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By Mike Edwards

God supposedly was the cause of Uzzah’s death for simply touching the Ark of the Covenant as it was falling to the ground (2 Sam. 6). The Ark was sacred in God’s eyes according to the Israelites. God supposedly orders the murder of men, women, children, and animals in war (I Sam. 15:3). One author’s respond to these OT stories was to suggest “we are quick to say things like ‘That isn’t fair because we deserve certain rights as humans.’ Yet we give little thought to the rights God deserves as God.”  

Who can we compare God to understand better?  

If there is only one God, who do we compare God to as a way to understand? The Bible uses the analogy of God as our Heavenly Father/Parent to help us understand God as best we can. God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for I cannot be in all places at one time, but an analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities. What do God as a parent and human parents have in common when it comes to rights?

Isn’t God like the perfect human parent?  

All agree that if God exists than God must be perfect. The Bible agrees by encouraging us to strive to imitate or be perfect like God (Eph. 5:1; Mt. 5:48). If God can do whatever the hell God wants, should we imitate such an attitude? It is only natural to think a Creator would love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. Human and God’s perfection are surely one and the same. We may only think otherwise because of what we think a Book says. We don’t always know what perfect love is, but I doubt God is the parent that says “do as I say not what I do.”

What are God’s rights?

God would only claim perfect, human rights. God loves us how we know we ought to love others. We aren’t clueless what perfect love is. Terrorists are evil because they would not accept being treated like they treat others. We can’t know if the biblical writers always understood God perfectly or whether our interpretation of what they write is correct. Interpretations that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss because they are contrary to our moral intuitions of perfection. That is why we know Hell doesn’t truly exist. Such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies.

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By Mike Edwards

I admit choosing a provocative title. I could have said God is like the perfect human being. What is my point? I am not suggesting any human being is God or that an invisible, inaudible God is human. I am simply trying to find a way to write and encourage discussion of what God is like. We can’t claim to know exactly what God is like, but what ideas may be closer to the truth? 

It matters what we think God is like.

Our understandings about God shape our attitudes toward God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our views of God. The more you respect your earthly parents, the closer you are to them. Some are atheists, not because they believe God can’t exist, but because what they imagine a loving God should be like isn’t what God-followers claim.

We can’t be positive what God is really like of course.  

I can’t even prove God really exist. I just think that millions if not billions are not insane for knowing or at least hoping there is a Creator who can provide worth, perspective, meaning, and hope of life after death.  We need a way to talk about what God is really like. It is often claimed we know what God is like – just read the Bible!

The Bible cannot be the definitive way of knowing what God is like.

The Bible is ancient literature that requires interpretation. Laypeople, much less biblical scholars who respect Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree what the same passages mean. Some claim the Bible condemns homosexuality; other deny such claims. How do we decide which interpretation may be the best interpretation of God’s true nature? The majority born never had a Bible so a Creator may have thought of others ways to communicate what they are really like. 

Doesn’t God communicate through our moral intuitions?

A universal, inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated could suggest how a Creator communicates what is good. When we read ancient literature such as the Bible and two plausible interpretations exist, we can’t avoid using our moral brains.  We are trying to determine what a perfect, loving God is like. An immoral God isn’t worth believing in. Even the Bible assumes we can know what perfect love is, because the Bible tells us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48). God’s love surely is what we imagine perfect human love is like.

Even those who play the mystery card assume perfect godly and human morality are the same.

Many claim God is a mystery sometimes because their interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. Such interpreters are using their moral intuitions and assuming God and human love are the same. It is certain that we don’t always know what perfect love is, but the mystery card short circuits discussions about God’s true character.

Doesn’t the Newer Testament through the eyes of Jesus give us the correct view of God?

Many theologians rightly question if Old Testament writers always had a complete understanding of God. In OT times it was sacrilegious to not speak of God as being all-powerful and controlling even through violence. This may explain violent warfare actions in God’s name. It is suggested Jesus, who claimed to be God in the flesh, had a more complete understanding of what God is like. We still though have the challenge of literature requiring interpretation. Turning the other check is interpreted to claim Jesus never advocated violence, but a possible literal translation of Mt. 5:39 is “do not resist by evil means.” Would Jesus agree violence is never desired but may be necessary sometimes? We can never claim certainty “because the Bible or Jesus says so.”

Lack of certainty about God does not mean anything goes?  

We don’t have to make laws against murder. Criminals don’t deny their actions are wrong; they deny they committed such a crime. It is almost universally accepted that it is morally wrong to kill someone out of revenge or for selfish reasons. It is universally accepted that it is morally wrong to behead people for their beliefs unless you are a terrorist. Claiming the Bible can’t be use to definitively tell us what God is like protects from those claiming their interpretation is definitive while demonizing views to the contrary.

God is like the perfect human being!

We can’t know what God is exactly like but we can imagine what God is like by discussing what human perfection is. Those who argue humans are created in the image of God usually accept that God created us to know and hate evil. If God sometimes is evil according to one’s interpretation of the Bible, should we hate God sometimes? We must question not rationalize such interpretations. A God who seeks a relationship is surely more understandable than mysterious. Don’t we get closer to understanding what Godly love is by accepting that loving others like we want to be loved is the same as how God loves us and others.

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