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by Mike Edwards

I am close to my grown kids and still living by the way, but they don’t always seek out in-person advice. But are we always knocking down doors to get in-person advice about life decisions? Lasting convictions often are best caught not taught. We all seem to value space. The road traveled of learning and reflecting in our own time, without any direct pressure, may best lead to lasting convictions. Influence, not direct communication, may often be the preferred and best megaphone. 

Does God have to be visible to influence? 

It is true God is never visibly present in our lives, but then neither are our parents when they pass away. If we were close to our parents, we still benefit from their wisdom by their influence. Could it be loving on God’s part to allow human parents to guide us in the beginning, rather than a visible God, who we may be overwhelmed by and not able to relate to as much? God’s or a parent’s presence or voice doesn’t always have to be visible or audible to be the most powerful. The example a parent sets, and our mental image of God, can be a guiding force.

God may communicate more than given credit for.

Moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Universal moral outrage over murder, lying, stealing, etc. and an inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Criminals don’t defend but deny their actions. It is only natural to think a Creator would love us in the same way we wished to be loved by our parents. God has revealed themselves. God’s image is a perfect, loving Parent!

We know that murder or adultery is wrong. What about less obvious decisions? God can’t always give us answers to life’s complications even if visibly present. Should we go through with divorce or give our partner another chance? Is our partner’s promise to change and asking for forgiveness one more time sincere or not? Many issues don’t have clear answers but involve making the wisest decision we know at the time. We or God can’t peer into the future to know how things turn out.

God, even if in person, can’t advise about future outcomes. 

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

Is it God’s fault the Bible isn’t clearer?

Interpretation is still required even if God dictated the Bible. It is often said we best know God according to “biblical truths.” The truth is contrary biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here.   What we do with the communication we have, then lack of communication, may be the bigger challenge. Open discussions can steer us away from demanding “supposed truths.” Jesus had a 24-7 relationship with twelve men, yet they struggled to believe His words in person. Jesus’ influence seemed greater after He left this world.

God may speak to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!

God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to consuming guilt or fearful obligations to obey. When parents push their agendas even if in their child’s best interest, they may resent or rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. God’s interference and presence might prevent a superior world from emerging as a result of limiting the moral development and improvement of free creatures to make independent choices. Finally, relationships that require more faith and trust due to the unknown may reach great heights. Is our love in relationships greater when we have to trust than know for certain what the future holds together?  

 

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

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

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

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

God may not be as hidden as it seems.

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

Maybe God doesn’t have to speak to influence. 

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

At least God isn’t hiding an unknown future. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

God can still love us despite being hidden.  

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

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