Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

by Mike Edwards

I disagree with images of God that are frequently claimed by Christians according to their understanding of the Bible. An objection I get in my writings is that I am attempting to make God in my own image. It is defended God can be a sexist, racist, or homophobe if God wants to be. To even claim God can be a sexist implies a universal view toward mistreating women. Does God?

You can’t make God in the Bible’s image. 

Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures don’t agree that God condemns homosexuality or that God forbids women from being preachers or priests. See here.  See here. Do you really think God would deny women being preachers or priests or CEO of a business though more qualified than all male candidates? We can’t be certain what the image of God is according to the Bible because literature is subject to interpretation. “Biblical truths” are debatable.

You can’t make God in a “male” 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. 

Whose image do we make God in? 

An analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities in understanding God. The Bible refers to God as our Heavenly Father/Parent. God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for we cannot be in all places at one time, but the Bible encourages imitating or being perfect like God (Eph. 5:1; Mt. 5:48). It is natural to think a Creator would love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. Human and God’s perfection are surely the same. How you wished to be loved by your parents is how God loves us. God’s image is a perfect, loving Parent!

God can’t be a sexist according to human understandings!

Most would agree it is immoral to favor one based on the color of their skin. Most would agree that is racist or bigotry. An argument could be made that to favor men over women for particular roles is sexist or bigotry. I am convinced most Christians or Muslims would not deny women equality or roles they are gifted for unless they believed they should in the name of God according to their understanding or interpretation of some Book.

What are God’s rights?

God would only claim perfect, human rights. Such claims are always in the best interests of others we claim to love – other-centered than self-centered. God loves us how we know we ought to love others. We don’t always know what perfect love entails, but we aren’t clueless. We can’t know if the biblical writers always understood God perfectly or whether our interpretation of what they write is correct. Beliefs that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss, because they are contrary to our moral intuitions of perfection.

Why your image of God matters!

Our understanding of God can determine the depth of our relationship with God and how we might treat others. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If we believe God is really warlike, we may justify our actions in war when we shouldn’t. If God condemns gays, we will condemn gays out of devotion to God. If we believe God thinks men have authority over women in some positions, that will filter down to your wives, daughters, and friends and stifle their gifts. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others you interact with. 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

Read Full Post »

by Jordan Hathcock

“The black sheep is sometimes the only one telling the truth” – Unknown

It seems we always want to see something through even when its not working. It is the human trait: We love our ego so much that even when we are harming others, we still deny the truth of it all (I.e., cognitive dissonance). I know that is something I battle. What gives? Why are we so comfortable with something that works for us but is damaging to others? Now, I get that we also harm ourselves in many ways due to many negative habits, but it seems when our lifestyle is beneficial to ourselves and our tribe, it does not matter what happens to the other. Especially in our current social climate, it looks like this issue of privilege is at the forefront of it all. The rich keep getting richer, the marginalized keep getting screwed, and the comfortable (maybe fearful as well?) keep doing nothing. The vicious cycle continues.

Now, I understand that there are numerous factors that play a role in all of this. The “Great Reset” is something that has been boiling around the surface and we are all trying to figure the best course of action to take. Unfortunately, division/strife is the most common denominator. Coming from the “Christian” perspective, it seems we have a dualistic pull of its either “my way or the highway”.  Look, we are all going to choose what we think is right when it comes to the actions taken. Its either we have a problem when it comes to our current societal institutions or we do not. It seems from both the conservative and liberal Christian isles; we can agree on institutional issues. That’s a start! But a lot of it seems to be misguided by our worldviews when it comes to social policies. On the conservative side, we see a distrust with our medical institutions along with media outlets. On the liberal side, we see the huge issue of systemic racism and the wealth gap that is increasing more and more each day. Its hard to engage in productive dialogue—on both ends—when trying to find a common ground through it all.

Don’t get me wrong, I have my opinion and I believe its based in fact and reality (like everybody else, right?). I lean more progressive so I will have my perspectives. Some examples. Former president Trumps influence on American Evangelicals was/is really disturbing and dangerous (the attempted coup on the U.S. Capital). Christian Nationalism is running rapid through this country and that is a HUGE problem (but a bunch of Evangelical leaders just signed a letter condemning Christian Nationalism as heretical and antithetical to the teaching of Jesus…so that is encouraging). The conspiracy theories that are running rapid from Evangelicals are not helping. Until Evangelicals evaluate the reasoning behind the onslaught of unproductive conspiracy theories, they will never find the remedy. As Darrell Lackey states:

“Here is what I believe these evangelical critics are missing as they rightfully and courageously address this problem in their own camp: A key factor is the underlying theology, specifically a view of the Bible, and how E/Fs understand inspiration, authority, and beliefs like “Scripture alone.” Until they are willing to address those issues, the problem is sure to continue, as it has now, for decades.”

I do not want to make “theology” our faith. All theology stems from our own culture context. Does theology help? Sure. But it seems that it does more harm than good when it comes to relationships. “Err on the side of love” as Brian Zahnd would say. Orthopraxy > Orthodox all day! With that being said, there is a responsibility when we see the fruit of it all. This goes for both the right or left leaning “Christian”. Seeing this teaching of Jesus as being crucial to how our thoughts become actions, ignoring it would be futile. That is our privilege. We are participants of the Jesus way and this means we are called to be feet washers (public servants), tables flippers (speakers of truth to power), and leprosy healers (community liberators). We have these privileges in order to share them with others. Its Kenosis 101. We self-empty ourselves in order to heal and liberate others. It’s the Gospel! If we confuse this with using our privilege to suppress and dominate others, we are nothing more then Wolves in sheep’s clothing. Its funny but within the American context, we associate sheep as weak and just brainwashed followers. But we hold up the more the powerful animal (lion or wolf) as the symbol of liberty and leadership.

This is antithetical with the way of Christ. He is the slaughtered lamb, yellloooo (Rev. 5:6)! I get it, we all want liberty and to do whatever the hell we want as Americans. But true freedom is when we are living in the way of servanthood—which is a loving community not slaveholders. I would even go further and have us inherent the call of black sheep–carving our own paths along this terrain we call life. To those of us who have privilege and denying its responsibility, don’t live in fear! Be that lost black sheep, having trust that the True Sheppard will find you and guide your path to genuine healing and liberation. This is the way, I think, in order for all to be free. Be the Black Sheep in Wolves Clothing! Like Martin Luther King said: “No one is free until we are all free.”

Jordan Hathcock began writing as a regular guest blogger and has been a great addition to the site. He also writes at his own site called Hazy Divinity He can be contacted by email at: jrhathcockss@gmail.com

Read Full Post »

by Mike Edwards

I used the word “more” in the title of this blog because it seems obvious that we can’t totally understand an invisible or inaudible Being. It does seem intuitive that a God who creates freedom does so to have authentic relationships. Relationships dominated by mystery are difficult to have. Christians claim God communicates via the Holy Spirit. Would such a Spirit speak in a foreign or understandable language?

How would a Creator communicate?

Universal moral outrage and agreement on the golden rule hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Criminals don’t defend but deny their actions. The Bible challenges: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Perfect human love and God’s love are the same. We don’t always know what perfect love entails, but we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly as our Creator loves us.

Does the Old Testament really declare God a mystery? 

The notion of a relational seeking God being mysterious, and not revealing, may only come from a Book. We aren’t as knowledgeable as God who is in all places at all times, but that doesn’t make God unknowable. Isaiah 55:8-9 is the most common passage to claim that God sometimes is a mystery: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” This passage isn’t suggesting we can’t understand God. The context suggests God exhorts us to forsake wicked ways (v.7) and turn to God’s higher, righteous ways (vs. 8-9). I know how to go low or high!

Does the New Testament really declare God a mystery?

Jesus didn’t speak in parables to purposely hide His message. Nathan had more success confronting David indirectly with a parable (2 Sam 12). God’s truth is perplexing often to one’s heart not the mind. The “mystery of Christ” mentioned in the NT only reveals that God’s plan to bless all through Israel by way of Christ wasn’t fully revealed until after OT times. Paul says: “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2: 3-4). 

Assuming God is mysterious may only come from one’s understanding of a Book about God.

Biblical interpreters play the mystery card when their understanding suggests God’s morals are not the same as human morals. Isn’t this because we all have an inborn intuition that God and human perfect love are the same? Language breaks down if we say God’s evil sometimes is mysteriously good. If God is evil sometimes humanly speaking, are we supposed to hate God? If God isn’t understandable, why does the Bible ask us to imitate God (Eph. 5:1)?   

Why your view of God matters!

Our understanding of God can determine the depth of our relationship with God and how we might treat others. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If we believe God is really warlike, we may justify our actions in war when we shouldn’t. If God condemns gays, we will condemn gays out of devotion to God. If we believe God thinks men have authority over women in some positions, that will filter down to your wives, daughters, and friends and stifle their gifts. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others you interact with. 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

 

Read Full Post »

by Mike Edwards

We can’t prove God exists much less prove our understanding of God is the correct one. If God does exist, what may be the most likely way to understand an invisible Creator? It seems doubtful a Creator would communicate to their creations only through a Book, since the majority of people born into this world didn’t possess a copy of the Bible. How God’s creations think they ought to love others (aka how we wish to be treated) may be how a loving, inaudible God communicates.

Where has an infallible or inspired Bible led us?

God may have motivated/influenced/inspired writers to record the story of God, but that doesn’t mean necessarily that God controlled or approved all that is written about God. I Samuel 15:3 claims God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” We cannot really prove God inspired these words or hundreds of passages in the Old Testament that advocate violence in God’s name. God’s supposed warlike attitudes in the OT have been used to justify wars throughout history. Imagine if terrorists admitted God possibly didn’t inspire every word in a Book, and we had to use common moral sense to understand what a truly loving God is like.

A possible fallible Bible avoids the slippery slope toward inspired interpretations. 

It is common to hear one argue “The Bible says” without adding “according to my understanding.” It is often said we best know God according to “biblical truths.” The truth is contrary biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here. Supposed certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving relationships. Interpretation rules don’t guarantee understanding a writer’s meaning, much less confirm the biblical writers always understood God perfectly. We cannot avoid using common moral sense when understanding a loving God and Scriptures.

Which interpretation more likely reveals who God really is?

It seems obvious a Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others. The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We don’t always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. Clearly, Bible or no Bible, not everything goes! Choose the view of God that doesn’t contradict your moral sense of a loving God. See  here.

What does God think about women, gays, etc.?

The Bible is God’s story beginning with Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in other documents. Reading the Bible encourages questioning and contemplating what a loving God is really like. Many recognize as bigotry if we chose business leaders based on gender than gifts. Similarly, should women though gifted be denied entrance in to the priesthood or pastorate? It doesn’t make moral sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more chose who they love than straight can. Mental health problems don’t originate because one is gay but because one is force to hide their true identify and experience condemnation. It is better to question rather than claim certainty and be wrong!

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

Read Full Post »

by Jim Gordon

I remember when I was young, I was in a church service just about any time the doors were open. My whole spiritual life depended on whether I was at church or not. If I did not go, I felt guilty and made sure I was there the next time. I was always active and participated in many church activities. I felt it was my duty and responsibility to do all I could for the church. I felt that was the only way I could serve God and do what pleased Him.

After many years of being in the organized church system, my wife and I became disillusioned with the religious organization and became a part of ‘The Dones’. We no longer attend a traditional or organized church, and no longer put any hope or trust in religion.

Does this mean we no longer think it is right to be part of a church? Not at all, that is a personal choice. Yet for us, we no longer are a part of it and we are very satisfied with the decision we made to leave. But that does not mean we expect everyone else to think the same way. We have several friends who feel the same way we do about organized religion, yet they want to continue to attend services.

In our case, after leaving the organized church I have noticed a feeling of separation between church goers and non-church goers. After all the years we spent in the organization and all the friends we made, once we left it has been a struggle to overcome a feeling of us and them. Obviously, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and there should be love and acceptance between us no matter if we attend church or not.

If you still feel drawn to the weekly organized meeting, I do not see anything wrong with it. Although we do not believe the church system is designed as God intended, there were very many good things that came out of our time being involved. If you are going to be a part of a local church, keep in mind some important facts.

When going to church, you are not going to God’s house. God does not live in buildings made by human hands. Christ builds His Church from living stones, which is us.

The pastor is not God’s mouthpiece. He or she is only a brother or sister in Christ, and their message is only their opinion. We have the Holy Spirit within us and He is our teacher and guide. We need no one else. It is good to hear other opinions and ideas, yet it is the Spirit that is to be our teacher and guide.

Bringing the tithe into the storehouse is not giving money to the church, and is no longer a requirement. We give out of love as we determine in our heart to give. If you give at the church you attend, you are not giving to God, but to support the organization and pay the bills.

Sunday is not the “Lord’s day”. Every day is the day the Lord has made, and no one day is more important than another.

The Bible is not to be held in the same regard as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The written word is inspired by God but written by men. All the translating men have done over the years, and men deciding which books are inspired and which are not, make it pretty clear that the bible is going to be flawed.  It is clearly stated that Jesus is the living, inerrant Word of God. The written word is a guide to lead us to Christ, but as Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39, You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me. They put the scriptures (written word) above the Living Word (Jesus).

When we are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, it is not talking about an organized church meeting. It is talking about loving and accepting one another, depending on one another and encouraging one another. We do this in many different ways each and every day, not just on one particular day.

When you go to church, do not fall for someone telling you God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on this place. God is everywhere and the Spirit fell upon mankind 2000 years ago. The Spirit of God is within us and with us all the time. He is not sitting on a throne up in the sky waiting for us. He goes with us each and every day, everywhere we go.

Realize that worship is not singing a few songs, raising your hands when the worship leader tells you to and reading a few scripture verses together. Worship is daily praising God, trusting God and letting Him be Lord of your life. To worship God in spirit and truth involves loving Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.

And do not give way to a prideful spirit, thinking you are more spiritual or a “better” Christian because you went to church. Going to a service is a choice, not a requirement and you are no better if you go, and no worse off if you do not go.

Remember, each of us are living stones and equal parts of the body. We are the Church and Jesus is the head of his body. As his Church we are to show God’s love every day to everyone we meet. If you want to attend a local group of believers there is nothing wrong with that. Enjoy meeting with other believers, enjoy the atmosphere but remember you are the Church, you have the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God lives within you. We are to go about our daily lives under the leading of the Spirit, loving God and loving others whether we attend an organized church or not.

So, rather than looking down upon one another: those who attend church thinking we who have left the organization are backsliding from our faith or have walked away from God. Those of us who have left church think those who still attend are stuck in a man-made institution and following doctrines and interpretations of man. Rather, we should realize that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and each of us are loving God and doing what we feel is right and best at this point. We should be loving and accepting of one another and let the world see the love we have for one another, even in our differences. As John 13:35 reads, by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

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

Read Full Post »

by Mike Edwards

I am not suggesting to read the Bible as a question-and-answer book. We can’t know if the biblical writers always understood God perfectly, unless God somehow magically controlled the writers’ thoughts and words recorded. The writer’s advice may not always be God’s advice. The Bible records experiences of beginnings with God culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in other documents. God didn’t necessarily have in mind that recordings wouldn’t be questioned but to contemplate what a loving God may be really like. 

The Bible must not be used to further the abuse of women at the hands of men. All relationship circumstances aren’t the same. Use common, moral loving sense. Women, if in danger by all means run! Take care of yourself. Even if you believe God inspired every word written down, you still must interpret the writer’s meaning. Opposite interpretations exist on many major issues such as women roles, hell, gays, etc. Our interpretations are certainly not inspired, but I doubt Paul was a misogynist even according to the Bible.

I Corinthians 14:34 says: “women should remain silent in church. ….be in submission.” 

Paul’s advice must surely be due to the circumstances at hand – the gospel was liberating women but Paul wanted: “everything to be done in a fitting and orderly way (14:40).” That seems the best way to make sense that Paul practically in the same breath didn’t condemn women praying and prophesying (I Cor. 11:4-5). Pretty hard to prophesize silently! Paul mentions also that roles are according to one’s gifts and doesn’t mention gender (I Cor. 12:4-11). Romans 16 is only one of many chapters in the Bible that speaks of women in leadership roles (i.e. Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos (Acts 18:26). Women or men shouldn’t teach if leads to disruption not peace.   

I Tim 2:11-12 says: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”

Paul surely had in mind not spreading false teachings. Paul in verse 14 used Adam and Eve to illustrate what to avoid – Eve prevailing upon Adam to go against God’s ways. Keep in mind Paul says elsewhere Adam was responsible for what happened in the Garden. (Rom 5:12). Those who suggest this passage teaches women can’t teach men ever often allow women to teach women and children as if they are less important than men! Paul advises women to avoid certain hairstyles or jewelry (I Tim: 2:9), but churches don’t make the same prohibitions as women teaching. 

Eph 5:22 says: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do the Lord.” 

Paul also says in verse 25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Maybe husbands should hold off telling their wives to submit to their authority until he has successfully and perfectly loved her as Christ loves her. God doesn’t even demand we submit to God by creating freedom. One may say eventually we must submit to God as a reckoning after death. Men, then wait until you are dead to tell your wives to submit!

Submission is often interpreted in marriage to imply when there is an impasse, someone must make the final decision. Jesus said the first shall be last, but most men don’t interpret this to mean their wife is the final decision-maker. I have never had a marriage issue in 38 years that can’t be solved creatively together. Men in authority over women can encourage dominance on the man’s part and dependence on the woman’s part, which can be conducive for domestic abuse and the other atrocities women face at the hands of men. Give me an inch and I am tempted to take a mile! Women need men with the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29).

How do we decide how God really feels about women and men relationships?

It is plausible a universal instinct to treat others like we want to be treated is a personal external force communicating through our moral intuitions. I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same roles as men unless believing a Book about God teaches otherwise. Most agree not allowing equal roles because of skin color is immoral. Choosing who should lead the company based on gender is obviously bigotry. The most qualified or gifted should surely lead the company. Why not in church? It seems Galatians 3:28 may be God’s ideal if the truth can be handled: “There is neither Jew or Gentile, neither slave or free, neither male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).”

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

Read Full Post »

by Mike Edwards

We can’t claim the Bible is a one-stop information source about God. We can’t prove God inspired all of the Bible thus approved everything written about God. Maybe God didn’t inspire every word due to God’s uncontrolling nature. Maybe God wants us to read the Bible to contemplate what a loving God may be really like. Maybe God speaks to us through our moral intuitions which is what the Bible describes as guidance by the Holy Spirit – unless you are hearing an audible voice.

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 anyway. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. The only reason to believe Hell really 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, don’t you naturally have to fight not looking at naked women than men? Ask gays their battle! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility?
  • 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. Like many views about God, the Bible can also be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. Men and women have God in trying to out serve one another. Shouldn’t the most qualified or gifted, whether male or female, be appointed CEO, preacher, or priest?
  • God can’t be a moral hypocrite humanly-speaking. If God exists, God surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others. I don’t know any reasonable God or non-God person that doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. God also!
  • God can’t be a “hidden agenda” friend. It has to be wrong to engage in friendships for the purpose of manipulating them to your beliefs. Friends aren’t evangelistic projects. Jesus’ agenda was to simply love people in the moment. Jesus wanted others to know God loves them and seeks to help them be who they want to be deep down if desiring such help.
  • God can’t be an angry egomaniac. God doesn’t want to be feared as if that leads to a genuine relationship. If God was so worried about their ego, God would not have given us freedom to contradict their wishes. God surely only wants what we deep down desire – loving others like we want to be loved.

I’m done!

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

Read Full Post »

by Jim Gordon

Often times in the past I have talked about modern day church and the way it is way off base from what it was meant to be.

It is not that I am against church, but it is a matter of being clear on the proper meaning of the word. Not that we have to be politically correct in description, but I feel we need to be clear on the matter in regard to our way of thinking.

Normally when the word church is mentioned, we think of a building we go to on Saturday or Sunday to learn about God. We also think in terms of how much we go to church as being a guide to how spiritual we are, or how close we are to God. We think of the doctrines, rules and regulations placed on us by the church as ways to make us better Christians.

We need to reset our thinking. The Church is not a building. The Church is the bride of Christ, all of us who are saved by grace. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The building is just a place where we can meet and conduct spiritual meetings and social events. Doctrine, rules and regulations are the old way of living, it was part of the law which Jesus fulfilled and brought to an end. We now live by love because of his grace.

Our thinking in regard to the word of God is also flawed. When we think of the Bible we think of a book and call it the word of God. The Bible never calls itself the actual word of God. The true living Word of God is Jesus. In the gospel of John it is stated that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God; and the word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus is the Word of God. There is certainly nothing wrong with reading the Bible because it teaches us about God and leads us to Jesus, the Living, Inerrant Word of God. Our focus is to be on the fact that the Word of God is alive and living within each of us and is not just words printed on a page.

Although sometimes it may seem unimportant how we think of church and the Bible, it is very important that we understand what is really meant. The old mindset of a building and a book need to be replaced with the fact that the Church are those of us who are redeemed through the blood of Christ and the Word of God is Christ Himself, alive and living within us by his Spirit.

Read Full Post »

by Mike Edwards

Despite contradictions and moral challenges in the Bible, many hold on to an inspired Bible for fear the Bible will be discarded for “whatever goes” in understanding God.  But it seems obvious, even without a Bible, a Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others (aka common moral sense). I don’t know any reasonable human being who doesn’t respect the universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated. The Bible can be viewed as God’s love story beginning with Israel and culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other document. God didn’t necessarily inspire or approve of everything written about God. Reading the Bible encourages questioning and contemplating what a loving God is really like.

The Bible’s infallibility is a non-starter.

  • II Sam 24: 1 says God incited David to sin; I Chr 21:1 blames it on Satan
  • II Sam 24:24 has David paying fifty pieces of silver for Orman’s threshing floor; I Chr 21:25 says six hundred was paid
  • 2 Kgs 24:6 says Jehoiakim had a son; Jer 36:30 says Jehoiakim had no son to reign after him
  • Matthew 27:9-10 says Jeremiah mention thirty pieces of silver; it was Zechariah (Zech 11: 12)
  • Jesus said the rooster would crow once after Peter’s three denials (Mt 26.34, Lk 22:34, John 13:38), Mark says the rooster crowed twice (Mk 14:30)

The list of contradictions may be trivial but are sizable (Gregory Boyd, Inspired Imperfection, Chapter 1). It seems obvious God didn’t at least control the writers from being wrong in their factual information. Moral challenges are not so trivial. Did God really inspire acts or language of genocide? I Samuel 15:3 claims God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Hundreds of passages in the Old Testament advocate violence in God’s name. Did God really approve of laws that burned alive sexual offenders (Lev 20:14 21:9)?

One can only guess not prove every word in the Bible is inspired.    

Biblical writers rarely claimed audible God-speak. “God said” recorded hundreds of times in the Bible may be a figure of speech expressing inner impressions about God – right or wrong. Writers/editors of the Bible didn’t lie but were honest in their understandings of God. Exodus 20: 1-17 starts by saying “all these words” when the 10 commandments were given to Moses from God. The 10 commandments are repeated again in Deuteronomy 5:6-18 but with some slight word variation. Shouldn’t both passages be the same verbatim? Anyway, the Bible is suggested to be inspired or God-breathe because the biblical writers claim so. Such logic is circular.   

An inspired view of the Bible can be dangerous.

It would seem if God inspired an action attributed to God, that God approves such actions. Not questioning if writers always portrayed God accurately has led to justifying killing infidels in the name of God. God’s supposed warlike attitudes in the Old Testament have been used to justify wars throughout history. Imagine if terrorists admitted that God possibly didn’t approve of actions they interpret as denying freedom of beliefs! An inspired Bible has led to assuming God put men in leadership positions over women which has encouraged historical dominance on the man’s part. People condemn gays, despite their moral intuitions, because God supposedly rejects same gender loving relationships according to a Book. A fallible Book may actually lead to knowing God better.

An inspired Bible leads down the slippery slope of inspired interpretations.

It is common to hear one argue “The Bible says” without one adding “according to my understanding.” The Bible can be used to defend opposite views regarding gays, women’s roles, the traditional understanding of Hell, etc. Literature requires interpretation! Some scholars hold on to inspiration views by claiming God accommodates less than perfect views written about God because humans can’t handle the truth. So, we still have to interpret which passages reveal the real God. We can avoid the slippery slope toward supposed inspired interpretations by acknowledging the Bible may be fallible.    

Questioning what is inspired by God can explain animal sacrifice.   

Many ancient near eastern groups or nations before Israel had a sacrificial system like the Israelites. An uncontrolling God isn’t coercive but influential. It is doubtful God ever approved or desired to accommodate animal cruelty. This may explain why later OT writers wrote that God preferred contrite hearts over animal sacrifices (Ps 51:16-17, Jer 7:22, Micah 6:6). This understanding also leads to different interpretations of the Cross and views of God for many – did Jesus die to appease God’s wrath and need for sacrifice or did Jesus better convey God’s radical love and ways by submitting to wrongdoing? Using power to overcome often doesn’t accomplished the greater good.

What about the Bible claiming to be God-breathe though?

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

  • Keep in mind this could only refer to OT writings for the final NT canon didn’t exist and in fact many NT books had not even been written
  • God-breathe can also be interpreted literally as God-spirited. This could mean God uses writings (the Greek word for Scripture is “graphis” or writings) to touch our hearts without necessarily declaring such writings are infallible or perfect views of God. It is possible biblical writers perceived God wrongly but God still used that for correcting in righteousness.
  • God could even teach you something in this writing (post) 😊

Didn’t Jesus claim or imply the Old Testament was inspired by God?

Does John 5:45-46 claim that Jesus said believing in Jesus is believing what Moses wrote? No doubt Jesus revered and referred frequently to OT writings. This doesn’t confirm that Moses or any OT writer always wrote perfectly about God. Moses said to take an oath (Deut 6:13); Jesus said to take no oaths (Mt. 5:37). Jesus seemed to correct OT laws that didn’t fully or correctly convey God’s ways (Mt 5). Some scholars suggest Jesus was simply expanding or interpreting correctly OT laws. Regardless, we must use common moral sense because ancient literature requires interpretation. Finally, Jesus’ words can’t be the end all. Some interpret Jesus to justify violence in certain circumstances while others suggest Jesus argued for no violence.  

Which understanding of God should we lean toward?  

Choose the interpretation about God that doesn’t contradict your intuitive sense of a loving God. Many recognize as bigotry if we chose business leaders based on gender than gifts. Putting men in spiritual leadership positions over women can be conducive for abuse and other atrocities women face at the hands of men. It doesn’t make moral sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more chose who they love than straight can. Ask them! Which interpretation? We don’t always know what perfect love is, but it is better to question than be wrong.

Read Full Post »

by Jordan Hathcock

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

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

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

God

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

Church

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

Scripture

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

***

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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Writer Dylan Morrison

Fascinated by the Nazarene but unimpressed by religion!

Follow Your Arrow

Unashamed of who God made us to be, and unapologetic in our pursuit of God and our purpose in His kingdom

The Grace Cafe Journal

Exploring Grace Apart From Religion

Blind Injustice

Injustices we may not be aware of

Sophia's Essays

This is where I post my essays, primarily about LGBTQ+ issues, politics, and Christian theology.

My Journey

Welcome. My blog is a place where readers will find writings of personal experiences, thoughts, and the peace that the Lord provides throughout my walk. I intend to bring inspiration and insight, as well as providing a very personal and transparent view into my life, in order to help others see their own lives in a different perspective. I strongly believe that we all need a different view at times, in order for our own personal growth to take place.

Hazy Divinity

Welcome To The Party

Candice Czubernat

A leading voice in the LGBTQ and Christian dialogue

Our Journeys Matter! - Posts

Done with Religion ... Not Done with God

Ally's Notebook

Thoughts To Share

Life of a Prodigal

Searching for Truth outside the church walls

What God May Really Be Like - Misbeliefs About God

To those done with religion but not God and my kids (Click FOLLOW for future Posts; See ABOUT/USING THIS SITE tab to navigate Site)

Christy Lynne Wood

Looking for the Real God

Confessions of a Recovering Churchboy

What I bought before, I just can't sell

Intermission

Reflections in the midst of life.

She Seeks Nonfiction

A Skeptic's Quest for Science, Wonder, & Books

The Wild Frontier

The search for infinite Truth and the invincible Love of an incredible God.

A Wilderness Voice

"The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, says the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, says the LORD of hosts." (Hag 2:9)

What do People Understand by the Word God?

with an 85 year old Questioner

Entering the Promised Land

by walking in the Spirit

Beyond Church Walls

Done with Religion ... Not Done with God

Escape to Reality

Exploring the wide open spaces of God's amazing grace

%d bloggers like this: