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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

by Jordan Hathcock

I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am. – John Newton

Here we are folks! We made it through the insane, sorrowful, confusing, defeating—and whatever other negative shit you can think of—year of 2020! Look, it has been a historic year and it’ll go down in history, no doubt. A lot of loss from all social aspects. Some experts are saying we might not see the end of the tunnel until 2024 (please god, I hope not). Alas, if you are alive and kicking, it’s something positive to take into the new year of 2021. Let’s breathe for f-sakes! I like to share with you my own “spiritual roll call” for this upcoming year. I think it’s healthy to step into a state of mindfulness when it comes to our wellbeing. So, let’s bring the awareness, baby!

Here is my “list” of where I am at with my spiritual (everything is spiritual, right Rob Bell?) life. Just going to lay out some “big” concepts with my inerrant (haha j/k) two cents. I hope it’s of substance and a possible help to whomever is reading this “blog”. Contemplation can definitely bring us into a more calming presence which hopefully brings about a more peaceful way of life (fingers cross for 2021). Enjoy my Spiritual Roll Call!

God

*Who* (or what?) is God really? Father? Mother? Being? Universe? Alien? Trump (seems to be for some but I regress hehe)? The who and the what don’t really tickle my fancy as much as the how? I definitely have come to a place where I see the Divine as more of an experience than a exact substance. How is God moving and breaking through my life seems more relative than the ontological details. At the same time, I love swimming in the Jesus tradition. The story of Jesus still captures my imagination. Yes, that stems from a lot of culture and family upbringing–we are all products of our environment. Yet, there is something still so new and relevant with the Jesus story that resonates with me more now than ever. The Spirit of Abba seems to be forever guiding me—with her wings of love, grace, mercy, peace and justice…oh my! 2021 needs some of that…

Church

Being raised in a pretty dogmatic tradition, it‘s pretty amusing to see myself back participating in a brick and mortar church. I don’t think it’ll never not find this to be hilarious (in a good way). As a person who is pretty anti-authority, it’s ironic to see myself being part of a Christian church. I am even part of the members board?! Elder Hathcock anyone?? Being raised L.D.S., the title of elder is pretty cringing (no offense). But that’s the paradox of it all! I get that some people are just not going to step foot in a church ever again (for good reasons). Those who find themselves in the physical church have their reasons too (don’t ask me what those are hehe). It’s easy to point fingers and bring our judgments to the nones, dones and the active. All I trust in is that community matters. We are all connected and I think it’s super healthy to help each other out. And I guess I like how the Jesus commonwealth feels best (shoot me).

Scripture

Can we really trust in ancient stories? Can we experience them in a way to better enrich our lives and those around us? Well, I don’t know for sure—but it seems like in the Christian tradition—we see more harm being done with the Bible than good. But this can be done with anything really, right? I mean look at the smart phones we use everyday? Technology is an amazing gift (especially through this pandemic). But we see the other side as well. Social media is just one click a way to a world of division and hostility. But it also can be used for just the opposite. Kind of what the Bible does, right? We can either take this book and use it to seek and destroy each other or we can let it help us point to divine healing and liberation. I will take the later. Quote me on this: I will never use scripture to judge or condemn anyone…woooweee!

***

There you have it. Some of my perspectives that will hopefully bring about some healthy change in my little bubble and beyond. It’s good to name and claim it once in awhile when you are looking to be transparent, I think? Maybe your spiritual roll call will lead you into a presence which will produce new heights for this 2021 year. Let’s do this!

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by Mike Edwards

I’m convinced belief in a benevolent God makes you kinder. We often treat others the way we think God treats us. How has God’s threats of punishment helped you break away from bad habits or behaviors you long to change? Grace or authoritativeness doesn’t guarantee change, but I believe we best change because of God’s or friends’ love and acceptance. Below is John Sander’s article on the topic in a book recently published Open and Relational Leadership: Leading with Love.  I also included a link below *** of my article in the book.

The Leadership of a Nurturant God

By John Sanders

Christian leaders should imitate the leadership style of the God who nurtures.

The pastor plopped his Bible down on the table, pointed to it, and said, “I want to know why you put a question mark where God put a period?”

He was upset about my book that surveyed a range of views that Christians hold on the topic of the destiny of those who never heard of Christ. He believed that biblical teaching on the topic was clear, simple, and singular. He did not like it that I rejected his position and, instead, endorsed a range of different views that in one way or another gave hope for the salvation of those who have never heard of Jesus.

The values underlying the different approaches taken by the pastor and me arise from what social scientists call Nurturant and Authoritative values. Nurturants believe it is best to empower people by affirming and loving them. Nurturants prize values such as listening to others, perspective taking, and humility. Authoritatives believe that followers must first obey the leaders before the leaders show acceptance to them. Authoritative leaders need not listen to others because they are the ones in charge and questioning the leader means challenging their authority. They think that perspective taking and humility are signs of weakness. Leaders should simply say, “Because I said so.”

Open theism is a variety of Nurturant morality while much of evangelicalism and conservative Catholicism are versions of Authoritative morality. The Apostle Paul implored Christians to “be imitators of God” (Eph. 5:1). Richard Kearney says, “Tyrannical Gods breed tyrannical humans.” We imitate the deity we believe in and there are those who believe in an Authoritative God and those who affirm a Nurturant God. Both Gods seek to create humans in their image. I claim that the overall biblical portrait is that of a nurturing God and that Christian leaders should emulate these characteristics. Some examples will show how this works.

Many biblical texts show that God is both responsive to our input and open to our prayers. For example, when God announced his intended judgment on Sodom, Abraham questioned and negotiated with God (Gen. 18). An Authoritative God would have told Abraham: “I am God so shut your mouth.” Instead, God patiently listened and considered Abraham’s concerns. In another story God and Jacob have an encounter and God wants to leave but Jacob (whose name means “grabber”) grabs onto God and wrestles all night long with God. In response, God blesses Jacob and gives him a new name—Israel, which means, “wrestles with God.” God approved of what Jacob did. In Exodus, God asked Moses to return to Egypt and liberate the Jewish people. However, Moses does not do what God says. Instead, he raises five problems with God’s plan. An Authoritative God would have said, “Go now, because I said so. Do not question my plan or authority!” But the Nurturant God was open to Moses’s questions and to each of them God reiterates that “I will be with you.” Even when Moses tells God to go “find somebody else,” God adjusted the divine plan by allowing Aaron to do the public speaking. Thus, God was flexible and adaptive in working with people.

The way God relates in these stories fits with Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient, kind, and not arrogant. It does not insist on its own way. Rather, love puts up with us, has faith in us, and places hope in us. God does not say, “It’s my way or the highway” nor does God display a “take it or leave it” attitude. Rather, God engages us with a give-and-take in which both parties contribute and God practices innovation and employs flexible plans. God works with us like a jazz band which requires improvisation from all the players. At various times, each player takes the lead and the other players have to respond to what the other is doing. Love, says Paul, is not boastful so God does not say, “My music is the only music that matters.” Rather, God delights in sharing the stage and seeing what music others produce. Of course, this involves some risk on God’s part because we may do things that harm others. Love trusts others but we can, at times, disappoint the beloved.

The Nurturant God listens to our input and is flexible in adjusting plans. God empowers us to participate in the vocation of redemption and delegates responsibility to us for many things. Sometimes we bring God success but we can also let God down. This is how a strong leader operates. Inflexible people who demand their own way are weak leaders. If God is a nurturing leader, then leaders who imitate God will treat others the way God treats us. They will love others by empowering them. They will put faith in others to accomplish a mission. They will hope for a better future.

Philosophers like to speak about God’s “great-making” properties by which they mean power and knowledge. God certainly has these but if Jesus is our best example of what God is like, then God’s great-making properties include love, empathy, humility, and perspective taking. As God incarnate, Jesus “walked a mile in our shoes.” God experienced what it is like to be human.

Genuine leaders are those who learn what other people in the organization are experiencing. In church and in business, leaders should find ways to understand the perspective of others and practice humility by being willing to learn from others. God does not micromanage the church. Rather, God puts divine trust in us. How is that for confidence? It is what church leaders should do as well. One thing that often prevents leaders from doing this is the fear that lack of control may result in others doing things that bring embarrassment on the congregation or organization. But God takes risks with us and we should do the same.

Another implication of the way God works with us is that churches should reject autocratic rulers. If God listens to us and considers our concerns, then leaders should foster democratic structures in order to hear the voices of others. In much of church history, leaders have been authoritarian, and pastors have been little potentates ruling over their piece of the kingdom. They are in charge and seek to control what others believe and do. Making sure that everyone has a voice and providing for some diversity should be a high priority for Nurturant leaders. In the Bible, the metaphor of God as a king is common. But God is quite an unusual king. A king who values what others have to say, exercises flexible strategies, and comes to us humbly in Jesus. This is true kingship and leadership.

One last area of leadership that I want to mention returns us to the story of the pastor criticizing my work for presenting different Christian views on a topic. If God trusts in us and is open to going in directions we want to pursue (as with Moses), then leaders should expect some diversity of viewpoints and practices. We should make room for a “constrained pluralism” of views and practices. We should be able to agree on some general Christian beliefs and practices. Yet, because we do not know everything and do not possess a foolproof understanding of what God wants, we should have humility in our claims to truth.

Throughout history, many church leaders affirmed the Authoritative God and sought to impose monopoly religion on everyone. They established all the correct beliefs and practices, such as those surrounding the Lord’s Supper, and anyone who thought differently was exiled, tortured, or burned at the stake. The Nurturant approach affirms a few general Christian truths and allows for a range of views. This is not an “anything goes” approach. Rather, it acknowledges that Christians, from the first century on, have always had some diversity. One can favor a particular understanding of say, baptism, while recognizing that other Christians think differently. In short, one can affirm a specific doctrine or practice as the best and tolerate other Christian views. A Nurturant approach expects some diversity while Authoritative religion fosters monopolies, uniformity, and punishes those who do not conform.

Christian leaders should imitate the Nurturant God. God is love and love is patient, kind, and does not insist on its own way. God values our input and invites us to join the divine band and create some music. God does not micromanage and control us. Instead, God empowers us and takes the risk that we may mess up along the way. In addition, God allows for a range of beliefs and practices—a constrained pluralism. Leaders should emulate these important values.

John Sanders is Professor of Religious Studies at Hendrix College. He is the co-author of The Openness of God, and author of The God Who Risks and Embracing Prodigals. He enjoys basketball and kayaking.

*** Does Godly Leadership Require Certainty About God? By Mike Edwards

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by Mike Edwards

It isn’t always easy to believe all of the Bible, but the story of Jesus does seem to be an amazing love story. Jesus is claimed to represent or be God here on earth but doesn’t use His power to avoid crucifixion? What is up with that! Understanding what our Creator is really like can be very good news.

It doesn’t help that christian hypocrisy taints the message!

The truth is that we all are hypocrites. What human being lives up to the standards they know in their heart are honorable? But it is reasonable to expect those who talk about God to act godly. It doesn’t help that Christians don’t get along, as evidenced by the tens of thousands of denominations, all claiming their beliefs are the right ones. It doesn’t help that God-folks often don’t say sorry right away when they screw up. Beliefs don’t matter as much as your actions.

It doesn’t help God is claimed to be a hellish, sexist, homophobe! 

The three biggest lies about God may be that God is a hellish sadist, that God is a sexist who believe men should be in leadership positions over women which has encouraged dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men, and God condemns gays though they can no more chose who they are attracted to then straights. I doubt a loving God is capable of creating hell, denying women role they are gifted for, and condemning gays. See here.

It doesn’t help when claiming an almighty God is a controlling God.   

The truth is God can’t so some things. A good God can’t lie. God can’t act unloving. I would argue God can’t be controlling because such behaviors are unloving. Ask any adult child! It is plausible so much evil in the world exist because God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. Divine love limits divine power. Maybe God can only stop evil with the help of others freely helping. Prayer mustn’t be represented as if God is a genie in a bottle. 

The prosperity gospel is miserably false. A person who believes that all their troubles will be swept away through a relationship with God is left with the logical explanation that God has failed them. Why don’t these false teachers take their message to those in extreme poverty or go to hospitals and heal the sick? The Bible is clear that lack of faith is not the reason for physical ailments or economic hardships. What God promises is a relationship with your Creator will can make you a better person than you were. I am which might not be saying much but I am trying! 

It doesn’t help when Christians claim to be so damn certain. 

Message alert. Christians can’t prove God exist. Neither can it be proven God doesn’t exist. Either believe requires faith. Christians need to let God handle their own business. It God wishes to convince anyone God is real, that is on God! It is logical to suggest we can’t be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks, but supposed certainty has led to justifying slavery and other atrocities. Certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving, monogamous, consensual relationships. Women, though gifted, are denied entrance into the priesthood or pastorate in God’s name. Uncertainty not certainty about God, unless talking about beheading infidels, protects against imposing beliefs on others in God’s name. We need honest, open dialogue as we continually evaluate what a loving God would truly be like.

God is good news because the bad news isn’t true! 

So many claims about God aren’t true. The Bible implies we can understand God’s love because perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Do you wish to believe in a God that you understand is truly loving? Also, do you wish to be shown mercy, be given second chances, to be forgiven for your regrets no matter how many times you fail, to be encouraged to be the person you deep down desire to be? Don’t you think you should show the same behaviors to others? Good news – God is a better lover than we are!

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by Mike Edwards

It is said the good news about God is that Jesus came to earth to save us from going to hell. Without the Bible I doubt few would think a loving God would create such a place as hell. It is claimed all you have to do is confess certain beliefs to get a pass to heaven. Jesus’ agenda in the Bible actually appears not to push certain beliefs but convey that God loves you and seeks to help you be a more loving person. What is God saving us from?  See here.

The bad news about God may not be true.

God is claimed to be a hellish sadist, but the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. God is claimed to be a homophobe, but a loving God couldn’t possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? God is claimed to be a sexist, but God wouldn’t put men in leadership position over women which has encouraged dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men. For additional possible lies about God see here.  

But don’t you believe the Bible?

Biblical scholars who respect the authority of the Bible actually don’t agree on their interpretations. Some defend the above positions; others defend to the contrary. For example see  here. We are forced to choose between plausible interpretations. Which interpretation is best to choose? Choose understandings of God with the fewest negative human consequences. Err on the side that doesn’t contradict your intuitive sense of a loving God. You are free to choose the most loving way.

The good news is God surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others.    

Only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we are clueless about perfect love. The Bible implies we can understand God’s love because perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Do you wish to be shown mercy, be given second chances, to be forgiven for your regrets no matter how many times you fail, to be encouraged to be the person you deep down desire to be? Do you think you should show the same behaviors to others? Good news – God is a better lover than we are!

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by Mike Edwards

The truth is we can’t prove that God exist or doesn’t exist. Either belief takes faith. If a Creator does exist, most agree only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in.  Surely a Creator love in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others.

There are moral reasons to doubt or question God though there may be an explanation.

  • Laws in the Bible proclaimed by Moses supposedly came from God. Deut. 22: 28-29 says: If a man happens to meet a virgin…and rapes her…He must marry the young women, for he has violated her. Did God really encourage a woman being required to marry her rapist? But maybe God didn’t inspire this law; only humans believed God thought this was a good law.
  • God seems to intervene in the world very little based on the amount of evil present. Can there be a plausible reason? Maybe God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. Divine love limits divine power. Maybe God can only stop evil with others freely helping. See God Can’t by Thomas Oord.
  • God is neither audible or visible and God certainly hasn’t made it crystal clear what we are to believe about God. Are there plausible reasons for such uncertainty? See here.

Where has certainty gotten us?

It is logical to suggest we can’t be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks, but supposed certainty has led to justifying slavery and other atrocities. Certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving, monogamous, consensual relationships. Women, though gifted, are denied entrance into the priesthood or pastorate in God’s name. Uncertainty not certainty about God, unless talking about beheading infidels, protects against imposing beliefs on others in God’s name. We need honest, open dialogue as we continually evaluate what a loving God would truly be like.

Doubt or question away!

For whatever reason some are inclined to believe there was a Creator in the beginning and not others. If you are the former, don’t believe everything you hear claimed about God. Consider for yourself what a perfect, loving God would be truly like. Challenge God to reveal themselves to you as tangibly as possible. Still doubt! Not a problem with God. Being so damn certain may bother God more.

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by Jim Gordon

As Christian people, it seems our most emphasized event is attending church each week. I know my mom and dad took me to church the first time it was safe to take me out after being born.

I continued with regular church attendance for the next 55 years or so, all the time feeling I was doing what was the most important part of being a Christian. I looked to the pastor as my main teacher and guide, and attended all the events at the church that I could.

Even when I talked with others about God, it was more in tune with asking them to come to church. My whole Christian life seemed to be more about church life rather than living the follower of Jesus life.

It started bothering me over the last 15 – 20 years about going to church each week, year after year, sitting there listening to a chosen few participate and the rest of us just sitting, looking at the back of one another’s heads. Where was the fellowship in that?

Today when we talk about church, what we are really talking about is a religious organization that meets in a building, follows particular interpretations and doctrines and is guided by a select few people. It seems to me the biggest part of this system is getting enough people involved to make enough money to pay the bills.

In the organized church today it seems we strive to pay the mortgage, pay the utilities, pay for insurance, salaries and all the items we feel we need to put on a good performance each Sunday. If there is enough left over after all that is paid, we may put in a little to help the homeless or some good cause the leadership feels is worth it.

In more recent time, many churches have become known for participating in political activism. Some churches I have been in had a reserved section for local politicians where they could sit together and be seen. Some even provide time for politicians to speak and many endorse and back certain political parties and candidates.

I personally feel this is wrong, but although they cannot make their members vote in any particular way, many who belong to a specific church take what they hear from their pastor as gospel truth. Due to this, I believe the churches today should be taxed and pay their fair share like any other business.

I remember reading in the bible that when you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. I read that Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to live within us and that we are now the temple of God. I also read that the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands, and that we have the Spirit within us and we no longer need anyone to teach us because the Spirit is now our leader and guide. It certainly raised questions about church attendance as I knew it.

Yet when I read forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, I often wondered if we were being told to participate in an organized religious service. What I determined was that the assembling together does not necessarily mean in an organized service on a set day under the guidance of other human beings. It means that we need one another. We need fellowship, encouragement and being able to express our thoughts and feelings with others. That does not need to be in a building, or in an organized service, or under the control of a specific leader. I have found it actually works better outside the walls of church. It comes about as the Spirit leads us to one another throughout our normal day to day lives.

Is it wrong to gather? No, there are plenty of good Christian clubs and organizations where people can get together. The organized church is just another one of those organizations meant to provide support and encouragement for one another.

The church as a religious organization, based on its particular beliefs and doctrines, is not what Jesus was talking about when he said he would build his Church. I believe he was talking about building his followers into a living organism that would spread his love and good works to other people they met along the journey of life. And doing so would mean living life out in the open, day by day where we are in contact with others. I do not believe we are meant to be shut up within four walls of a building expecting people to come to us.

So for my wife and I, we left doing the day to day business of the church…attending the organized meetings, paying to keep the building and system running along with following the pastor, the doctrines and the rules of the church. Yet we did not leave our love for God and for people. We left the organization, we left man led religion, but we still follow Jesus. We, like many others, are doing the day to day business of the ‘Church’ that Jesus is building. Those who are his followers are the Church whether they meet in a building or never walk through the doors of what we know as church today.

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by Mike Edwards

Whether you believe there is a God or Supreme Deity is a personal decision. I can’t always tell you why some are readily inclined to believe in such a Being and others aren’t. I don’t consider either a personality flaw. I can tell you a God many don’t care to believe in. See here. Don’t believe everything you hear!

Believe what the Bible says about God…….…………..NOT!

Many when describing God begin: “The Bible says…..” They possibly believe God inspired all of the Bible thus approved everything written about God. But others would argue God didn’t necessarily inspired every word due to God’s uncontrolling nature. Neither can claim certainty. We also must recognize that biblical scholars don’t always agree what the writer meant about the same passage. Read the Bible to contemplate what a loving God may be really like.

How can we understand what God’s love is like?   

An imperfect unloving God is not worth believing in. The best way to talk about what a perfect loving God is like may be by comparing to perfect human love. A Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others. I don’t know any reasonable God or non-God person that doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. Rational people don’t always agree what is our moral obligation concerning immigration, climate change, abortion, health care, taxes, or responding to evil dictators that murder their own people, but civil dialogue allows evaluating challenges to discover what different views have in common.

So, anything goes?

C’mon! Who doesn’t believe physical or sexual abuse is wrong? Certain beliefs are universal. Ask a terrorist if you can rape their partner. If it clearly violates the golden rule, it doesn’t pass the “love” test. What does your loving sense tell you if women can serve in the same roles as men if similarly gifted? About gays? Why would anyone choose a lifestyle subject to bigotry and hostility? Do straights wake up one day and decide to be attracted to the opposite sex? Gays neither of the same sex. Are you believing and treating others like you want to be treated if in their shoes?

Even Bible-believing Christians suggest trusting your moral intuitions.

Christians often say God’s spirit (aka Holy Spirit) does or can reside within you. Unless the Spirit talks to you audibly or visibly, we can only discern the Spirit’s voice by examining our intuitions. We can’t always be certain how to best love, but we can strive to love others like we want to be loved. Unless you are a totally self-centered human being, believe about God what makes loving sense to you!

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MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

There are thousands of reasons people believe or not believe in God. One may believe just because their parents do. One may not believe because of God’s lack of intervention in such an evil world. Research is available online why Christians become atheists (deconvert) or why Christians leave the institutional church but not God (disaffiliate). What can Christians control to not deter those who may want more of a relationship with God but don’t pursue because of unnecessary obstacles?

Lies About God!

I am convinced many may not pursue a relationship with a Creator because they believe lies others claim about God. I know “lies” is a strong word, but no one can claim with certainty their view of an invisible, inaudibly God is TRUTH! Most would agree a God who isn’t perfect isn’t worth believing in. We can only compare God’s love to perfect human love. My moral intuitions tell me a loving God couldn’t condemn gays for choices they can no more control than straights; God couldn’t discriminate again women by denying them equal roles with men which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face; God couldn’t create a place such as Hell to torture unbelievers forever. See here.

Christians with a hidden agenda or mission is a turn-off.   

It is wrong to engage in friendships for the purpose of converting them to your beliefs without advising upfront this is your agenda. We must stop being so damn certain and do more listening. We can’t prove God exist. If God truly exists, wouldn’t God be capable of convincing individuals on Their own. Engage in relationships both to love and be loved. Discussions about God best come up naturally. The sinner’s prayer to avoid Hell isn’t in the Bible. Jesus seemed on a difference mission according to the Bible.  See here.

 Christians have a problem – it’s how the Bible is viewed.  

It is believed or implied biblical writers somehow magically got their words and thoughts directly from God. Such an unprovable process implies God approved everything written about God in the Bible. Many don’t accept the God of the Bible for good reason:

  • God supposedly would send wild animals to kill the children of the disobedient (Lev. 26:22)
  • God supposedly orders the murder of women, children, infants, and animals in war (I Sam. 15:3)
  • God supposedly ordered killing boys and non-virgin women but sparing virgins for the warriors (Num. 31:18)
  • God supposedly approved rebellious children put to death (Lev. .20:9)
  • God supposedly approves a wife’s hand being cut off when grabbing another man’s genitals (Deut. 25:12)

The Bible can be viewed as recorded experiences of beginnings with God and Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other documents. God didn’t necessarily have in mind that recordings wouldn’t be questioned or that writers had perfect views of God. We have every right to question interpretations suggesting a Creator doesn’t love how we were created to love others. We must use our moral, loving sense. You can see my railings about the Bible HERE.

Evil and God just don’t mix sometimes.   

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

Similarly, promises Christians make about prayer turns many away. The truth is miracles are rare.  Maybe God is already doing all they can in a free world, by working through individual lives to change the world. Maybe prayer is more about a relationship with God as we attempt to change the world together. It seems God creating freedom necessitates one being able to do as much harm as they can do good. Authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. God, like parents, had a choice – to not create or create knowing suffering was a possibility in the pursuit of intimacy.

I’m not so sure hypocrisy is a big stumbling block. 

It doesn’t help that Christians don’t get along, as evidenced by the tens of thousands of denominations, all claiming their beliefs are the right ones. The truth is that we all are hypocrites. What human being lives up to the standards they know in their heart are honorable? But it is reasonable to expect those who talk about God to act godly. As mentioned possible hypocritical beliefs, supposedly according to the Bible, present a challenge. Christians must avoid claiming certainty, especially when such views seem to go against our moral intuitions.

Other challenges to not get in God’s way with individuals exist in the research. The church seems so focused on certain beliefs, such as sexual purity, rather than focusing on helping those less fortunate. Why can’t we focus less on sexual behaviors and more on the homeless? Abuse by leadership representing God surely turns others away from God. Sexual abuse is too often sweep under the rug. Most Christians believe God’s spirit works in the lives of people. If Christians want others inclined to consider their God, control what you can to not interfere with God’s work.

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by Jim Gordon

Although within the church system we have been told the Spirit of God has been given to us, the real emphasis on the fact that the Spirit of God actually lives within us seems to be missed. If we could get this deep down within us, that we now live in the Kingdom of God and the Holy Spirit of God actually lives within us, we would be able to share the love and power of God with people we meet each day. We do not need to sit back and wait for some future day when we die and enter the Kingdom of God. We can live as one with the Spirit of God in the spiritual Kingdom of God each and every day beginning right now.

Here are a few verses from the bible that mention being one with the Spirit and living in the Kingdom of God:

Matthew 6:10

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Luke 17:21

nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.

John 14:16,17

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever. Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14:20

In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

John 17:11

I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.

John 17:20-23

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Romans 5:5

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 8:9

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Romans 8:11

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 14:17

for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 3:16

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 6:17

But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

1 Corinthians 12:13

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

2 Corinthians 6:16

Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Galatians 4:6

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father!

Ephesians 3:16

That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

2 Timothy 1:14

Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

1 John 2:27

As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

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MikeEdwardsProfile

I have harped on the Bible enough. I don’t hate that the Bible was written. I hate how the Bible is viewed thus used to mistreat others. It matters how you read ancient literature in the context of current relationships. I will be brief. You can see my railings HERE.

At least biblical scholars are questioning if the authors always depicted what God is truly like. Good thing! How the hell should we understand when reading God supposedly ordered killing boys and non-virgin women but sparing virgins (Num. 31:18)? Did God really expect young woman to watch their mothers, sisters, and brothers murdered by men who one day may expect marriage or sex? I’m not buying any rationalization. There is a better way to understand the Bible.  

Some of these same scholars keep insisting though God inspired the Bible. They can’t let it go! They might suggest the Bible can be inspired but God accommodates less than perfect views written about God because humans can’t handle the truth. So, which passages reveal the real God? In my last post I suggested  here which interpretation may be best.  

The problem is that most think God inspired means God’s approval. No one can prove God controlled every word and the minds of the biblical writers/editors when they were portraying God. Anyway, the idea of an inspired Book has led down the slippery slope of implying one’s interpretation is inspired. Few admit their understanding of a passage may be wrong. This has led to mistreating gays, women, those with different beliefs, etc.

The Bible can be viewed as recorded experiences of beginnings with God and Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other documents. Writings about God can keep us talking and reflecting what God is really like. God didn’t necessarily have in mind that recordings wouldn’t be questioned. Universal moral outrage and agreement on the golden rule hint a Creator expects us to consider our moral intuitions.

We have every right to question interpretations that suggest a Creator doesn’t love how we were seemingly created to love others. We must use our moral, loving sense.

Done!

Feel free to disagree civilly, so we can at least have a discussion.

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