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Posts Tagged ‘belief’

By Mike Edwards

This is a two-part Post. First part here.

Most God-followers get their understanding of God from the Bible. Non-God followers often understand God from what people claims about God according to the Bible. Readers may be aware of arguments suggesting dangers when assuming the Bible isn’t entirely inspired by God. I wish to address dangers when not questioning if the entire Bible is inspired by God. When the Bible is said to be infallible or inspired by God, most assume the words penned somehow came from God and thus approved by God. Few suggest God dictated the entire Bible word per word, but a dictatorial style is implied if God somehow prevented biblical writers from having less than perfect views of God. It is very different to approach the Bible from the perspective that God acts uncontrolling but continually seeks to influence for one’s moral good.

The danger of destroying souls and families because the Bible supposedly says so

Ever moral fiber in a parent’s body doesn’t wish to condemn their child for feelings 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.  Scientific knowledge available suggests sexual orientation isn’t a choice. 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 know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. We must be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices?

The danger of valuing right beliefs or interpretations at the expense of loving others

We must prioritize love over the right interpretation because interpretations could be wrong. It isn’t godless to approach Scriptures openly questioning with the aim to love others like we want to be loved. Different opinions can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach, rather than forcing our opinions on others in the name of God. Jesus didn’t always answer questions directly because He sought to change hearts which influences solving problems with the interests of others in mind. Love others like they want to be loved because you could be wrong.

The danger of making assumptions about God’s actions if controlling

God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t suggest God is capable of performing a lobotomy on biblical writers’ impressions of God. An uncontrolling God cannot guarantee a perfect Book, but God can enter our world with the communications means available so we can grow in our understanding what God is really like. If God’s nature allows this kind of control when it comes to the Bible, why doesn’t God control so much evil prevalent in this world? Doesn’t God care? God’s loving nature doesn’t allow God to control. God much less humans know beliefs are only genuine and lost-lasting when freely chosen.

The danger of using the Bible as if a rules or answers Book

Jesus didn’t always answer questions directly because circumstances vary and the issue is our heart in solving problems. Imagine a world where all looked out for the interests of others and not just themselves during difficult times. The Bible is quoted that we must always forgive, but God is often said to not forgive the rebellious (i.e. Josh. 24:19). It’s complicated. Easy forgiveness can allow a husband’s abusive behavior to continue. When a sexual abuser doesn’t acknowledge their actions, secret behaviors continue. Victims can feel more victimized, and feel God must not understand their pain, when told to forgive despite their abuser denying any wrongdoing. Isn’t the whole point to do whatever helps control bitterness to stop the victimizing?

Read the Bible for what it is. Use 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? When one fails to acknowledge their interpretation could be wrong, this can lead to forcing personal convictions on others in God’s name. A fallible Book can lead to listening to different opinions as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating through our moral senses (how we ought to treat others). The Bible wouldn’t be God’s main communication anyway, because the majority born into this world never had a copy.

Let’s err on the side of God that seems morally correct to most, to not turn people away from God for the wrong reasons. Would you desire to pursue God and spirituality more if you knew God was the kind of God you imagine according to how they have created you? The Bible is still valuable as it lets us know God seeks a relationship with all individuals in all nations as evidenced by Jesus’ message and life. Read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love rather than with blind obedience.  Use common moral sense as you consider what a loving God is really like.

 

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By Mike Edwards

I don’t have to convince anyone that God does or doesn’t exist. God can speak to the hearts of individuals on their own. That billions are convinced there is a loving God cannot be declared definitely irrational or delusional. It is not irrational either to ask if God is real, why doesn’t God clinch the argument by making their Presence obvious? I would encourage those who believe in a relational God to not stand in the way of others and speak for God declaring any beliefs are required by God to consider a relationship.

God doesn’t require any belief!  

I am convinced God only wishes for all to consider the possibility of a loving God who desires to help you in your journey of becoming the person deep down you want to become. Loving, human parents don’t require certain beliefs from their children before hoping they will consider if they love them. Are we better lovers than God? 

You certainly don’t have to believe in magical trees and talking snakes.

No one was there with Adam or Eve to know literally what took place. Genesis isn’t necessarily a scientific explanation about Creation but about a relationship with the Creator. Flood stories appeared in ancient literature before Genesis. The global flood story could describe a regional flood in hyperbolic terms to convey moral, spiritual food for thought. God doesn’t require literal belief in any event in the Bible or else! Now if God physically appears raising your friend from the dead, you may want to consider!

You don’t have to believe Jesus resurrected from the dead.

I know the above statement is extremely offensive to many, but I care more about those who want to believe in a God but struggle with certain requirements as opposed to those who are already convinced a loving God is real. Jesus told followers He was coming back from the dead and they didn’t believe Him. And they supposedly witnessed miracles beforehand to have less doubts such a claim was possible.

I would like to think more of us if we witness a man or woman coming back from the grave after being killed that we would think their message such as claiming to be the son of God would be believed. But, none of us lived during biblical times so we will not have such an opportunity. I happen to believe the historical evidence is credible that Jesus rose from the grave, but God can handle doubts or skepticism.

You don’t have to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

Many insist that Jesus was both God and man. Some can’t logically wrap their heads around Jesus being both man and God. Exactly how does one do that chromosomally? Isn’t it logically impossible to be God and not God? Some may be willing to accept that Jesus was an extraordinary man who epitomized who God was. Why can’t we begin there as a discussion as to what teachings and actions of Jesus seem to represent what a loving God is like?

Doesn’t God at least require the Law of Love?

I have written before that the only belief God requires is love. I would say that differently now. God doesn’t demand love but only seeks to encourage unselfish love which leads to personal freedom. God know what we know – the road traveled of learning, reflecting, and freely choosing convictions over time is what leads to genuine, lasting love.

Didn’t Jesus require belief for eternal life?

When Jesus was asked directly by a religious expert how to have eternal life, Jesus didn’t talk about escaping torture after death. Please see HERE that the Bible says nothing about the traditional understanding of Hell. Jesus replied to simply 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. Jesus’ message wasn’t about requiring certain beliefs but avoiding consequences in life here on earth through destructive choices. This is the message of any loving parent!

What beliefs about God are worth insisting upon to others?  

There is no belief about God you should impose upon others. You could be wrong. God is big enough to prove themselves to those interested. You don’t even have to insist God is loving. A tyrannical God isn’t worth believe in. I surely am not as perfect or loving of a parent as God is, but even I don’t require my children accept any of my beliefs or else. Even I understand controlling through fear than proving my love doesn’t lead to true change and intimacy.

 

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I get so tired of reading posts online and following a string of replies that continues to blast the original post.

Do you notice how many times people get offended and feel they need to prove their point. It usually does not go well once that starts. Especially when it comes to spiritual and biblical topics.

We fail to realize that not everyone has the same interpretation as another. We also fail to realize the fact that we cannot prove most of what we believe.

We can fight and argue between Christian and atheist,  one Christian denomination and another, among Jewish, Christian, Islam and a host of other religions, about whether there is there a God or not, is there a hell or not, what this verse means or what that verse means. We get bent out of shape when someone goes against what we believe and do our best to prove our point. We even fight over what Christmas designs are on a cup of coffee these days.

ProveGod

Proving Our Point

Thing is, we cannot prove our point. We cannot prove God exists, we cannot prove there is a heaven or a hell, we cannot prove any other aspect of the spiritual. This life is a life of faith and belief. As Christians, we can have faith that God is there and he loves us. We have faith in his words.

And and the other hand, no one can prove there is not a God, there is not a heaven, or there is not a hell. Yet we will fight and argue until we almost hate each other trying to prove our way of thinking.

I think God can take care of himself. We do not have to fight and argue to defend Him. Rather than making ourselves look like mean, hateful people who have to be right, we should be showing the love of God to everyone. Show his love to those who agree with us and also to those who are a hundred percent sure in their minds that we are wrong.

Love of the Spirit

To be sure, we cannot have this kind of love and acceptance in our own strength. God says we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and it his love that flows out of us. Through His power, we can love those who live differently, who think differently, we can love our enemies and those who want nothing to do with God.

We can have our own way of thinking, our own beliefs and interpretations, knowing that God created each of us differently. Yet we need to remember we are not totally right on everything, and for sure we are not totally right in someone else’s view. We can all learn something by listening and communicating with others.

We all have a right to believe what and how we want to believe. People can put their faith in God or not. We can have completely different lifestyles. We can have a completely different interpretation on bible verses or we can completely reject the bible and not believe anything about it, and it is OK.

Show the Love of God

We are not called to make people believe like us, or believe in God at all. We are called to go into the world and preach the gospel, the gospel message that God loves and accepts us. Jesus came to restore fellowship between humanity and the Father. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to love and accept others just the way they are.

We can have our individual beliefs and interpretations, yet that does not mean we have to agree with everyone. Love and acceptance does not mean agreement. We can love and accept others just because they are loved by God. We were all created in His image. We can have our differences and still accept and care for those God brings into our lives each day.

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Having grown up in church all my life, there are many things I used to think and believe that have changed over the years. If there was one thing I could go back twenty years ago and tell myself then, it would have to be something that involved my beliefs and interpretations. Although the one thing would be the matter of understanding my beliefs, it would be broken down into a few different areas.

The first thing I wish I had known sooner is the New Covenant didn’t start at Matthew Chapter One. I never thought about Jesus living his earthly life under the Law. The New Covenant didn’t start until His death and resurrection. When we start reading in Matthew, we are reading about the life of Christ here on earth, living under the Law. He came to fulfill the law because we were unable to do so in our own strength. We are saved and we live by grace, not by any good work we do.

I never truly thought about the fact that the Spirit of God lives within us. I always thought God was way up there in heaven, sitting on a huge throne looking down on us. I now realize God is within us. We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to communicate with our Father. He is within us, just as Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within you. We are not God, but we are one with Him, just as Jesus prayed in John 17. He is with us each and every second.

I always went along with the church being a building. I was told that we go to the Lord’s house to worship. I never thought about us being the Church, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Christ is building a church made without hands, a Church made up of His followers. We no longer have to wait until Sunday and go to a building to meet with God. The Spirit lives within us each and every day. We have fellowship with one another anytime two or three gather in His name. That can be in a living room, a restaurant, a pub or café, and it can be on any day, because every day is the day the Lord has made.

I used to look to the Bible as the word of God. I felt it was where we got all our information and all leading from God came through the Bible. Now I know the Bible is the written words that God inspired men to write. The true, perfect, powerful Word of God is Jesus. As John 1:1 says, in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Jesus in the one we worship and follow, not the Bible. We learn from the Bible, it is good to see how God provided a way for us to have access to Him. It is good to read how others acted and reacted and how God dealt with them. It is good to see the plan of salvation and the way of grace explained. Unfortunately, too many of us want to make the Bible part of the trinity and worship it. The Bible is not part of God. Jesus is the word. The Spirit of Christ guides us. Study the Bible, learn from it, but do not worship it and look to it as our guide when the Spirit is our guide.

The Christian life is an ongoing, daily learning process. Sometimes we get to thinking we can’t question what we’ve been taught over the years. The Holy Spirit lives within us and He is fresh and current, and is our teacher and guide. Our interpretations will change over time as He leads us into truth. It is not wrong to question. It is not a lack a faith to wonder and seek truth. In all honesty, if we aren’t changing, growing, questioning and learning, I would have to wonder if there wasn’t something wrong. I just wonder what it will be in twenty years that I will wish I knew now.

 

This article is part of the June 2014 Synchroblog – ‘If I could tell myself one thing’. http://synchroblog.wordpress.com/

Following is the list of other contributors this month:

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