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By Mike Edwards

Beliefs claimed about God 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. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

God’s morals are the same as perfect human morals.

It is intuitive to think one claiming to be God must be morally perfect. The Bible tells us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48), but we can’t know what this means if perfect godly and human morals are different. We’re to imitate God in everything we do (Ephesians 5:1), but we can’t follow God’s example if God’s love isn’t what we know love to be.  It is nonsensical to say God is good if good sometimes is evil. God’s love surely is the same as perfect human love. God isn’t a moral hypocrite humanly-speaking.

It is true we don’t always agree or know what true or perfect love is.  

Common moral, loving sense is not the enemy. Don’t let your interpretation of a Book, which may be wrong, override the golden rule with others of different gender, color, or sexuality. Terrorists or extremists justify immoral treatment of others by hiding behind a supposedly infallible Book. Even if the Bible is infallible, one must never claim their interpretations are infallible since they could be wrong. Actions of love are always more important than one’s interpretation of a Book.

Why would a relatable God desire to be mysterious?

I don’t know anyone who would claim a good God or the God of the Bible doesn’t desire a relationship. This is what makes the story of Genesis so moving. Other ancient near eastern creation stories tell a story of humans being held in contempt by the gods. The God of the Bible esteemed humans in the beginning and desired a close relationship to help oversee the universe. The idea of a relational God wanting to be mysterious may only come from a Book.  

Many only claim God to be a mystery because their interpretation makes God seem immoral. 

It isn’t natural to think God has different moral expectations of themselves from those God created. That is why interpreters play the mystery card because they understand some explanation is required when their interpretations of God are incompatible with most people’s idea of a loving God. Since they believe God gives us our mind and conscience, some rationalization is needed. We don’t always know what perfect love is, but the mystery card short circuits discussions about God’s true character.

The Old Testament doesn’t necessarily claim God is mysterious.

It is true we can’t possible totally understand from a human perspective a God who can create and be in all places at all times. We may not be able to comprehend all plausible moral reasons why suffering and a good God can co-exist. That doesn’t make God a mystery. Isaiah 55:8-9 is the most common OT passage to justify that God sometimes is a mystery: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” This passage isn’t suggesting we cannot understand God. God exhorts us to forsake our wicked ways and thoughts (v.7) and turn to God’s higher, righteous ways and thoughts (vs. 8-9).

The New Testament doesn’t necessarily claim God is mysterious.

The word mystery or mysteries is referenced about 27 times in the New Testament. There are two themes involved. Jesus’ teachings were not purposely hidden but rejected and not pursued.  Jesus did not prefer to speak in parables, but sometimes it is better to not speak the truth in a straightforward manner. When King David didn’t listen to God, God sent Nathan to confront in a form of a parable. God’s direct message is only perplexing often to one’s heart not the mind.

The mystery of Christ is a second theme in the NT. God’s plan to bless all through Israel by way of Christ wasn’t fully revealed until NT times. Paul says: “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that  they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2: 3-4). God’s promise to Israel and all is now fully revealed.

Even God’s will for our life isn’t a mystery.

God respects freedom too much to predetermine our future. We are free to dream and pursue the desires of our heart. Choose the wisest path based on past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations. A loving parent doesn’t control their child’s future profession. Loving parents want their children to pursue their passions with the gifts they possess. God’s moral ways are clearly not mysterious or hidden. Do all the good we can, in all the places we can, to all the people we can, as long as we can.

God can’t possibly be a mysterious, moral hypocrite!

Many condemn gays because of their understanding of a Book. It makes no sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can. Just ask heterosexuals or homosexuals. Please don’t judge when you can’t be certain. I can’t imagine one would think – except because one deems their interpretation of a Book inspired – that a woman shouldn’t be the CEO, priest, pastor, etc. if more qualified than the man. Loving others like you want to be loved is true, human, godly love! God is like the perfect human being. Let’s keep pursuing such understanding.

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

 

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by Norm Mitchell, Guest Blogger
https://thewildfrontier.wordpress.com/

How is it that humans, who all have the same basic needs, can disagree so fiercely about what is right and what is wrong? It amazes me how different our opinions can be on what exactly constitutes right and wrong. And of course, we all are thoroughly convinced that we are correct.

We each think that we know what is right, yet in the defense of our beliefs, we have a tendency to be awfully vicious to each other. This is not new. Humans have done this from the beginning.

To be sure, there are those few out there who have wholly committed to doing evil—to hurting others for their own profit or pleasure. But probably more evil has been done by the rest of us in the name of good or in the name of God. This concept deserves some serious consideration, but I’ll save that for another time.

On the surface, we are all concerned about what is right, what is fair, and what is just. Yet when we try to nail down exactly which actions are good and which are bad, none of us agree.

Ironically, this is what started humanity down the violent course we are on. The problem is not that some people are good and some are evil. The problem is that in our efforts to define good and evil, we conceive evil.

So in the name of being pro-life, we deprecate those who are pro-abortion. In the name of women’s rights, we vilify those who are anti-abortion. In the name of Christianity, we disparage homosexuals. And in the name of gay rights, we malign those who think that homosexuality is unhealthy. We say that we are pro-tolerance—except toward the intolerant. And we say that it is wrong to oppress others—unless they are oppressors. And we’re anti-hate—except when we hate the haters.

And so the cycle of conflict twists and seethes in a downward spiral that threatens to suck us into an inescapable vortex of our own making.

So here’s the dilemma: two diametrically opposed concepts can’t be true under the same conditions at the same time. Homosexuality, abortion, oppression, social justice—these things can’t be both right and wrong at the same time. So who is right? And does it matter?

I would say that what is right does matter—who is right does not. The endless quarreling is convincing nobody. Those who have firmly held opinions about any given issue will not change their opinion simply because someone passionately disagrees with them. The arguing is unproductive and has become a wedge that is driving us further apart. So where does that leave us? We could continue to use the legal system to coerce others to behave the way we think they should behave and pray that dirty politics is the most devastating result of our conflict. But perhaps there’s a better way.

It seems to me that, when it comes to questions of morality, the better way is to seek the highest Good—that is, to seek God above all else. When we do that, we will be moving in the right direction. Does that guarantee that we will all agree on what is right and what is wrong?

Unfortunately, no, we still will not all agree. But even in our disagreement, if we are truly seeking God, we will begin to treat each other with love. We will never bridge the gap between us until we decide to love each other. We will never understand someone else’s opposing point of view until we see them through the lens of love.

Yet too often, we place conditions on love. (I’ll love you when you see abortion the way I see it. I’ll love you when you see women’s rights the way I see them.) The love must come first. Only when we choose to love others, regardless of their opinions, will we begin to understand them.

Choosing to love others does not mean that we have to compromise our beliefs. We do not have to do or support things that we believe are wrong. But we can still reach out in love to those who do not agree with us. Will everyone behave this way? Unfortunately, no. But those who follow Christ should lead by example in this matter.

Above all, we must love each other. Love will facilitate understanding, which will, in turn, further break down barriers. When we choose to love others regardless of their opposing viewpoints, we will discover that love is the mechanism that God has provided to help us transcend our differences.

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By Mike Edwards

Does God really torture unbelievers after death? Most humans wouldn’t create such a place for their worst enemies. Biblical scholars don’t agree such a place exist in the Bible. Does God really condemn gays when they can no more choose who they have feelings for than straights can? Biblical scholars don’t agree the Bible condemns gays. If God exist all believe God must be perfect love – even atheists. How do we determine what true love is?

We don’t just know God because the Bible says so.

We can’t know God definitively through the Bible because literature requires interpretation. People who respect the Bible as authoritative disagree what God thinks about homosexuality, gender roles, and the afterlife to name only a few critical issues. We must stop declaring something immoral in God’s eyes because the Bible says so.  It may be said Jesus was God so listen to Jesus, but we can’t even agree what Jesus thinks. People disagree if Jesus’ non-violent beliefs allow or rules out individuals or nations protecting themselves against physical evil.

God’s love is surely like a perfect human’s love.

Most non-Bible or Bible-oriented folks agree that God must be or is the perfect Lover (Mt. 5:43-48, I Jn. 4). The Bible frequently uses the analogy of God as a perfect Lover or Parent, thus assuming we have some knowledge of what such love is. It makes little sense that the Bible uses such an analogy unless perfect human and God love are one in the same.

Most if not all have an inborn sense to love others as themselves.

A universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated hints a personal external force communicating what is good. Terrorist proclaim morality according to a Book but something is amiss – they would object to being beheaded, raped, or denied their freedom of beliefs. We still can’t know what God is like for certain but the truth is there is practically universal agreement on most moral matters – murder, stealing, etc. Our intuitions about love most likely fits God’s view of love.

We can’t know exactly what God and perfect human love is like but that may be a good thing.

When it is said we can know God for certain according to the Bible, we end up imposing our interpretation on others. Forced love is an oxymoron. Being unable to declare the certainty or morality of our opinions according to the Bible forces us to listen and express ideas openly which can lead to new understandings. It is better to claim “we know so” than “because the Bible told me so” because personal intuitions are assumed rightly questionable than Holy Books.

What do you imagine a perfect God may be like?

You may be right! I don’t know anyone who says to themselves “don’t treat others like you want to be treated.” I am absolutely convinced that God’s love is the love we deep down desire to show others consistently. God’s love is perfect parental love that we have always desired from our parents. We may not agree always what a perfect parent would do, but a loving parent surely isn’t egotistical, a fear-monger, a homophobe, a sexist, or bias against one’s religion chosen because of where born!

See HERE what I recently wrote what I think perfect human parenting love is like

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by Jim Gordon

In the bible we are told to be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18). In our day it seems almost impossible to be at peace with all men, which includes believers and non-believers. When we think about all the different thoughts and ideas, the different denominations, interpretations and beliefs and the different religions, how could it be possible to be at peace with everyone?

The dictionary says of peace: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; harmony in personal relations. We can easily see that without the Spirit we certainly cannot do this.

LiveinPeace

I think this is what God is saying, that we are to live in harmony with our brothers and sisters in Christ, not allowing any oppressive thoughts or emotions to take control of our feelings towards others. In other words, we live in love. Just because someone does not interpret the Bible the same way we do, or go to the same church we do, or does not go to church at all we should remember that all believers want to please our Father. We are to accept one another in love and respect the fact that God is working differently in people. Just because it is not the way we believe does not mean it is not of God.

In regard to non-believers we are not to condemn them, force our beliefs on them or treat them like second-class citizens. We need to let them see the love of God by the way we live and treat others. They do not need someone beating them down or twisting their arms to get them to believe like us. We are to love them and let the Holy Spirit do the work that needs to be done in the lives of others.

If we believers could just understand that we are responsible for ourselves in the way we live for God. We are not responsible to live the way others think we should, and we are not responsible to make others live the way we think they should. We are to allow our Father to work in our lives the way He wants and follow Him on the path He has for us. Our responsibility is to love God and love everyone we come in contact with, accept them for who they are and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in the lives of others as he works within us. Living in this manner will accomplished much more in showing the love of Christ to a hurting world.

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by Jim Gordon

War in our world has been a constant companion to mankind. It becomes more and more the way of life but the effects seem to be worse and worse.

Growing up in church we were taught that God is love and that we should love our enemies, yet we heard all the stories about God telling the Israelites to go to war against their enemies and kill them all. That always confused me as it seems so contradictory.

It seems like you can find wars going on anywhere in our world today, many of them are over matters that seem so unimportant. Kind of like the fighting and arguing that goes on within the organized churches. People fight over such insignificant reasons, over difference in doctrine or bible interpretation. Yet we are supposed to be known for our love for one another. Something seems odd about that to me.

I personally believe the best way to calm a hostile situation is with a loving, calm and peaceful attitude. I also know we live in a world that is not under God’s command. We live in a very hateful, stress-filled world where people are only concerned with their own goals and interests and they will do whatever it takes to accomplish those goals.

In a perfect world we would have no need for war because we would all being loving one another, caring for one another and be more interested in the needs of others. Obviously, we do not live in a perfect world and war is going to be an issue.

PeaceWar

I feel that most wars are needless and so many people fight and die over issues that are really not important. Most of it boils down to money and power, just like everything else in a world without God.

Yet there are times when I believe war may be necessary. It is still terrible and still not the first or best choice but there will be times when wars will need to be fought. In our world where money, power, hate and selfishness rule, there will be times when people, ideals or causes will need to be stopped. Unfortunately, that means sometimes there will be wars or else the innocent will be walked over, taken over, tortured and killed.

This is not the plan of God. This is human nature running rampant in a godless world. War is mankind at its worst even when there is a necessary reason to fight. Those necessary times when the ideals and goals of the Hitler’s and bin Laden’s of our world need to be stopped.

I honestly believe that many of the stories in the bible about God commanding war and killing of people is a misinterpretation of God. We know that Jesus displayed what God is really like. He said that God is love and that we are to love our enemies and love our neighbors. I do not believe God ever caused the killing of people because God never changes. It was people of the time telling about life as they saw it and they attributed their actions to their God. Actions and killings that really were not ordained by God in the first place.

As followers of Jesus, our allegiance belongs to Christ. He is the head of the Kingdom of God in which we live. We are citizens of heaven and we live by a different code than the world. Yet we still live in this world which is under a different ruler, a ruler of hate, power, money and selfishness. Although war is not our first choice and not what we feel is right, there are going to be times when it is necessary to stop the evil being done towards the innocent.

I pray for wisdom for our leaders that wars and fighting will not be started over issues that are not about the safety and concern of the innocent. I pray that more diplomatic ways of love and acceptance can prevail and we can live together in this world without all the hatred, wars and killing of innocent people.

 

This post was part of the July 2018 Synchroblog on the topic of Just War and Pacifism. Here are links to others who contributed this month. Go read them all!

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by Jim Gordon

In a day when many feel it is the job of the Christian to point out the sins and mistakes of others, I personally do not see Jesus being that way.

Jesus associated with all kinds of people and he showed love toward them. He was genuinely interested in them and accepted them. That does not mean he always agreed with them, but he accepted them as they were. He treated them with love and respect.

Acceptance does not necessarily mean we agree or condone the actions of another, it means we are kind, respectful and show the love of God to them. We obviously are not all going to agree on things, yet we should be able to treat one another with kindness.

Many say we have to point out the sins of others and warn them of impending doom or we are not fulfilling our obligation as a Christian. Yet I feel that we are told the Spirit will convict people of changes that should be made. The Spirit will draw people to the Father. We are not called to do the work of the Spirit, we are called to show the love of the Father to all people.

AcceptOneAnother

My opinion is that showing love and acceptance to people is more in line with the way Jesus treated others. He did not condemn, he did not hate, he did not associate only for ulterior motives of getting people to join him. In fact, the only people Jesus seemed to have issues with were the religious leaders who thought they were so much holier than others. They were mad at Jesus for associating with people they determined were the sinners and lower class of the day.

For me, rather than point out sins, rather than show condemnation and many times down right hatred towards people, I would rather do what Jesus tells us to do. Love God will all your heart, soul, strength and mind and love your neighbor (all people) as yourself.

We love through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Love and genuine friendship will draw people into conversations and respect for one another, thus providing an atmosphere where we can all learn from one another and respect one another.

Unfortunately, one of the major issues many christians seem to have is in regard to LGBTQ issues. I am not sure why, but people who consider this to be a sin jump on this issue more than anything.

To me, I like to follow this way of thinking. Whether you are LGBTQ affirming or not, there is no reason to treat people with hate and contempt. Whatever you think about LGBTQ, right or wrong, affirming or non-affirming, be respectful, kind and show the love of God to all people.

We are all made in the image of God. We all have our interpretations and opinions. We each have to follow what we feel is right for us, but we do not have to force our views on others. We all deserve respect and the same equal rights as anyone else.

Accept each other for who we are and follow your convictions for yourself. There is no reason to be hateful toward anyone. We are all loved by God just the way we are now. If there is anything that needs to be corrected or changed in us, the Spirit will gently persuade us in the way we should go. It is not up to people to do the work of the Spirit.

Love and accept others. This means LGBTQ, atheist, people from different religions, races and nationalities. We do not all have to agree. Show each other love. Love makes more of an impact on people than does hatred, condemnation and forcing personal views on them.

Remember we are not told to go force our views and beliefs on others. We are told to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

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by Jim Gordon

Colossians 3:14 — And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

With all the different thoughts, ideas, interpretations, denominations and versions of the Bible, how is it possible for us to get along and have unity among the brethren?

It is by love. To put on love is to put on God. God is love and love lives within us. Even in all the differences we can be united in the love of God. Our common focus is Jesus. We can be one in Christ and still have different views and opinions. Because of the love of Christ, we can respect one another’s views and opinions and accept them as brothers and sisters in Christ.

UnityinChrist

Love will bind us together and allow us to live in peace with one another. Many times, love is pushed out of the way for our own selfish desires. That is when disrespect, arguing, judging and condemning takes over, and it is not a pretty sight for those who profess to follow God, who is love.

Unity comes only in Christ. It is not through religion, doctrines, denominations or bible versions but through Christ alone. Unity through Christ looks beyond religion, doctrines, denominations, race, sexual orientation and nationality.

God is love and he lives within us. By allowing his love to flow out of us we can look beyond our differences and accept one another even when we disagree.

Only by loving God and loving one another through the power of the Spirit will others see a difference in those of us who are followers of Christ.

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