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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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By Mike Edwards

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Claims made about God may be the main reason many leave their faith in God or don’t pursue a relationship with God in the first place. Certain beliefs about God are often only held because of one’s understanding of the Bible. If the Bible didn’t exist many God-followers wouldn’t believe or claim the below about a loving God. Many believe in a Higher Power just not the God of the Bible for good reason.

First, let’s quash the myth that those who don’t believe in God are rebellious or in denial.

If it is wrong to doubt God exists, Christians sin if they doubt God in tough times. A child sexually abuse by their father may struggle to accept a God betrayed as our Father in Heaven. Does God really judge them? Some are open or desperately want to believe in God but can’t get their head around why a loving God doesn’t intervene more with so much evil in the world. Why would a gay person believe in a God who supposedly condemn them for sexual choices they no more choose than straights.

Claims that God inspired every word in the Bible

Did God really command destroying women and children in war (i.e. I Sam. 15:3). It’s okay to question if a writer’s pen or thoughts about God were always controlled by God. The presence of so much evil in the world suggest God is hardly controlling. We can’t know that God controlled scientific understandings of beginnings in Genesis. Scientists, who believe in the authority of Scriptures, advise genetic evidence proves the human race couldn’t have originated from a single couple but through a population of thousands of individuals. People don’t need to lose their faith because they believe in evolution or that Adam represented but wasn’t the first human. See Here

Claims that God created Hell to punish those who don’t believe in God while on earth

How could a God who teaches forgiveness seventy times seven possibly create Hell to torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. Even if you believe every word of the Bible is inspired by God, the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. See Here

Claims that God rejects religions accept Christianity

How could a loving God demand only Christians go to heaven so all other Religions can go to Hell? The majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. Also, most rebel or adhere to the religion where born. If born into a Buddhist family, one is likely to become a nominal or devoted Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance? See Here

Claims that God condemns gays

How could a loving God condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? If you think there is a .0001% possibility that science proves that sexual orientation isn’t a choice, error on the non-judgmental side. Who chooses homosexuality when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility? See Here

Claims that God favors men over women for leadership

 How could a loving God favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face? Regardless, the Bible can also be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. History suggests women don’t need male leadership in marriage but men who have the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29). See Here.

 Claims that God is all powerful, thus controls or allows evil

Why would God create much less allow evil for some mysterious purpose when the Bible talks so much about God hating evil? Saying God “allows” evil suggests God stands by when God could stop evil. A God who can solely prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Maybe God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. Divine love limits divine power. God, like parents, had a choice – to not create or create knowing suffering was a possibility in the pursuit of intimacy. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom! See Here.

What beliefs about God are true?

Maybe God isn’t anti-science, antiwoman, antigay, etc. Many like myself left the institutional church because of the lack of honest, open dialogue. Total certainty is an illusion unless you are talking about beheading, rape, murder, etc. Criminals don’t deny their actions are wrong; they deny they committed such a crime. Uncertainty doesn’t have to lead to lawlessness. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving understanding of God.

Do you want to know God better? Find someone who seems to have an open relationship with their Creator and ask for help. If they want to give a lot of advice and act like they speak for God all the time – run! Challenge God to help you find answers to your questions. Seek a rational view of God rather than some pie in the sky God. I am not the man I want to be, but I am a better man than I would be because of the influence of a loving God. What beliefs have you heard that you doubt are true of a loving God? You may be right!

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By Mike Edwards

A God who bothers to creates surely wants us to know what God is like. Atheists and believers agree. The only kind of God worth believing in is a perfect God. A Book can’t be the only way to know God because even scholars, who respect the authority of Scriptures, don’t agree on whether Hell really exist or God condemns gays. Most believe we ought to treat others like we want to be treated. We can only know what such love is through our own moral notions.

God and human perfect must be the same.

If God exist most would agree with the Bible’s exhortation that we should strive to: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). It is intuitive that human and godly perfection are one in the same. We may not always know what perfect love entails but at least we always 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 cannot know definitively what God’s perfect love is according to the Bible.

Literature always requires interpretation, thus why scholars disagree on the meaning of the same biblical passages. You are currently interpreting whether I am saying none of the Bible is inspired or that every word of the Bible may not be inspired by God. It is normal to question interpretations. Interpretations that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss because they are contrary to our moral intuitions and understandings of perfection. We cannot avoid using our moral brains when reading ancient literature. 

We cannot know definitely what God is like according to Jesus.  

It is argued, because of the challenges understanding God and violence in the Old Testament, that Jesus is our final destination for fully understanding God. Jesus claimed to be God and His moral legacy seems undeniable. God-followers though don’t always agree what Jesus taught because of transmission, translation, and interpretation. People who love Jesus with all their heart don’t agree if Jesus’ teachings allow or rule out war when evil is rampant and victims can be saved. It is an illusion to claim we can know God would do because the Bible or Jesus says so.

Uncertainty can be a good thing.

Even if God is Truth we still have to discern what is Truth. Many leave the institutional church because of the lack of honest, open dialogue. Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. But c’mon! We don’t have to make laws against murder, sexual abuse, etc. Admitting uncertainty, unless beheading people for beliefs, allows different opinions to stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. Problems often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our understanding from a Book.

God surely is not a mystery but understandable.  

The idea of a mysterious God may only come from one’s understanding of a Book about God. Biblical interpreters will often play the mystery card when their view suggests God’s morals are not the same as human morals. They understand some rationalization is needed when views of God are incompatible with human ideas of a loving God. If God isn’t understandable, why does the Bible ask us to imitate God (Eph. 5:1)? We may not be able to comprehend all plausible moral reasons how suffering and a good God can co-exist, but that doesn’t make God a mystery.

God surely isn’t a moral hypocrite humanly-speaking.  

An evil God isn’t worth believing in. Language breaks down if we say God’s evil sometimes is mysteriously good. The Bible encourages us to be perfect like God, but we can’t be like God if God’s love isn’t what we know love to be. A Creator surely loves us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. God is neither mysterious or a moral hypocrite humanly-speaking. 

So, for example how does God really feel about gays?  

Many only condemn gays because they are convinced the Bible does. I have written here to please reconsider that the Bible doesn’t condemn gays, even if you believe every word is inspired by God. Some condemn gays because it doesn’t seem natural to them. Why would God condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. Loving others like you want to be loved is true, human, godly love! See Here

Human perfection is our best starting point for knowing what God is truly like.

We often think of God according to what we have been taught. We may imagine God, most often referred to Father, is like our earthly father or parent. We may think God is like what is claimed by others according to the Bible. Our understandings about God shape our attitudes toward God. The more you respect your earthly parents or God, the closer you are to them. We can’t claim with certainty, which may not be a bad thing, what God would do in every situation but human perfection is our best starting point for discussion.

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By Mike Edwards

Our image of God can dictate our actions. If God can do Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. Our understanding of God can determine the depth of our relationship with God and how we might treat others. We may imagine God, most often referred to Father, is like our earthly father or parent. We may think God is like what is claimed by God-followers, which often comes from their interpretation of the Bible. They may be wrong!

  • If we think God is hard to please and pissed off about sin rather than what sin is doing to us, we may judge others just as harshly rather than showing patience and mercy.
  • If God is really a warlike God according to the OT, we will use such behaviors to justify our actions in war when we shouldn’t.
  • If God condemns gays, we will condemn gays out of devotion to God.
  • If God thinks men have authority over women in some positions, that will filter down to your wives, daughters, and friends and stifle their gifts.
  • If God can prevent evil and doesn’t, isn’t that like a parent who arbitrarily decides to watch their child being sexually abused or not? Maybe God can’t love perfectly by controlling freedom. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom!

It matters what you believe a loving God is like. If God punishes us forever (Hell) for sins briefly while here on earth, aren’t we teaching others to fear God rather than experience God relationally like they would a human parent? Be open to discussions. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others you interact with. You may be right!

 

 

 

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By Mike Edwards

Confession. I write about the same topic often by asking some version of the question: What Is God Really Like? Open discussions as to what a perfect Creator is like are important; an imperfect Creator is not worth believing in. People may stop believing or never start believing in God if they accept everything they hear about God!

People when describing God often quote the Bible. Isn’t that where we discover what God is like? It may be if you have a Bible unlike the majority of people born into this world. So, there must be other ways to know God. The problem is scholars who respect Scriptures don’t agree on the meaning of the same passages. Interpretations aren’t infallible. We have every right to question interpretations that suggest a Creator doesn’t love how we were seemingly created to love others.

Who wants to follow a God who is antiscience, antiwoman, antigay, etc.? Many only believe or claim the following because of what they think a Book declares about God:

  • How could a God who teaches forgiveness seventy times seven possibly create Hell to torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. I am convinced even if you believe every word of the Bible is inspired by God, the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. See Here
  • How could a loving God demand only Christians go to heaven so all other Religions can go to Hell? The majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. Also, most rebel or adhere to the religion where born. If born into a Buddhist family, one is likely to become a nominal or devoted Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance?
  • How could a loving God condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can? If you think there is a 1% possibility that science proves that sexual orientation isn’t a choice, then let’s error on the non-judgmental side. Who chooses homosexuality when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility? See Here
  • How could a loving God favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face. The Bible can also be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. Women don’t need male leadership in marriage; women need men who have the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29).
  • Why would God insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis which seemingly denies the possibility of evolution? Scientists, who believe in the authority of Scriptures, have provided overwhelming genetic evidence that the human race couldn’t have originated from a single couple but through a population of some thousands of individuals. People don’t need to lose their faith because they believe in evolution. See https://biologos.org/
  • Why would God create or even allow evil? When we say God allows evil, it gives the impression God stands by when God could stop evil. A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Maybe God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom!
  • I have just begun.

What is God really like? Extremists insist on their interpretation of a Book. Anyway, we can’t prove every word of the Bible was inspired by God unless you argue a biblical writer making such a claim is definitive evidence. Writers may have needed to grow in their understanding of God. Listen to your moral inner voice what God is like. You may be right! God surely created us with intuitions how we ought to love others perfectly like God. Challenge God to help you find answers to your questions.

 

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By Mike Edwards

One would think God-followers wouldn’t be judgmental. After all, we are guided by the principle of loving others as we want to be loved. Jesus certainly didn’t seem judgmental. He hung out with all kinds of people who probably didn’t share His beliefs. Jesus did get His ire up with religious folks because they were misrepresenting God. We must stand up or judge when children are abused, women are violated, etc., but not unload on others when their beliefs aren’t ours.

Some Christians may be judgmental as a defense mechanism.

It isn’t easy for those of us who have forsaken religion but not God to have discussions about our new beliefs with those still a part of the institutional church. Remember, you may be causing one to question or defend beliefs they have held on for a long time. Don’t be too judgmental. Can you remember at one time arguing about what you use to believe passionately? We mustn’t force conversations but have civil discussion with those who desire them.

Some Christians may be judgmental because of Leadership.

Church leaders seem to believe uncertainty is a sign of weakness. Catholics, Methodists, Etc. establish the certainty of creeds that one must believe in. Try challenging the doctrines and see where that gets you! If God was so concerned about beliefs such as the Trinity, Angels, the Bible, the Virgin Mary, wouldn’t there be more agreement. Maybe Christians would be more united and less judgmental if religions only had the Creed of Love. Jesus didn’t follow the business/institutional church manual. Jesus encouraged “Whoever is least among you is the greatest” (Lk. 9:48).

The biggest reason Christians may be judgmental is because convinced following the Bible.

Many Christians condemn same-sex relationships, women are denied equal or authoritative roles as men, and it is said only Christians can go to heaven so all other religions can go to Hell. Good people, though it doesn’t feel natural, often only condemn same-sex relationships out of supposed allegiance to God because of the Bible. But literature, including the Bible, requires interpretation.

Even if the entire Bible is inspired by God, interpretations aren’t inspired. Admitting you could be wrong would encourage different views standing side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. Many spiritual minded people assume they need to convert their friends to supposed certain beliefs (theirs) to be accepted by God. Stop! You may be wrong! Now, if you believe in beheading and killing people because they don’t share your personal beliefs about God, you are wrong! God gave you a brain not a Book to discern evil actions.

Christians may fear uncertainty.  

There is almost universal agreement on most moral matters. Criminals don’t defend their murderous actions; they deny they committed such actions. To violate one’s physical or emotional rights is clearly wrong, but total certainty is an illusion. Christians who proclaim “because the Bible says so,” force supposed truth onto others. As mentioned, the Bible requires interpretation.

Uncertainty, rather than certainty, leads to more loving actions. Starting a conversation with “I may be wrong” can lead to new understandings and creative solutions. Try it in marriage! Conversations change when humbleness is part of the tone. Certainty when it comes to politics has led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. Different opinions expressed without physical or verbal aggression can be resolved by respecting the freedom of others, as God does, while remaining open-minded to new understandings.

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

  • God condemns gays though gays no more choose to be gay than straights choose to be straight
  • God prohibits women serving as pastors or priests though my wife and daughters are a lot smarter and better leaders than a whole lot of men
  • God encourages wives being more submissive to husbands which is conducive to abuse
  • God judges based on religion when the religion the majority adhere to depends where born

Every view above is debated among biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures. Let’s have open discussions without hiding behind an infallible Book like terrorists. Even if an infallible Book does exist, infallible interpretations are a myth. I am convinced questioning the Bible would lead to Christians being less judgmental and more loving.

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By Mike Edwards

Only terrorists believe a good God encourages beheadings for unbelief. Millions of rational people don’t believe God condemns gays even according to the Bible. Claiming the Bible is not inerrant disturbs many, but the problem is that often personal interpretations are implied to be the Truth. Biblical scholars who believe the Bible is authoritative disagree on meanings of passages, and we can’t ask writers for clarification. Opposing sides often demonize one another by declaring their view of God according to the Bible is right. This matter is critical because understandings of God shape attitudes toward God and impact lives.

Did you know scholars disagree about women and gays according to the Bible?

Many only condemn gays or restrict women’s spiritual roles because of the Bible, but 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. Scholars who respect Scriptures also proclaim the Bible teaches roles are based on gifts not gender. See here Our view impacts half the human population. Biblical scholars disagree if the Bible condemns monogamous same-sex relationships. Millions of lives are impacted.

How might a Creator convey what like since any Book about God is subject to interpretation?

Is it possible a universal, inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated is one way a Creator would communicate what is good versus evil? After all, half the people born in this world didn’t possess a Bible. I don’t know any God or non-God person that doesn’t advocate the golden rule being a valuable guide in relationships. How would we want to be treated if in that person’s shoes? Which view is most loving from a human perspective?

Many claim God is a mystery sometimes because their interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. Such interpreters, who would agree humans were created in God’s image, are using their moral intuitions and implying God and human love are the same. It is certain that we don’t always know what perfect love is, but the mystery card hinders discussions about God’s true character.

Shouldn’t we choose views of God with fewer negative costs?

We may not benefit from the most gifted leading if women are prohibited from leadership roles. As important, women can feel disrespected and confused why a supposedly loving God would choose according to gender than gifts. Many recognize as bigotry if we used such criteria in business or other roles. Finally, putting men in leadership position over women can encourage dominance on the man’s part, which can be conducive for abuse and other atrocities women face at the hands of men. It can be argued that the Bible suggest women don’t need male leadership; women need men with the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29).

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! Scientific knowledge available suggests sexual orientation isn’t a choice. Why would anyone choose to be gay based on the condemnation and bigotry they face? Parents often only condemn their gay children because of their supposed correct interpretation of a Book. We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. We must be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices?

For Bible folks when two debatable interpretations in Scriptures exist… 

Err on the side that portrays God as the most loving to the human mind. I am only aware of two reasons to think God condemns gays. One, you believe the Bible teaches God condemns gays. That is disputable. Secondly, you don’t think gayness is natural. You aren’t gay so how do you know. Let gay people speak for themselves. Love gays like you would want to be love if gay. Please don’t compare gay love to pedophile love which is not consensual. Love others like they want to be loved because you could be wrong.

 

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