Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘scripture’

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

Read Full Post »

By Mike Edwards

The term Gospel is the translation of the Greek word “good news.” It seems only natural to look to the four Gospels in the Bible to see what is proclaimed as the good news or God’s main message. We could also point to our relational experience with God as to what is the main thing.  Many born never had a Bible. What have you heard is the Good News according to the Bible?

The Good News isn’t . . .

Many of us who grew up and attended the institutional church heard that God mainly wanted to save us from hell so we could go to heaven after death here on earth. All we had to do was say a prayer and mean it: “Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me. I receive You as my Lord and Savior. Help me to live for you.”  You may think that is a bible verse. I can find no place in the Bible where Jesus advised followers of such a prayer or declared this the Good News. Jesus didn’t require confessions initially but simply asked people to follow Him.

Also, the Good News couldn’t be about escaping a fiery, torturous God if such a hell isn’t biblical. See here.

What do the Gospels claim the Good News about God is?

Mark 1:14,15 says “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. The time has come, he said. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent, and believe the good news.” Repent refers to a changing of your mind, not dropping to your knees and never sinning again, or we are all screwed! The Good News throughout the Gospels refers to a Kingdom here on earth now. The kingdom of God “has come upon you” (Mt 12:28) and “is in your midst” (Lk 17:21).  God’s Spirit is available now, as it was back in the first century, to influence godly living here on earth.

But what about Jesus dying on the Cross for our sins 

It is said that the Apostle Paul claimed the Good News is to “believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rm 10:9) Paul recognized Jesus’ death and resurrection, but Jesus’ sacrifice was to draw attention to the Good News already proclaimed – God’s desire to empower unselfish living. Paul also preached about the Kingdom of God being here (Acts). The disciples were skeptical of any resurrection until witnessing Jesus alive again. The disciples aren’t going to preach as Good News what they didn’t believe in initially.   

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. God seeks to empower such a life. Myers says it best: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.”  See here. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.” (Mt 6:10) 

Challenge God to become real in your life

God seeks to encourage us to pursue heavenly than worldly ways here on earth. God seeks to empower us to be the unselfish people we deep down desire to be. This was the good news Jesus was willing to die for, rather than save Himself, to inspire us to seek God’s help in loving others. Jesus sought changes of the heart, with God’s help, for the good of the world. If I am right, then God should be able to make God real to you.

*See Podcast: Second Cup with Keith. November 15, 2021

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

Read Full Post »

By Mike Edwards

My fellow blogger recently posted on this subject Is It Our Duty to Convert Others? After reading I wanted to share some thoughts that came to mind about God-followers/Jesus lovers/Christians trying to convert others.

The Bible doesn’t say about evangelism what you may think

Jeff Banman shared some thoughts about the Apostle Paul, who is known as the primary evangelist/starter of Christianity after the death and resurrection of Jesus: Wise Evangelism | Jesus Creed |  Paul’s emphasis wasn’t as much going out and preaching the gospel but living out Jesus’ ways that can attract others to reasons behind our ways. There don’t have to be forced but natural conversations if others are interested.  Relax and simply be loving!

Does the Bible really require certain beliefs to be saved and go to Heaven?

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jeremy Myers says it best: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.”  See here.

But few what to talk about God

Some may avoid spiritual discussions because they are only interested in pursuing a self-centered life. This isn’t most of my friends. One reason many avoid spiritual discussions is because they can smell a hidden agenda a mile away. It’s wrong to engage in friendships with others for the purpose of converting them to believe as you do, without advising upfront your agenda. I have huge regrets about some of my past actions. Parents or bosses inspire because of who they are.

What does evangelism look like in my life? 

In my twenties I felt that I had to convert others to accept Jesus as their Savior or go to Hell. Turns out the traditional understanding of Hell isn’t biblical in my opinion. See here.  Wouldn’t we be shouting “FIRE” from the rooftop if we believed Hell was real? Then, I begin to accept that God draws others to God, and I stand ready to share. When conversations take a natural tilt toward spiritual matters, I see if others want to discuss the influence God has had in my life.

God through their influence has made me a better man, husband, father, and friend or at least better than if on my own. If others see something in my life they desire in their life, I can’t wait to share what God can do in our lives. The only outward thing I may do is at the end of my email is a list of my blogs and books written. I view as an invitation to others who may desire spiritual conversations, and they think I may be safe.

Confession

Honestly, I would be lying if I said God conversations are often. They are rare. It is why I started blogging, so I had some way to discuss thoughts about God. People know I am into God because I am often asked to say the prayer at gatherings, despite not being a church guy. (I pray they don’t burn in hell of course). Actually, I just have a conversation with God in front of others out loud. I consider myself now open-minded and non-confrontational when it comes to God. Say something racist is another matter! Still such conversations are few and far between with those I know.

Relax!

Each has to decide how they think best to share their relationship with God with others. I am convinced there is a Creator who desires a loving relationship with each of their creations. But I respect those who aren’t convinced or have doubts a Creator really exists. That doesn’t make me more moral. Conversations should be natural and mutual. We don’t have to convert people. We don’t have to feel guilty because we aren’t convincing others about God and their love for them.  God can take care of themself!

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

Read Full Post »

by Mike Edwards

Do you hear things about God that lead to not wanting to even bother with God? Are you a person of faith but some teachings about God create questions or difficulties in talking about God to others should the subject naturally come up? I heard teachings about God in the church that just didn’t seem true of a good or loving God. It is only human nature to have a close relationship with those you respect. Why wouldn’t that be true of our relationship with God? Maybe we shouldn’t believe everything we hear about God!

What can we know about God?

Even scholars can look at the same passages in Scripture and come up with different interpretations. Jesus spoke in hyperboles and metaphors which can lead to vastly different interpretations. Besides, the Bible can’t be the only way to know what God is like since over half the people born in this world never had a Bible to read. We all seem to have an inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated – there are “oughts” in our relationships. God surely has given us a moral, intuitive sense what a loving God must be like.   

God can’t possibly be a homophobe.

It makes no sense to me why God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can. Just ask heterosexuals or homosexuals. Some only condemn gays because they are convinced the Bible does. I have written here to please reconsider that the Bible doesn’t condemn gays. We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. So, shouldn’t we be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices?

God can’t possibly be a sexist by favoring men in leadership positions.

God surely knew what many of us sense – appointing men as authority over women can encourage dominance on the man’s part and dependence on the woman’s part, which can be conducive for domestic abuse and the other atrocities women face at the hands of men. Women don’t need male leadership in marriage; women need men who have the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29). When the Bible says: “Women should remain silent in the churches” (I Cor. 14:34), maybe the writer would encourage men to be silent in certain situations for the sake of peace. The same writer had just assumed women, without condemning, could prophesize during worship (I Cor. 14:34). See here for rethinking if God is a sexist!

Hell!

The Bible says nothing about the traditional understanding of the word Hell. Hell seems to be an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. Our traditional understanding of Hell is no more a translation of the Greek word Gehenna (the name of a real valley near Jerusalem) in the New Testament than Atlanta is for Chicago. Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies!

Can God be dogmatic about which religion you choose.

The majority of people born in this world have never heard of Jesus in the Bible. Suggesting a loving God insists one can only come to God through Jesus is to ignore the realities of our world. The vast majority of people born choose or rebel against the religion where they are born, whether be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Those who have heard of Jesus often have a distorted view of God. When the Bible speaks of being saved, it isn’t about escaping hell and going to heaven but allowing God to help avoid self-destructive ways for our own best interests. Do you believe that? 

God doesn’t encourage hidden agendas in relationships.

People often avoid God-folks because they can smell a hidden agenda a mile away. It simply is wrong to engage in friendships with others for the purpose of converting them to believe as you do without advising them upfront of your agenda. God-folks struggle to talk about God, for how do you explain a good God is supposedly a homophone, sexist, or sadistic torturer. It turns out God wants for our relationship what we want – not a means to an end (conversion) but an opportunity to share life and love one another.

God can’t be a religious extremist.

Extremists wish to force you to believe what they think is true of God according to some Book. What is not acknowledged is literature requires interpretation so their understanding may be wrong. A truly, loving God would never force one to love but give the freedom to love or reject Them. Forced love is an oxymoron. You can’t get enough of a person or God because you have so much respect, not because you are commanded to love. Love by force only leads to brief obligations out of guilt.

God is not cruel by being invisible and inaudible.

If God cared why doesn’t God make their Presence obvious? God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. When parent push their agendas, even if in their children best interests, they may rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may more allow moral development for lasting convictions. A Creator may not reveal themselves for reasons we haven’t thought of and would accept in time. The road traveled of learning, reflecting, and freely choosing personal convictions may better lead to heart-felt lasting choices that turn out to be in our best interests.

Imagine God really is good news!

Listen to your moral inner voice. You may be right about God! If God claims to be Love and encourages us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5: 48), how can we follow in God footsteps unless God has empowered us somehow to know. And what loving Parent, earthly or heavenly,  doesn’t seek to help you be the best you can be for your best interests and the interests of others!

Read Full Post »

What happens when people begin to question church? Millions of people are “leaving church” each year as they begin to question the deeper meanings and structures of gathering together. They’re asking a fundamental question of, “What does it mean to participate in church and what would happen if we did something different?” They are not abandoning God, ignoring Scripture, or giving up on Jesus. While a few do leave for such reasons, the vast majority report that they leave church to better follow Jesus, obey God, and live out their faith in meaningful and relational ways. They stop attending church to pursue something more intimate and personal. Finding Church explores these stories of people leaving, switching, and even reforming their basic understanding of church. It will open your eyes to a growing trend in culture for people to take responsibility for their faith.

List of Contributors
Lew Ayotte, Carey Crawford, Michael Donahoe, Glenn Hager, Wayne Hobson, Judith Huang, Mike Keffer, Travis Klassen, Tyson Phillips, Tara Pohlkotte, Will Rochow, Brian Swan, Genevieve Thul, Shannon Brisco, Jessica Bowman, Lauren LaRue, Kellen Freeman, Eric Hatfield, Wayne Hobson, Kimberly Parker, Felisa Reed, Sam Riviera, Cara Sexton, Alan Brisco, Kris Camealy, Daniel Darling, Melody Harrison Hanson, Dan King, Alan Knox, Sonny Lemmons, Travis Mamone, Mary C. M. Phillips, Bill Reichart, Aubry Smith, John Walker, and Markus Watson.

Available for Presale – Publishes December 1, 2012 from Civitas Press
http://store.civitaspress.com/books/377

Read Full Post »

Randy Scobey

Let's have the courage to be ourselves, together

The Sons are Free

Matthew 17:26

Frozen in the Fire

Rising up through Grace

Writer Dylan Morrison

Fascinated by the Nazarene but unimpressed by religion!

Follow Your Arrow

Unashamed of who God made us to be, and unapologetic in our pursuit of God and our purpose in His kingdom

Blind Injustice

Injustices we may not be aware of

Sophia's Essays

This is where I post my essays, primarily about LGBTQ+ issues, politics, and Christian theology.

DB Art

Our natural world has a unique beauty to behold. I bring it to you in a perspective you've never seen before.

Hazy Divinity

Welcome To The Party

Candice Czubernat

A leading voice in the LGBTQ and Christian dialogue

Our Journeys Matter! - Posts

Done with Religion ... Not Done with God

Ally's Notebook

Thoughts To Share

Life of a Prodigal

Searching for Truth outside the church walls

What God May Really Be Like - Misbeliefs About God

To those done with religion but not God and my kids (Click FOLLOW for future Posts; See ABOUT/USING THIS SITE tab to navigate Site)

Christy Lynne Wood

Looking for the Real God

Confessions of a Recovering Churchboy

What I bought before, I just can't sell

Intermission

Reflections in the midst of life.

She Seeks Nonfiction

A skeptic's quest for books, science, & humanism

The Wild Frontier

The search for infinite Truth and the invincible Love of an incredible God.

A Wilderness Voice

"The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, says the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, says the LORD of hosts." (Hag 2:9)

What does the word God mean to you now?

It's been a long journey - so far!

Entering the Promised Land

by walking in the Spirit

Beyond Church Walls

Done with Religion ... Not Done with God

Escape to Reality

Explore the wide spaces of God's amazing grace

%d bloggers like this: