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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 understanding 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 surely isn’t a hellish, sadistic torturer!

The Old Testament says nothing about Hell.

The Hebrew word Sheol in the Old Testament is wrongly translated as Hell. Sheol was used to describe a place of darkness occupied by the dead regardless of beliefs, not a torture chamber for unbelievers. Job, an extremely righteous man in God’s eyes, desired to go there to escape his tremendous suffering (10:21-22). God only warned Adam and Eve about death, not Hell, if eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Noah failed to warn evildoers about Hell before their death by Flood. The popular understanding of Hell is not in the OT. Recent translations simply translate Sheol as “Sheol.”

Jesus said nothing about Hell.

One reason many may not believe God eventually convinces all about Heaven is because Hell supposedly exist. Jesus used the Greek word Gehenna, that has been translated into the word Hell, maybe 3-4 unique occasions to disciples or religion leaders and never to a big crowd. Gehenna was the name of a real valley near Jerusalem that was filled with garbage and even dead bodies. Fires were set to get rid of the garbage and smell. We don’t normally translate names of valleys with a different name. Gehenna should be translated as Gehenna. Jesus used the word Gehenna symbolically to illustrate what kinds of lives here on earth lead to hellish living, not what happens to people in the afterlife. Hell’s non-existence allows hope for heaven for all.

The Apostle Paul, who wrote a lot of the New Testament, never once warned this dire fate! 

But, the Book of Revelation speaks of a Lake of Fire!

The Bible only suggest that believers and unbelievers will face some kind of judgment after death. Fire in the Bible is used more metaphorically than a literal fire where people are tortured forever after death. The Book of Revelation is the only place Lake of Fire is mentioned, but if dragons with seven heads are considered figuratively why wouldn’t the Lake of Fire be a metaphor? Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Hitler was condemned for torturing millions of Jews for a brief time; God is said to torture billions not briefly but forever. A moral God can’t be a hellish, sadistic, torturer!

Don’t people need the fear of God to change?

Fear only leads to trying to avoid getting caught. God’s continual encouragement and mercy, not the fear of Hell or gloomy uncertainty of God’s favor, is our necessary nourishment for lasting changes of the heart. One may argue if certain beliefs aren’t required for Heaven, people will do whatever the hell they want on earth. Fearing God in the OT was the same as respecting God’s ways to avoid personal heartbreak and the destruction of others. How real is faith if only to avoid Hell? Genuine changes result when knowing you are deeply loved by a parent or God empowering you to reflect such love to others.

Can there be justice there is no hell and all go to heaven?

Punishment doesn’t bring back a victim’s robbed memories of the future due to the murder of a loved one. Real justice is understanding your victim’s pain and accepting the harmfulness of your actions. After death God may bring to memory every action of betrayal and how it felt to their victims. The cleansing and educative effect may take longer for some than others. Humans like God may forgive their enemies if they truly regret their actions and seek forgiveness. Justice from a fair, merciful God is possible despite people being given a second chance after death.

There are many reasons to doubt Hell is real other than because not in the Bible!

  • Hell opposes our created moral sense. Most don’t want to believe or act as if Hell is real. Wouldn’t we all be yelling like lunatics to family, friends and strangers to avoid Hell? Hell only exist because interpretations of a supposed infallible Book are alleged infallible.
  • Hell encourages hidden agendas in relationships which we despise. If Hell is true, we must always have a hidden agenda to convince friends to accept our beliefs to avoid destruction.
  • Hell can lead to a violent view of God. God’s justification of violence to be appeased has led to excusing our own violent solutions in the name of justice.
  • Hell makes it seems as if we humans are better lovers than God. Most of us would not treat our enemies, much less our children, the way God supposedly treats unbelievers and their creations.

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions!

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed  To Anyone After Death!

 

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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 understanding 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?

A Universalist believes God welcomes all to spend eternity in Heaven after death here on earth. Some may make a choice here on earth to have a relationship with their Creator and continue on after death. Some may not believe in God here on earth but misconceptions about God will be cleared up when meeting God. Some believe in Purgatory where some exist until convinced of God’s true love for them. The truth is only God knows what happens after death. Be open-minded!

Hell, as a place for unbelievers, doesn’t really exist according to the Bible.

One main reason many don’t believe in universalism is because Hell supposedly exist. A Book may be the only place one would think such a place exist. Jesus used the Greek word Gehenna that was translated into the word Hell in some of our Bibles. Gehenna was the name of a real valley near Jerusalem that was filled with garbage and even dead bodies. Fires were set to get rid of the garbage and smell. We don’t normally translate names of valleys with a different name. Gehenna should be translated as Gehenna. Jesus used the word Gehenna symbolically to illustrate what kinds of lives here on earth lead to hellish living, not what happens to people in the afterlife. Hell’s non-existence allows hope for heaven for all.

The Bible suggests that believers and unbelievers will face some kind of judgment after death. Fire in the Bible is used more metaphorically than a literal fire where people are tortured forever after death. The Book of Revelation is the only place Lake of Fire is mentioned, but if dragons with seven heads are considered figuratively why wouldn’t the Lake of Fire be a metaphor? Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Hitler was condemned for torturing millions of Jews for a brief time; God is said to torture billions not briefly but forever. A moral God can’t be a hellish, sadistic, torturer!

Eternal life in the Bible isn’t about one’s destiny after death.

Jesus didn’t think of eternal life as something after death but a quality of life that begins here on earth to avoid future regrets. Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life. Jesus simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). No one is going to Heaven if such actions are required according to God’s standards. If entering Heaven depends on certain beliefs or saying the sinner’s prayer, wouldn’t Jesus have responded differently? Jesus talked about how true living begins on earth by knowing how much your Creator loves you. Such knowledge can empower one to be the unselfish person we desire to be deep down.

Can there be justice if all go to heaven?

Punishment doesn’t bring back a victim’s robbed memories of the future due to the murder of a loved one. Real justice is being forced to understand your victim’s pain and accept the harmfulness of your actions. After death God may bring to memory every action of betrayal and how it felt to their victims. The cleansing and educative effect may take longer for some than others. Humans like God may forgive their enemies if they truly regret their actions and seek forgiveness. Justice from a fair, merciful God is possible despite people being given a second chance after death.

A loving God would never determine one’s destiny on chance encounters.

Did the thief on the cross get lucky while others were out of luck because they didn’t sin enough to get a Cross next to Jesus. Believing our destiny depends on a set of beliefs has led to some wacky baptizing practices or hoping your skeptical child hasn’t reached that age of accountability before being thrown into Hell. Do you really think God is going to judge all based on their beliefs during a short time here on earth influenced by so many random factors?

  • Why would God pretend that every reason for a person refusing God in this life is equal? Does God really forgive a serial killer who may have warning of their last breath but not others, who commit far less heinous actions in this life, but were killed suddenly in a car accident? Some rightly despise their Heavenly Parent because of the abuse suffered by their earthly parent. Some have numerous opportunities to respond to God while others have very few times. Is God’s grace dependent on circumstances or God?
  • Our beliefs are often determined by where we were born or the family we were born into. Our destiny cannot be based on certain beliefs about Jesus in the Bible when the majority of people born into this world died without any knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. Those with a Bible may have misunderstood God either because of poor role-models or what others taught about God. God is not going to let one final destiny be controlled by others. Meeting God will clear up any confusion and remove any causes that led to erroneous thinking.

A loving God can’t all of a sudden stop being forgiving at the moment of one’s last breath.  

Thinking an eternal God can stop being forgiving is doubtful, even according to the Bible. We are told to forgive our enemies as many times as necessary but God doesn’t do the same? God can’t stop being God somehow after our last breath by refusing to forgive any offense. I cannot imagine even imperfect human parents ever cutting off a child when finally accepting responsibilities for their actions. There isn’t a deadline or time limit on God’s love.

Even the Bible possibly suggests all go to Heaven eventually.  

Why wouldn’t one want to believe God is a Universalist where all are allowed to have eternal life if freedom and justice can be defended in such a scenario? Several biblical passages can be plausibly interpreted to suggest all enter heaven one day: “For as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22, i.e. Rom. 5:18-19, Philip: 2:10-11).  God is obviously full of second changes. Heaven may be more populated than many people imagined. I doubt any reading this or their loved ones would deny such an invitation by God. If the Bible can possible be interpreted this way why can’t the possibility be entertained.

The one main reason Universalism may not be true.

Some people, even if they were given infinite chances in eternity, may still reject God forever. Sometimes our choices made for a long period of time define who we are. Others may argue no one in their rational mind would not want to live with a God truly loving. But, how can universalism be true unless God’s love in the end is coercing or controlling?

The truth is we cannot know for sure what happens after death when we meet our Creator in person. Bible scholars have used certain verses to lean on either side of the fence about whether God gives second chances or not. I suggest therefore we take a stance based on an understanding of a loving God. All have some inclination what a good God would do when it comes to second chances after death just as we think how a loving parent should respond to a child in such circumstances.

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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 understanding 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 know we ought to love others? God surely isn’t bias toward any one religion.

A loving God wouldn’t ignore the realities of our world by insisting one can only come to God by believing in Jesus.

The majority of people born into this world died without any knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. Also, John Hick rightly acknowledges: “…in the vast majority of cases, probably 98 or 99 per cent, the religion to which anyone adheres (or against which they rebel) depends upon where they are born. When someone is born into a Christian family they are very likely to become a Christian, whether practicing or nominal; when into a Muslim family, very likely to become a Muslim; if into a Buddhist family, to become a Buddhist – and so on round the world” (Who Or What Is God, p. 73). A reason one may think a loving God judges people who have never heard about God or misunderstand God is because a Book supposedly says so.

Did you know many scholars believe the Bible teaches all people eventually get into Heaven? 

Those of us who grew up in church are familiar with Bible verses interpreted to mean the wages of sin is death/Hell if we don’t confess Jesus is Lord (Rom. 6:23; 10:9). Bible folks don’t even have to look up those verses. The Bible also says: “For as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22). Bible scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures interpret this and other verses to mean only those who have never died are excluded from heaven. Obviously, all have or will die. The Bible teaches forgiveness is unlimited (i.e. Mt. 18:21-22), but is that not true of God after one’s last breath despite their circumstances here on earth? We can’t be certain, so we are free to imagine what a loving, merciful God would do.

The Bible doesn’t even rule out decisions after death regarding one’s eternal destination.

John 5:25 says that the dead will hear the voice of God and those who hear will live. Verse 29 says those who have done evil will be condemned but we do not know whether repentance will take place. Romans 14:11-12 says: “It is written: As surely as I live, says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.” So then, we will all give an account of ourselves to God.” Why couldn’t some make a decision at Judgment? I Peter 3:18-20 speaks of Jesus preaching to those in Noah’s day who were disobedient. Preaching is normally for the opportunity to respond.  I Peter 4:6 goes on to say that the dead can live according to God’s spirit. Eternal decisions after death doesn’t diminish the blessings of changing here on earth. A perfect, merciful God can best decide when enough chances are given.

Jesus didn’t refer to his followers as Christians.

Jesus simply asked people to follow Him. Jesus seemed more concerned with the benefits of living a loving life than beliefs. God used the human means available to reveal themselves through the life of Jesus, but the Bible was never meant to be God’s only communication. A universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated hints God’s spirit has always existed.  Jesus’ message has been exemplified by many great leaders such as Gandhi. Scriptures speak of all having an internal awareness that someone bigger and better than ourselves exist. We can know in our heart Jesus’ main message – love others like we want to be loved.

Hell’s non-existence requires rethinking the afterlife for all.  

Hell’s supposed existence is why many insist one must believe in Jesus to avoid such a destination. It turns out Jesus or the Bible says nothing about the traditional understanding of Hell. Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, never once warned this dire fate. Why did Noah or the OT say nothing about tragic consequences for evil? Jesus used the Greek word Gehenna that was translated into the word Hell in some of our Bibles. Gehenna was the name of a real valley near Jerusalem used by Jesus to illustrate kinds of lives here on earth that lead to hellish living, not what happens to people in the afterlife.

Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Besides, delayed torture is still torture. Humans wouldn’t even create a place like Hell for their worst enemies! Such a place may be only imagined because of one’s interpretation of a Book. God can’t be a hellish, sadistic, torturer. The word hell is a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words and seems invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience.

We must avoid all appearances that a good God is like a terrorist or extremist.  

Terrorists believe you must be of a certain religion or be killed. If our Creator believed this way, why haven’t they controlled evil here on earth by dashing to pieces those who don’t accept God’s ways. A loving God knows true love and lasting convictions are obtained when chosen freely than forced. An infallible Book would not be so dangerous if extremists acknowledged literature is subject to interpretation, thus their interpretation cannot be proclaimed as “certainty” in God’s name. We must allow personal views to be challenged without declaring “The Bible says…”  No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world requiring that one’s eternal destination is based on circumstances out of one’s control.  It is true bad and good religion must be distinguished, but the Bible mustn’t be used to claim all must convert to Christianity to be accepted by God.

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By Mike Edwards

We cannot definitively say what an invisible, inaudible God is like or even prove that God exist. But, millions if not billions are not insane for knowing or at least hoping there is a Creator who can provide worth, perspective, meaning, and hope of life after death. We should not have hidden agendas in relationships. If people want to pursue a relationship with God, they should see in our life something worth asking about. One can argue what if it turns out there isn’t a God. What do we loss striving to be unselfish and trying to be the person we deep down desire to be with the help of our Creator? Many rightly tune out God because of claims made about God. What is God like?

Why does it matter what we think or say God is like? 

Understandings about God shape attitudes toward God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our views of God. The more we respect our earthly or heavenly parent, the closer we are to them. Some are atheists, not because they believe God can’t exist, but because what they imagine a loving God should be like isn’t what God-followers claim. Don’t believe everything you hear! 

We can begin to understand God through our moral intuitions.

If God does exist and desires a relationship, the Bible likely isn’t the only way to know God. Over half the people born into this world never had a Bible or heard of Jesus. Also, we can’t prove if the Israelites wrote more about what they thought God to be like or what God was really like. The possibility for a universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated is a Creator communicating through our moral intuitions. We all intuitively know how we “ought” to treat others.

God is claimed to be a mystery sometimes because one’s interpretation of Scriptures suggest God is evil from a human perspective. Don’t we have an inborn intuition that God and human perfect love are the same? Even the Bible assumes we can know what perfect love is, because the Bible tells us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48). God’s love surely is the same as perfect human love.

We cannot definitely say what God is like according to the Bible.

It doesn’t matter if you believe the biblical writers/editors didn’t always understood God perfectly, or whether you believe God inspired every word of the Bible. Literature requires interpretation of a writer’s meaning and application to personal circumstances. This is why there is disagreement whether one should divorce or not according to the Bible. It depends on their situation. Biblical certainty is an illusion. Laypeople, much less biblical scholars who respect Scriptures as authoritative, disagree what the Bible says about same-sex relationships or gender roles to name only a few critical issues. Something isn’t immoral just because we think the Bible says so.

Can’t we at least say God is like what the New Testament and Jesus says?  

The New Testament still requires interpretation and we don’t always agree, even what Jesus would do. Many theologians rightly question if Old Testament writers always had a complete understanding of God. In OT times it was sacrilegious to not speak of God as being all-powerful and controlling even through violence. This may explain violent warfare actions in God’s name. It is suggested Jesus, who claimed to be God in the flesh, had a more complete understanding of what God is like. We still though have the challenge of interpreting Jesus’ words. Turning the other check is used to claim Jesus never advocated violence, but a possible literal translation of Mt. 5:39 is “do not resist by evil means.” Would Jesus say violence is never desired but may be necessary sometimes? We must be careful declaring the Bible said or Jesus said, especially if such beliefs hinder others from pursuing God on their own. God can explain themselves to individuals.

A God who is a moral hypocrite isn’t worth believing in!  

Believers and unbelievers at least agree an evil god is not worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical unless we can distinguish evil from good. As mentioned even those who claim God is sometimes a mystery do so because their interpretation requires an explanation of God from a human, moral perspective. If your view of God seems immoral to another, be gracious enough to let God reveal themselves to others unless others believe like a terrorist. Terrorists can only defend their beliefs because of a supposed inspired Book, which of course their interpretations are correct. Who can argue with a Book supposedly directly from God! We can’t know perfectly what God would do in everything situation but human perfection is our best starting point.

What are some beliefs about God that are common stumbling blocks?

God can’t be a hellish, sadistic torturer. Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies! Such a place may be only imagined because of a Book. It turns out the Bible doesn’t say anything about the traditional understanding of the word Hell. Jesus used the Greek word Gehenna that was translated into the word Hell in some of our Bibles. Gehenna was the name of a real valley near Jerusalem that was filled with garbage and even dead bodies. Fires were set to get rid of the garbage and smell. We don’t translate names of valleys with different name. Gehenna should be translated as Gehenna. Jesus used the word Gehenna symbolically to illustrate spiritual death is as horrific as physical death, not what happens to people in the afterlife.

God can’t be a homophobe. It makes no sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can. Just ask heterosexuals or homosexuals. It can rightly be argued that not even the Bible condemns same-sex relationships. I have written here to please reconsider that the Bible doesn’t condemn gays. Some only condemn gays because they are convinced the Bible does. We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. Shouldn’t we be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices? 

Lack of certainty about God does not mean anything goes? How do we decide?  

We don’t have to make laws against murder. Criminals don’t deny their actions are wrong; they deny they committed such a crime. It is almost universally accepted that it is morally wrong to kill someone out of revenge or for selfish reasons. It is universally accepted that it is morally wrong to behead people for their beliefs unless you are a terrorist. Believing the Bible can’t be use to definitively tell us what God is like protects from those claiming their interpretation is definitive while demonizing views to the contrary. 

Unfortunately, Christians often claims certain morals are universal because of their personal beliefs based on a Book. To divorce or not is not a universal law to impose upon others. A partner may respond with gratitude for a second change or another chance may simply enable bad behaviors to continue. Consensual relationships, straight or gay, are not violating anyone’s personal rights. It doesn’t matter if you think gay or straight relationships aren’t natural. You either aren’t gay or straight.

Some relationships, such as pedophilic relationships, are obviously not consensual. There are always exceptions to general guidelines. The Bible isn’t a rule Book or question and answer Book. We may have to kill to protect another life. Let’s have a respectful discussion rather than shut down discussion by claiming we speak for God because of our understanding of a Book. Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. Uncertainty allows different opinions to stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. Differences don’t have to lead to chaos but to new understandings and creative solutions.

How we ought to treat others is how a good God treats others. 

Common moral, loving sense is not the enemy. Don’t let your interpretation of a Book override the golden rule with others of different gender, color, or sexuality. Terrorists or extremists justify immoral treatment of other by hiding behind a supposedly infallible Book. A Book questioned if entirely inspired by God seems to lead to more open discussions. You can hardly every going wrong treated others like you wish to be treated were you in their shoes. Actions of love are always more important than any beliefs you may have.

Don’t let your understanding of God turns people away from God?

Terrorists’ view of God can’t be right. It is almost a universal belief that God respects freedom if such freedom does not endanger the lives of others. Forced love is an oxymoron. Others are convinced God condemns gay love, women leading men, etc. only because of their interpretation of a Book. Well, not all who respect the Bible agree with that interpretation. Do not speak for God when your interpretation is debatable. Let people decide on their own what God is like. God can handle their own business. 

What do you imagine God is really like?

You may be right! Listen to your moral inner voice. We just seem to know what is moral or immoral in most situations. Be guided by love in treating others like you want to be. We can imagine what God is like by discussing what human perfection is. Those who argue humans are created in the image of God usually accept that God created us to know and hate evil. If God sometimes is evil according to one’s interpretation of the Bible, should we hate God sometimes? A God who seeks a relationship is surely more understandable than mysterious.

Don’t we get closer to understanding what Godly love is by accepting that loving others like we want to be loved is the same as how God loves us and others?

 

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By Mike Edwards

A God whose focus is saving people from the threat of burning forever after death is about fear not a relationship. Fear often leads to hiding stuff; a loving relationship leads to life changes. Adult children don’t respect and devout themselves to their parents’ guidance because they fear them. It may surprise many that the traditional understanding of Hell isn’t in the Bible. The Bible also doesn’t talk a lot either about Heaven as an escape from earth. What is God’s good news?

The Bible says nothing about the traditional understanding of the word Hell.

Humans wouldn’t even create a place to torture their enemies after death. The only place we would get such an irrational idea of a supposedly loving God is from a Book. Gehenna, the Greek word translated as Hell in the New Testament, was the name of a real valley nearby Jerusalem with a history of terrible slaughter.  Gehenna is best translated Gehenna. There is no word in Hebrew or Greek for “hell.” Jesus used Gehenna to illustrate that spiritual death is as tragic as physical death. The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the NT never refers to Hell. Noah, or any prophet in the OT, never warned of Hell as a consequence for behaviors here on earth.

If there is no Hell, was Jesus main message to get the hell away from earth to enter Heaven?

The word “heaven” appears the most in the Gospel of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t talking about going to a place after death. Jesus speaks of bringing heavenly love to earth – “on earth as in heaven.” Jesus said nothing about dropping to your knees to avoid Hell to go to Heaven after death. But, didn’t the Apostle Paul say “the wages of sin is death” (Rm. 6:23)? Paul is speaking of spiritual death because Paul is still alive though sin has put him to death (Rm. 7:11). Romans is Paul’s longest and most theological letter and when Paul mentions Heaven twice, he says nothing about Jesus dying so we can go to Heaven (Rm. 1:18, 10:6).

What does the Bible say God is saving us from?

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jeremy Myers says it best that the Bible isn’t about escaping Hell but being delivered from consequences of sin: “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 has a dream! 

God hurts because we are hurting ourselves and those around us. On this day as we celebrate Martin Luther King’s life and message, God too seeks to convince us of the evil of bigotry. Jesus came to earth to convey God seeks to empower us to constantly shun evil and do good. Seek and experience God’s help in being more the person you know deep down is in your and others’ interest. Consider misbeliefs about God that hinder that pursuit. Share with others such a God when they inquire.

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By Mike Edwards

It is difficult for many to be drawn to a God that has anything in common with the God of terrorists. I am not saying Christians believe in resorting to beheading unbelievers. It is sensible though for all God-followers to consider any of their portrayals of God that look anything similar to terroristic views. A good God couldn’t possibly have anything in common with such views.

We must avoid all appearances that a good God is solely determined by a Book.

The idea of an infallible Book seems to shut down questioning and common moral sense. An infallible Book would not be so dangerous if extremists acknowledged literature is subject to interpretation, thus their interpretation cannot be proclaimed as “certainty” in God’s name. We must always openly admit our interpretation could be wrong, thus allowing personal views to be challenged.

Let’s avoid suggesting a loving God would deny freedom of beliefs.

One would think a God who is powerful enough to create, unless a respecter of freedom of beliefs, would annihilate immediately those who choose evil and oppose God. God’s love in the Bible is most frequently compared to that of a human parent. No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world desiring their children not freely reciprocate their love as opposed to being forced. Forced love is an oxymoron. A good God couldn’t possibly want to control beliefs through fear.

Let’s avoid suggesting a loving God tortures unbelievers before or after death. 

Delayed torture is still torture in the eyes of many. We mustn’t claim Hell is real according to the Bible because biblical scholars don’t agree Hell exists in the Bible. Most humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies! The word hell is a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words and seems invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience. It is important to defend God respects the right to choose your own personal beliefs in this life, and God does not torture people after death for such decisions. 

Let’s avoid claiming a loving God’s view of women hints of inequality.  

I am not suggesting some Christians are saying Paradise is a lustful adventure for men at the expense of women, but it is important to not be dogmatic that the Bible teaches women are under the authority of men in the God of the Bible eyes. This can encourage dominance on the man’s part. Women and men surely need unselfish partners who have the heart of a servant. Some religious extremists would rather be dead than advocate for that. We must avoid proscribing gender roles which more frequently are used to oppress women than men.

What can Christians be certain of about God?

All religions must differentiate themselves from terrorist or extremist views to avoid misunderstandings about a God worthy of trust. Jesus simply wanted us to know God was the kind of Creator or Parent desiring a friendship to encourage a journey of shunning evil and doing good. Our views must encourage loving others like we want to be love. Accepting the freedom of beliefs, if not physically harmful to others, is foundational. A good God surely respect freedom of beliefs in this life and life to come and encourages roles according to one’s gifts not gender or race.

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By Mike Edwards

We can’t know exactly what an invisible God is like, but God’s visible presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. Uncoerced, freely chosen devotions more likely lead to lasting convictions. We can’t just say God is like what the Bible says, because we disagree what the Bible reveals about God. So, how can we know what God is like?

The Bible does frequently compare God to a loving human parent. Intuition suggest a loving Creator would want us to follow their example just as do our human parents.  How can we be like God if we don’t know what God is like? Analogies aren’t perfect but the best way to imagine what an invisible, perfect God is like – no one thinks an imperfect God is worth believing in – is to consider what a perfect human parent is like.

God couldn’t possibly be an angry, egomaniac lover.

A loving human parent directs their anger not toward their child but at actions that can harm their child and others. Gloomy uncertainty of a parent’s favor doesn’t cause us to be less self-centered or more loving. Loving parents don’t demand respect or glory but wish for a relationship based on mutual respect. God’s or a parent’s continual encouragement and mercy lead to a deeper bond that can transform us into the kind of person we all desire to be.

God couldn’t possibly be a homophobe.

It makes no sense to me why God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they have feelings for than straights can. Just ask heterosexuals or homosexuals. We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. Any loving parent is surely guided by how they should treat others if they had the same non-choices.

God couldn’t possibly be a hell monger.

Hell seems to be an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. Our traditional understanding of Hell is not an appropriate translation of the Greek word Gehenna (the name of a real valley near Jerusalem) in the New Testament. Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies much less their children. Are we better lovers than God?

God couldn’t possibly be a sexist.

It is suggested the Bible endorses men to have authority over women, but the Bible can just as well be interpreted to encourage roles according to gifts not gender. Men in authority over women has led to so my atrocities women face at the hands of men. Women don’t need male leadership; women need men who have the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29). Jesus said being first is last so maybe men should always defer to women.  Isn’t mutual equality the safest, most loving way for men and women to interact?

God couldn’t possibly be dogmatic about what religion we choose.  

Suggesting a loving God insists one can only come to God by believing in Jesus is to ignore the realities of our world. The majority of people that have been born into world never had a Bible to know of Jesus. The vast majority of people choose or rebel against the religion where they are born, whether be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Wouldn’t a loving Parent, earthly or heavenly, no matter where born simply seek to help all be their best for self-interests and the interests of others?

What do you imagine God is really like?

You may be right! Listen to your moral inner voice since we just seem to know what is moral or immoral in most situations. Most suspect One claiming to be God must lead by example and encourage we love others by treating them like we want to be treated. I am absolutely convinced that God’s love is the love we deep down desire to show others consistently. God’s love is perfect parental love that we have always desired from our parents. We may not agree always what a perfect parent would do, but a loving parent surely isn’t egotistical, a fear-monger, a homophobe, a sexist, or bias against one’s religion!

 

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