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By Mike Edwards

Beliefs about God can lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I suggest HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

God can’t be a controlling lover.  

Controlling love is an oxymoron. Besides, not even an all-powerful God can give us free will and not give us free will at the same time. Genuine freedom must involve the right to do as much harm in proportion to how much good one can do. It isn’t that God has the power to do something and doesn’t. It’s that God can’t. God can’t control evil here on earth if God respects freedom. 

Is God to blame for suffering?  

A good God surely doesn’t cause or want us to suffer. Praying doesn’t make God more caring. God is already doing all they can in a free world. Jesus’ prayer to avoid the Cross may be the best model in times of suffering. Jesus asked God to intervene but God if you are unable please stay close to me. Pretending God can simply heal without accounting for freedom can makes one’s suffering worse. Why did God heal them and not me? Did I not pray enough? Did I not beg enough? Did I not behave enough or have the right attitude? It isn’t that we didn’t pray enough with the right words and behaviors so God will answer. God is already doing all God can.

Why bother to even pray then?  

Maybe prayer is more talking and sharing with God then asking for things and for God to override freedom. Maybe prayer is meant to help us not feel alone in a chaotic world. Prayer is more talking to gain support than manipulating for gain. God is always available to talk about anything on our heart, but we best leave running the universe to a loving God who has the interest of all in mind. 

Don’t miracles prove God can control what God wants?

One must admit miracles aren’t that frequent. The Old Testament reveals amazing miracles don’t always lead to inspired living. Jesus’ miracles turned heads but Jesus’ suffering turned hearts of billions of followers. We can pray for others but God is already doing all they can. Are we? Miracles can happen as many can attest to, but miracles don’t happen because people grovel at the feet of an arbitrary God who has to be begged to love more. Miracles happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless factors known and not known.

Prayer is not a substitute for action.

It is easier sometimes to pray for someone than take supportive actions which is the most common way that God answers prayers. Rather than praying your friend’s spouse stop drinking, which is harming their family, see if your friend would rather you say something to their spouse. When you know two friends are in conflict, speak to the one wrongly denying any wrongdoing. God always desire our permission to use our lives to help others.

The Bible says you can ask for anything you want in God’s name! 

Our interpretations much account for what a loving, uncontrolling God can do. Passages such as Mathew 7:7 are lifted out of context to support the false prosperity gospel: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Isn’t this passage in context simply saying that if we parents give good gifts despite our imperfections, will not God as our perfect Parent always give good gifts. First-century readers didn’t assume this was a blank check for any request. The Apostle Paul expects followers would face persecution for their beliefs (2 Tim. 3:12), thus God obviously is not a blank check.

How can we pray?

We might replace the word “praying” in the Bible with “talking.” We can talk to God for many reasons including pursuing a closer relationship with our Creator to be more like God, for self-examination, for sharing our concerns, and not feeling alone in a chaotic world. We tell our children associating with the right people leads to making wiser choices. Maybe prayer is to motivate us to be more loving like God toward others. God is not a Genie in a bottle who can singlehandedly all by themselves make things instantly happen. God is surely doing all they can to influence for good and seeks our help to change the world for good.

See Mark Karris, Divine Echoes: Reconciling Prayer With the Uncontrolling Love Of God

 MORE POSTS IN SERIES: I DOUBT GOD REALLY ……

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

Why I Doubt God Is An Angry Egomaniac

Why I Doubt God Is A “Hidden Agenda” Proselytizer

Why I Doubt the god of Extremists Or Terrorists

 

 

 

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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in the church system I was always taught that the pastor was the authority on anything spiritual. After all, they had been ‘called’ and had gone to college to be taught everything about God and the bible.

I remember how impressed I was by pastors. If I had a question about the bible I could make an appointment and go in and talk with the pastor. I figured he would have all the answers.

As I got a little older, I became infatuated with some of the big named evangelist. I would listen to them, send them money and if at all possible, go to their crusades. I can remember thinking if I could only be like them. They were super-spiritual and knew all about God and had the answers to all spiritual questions.

I really thought that was the way to learn about God, by going to church, reading the bible and getting all the wisdom of the pastors and evangelists.

Fortunately, I got to a point where I realized the pastors and evangelists were no different than me. They did not have all the answers and they were not super-spiritual like I had always imagined. I came to understand that people are people. None are closer to God or more special to God than another. Yes, some are more knowledgeable due to more time reading and studying but no one is higher up or more important in God’s eyes.

Now days I really do not care much what men and women say, it is just their opinion. They are humans like the rest of us. We can certainly discuss things and get insight from one another, but God loves each of us the same. The Spirit within us can guide and teach us without the help of any human being. If we believe the Spirit lives within us, why are we more interested in what another human says? Why not learn how to hear the voice of the Spirit from within rather than the thoughts and traditions of men?

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by Jim Gordon

We hear the word fundamentalism often in the christian world. I actually grew up as a fundamentalist but never realized that was what I was because I never put much thought into all the different terms and labels. I just loved God and went to church because that was the way I thought we lived the christian life.

When I looked up the word fundamentalism in the dictionary I found the following definitions: 1. a conservative movement in theology among nineteenth and twentieth-century Christians. Fundamentalists believe that the statements in the Bible are literally true. 2. in Christianity the belief that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore true. 3. a religious movement characterized by a strict belief in the literal interpretation of religious texts, especially within American Protestantism and Islam; the beliefs held by those in this movement; strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles.

Now that I know what fundamentalist means, I no longer believe I would be considered one. My views, beliefs and interpretations have changed so much over the years, especially since leaving the organized church. For some reason I never felt comfortable asking questions while in the organization. I just took what the pastor said as gospel truth and never questioned anything. Being outside the walls of religion I can let all those questions come out and seek truth from the Spirit of God rather than from a pastor.

I believe fundamentalism leads more to separation, condemnation and being judgmental. It seems to me being so set on specific doctrines, beliefs and interpretations can prevent us from asking questions, learning, accepting and loving others.

Are my thoughts a popular way of looking at the christian life? Of course not! I grew up in the organized church from a very young age and spent nearly sixty years in it. I also used to think everything depended on my works such as attending church, tithing, doing good works, reading the bible and believing it was perfect, completely literal and the only way God spoke to us today. There are many people still doing all this and they sincerely love God and think this is the way we are to serve God. Yet being outside of this setting I have seen what is for me a better way. A way of depending on the Spirit within to teach and guide us. A way that loves and accepts others even when they do not see things the same.

Today the term fundamentalist christian seems to have more of a meaning of being hateful and not being accepting of others views. Completely different from what Jesus taught and what God is like.

Jesus was not a fundamentalist, he was not even a christian. Jesus was the personification of the Father who is a God of love. Even those writings from the old testament where men wrote from their beliefs, ideas, interpretations and what they thought about God were shown to be wrong when Jesus arrived. He showed us that God is not a god of vengeance, hatred and murder but a God who loves all of us.

We are to love God and love one another. Loving our neighbor does not mean just loving those who live next door, or loving those who believe like we believe. Our neighbor is everyone else in the world. Seems to me most fundamentalist reject those who see things differently and prefer to stay away from those who do not believe the same.

I would rather be known as a follower of Jesus rather than a fundamentalist christian. The way of the law and following rules and set doctrines of men have come to an end. The way of loving one another because of the grace of Christ is the new covenant way. I have actually become quite tired of using labels at all. We are all human beings who are loved by God. We should all be treated with love, respect, acceptance and have the same rights as everyone else. God did not create some people better than others, we are all created in the likeness of God and are loved by God.

There are so many topics and beliefs I grew up learning in the fundamentalist church that I no longer accept. I certainly have not lost my belief in or love for God, yet the many interpretations that were taught by men and women in the institution I now find wrong and not like Christ.

Rather than adhere to a set of rules and institutional-taught beliefs we are to submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Learn to hear the voice of the Spirit and let your life be a daily communication of the love of God to others.

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By Mike Edwards

I am convinced there are beliefs claimed about God that lead to many tuning out God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we are seemingly created to love others? What if you discovered all this crazy talk about the world ending with the Battle of Armageddon isn’t in the Bible?

  • People talking about Jesus coming and such predictions never coming to past make God-folks seem slightly loony. Too, certain end-time views can lead to passive living and not taking care of the world for the next generation. God surely prefers focusing on making a difference than escaping. I have to admit though being lifted up in the sky (i.e. rapture) doesn’t exactly thrill me because of my fear of heights!
  • There are many different views of the end-times in the Bible by scholars. I would suggest since we can’t know for sure that we ought to live lives as if it mattered for the next generation. One should ask if the Bible teaches God is coming again to destroy the word in the future, why did Jesus tell his audience that supposed predictions about the world ending would happen in their lifetime: “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass way until all these things have happened” (Mt. 24:34)?
  • If Jesus is coming again down from the sky, which is supposedly an idea from the Bible, why did the disciples ask Jesus: “what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age” (Mt. 24:3)? Only non-visible, spiritual comings are missed.
  • Maybe the end-times were not an earth ending event. As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Mt. 24:3) In the first century the temple and Jerusalem was destroyed and millions of lives were lost. Biblical Judaism ceased to exist. This could have been the end of the age that Jesus warned of. Biblical writers go on to say God no longer dwells in temples but people’s hearts.
  • End-times talk is often associated with the talk of hell and heaven. Jesus didn’t say much about heaven as one may think. When Jesus spoke about eternal life, He spoke of it not in terms of something after death but a quality of life that begins here on earth to avoid future regrets. See here. 
  • Why doesn’t the Bible say more about heaven? A solely heavenly focus can lead to passive earthly living, similar to focusing on Jesus’ coming rather than making a difference in the world we live in currently.

But, what about the Book of Revelation?

Revelation was written to people in the writer’s era warning about their near future; it is not a letter written to predict a distant future. Self-destruction is predicted if looking to nations then our Creator for solutions. Words “antichrist” or “rapture” are not found in Revelation. Many simply use such words from other books in the Bible to weave into their story advocating for an end to the world. Revelation doesn’t require a violent end by God but encourages its readers living in such a way that can lead to peace in our future here on earth. See insights on Revelation: https://thinkingpacifism.net/2019/06/27/revelation-for-post-christians-peaceable-revelation-1/#more-8468

 Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

 

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By Mike Edwards

I am convinced there are beliefs claimed about God that lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different. When the Bible is said to be infallible or inspired by God, most assume every word penned comes from God. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

The infallibility of the Bible is a non-starter.  

We don’t have the original manuscripts. If infallibility was critical, why didn’t God find a way to preserve the original texts if God controlled the writers’ thoughts. The most common defense for arguing the Bible is inspired is to claim the biblical writers made such a claim. Such logic would not lead those same people to accept the Quran being infallible because it claims to be. God didn’t necessarily have in mind that recordings wouldn’t be questioned. Another view of the Bible is accepting as a document recording experiences of beginnings with God and Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other documents. Such writings can keep us talking and reflecting what God is really like.

Did God really inspire genocide or marrying one’s rapist?  

Did God really approve a woman being required to marry her rapist. Laws proclaimed by Moses supposedly came from God. Deut. 22: 28-29 says: If a man happens to meet a virgin…and rapes her…He must marry the young women, for he has violated her. The idea of a woman ever having to marry her rapist as a good thing hardly inspires many about God. I am convinced only humans thought this was a good law at that time, not God.

Did God really inspire acts or language of genocide? I Samuel 15:3 says God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Only evil dictators approve of such actions or talk during war. Hundreds of passages in the Old Testament advocate violence in God’s name. It isn’t irrational to ask if a good God would inspire or approve such thoughts or language.

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

Most admit literature requires interpretation, thus why biblical scholars often disagree about the meaning of the same passage. It is seldom voiced one’s view about God according to their interpretation could be wrong. Such an admission would encourage different views standing side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach, rather than forcing opinions on others in the name of God.

An inspired Book has led to justifying violence in the name of God.

The possibility of an infallible or inspired Book has led down the slippery slope of assuming God’s views on morality only come from a Book such as the Bible or Koran.  Not questioning if writers always understood God perfectly has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities in the name of God. Interpretations must be questioned by our moral consciences.

An inspired Book leads to declaring God mysterious, thus less knowable or relatable.

God is said to be a mystery beyond human comprehension because one’s interpretation clashes with common human moral sense. When assuming the writers understood God perfectly, we often search for ways to rationalize our interpretations. How can one understand a God who created us to know and hate evil, if their evil in our eyes is supposedly good sometimes?

People may be rejecting God for the wrong reasons.

Two plausible interpretations exist on most major issues when speaking of God’s character. Many defend that the Bible teaches that God proclaims women cannot be in authority over men in roles such as a priest or pastor. Women can rightly feel disrespected and confused why a supposedly loving God would put men in leadership position over women which has encouraged dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men. People condemn gays, despite their heart saying otherwise, because God supposedly rejects same gender loving relationships according to a Book.

It is dangerous to value right beliefs or interpretations at the expense of loving others.

Those not growing up in church don’t understand all the fuss. Who thinks literature subject to interpretation should be read so dogmatically? 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.

Many Christians are rightly accused to be judgmental when they in the name of God condemn gays, prohibits women from serving as pastors or priests, and judge others based on religion when the religion the majority adhere to depends where born. Their heart often tells them differently. There is likely more harm done when declaring certainty than uncertainty about God. It prevents conversations looking for areas we agree, respecting the opinions or others, and committing to growing in understanding.

Dangers In Not Questioning But Assuming The Bible Is Entirely Inspired By God

 

Series:

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

 

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by Jim Gordon

The institution of marriage is such a great comparison to life with God. I think a lot of the time we miss some good points about marriage that directly relates to life with God. To many times we do not associate marriage with Kingdom meanings.

Actually, marriage is a shadow of spiritual things. Ephesians 5:31 and 32 state for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. The church being mentioned here is not a building or an organization. The Church are the people who Jesus brings together. It is not a weekly meeting but a living organism made up of those of us saved by grace. And though the verse mentions man and wife, I believe marriage is the union of two people who commit to each other in love.

One of the things I have been thinking about recently is how we are one with God. It is hard to imagine that our God lives within us. Jesus said when he left the earth, he would send us another comforter. Through his Spirit, he came to make his home within us and he is constantly with us.

We always think of God sitting on a big throne, way off in heaven somewhere and that one of these days we will go to meet and live with God forever.

The thing is, that is not what the written word tells us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, God’s physical dwelling place on earth. The Spirit dwells within us and will never leave us nor forsake us.

Now it is not saying we are God but we are one with God. The best way I have found to make sense of this is to think of marriage. When two individual people fall in love, make a commitment to love each other and live together the bible says the two shall become one.

Does that mean that the spouse becomes their partner, that they somehow become the same person? No, both people remain individuals yet they live as one. Same with us and God, we are still the person that was created yet because God loves us, God’s home is now within us and the Spirit of God lives within us. We are one with God.

In John 17:21 Jesus is talking with the Father and asks that they may all be one, even as You Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us so that the world may believe that You sent Me. Seems to me it is truly a marriage made in heaven.

We do not have to wait to a future time when we live with God in some far-away place. We are now living as one with God right now. We are the temple, the dwelling place of God and each of us are equally important parts of the body of Christ.

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By Mike Edwards

Beliefs claimed about God lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

Common moral sense would never put men in authority over women.

Most would agree equalitarian rather than hierarchical relationships are less likely to lead to the mistreatment of women. Many husbands assume leadership means making final decisions in an impasse. Best friends, in marriage or other dyad relationships, don’t require a leader. I have never had an issue in 37 years of marriage that cannot be solve creatively without one partner making all such decisions.  Jesus said the first shall be last, but most men don’t interpret this to mean their wife is the final decision-maker. Women need men with the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29).

Isn’t it obvious the most qualified or gifted should be appointed CEO? Few would dare justify only allowing men in leadership roles in business; I doubt God feels any different who the preacher or priest is. Does God really not trust women to handle the Truth! Let’s stand on the side that is potentially less abusive to half of God’s creations.

Doesn’t the Bible though argue for loving authority?

It is said that the Apostle Paul, who wrote a lot of the New Testament, teaches men have spiritual authorities women don’t. Some may be unaware the Bible can be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. See here. Paul affirmed and didn’t condemn women praying and prophesying (I Cor. 11:4-5). Paul mentions in practically the same breath 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, similar to both Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos (Acts 18:26). Passages like this presuppose that women can teach men.

Did Paul really use the example of Adam and Eve to suggest a universal model for leadership to avoid women leading men astray (I Tim. 2:12-15)? It is just as likely Paul used the first couple as an example of what to avoid – Eve prevailing upon Adam to go against God’s ways. But, if such a sin keeps women from preaching for eternity, maybe men shouldn’t preach either. Besides, Paul says Adam was responsible for what happened in the garden (Rom. 5:12). Paul in this same Timothy passage advises women to avoid certain hairstyles or jewelry (I Tim: 2:9), but seldom do churches make the same prohibitions as they do women teaching.

God can’t be bias toward gender or skin color.

I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same leadership roles as men in the spiritual or work realm unless believing a Book teaches this is God’s will for humankind. Most would agree not allowing equal roles because of the color of your skin born with is immoral. I would suggest denying women equal roles, because of the gender born, is emotional abuse if they are gifted to lead. A good God surely doesn’t advocate racism or favoritism. I am going to stand on the side that is potentially less abusive to half of God’s creations. 

Even in the Old Testament female leadership isn’t condemned.  

OT times, where patriarchal and female concubines were rampant, would likely be an era to speak against female leaders. The role of a prophet was clearly a mouthpiece for the very words and council of God. Miriam, the sister of Aaron, was a prophet (Ex 15:20) who help lead Israel (Mic. 6:4). Huldad also was a prophet (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22). Queen Esther had great influence and clear authority (Esther 7-10). Deborah was a prophet (Judg. 4:4) who also served as a Judge of Israel, which was the highest leader position in Israel at this time. Such an authoritative role by a woman may not have been common in a patriarchal world but the text offers no condemnation. The OT recognizes a place for women in roles of civil authority and as spokespersons for God. Saying “a woman’s place is only in the home” is not a biblical one.

What about God’s gender and Jesus’?

But Jesus was a male and God is our heavenly Father! If people already didn’t listen to Jesus in the first century do you think they would listen to a female Jesus? Jesus encouraged equality between the sexes against culture norms. The gods of the nations in biblical times were described as either male or female. By contrast, the Jews did not speculate about the “masculinity” of God, and God is never ever referred to as male. We must be careful to not assume God is more male simply because our English translations use male pronouns when referring to God. God was also described both like a woman in childbirth (Isaiah 42:14), a mother who does not forget the child she nurses (Isaiah 49:14-15). Both male and female best describe God’s image (Genesis 1:26). A reason for more male references by the biblical writers is likely because of the patriarchal cultures the writers lived in. 

There are so many reasons to not encourage men having authority over women.  

One person wrote to the editor of a newspaper “…it’s been bothering me since 9/11. What’s the difference between the strain of Islam that proscribes gender roles and its counterpart in Christianity that does the same thing, albeit with a different set of prohibitions? Religious extremists would rather be dead than advise husbands to love their wives as their own bodies as the Apostle Paul did (Eph. 5:28). In any religion justification of the different treatment of women from men is usually because of a Holy Book that speaks for God. Common moral sense is assumed to be the enemy.  I haven’t only argued my view according to the Bible. Literature always requires interpretation, so we must use common moral sense as well. Appointing men in authority over women can be conducive for domestic abuse and other atrocities women face at the hands of men.

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