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Posts Tagged ‘hell’

By Mike Edwards

The short answer to my question is no one can know for sure. There may be as many reasons as individuals why some believe there is a God and others don’t. I suppose some may avoid believing in God because they are only interested in pursuing a self-centered life. This isn’t most of my friends. What I do know is that those who are convinced a Creator exists aren’t necessarily more moral than those who don’t believe. Faith is required for either belief.

There are good reasons to not be into God or be on the fence

We can only be as close to God as our mental images of God allow. We may not pursue God more because we assume certain claims made about God are true, or God is like the poor role models we have had who claim to represent God. The God often portrayed by others condemns gay people, shows partiality toward men over women despite the history of men abusing power, and God supposedly created Hell to torture people after death if they believe while here on earth. Don’t make possible false claims the reason to not believe.

What is God really like? 

It is intuitive to think a Creator would love us how we are created to love each other. We only know how to talk about perfect Godly love by comparing to perfect, human love. The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We don’t always know what perfect love entails but we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly aka am I loving others like our Creator loves. Misunderstanding God often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our interpretation from an inspired Book. 

Reasons to believe if on the fence 

If walking on a dark street and approached by a group of tough looking men, would you be more or less scared if you knew they just attended a bible study? Good religion, as opposed to bad religion, always encourages the golden rule. We have nothing to lose by living by the golden rule, and we will probably experience fewer regrets on our death bed. Personally, the biggest reason for being a God-follower is the inspiration and encouragement from God to be a better human being.

Believing in an afterlife can be a good thing. Should we tell our children there is a heaven after death when we can’t know for sure? We promise our kids all the time we will keep them safe, especially if there has been a recent tragedy. We can’t be sure if danger is around the corner. Belief in a possible God helps to not fear death and to look forward to be reunited with loved ones. And I have no reason to believe a forgiving God stops forgiving after death.

Is God Real? 

Let’s not accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch or being delusional, or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God of being rebellious or not knowing their feelings. Just because you believe in the possibility of God doesn’t mean you don’t have doubts at times whether God really exist. Believing in God doesn’t mean you don’t question how good God really is because of all the evil in the world. If so inclined imagine what a loving God would be like. You may be right!

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but it seems intuitive a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. We can examine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions, our consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God, but differing interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here.  Also, we can’t prove if biblical writers always understood God perfectly. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know that we or a Creator ought to love others as we want to be loved. 

The Bible says nothing about Hell as a consequence for decisions here on earth 

God only warned Adam and Eve about death, not Hell, if eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Noah, who was warned of a global destructive flood, was silent on Hell as a consequence for behaviors here on earth. So were the OT prophets. The Hebrew word Sheol in the Old Testament, translated into the English word Hell, 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). Recent Bible translations simply translate Sheol as “Sheol.”

The Greek word Gehenna is translated into the English world Hell. Gehenna is the name of a valley outside Jerusalem. In ancient times children were sacrificed in fire at Gehenna and the valley was known as a burial ground. Jesus refers to Gehenna to describe the suffering and devastation that come from doing evil. Many scholars consider Gehenna a metaphor to describe the destruction an evil life leads to, not a fiery place where sinners go for never-ending punishment. Gehenna is best translated Gehenna just as Mount Everest is best translated Mount Everest.

The main writer of NT makes no mention of Hell

The main writer of the NT, other than the Gospels, was the Apostle Paul. Paul never mentioned Hell. Hell is not mentioned in Acts which is the main book in Bible describing the beginning of the Christian movement and evangelism.

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

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? Revelation only suggests believers and unbelievers will face some kind of judgment after death.

Hell makes no moral sense to God or humans

A loving God couldn’t possibly torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. 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!

Besides, humans much less God are fully aware beliefs are influenced by opportunities, role models, or misinformation. It is suspect an impartial, moral God determines our destiny based on beliefs while living a brief time on earth. If we humans really believed Hell made moral sense, we would never cease from warning our friends to repent to escape Hell. The only reason to think a loving God would create such as a place as Hell would be if we believed a Book taught such a horrific thing.

What is God saving us from if not Hell?  

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: “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.”

The word “heaven” appears the most in the Gospel of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a place to go after life on earth. Jesus sought to bring 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. Paul mentions Heaven twice in Romans, yet says nothing about Jesus dying so we can go to Heaven (Rm. 1:18, 10:6).

What about justice?

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.

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.  Fear doesn’t produce relationships worth having. One may argue if certain beliefs aren’t required for Heaven, people will do whatever the hell they want on earth. 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.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

I don’t write to push God on others. I am convinced God is big enough to make their own case with those seeking more of a connection with their Creator. I just know God has made me a better husband, father, and friend by their influence. I enjoy discussing my journey with those so inclined. Even if it turns out God doesn’t exist, what have I lost by living a life with fewer regrets.

One might argue the biggest obstacle Christians put in the way of others interested in pursuing God is hypocrisy. If you treat people like dirt, I doubt you are being influenced by the God I know. Most folks though understand no one is perfect. But if Christians fail to admit or confess their faults, good luck discussing your relationship with God with others.

Claims I consider false, made by Christians about God, may be the greatest problem. It is said:

  • Evolution can’t be true and God couldn’t have used evolution in the creative process
  • Women can’t be pastors or priests and wives should be more submissive to husbands than husbands should be to their wives
  • God condemns gays who are naturally attracted to those of their same sex and God forbid they get married
  • God is going to burn in hell forever those who deny God here on earth Most humans wouldn’t even justify such torture for their worst enemies. To Hell with those who grew up in a family of another religion that believed in the golden rule
  • God before creation elected some to be God’s children and the rest can freely go to Hell
  • God can control evil, despite creating freedom, thus in reality God controls how much each suffers
  • God can magically answer your prayers and if God doesn’t, you must have some hidden sin or not praying the right words
  • God can tell you to love your enemies but supposedly God can command the killing of women and children as in the Old Testament. Maybe the writers didn’t understand God fully at the time
  • If you are an atheist or not all-in about God, you are simply being rebellious to justify living selfishly
  • You don’t really love God if you don’t attend the institutional church on a regular basis

It is claimed the Bible is all about avoiding Hell rather than God desiring to have a relationship with you here on earth to face challenges inevitable in an imperfect world.

Do you doubt any of the above claims? Most if not all of the above beliefs come from one’s understanding of a Book. It is seldom admitted Christians disagree in good conscience about the above claims in the Bible about God.

Besides, many act as if it can be proven that God controlled or approved all that is claimed about God in the Bible, that God somehow magically download their thoughts and words into the writer’s brain.

Do you wish you could get more into God but certain claims are a problem? Don’t believe everything you hear. God surely gave us a brain and moral conscience to decide evil from good. If God is evil in any way, that is a God not worth believing in!

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Did you know biblical scholars disagree whether Hell is a literal place according to the Bible? Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures don’t agree that God condemns homosexuality or that God forbids women from being preachers or priests. See here.  See here. The truth is biblical truths are debatable! 

What might a loving God be like?

An analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities in understanding God. The Bible refers to God as our Heavenly Father/Parent. God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for we cannot be in all places at one time, but the Bible encourages imitating or being perfect like God (Eph. 5:1; Mt. 5:48). Human and God’s perfection are surely the same. How you wished to be loved by your parents is how God loves us.

Hell or Hell No! 

Jesus used the Greek word Gehenna which is translated into our word Hell. Many, many scholars believe Gehenna is a metaphor to describe what evil can lead to here on earth, not a place in the afterlife where God acts as a sadistic torturer. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place to torture their enemies after death. God’s supposed justification of violence to be appeased has led to excusing our own violent solutions in the name of justice. People are rejecting God because Hell makes no moral sense.  Since there is doubt, shouldn’t we stop preaching Hell?

Women leaders or not?   

Most would agree it is immoral to favor one based on the color of their skin. An argument could be made that to favor men over women for particular roles is sexist or bigotry. I doubt most Christians or Muslims would deny women equality unless they believe they should in the name of God according to some Book. Women can obviously feel disrespected and confused why a supposedly loving God would choose according to gender than gifts. Putting men in leadership position over women can be conducive for abuse and other atrocities women face at the hands of men. Shouldn’t we choose the least harmful interpretation of a Book? 

Gay or straight? 

It doesn’t make moral sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more chose who they love than straights can. Ask them! 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. Shouldn’t we choose the least harmful view? 

Which view to take?

Shouldn’t we choose views of God with fewer negative physical and psychological costs? Shouldn’t we be guided by love – how should I treat others if I was in their shoes? Err on the side that portrays God as the most loving to the human mind. It is better to question rather than claim certainty and be wrong! Can you imagine meeting God one day and God saying “why did you decide on the view that made the most loving, moral sense to you? To Hell with you!”

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

If Christians were more united or at least more open in some very important beliefs that impacts billions of lives, many may be less hesitant to reject God. Sometimes one’s understanding of a Book influences them to go against their moral intuitions. The truth is opposing biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. Remember over half the people born never had a Bible, so they had to lean into their intuitions. I will end by suggesting what we might believe about God.

Gays

Supposed certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving relationships. See here.

The main non-biblical objection by straights is that it just isn’t natural. But why would anyone choose a lifestyle subject to bigotry and hostility? Straights don’t wake up one day and decide to be attracted to the opposite sex. Gays neither of the same sex.

Women

It is a big deal! Views on gender roles effects directly half of the human population. Shouldn’t the most qualified or gifted should lead the company or the church? Men in authority over women in public or private life is conducive for violence toward women. Paul, a main writer of the New Testament, is often interpreted to suggest hierarchical roles. I doubt it. See here.

Hell

Many of us were raise to love God or fear Hell as our destiny. Does a Creator not know fear doesn’t produce relationships worth having? It makes no sense why a loving God would torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. I doubt God is a hellish, sadistic torturer according to the Bible. See here.

 Non-Christians

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? I doubt a loving Creator is an excluder according to one’s religion in the afterlife. See here.

What can we believe about God?

We can’t make God in the Bible’s image. Biblical scholars and laypeople who respect the authority of Scriptures don’t agree on moral issues such as gays, women, hell, and other religions. It is only intuitive to think a Creator would believe and love others how we were seemingly created to love others. Human and God’s perfection is surely the same. How you wished to be loved by your parents is surely how God loves us. We don’t always know what perfect love entails, but it seems we ought to continually search beliefs that lead to loving others how we wished to be loved if in their shoes. It is better to question than be wrong!

 

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

I didn’t leave God. I left misrepresentations of what God was claimed to be like. An unloving God isn’t worth believing in. I was turning out to be a better lover than God, and I am a sucky lover.

Predestination was being taught in my early twenties. Does God actually choose (elect) some to go to heaven and the rest go to Hell? A loving God couldn’t be prejudice!

I struggled being taught women had to be more submissive to men than men to women. What a set up for abuse. Then, I got married to a woman who didn’t need a go-between with her and God, and she didn’t need any man making final decisions when there was an impasse. God couldn’t be a sexist?

Then I had kids. I had always been taught spanking was biblical. This hothead didn’t need permission to hit a child rather than being creative with those little boggers. We never spanked our children and none ended up in prison. You would as proud of them and their partners as I am.

Hell NO! 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. Why I Doubt Hell Is Real! God couldn’t be a hellish/sadistic torturer!

It makes no sense to me why God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can. Just ask straights or gays.  God couldn’t be a homophobe!

The Bible couldn’t be about saving people from a non-existing Hell. Jesus didn’t try to get people to say a magical prayer or confess certain beliefs to escape Hell. Jesus challenged us to look out for the interests of others than just our own. See here. 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 be a xenophobe!

Finally, I let go of the idea that God controlled or always approved writers’ thoughts and words to form a book we call the Bible. Sometimes the writers got God right; sometimes the writers may have gotten God wrong. Don’t we all. Some of the above views of God could only come from a supposed every-word inspired, Book. At least don’t claim your interpretations are inspired also.

I became convinced there are certain representations of God that must be true if loving. See here.  I don’t claim certainty because God hasn’t spoken to me audibly or visibly, but I got a strong hunch many beliefs about God I was taught in Christianity are suspect.

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By Mike Edwards

This is a longer Post. Feel free to read sections below that interest more. I will make each section as brief as possible. You can go Here for more Posts on the Bible. I sat down to write a book on the Bible and decided instead to summarize my main thoughts in hopes it may lead to civil, fruitful discussions with others and ultimately to less judgmental actions.   

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 biblical writers always had. One can still be a devoted God-follower though they don’t believe God inspired every word in the Bible. God may have intended the Bible simply to be viewed as recorded experiences of a nation’s beginnings with God culminating with the life of Jesus. God didn’t necessarily intend for the Bible to not be questioned. Not reading the Bible with an open mind has led to sick minds carrying out immoral acts in God’s name contrary to common moral sense.

Does God ever control human cognitions that would guarantee an inspired Book?

The presence of so much evil in this world, contrary to God’s wishes, suggests that God seeks to influence than dictate beliefs. An uncontrolling God cannot guarantee a perfect Book, but God can enter our world with the communications means available to help reflect on what God is really like. God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t support God performing a lobotomy on biblical writers or editors and controlling the canon process. The Catholic Bible has seven additional books in the Old Testament than the Protestant Bible. We can’t be certain our books of the Bible are the ones God intended to convey truth. There may be other books excluded that convey truth about God.

It is circular logic to suggest the Bible is infallible or inspired by God because biblical writers make such a claim. No one can prove that the biblical writers always understood God perfectly. They may have grown in their understanding over time. It is perfectly normal to think that when the Bible records “God said,” it was the writer’s impressions of God. Writers didn’t claim they were always hearing an audible voice. When the words infallible or inspired are used about a Book, many assume the words penned by the writers either came from God or have God’s approval. I doubt many things said about God in the Bible are true. See here.

Even if the Bible was inspired by God, we can never say “The Bible says…”

One may believe the biblical writers/editors always understood God perfectly, but the Bible as literature requires interpretation of a writer’s meaning and the writer isn’t around to ask what they meant. No Book can be proven to be supernaturally controlled, much less be perfectly interpreted. Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures interpret differently what God thinks about critical matters such as divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, and the afterlife.

Do you doubt a loving God would favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face? See here. Isn’t it shocking one country only recently loosen restrictions on women’s ability to travel without male guardian permission? Do you doubt God condemn gays when gays can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can, and they have to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility? See  here.  Do you doubt a loving God tortures anyone forever, when humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies? See here.  Many biblical scholars that have a deep respect for Scriptures have the same doubts.

Assuming the Bible is inspired leads down dangerous, slippery slopes. 

People often abandon common moral decency because of a supposed inspired Book. Inspired Books, as opposed to possibly fallible Books, has led down the slippery slope of justifying one’s interpretation as the Word of God. Many fail to acknowledge literature requires interpretation, and their interpretation may be wrong. Was God really the kind of Warrior described in the Old Testament? Since we are to emulate God, war is often justified in the name of God and justice. War may be necessary at times, but don’t hide behind the Bible as your only justification.

Only terrorists, because they don’t question a Book, believe a good God encourages beheading for unbelief. Common moral sense is demonized! Terrorists or extremists seldom admit all believers don’t interpret the Koran or the Bible the same. Terrorists aren’t the only ones who don’t question if God inspired the writer’s thought or if their interpretations are correct. It is seldom admitted that biblical scholars, who believe in the authority of Scriptures, do not agree on God’s views toward non-Christians which impacts billions of lives. 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? We must be guided by love, not just a Book!

So, how can we know what God is like?

If God exists and wants us to know Her, God may have provided other ways. After all, the majority of people born into this world from the beginning of time never had a Bible or had heard of Jesus. Even the Bible claims we best know God through the influence of God’s Spirit than the written word. Universal moral outrage toward murder, stealing, lying, etc. hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. It is universally known how to love others – like we want to be loved! Moral intuitions are fallible but at least they should join the party of fallible interpretations for civil discussions. 

The main way to understand God’s love is to compare to human love. This is why many claim God is a mystery because their interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. It is often said the central message taught by the Bible is clear and the rest is nit-picking. Not true! We don’t agree what God thinks according to the Bible about women, gays, divorce, hell, etc. We may not always know what perfect love is, but surely God’s love and perfect human love are one and the same.

Does uncertainty make God a hidden, unloving God?

Let’s dispel the myth that anything goes when we can’t claim certainty. Who doesn’t know physical or sexual abuse is evil? 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. Good thing there is no magic book to definitively tell us what God is like. We would just use it as a club to beat people into believing.

Certainty about God has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, denying women, condemning gays, and other atrocities in the name of God. Open-minded uncertainty rather than “supposed” certainty could go a long way to healing national and personal relationships! Imagine if all marriages adopted this attitude. God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. The road traveled of learning, reflecting, and non-coerced choices may best lead to lasting convictions. Moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Amoral decisions are open. Maybe God speaks to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!

Read the Bible in a creative and fun away! 

Have fun discerning the moral of the story regarding the Tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden since so many interpretations exist. Was God warning us to keep out of God’s business since we can’t understand God? Was God trying to protect us by encouraging trusting God’s way than our own ways sometimes? Those not growing up in church don’t understand all the fuss. Who thinks literature subject to interpretation should be read so dogmatically? Read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love rather than with blind obedience.  Discern a takeaway how to be more the person you deep down desire to be. That may be God’s Spirit talking to you.

It matters what you think God is like!

God is accused of being many things because of the Bible: sexist, homophobe, controlling lover, hellish sadist, hothead, egomaniac, etc. Most are convinced an unselfish than selfish life lived is a better legacy. What I believe is morally true about God intuitively is a far better version of God than what many claim according to the Bible. Most of us are decent people to begin with. Personally though, I am a better partner, father, and friend than I would be because of the insights, encouragement, and forgiveness that I sense from my Creator when reading the Bible. A right view of God may be the help our world needs in loving others like we want to be loved.

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By Mike Edwards

I don’t fully understand why I enjoy reading, discussing, and writing about God. I witnessed hypocrisy growing up but stayed with God. It isn’t because I’m more moral. Many seek to live a honorable life but God’s help isn’t sought in their journey. Depending on God or not depending on God doesn’t prove one has a character flaw. Why might some inclined toward more of a connection with God not bother? I am bias such a relationship can help us be more the kind of person we deep down desire to be.

The Bible may be a major reason many aren’t into God.

Many don’t accept the God of the Bible for good reason. In fact, many God-followers wouldn’t claim certain views toward gays or women if they didn’t believe the Bible requires such beliefs. Does it? See here. The Bible should be read literately rather than literally. Genesis is often claimed to be a scientific understanding of beginnings though not the writers’ intentions. People don’t need to lose their faith because they believe in evolution or that Adam was a representative rather than literally the first human. 

Evil and God just don’t mix despite the freedom argument.

God’s inactiveness with so much evil in the world may be the main reason many are atheists. Why doesn’t a supposedly all-powerful God intervene more? How is God allowing evil any different than a parent who stands by and watches this child being sexually abused? Maybe God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. Divine love limits divine power. Maybe God can only stop evil with the help of others freely helping. See God Can’t by Thomas Oord.

Gays and Women! 

Many only hold their views toward gays or women because a Book inspired by God supposedly condemns gays or restricts roles based on gender than gifts. Why would a gay person believe in a God who supposedly condemn them for sexual choices they no more choose than straights? How could a loving God favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face? Why believe in a God who restricts women though obviously gifted?

Hell is another good reason to reject God!

No one would believe God created a place such as Hell unless a Book on God supposedly claims so. Why would God 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. Turns out the Bible doesn’t teach such a place exist. See Here.

Friends with a hidden agenda is a turn-off.    

It is wrong to engage in friendships for the purpose of converting them to your beliefs without advising upfront this is your agenda. We should engage in relationships both to love and be loved. Discussions about God best come up naturally. The sinner’s prayer to avoid Hell isn’t in the Bible. When Jesus interacted with a woman caught in adultery, He first stopped the crowd’s stoning attempts. Then, Jesus simply told the woman “go now, and leave your life of sin” (John 8). Pretty good advice. Didn’t Jesus have a better evangelical spiel in case He never saw the woman again? 

Hypocrisy can be a stumbling block.

The truth is that we all are hypocrites. What human being lives up to the standards they know in their heart are honorable? But it is reasonable to expect those who talk about God to act godly. Baptists, Methodists, Protestants, Catholics, etc. fight over their different creeds, yet all supposedly believe in the same message of loving your neighbor as yourself. Some believe Paul called out gays (I Cor. 6:9-10), but they ignore Paul confronting greed in the same breath. Try living a day without greed before judging. Why would one consider God if god-folks don’t walk the talk?

Do you wish to be more focused on being spiritual?  

Focusing on being a better person physically or spiritually does take initiative rather than being passive. But we all are human. I will be more judgmental when I am where I want to be with my physical health goals. Focusing on being more spiritual with God’s help may though be a lot easier if God-followers didn’t put unnecessary barriers in the path of those seeking.

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by Jim Gordon

I remember when I was a little boy waking up in the middle of the night and calling out in the dark to my mom. I could not see her but I knew she was there. If I went by sight, I would never have called out to her and I would not have received the help I wanted.

The same with God, we cannot see Him but we know He is there through faith. We must realize that we live by faith or we will never call out to Him.

In certain ways, I see all people as people of faith. That is not saying that all people have faith in God but all have faith. Some people have faith in science, some in various religions, some in humanity and others have faith in God.

God loves each one of us no matter what we put our faith in. He calls us to himself, he accepts us and loves us.

None of us can prove there is a God or that there is not a God. None of us can prove heaven or hell. Many things in which we believe in this life are all by faith.

Just as it is by faith that we flip a light switch and expect the lights to come on, or sit on a chair and expect it to hold us. It is by faith we accept God and know He is there to listen and watch over us.

Do not worry about trying to prove God to everyone. Live your life daily by faith in God. Allow Him to live through you to touch others with love and, in his way and time, prove himself to you.

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By Mike Edwards

The traditional understanding of Hell isn’t in the Bible. God isn’t a sadistic torturer who has to be appeased by killing their child? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place to torture their enemies after death. Hell was invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience. Such fear only causes confusion, pisses you off, or leads to hiding stuff. What really is God’s good news?

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

Gehenna, the Greek word translated as Hell in the New Testament, was the name of a real valley near Jerusalem with a history of terrible slaughter. Gehenna is best translated Gehenna just as Mount Everest is best translated Mount Everest. 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.

Is God saving us from earth to get into Heaven?

The word “heaven” appears the most in the Gospel of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a place to go after life on earth. Jesus sought to bring 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). Paul mentions Heaven twice in Romans, yet 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: “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 wants to save us not from God but from ourselves.

God hurts because we are hurting ourselves and those around us. God seeks to encourage us to pursue heavenly than worldly ways. God seeks to empower us to be the unselfish people we deep down desire to be. This was the message Jesus was willing to die, rather than save Himself, to inspire us seeking God’s help in radically loving others. As God loves us, Jesus encouraged mercy, forgiveness, and going the extra mile in our relationships. Jesus sought changes of the heart for the good of the world. Loving God can empower loving others to the fullest.

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