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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

by Jim Gordon

There seems to be so much confusion among Christians in regard to law and grace. Most believe we are saved by grace, but many have a misunderstanding as to what part the law plays in our lives today. I think the mistake a lot of Christians make is that we do not truly accept or understand the whole concept of grace. Grace is a free gift given to us by God. When Jesus died, he took our sinful nature and destroyed it.

As stated in Galatians 2:16, 19-21, “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified… For through the Law, I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly”.

Jesus restored our perfect, righteous nature and our fellowship as sons and daughters of God. Nothing we did, and nothing we can do can add to it or pay for it. It is a totally free gift provided by Christ. It is hard for us to accept this without feeling the need to do something to justify God’s love for us. We think we need to do something to make us worthy to come to God. This is performance-based living and not grace. Grace is a gift. Grace is God making us righteous and in fellowship with him, not of our own doing, but the free gift provided by Jesus.

Jesus lived and taught under the law. Yet, the important part to remember is that everything changed after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

As Jesus lived under the Old Covenant Law as Galatians 4:4,5 states, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons”. Jesus had to live by and obey all the commandments, ceremonial rules and laws so He could fulfill the old covenant. Jesus said on the cross, ‘it is finished’, meaning He had lived under the Old Covenant, lived a perfect life and fulfilled the law, thereby restoring our fellowship with our God.

Not until the time of His death and resurrection was the Law fulfilled and a New Agreement took effect. At this time, the new covenant took effect. A new agreement in which we live by grace and not by trying to fulfill the Law.

So, since the old covenant has been fulfilled and we live by grace, why do so many of us still feel a need to live by old covenant law? Why do we seem to want to put ourselves back under slavery to an old set of rules when Christ has fulfilled them and done away with that need?

Galatians 5:1-4 reads, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision” (a part of the law), “Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace”. With Christ as our sacrifice, we in a sense died also. And since we died, we can now live free from the law as written in Romans 7:1-8 “Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, you shall not covet. But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead”.

Before grace, we could not live up to the standards of the law because we are an imperfect people. Now that Jesus has fulfilled the law, we are restored to fellowship with God. Although we still fall from time to time in this life, it is all covered by the blood of Christ and where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. We are no longer required to live up to the Law that we could not live up to in the first place.

Now that we live by grace and faith in Jesus, the law, which was our tutor to point out our sin, is no longer needed. Galatians 3:23-26 states, “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 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” (the law). “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”. To say we need to live trying to obey the law and the ten commandments is saying that Jesus blood alone was not enough to cleanse us from our sins.

The Bible goes so far as to say that if we still try to live by obeying the old covenant law we live under a curse, as Galatians 3:10-13 reads, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them. Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, the righteous man shall live by faith. However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, he who practices them shall live by them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”.

We are told in Matthew to be perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Obviously, there is no way we can do this on our own, but God would not have told us to be perfect if it were not possible to do so. Since we could not do it on our own, He made a way for us. The only way we can be perfect, is through grace. Accepting the free gift of grace through Christ will allow us to live out the new covenant commands of Christ, which are to accept Christ, love God and love others. The law that is mentioned under the new covenant is always to love God and love others stated in Galatians 5:14, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

This is further pointed out in 1 John 3:23, “this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us”; 1 John 4:21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also”; and again in 2 John 1:6, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love”. We are totally incapable of living up to the law and we are no longer required to do so. Christ died and by His grace, we were made righteousness and restored to proper fellowship with God.

God has provided such a fantastic gift of freedom for us, and most of us today just do not realize all that entails. Because of grace, it is as though we have never sinned and will never sin. Not because of anything we have done, or can do, but because God loves us enough that he sent his Son to take our sins, past, present and future, and because of His grace we stand perfect in the eyes of God.

Now we need to walk in that freedom and follow the Spirit, loving God, loving others and not worry about the old covenant law, but live a life for God through love. Galatians 5:16-18 reads, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law”.

Thanks be to God, we now live by grace, not trying to live up to rules and laws that we cannot do. We are free in Christ to live a life of love for God and for all we come in contact. We no longer do things out or obligation, but we do them out of love for God and want to do what pleases Him.

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 surely 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 or God controlled their thoughts.

Why would a Creator or parent create unless wanting a relationship?

The idea of a relational God wanting to be mysterious may only come from a Book. The mystery card is often played when one’s interpretation of God’s character is incompatible with most people’s idea of a loving God. Some rationalization is needed for their interpretation, since they believe God gives us our mind and conscience. The mystery card short circuits discussions about God’s true character. A mysterious God suggests God doesn’t prioritize a relationship.

Even the Bible doesn’t necessarily claim God is a mystery

God isn’t a mystery just because we can’t comprehend all plausible moral reasons how suffering and a good God can coexist. Isaiah 55:8-9 is frequently used to claim God sometimes is a mystery: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” This passage isn’t suggesting we cannot understand God. God exhorts us to forsake our wicked ways and thoughts (v.7) and turn to God’s higher, righteous ways and thoughts (vs. 8-9). Mystery in the NT often concerns the unknown about Jesus in the OT until NT times. Jesus only spoke in parables, when directness went in one ear and out the other, so one might consider the message in time. 

God surely can’t be hypocritical 

Only a perfect, loving God is worth believing in. Is love ever hypocritical? God can’t possibly be hypocritical. We don’t always know what perfect loves is, but hypocritical love is contrary to our moral intuitions of perfection. The mystery card – aka as God can act however hypocritical God wants – is played because of one’s interpretation. It is nonsensical to claim God is good but good is sometimes evil. If a trait claimed about God seem hypocritical – reconsider!

God can’t possibly be a mysterious, moral hypocrite!

Many condemn gays because of their understanding of a Book. It makes no sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can. Just ask heterosexuals or homosexuals what sexual lusts they struggle with. Please don’t judge when you can’t be certain. I can’t imagine one would think – except because one deems their interpretation of a Book inspired – that a woman shouldn’t be the CEO, priest, pastor, etc. if more qualified than the man. Loving others like you want to be loved is true, human, godly love! True relational love cannot be mysterious or hypocritical. Neither can God!

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

Growing up in church was a fun time learning about God and meeting people who usually had pretty similar beliefs. Yet, it seems the more we learn about the grace of God and the freedom it brings, Christian life can be a little frustrating.

Is it just me, or do you find it frustrating to realize that some of the teachings we have grown up with in church may be wrong? Do you get confused with all the different doctrines and Bible interpretations, and hearing all the different opinions of others? Do you get tired of all the fighting and disagreements over different beliefs?

It can get pretty discouraging seeing all the postings on social media and all the arguments and disagreements, sometimes heatedly, about personal views and interpretations. Many are basic views we have grown up with, yet now we question whether they are from God or are they man’s wrong interpretation.

No matter how you interpret the scriptures, no matter how much you believe your way of thinking on spiritual matters, someone else will have a completely different view. No matter what church you attend, what doctrine you follow or if you have stopped attending a church at all, we know that Christians are not going to agree on everything. We all have a different view of biblical interpretations. Depending on which church or denomination you belong or grew up in, or which pastor you listen to, our views are usually slanted in that particular way.

I often wonder why we cannot accept each other, no matter what our interpretation. Truthfully, none of us can prove most of what we believe, be it faith in God, heaven, hell and a vast array of other topics. Our beliefs are all by faith. We cannot prove, or disprove, anything.

I think we should ask the Spirit daily for guidance into truth. Hold to what you believe, but be open enough to change when God gives a clearer view of the truth. When someone has a different way of looking at things, accept them as a fellow Christian. You do not have to agree with them, but who knows, they might be right.

I do not think any of us can say without a doubt who is completely right or wrong in our interpretations. We should seek for truth through the Spirit, and let everyone have their right to do the same. Quit fighting and arguing over who is right and who is wrong. God never said ‘by this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you agree with one another’. No, it is by love. We are to love God and love one another even in our disagreements.

One thought comes to mind in all this, ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so’. The most basic and simple thing we learned long ago, yet seems to be one of the most consistent things of which we can all agree.

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 don’t wish to be critical of those who feel a need to praise/thank/worship God frequently. I do want to encourage those who may feel as I do. I am extremely grateful for the relationship I have with my Creator, but the emphasis on we are obligated to constantly tell God how great they are doesn’t seem natural or relational. I am convinced God doesn’t like to appear egotistical.

So how can we know what God really wants from us? 

It is only intuitive to think a Creator would love us how we were seemingly created to love each other, or how we wished to be loved by our parents. And only a perfect, loving God is worth believing in. 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). “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). 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.

How parents desire love surely compares to how God seeks loves!

You may not be a parent, but all have a sense of true love because they had parents that were either loving or we wished they were. Genuine parent love must be similar to Godly parenting love. Personally, I don’t seek or desired to be praised all the time by my children or others. An occasional attitude of gratitude does rock my boat, but I’m not convinced God is always seeking constant praise of how great God is.

Does singing how undeserving, filthy we are draw us closer to God? 

Okay, I am wretched sometimes but not all the time – depends on the day and who is in front of me. The biblical doctrine of original sin suggests we are condemned before birth because of Adam’s sin in the garden.  God can’t stand us unless God has their Jesus glasses on. I disagree. We are born in sin not with sin. See here.  God doesn’t view those who aren’t persuaded about God as filthy. My kids aren’t always buying what I am selling, but I am always aware of their good times. I prefer songs that reveal God’s acceptance and desire to help when I fail others. I want my kids to seek my help when needed. I am not so much worried if they are always praising me. 

How can we express thanks to God?

Each must decide how they think best to have a relationship with God. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good praise song about God from time to time. It helps reminds me how grateful I am for the positive influence that God has had in my life. But I don’t go around worrying that I have to thank God all the time. Sometimes, constant exhortations to praise God or tell God how great they are turns me off. Spontaneous thoughts or expressions, rather than feelings of obligations, seems more natural and relational-building with my Creator.

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

Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

This almost sounds like an impossibility in our world today. To be at peace with all men, including believers and non-believers. With all the different thoughts and ideas, the different denominations, interpretations and beliefs, different religions, how could it be possible to be at peace with everyone?

The dictionary says of peace: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; harmony in personal relations.

I think what God is saying is that we are to live in harmony with our fellow human beings; not allowing any oppressive thoughts or emotions to take control of our feelings towards others. In other words, we live in love. Just because someone does not interpret the Bible the same way we do, or go to the same church we do, or does not go to church at all, we need to realize that in regard to other believers, we are all wanting to please our Father and share his love with others. We need to accept one another in love, and respect the fact that God is working in different ways in people. Just because it is different from the way he is working in us does not mean it is not of God.

In regard to non-believers, we should not be condemning or forcing our beliefs on others. We need to let them see the love of God by the way we live, love and respect them. We need to be kind and caring without any ulterior motives. They do not need someone beating them down or twisting their arms to get them to believe like us. We are to love them and let the Holy Spirit do the work that needs to be done in their lives.

If we believers could just understand that we are responsible for ourselves in the way we live for God. We are not responsible to live in a way that others think we should, nor are we responsible for converting others to our beliefs. We are to allow our Father to work in our lives the way He wants and follow Him on the path He has for us. Our responsibility is to love God and love others. Accept them for who they are, and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in their lives. Living in this manner would accomplish much more in showing the love of Christ and living in peace with others.

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 recently wrote that God can’t know the future. See here. It is natural to think an all-knowing, powerful God knows future outcomes but if the future is settled, we humans are not truly free to make decisions. Such decisions have already been decided. To say God knows the future makes freedom nonsensical. God not being able to force the future requires we wonder what God can guarantee.

Even the Bible suggest an all-powerful God can’t know the future

The Bible suggests in many passages that God doesn’t know the future. For example, in the beginning the writers suggested that an all-powerful Being doesn’t know much less control the future. Genesis 6:5-6 speaks of God regretting decisions: “God saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on earth…God regretted that he had made human beings on the earth and his heart was deeply troubled.” Does God really make regrettable decisions? Other biblical passages refer to God changing their mind depending on what choices humans freely make.

Can God make any guarantees then? 

God can’t guarantee life without death, violence, suffering, and struggle and yet there be free will. True love and genuine relationships aren’t possible without the choice to not love. Forced love is an oxymoron. God hasn’t left us clueless how to live life to the fullest. I somehow know I am created to treat others like I want to be treated. A Creator surely loves how we were created to love. God can guarantee a life with fewer regrets if open to their influence.

Can we screw up Heaven because of freedom?

God’s guarantee and offer of life after death isn’t dependent on human freedom. If love requires freedom though, it seems this would be true here on earth and life after death. Perhaps character developed on earth may eventually lead to seeing no good reasons for doing bad in heaven, which surely is the highest form of freedom. If sin is possible in heaven because of the presence of freedom, we can at least hope God’s presence will have a greater impact than earthly, human authority to dissuade selfishness. We thrive more under certain types of parental love and leadership because of their qualities such as integrity and understanding.

Good News despite lack of guarantees!

God isn’t hiding a “known” future for important decisions. God joins us in an open future. God wants us to truly feel free to pursue our own dreams without strings attached, unlike some earthly parents. God only desires 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. The future is open to God as well. God joins us in a true friendship by sharing our joys and sorrows in our journey to be the person we deep down desire to be, while deterring any suffering possible without violating freedoms. Such an earthly journey may be necessary to not choose evil in heaven.

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

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!

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

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 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. We can examine 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. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know that we or a Creator ought to love others as we want to be loved.

What does the Bible really say about God and gays? 

Leviticus (18:22, 20:13) list unnatural male same sex activities as an abomination. Unnatural in OT times could be sex not for procreation. We can’t be sure what activity the writers had in mind. Are lesbians safe because nothing is said about same sex women activities? The OT also lists as abominations lying lips, arrogance, etc. Are straights screwed? The word “homosexual” doesn’t appear in some English translations before 1946.  In passages such as I Cor.6:9-10 and I Tim. 1:10 the translation often wasn’t homosexuals” but “boy molesters.” Big difference! And the passage says wrongdoers don’t inherit the kingdom of God. I guess we are all screwed! 

Many growing up in church only condemn gays out of devotion to the God of the Bible. Let’s assume it could be proven God controlled pens and minds of the writers so every word in the Bible came from God. The truth is literature requires interpretation, even if ever word written, edited, or translated was inspired by God. We mustn’t claim our interpretations are infallible when being wrong has tremendous consequences. Scholars, who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible condemns same-gender loving relationships. See here.

Why would anyone choose to be gay? 

How 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? The mental health damage is tremendous!

Parents often only condemn their gay children because of a supposed correct interpretation of a Book. It is impossible to feel loved and accepted when someone says “I love you but I hate your sin.” But we tell alcoholics we hate their sin! Hating homosexual sex is only loving if homosexual sex is sinful. Hating alcoholic behavior is loving because alcohol abuse really is harmful. A parent need not reject a gay child according to the Bible.

What do our moral intuitions, consciences tell us about God and gays?

My moral intuitions tell me that God is not bias against females, people of color, or gays. Shouldn’t we choose the least harmful view? We don’t know why one has feelings for the same sex or opposite sex. If you think there is a .0001% possibility that science proves sexual orientation isn’t a choice, why would we judge? It’s a myth that sexual choices are always the result of some trauma or rebellion in our lives. I am convinced the Bible is silent on monogamous same sex relationships, while supporting relationships that show love and concern for one another.

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

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. We can examine 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. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know that we or a Creator ought to love others as we want to be loved. 

The Bible says nothing about Hell as a consequence for decisions here on earth 

God only warned Adam and Eve about death, not Hell, if eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Noah, who was warned of a global destructive flood, was silent on Hell as a consequence for behaviors here on earth. So were the OT prophets. The Hebrew word Sheol in the Old Testament, translated into the English word Hell, was used to describe a place of darkness occupied by the dead regardless of beliefs, not a torture chamber for unbelievers. Job, an extremely righteous man in God’s eyes, desired to go there to escape his tremendous suffering (10:21-22). Recent Bible translations simply translate Sheol as “Sheol.”

The Greek word Gehenna is translated into the English world Hell. Gehenna is the name of a valley outside Jerusalem. In ancient times children were sacrificed in fire at Gehenna and the valley was known as a burial ground. Jesus refers to Gehenna to describe the suffering and devastation that come from doing evil. Many scholars consider Gehenna a metaphor to describe the destruction an evil life leads to, not a fiery place where sinners go for never-ending punishment. Gehenna is best translated Gehenna just as Mount Everest is best translated Mount Everest.

The main writer of NT makes no mention of Hell

The main writer of the NT, other than the Gospels, was the Apostle Paul. Paul never mentioned Hell. Hell is not mentioned in Acts which is the main book in Bible describing the beginning of the Christian movement and evangelism.

But the Book of Revelation speaks of a Lake of Fire!

Fire in the Bible is used more metaphorically than a literal fire where people are tortured forever after death. The Book of Revelation is the only place Lake of Fire is mentioned, but if dragons with seven heads are considered figuratively why wouldn’t the Lake of Fire be a metaphor? Revelation only suggests believers and unbelievers will face some kind of judgment after death.

Hell makes no moral sense to God or humans

A loving God couldn’t possibly torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. Hitler was condemned for torturing millions of Jews for a brief time; God is said to torture billions not briefly but forever. A moral God can’t be a hellish, sadistic, torturer!

Besides, humans much less God are fully aware beliefs are influenced by opportunities, role models, or misinformation. It is suspect an impartial, moral God determines our destiny based on beliefs while living a brief time on earth. If we humans really believed Hell made moral sense, we would never cease from warning our friends to repent to escape Hell. The only reason to think a loving God would create such as a place as Hell would be if we believed a Book taught such a horrific thing.

What is God saving us from if not Hell?  

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). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jeremy Myers says it best: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.”

The word “heaven” appears the most in the Gospel of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a place to go after life on earth. Jesus sought to bring heavenly love to earth – “on earth as in heaven.” Jesus said nothing about dropping to your knees to avoid Hell to go to Heaven after death. Paul mentions Heaven twice in Romans, yet says nothing about Jesus dying so we can go to Heaven (Rm. 1:18, 10:6).

What about justice?

Punishment doesn’t bring back a victim’s robbed memories of the future due to the murder of a loved one. Real justice is understanding your victim’s pain and accepting the harmfulness of your actions. After death God may bring to memory every action of betrayal and how it felt to their victims. The cleansing and educative effect may take longer for some than others. Humans like God may forgive their enemies if they truly regret their actions and seek forgiveness. Justice from a fair, merciful God is possible despite people being given a second chance after death.

Don’t people need the fear of God to change?

Fear only leads to trying to avoid getting caught. God’s continual encouragement and mercy, not the fear of Hell or gloomy uncertainty of God’s favor, is our necessary nourishment for lasting changes of the heart.  Fear doesn’t produce relationships worth having. One may argue if certain beliefs aren’t required for Heaven, people will do whatever the hell they want on earth. How real is faith if only to avoid Hell? Genuine changes result when knowing you are deeply loved by a parent or God empowering you to reflect such love to others.

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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