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Posts Tagged ‘hell’

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

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

I can’t prove God exist but millions including me aren’t irrational to think a Creator created the world around us. Atheists and believers agree. The only God worth believing in is a perfect God. We can only understand perfect love through the lens of human love. We don’t always agree what such loves looks like but human love is a reasonable starting point. The main reason many oppose views below is out of devotion to God because what they believe the Bible says about God.

God couldn’t be a Bible worshipper

First, we can’t prove the biblical writers always understood God perfectly unless you take their word for it. Secondly, literature requires interpretation so no one can claim their view is the right one. We can’t ask the writers what they meant. Thirdly, the Bible isn’t likely a Creator’s main communication, because the majority born into this world never had a copy or knew of Jesus.

God couldn’t have created Hell

God is not a sadist. A God who teaches forgiveness seventy times seven couldn’t possibly create Hell to torture anyone forever. Such pain serves no lasting purpose anyway. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. The traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. The word hell, a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible, appears to have been invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience.

God couldn’t only let Christians into heaven

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. Secondly, 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 couldn’t condemn gays

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 couldn’t be a sexist

God surely wouldn’t 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. Like many views about God, the Bible can also be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. God can lead women and men 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 couldn’t be an extremist or terrorist kind of God

Terrorists seldom are Jesus-type individuals who seek to love others like they want to be loved. Doesn’t true religion seek to serve not be served? Loving spiritual or human parents bring children into the world hoping their children freely reciprocate their love for authentic relationships. Forced love is an oxymoron. God couldn’t possibly want to control beliefs through fear.

God couldn’t be a moral hypocrite humanly-speaking

Even atheists believe One claiming to be God must be perfect. We must question biblical writers’ understanding of God if interpretations are contrary to people’s ideas of a perfect, loving God. When the Bible challenges us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48), the assumption is we can know what perfection is. Godly and human perfect love must be one and the same.

God can’t control evil and suffering without help

The magnitude of evil in the world is a main reason people indicate they don’t believe in God. It seems God creating freedom necessitates one being able to do as much harm as they can do good. Authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. Not even God can force true love. It can be misleading when we say God “allows” evil, as if God stands by when God could stop evil. God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom.

God couldn’t be a prayer genie

Praying doesn’t make God more caring. God is already doing all they can in a free world. Pretending God can simply heal without accounting for freedom can makes one’s suffering worse. Did I not pray or beg enough? Prayer isn’t about manipulating for gain but pursuing a relationship with our Creator for self-examination, sharing concerns, and not feeling alone in a chaotic world. God is not a Genie in a bottle who can singlehandedly all by themselves make things instantly happen without our help to change the world for good.

God couldn’t be a future fortune teller

Most probably don’t think much about whether God knows the future or not. The truth is not even an all-powerful God can do the impossible such as change the past or know an undetermined future until it happens. God isn’t failing to communicate a “known future” so we can avoid bad relationships or decisions. God suffers with us rather than simply gaze into a future crystal ball. God created freedom and seeks to partner with us to make for a better world.

Notice I didn’t suggest what I think God believes when it comes to issues such as immigration, taxes, climate change, etc. Total certainty, unless beheading people for not sharing your beliefs, is an illusion. What we need is honest, open dialogue. Opinions must stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. Problems often begin when we claim moral superiority either from our own moral intuitions or our understanding of a Book.

See here for further defense: http://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/why-and-what-i-believe-series/

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By Mike Edwards

God supposedly was the cause of Uzzah’s death for simply touching the Ark of the Covenant as it was falling to the ground (2 Sam. 6). The Ark was sacred in God’s eyes according to the Israelites. God supposedly orders the murder of men, women, children, and animals in war (I Sam. 15:3). One author’s respond to these OT stories was to suggest “we are quick to say things like ‘That isn’t fair because we deserve certain rights as humans.’ Yet we give little thought to the rights God deserves as God.”  

Who can we compare God to understand better?  

If there is only one God, who do we compare God to as a way to understand? The Bible uses the analogy of God as our Heavenly Father/Parent to help us understand God as best we can. God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for I cannot be in all places at one time, but an analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities. What do God as a parent and human parents have in common when it comes to rights?

Isn’t God like the perfect human parent?  

All agree that if God exists than God must be perfect. The Bible agrees by encouraging us to strive to imitate or be perfect like God (Eph. 5:1; Mt. 5:48). If God can do whatever the hell God wants, should we imitate such an attitude? It is only 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 one and the same. We may only think otherwise because of what we think a Book says. We don’t always know what perfect love is, but I doubt God is the parent that says “do as I say not what I do.”

What are God’s rights?

God would only claim perfect, human rights. God loves us how we know we ought to love others. We aren’t clueless what perfect love is. Terrorists are evil because they would not accept being treated like they treat others. We can’t know if the biblical writers always understood God perfectly or whether our interpretation of what they write is correct. Interpretations that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss because they are contrary to our moral intuitions of perfection. That is why we know Hell doesn’t truly exist. Such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies.

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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

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?

Friends can smell a hidden agenda a mile away.

It simply is wrong to engage in friendships for the purpose of converting them to your beliefs without advising upfront this is your agenda. It should be obvious that we need to start acting like true friends act toward one another. We engage in relationships because we are interested in having friendships with others, both to love and be loved. Discussions about spirituality or God best come up naturally.

If people want to pursue a relationship with God, they should see in our life something worth asking about. What if I told you the Gospel is: God loves you and longs for a relationship so you can be the kind of person you deep down truly desire to be. I am convinced God wants you to know true freedom is knowing your Creator’s love for you so you might love others similarly. 

God has been a respecter of freedom of beliefs from the very beginning.

Why would a God who is powerful enough to create not annihilate immediately those who choose evil and oppose God? Jesus did not force God on others but discussed spirituality in a natural, relational way. Jesus brought up spiritual matters when it seemed appropriate and was accepted. Jesus’ agenda was to simply love people in the moment, not to manipulate them.

We have portrayed God as a Parent who has certain conditions to be loved and accepted. We portray God as wanting to save people from hell, which is a myth, rather than being a God who respects one’s freedom to consider how they might make for a better world. God knows what human parents know. Love is the only path to authentic relationships but can’t be forced. “Controlling love” is a contradiction in terms. Relationships come out of inspiration not fear!

Even the Son of God in the Bible didn’t require certain beliefs.

Jesus simply invited His disciples to follow Him and see for themselves as opposed to adhere to a set of beliefs. He told Levi (Matthew): “follow me” (Lk. 5:27). Jesus basic message could be summarize as: “But to you who are listening I say: ….Do to others as you would have them do to you” (6:27-31). Jesus only encouraged those seeking a better life to follow His example. 

We all know the story of how Jesus responded to the religious elite who had caught a woman in adultery (Jn. 7:53-8:11). When Jesus rightly shamed the crowd, they dropped their stones and left Jesus and the woman alone. Jesus didn’t lecture, pray with the woman, or tell her to go to church. Jesus simply said: “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus showed the woman all she needed to know – God loves you and encourages you to do what you know is right in your heart.

Jesus saved tough conversations for religious pretenders who claimed to represent God. The Pharisees were in love with their power, thus making religion self-serving rather than self-sacrificing. Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees for their misguided emphasis on rules and obedience rather than a relationship and God’s radical love. 

Many may be surprised what Jesus said when asked how to have eternal life.

Jesus did not warn one to run like/from Hell. Jesus simply advised to love God and your neighbor. One saves their life by running from selfishness. A religious expert asks Jesus: “what must I do to inherit eternal life” (Luke 10:25). Jesus didn’t admonish one to get on their knees and pray for forgiveness. Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself” (10:25-27). Jesus knew loving God can empower us to be the person we deep down desire to be.

Eternal life in the Bible isn’t about one’s destination in the future but life in the present. J.D. Myers is right: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.” https://redeeminggod.com/confess-jesus-romans-10-9-10/

God-followers need to worry more about their example than what others believe.

Baptists, Methodists, Protestants, Catholics, etc. fight over their different doctrines, yet all supposedly believe in the same message of loving your neighbor as yourself. Why would anyone seek spiritual guidance from people that can’t get along? We have enough conflict in our families, friendships, and places of work. Christianity or any religion is better off without buildings with names on them. We simply need relationships that encourage one another in their spiritual journey.

What does God believe in and desire for us all?

People feel manipulated rather than loved when spiritual folks have an agenda. Engage in relationships only with the desire to love others as they wished to be loved. The Gospel is simply that our Creator desires a relationship to influence us for the world and our own good. Jesus only wanted to help others listen to their heart. I am convinced a close relationship with my Creator helps me to be a better man, husband, father, and friend. Loving parents seek the admiration and respect of their children, so they want to follow in their footsteps to make this world a better place. Similarly, knowing and understanding God’s radical love can inspire selfless love toward others.

More posts in the I Doubt God Really ………. 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

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

 

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