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Posts Tagged ‘inspired’

These last few weeks I have posted why I believe it is best to assume the entire Bible is not inspired by God. I addressed several questions one might raise if arguing the Bible isn’t inspired. See here.  I know many readers may disagree. I am interested in your feedback. See my email address below. If you believe it is best to assume the Bible is inspired by God, how would you answer the below questions. I will respond to your email unless you advise otherwise:

  1. How do you prove that the Bible is inspired? I admit I cannot prove the Bible isn’t inspired
  2. I have stated what may be negative consequences if you assume the Bible is inspired by God such as provoking violence and other evils See here. What are the negative consequences if one assumes the Bible isn’t inspired?
  3. If you think the Bible is inspired by God, how can we know what is “biblical truth” since interpretation is required and we don’t all agree?
  4. If you think parts of the Bible are inspired by God, how can we determine inspired vs uninspired passages?
  5. If you believe the Bible is inspired, how is that different than if we believe God still inspires us today – such as an article, a song, a thought to take action, etc.?
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 Post too long, read the bold subtitle sections of interest

I post often about the Bible. I have written a short Booklet: Rethinking The Bible – Is The Bible Really Inspired By God?  It is natural to assume if God inspired the Bible, God approved all written in the Bible. We must question if the all of the Bible is inspired by God. Claims made about God according to an inspired Bible has keep many from having more of a relationship with God. God may be more like the God you expect!

It is understandable why many avoid reading the Bible. It isn’t easy to relate to cultures thousands of years ago vastly different than ours. It can be concerning that even scholars, who aren’t necessarily chauvinists, interpret certain passages to teach men are the leaders of women. Women don’t need a mediator between them and God! Keep in mind that billions of people have lived and died without any knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. The Bible isn’t necessary to know what a good God is like, but it can be profitable as we read recordings of what God may really be like. It is okay to be skeptical if a reading or interpretation of the Bible makes no rational or relational sense what a loving God would truly be like.

We are better off without a Bible if readers don’t recognize that interpretations are fallible

Even if the Bible was inspired by God, no one can claim they know for sure the author’s intended meaning. We can’t be sure that the writers recorded inspired thoughts from God as opposed to their own perceptions of God. We cannot know for sure that Genesis 1-11 is historical facts or stories intended by the writers to convey theological truths. The reality is much of the Bible is subject to interpretations which obviously are not infallible. Human reasoning is necessary in the interpretation process. Dogmatism only divides not unites.  

We are better off without a Bible if we treat it as a Book of Rules

We all cringe or chuckle at the story when someone was looking for guidance, they opened the Bible and happened upon the verse “then he went and hung himself.” The Bible is not a book to definitively tell others what to do in their circumstances. When Jesus said turn the other cheek, He wouldn’t advise a woman to allow an abusive husband to continue to beat her. Develop a relationship with God, consult people you respect, and let God guide you in making a wise decision in your situation.

We are better off without a Bible if readers don’t guard how they discuss the Book

So many denominations and factions among those who worship the same God is evidence that the Bible is dividing than uniting. Consider one another’s opinion gracefully, as long as they don’t violate the freedom of others, to work out your own convictions with as much consistency as possible. It seems the main beliefs that the Bible speaks out against are immoral beliefs which lead to self-destruction or destruction of others. Jesus taught God seeks to empower us toward a life of doing good and shunning evil in a troubled world. Jesus came to dispel any preconceived notions about God other than God desires a relationship so to help you be the person you deep down want to be. Beliefs, which do not violate the rights of others, are between God and an individual. 

Religions having a representative book can allow different worldviews to be discussed 

All religions have some truth, but written records allow contradictions to be weighed to determine what is the more likely truth about a loving God. But we are better off without the Bible when one does not consider their interpretations possible fallible. We are better off without the Bible when our discussions lead to abusive behaviors toward one another as opposed to opportunities for reflection. We are better off without the Bible when any belief is considered sacred other than self-discovery about God to become a better person so to make a difference in the world.

Many agree that the Bible is chocked full of wisdom

It isn’t always natural to forgive others of certain sins but many partners end up being grateful of God’s influence in their life. Who thinks to talk in parables to go through the backdoor of a resistant soul? Jesus did! Parables enable us to continually think on a subject to try to understand and eventually accept positive applications in one’s life. The Bible is not a book you read once. You can read the Bible over and over and come away with fresh insights for relationships. Today, most only read the New Testament because the older testament is so confusing. With the newer testament shortly after Jesus’ death, Jesus’ message exploded and led to billions of followers.

Read the Bible with a questioning and open spirit 

Not questioning or not reading a Book with an open mind has led to sick and weak minds carrying out immoral acts contrary to common moral sense. Those not growing up in church don’t understand all the fuss. Who thinks literature subject to interpretation should be read so dogmatically? Question interpretations about God that make no moral sense. Don’t read the Bible if it discourages you from loving others like you want to loved. We may be better off without the Bible if a Book replaces our relationship with God and common moral sense. God didn’t necessarily inspire or approve of everything written in the Bible about God. Reading the Bible though encourages questioning and contemplating what a loving God is really like. God has drawn billions to do good and shun evil when reading and reflecting about God.

What Good Is The Bible If Not Inspired By God?

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 post often about the Bible. I have written a short Booklet: Rethinking The Bible – Is The Bible Really Inspired By God?  It is natural to assume if God inspired the Bible, God approved all written in the Bible. We must question if the all of the Bible is inspired by God. Claims made about God according to an inspired Bible has keep many from having more of a relationship with God. God may be more like the God you expect!

If all of the Bible isn’t inspired by God or we don’t know what writings are inspired, can we believe in Jesus of the Bible? Few disagree that Jesus was a real historical person. But the Bible reports of a man Jesus who spoke for God, backing it up with miracles and rising from the dead. Do we have good reason to think that the Bible reports accurately what He said and did? I am convinced attempting to understand Jesus’ words about God helps us to know more what God is like. Please see Gregory Boyd & Paul Eddy, Lord Or Legend, for the below assertions:

  • If Jesus was more myth than reality, why was Jesus written to be the leader He was? The Jews were hoping for and expecting a leader to crush their oppressors, yet Jesus died at the hands of the Romans. Fictional character descriptions usually exceed your expectations.
  • If you are going to make up a movement, why are the leaders described in such flawed terms? One of the twelve disciples betrayed Jesus for a few bucks. Other disciples constantly doubted Jesus while Peter (aka “Upon This Rock…) denied knowing Jesus during tough times. Legends, rather than historical characters, aren’t weak but strong, invincible, heroes.
  • Why was Jesus based on actual current history events as contrived legends are based on events once upon a time, long ago to avoid verification? It was written Jesus was born when Augustus was emperor and crucified when Pilate was governor. Jesus was referred to as James’ brother which could be confirmed at the time of writing (Gal. 1:19). Good Lord, if you are going to claim Jesus came back from the dead you don’t write being seen by 500 witnesses possible living at the time (I Cor. 15:6). Maybe Jesus did resurrect as confirmable by living, talking eyewitnesses.
  • If Jesus didn’t actually live in the first century as a human being, why did the writers record that their readers were being persecuted from the same people that crucified Jesus (I Thess. 2:13-15)? Maybe Jesus lived during the same first century as the readers.
  • Aren’t legends created to reinforce current beliefs? The Jews were very much a one-god people since Old Testaments days, unlike surrounding cultures who worshiped many gods. You don’t make up a person claiming to be God – a second God – since they don’t reinforce current beliefs. Maybe Jesus was real and the writers wished to pen accurately Jesus’ words.
  • Why would writers talked about Jesus’ disdain for rituals, unless Jesus truly spoke how certain practices made a mockery of the message of love? The Jews had many sacred traditions revered for centuries, claiming such rituals were necessary to be accepted by God.
  • When making up stuff you don’t report your leader was crucified, that your hero was rejected by their family, and followers doubted Jesus’ claims including being God in flesh, unless reporting the facts. Jesus simply was not the stuff legends were made up.

Keep in mind most biblical scholars accept that the Gospels – stories about Jesus – were written within 30-50 years of Jesus’ life. Legends do not develop within such a short time, as eyewitnesses can dispute claims made. Historical research can only suggest probabilities not certainties, but the Bible’s historical reliability far surpasses any other ancient literatures.

Don’t use possible wrong interpretations as an excuse to not pursue a relationship with God. You don’t have to believe all the things suggested about Jesus according to one’s interpretation of the Bible. Ask God to help you understand what God is truly like and how you can have a relationship. Any loving parent would salivate if a grown child made such a request. Why wouldn’t God? Consider what aspects about God you believe are true according to your understanding of what Jesus proclaims, that might inspire you in your desires to live a more loving life toward others. I can think of no greater legacy. If skeptical about God, what do you have to lose? See here.

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

It is claimed if the Bible isn’t inspired, then we can’t know God. But the Bible can’t be the authoritative guide about God, because we disagree what it says for major moral issues. Making God in the Bible’s image is complicated. Universal moral outrage concerning murder, sexual abuse, etc. hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know we ought to love others as we want to be loved. The idea that a loving God approves of beheading people for their beliefs can only arise from the notion that a Book is inspired by God thus speaks for God.

We can best know God through our moral intuitions

It is only intuitive that a Creator loves the ways their creations ought to love one another. Godly love and perfect human love are surely one and the same. What is perfect love? Every reasonable human being respects the golden rule in relationships. We were born to use our moral sense. Beliefs that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss, because they are contrary to our moral intuitions of perfection. We just know intuitively that we were created to love one another as our Creator loves us – perfectly.

Bible-believing Christians even suggest trusting your moral intuitions

Even those who claim God is a mystery believe in judging God according to moral human intuitions. Many argue God is a mystery because their interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. (I think it’s crazy talk to say God can do bad but then call God good). Such interpreters, who would agree humans were created in God’s image, are using their moral intuitions to imply God and human love are the same.

We can make God in the image of a perfect human lover 

Most agree only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we are clueless about perfect love. Even the Bible implies we can understand God’s love because perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). 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. Problems often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our understanding from an inspired Book. 

An analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities in understanding God. The Bible refers to God as our Heavenly Father/Parent. God is a Spirit so God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for we cannot be in all places at one time. 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!

Don’t make God in a “male’s” image 

We don’t think of God having more of the male than female anatomy. Both male and female best describe God’s image (Genesis 1:26). God is described as a woman in childbirth (Isaiah 42:14), or “a great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors.” (Ezek 17:3) Clearly, God is neither male, female, nor an eagle in terms of gender or form.  The gods of the nations in biblical times were described as either male or female; the Jews did not speculate about the gender of God. The reason for more male references is the patriarchal cultures writers lived in.

We still must be discerning making God in Jesus’ image 

It is argued, because of the challenges understanding God and violence in the Old Testament, that Jesus is the final word in understanding God. Jesus claimed to be God and His moral legacy seems undeniable. But God-followers don’t always agree what Jesus taught because of transmission, translation, and interpretation. Many disagree what Jesus taught about divorce which impacts millions of marriages. Turning the other cheek is interpreted to claim Jesus never advocated violence, but the possible literal translation of Mt. 5:39 is “do not resist by evil means.” Does Jesus agree violence is never desired but may be necessary sometimes? The NT is no different than reading the OT since we could be wrong what Jesus would teach. It can’t be avoided using common moral sense even when reading the New Testament and what Jesus taught.

What is God really like according to perfect, human moral sense? 

I will list only a few beliefs that make no moral sense to me. For a full railing see here.

  • God can’t be a hellish sadist. Such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. The only reason to believe Hell exist is because of some book, but I doubt the traditional understanding of Hell exist in the Bible. See here.
  • God can’t be a religion excluder. 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. 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 can’t be a homophobe. 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, aren’t you naturally attracted to looking at naked women than men? Ask gays their attractions! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility?
  • God can’t be a sexist. God wouldn’t put men in leadership position over women which has enabled dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men. The Bible can be interpreted to restrict roles or endorse roles according to gifts not gender. Shouldn’t the most qualified or gifted, whether male or female, be appointed CEO, preacher, or priest? 

Mental images of God shape our relationship with God and how followers treat others. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. Uncertainty is not always a bad thing and can lead to acting more loving. I will address the issue of uncertainty in a upcoming post in this series. Certain laws are just common, moral sense. Live by understandings of God that you sense are true of a loving God. 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

If Post too long, read the bold subtitle sections of interest

I post often about the Bible. I have written a short Booklet: Rethinking The Bible – Is The Bible Really Inspired By God?  It is natural to assume if God inspired the Bible, God approved all written in the Bible. We must question if the all of the Bible is inspired by God. Claims made about God according to an inspired Bible has keep many from having more of a relationship with God. God may be more like the God you expect!

Since we can’t prove God inspired the Bible or not, I believe it is best to assume God didn’t inspire all of the Bible. It’s natural to assume God’s inspiration means God’s approval. But even if God did somehow magically control the thoughts and words of the writers, literature is still subject to interpretation. It is common for biblical scholars to have different interpretations of the same passages. Failure to recognize differences can lead to false accusations against God.

An inspired Bible leads down the slippery slope toward inspired interpretations

Many proclaim “The Bible teaches” without adding “according to my understanding.” When one fails to acknowledge their interpretation could be wrong, this can lead to forcing personal convictions wrongly on others in God’s name. The Bible can’t be an authoritative guide about God because we disagree what it says regarding gays, women’s roles, Hell, etc. The truth is we can’t prove our interpretations are correct or that biblical writers always understood God perfectly. The possibility that the Bible isn’t entirely inspired by God avoids the slippery slope toward supposed inspired interpretations. A fallible Book, rather than an infallible Book, encourages evaluating the most likely view of a loving God.

An inspired Bible leads to condoning violence 

I mentioned that biblical writers claim God ordered certain atrocities in war (I Sam 15:3).  Did God really inspire such thoughts? Did God really approve a wife’s hand being cut off when grabbing another man’s genitals (Deut 25:12)? Not questioning supposed inspired portrayals of God has led to killing infidels in the name of God and justifying wars. Extremists may argue that we should seek to imitate a perfect, loving God. If certain violence is good for God according to one’s interpretation or assumptions about a Book, it must be good now for humans. When you regard the Bible as the revealed Word of God and assumed inspired by God, this can more likely lead to violence in God’s name.

An inspired Bible leads to condemning women and gays

It is misleading to claim we can rely on “biblical truths.” Many claim the Bible says that women can’t fulfill the same roles as men in the worship or home setting because of the Apostle Paul’s teaching. Yet it can also be defended that Paul, a main writer of the New Testament, didn’t think roles should be chosen based on gender than gifts. See here. No one can claim their biblical view of God concerning women’s roles is definitive. It may also surprise some scholars who believe in the inspiration of Scriptures don’t agree that a literal Hell is a reality in the Bible.

Supposed certainty according to the Bible has led to condemning gays, though biblical scholars don’t agree the Bible condemns same-gender loving relationships. See here.  How dangerous can an inspired Book be? Let’s say all agreed on an interpretation of a Book’s passage on gays. An inspired Book assumes the biblical writers always portrayed God perfectly. We don’t know that.  Religions, because of an inspired Book, have defended condemning or even killing homosexuals in God’s name.

An inspired Bible leads to the destruction of souls and families in the name of God 

Ever moral fiber in a parent’s body doesn’t wish to condemn their child for feelings they say they can no more control toward those of the same sex than heterosexuals can control their feelings toward the opposite sex. Biblical passages that condemn homosexuality are highly debatable which should lead us to listen to our moral senses. God surely supports all loving, consensual, caring relationships to avoid heart-break. Family members and friends no longer need to be broken-hearted by thinking their devotion to God requires them to reject their loved ones. Why would anyone choose to be gay based on the condemnation and bigotry they face? It just isn’t possible to be told “I love you but I hate your sin” and not feel unloved and rejected. We must be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices?

An inspired Bible leads to rejecting God for the wrong reasons

Church-goers gain most of their understanding of God from the Bible. Many non-going church people are impacted by what others claim about God according to the Bible. Try telling people with a straight face a perfect moral God tortures forever after death for beliefs held while a short time here on earth. What many assume of a good God doesn’t always match what the Bible says! Many insist the Bible can’t support evolution. If one believes evolution is a possibility, this forces them to reject the Bible and often God goes with that. Maybe Genesis isn’t meant to be a historical or scientific rendering of creation but written to illustrate there was a Creator.

Would you naturally assume if not for your understanding of a Book:

  • God condemns gays though gays no more choose to be gay than straights choose to be straight
  • God prohibits women serving as pastors or priests though we all know many women that are a lot smarter and better leaders than a whole lot of men
  • God judges based on religion when the religion the majority adhere to depends where born

An inspired Bible leads to Christian hypocrisy 

One would think God followers wouldn’t be so judgmental. Jesus hung out with all kinds of people who didn’t share His beliefs. Jesus’ ire was saved for religious leaders mispresenting God. Christians who follow Jesus’ teaching often judge more than love one another. Why isn’t a Following who claims the importance of loving others as themselves having more of an impact on our culture? It is hard to make a big impact in the world alone. A Movement though can! But more churches are forming than uniting because of differences in interpretations and claiming certainty.

What first steps can we take to show true love?  

Extremists hide behind a supposed infallible Book. Certain absolutes should be obvious to all such as beheading people for unbelief. A God torturing many forever in Hell seems extremist to many of us. Begin conversations looking for how you agree. Stop claiming your views are biblically superior. 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. Don’t assume the Bible is inspired by God. Christians acting loving toward one another could change the world.

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 Post too long, read the bold subtitle sections of interest

I post often about the Bible. I have written a short Booklet: Rethinking The Bible – Is The Bible Really Inspired By God?  It is natural to assume if God inspired the Bible, God approved all written in the Bible. We must question if the all of the Bible is inspired by God. Claims made about God according to an inspired Bible has keep many from having more of a relationship with God. God may be more like the God you expect!

I am not going to address how the early church in the first few centuries understood what was meant by Scriptures being inspired. I think more important is to address what comes to mind today when one hears claims that the Bible was inspired by God. I am convinced when referring to the Bible as inspired, authoritative, infallible, or God-breathed, people naturally think God approves or agrees with all written in the Bible about God. Since it isn’t possible to prove that God somehow controlled all writings about God, are there good reasons to consider not all of the Bible was inspired by God?

Gregory Boyd’s twist on Inspiration

Boyd wrote a book about the Bible Inspired Imperfection. I can’t carry Boyd’s water, so please read his book. The title of the Book suggests Boyd feels it’s important to hold onto that God inspired the Bible. Many assume we can’t know God if the Bible isn’t inspired. Boyd seems to suggest God somehow allowed wrong views written about God so we might better see ultimate perfection in the person of Christ at the Cross. Numerous passages in the Old Testament God ordered Israel to commit atrocities (“Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys” (I Sam 15:3). Did God really approve/inspire/have anything to do with such accusations against God to better reveal Jesus? Implying God somehow inspired wrong views about God is just plain confusing. 

Can God really control the writings of any Book?

There is no evidence the Bible was dictated by God or dropped from heaven. A written recording of God’s beginnings with the Israelites culminating in the life of Jesus, regardless of inspiration, can still be valuable so we might question and contemplate what a loving God is really like. God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t support God controlling mental impressions of the biblical writers or performing a lobotomy. If God is perfect, God can no more be controlling than manipulative.

Can we really defend the Bible is somehow inspired by God? 

The most common defense for arguing the Bible is inspired is to claim the biblical writers made such a claim. Such logic would not lead those same people to accept the Quran or any book being inspired because it claims to be. We can’t prove God controlled the writings of the writers to always portray God accurately. It is just as likely that the Bible is uncontrolled writings that can encourage contemplating what a loving God is really like. See below concerning the claim that the Bible is “God-breathed.”

More reasons to doubt or question that God inspired the Bible

The list of contradictions may be trivial but are sizable. Did God incite David to take a census of Israel (2 Sam 24:10), or did Satan incite David (I Chron 21:1)? Moral challenges are not so trivial. Did God really inspire acts or language of genocide? I mentioned I Samuel 15:3 claims God told Israel to kill men, women, children, infants, and animals. Numerous passages in the Old Testament advocate violence in God’s name. Would a loving God really approve of such violence, or approve certain laws according to Moses to burn alive sexual offenders (Lev 20:14 21:9)? In my next essay I will suggest an inspired view of the Bible can lead to justifying violence, wrongly condemning people such as gays in God’s name, destroying family relationships, etc.

Besides, the Bible has a complicated history

We don’t have the original autographs. If we believe the Bible we hold is inspired by God, we have to logically insist God controlled the copying or editorial process in the beginning. Also, translation is hardly an exact science. Certain Greek or Hebrew words are translated as Hell over 50 times in the King James version. The NIV uses the word hell 14 times. Some translations don’t use the word hell once. The history of the canon’s development is complicated. The formation of the Old Testament was a long, slow development over centuries. Did God inspire that process? The truth is we can’t know if we have the books of the Bible God intended to convey truth, or there are other books that have been excluded to convey truth about God.

What about when the Bible records “God said”?   

Biblical writers didn’t typically claim audible God-speak. “God said” though is recorded hundreds of times in the Bible, but this may be a figure of speech expressing inner impressions about God. Such impressions could be right or wrong. Writers/editors of the Bible weren’t lying about their understandings of God. Exodus 20: 1-17 says “all these words” were spoken to Moses from God regarding the 10 commandments. The 10 commandments are repeated again in Deuteronomy 5:6-18 but with slight word variation. Shouldn’t both passages be the same verbatim?

Karen Keen in Scripture, Ethics, And Same-Sex Relationships points out that a scribe added sentences to the oldest manuscript we know of on Isaiah 2: 9-11. Our current Bibles read (The italicized words added to the original): “So people will be brought low and everyone humbled— do not forgive them. Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from the fearful presence of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty! The eyes of the arrogant will be humble and human pride brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (p. 59, 126). Later scribes intensified God’s anger which may or may not best portray God’s true nature. See here for additional examples.

What about the Bible claiming to be God-breathe?

2 Tim 3:16-17 is the only time Scriptures uses the Greek word “theopneustos” which literally means God-breathed: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so the servant of God may be equipped for good works.”

  • God-breathed can also be interpreted literally as God-spirited. But the word Scripture isn’t in the original. The Greek word translated as Scripture is “graphis” or writings and isn’t referring necessarily to just the Bible as we know it. This passage can be declaring: God’s Spirit can use all writings (graphis) including Scripture, whether having right or wrong views of God, to equip us for good works.
  • Scripture “writings” in this passage could only be referring to OT writings because NT writings weren’t known. The final OT and NT canon wasn’t decided on for centuries.
  • Jesus when leaving this earth said His Spirit, not some Book, would guide us in truth (Jn 14:16-17; 16:13). Jesus even said the Scriptures didn’t contain all that Jesus said or did: “Jesus did many other things as well. If everyone one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have enough room for the books that would be written.” (Jn 21:25).

In summary, God can speak to us through the Scriptures we have. God can also speak to us through other writings, even possible mediums such as music, so we can be equipped for good works.  I have written elsewhere how God’s Spirit may guide us.  See here.

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

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

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

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 interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different. When the Bible is said to be infallible or inspired by God, most assume every word penned comes from God. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

The infallibility of the Bible is a non-starter.  

We don’t have the original manuscripts. If infallibility was critical, why didn’t God find a way to preserve the original texts if God controlled the writers’ thoughts. The most common defense for arguing the Bible is inspired is to claim the biblical writers made such a claim. Such logic would not lead those same people to accept the Quran being infallible because it claims to be. God didn’t necessarily have in mind that recordings wouldn’t be questioned. Another view of the Bible is accepting as a document recording experiences of beginnings with God and Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other documents. Such writings can keep us talking and reflecting what God is really like.

Did God really inspire genocide or marrying one’s rapist?  

Did God really approve a woman being required to marry her rapist. Laws proclaimed by Moses supposedly came from God. Deut. 22: 28-29 says: If a man happens to meet a virgin…and rapes her…He must marry the young women, for he has violated her. The idea of a woman ever having to marry her rapist as a good thing hardly inspires many about God. I am convinced only humans thought this was a good law at that time, not God.

Did God really inspire acts or language of genocide? I Samuel 15:3 says God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Only evil dictators approve of such actions or talk during war. Hundreds of passages in the Old Testament advocate violence in God’s name. It isn’t irrational to ask if a good God would inspire or approve such thoughts or language.

An inspired Book leads down the slippery slope of inspired interpretations.

Most admit literature requires interpretation, thus why biblical scholars often disagree about the meaning of the same passage. It is seldom voiced one’s view about God according to their interpretation could be wrong. Such an admission would encourage different views standing side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach, rather than forcing opinions on others in the name of God.

An inspired Book has led to justifying violence in the name of God.

The possibility of an infallible or inspired Book has led down the slippery slope of assuming God’s views on morality only come from a Book such as the Bible or Koran.  Not questioning if writers always understood God perfectly has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities in the name of God. Interpretations must be questioned by our moral consciences.

An inspired Book leads to declaring God mysterious, thus less knowable or relatable.

God is said to be a mystery beyond human comprehension because one’s interpretation clashes with common human moral sense. When assuming the writers understood God perfectly, we often search for ways to rationalize our interpretations. How can one understand a God who created us to know and hate evil, if their evil in our eyes is supposedly good sometimes?

People may be rejecting God for the wrong reasons.

Two plausible interpretations exist on most major issues when speaking of God’s character. Many defend that the Bible teaches that God proclaims women cannot be in authority over men in roles such as a priest or pastor. Women can rightly feel disrespected and confused why a supposedly loving God would 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. People condemn gays, despite their heart saying otherwise, because God supposedly rejects same gender loving relationships according to a Book.

It is dangerous to value right beliefs or interpretations at the expense of loving others.

Those not growing up in church don’t understand all the fuss. Who thinks literature subject to interpretation should be read so dogmatically? A fallible Book can lead to listening to different opinions as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating through our moral senses how we ought to treat others. The Bible wouldn’t be God’s main communication anyway, because the majority born into this world never had a copy.

Many Christians are rightly accused to be judgmental when they in the name of God condemn gays, prohibits women from serving as pastors or priests, and judge others based on religion when the religion the majority adhere to depends where born. Their heart often tells them differently. There is likely more harm done when declaring certainty than uncertainty about God. It prevents conversations looking for areas we agree, respecting the opinions or others, and committing to growing in understanding.

Dangers In Not Questioning But Assuming The Bible Is Entirely Inspired By God

 

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

 

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Mike Edwards

I have written ad nauseum lately on Rethinking the Bible. I recently wrote on objections if the Bible is fallible, but writers are always after a perfect document on a subject considered critical. Statements about God according to the Bible may be one main reason spiritually-open people don’t pursue God further. If the traditional understanding of Hell isn’t true according to the Bible, that is a big deal! When argued the writers in the Bible didn’t always understand thus portray God perfectly, questions are raised such as how can we know God if not through the Bible.

We have every right to question if God inspired all of the Bible.

I Samuel 15:3 says God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” There are hundreds of passages in the Old Testament advocating violence in God’s name. Would a good God really approve of a wife having her hand cut off when grabbing another’s man genitals protecting her husband (Deut. 25:11-12)? It is only rational to ask if a good God would inspire such thoughts.

It is circular logic to suggest the Bible is infallible or inspired because biblical writers make such a claim. Many do not accept the Quran being infallible because it claims to be. Biblical writers weren’t saying they always heard an audible voice when penning “God said.” God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t suggest God performed a lobotomy on biblical writers’ impressions of God. Keep in mind literature always requires interpretation and scholars and laypeople disagree on meaning of the same passages. The reality of disagreement makes certainty an impossibility whether you consider all of the Bible inspired or not.

It is said we can’t know God if not through the Bible.

Did billions born into this world who never had a Bible or heard of Jesus know nothing about their Creator? Even the Bible claims we best know God through God’s spirit than the written word. Universal moral outrage hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Most oppose murder, abuse, thievery, etc. whether believing in God or not. We just know we ought to treat others like we want to be treated. We can know God if truly loving!

It is said God would not allow so much uncertainty because of the Bible?  

Jesus when leaving this earth said His Spirit, not some Book, would guide us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem worried that Truth always requires discernment. Supposed certainty in God’s name, though different interpretations exist, has been the main reason some condemn gays or oppose women entering the priesthood. Certainty has led to slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities in God’s name. Open-minded uncertainty doesn’t have to lead to chaos but new understandings and loving solutions.

God supposedly spoke directly to Moses (Ex. 20) to keep the Sabbath as one of the Ten Commandments, but such communication was taken to mean not helping an injured soul on the Sabbath. God’s overpowering presence in our lives may only lead to consuming guilt or fearful obligations to obey. There may be humane justifications for God not revealing themselves more openly. Learning, reflecting, and freely choosing convictions over time, as opposed to being told what to do, may more lead to life-changing choices.

It is said we are worse off with a fallible than infallible Book.

Those not growing up in church don’t understand all the fuse. Who thinks literature subject to interpretation should be read so dogmatically? When one fails to acknowledge their interpretation could be wrong, this can lead to forcing personal convictions on others in God’s name. A fallible Book can lead to listening to different opinions as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating through our moral senses how we ought to treat others.

It is said we have no right to question an almighty God.

Many reject God because of what a supposed infallible Bible says about God. An infallible or inspired view of Scriptures has led down the slippery slope of assuming interpretations are inspired. The “mystery card” is often played because common moral sense can’t understand how a good God would be a part of atrocities in the Bible. God didn’t reprimand Job for questioning God. Why seek to understand God if God is declared to be unintelligible or a mystery? God  in the Book of Job seems to simply defend that God is not unjust or uncaring just because God doesn’t constantly control undeserved evil or suffering in a free world. It’s complicated!

It is said why read the Bible if the writers misunderstood God.

The Bible records beginnings with God culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other documents. Don’t read the Bible if it discourages you from loving others like you want to loved. We may be better off without the Bible if a Book replaces our relationship with God and common moral sense. Read the Bible reflectively with an open-mind motivated by love. God has drawn billions to do good and shun evil when talking about God.

Keep in mind most biblical scholars accept that the Gospels – stories about Jesus – were written within 30-50 years of Jesus’ life. Legends do not develop within such a short time, as eyewitnesses can dispute claims made. Historical research can only suggest probabilities not certainties, but the Bible’s historical reliability far surpasses any other ancient literatures. When making up stuff you don’t report your leader was crucified, that your hero was rejected by their family, and followers doubted Jesus’ claims including being God in flesh – unless you are reporting the facts. Jesus simply was not the stuff legends were made up.  See here

Read the Bible with an open-mind inspired by love. 

Don’t check your moral conscience at the door as you consider what a loving God is really like. Unquestioning obedience has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, condemning gays, and other atrocities in the name of God. God didn’t necessarily intend the Bible to be read with blind obedience. Jesus didn’t always answer questions directly but spoke about our hearts. Can you imagine a world where all looked out for the interests of others and not just themselves when dealing with difficulties?

For further elaboration seehttp://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/rethinking-the-bible/

 

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