all places at one time, but the Bible encourages imitating or being perfect like God (Eph. 5:1; Mt. 5:48). It is natural to think a Creator would love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. Human and God’s perfection are surely the same. How you wished to be loved by your parents is how God loves us. God’s image is a perfect, loving Parent!

God can’t be a sexist according to human understandings!

Most would agree it is immoral to favor one based on the color of their skin. Most would agree that is racist or bigotry. An argument could be made that to favor men over women for particular roles is sexist or bigotry. I am convinced most Christians or Muslims would not deny women equality or roles they are gifted for unless they believed they should in the name of God according to their understanding or interpretation of some Book.

What are God’s rights?

God would only claim perfect, human rights. Such claims are always in the best interests of others we claim to love – other-centered than self-centered. God loves us how we know we ought to love others. We don’t always know what perfect love entails, but we aren’t clueless. We can’t know if the biblical writers always understood God perfectly or whether our interpretation of what they write is correct. Beliefs that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss, because they are contrary to our moral intuitions of perfection.

Why your image of God matters!

Our understanding of God can determine the depth of our relationship with God and how we might treat others. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If we believe God is really warlike, we may justify our actions in war when we shouldn’t. If God condemns gays, we will condemn gays out of devotion to God. If we believe God thinks men have authority over women in some positions, that will filter down to your wives, daughters, and friends and stifle their gifts. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others you interact with. You may be right!

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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