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by Jim Gordon

Those of us who are living outside the walls of religion and institutional church have found a freedom we sometimes cannot explain. At least we cannot explain it in a way that people who still attend a church building seem to understand.

The problem is those who still attend the traditional church do not accept the fact that everyone is different and sees things in various ways. They usually want to stay away from us or talk about how we have backslidden and fallen away from God because we do not do what we have traditionally been taught was godly.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are worshipping and loving God just as much as before, only in a different way. We have not left the Church (Ekklesia) but we have left the building (church). Jesus is building His Church out of ‘living stones’ and not with brick and mortar.

My wife and I left the church because we felt the system was not the way God intended and we became unsatisfied with the way things were going. Yet, we never left the true Church which is made up of all of those who are believers.

Each of us has an equally important part to play in the body, yet no one is the head over anyone else. Each of us are functioning parts of the body and we are all needed and important. Of course, only Jesus is the head of his Church, not a pastor.

Those of us who have left the traditional church are often told we need to attend because we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Yet this verse does not mean we have to be in an organized, pre-planned service led by a pastor and a worship leader. It is saying we need our brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether we meet on a Monday at a café, Tuesday in a home, Thursday at a bar or Friday in a park makes no difference. Jesus said for where two or three gather together in my name there I am in their midst.

For us true and meaningful fellowship happens each and every day when God brings us together with a brother or sister, or when we meet up with another couple for dinner. It also may be a time of one-on-one fellowship online with a brother or sister hundreds of miles away yet bonded closely through the Spirit.

We are so conditioned to think of the church building and its scheduled events as the main way of fellowship and learning. We are told in the Bible that when we come together each of us should have a word, or a song, or a praise, but how often does that actually happen within the institutional church? Being outside the walls, my wife and I have found this to be the norm. We all talk, we encourage one another, learn about each other, pray for one another and we support and care for each other. Fellowship is everyone having a part to play and everyone being open and talking about who God is to them. It seems that sitting quietly in a church service does not fulfill what God intended fellowship to be among his children.

A vitally important thing to remember for those of us who have left the church organization is that we should not have a feeling of ‘us vs them’. We need to keep in mind that those who attend church are doing so because they love God and feel they are doing the right thing. We are all children of God, whether we are in the institutional church or out of it. We are all various parts of the Church that Jesus is building and we each need to follow the leading of the Spirit for ourselves.

As people of God, we are to love God and love others. We cannot do that in our own strength but by the power of the Spirit within us. Sadly, it often seems we have a problem loving our brothers and sisters in Christ and an even greater problem loving those who see things differently.

I pray that all of us can keep in mind that we are children of God, saved by grace and living in His kingdom now. Whether we are ‘in church’ or outside the walls, let us focus on our love of God and for one another. The world needs to see the love of God in action among those who follow God. They do not need to see arguing, fighting and the disrespect that is sadly, so familiar among Christians today.

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

Do you not give a damn how others feel or how your actions impact others? Color me God then. You are a wretched soul and your behaviors disgust me. I doubt though that is you because you wouldn’t be reading a spiritual blog. Church folks are familiar with hymns that describes us humans as “filthy rags” in the eyes of God. Does God really view us as evil from birth and has to put on Jesus-colored glasses to even look at us?

Does the Bible really claim God is pissed and views you as scum?

Some of us were taught at church that a loving God thinks we are sinners from the day we were born (Doctrine of Original Sin). See here.  Such a view could only come from a book such as the Bible. Anyone can point to verses to defend their view of God. Google to find verses that describes God a wrathful and revengeful God. But I could point to Isaiah 54:10: “…my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Jesus says He judges no one. (Jn. 8:15). This doesn’t sound like a “pissed” Jesus. I am convinced a loving God can only love how an earthly parent ought to love their child.

Did God create us to be better lovers than God? 

It is only intuitive a Creator loves how their creations ought to love one another. Even the Bible implies 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). If I discover my child is bullying someone at school, I detest the behavior not them. If we find out our kid is using drugs, do we hate them or what the drugs are doing to them? I don’t sense the Bible as a whole describes God as loving us but we don’t really deserve it. God, like human parents hates unloving actions.

Views of God shape our attitudes toward God toward others 

If we think God is hard to please and pissed off about sin rather than what sin is doing to us, we may stop going to God when failing. God desires perfection for our own sake but surely celebrates our victories along the way. Our image of God can dictate our actions. If God can do Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If God punishes us forever (Hell) for sins briefly while here on earth, aren’t we teaching others to fear God rather than experience God relationally like they would a human parent?  I am not convinced such a Hell is biblical. See here. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others. You may be right!

Is God Pissed At You For Being A Sinner?

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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It never was removed

by Michael Donahoe

Prayer in our public schools can be a popular topic among some Christian people. They will blame many problems on the issue of prayer in public schools being removed.

The fact of the matter is that prayer itself was never removed, nor was God removed from our schools. Any person can pray in school. Prayer is talking to God directly and can be done silently and privately. No one can actually take prayer out of school, just as God cannot be removed because God lives within us.

Many people seem to get confused about praying and having a standardized prayer led by school staff. A standardized prayer has been taken out of public schools, as well it should have been.

Another fact is that our public schools are not Christian schools. No set prayer can be established in public schools. There are many different faiths and beliefs within the public school system and no particular religion can be preferred over another.

In this regard, one of the goals of Christian Nationalism is to defund public schools and promote private Christian schools. They can then do what they want apart from government regulation, such as public prayer, teaching Christian principles, segregate the schools and exclude those who are LGBTQ.

The thing is, if standardized prayer is put back in public schools, there will need to be a leader for not only Christian prayer, but Muslim prayer, Hindu prayer and any other religions way of prayer. That is the only fair way of having standardized prayer in our public schools, although it would still be offensive to atheists and those who follow no religion. The best way is to leave any type of standardized prayer out of the public school system.

If prayer by any and all religions actually happened in public schools, I can already hear the complaints from the Christian world calling it unfair and against their rights. It seems that many Christian people think Christianity is the only viable way of life and no one else should have a say.

The United States was basically founded on freedom, and especially freedom of religion. We should remember that everyone has the freedom to follow any religion they choose, or freedom to follow no religion. Yet, we do not have the freedom to force any religion on anyone.

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by Jim Gordon

It seems that our world is fast becoming devoid of people who want to work together for the good of others. What is missing in our world today? The same thing that is missing in the Christian world today… love, concern and acceptance of others.

Most people and groups are more concerned about their goals and purposes and what is best for them. Many seem unwilling to compromise or work together for the good of others.

Where are the followers of Jesus and his teaching from the Sermon on the Mount? Where are those who allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives, thus producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?

Seems like everyone has started taking sides and creating an us versus them world. We seem to take a stand rather than try to understand the other side. We dig our heals in and would rather fight, degrade and hate rather than love one another.

Jesus said to love God and love one another. I do not think we are to judge, condemn or hate anyone. This does not mean we cannot have our personal views and opinions on things. None of us will ever see eye-to-eye on everything. The problem is when we refuse to see any other view or opinion other than ours.

Here in the United States, it seems people are getting meaner and meaning and refusing to be open-minded on various topics and events. This seems to be happening often in regard to politics. So often people of opposing political parties want to fight and be hateful to others rather than push for change through the voting process. We are fortunate to have the option to vote for people who back our views. If the majority of the people are dissatisfied with the way the government is going, they can vote for new leaders. The sad thing is that when their particular candidate or political party does not get elected, rather than regroup and get ready for the next vote, they will do anything to attack the other side, cry foul and disrespect the election progress.

Rather than continuing this sad path we are on where we are mean, exclusive and hateful, let us love God, love others and seek the good of all people rather than for just a select few.

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

If Post too long, read the bold subtitle sections of interest

I post often about the Bible. I have written a short Booklet: Rethinking The Bible – Is The Bible Really Inspired By God?  It is natural to assume if God inspired the Bible, God approved all written in the Bible. We must question if the all of the Bible is inspired by God. Claims made about God according to an inspired Bible has keep many from having more of a relationship with God. God may be more like the God you expect!

It is understandable why many avoid reading the Bible. It isn’t easy to relate to cultures thousands of years ago vastly different than ours. It can be concerning that even scholars, who aren’t necessarily chauvinists, interpret certain passages to teach men are the leaders of women. Women don’t need a mediator between them and God! Keep in mind that billions of people have lived and died without any knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. The Bible isn’t necessary to know what a good God is like, but it can be profitable as we read recordings of what God may really be like. It is okay to be skeptical if a reading or interpretation of the Bible makes no rational or relational sense what a loving God would truly be like.

We are better off without a Bible if readers don’t recognize that interpretations are fallible

Even if the Bible was inspired by God, no one can claim they know for sure the author’s intended meaning. We can’t be sure that the writers recorded inspired thoughts from God as opposed to their own perceptions of God. We cannot know for sure that Genesis 1-11 is historical facts or stories intended by the writers to convey theological truths. The reality is much of the Bible is subject to interpretations which obviously are not infallible. Human reasoning is necessary in the interpretation process. Dogmatism only divides not unites.  

We are better off without a Bible if we treat it as a Book of Rules

We all cringe or chuckle at the story when someone was looking for guidance, they opened the Bible and happened upon the verse “then he went and hung himself.” The Bible is not a book to definitively tell others what to do in their circumstances. When Jesus said turn the other cheek, He wouldn’t advise a woman to allow an abusive husband to continue to beat her. Develop a relationship with God, consult people you respect, and let God guide you in making a wise decision in your situation.

We are better off without a Bible if readers don’t guard how they discuss the Book

So many denominations and factions among those who worship the same God is evidence that the Bible is dividing than uniting. Consider one another’s opinion gracefully, as long as they don’t violate the freedom of others, to work out your own convictions with as much consistency as possible. It seems the main beliefs that the Bible speaks out against are immoral beliefs which lead to self-destruction or destruction of others. Jesus taught God seeks to empower us toward a life of doing good and shunning evil in a troubled world. Jesus came to dispel any preconceived notions about God other than God desires a relationship so to help you be the person you deep down want to be. Beliefs, which do not violate the rights of others, are between God and an individual. 

Religions having a representative book can allow different worldviews to be discussed 

All religions have some truth, but written records allow contradictions to be weighed to determine what is the more likely truth about a loving God. But we are better off without the Bible when one does not consider their interpretations possible fallible. We are better off without the Bible when our discussions lead to abusive behaviors toward one another as opposed to opportunities for reflection. We are better off without the Bible when any belief is considered sacred other than self-discovery about God to become a better person so to make a difference in the world.

Many agree that the Bible is chocked full of wisdom

It isn’t always natural to forgive others of certain sins but many partners end up being grateful of God’s influence in their life. Who thinks to talk in parables to go through the backdoor of a resistant soul? Jesus did! Parables enable us to continually think on a subject to try to understand and eventually accept positive applications in one’s life. The Bible is not a book you read once. You can read the Bible over and over and come away with fresh insights for relationships. Today, most only read the New Testament because the older testament is so confusing. With the newer testament shortly after Jesus’ death, Jesus’ message exploded and led to billions of followers.

Read the Bible with a questioning and open spirit 

Not questioning or not reading a Book with an open mind has led to sick and weak minds carrying out immoral acts contrary to common moral sense. Those not growing up in church don’t understand all the fuss. Who thinks literature subject to interpretation should be read so dogmatically? Question interpretations about God that make no moral sense. Don’t read the Bible if it discourages you from loving others like you want to loved. We may be better off without the Bible if a Book replaces our relationship with God and common moral sense. God didn’t necessarily inspire or approve of everything written in the Bible about God. Reading the Bible though encourages questioning and contemplating what a loving God is really like. God has drawn billions to do good and shun evil when reading and reflecting about God.

What Good Is The Bible If Not Inspired By 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 Mike Edwards

I post often about the Bible. I have written a short Booklet: Rethinking The Bible – Is The Bible Really Inspired By God?  It is natural to assume if God inspired the Bible, God approved all written in the Bible. We must question if the all of the Bible is inspired by God. Claims made about God according to an inspired Bible has keep many from having more of a relationship with God. God may be more like the God you expect!

If all of the Bible isn’t inspired by God or we don’t know what writings are inspired, can we believe in Jesus of the Bible? Few disagree that Jesus was a real historical person. But the Bible reports of a man Jesus who spoke for God, backing it up with miracles and rising from the dead. Do we have good reason to think that the Bible reports accurately what He said and did? I am convinced attempting to understand Jesus’ words about God helps us to know more what God is like. Please see Gregory Boyd & Paul Eddy, Lord Or Legend, for the below assertions:

  • If Jesus was more myth than reality, why was Jesus written to be the leader He was? The Jews were hoping for and expecting a leader to crush their oppressors, yet Jesus died at the hands of the Romans. Fictional character descriptions usually exceed your expectations.
  • If you are going to make up a movement, why are the leaders described in such flawed terms? One of the twelve disciples betrayed Jesus for a few bucks. Other disciples constantly doubted Jesus while Peter (aka “Upon This Rock…) denied knowing Jesus during tough times. Legends, rather than historical characters, aren’t weak but strong, invincible, heroes.
  • Why was Jesus based on actual current history events as contrived legends are based on events once upon a time, long ago to avoid verification? It was written Jesus was born when Augustus was emperor and crucified when Pilate was governor. Jesus was referred to as James’ brother which could be confirmed at the time of writing (Gal. 1:19). Good Lord, if you are going to claim Jesus came back from the dead you don’t write being seen by 500 witnesses possible living at the time (I Cor. 15:6). Maybe Jesus did resurrect as confirmable by living, talking eyewitnesses.
  • If Jesus didn’t actually live in the first century as a human being, why did the writers record that their readers were being persecuted from the same people that crucified Jesus (I Thess. 2:13-15)? Maybe Jesus lived during the same first century as the readers.
  • Aren’t legends created to reinforce current beliefs? The Jews were very much a one-god people since Old Testaments days, unlike surrounding cultures who worshiped many gods. You don’t make up a person claiming to be God – a second God – since they don’t reinforce current beliefs. Maybe Jesus was real and the writers wished to pen accurately Jesus’ words.
  • Why would writers talked about Jesus’ disdain for rituals, unless Jesus truly spoke how certain practices made a mockery of the message of love? The Jews had many sacred traditions revered for centuries, claiming such rituals were necessary to be accepted by God.
  • When making up stuff you don’t report your leader was crucified, that your hero was rejected by their family, and followers doubted Jesus’ claims including being God in flesh, unless reporting the facts. Jesus simply was not the stuff legends were made up.

Keep in mind most biblical scholars accept that the Gospels – stories about Jesus – were written within 30-50 years of Jesus’ life. Legends do not develop within such a short time, as eyewitnesses can dispute claims made. Historical research can only suggest probabilities not certainties, but the Bible’s historical reliability far surpasses any other ancient literatures.

Don’t use possible wrong interpretations as an excuse to not pursue a relationship with God. You don’t have to believe all the things suggested about Jesus according to one’s interpretation of the Bible. Ask God to help you understand what God is truly like and how you can have a relationship. Any loving parent would salivate if a grown child made such a request. Why wouldn’t God? Consider what aspects about God you believe are true according to your understanding of what Jesus proclaims, that might inspire you in your desires to live a more loving life toward others. I can think of no greater legacy. If skeptical about God, what do you have to lose? See here.

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 is claimed if the Bible isn’t inspired, then we can’t know God. But the Bible can’t be the authoritative guide about God, because we disagree what it says for major moral issues. Making God in the Bible’s image is complicated. Universal moral outrage concerning murder, sexual abuse, etc. hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know we ought to love others as we want to be loved. The idea that a loving God approves of beheading people for their beliefs can only arise from the notion that a Book is inspired by God thus speaks for God.

We can best know God through our moral intuitions

It is only intuitive that a Creator loves the ways their creations ought to love one another. Godly love and perfect human love are surely one and the same. What is perfect love? Every reasonable human being respects the golden rule in relationships. We were born to use our moral sense. Beliefs that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss, because they are contrary to our moral intuitions of perfection. We just know intuitively that we were created to love one another as our Creator loves us – perfectly.

Bible-believing Christians even suggest trusting your moral intuitions

Even those who claim God is a mystery believe in judging God according to moral human intuitions. Many argue God is a mystery because their interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. (I think it’s crazy talk to say God can do bad but then call God good). 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.

We can make God in the image of a perfect human lover 

Most agree only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we are clueless about perfect love. Even 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). “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. Problems often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our understanding from an inspired Book. 

An analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities in understanding God. The Bible refers to God as our Heavenly Father/Parent. God is a Spirit so God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for we cannot be in all places at one time. 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!

Don’t make God in a “male’s” 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.

We still must be discerning making God in Jesus’ image 

It is argued, because of the challenges understanding God and violence in the Old Testament, that Jesus is the final word in understanding God. Jesus claimed to be God and His moral legacy seems undeniable. But God-followers don’t always agree what Jesus taught because of transmission, translation, and interpretation. Many disagree what Jesus taught about divorce which impacts millions of marriages. Turning the other cheek is interpreted to claim Jesus never advocated violence, but the possible literal translation of Mt. 5:39 is “do not resist by evil means.” Does Jesus agree violence is never desired but may be necessary sometimes? The NT is no different than reading the OT since we could be wrong what Jesus would teach. It can’t be avoided using common moral sense even when reading the New Testament and what Jesus taught.

What is God really like according to perfect, human moral sense? 

I will list only a few beliefs that make no moral sense to me. For a full railing see here.

  • God can’t be a hellish sadist. Such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. The only reason to believe Hell exist is because of some book, but I doubt the traditional understanding of Hell exist in the Bible. See here.
  • God can’t be a religion excluder. 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. 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?
  • God can’t be a homophobe. A loving God couldn’t possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? If you are a straight man, aren’t you naturally attracted to looking at naked women than men? Ask gays their attractions! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility?
  • God can’t be a sexist. God wouldn’t put men in leadership position over women which has enabled dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men. The Bible can be interpreted to restrict roles or endorse roles according to gifts not gender. Shouldn’t the most qualified or gifted, whether male or female, be appointed CEO, preacher, or priest? 

Mental images of God shape our relationship with God and how followers treat others. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. Uncertainty is not always a bad thing and can lead to acting more loving. I will address the issue of uncertainty in a upcoming post in this series. Certain laws are just common, moral sense. Live by understandings of God that you sense are true of a loving God. 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 Post too long, read the bold subtitle sections of interest

I post often about the Bible. I have written a short Booklet: Rethinking The Bible – Is The Bible Really Inspired By God?  It is natural to assume if God inspired the Bible, God approved all written in the Bible. We must question if the all of the Bible is inspired by God. Claims made about God according to an inspired Bible has keep many from having more of a relationship with God. God may be more like the God you expect!

Since we can’t prove God inspired the Bible or not, I believe it is best to assume God didn’t inspire all of the Bible. It’s natural to assume God’s inspiration means God’s approval. But even if God did somehow magically control the thoughts and words of the writers, literature is still subject to interpretation. It is common for biblical scholars to have different interpretations of the same passages. Failure to recognize differences can lead to false accusations against God.

An inspired Bible leads down the slippery slope toward inspired interpretations

Many proclaim “The Bible teaches” without adding “according to my understanding.” When one fails to acknowledge their interpretation could be wrong, this can lead to forcing personal convictions wrongly on others in God’s name. The Bible can’t be an authoritative guide about God because we disagree what it says regarding gays, women’s roles, Hell, etc. The truth is we can’t prove our interpretations are correct or that biblical writers always understood God perfectly. The possibility that the Bible isn’t entirely inspired by God avoids the slippery slope toward supposed inspired interpretations. A fallible Book, rather than an infallible Book, encourages evaluating the most likely view of a loving God.

An inspired Bible leads to condoning violence 

I mentioned that biblical writers claim God ordered certain atrocities in war (I Sam 15:3).  Did God really inspire such thoughts? Did God really approve a wife’s hand being cut off when grabbing another man’s genitals (Deut 25:12)? Not questioning supposed inspired portrayals of God has led to killing infidels in the name of God and justifying wars. Extremists may argue that we should seek to imitate a perfect, loving God. If certain violence is good for God according to one’s interpretation or assumptions about a Book, it must be good now for humans. When you regard the Bible as the revealed Word of God and assumed inspired by God, this can more likely lead to violence in God’s name.

An inspired Bible leads to condemning women and gays

It is misleading to claim we can rely on “biblical truths.” Many claim the Bible says that women can’t fulfill the same roles as men in the worship or home setting because of the Apostle Paul’s teaching. Yet it can also be defended that Paul, a main writer of the New Testament, didn’t think roles should be chosen based on gender than gifts. See here. No one can claim their biblical view of God concerning women’s roles is definitive. It may also surprise some scholars who believe in the inspiration of Scriptures don’t agree that a literal Hell is a reality in the Bible.

Supposed certainty according to the Bible has led to condemning gays, though biblical scholars don’t agree the Bible condemns same-gender loving relationships. See here.  How dangerous can an inspired Book be? Let’s say all agreed on an interpretation of a Book’s passage on gays. An inspired Book assumes the biblical writers always portrayed God perfectly. We don’t know that.  Religions, because of an inspired Book, have defended condemning or even killing homosexuals in God’s name.

An inspired Bible leads to the destruction of souls and families in the name of God 

Ever moral fiber in a parent’s body doesn’t wish to condemn their child for feelings they say they can no more control toward those of the same sex than heterosexuals can control their feelings toward the opposite sex. Biblical passages that condemn homosexuality are highly debatable which should lead us to listen to our moral senses. God surely supports all loving, consensual, caring relationships to avoid heart-break. Family members and friends no longer need to be broken-hearted by thinking their devotion to God requires them to reject their loved ones. Why would anyone choose to be gay based on the condemnation and bigotry they face? It just isn’t possible to be told “I love you but I hate your sin” and not feel unloved and rejected. We must be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices?

An inspired Bible leads to rejecting God for the wrong reasons

Church-goers gain most of their understanding of God from the Bible. Many non-going church people are impacted by what others claim about God according to the Bible. Try telling people with a straight face a perfect moral God tortures forever after death for beliefs held while a short time here on earth. What many assume of a good God doesn’t always match what the Bible says! Many insist the Bible can’t support evolution. If one believes evolution is a possibility, this forces them to reject the Bible and often God goes with that. Maybe Genesis isn’t meant to be a historical or scientific rendering of creation but written to illustrate there was a Creator.

Would you naturally assume if not for your understanding of a Book:

  • God condemns gays though gays no more choose to be gay than straights choose to be straight
  • God prohibits women serving as pastors or priests though we all know many women that are a lot smarter and better leaders than a whole lot of men
  • God judges based on religion when the religion the majority adhere to depends where born

An inspired Bible leads to Christian hypocrisy 

One would think God followers wouldn’t be so judgmental. Jesus hung out with all kinds of people who didn’t share His beliefs. Jesus’ ire was saved for religious leaders mispresenting God. Christians who follow Jesus’ teaching often judge more than love one another. Why isn’t a Following who claims the importance of loving others as themselves having more of an impact on our culture? It is hard to make a big impact in the world alone. A Movement though can! But more churches are forming than uniting because of differences in interpretations and claiming certainty.

What first steps can we take to show true love?  

Extremists hide behind a supposed infallible Book. Certain absolutes should be obvious to all such as beheading people for unbelief. A God torturing many forever in Hell seems extremist to many of us. Begin conversations looking for how you agree. Stop claiming your views are biblically superior. As my beliefs were forming and changing over the decades, I wasn’t always respectful in sharing my passions. If I had it all to do over, I would have sought to understand first before being understood. This is the best way for relationships to not end up demonizing one another. Don’t assume the Bible is inspired by God. Christians acting loving toward one another could change the world.

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 Post too long, read the bold subtitle sections of interest

I post often about the Bible. I have written a short Booklet: Rethinking The Bible – Is The Bible Really Inspired By God?  It is natural to assume if God inspired the Bible, God approved all written in the Bible. We must question if the all of the Bible is inspired by God. Claims made about God according to an inspired Bible has keep many from having more of a relationship with God. God may be more like the God you expect!

I am not going to address how the early church in the first few centuries understood what was meant by Scriptures being inspired. I think more important is to address what comes to mind today when one hears claims that the Bible was inspired by God. I am convinced when referring to the Bible as inspired, authoritative, infallible, or God-breathed, people naturally think God approves or agrees with all written in the Bible about God. Since it isn’t possible to prove that God somehow controlled all writings about God, are there good reasons to consider not all of the Bible was inspired by God?

Gregory Boyd’s twist on Inspiration

Boyd wrote a book about the Bible Inspired Imperfection. I can’t carry Boyd’s water, so please read his book. The title of the Book suggests Boyd feels it’s important to hold onto that God inspired the Bible. Many assume we can’t know God if the Bible isn’t inspired. Boyd seems to suggest God somehow allowed wrong views written about God so we might better see ultimate perfection in the person of Christ at the Cross. Numerous passages in the Old Testament God ordered Israel to commit atrocities (“Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys” (I Sam 15:3). Did God really approve/inspire/have anything to do with such accusations against God to better reveal Jesus? Implying God somehow inspired wrong views about God is just plain confusing. 

Can God really control the writings of any Book?

There is no evidence the Bible was dictated by God or dropped from heaven. A written recording of God’s beginnings with the Israelites culminating in the life of Jesus, regardless of inspiration, can still be valuable so we might question and contemplate what a loving God is really like. God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t support God controlling mental impressions of the biblical writers or performing a lobotomy. If God is perfect, God can no more be controlling than manipulative.

Can we really defend the Bible is somehow inspired by God? 

The most common defense for arguing the Bible is inspired is to claim the biblical writers made such a claim. Such logic would not lead those same people to accept the Quran or any book being inspired because it claims to be. We can’t prove God controlled the writings of the writers to always portray God accurately. It is just as likely that the Bible is uncontrolled writings that can encourage contemplating what a loving God is really like. See below concerning the claim that the Bible is “God-breathed.”

More reasons to doubt or question that God inspired the Bible

The list of contradictions may be trivial but are sizable. Did God incite David to take a census of Israel (2 Sam 24:10), or did Satan incite David (I Chron 21:1)? Moral challenges are not so trivial. Did God really inspire acts or language of genocide? I mentioned I Samuel 15:3 claims God told Israel to kill men, women, children, infants, and animals. Numerous passages in the Old Testament advocate violence in God’s name. Would a loving God really approve of such violence, or approve certain laws according to Moses to burn alive sexual offenders (Lev 20:14 21:9)? In my next essay I will suggest an inspired view of the Bible can lead to justifying violence, wrongly condemning people such as gays in God’s name, destroying family relationships, etc.

Besides, the Bible has a complicated history

We don’t have the original autographs. If we believe the Bible we hold is inspired by God, we have to logically insist God controlled the copying or editorial process in the beginning. Also, translation is hardly an exact science. Certain Greek or Hebrew words are translated as Hell over 50 times in the King James version. The NIV uses the word hell 14 times. Some translations don’t use the word hell once. The history of the canon’s development is complicated. The formation of the Old Testament was a long, slow development over centuries. Did God inspire that process? The truth is we can’t know if we have the books of the Bible God intended to convey truth, or there are other books that have been excluded to convey truth about God.

What about when the Bible records “God said”?   

Biblical writers didn’t typically claim audible God-speak. “God said” though is recorded hundreds of times in the Bible, but this may be a figure of speech expressing inner impressions about God. Such impressions could be right or wrong. Writers/editors of the Bible weren’t lying about their understandings of God. Exodus 20: 1-17 says “all these words” were spoken to Moses from God regarding the 10 commandments. The 10 commandments are repeated again in Deuteronomy 5:6-18 but with slight word variation. Shouldn’t both passages be the same verbatim?

Karen Keen in Scripture, Ethics, And Same-Sex Relationships points out that a scribe added sentences to the oldest manuscript we know of on Isaiah 2: 9-11. Our current Bibles read (The italicized words added to the original): “So people will be brought low and everyone humbled— do not forgive them. Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from the fearful presence of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty! The eyes of the arrogant will be humble and human pride brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (p. 59, 126). Later scribes intensified God’s anger which may or may not best portray God’s true nature. See here for additional examples.

What about the Bible claiming to be God-breathe?

2 Tim 3:16-17 is the only time Scriptures uses the Greek word “theopneustos” which literally means God-breathed: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so the servant of God may be equipped for good works.”

  • God-breathed can also be interpreted literally as God-spirited. But the word Scripture isn’t in the original. The Greek word translated as Scripture is “graphis” or writings and isn’t referring necessarily to just the Bible as we know it. This passage can be declaring: God’s Spirit can use all writings (graphis) including Scripture, whether having right or wrong views of God, to equip us for good works.
  • Scripture “writings” in this passage could only be referring to OT writings because NT writings weren’t known. The final OT and NT canon wasn’t decided on for centuries.
  • Jesus when leaving this earth said His Spirit, not some Book, would guide us in truth (Jn 14:16-17; 16:13). Jesus even said the Scriptures didn’t contain all that Jesus said or did: “Jesus did many other things as well. If everyone one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have enough room for the books that would be written.” (Jn 21:25).

In summary, God can speak to us through the Scriptures we have. God can also speak to us through other writings, even possible mediums such as music, so we can be equipped for good works.  I have written elsewhere how God’s Spirit may guide us.  See here.

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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but not Necessarily Religious

by Jim Gordon

There actually is a difference between being spiritual and being religious, although many people think of the two as being the same thing.

Being religious is basically following the rules and doctrines of a specific organization or denomination, or what we usually call church.

Being spiritual can bring to mind all kinds of strange thoughts and ideas. Yet, when I say spiritual, I am talking about a daily life following Christ and allowing His love to flow through us, apart from the doctrines and teachings of any specific religious organization.

My wife and I are no longer religious. We left the weekly meeting at a local building and no longer follow any particular doctrine. Yet being outside the walls of religion, we are more aware of the spiritual, day-to-day life of following the example of Jesus.

We realize that God is not a being up in heaven, coming down to visit us only when the conditions are right, or when we are in a certain building, or when we have been extremely good over the past week.

God is spirit and He is with us constantly. As a quote by Michael Beckwith states “God is a presence that’s never in absence. This presence is everywhere, so, you would never pray for God to come here, because the presence of God is infinite.”

Or as it reads in 1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

I am not sure why it is we have always been taught that God is way up there somewhere. Jesus says that we are one with God in John 17:21 ‘that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me’. God is not somewhere off in Heaven waiting on us. He lives within us and will never leave us.

We seem to think that the Kingdom of God is a place we go one of these days when this life on earth is over. I think this is also a big misconception. God says His Kingdom is within us. That means right now, not some future date. That is what Jesus spent so much time teaching about, the Kingdom of God.

If we could only get these truths in our head and in our spirit, I think we could live a life that would really make a difference. Rather than see religious people who fight and argue over their differences in doctrine and interpretation, they could see spiritual people living a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness, all in the power of the Spirit.

Unfortunately, we have been taught by religion to rely on trying to work hard, follow the rules and just survive until we get to heaven. We go from Sunday to Sunday, living life without the power of the Kingdom of God. We argue amongst ourselves over doctrine and belief, and by doing so, people see we really do not have anything to offer them that is meaningful and different.

Jesus was the perfect example of God living in man. Jesus came to show us what God may really be like.

We can be Jesus to the world today. We can show love, compassion, and acceptance to the world around us each day. We are not God, but we are one with God. The Spirit is within us and he will teach us, guide us and give us power to love all people.

Listen for the voice of the Spirit in every situation. Realize God is within you and allow His love to touch those around you every day.

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

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