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By Mike Edwards

It is not simple to decide what to believe about God. Afterall, an invisible, inaudible God doesn’t speak to most of us. It is argued we should believe what the Bible says about God. But scholars and laypeople who respect the Bible as authoritative don’t always agree what the Bible claims about God. At least non-Bible folks understand no Book can be proven that the writers’ thoughts or words were supernaturally controlled, much less be perfectly interpreted. We must use our moral intuitions when deciding what views best described a loving God.

Where has depending on a Book lead us?

Supposed certainty has led to condemning gays, though biblical scholars don’t agree the Bible condemns same-gender loving relationships. See here. Some religions defend killing homosexuals because of their unprovable assumption that every word in a Book was inspired by God. They of course don’t question if their interpretation is inspired. Many claim the Bible says that women can’t fulfill the same roles as men in the worship or home setting. Yet, it can be interpreted that Paul, a main writer of the New Testament, thought roles should be based on one’s gifts not gender.  See here.  We cannot rely solely on a Book to understand God.

Even the Bible implies to trust your moral intuitions

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). Christians often say God’s spirit (aka Holy Spirit) does or can reside within you. Unless the Spirit talks to you audibly or visibly, we can’t avoid examining out intuitions when discerning the Spirit’s voice. We can’t always be certain how to best love, but unless you are a totally self-centered human being, believe about God what makes perfect loving sense to you!

Whose intuitions should we trust? 

It is often claimed there can be no absolute truths about God, if we can’t rely on the Bible. No reasonable God or non-God person doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. We can’t understand perfectly, but it seems our understandings must lead to loving others as we want to be loved. Certain laws are just common, moral sense. Who doesn’t believe sexual abuse is absolutely wrong? Not even terrorists would accept their wives and children being beheaded for different beliefs from another group claiming a Book is direct God-speak. All want to be treated with loving kindness.

What would a loving God be like? 

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but surely a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. Is love controlling or manipulative? Then, God can’t be controlling or manipulate. It matters what you think God is like. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If God condemns gays, we will condemn gays out of devotion to God. If we believe God thinks men have authority over women in some positions, that will filter down to your wives, daughters, and friends and stifle their gifts. Choose biblical interpretations and understandings of God that don’t contradict your moral sense 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

A recent statement by Dr. Anthony Fauci reminded me of my experience with organized religion. Dr. Fauci said “to criticize him is to criticize science because I represent science.” Science is the study of the natural world. This is no different than a theologian saying to disagree with them is to disagree with theology – the study of God. Both are implying difference of opinions make one either a non-scientist or heretic. It is heretical to claim to be “The Truth.”

Of course there are absolute truths! 

Certain absolutes are universal and obvious to all rational beings. Who doesn’t believe physical or sexual abuse is wrong? No reasonable God or non-God person doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. We know we ought to treat others like we want to be treated. Criminals don’t defend their murders or thefts; instead, they deny committing such crimes. Adultery only isn’t wrong in the eyes of the betrayer. We don’t debate many laws, only the decisions what is a just punishment.    

“Truth” is not synonymous with the Bible 

The Bible can’t be the authoritative guide about God because we disagree. Many who have a deep respect for Scriptures don’t agree what the Bible says about many moral issues. I don’t believe God is opposed to women priests or preachers. I don’t believe God condemns gays. Some biblical scholars agree, some don’t. See here. See hereIt may surprise many that scholars who believe in the inspiration of Scriptures don’t agree that a literal Hell is a reality in the Bible. 

Truth and human perfection are synonymous 

Universal moral outrage hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. All reasonable beings respect the universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated. It is only intuitive that a Creator loves the ways their creations ought to love one another. Even the Bible implies perfect human love and God’s love are one and the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). We aren’t always certain how to best love, but beliefs that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss. Problems begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on understandings from an inspired Book. 

Bible-believing Christians even suggest trusting your moral intuitions 

Christians speak of the Holy Spirit guiding them. Unless the Spirit talks to us audibly or visibly, we can only discern the Spirit’s voice by examining our intuitions. We can’t avoid judging interpretations of the Bible according to loving intuitions. Even those who claim God is a mystery judge God according to moral human intuitions. God is claimed to be 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 it good). Our moral intuitions are not the enemy.

How do we get to the Truth with so my uncertainty? 

Stop hiding behind a Book! Stop canceling others’ opinions! Stop demonizing one another. Begin conversations looking for how you agree. Seek to understand before being understood. Stop claiming your views are morally or biblically superior. We can’t declare certain immigration laws in stone. Immigration laws can be discussed as which are the most caring for the greater good. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but can reach solutions by civil and democratic means.

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

Those who didn’t grow up with the Bible maybe aren’t familiar with the Holy Spirit. Some Bible translations refer to the Holy Ghost which may bring Casper the friendly ghost to mind. We can think of the Holy Spirit as God’s Spirit or Presence. Even the Bible suggests to look for God’s guidance through a Spirit than a Book (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). The context of these passages though suggests guidance in spiritual or moral truth as opposed to future, specific, individual decisions.

A word of caution when advocating God’s Spirit or the Holy Spirit speaks to us today.

Christians often encourage being still and listening so you can hear the Spirit’s voice. Such statements without explanation leave others feeling spiritually inferior or confused. You aren’t less spiritual if you can’t distinguish a supposed voice from inner impressions. At least I can’t. We can’t really know when personal desires impact our understanding of God’s voice. This doesn’t mean God can’t guide us through intuitions and the influence of others.

How might God speak to us morally?

A Book such as the Bible can’t be our only moral guide. Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures interpret differently what God guides morally regarding divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, etc. One possibility for a universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated is an external force communicating through our moral intuitions. Common moral sense isn’t the enemy when making moral decisions. Be careful though because rational folks often don’t agree what is our moral obligation when it comes to important matters.

How might God speak when we disagree what is moral?

Rational people don’t always agree morally concerning immigration, climate change, abortion, health care, taxes, or responding to evil dictators that murder their own people. Truth often exists on both sides of the fence. Certainty has led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. Calm, open dialogue allows evaluating the most loving approach to complicated challenges we face. Certainty isn’t always less chaotic than uncertainty. See here.

God isn’t hiding an unknown future in non-moral decision-making.  

A predetermined future makes freedom nonsensical. God can’t know an undetermined future. God isn’t keeping secrets. God can’t tell you if your partner will end up betraying you or the job you take won’t be phased out. Many who speak of an “inner voice” assume God knows the future. God took risks creating us free; we must take risk making decisions. Stay connected with God choosing the wisest path at the time based on past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations. Do all the good, in all the places, to all the people you can.

What about biblical examples of clear guidance?

There are biblical examples where God communicated clearly. It was infrequent but if God speaks to you through a burning bush like Moses (Ex. 3), through a donkey (Numbers 22:28), or a voice from heaven that others heard like Paul (Acts 9), you might want to take notice. This just isn’t my personal experience or most I come in contact with. Inner impressions, often thought of as God’s voice, are not the same as clear communications.

Maybe the Spirit speaks or guides us through an indescribable, quiet influence.

Don’t we recognize the Spirit’s influence when we have wronged someone, we quickly confess and make amends? Maybe all we have to do is be open to the Spirit’s influence. Humans inspire by their example without speaking. When I am trying to discern the Spirit’s influence, and often it is about relationships, I aim to make a wise decision if to take the risk. If it works out, I don’t know if coincidental or not. In an unknown future God doesn’t know if it’s going to work out either.

I admit I have minimized God speaking clearly to us but if God was more demonstrative, we might use it as a club to beat the Truth out of people like we have with the Bible. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow the road traveled of learning and reflecting leading to lasting convictions. Much of moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Honest open dialogue, not claiming certainty, best leads to loving decisions when there is disagreement. Future decisions are open. One is surely guided by the Spirit of Truth when following Jesus’ example and not demonizing others when there is genuine disagreement.

For another view consider Woodland Hills sermon series beginning January 26, 2020. See here.

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