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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

by Jim Gordon

Growing up in the world of Christianity and the church, I have memories of a time when all seemed well within the system. I thought we all loved one another and we could share the love of God with everyone we met. I felt if I stayed in the system and listened to the pastor, I would learn all I needed to know to be a Christian who could handle anything.

After many years within Christianity and the organized church, I began having feelings of not being satisfied. I saw people who wanted to have things their way or else. I saw people looked down upon or ignored enough to leave. I saw people outside the church service who acted just like everyone else and treated people who they disagreed with in a very unloving way.

I began to question if Christianity was truly what God intended and if the church was what Jesus talked about when he said he would build his Church. Jesus said he would build his church, which is his people. It is also said that God does not live in houses made by human hands. The bible makes it plain that we, his people are now the temple and the Holy Spirit lives within us. We no longer need anyone to teach us. We have the Word of God living in us teaching and guiding us throughout our lives.

It finally began to hit me that Christianity was just another religion like all the others. It was organized and controlled by human beings. It was an organization of power, control, disagreement and exclusion. I wondered what happened to the Christianity I knew growing up. I truthfully do not think it changed, I think I changed. I think the change was due to learning and following the guidance of the Spirit who is within me.

Have you ever felt frustrated with the Christian world today? Obviously, the church today is not what God intended and in America the church has become a big corporation more than anything.

It finally got to a point where my wife and I were frustrated enough with Christianity that we decided to leave the church. The more we read, prayed, meditated and thought about things we also got frustrated enough to leave Christianity.

Now before you have that common reaction to call us heretics, back-slidden Christians, or fallen from grace let me say we have not left God. I know many people believe if you leave the church or the Christian organization you have left God, but that is not the case.

Believe it or not, Jesus was not a Christian. He did not start the organized, religious church. He did not favor one group of people over another. He loved people, all people. He asks us to do the same and that was not something I was seeing within the organization.

I will say that if you are satisfied with the church system and enjoy meeting together with other like-minded people, that is OK. My only thought is that you remember church is not a place nor an organization. The pastor is not the middleman between you and God. One denomination or church doctrine is not the true church or only way of interpreting the ways of God.

The fact is that God loves us. There is nothing we have to do or stop doing to receive God’s love. We are saved and restored to fellowship with God through faith in Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit living within us and we do not have to listen to this group or that group, this speaker or that preacher. We follow God in the way He wants us to go and we no longer have to worry about our reputations or what others think. We no longer have to look to religion or man-led organizations to live for God.

I really believe if we accept God’s love, follow Him and listen to the guiding of the Holy Spirit within us we will be pleasing to God no matter what others say. We no longer have to be tossed to and fro by listening to all the different voices in Christianity today. We listen and trust God and enjoy the fellowship we have with Him through Christ.

Looking at things in this way, it has become a life of following the example of Jesus and doing what is pleasing to God. We no longer worry about following the religion of Christianity, but we go by the guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. The religious organization we so commonly call Christianity has become something we no longer need. We now live life by following the Spirit, loving God and loving all people. For us, this daily way of living has replaced the man-made organization with a more meaningful way of life.

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By Mike Edwards

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What we believe about a person impacts our relationship. What we believe about God influences our relationship with God. I couldn’t have any kind of real relationship with my parents when I didn’t respect them or they didn’t seem to really care through their actions. What can we believe about God and why does it matter? 

We can’t know what God is always like through the eyes of the biblical writers?

Let’s be honest. We can’t prove God exists or doesn’t exist. Either belief takes faith. We can’t prove God controlled the cognitions thus writings of the biblical writers or they simply expressed their own understanding of God at that time. Regardless, scholars don’t agree if the writers believed God condemned monogamous relationships of the same gender, if God believes only men can serve as priests or pastors, etc. A Book can’t be the only guide in understanding God. 

What do you imagine God is like?

Atheists and believers agree. The only God worth believing in and following is a perfect God. We may not always know what perfect love entails but at least we seem to know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly? It is only natural to think a Creator would love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. We can’t claim with certainty what God would do in every situation but human perfection is our best starting point for discussion. Our imaginations about God may be more correct than claimed interpretations of a Book.

It matters what you claim about God!

If the Bible supposedly condemns gays, you may condemn gays out of devotion to God. Did God really appoint men in authority over women which has been conducive for abuse and other atrocities women have face at the hands of men? If God can do Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. The traditional meaning of Hell is nowhere to be found in the Bible and few would imagine a loving God would create such a place.

How can faith in a loving God make a difference?

Most of us want to be a better version of ourselves. Most are convinced an unselfish life than selfish live lived is a better legacy. What I believe is morally true about God intuitively is a far better version of God than what many claim according to the Bible. Most of us are decent people to begin with. Personally though, I am a better partner, father, and friend than I would be because of the insights, encouragement, and forgiveness that I sense from my Creator. A right view of God may be the help our world and individuals need in striving to be who we deep down desire to be.

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By Mike Edwards

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The amount of violence recorded as commanded by God is undeniable such as ordering the death of women, children, infants and animals in war (I Sam. 15:3). Many assume a Book supposedly inspired by God means God approved what was written about God. Who is to say the writers weren’t on the same spiritual journey we all are on – discovering what God is really like! Violent views of God can often lead to justifying wars and killing infidels in God’s name.

It is best to admit we can’t prove God inspired (aka approved) all recorded in the Bible.

Let’s be honest. We can’t prove God took over the biblical writers’ minds to control what’s written. Writers rarely claimed audible God-speak. “God said” written hundreds of times could be a figure of speech expressing an inner impression about God – right or wrong. Writers/editors of the Bible didn’t intentionally lie but were honest about their understandings of God at the time. This may explain violence wrongly contributed to God. I think best to not use the word “inspired” as most associate that with God agreeing with every thought or belief the writers had about God.

Did God approve certain violence to bring the Israelites freely along to the truth?

It is argued Israel’s laws were a step up from other ancient near eastern laws. At times maybe they were, but it is rational to question many laws set forth. God surely didn’t approve a woman being required to marry her rapist (Deut. 22: 28-29) or killing boys and non-virgins but sparing virgins for the warriors (Num. 31:18). Did God accommodate because the Israelites couldn’t handle the truth that requiring a woman to marry their rapist or family murderer is further victimization? I doubt it!

Is violence by God simply warfare exaggeration or hyperbole?  

Warfare rhetoric was common in ancient literature to induce fear and victory. But, even if God didn’t mean to be taken literally, why would God inspire violent metaphors like I Sam. 15 to include women, children, infants, and animals? Imperfect, human leaders don’t even use such language. I question if the writers heard God correctly to command such language even metaphorically.

Maybe the violence commanded by God didn’t take place?

Archaeology can suggest biblical events never happened and were recorded centuries later to convey spiritual truths. The creation account in Genesis may not be an actual historical event. It is also pointed out many of the genocide-like commands supposedly from God were not carried out as survivors are listed later in the story. Maybe extermination passages are meant to be understood within the context of initially driving out the enemy. The problem though is that God supposedly said these violent commands – not if commands were obeyed, didn’t take place, or were hyperbole.

Is violence explained because God can do whatever the Hell God wants?  

It is normal to feel compelled to justify passages above because God’s actions in the OT aren’t always moral from a human perspective. So, it is suggested God’s ways don’t have to be fair because God is God. Yet, the Bible encourages us to be perfect like God or imitate God (Mt. 5:48, Eph. 5:1). If human and God’s morals are different, how can we know how to be perfect like God? We don’t always know what perfect love is, but I doubt God is the parent that says “do as I say not what I do.” God’s morals are not some mystery. God’s good isn’t sometimes evil.

Objections when claiming the Bible doesn’t always depict God perfectly.  

  • We can’t know God if we can’t trust the Bible. See here.
  • God wouldn’t allow so much uncertainty. See here.

 God’s uncontrolling rather than controlling love can explain much of the OT.

Many practices in the OT such as animal sacrifices and other behaviors supposedly desired and commanded by God were humans’ understanding of God during those times. God’s love never controls one’s beliefs but seeks to influence for good. Freedom is necessary for authentic, lasting relationships. I have no doubt that the Bible has God’s blessing. So much wisdom has been gained by reading and reflecting. But, God never intended a Book to not be questioned or to take the place of a relationship with God and others. God seeks to influence so we might make choices in the interest of ourselves and others in the long-run.

 

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By Mike Edwards

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Those who didn’t grow up with the Bible maybe aren’t familiar with the Holy Spirit. Some Bible translations refer to the Holy Ghost which may bring Casper the friendly ghost to mind. We can think of the Holy Spirit as God’s Spirit or Presence. Even the Bible suggests to look for God’s guidance through a Spirit than a Book (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). The context of these passages though suggests guidance in spiritual or moral truth as opposed to future, specific, individual decisions.

A word of caution when advocating God’s Spirit or the Holy Spirit speaks to us today.

Christians often encourage being still and listening so you can hear the Spirit’s voice. Such statements without explanation leave others feeling spiritually inferior or confused. You aren’t less spiritual if you can’t distinguish a supposed voice from inner impressions. At least I can’t. We can’t really know when personal desires impact our understanding of God’s voice. This doesn’t mean God can’t guide us through intuitions and the influence of others.

How might God speak to us morally?

A Book such as the Bible can’t be our only moral guide. Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures interpret differently what God guides morally regarding divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, etc. One possibility for a universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated is an external force communicating through our moral intuitions. Common moral sense isn’t the enemy when making moral decisions. Be careful though because rational folks often don’t agree what is our moral obligation when it comes to important matters.

How might God speak when we disagree what is moral?

Rational people don’t always agree morally concerning immigration, climate change, abortion, health care, taxes, or responding to evil dictators that murder their own people. Truth often exists on both sides of the fence. Certainty has led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. Calm, open dialogue allows evaluating the most loving approach to complicated challenges we face. Certainty isn’t always less chaotic than uncertainty. See here.

God isn’t hiding an unknown future in non-moral decision-making.  

A predetermined future makes freedom nonsensical. God can’t know an undetermined future. God isn’t keeping secrets. God can’t tell you if your partner will end up betraying you or the job you take won’t be phased out. Many who speak of an “inner voice” assume God knows the future. God took risks creating us free; we must take risk making decisions. Stay connected with God choosing the wisest path at the time based on past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations. Do all the good, in all the places, to all the people you can.

What about biblical examples of clear guidance?

There are biblical examples where God communicated clearly. It was infrequent but if God speaks to you through a burning bush like Moses (Ex. 3), through a donkey (Numbers 22:28), or a voice from heaven that others heard like Paul (Acts 9), you might want to take notice. This just isn’t my personal experience or most I come in contact with. Inner impressions, often thought of as God’s voice, are not the same as clear communications.

Maybe the Spirit speaks or guides us through an indescribable, quiet influence.

Don’t we recognize the Spirit’s influence when we have wronged someone, we quickly confess and make amends? Maybe all we have to do is be open to the Spirit’s influence. Humans inspire by their example without speaking. When I am trying to discern the Spirit’s influence, and often it is about relationships, I aim to make a wise decision if to take the risk. If it works out, I don’t know if coincidental or not. In an unknown future God doesn’t know if it’s going to work out either.

I admit I have minimized God speaking clearly to us but if God was more demonstrative, we might use it as a club to beat the Truth out of people like we have with the Bible. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow the road traveled of learning and reflecting leading to lasting convictions. Much of moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Honest open dialogue, not claiming certainty, best leads to loving decisions when there is disagreement. Future decisions are open. One is surely guided by the Spirit of Truth when following Jesus’ example and not demonizing others when there is genuine disagreement.

For another view consider Woodland Hills sermon series beginning January 26, 2020. See here.

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by Jim Gordon

— John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
— John 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
— John 5:39-40  You study the scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

The Word is not just written words in a book. The Word mentioned here is Jesus, the Living Word.

So many of us focus on which version of the bible is the true word of God. These verses state that the true Word is alive and living within us. The true Word is not a book at all.

If we were never again able to read from the bible or hear it read to us, we still have the Living Word of God within us to teach us and guide us.

It is good to read our bibles no matter what translation we prefer because the written word is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Yet the bible is not God and is not part of the trinity of God. It is not Father, Son and Holy Bible.

We need to remember that the bible was written by humans who were inspired to tell how they related to God, how they understood God, how they interacted with God and what they thought God was saying to them.  The true Word of God is Jesus who lives within each of us through the Holy Spirit.

We can read the words on the pages of the bible and learn about grace and the love of God, but it is the Living Word within us by the Holy Spirit that brings to life and power the words we read. Jesus, who is the living, inerrant Word of God has final authority over any written words which we call the bible.

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By Mike Edwards

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There are many things we can’t prove. We can’t prove God exist; we can’t prove God doesn’t exist. We certainly can’t prove that God inspired every word of the Bible, controlling the writers’ thoughts to understand God perfectly. The writers may have been on the same spiritual journey we all are on – discovering what God is really like. Not questioning or reading a Book with an open mind has led to sick and weak minds carrying out immoral acts contrary to common moral sense.

Did God really always inspire what the writers claimed about God?

  • 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)
  • God supposedly insisted on animal sacrifices but later OT writers say God prefers contrite hearts over animal sacrifices (Ps. 51:16-17, i.e. Jer. 7:22, Micah 6:6)

Writers/editors of the Bible didn’t intentionally lie about God but were honest about their understandings of God. We simply don’t possess in other documents the Israelites’ beginnings with a God different from the other gods at that time. The Bible is the main document of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. God didn’t necessarily intend for recordings to not be questioned. These stories are written down for our reading, reflecting, and discovering what God is truly like.

Why it matters how you read the Bible. 

There are contrary biblical interpretations for most major issues. Scholars rightly debate if the Bible condemns monogamous same-sex relationships. Families are destroyed because parents out of devotion to God condemn their child for feelings they can no more control toward those of the same sex than straights can control toward the opposite sex. You have every right to doubt a loving God tortures anyone forever, which serves no lasting purpose, when humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies.

Read the Bible with a questioning and open spirit.  

Those not growing up in church don’t understand all the fuss. Who thinks literature subject to interpretation should be read so dogmatically? We must question interpretations about a loving God that make no moral sense. It only makes intuitive sense that a Creator surely love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. Even extremists want to be treated with loving kindness. We may not always know what perfect love is, but surely God’s love and perfect human love are the same.

 

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By Jim Gordon

When you first hear this, you think of someone who has lost their faith and turned their back on God. That is certainly not the case with me. Let me explain.

When I say christianity I am talking about the religious organization. The true sense of the word Christian means little Christ, or someone who follows the example of Jesus by loving God and loving others. This is not what I am talking about.

The religion of Christianity is the many denominations, the various doctrines and the requirement to follow the rules that men and women tell us we need to follow to be “good christians”.

Church attendance, tithing, adhering to the belief that the bible is inerrant, basically following the rules of the traditional institutional church organization. Being told that grace is not enough because we have to add following the rules and do things that people think are right to be considered a christian.

So often you see two or three church buildings within a mile of each other. There are so many usually because those that attend cannot agree on doctrine and bible interpretation and they have to separate from one another. They still try to follow the ten commandments and try to be good people by what they do when God said it is finished. Because of the grace of Christ we can rest in the love of God.

Jesus said to love God and love one another, but we tend to fight and argue amongst ourselves while those outside of christianity watch and wonder why they would need to be a part of it.

It seems more often than not, when christianity is mentioned the thought is of people who go to church on Sunday then act like everyone else the rest of the week. The thought of people who try their best to follow the rules but spend most of their time feeling guilty because they cannot do so. So much of christianity seems to be so exclusive to people who they feel are different. It says love your neighbor and love your enemy but christianity so often loves only those who have the same views and opinions about the bible.

That is why my wife and I have left the religion of christianity. We have been walking outside the walls of institutional church and religion yet have not left our faith in God. We want to follow the example of Jesus who showed us what God is really like. A God of love and acceptance. A God who loves people and treats everyone with kindness, respect and as equals. We want to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. We have given up on following the pastor or evangelist or any human who thinks they are the mouthpiece of God. We no longer need a human teacher or guide since Jesus sent the Spirit to be with us constantly.

All that is asked of us is to share the good news of the gospel which is that God loves us. We share that by loving God and loving all people, not by shoving our opinion down the throats of others. Making disciples is sharing the love of God, encouraging one another and helping each other to daily live a life that is loving and helpful.

So yes, I am done with christianity. I am not done with faith in God. I am not done with following the example of Jesus. I am not done with loving people and sharing the love of God with everyone. Forget the religion and follow the way of God by loving one another.

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By Mike Edwards

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Total certainty is an illusion because even if God is Truth, we still have to discern what is Truth. For example, there is genuine disagreement if God of the Bible desires preachers or priests be women or gay. I am convinced so many people are leaving the institutional church, but not God, because of lack of open dialogue. It’s hard to be relational when you are so damn certain!

Certainty is not found in a Book even if infallible.

It is implied that we can only know God through the Bible. Newsflash – literature always requires interpretation. You are interpreting my meaning as you read this blog. Am I saying God disapproves all certainty or that uncertainty isn’t all bad? A fallible, not infallible Book, more encourages questioning than demonizing views to the contrary. God-followers seem unaware, as I was, how they come off morally superior based on their assumptions about the Bible.

How can we know God if certainly not through the Bible? 

Only a perfect or good God is worth believing in! Who doesn’t know a good God hates beheading people for unbelief unless a supposed infallible Book speaks for God? God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating through our moral intuitions. Criminals often don’t defend their actions; instead, they deny committing such crimes. A Book couldn’t be a Creator’s only type of communication, because the majority of people born into this world didn’t possess a Bible or know of Jesus. Problems often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our understanding from an inspired Book. How can we decide what God is really like? See HERE

Where has certainty in God’s name 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 revered theologians such as St. Augustine and John Calvin not firmly opposing the execution of those not agreeing with their theology. 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 doesn’t have to lead to chaos or lawlessness.

As mentioned, the Bible can’t be the definitive guide what God would do because scholars even biblical scholars disagree what God says about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, the afterlife, etc. Uncertainty unless talking about beheading infidels, not certainly about God, protects against imposing beliefs on others which is not God’s nature. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. 

Uncertainty must exist in a free world.  

Freedom is absolutely necessary for authentic relationships. God’s constant interference and presence could prevent true intimacy from emerging. Freedom leads to a great deal of unpredictability. The only way for a God to protect us completely against emotional or physical harm is to create robots. God can’t promise you a certain outcome in relationships or jobs and still be a respecter of freedom. God deals as much with uncertainty as we do, as not even an all-powerful God can know a free, undetermined future.

Uncertainty about God may be out of love.

God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. When parents push their agendas, even if in their child’s best interest, they may resent or rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. The road traveled of learning, reflecting, and non-coerced choices may best lead to lasting convictions. Moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Amoral decisions are open. Maybe God speaks to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!

Uncertainty can lead to acting more loving.

Being unable to declare the certainty or morality of our opinions forces us to listen and express ideas openly. Forcing beliefs doesn’t lead to long-lasting change. Starting a conversation with “I may be wrong” more likely leads to new understandings and creative solutions. Try it in relationships! Uncertainty doesn’t result in lawlessness. Who doesn’t know God hates murder, sexual abuse, stealing, adultery, even not treating others like you want to be treated? Continually evaluate the most loving approach is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. A loving God only wishes to influence us to make choices with the interest of others in mind.

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By Mike Edwards

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Why isn’t the Bible clearer about divorce, gays, women’s roles, heaven and hell, etc.? If God hates evil so much, why doesn’t God intervene more in our world? Why isn’t God clearer about origins since so many people lose their faith because of their scientific understandings and what the Bible supposedly says? Decide if the below are just rationalizations.

Can we stop claiming the Bible says whoever doubts God is in denial!

The Book of Romans is most commonly used to claim the Bible teaches all who don’t believe in a Creator are simply suppressing what they know to be true deep down. Romans actually says: “many knew God…they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God” (Rm. 1:21, 29). The writer’s audience simply sought to justify evil ways. Those who believe aren’t needing a crutch and those that don’t believe aren’t wicked and don’t know their feelings. I would struggle to believe in God if I thought Hell was real. There are valid reasons for believing or not believing.

God may not be as hidden as it seems.

A universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated may be a personal external force communicating through our moral intuitions. We seem to know we ought to abide by the golden rule. We all have an innate knowledge of right and wrong. What rational person doesn’t believe murder, lying, stealing, or adultery is wrong? Most criminals don’t defend but deny their actions.

Maybe God doesn’t have to speak to influence. 

A parent’s example, not commands, often speaks louder to a child. Doesn’t God mostly speak through influencing? The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit guiding us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). We know the Spirit’s influence when we have thoughts to be the perfect partner, parent, or friend we desire to be deep down. Is the Spirit influencing when we quickly confess and make amends if wronged someone? That’s just not always natural. Maybe we just have to be open to God’s Spirit.

At least God isn’t hiding an unknown future. 

It is natural to think an all-knowing, power God has special insights into future outcomes to help us avoid problems. To say God knows the future suggests a predetermined future making freedom nonsensical. God can’t tell you if the person you want to marry won’t end up betraying you or the job you take won’t end up being phased out. Freedom must be important to God as controlling love is an oxymoron. God joins us in an open future. We surely have God’s blessing choosing the wisest path at the time based on past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations. 

How was it when God spoke more or showed up in person?  

Direct communication isn’t always magical. God supposedly spoke audibly when giving Moses the Ten Commandments. Some misunderstood God by not helping an injured soul on the Sabbath. Jesus was said to be God in person, but His miracles didn’t obtain results suggested if God would just stop hiding. Jesus had a 24-7 relationship with twelve men, and they struggled to believe everything that came out of Jesus’ mouth. Jesus’ example than words seems to change the world.

Maybe God speaks to us in non-dramatic ways out of love! 

God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. When parents push their agendas, even if in their children best interests, they may resent or rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. The road traveled of learning and reflecting may best lead to lasting convictions. Loving parents want their children to freely reciprocate their love, not feel manipulated.

My grown kids don’t always seek my advice to avoid problems. We are close. I am a counselor by profession so geez – I have a few relational skills. Heck, I announced when teenagers my role was changing to being more of a mentor than authority figure. What teenager doesn’t dig that? Well, my grown kids – old enough to get over any resentments – aren’t runny to catch honey from my lips. Then again, I am not knocking down doors for advice from others. We may all need to travel the journey toward wisdom at our own pace without any pressure.

God can still love us despite being hidden.  

Freedom is absolutely necessary for authentic relationships. God’s constant interference and presence could prevent a superior world from emerging. Moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Non-moral decisions are open. A Creator may not reveal themselves for humane reasons we haven’t thought of. The Bible was more direct communication, but it has been used to force beliefs on others despite subject to interpretation. Uncertainty, not certainly about God, protects against imposing beliefs on others which is not God’s nature. Different opinions communicated respectively can stand together as we continually evaluate the most loving approach.

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Mike Edwards

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I have written on this topic ad nauseum. Issues not addressed in this Post see here. Many scholars acknowledge the Bible has numerous contradictions which is reason enough to question the Bible’s inspiration since God is assumed to be perfect. Does God take pleasure in destroying (Deut. 28:63), or does God take no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 33:11)? Does God punish children for the sins of parents (Ex. 34:7; Num. 14:18), or does God never punish children for what parents do (Ezek. 18:20)? Questioning the Bible may lead to knowing God better.

Why wouldn’t we question since we can’t prove the Bible is inspired by God?

Circular logic is used to argue the Bible is inspired by claiming the biblical writers make such a claim. Besides, the passage most commonly used to defend inspiration is – “All Scriptures is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16) – is subject to different interpretations. God-breathe could literally mean God-spirited, meaning God uses writings to touch our spirit. Humans are said to be God-breathed and we aren’t infallible. Also, this passage can only refer to the Old Testament since the New Testament and Jesus’ words hadn’t been collected.

Questioning avoids the slippery slope of inspired interpretations.

It doesn’t matter if you believe the biblical writers/editors always understood God perfectly because the Bible is literature which requires interpretation of a writer’s meaning and application to personal circumstances. Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures interpret differently what God thinks about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, and the afterlife which impacts ever person every born. Infallible Books, as opposed to fallible Books, often lead down the slippery slope of justifying interpretations as if infallible.

Questioning avoids justification of violence and other immoralities in God’s name.

The idea of an infallible or inspired Book has led to assuming God’s views on morality only come from a Book such as the Bible. Terrorists kill infidels in the name of God. Extremists don’t question putting men in authoritative positions over women. One country only recently loosen restrictions on women’s ability to travel without male guardian permission. WHAT! Such ideas could only come from a supposed infallible Book about God. Imagine if terrorists or extremists had to question if God didn’t endorse words in a Book. A fallible Book may actually lead to less violence and violation of rights.

We must question if God really condemns women, gays, and other religions!

How could a loving God favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face? How could a loving God condemn gays, who have to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility, when gays can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? How could a loving God approve only Christians go to heaven, when the majority of people born into this world rebel or adhere to the religion where born. Is God a God of chance? 

Jesus as the final authority on God isn’t the solution.

Even if we argue all of Scriptures must be understood through the life and death of Jesus, since Jesus was God, this doesn’t solve knowing what God would do. We still have to interpret Jesus according to a Book. Rational people don’t agree on God and violence according to Jesus. When Jesus said love your enemies, does this mean He would say never to kill to love innocent victims when no other option seems to exist? We can’t always know when Jesus spoke about certain subjects without stating exceptions or used hyperbole for emphasis. It is better to question than go down the slippery slope of an inspired Book by God.

It is claimed we can’t know God if not through the Bible. 

Only a perfect or good God is worth believing in! Who doesn’t know a good God hates beheading people because they don’t share your beliefs unless a supposed infallible Book supposedly speaks for God? God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating through our moral intuitions. Criminals often don’t defend their actions; instead, they deny committing such crimes. A Book couldn’t be God’s only type of communication because a copy of the Bible and knowledge of Jesus hasn’t been available to the majority of people born into this world. Problems often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our understanding from an inspired Book. How can we decide what God is really like? See HERE

Is certainty really better than uncertainty about the Bible?  

Total certainty is an illusion because even if God is Truth, we still have to discern what is Truth. Biblical scholars can’t agree if God desires preachers or priests be women or gay? It is suggested viewing the Bible as “inspired imperfection,” or we should view all of the Bible through Jesus’ eyes. As mentioned, even if Jesus was God in person His words still require interpretation. Uncertainty, not certainly about God, protects against imposing beliefs on others which is not God’s nature. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach.

What good is the Bible if we don’t know what passages are inspired by God?  

I believe the Bible has God’s blessing. There is so much wisdom to be gained from interacting with it. The viewpoint that God didn’t inspire the Bible, or at least admitting one’s interpretation isn’t inspired, could lead to less violence in God’s name and forcing other immoral opinions on others. 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 other documents. Question biblical texts by writers that give qualities to God morally questionable. Aren’t we created in God’s image? 

God never intended a Book to take the place of a relationship with God and others. Even the Bible tells us the Word of God isn’t a Book but Spirit who lives in us (Jn. 14:16-17). As long as we read the Bible with a questioning spirit motivated by love rather than blind obedience, the Bible allows God’s spirit to influence making unselfish decisions for a better world. Certainty has only gotten us more violence, sexism, homophobia, etc. Discuss different views of God by defending our reasoning, respecting the opinions of others, and committing to growing in understanding.

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