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By Mike Edwards

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

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

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

God may not be as hidden as it seems.

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

Maybe God doesn’t have to speak to influence. 

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

At least God isn’t hiding an unknown future. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

God can still love us despite being hidden.  

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

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By Mike Edwards

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

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

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One may only believe God required a violent death of an innocent victim, much less God’s own child, because an inspired Book by God supposedly makes such a claim. How is it forgiveness if payback is required? How does an innocent person suffering really atone for another person’s sins? Even imperfect human parents don’t only forgive a child by punishing another child.

Freedom created by God is a farce if Jesus had to die! 

If Jesus had to die, then Judas had no choice but to betray Jesus. If God predetermined that Jesus had to die so God could forgive our sins, those who killed Jesus where not free to choose otherwise. Crucifiers were not free to come to their senses that one simply claiming to be the Son of God doesn’t deserve to die a gruesome death on a Cross.

Child sacrifice was an abomination to God in the Bible. 

Interpretations suggesting God requires child sacrifice must be wrong. In the Old Testament God through prophets declared child sacrifice was an abomination (Lev. 20:2-5; Jer. 32:35). Did God break the Ten Commandments “Thou shall not murder?” Old Testament passages interpreted as Messianic prophecies could be conditional – Jesus will be killed if people don’t turn from evil.

God and Jesus forgave others before the Cross.

In the OT before Jesus was born, God often forgave the Israelites. In the New Testament Jesus is recorded as forgiving others before dying on the Cross (Mt. 9:2; Lk. 7:48, etc.).

God requiring violence opposes God’s non-violent nature.

Most agree Jesus’ message was one of non-violence, though sometimes violence may be necessary to protect victims. Turn the check, go the extra mile, etc. are familiar sayings (Mt. 5:38-42). The Bible also encouraging striving to be perfect by imitating God (Mt. 5:48, Eph. 5:1). Believing God requires violence often leads to humans justifying violence in the name of God. The Cross actually reveals our ugly violent nature not God’s.

Why did Jesus die?

There are many possible explanations why Jesus died other than God killed Him so God could forgive. We may still be talking about Jesus because He was willing to die, rather than power over others, for a message He believed in. God has always sought change through influence than coercion. Jesus sought to inspire that an unselfish life empowered by our Creator is worth living. It was Jesus’s willingness to die, not His miracles, that has changed billions of lives.

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By Mike Edwards

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

We can’t prove God inspired every word of the Bible unless taking a writer’s word for it. Besides, biblical writers claiming inspiration could mean God uses writings to interact with us without declaring such writings are infallible views of God. Since the writer didn’t claim God spoke audibly, we can question if the writer’s impression was correct when recording God commanded the destruction of innocent women and children in war: “Now go, attack the Amalekites…put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys”(I Sam. 15:3).

An inspired Bible leads to justifying 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. Not questioning if writers always understood God perfectly 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 had to admit that God possibly didn’t endorse words they interpret to deny freedom of beliefs!

Terrorists aren’t the only ones who don’t question if God inspired the writer’s thought or if their interpretation is correct. The Bible is used to prove many contrary views such as mutual or hierarchical roles. We must question if a loving God would put men in leadership position over women which has encouraged historical dominance on the man’s part. People condemn gays, despite their moral sense, because God supposedly rejects same gender loving relationships according to a Book. A fallible Book may actually lead to knowing God better.

What can you trust about God if not 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 senses. An infallible book has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. Questioning encourages honest, open dialogue 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.

We are free to question how best to love others.

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 in the name of God. 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, so we can reflect on what God is really like and how to best love others.

 

 

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By Mike Edwards

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

There is so much violence throughout the world. Evil is alive and well even in churches, synagogues, and mosques. Must God-followers always lay down their arms according to Jesus’ words and example? Would non-violent reactions end wars and evil, or does evil end when all individuals and nations decide to stop victimizing others.

More and more God-followers are rightly advocating for a loving than wrathful God. Many suggest since Jesus is God Himself, we should follow His words if we think they contradict an Old Testament prophet’s understanding of God. Progressives, for lack of a better word, would likely agree the Bible was not written so we can simply turn to a page to get an answer for our problem. I might give my kids different advice though dealing with similar circumstances. Should you confront, divorce, etc.? It depends! Seek God and the wisdom of others who are slow to be certain.

Quoting Jesus doesn’t settle it!

Progressives accept that the Bible, since literature, requires interpretation. Love isn’t dogmatically claiming my interpretation is right and yours is wrong. One interpretation of Jesus according to the Bible is that His example and the Cross mandate we must not respond violently. But, should we always respond as Jesus did on the way to the Cross? The Apostle Paul didn’t. When in danger, Paul threaten God on others and appealed for government protection (Acts 23).

Some biblical scholars, who respect the authority of Scriptures, suggest Jesus advising to “turn the other cheek” (Mt 5:39) was illustrating how we might respond to insults, not that we can never respond to violence against us or others. Does this and other passages rule out individuals or nations defending and killing if necessary when being attacked or even under the threat of attack? Depends! Jesus didn’t condemn a Roman soldier’s faith for serving his nation (Lk.7:1-9). 

Can we at least agree …….

Research is sited to suggest non-violent responses can deter further violence. We should always strive to not respond to violence with violence if there is another way. We don’t seem to agree that when violence seems unavoidable, that we can be grateful for those who protect us when people cannot be “talked or exampled” from violence. When we dogmatically claim God never advocates violence, we imply people are not being Christ-like when they must kill when serving their military, police force, or family. We don’t know what God would always do!

What would God do in your situation?

Can you have a security plan as a church or family that would use violence? That is a personal decision between you and God. You have to decide for yourself if to attend a certain church or go elsewhere. Personally, I hope I am God-loving enough to not respond to a situation with violence when other options exist. Jesus’ example encourages non-violence but sometimes self or government protection is necessary because evil is still very real. I am convinced we can love our enemies and love the innocent by protecting them from harm. The Bible doesn’t settle whether God would never advocate responding to evil with violence!

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by Mike Edwards

The political divide in our nation is obvious, but shouldn’t people who claim to follow Jesus’ teachings get along? Yes, plenty of people are leaving the institutional church but they aren’t leaving God. It is hard to make a big impact in the world alone. A movement though can! Why isn’t a Following who claims the importance of loving others as themselves having more of an impact on our culture?

It is human nature to not always get along.

The wife and I got along pretty well when dating, but that didn’t exactly prepare me for the first years of marriage. Love doesn’t make go away having to share bathrooms, finances, closets, in-laws, etc. I didn’t learn soon enough that love requires learning to disagree well so to live happily incompatible. You got to learn some skills as differences arise. But Christian divisions run deeper than nature.

One’s belief if the Bible is inspired by God may be the greatest divider among Christians.

Some believe God inspired all of the Bible thus is God’s final word on guidance; others believe the Spirit may guide us toward even a higher view of God than the writers always had. One can still be a God-follower though their view of the Bible is different than yours. Besides, literature requires interpretation whether you believe God inspired all of the Bible or not. More churches are forming than uniting because of differences in interpretations and no one is admitting they may be wrong. Christian opinions can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving way.

Can we get along despite a helluva lot of differences?

It has been suggested despite the challenges of translation and interpretation the central message of the Bible is clear to all. I respectfully disagree. One’s belief about Hell supposedly impacts everyone born into this world. Views on women’s roles impacts half the population. Gay differences impact millions and millions of people. Can I get along with one who is convinced God condemns gays for attractions they can’t control? I may never know because we are quick to demonize one another when we don’t share the same convictions.

What first steps can we take to show true love?

We each have to decide what is the first big step we can take in our relationships. As my beliefs were forming and changing over the decades, I wasn’t always respectful in sharing my passions. If I had it all to do over, I would have sought to understand first before being understood. This is the best way for relationships to not end up demonizing one another. Standing side by side may in time allow one to be persuaded for the right reasons. Christians acting loving toward one another could change the world!

 

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By Mike Edwards

More prayers are unanswered than answered. The amount of evil in the world suggests God doesn’t intervene most of the time. Many prayers that are claimed answered could simply be humans taking action. God didn’t make your partner stop drinking; they finally hit bottom and got sick and tired of being sick and tired. Supposed miracle workers don’t go into hospitals. I bet those folks got the same faith as those healed at their rallies. Many are rightly disheartened about God when claims about prayers don’t match up with reality.

Love can’t be controlling or arbitrary.

I experienced as a child and learned as a parent controlling love is not love at all. Controlling love is an oxymoron. It isn’t that God has the power to do something and doesn’t. God can’t change people or circumstances without them freely cooperating. Miracles don’t happen because some people are less sinful or beg better at the feet of an arbitrary God. Miracles happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless factors known and not known. It’s above my pay grade!

But the Bible says….

The truth is for almost every passage on prayer, there are opposing interpretations. Mathew 7:7 is used 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 want to give good gifts. First-century readers didn’t assume this was a blank check for requests. The Apostle Paul expected persecution for beliefs (2 Tim. 3:12), thus God obviously is not a genie!

What is prayer?  

Maybe prayer isn’t about manipulating God for gain, but letting God run the universe who has the best interest of all in mind. Prayer can be talking and sharing with God, rather than asking for things and for God to override freedom. Maybe prayer is meant to help us not feel alone in a chaotic world. We can never overburden God like we feel toward our friends sometimes. We tell our children associating with the right people leads to making wiser choices. Maybe prayer is for self-examination to change our way of thinking so we can be more loving like God toward others. 

Does God answer prayer? 

Depends on what you are asking for! God is always listening and ready to support. God is surely doing all they can to influence for good and seeks our help to change the world for good, but God cannot both control and love perfectly. God is answering prayer when we hear: I love you; I forgive you; I won’t abandon you; let’s do this together!

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