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Archive for September, 2021

By Mike Edwards

The short answer to my question is no one can know for sure. There may be as many reasons as individuals why some believe there is a God and others don’t. I suppose some may avoid believing in God because they are only interested in pursuing a self-centered life. This isn’t most of my friends. What I do know is that those who are convinced a Creator exists aren’t necessarily more moral than those who don’t believe. Faith is required for either belief.

There are good reasons to not be into God or be on the fence

We can only be as close to God as our mental images of God allow. We may not pursue God more because we assume certain claims made about God are true, or God is like the poor role models we have had who claim to represent God. The God often portrayed by others condemns gay people, shows partiality toward men over women despite the history of men abusing power, and God supposedly created Hell to torture people after death if they believe while here on earth. Don’t make possible false claims the reason to not believe.

What is God really like? 

It is intuitive to think a Creator would love us how we are created to love each other. We only know how to talk about perfect Godly love by comparing to perfect, human love. 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 don’t always know what perfect love entails but we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly aka am I loving others like our Creator loves. Misunderstanding God often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our interpretation from an inspired Book. 

Reasons to believe if on the fence 

If walking on a dark street and approached by a group of tough looking men, would you be more or less scared if you knew they just attended a bible study? Good religion, as opposed to bad religion, always encourages the golden rule. We have nothing to lose by living by the golden rule, and we will probably experience fewer regrets on our death bed. Personally, the biggest reason for being a God-follower is the inspiration and encouragement from God to be a better human being.

Believing in an afterlife can be a good thing. Should we tell our children there is a heaven after death when we can’t know for sure? We promise our kids all the time we will keep them safe, especially if there has been a recent tragedy. We can’t be sure if danger is around the corner. Belief in a possible God helps to not fear death and to look forward to be reunited with loved ones. And I have no reason to believe a forgiving God stops forgiving after death.

Is God Real? 

Let’s not accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch or being delusional, or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God of being rebellious or not knowing their feelings. Just because you believe in the possibility of God doesn’t mean you don’t have doubts at times whether God really exist. Believing in God doesn’t mean you don’t question how good God really is because of all the evil in the world. If so inclined imagine what a loving God would be like. You may be right!

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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

Growing up in the institutional church and modern Christianity, my wife and I were taught that we are saved by grace but live by law. This seems to be a fairly common belief for the modern-day believer.

Over the past few years, we have come to see that the Bible mentions that those of us who are saved by grace are now free from the old covenant law. If we still try to live by the commands of the old covenant, we are actually living under a curse. ‘For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them’. (Galatians 3:10 KJV).

Why is it that we cannot accept the free gift provided through Christ and forget the performance-based way of trying to please God? ‘For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ. You have fallen away from God’s grace’. (Galatians 5:4  NLT).

We now live for God because of love, not out of obligation nor trying to do more and earn our salvation.

It is time we realize God, out of His love for us has provided all we need. He has done away with our old sinful nature. We are forgiven of all our sins, past, present and future by His grace. We can now enter into his rest and rely on what He has done. We no longer have to strive to keep all the rules and constantly try to do more to earn a relationship with Him. ‘We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code’. (Romans 7:6).

Rest in Him, rely on the Spirit to teach you and guide you by love. There are plenty of things to do, but we do them because of love and by the strength and guidance of the Spirit.

Now, am I saying because we are free of the law that we can just do whatever we want? Eat, drink and be merry? No, not at all. Even though we are free from the law, we are still living in a fallen world. There will be times when we take our eyes off Christ and commit sins. Yet, in Christ our sins are already forgiven and there is no longer punishment for them, although there are still consequences in this world when we do wrong.

The fact is, that by trying to keep the law we are led into death. ‘The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law’. (I Corinthians 15:56 NASB). The old way of doing things was only a temporary thing. The law showed us that we were completely powerless to live up to God’s standards. It was a tutor for us until Christ came and fulfilled the requirements of the old covenant. ‘Therefore, the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus’. (Galatians 3:24-26 NASB).

We have been told for so long that we needed to do more for God. We were taught we needed to keep the commandments and strive to be good Christians. Fortunately, the Spirit guides us to the reality that we cannot keep the commands and in ourselves, we are powerless to do so. Christ came to fulfill the law and provide freedom to all of us.

We are now free to live by love for Him and we are free from trying to live by the law. When Jesus said ‘it is finished’, he was saying the old covenant, the old way of trying to live by the law was finished. He accomplished what we could not do. When he was resurrected, a new covenant began, one of living by grace. As children of God, He has now put His spirit within us to walk with us daily.

When we are in love with God, we do not need rules to tell us what to do. We do what is pleasing to Him because we love Him. The old covenant law cannot make us holy, but the new covenant of grace is one of loving God and doing what pleases Him because of that love.

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

Partnering With God  is a book full of essays that explores possibilities that God desires an open friendship with us all, the same kind of relationship that adult children dream of having with their parents. I will share my essay in time. See two of the essays below that can lead to the kind of relationship with God you have always dreamed of but maybe never heard about:

“God desires a special form of partnership with us; namely, a friendship.” – Wm. Curtis Holtzen, “Friends with Benefits” 

“A tragic teen suicide became a source of radical repentance and new life for a church in Manchester, England.” – Nicholas Bundock, “A Long Obedience in the Wrong Direction”

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

John 15:5 – I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

We have read this verse many times, but it is so easy to pass over how important this verse is. Jesus is our life source. It is in Him that we live, and move and have our being. He supplies all we need. He provides us daily with the requirements for life and what we need to truly live a life of sharing his love with others.

Jesus has done all that is needed for us to be forgiven, made new and have a loving relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is by his grace we are free, and all the spiritual things we think we need to do to put us in right standing are so unnecessary.

Jesus is the one who has done everything needed to restore our right standing with God.  It is Jesus who takes our burdens, frees us from guilt and guides us daily as we follow him. All we need to do is accept his work and rest in Him.

Our main focus should be on Christ, not on things about Him. He is our life. He is our all in all. We are to give Christ the preeminence in all things. He is the Vine, we are the branches; apart from Him we can do nothing. Rest in him and enjoy the peace he gives knowing we are in him and he is in 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

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but it seems intuitive a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. It isn’t too presumptuous to imagine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions, our consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God, but differing interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here.  Also, we can’t prove if biblical writers always understood God perfectly.

Since we can’t know if God inspired all of the Bible, shouldn’t we be open-minded? 

The Bible is claimed to be inspired because the biblical writers made such a claim. Such logic would not lead those same people to accept the Quran being infallible because it claims to be. Besides, we don’t have the original manuscripts but only copies of the supposed inspired autographs. The differing translations of the Bible we have today suggest copying and translation is far from an exact process. It wasn’t until 1946 that a popular bible translation changed the translation of the Greek word arsenokoitai from boy-molesters to homosexuals. Pretty big deal!

God hates the Bible is used to condemn women and gays 

I don’t believe God is opposed to women priests or preachers. I don’t believe God condemns gays. Biblical scholars agree with me, some don’t. See here. See here.  All literature, even if inspired, requires interpretation. Interpretation rules don’t guarantee understanding a writer’s meaning, and obviously don’t confirm the biblical writers always understood God perfectly. We avoid the slippery slope toward supposed inspired interpretations by admitting the Bible may be fallible.   

God hates the Bible is used to demonize moral, intuitive sense

It is suggested if the Bible isn’t inspired, “then you can’t know God.” Were Old Testament folks out of luck since there was no Bible? We aren’t totally clueless! Universal moral outrage hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Who doesn’t know a good God hates beheading people because they don’t share your beliefs? Only a supposed infallible Book claiming to speak for God would suggest such a moral atrocity. I don’t know any reasonable human being who doesn’t respect the universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated. We were born to use our moral sense. 

God hates the Bible is used to condone violence 

One biblical writer claims God ordered the murder of women, children, and infants in war (I Sam. 15:3). God supposedly approved a wife’s hand being cut off when grabbing another man’s genitals (Deut. 25:12). Not questioning if writers always portrayed God accurately has led to killing infidels in the name of God and justifying wars throughout history. Extremists may argue that we should seek to imitate a perfect, loving God. If good for God sometimes, must be good now. 

God hates the Bible is used to make God seem more mysterious than understandable

Many argue God is a mystery because their interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. Such interpreters, who would agree humans were created in God’s image, are using their moral intuitions to imply God and human love are the same. It is certain that we don’t always know what perfect love is, but this doesn’t mean anything goes. How can one understand a God who created us to know and hate evil, if their good is sometimes evil in our eyes?  It’s crazy talk to say God can do bad but then call it good. 

God hates the Bible is used to cause people to reject God for the wrong reasons 

Many feel compelled to choose science or God because a literal Bible implies God couldn’t have used evolution in the creative process. People condemn gays, despite their moral intuitions, because God supposedly rejects same gender loving relationships according to a Book. When God is portrayed as less than perfectly loving, understandably this can lead to atheism or rejecting God. A fallible Book may actually lead to knowing God better.

God hates the Bible is used to accuse God of being controlling 

A conventional view of an all-powerful God proclaims nothing happens unless God allows it to. If God can control writers, why allow misunderstandings? If God can control evil, why is God so passive? Can God manipulate others? We would say no because love doesn’t manipulate. Controlling parents aren’t loving. God must be uncontrolling. God can’t control evil because God’s nature is love. Divine love limits divine power.

God hates the Bible is used to divide not unite 

Shouldn’t people who claim to follow Jesus’ teachings get along? It is hard to make a big impact in the world alone. A movement though can! We form thousands of different denominations rather than recognize our Bible or interpretations may be fallible. God folks refer to themselves as Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, etc. Their differences often center on understandings of the Bible for guidance. We focus more on what we believe than Who we follow. This suggest to others the Bible isn’t meant for reflecting about God but arguing over God. 

Why God hopes we read the Bible 

A fallible Bible may just be the book that God wants us to have. It is not God’s nature to control the words and minds or any writer. The Bible records beginnings with God culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other documents. God just wants us to contemplate what God is really like. A Book doesn’t replace our common moral sense. God has drawn billions to do good and shun evil when talking about God. 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 how our Creator would love us.

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

After being in the organized church for well over 50 years, and seeing all the different denominations, beliefs, interpretations and opinions, there is one thing that makes me sad. That is to see so many followers of Christ fight and argue over the different paths we take in our Christian walk.

I am not saying all-roads lead to God, but while trusting in God and following Christ we are going to take many different paths during our life here on earth. They are going to be different from other followers of Christ, but we are following the same Christ.

Those of us outside the institutional church should not divide and separate ourselves into the ‘in church’ and ‘out of church’ groups. In the same manner, those who are part of the modern-day church should not look down on and separate from those outside the institution. We need to accept that we both love God and are following Christ along the path he has for us.

I think this is what working out our salvation means. Not that we have to work to earn our salvation, but we continually learn as we follow Christ in our salvation. We, as Christ followers, will take different paths in our walk with God. We should not expect everyone to walk the same path. By using the term Christ follower, I mean that Christ is living within us, and we walk with him and let him live through us. We are following him and the example he set that we read about in the gospels.

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to love one another, encourage and build up one another. We are not to be continually expecting everyone to act like us and walk in the same way we do. We are to be accepting, loving and kind to all we have contact with each day, and especially to those who are fellow believers.

It seems we are more concerned about every Christian believing and acting the exact same way and when they act differently, we want to fight, argue and separate ourselves rather than accept that God works in each of us in different ways. He made each of us differently, and he leads us along different paths as we walk toward a common destination.

Rather than expect everyone to be just like us, we are to love one another the way Christ loved people while he walked the earth. Different interpretations and ways of walking with God should not be a stumbling block to a loving fellowship with one another.

Besides, we are not going to lead anyone to Christ when all they see is arguing and disagreements among brothers. We are not going to draw people insisting they conform to our way of thinking and following our rules and interpretations. The only way people will know we have something worth checking out is when they see brothers and sisters in Christ caring for one another and building one another other up in love.

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 intuitive a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. It isn’t too presumptuous to imagine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions, our consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God and the future, but scholars don’t agree if the Bible suggests God does or doesn’t know the future. We have to think intuitively what a freedom creating God would know about the future in order to be perfectly loving.

Freedom requires that God can’t know the future

It is natural to think an all-powerful God knows everything including the future. But freedom is necessary for perhaps the highest good in relationships – authenticity. Freedom has possible consequences such as suffering but if God didn’t create freedom, we could accuse God of not creating the “most loving” world. It isn’t that God keeps themselves from knowing the future. It’s that an undetermined future is unknowable. God may know all possibilities, but the future must be open if we are truly free and God is truly loving.

Why it matters that God doesn’t know the future

It is natural to think an all-knowing, powerful God has special insights into future outcomes to avoid problems. But 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. A human parent would warn their child if they knew ahead of time of heartbreaks. God isn’t hiding a “known” future for important decisions. God joins us in an open future.

Freedom allows not being anxious about making “right decisions” or missing God’s will

We already know the mind of God when it comes to moral decisions; otherwise, God supports us in making best decisions at the time that make our lives and the lives of others better. Joy and good is achieved by taking any number of paths and avoiding immoral paths. The good news about God not knowing the future is that we can feel God truly want us to feel free without strings attached. 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.

Uncontrolling love can explain why God can’t intervene more with evil

Atheists and believers agree. The only God worth believing in and following is a perfect, loving God. Can God manipulate others? We would say no because love doesn’t manipulate. We hate when we see friends try to control others for their own reasons or gain. God can’t control evil because God’s very nature is love and true love is uncontrolling. Ask any adult child! A God who can control evil leads to asking “why or what is God punishing me for” or “God, do you really love me?”

Uncontrolling love can explain why God doesn’t answer our prayers 

Let’s be honest. More prayers are unanswered than answered. God can’t wave a magic wand without accounting for freedom. We can talk to God for self-examination, for sharing our concerns, and not feeling alone in a chaotic world. We tell others to seek influence from the right people to make wiser choices. It isn’t that you didn’t beg enough or have the right attitude. It isn’t that God had the power to do something about it, but chose not to; it’s that God can’t. Divine love limits divine power. God though is always doing all they can in a free world before, during, and after our prayers.

A God who doesn’t knows the future is more relatable 

A known or set future suggests one isn’t truly free to choose otherwise. Even the Bible speaks often as if God doesn’t know the future. God hopes Israel would accept God’s guidance, but Israel often turned against God (i.e., Jer. 3:19-20). We don’t have to play mental gymnastics by assuming God is only pretending to not know future decisions. When the Bible says God grieves with us in our suffering, we can know God agonizes with us each step of the way and deters any suffering possible without violating freedoms or acting controlling. God joins us in our joys and sorrows.

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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Right Here, Right Now

by Jim Gordon

For those of us who grew up in the church, we always thought of God as being a far-off, super human who sat on a giant throne up there somewhere. The general idea was that God was separate from us.

The problem with this way of thinking is that it is not what Jesus taught. Jesus always talked about the Kingdom of God being near or at hand, and the Kingdom of God is within you.

When we hear someone talk about the Kingdom of God, usually our first thought is a place in the distant future. A place we go when we die and leave this earth. It is where God lives somewhere way up in the sky. It is a place where we will live with Him forever.

Yet, when reading about the Kingdom of God in the bible, it sounds to me it is not some far away, future place. It is right now, and right here. A place where we live daily with God. Jesus said in John 14:23 “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them”. To me, if God has made his home with us, then we are certainly living in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within us. He said that we were to ask that God’s will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. So then, we see that the expression “Kingdom of God” does not refer to heaven, or the church, or to moral reform or to a future realm. Rather it refers to the active, dynamic exercise of God’s rule, authority, dominion, and power in our life right now.

When John the Baptist announced that the Kingdom of God was at hand, he meant that God’s rule was just about to break into the world through the Messiah. When Jesus Christ himself preached and proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom of God, he meant that through him, God was exercising his power and authority in a redemptive way against all the evil in the world, and then allowing us to live a Kingdom life by loving God and loving others.

In short, the Kingdom of God is the rule of God manifested in Christ to bring redemption to the earth. Romans 14:17 reads, for the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. No wonder the Kingdom of God is the central theme of the New Testament!

I have come to believe more and more that the Kingdom of God is not necessarily talking about the coming heavenly kingdom, but it is our life with God right here and now. We are living with him in his kingdom every day.

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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Done with Religion

Done with Religion ... Not Done with God

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Let's Have the Courage To Be Ourselves, Together...

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Sophia's Essays

This is where I post my essays, primarily about LGBTQ+ issues, politics, and Christian theology.

My Journey

Welcome. My blog is a place where readers will find writings of personal experiences, thoughts, and the peace God provides throughout my walk. I intend to bring inspiration and insight, as well as providing a very personal and transparent view into my life, in order to help others see their own lives in a different perspective. I strongly believe that we all need a different view at times, in order for our personal growth to take place.

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