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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

by Jim Gordon

It is disappointing that Christianity is divided into so many different groups. We all have a little different interpretation of the bible and a little different understanding on doctrine. Obviously, we are not going to agree on everything, but we certainly should be able to love one another and accept each other even when we differ on such things.

There are many that do not attend a church. There are those who attend a church every time the doors are open. Some attend a mega church and others a very small church, some meet with fellow believers at cafe’s, parks and restaurants, and others meet in their homes over dinner. We should accept these differences and love one another rather than argue over who is right and who is wrong.

There really is not a right or wrong way to assemble together and we need to stop expecting everyone to do things exactly the same way. We should respect others viewpoints and focus on loving them rather than arguing and expecting them to see things our way.

It is hard to understand why this is when God tells us we are to be one, as Jesus and the Father are one. Yet, we understand that we are human and it is easy to lose sight of our first love. If we could only stay focused on loving God, listening for the voice and guidance of the Spirit within us and loving others, we could look past our differences.

Things will not change until we start focusing on what is common in our lives rather than the differences. The common focus should be on Christ, the head of the body. After that, we should focus on loving others rather than arguing about the differences in interpretation.

We also need to keep in mind that we are all constantly changing as God brings new truth to us. We are all learning and changing as we are ready to accept new truths. The views and opinions I had five years ago are completely different from some of the views and opinions I have now. I am sure in another five years they will change again as God leads me into more truth.

When we realize that each of us are necessary and equally important functioning parts of the body and Christ is the head, we can start to change how we feel about those who do not see things exactly the way we do. We can begin to accept our brothers and sisters in Christ as they are, as we come to realize we actually are one with God.

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

Jesus-followers in the first century had a radical impact in their world and centuries to come. They were driven by the belief according to eye witnesses that Jesus of Nazareth came back from the dead days after being horrifically crucified on the Cross. Today we must personally decide on such an event based on historical reliability. Other than this belief, it would seem their impact was due to the way they lived out Jesus’ message to love one another as they wished to be loved. I am convinced changes in at least the below beliefs thus actions by all God-followers would make a difference in Christianity’s influence!  

Bible

Even the Bible tells us the Word of God isn’t a Book but flesh in the body of Jesus (Jn. 1:1-14), whose Spirit now lives in us (Jn. 14:16-17). A supposed, inspired Bible or Quran has led to claims that we best can know God according to “biblical truths.” The term “biblical truths” is misleading because differing biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. Such views of a Book has led to much violence justified in the name of God. See here.

All agree an imperfect unloving God is not worth believing in. It’s intuitive to think a Creator would love us in the same way we wished to be loved by our parents. God’s image is surely a perfect, loving Parent! Universal moral outrage over murder, lying, stealing, etc. hint that moral knowledge isn’t hidden. We must be careful though claiming matters important to us are moral such as immigration, taxes, etc. Uncertainty not certainty about God, unless talking about beheading infidels, protects against imposing beliefs on others in God’s name. Openness encourages evaluating with others what a loving God would truly be like.

Gays 

What would you believe about God and gays if you didn’t have a Bible? It is a fair question. The majority of people born into this world didn’t possess a copy of the Bible or even heard of Jesus. I doubt a Creator would only communicate through such means. Besides, many may not be aware that biblical scholars who respect the Bible believe Scriptures don’t condemn gay monogamous relationships. See here.

Could a loving God possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? If you are a straight man, don’t you naturally have to fight not looking at naked women than men? Ask gays their battle! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility? Science isn’t conclusive why we have desires for the same or opposite sex, but if you think there is a .0001% possibility that science proves sexual orientation isn’t a choice, would why we judge rather than love? It’s a myth that sexual choices are always the result of some trauma or rebellion in our lives.

Women

I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same roles as men unless believing a Book about God teaches otherwise. I doubt Paul, a main writer of the New Testament, was a bias against women. See here. Most agree not allowing equal roles because of skin color is immoral. Choosing who should lead the company based on gender is obviously bigotry. The most qualified or gifted should surely lead the company. Why not in church? Men in authority over women whether in public or private life is conducive for domestic abuse and the other atrocities women face at the hands of men. Give me an inch and I am tempted to take a mile!

Religion exclusion

A loving God wouldn’t only let Christians into heaven when the majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of Jesus the Christ. Besides, one’s religion or rebellion against a certain religion is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance? No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world requiring that one’s eternal destination is based on circumstances out of one’s control.

Terrorists believe you must be of a certain religion or be killed. If our Creator believed this way, why hasn’t God controlled evil here on earth by dashing to pieces those who don’t accept God’s ways? An infallible Book would not be so dangerous if extremists acknowledged literature is subject to interpretation, thus their interpretation cannot be proclaimed as “certainty” in God’s name.  It is true bad and good religion must be distinguished, but the Bible mustn’t be used to claim all must convert to Christianity to be accepted by God.

Focus on life here on earth rather than after death

Even the Bible records that when Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Loving God is loving others to the fullest. Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jesus sought to save us from destructive decisions here on earth. God seeks to encourage us to pursue heavenly than worldly ways. God seeks to empower us to be the unselfish people we deep down desire to be. Jesus sought changes of the heart for the good of the world.

A focus on the present than future makes even more sense when realizing that the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist. A loving God wouldn’t torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their enemies. Such a place may be only imagined because of a Book. God couldn’t be a hellish/sadistic torturer! See here.

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 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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by Mike Edwards

If Christians were more united or at least more open in some very important beliefs that impacts billions of lives, many may be less hesitant to reject God. Sometimes one’s understanding of a Book influences them to go against their moral intuitions. The truth is opposing biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. Remember over half the people born never had a Bible, so they had to lean into their intuitions. I will end by suggesting what we might believe about God.

Gays

Supposed certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving relationships. See here.

The main non-biblical objection by straights is that it just isn’t natural. But why would anyone choose a lifestyle subject to bigotry and hostility? Straights don’t wake up one day and decide to be attracted to the opposite sex. Gays neither of the same sex.

Women

It is a big deal! Views on gender roles effects directly half of the human population. Shouldn’t the most qualified or gifted should lead the company or the church? Men in authority over women in public or private life is conducive for violence toward women. Paul, a main writer of the New Testament, is often interpreted to suggest hierarchical roles. I doubt it. See here.

Hell

Many of us were raise to love God or fear Hell as our destiny. Does a Creator not know fear doesn’t produce relationships worth having? It makes no sense why a loving God would torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. I doubt God is a hellish, sadistic torturer according to the Bible. See here.

 Non-Christians

One’s religion or rebellion against a certain religion is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance? I doubt a loving Creator is an excluder according to one’s religion in the afterlife. See here.

What can we believe about God?

We can’t make God in the Bible’s image. Biblical scholars and laypeople who respect the authority of Scriptures don’t agree on moral issues such as gays, women, hell, and other religions. It is only intuitive to think a Creator would believe and love others how we were seemingly created to love others. Human and God’s perfection is surely the same. How you wished to be loved by your parents is surely how God loves us. We don’t always know what perfect love entails, but it seems we ought to continually search beliefs that lead to loving others how we wished to be loved if in their shoes. It is better to question than be wrong!

 

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 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 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 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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by Jordan Hathcock

“The black sheep is sometimes the only one telling the truth” – Unknown

It seems we always want to see something through even when its not working. It is the human trait: We love our ego so much that even when we are harming others, we still deny the truth of it all (I.e., cognitive dissonance). I know that is something I battle. What gives? Why are we so comfortable with something that works for us but is damaging to others? Now, I get that we also harm ourselves in many ways due to many negative habits, but it seems when our lifestyle is beneficial to ourselves and our tribe, it does not matter what happens to the other. Especially in our current social climate, it looks like this issue of privilege is at the forefront of it all. The rich keep getting richer, the marginalized keep getting screwed, and the comfortable (maybe fearful as well?) keep doing nothing. The vicious cycle continues.

Now, I understand that there are numerous factors that play a role in all of this. The “Great Reset” is something that has been boiling around the surface and we are all trying to figure the best course of action to take. Unfortunately, division/strife is the most common denominator. Coming from the “Christian” perspective, it seems we have a dualistic pull of its either “my way or the highway”.  Look, we are all going to choose what we think is right when it comes to the actions taken. Its either we have a problem when it comes to our current societal institutions or we do not. It seems from both the conservative and liberal Christian isles; we can agree on institutional issues. That’s a start! But a lot of it seems to be misguided by our worldviews when it comes to social policies. On the conservative side, we see a distrust with our medical institutions along with media outlets. On the liberal side, we see the huge issue of systemic racism and the wealth gap that is increasing more and more each day. Its hard to engage in productive dialogue—on both ends—when trying to find a common ground through it all.

Don’t get me wrong, I have my opinion and I believe its based in fact and reality (like everybody else, right?). I lean more progressive so I will have my perspectives. Some examples. Former president Trumps influence on American Evangelicals was/is really disturbing and dangerous (the attempted coup on the U.S. Capital). Christian Nationalism is running rapid through this country and that is a HUGE problem (but a bunch of Evangelical leaders just signed a letter condemning Christian Nationalism as heretical and antithetical to the teaching of Jesus…so that is encouraging). The conspiracy theories that are running rapid from Evangelicals are not helping. Until Evangelicals evaluate the reasoning behind the onslaught of unproductive conspiracy theories, they will never find the remedy. As Darrell Lackey states:

“Here is what I believe these evangelical critics are missing as they rightfully and courageously address this problem in their own camp: A key factor is the underlying theology, specifically a view of the Bible, and how E/Fs understand inspiration, authority, and beliefs like “Scripture alone.” Until they are willing to address those issues, the problem is sure to continue, as it has now, for decades.”

I do not want to make “theology” our faith. All theology stems from our own culture context. Does theology help? Sure. But it seems that it does more harm than good when it comes to relationships. “Err on the side of love” as Brian Zahnd would say. Orthopraxy > Orthodox all day! With that being said, there is a responsibility when we see the fruit of it all. This goes for both the right or left leaning “Christian”. Seeing this teaching of Jesus as being crucial to how our thoughts become actions, ignoring it would be futile. That is our privilege. We are participants of the Jesus way and this means we are called to be feet washers (public servants), tables flippers (speakers of truth to power), and leprosy healers (community liberators). We have these privileges in order to share them with others. Its Kenosis 101. We self-empty ourselves in order to heal and liberate others. It’s the Gospel! If we confuse this with using our privilege to suppress and dominate others, we are nothing more then Wolves in sheep’s clothing. Its funny but within the American context, we associate sheep as weak and just brainwashed followers. But we hold up the more the powerful animal (lion or wolf) as the symbol of liberty and leadership.

This is antithetical with the way of Christ. He is the slaughtered lamb, yellloooo (Rev. 5:6)! I get it, we all want liberty and to do whatever the hell we want as Americans. But true freedom is when we are living in the way of servanthood—which is a loving community not slaveholders. I would even go further and have us inherent the call of black sheep–carving our own paths along this terrain we call life. To those of us who have privilege and denying its responsibility, don’t live in fear! Be that lost black sheep, having trust that the True Sheppard will find you and guide your path to genuine healing and liberation. This is the way, I think, in order for all to be free. Be the Black Sheep in Wolves Clothing! Like Martin Luther King said: “No one is free until we are all free.”

Jordan Hathcock began writing as a regular guest blogger and has been a great addition to the site. He also writes at his own site called Hazy Divinity He can be contacted by email at: jrhathcockss@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

I used the word “more” in the title of this blog because it seems obvious that we can’t totally understand an invisible or inaudible Being. It does seem intuitive that a God who creates freedom does so to have authentic relationships. Relationships dominated by mystery are difficult to have. Christians claim God communicates via the Holy Spirit. Would such a Spirit speak in a foreign or understandable language?

How would a Creator communicate?

Universal moral outrage and agreement on the golden rule hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Criminals don’t defend but deny their actions. The Bible challenges: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Perfect human love and God’s love are the same. We don’t always know what perfect love entails, but we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly as our Creator loves us.

Does the Old Testament really declare God a mystery? 

The notion of a relational seeking God being mysterious, and not revealing, may only come from a Book. We aren’t as knowledgeable as God who is in all places at all times, but that doesn’t make God unknowable. Isaiah 55:8-9 is the most common passage to claim that God sometimes is a mystery: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” This passage isn’t suggesting we can’t understand God. The context suggests God exhorts us to forsake wicked ways (v.7) and turn to God’s higher, righteous ways (vs. 8-9). I know how to go low or high!

Does the New Testament really declare God a mystery?

Jesus didn’t speak in parables to purposely hide His message. Nathan had more success confronting David indirectly with a parable (2 Sam 12). God’s truth is perplexing often to one’s heart not the mind. The “mystery of Christ” mentioned in the NT only reveals that God’s plan to bless all through Israel by way of Christ wasn’t fully revealed until after OT times. Paul says: “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2: 3-4). 

Assuming God is mysterious may only come from one’s understanding of a Book about God.

Biblical interpreters play the mystery card when their understanding suggests God’s morals are not the same as human morals. Isn’t this because we all have an inborn intuition that God and human perfect love are the same? Language breaks down if we say God’s evil sometimes is mysteriously good. If God is evil sometimes humanly speaking, are we supposed to hate God? If God isn’t understandable, why does the Bible ask us to imitate God (Eph. 5:1)?   

Why your view 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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