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Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

by Jim Gordon

While trimming some flowers in our backyard, I accidentally cut a new bloom that had just come out. I tried to replant the root and watered it good, but I noticed within half an hour the bloom was already starting to fade away.

This made me think of the bible verse in John 15:5, ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing’. Once this nice, colorful bloom was cut from the vine, it could do nothing but wither away.

As followers of Jesus, we are attached to the vine. God is our source of life. As long as we are attached to God, we will grow and mature in our love for God and for one another.

Yet, when we get separated from God (the vine), we will wither and fade in our love for God and for one another.

Notice I am not saying if we separate from the church or from the religion of Christianity, but if we separate from the life and example of Jesus. If we separate from loving God and loving our fellow human beings we will begin to wither in our walk of faith.

Religion and the church organization are man-made ways of learning about God, but they are not necessary parts of living the example of Jesus. The Spirit lives within us and we are the house of God. The Spirit is our teacher and guide and we do not need an intermediate (pastor) to teach us.

Just as the bloom needed the vine to grow, we need connection to our source, the vine who is Jesus. In this way we will continue to grow and share the love of God with others.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

When thinking about all that is going on in the world today, one main issue is about gay and transgender rights and equality. It is obvious that those who are LGBTQ are being seriously discriminated against and not being treated equally as they should. There seems to be a growing amount of discrimination, exclusion and hatred toward them and even within political decisions as well.

It seems that many who are Christian seem to think it is best to come against those who are LGBTQ as a way of showing that they are in favor of Christian values and want to take a stand for God. The main problem for this way of thinking is the many misinterpretations of biblical verses and not understanding meanings and customs at the time the Bible was written. Many Christian people go so far as to think if you are LGBTQ, then you cannot be Christian.

Personally, as a Christian I think this way of thinking and acting is completely wrong and so against what Jesus taught and lived in regard to how to treat other people. He accepted and spent time with all kinds of people, mostly people who the religious crowd would not want to spend time with or get to know.

Why is it many Christian people think that by taking a stand against someone or something they do not agree with is the way to show true Christian love and acceptance? Why is it in a world with so many diverse people and various beliefs that they feel the need to openly defend their way as if it is the only way?

As a Christian I do believe in living for God and showing His love to everyone. After all, Jesus told us to love God and love one another. There is no need to do anything other than love one another. It is not our job to change people, convict people or judge people.

None of us are going to have everything figured out, none of us are always going to be right. That does not mean we should pick and choose who we love and accept. No matter what we choose to believe or how we choose to live, everyone deserves to be treated equally and loved just as they are.

A good friend of mine is a firefighter and he shared a paragraph from an ethics class he recently attended. It reads: Equal Services for All. Always ensure that the services you and your crew are providing are equal for everyone on the scene. Never discriminate because of race, color, religion, age, sex (gender), or disability. If you become aware of another firefighter discriminating against someone, rectify the situation immediately and report it to your chief. Discrimination should never be tolerated.

To me this sounds more like it came from Jesus telling his followers how to treat others.

I believe that standing up for our Christian values should be positive, not negative. It is not showing what we are against, being mean, condemning, unaccepting, judgmental and discriminating. It is showing what we are for in Christ, which is showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It is showing love to our fellow human beings no matter who they are or what they believe.

We certainly are not all going to agree on everything. We are all going to make our choices on what to believe and how to live based on what we feel is right or best for us. Yet in those differences there is no reason we cannot respect, accept and love each other knowing that God loves each and every one of us. As Mike Warnke said many years ago “if you’re good enough for God, then you’re good enough for me”. That might be a simple way of saying it, but God loves us all, and we should love each other and treat others equally.

It is time to set aside our differences, set aside discrimination, set aside prejudices and doctrinal beliefs and show the love of God to everyone we meet. We were all created in the image of God and we are all to love one another.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and to tell why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@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 Jim Gordon

I grew up in the institutional church and was always of the persuasion that being gay was a sin. I felt that since I was pretty open by saying I hated the sin but loved the sinner, I was doing better than most. Yet, either way I was saying being gay was a sin.

I never treated those who were gay in a bad way. I never treated any of my friends or relatives who were gay any different than I treated anyone else. I saw them as normal everyday people, except for a great sin in their life.

Things changed on this subject, and amazingly it was after leaving the institutional church. I started to see that God loves people, all people. There was no ‘I love you but’ when it came to God. I started to read some on the subject (something I never dreamed of doing before). I read Justin Lee and Matthew Vines. I really thought about a God of love and how could that God condemn people for the way he made them.

I finally began to see those who are LGBTQ for who they really are….people, normal, everyday people. Take away the labels and you have human beings like everyone else. Just because they were born with different sexual views does not make them second class citizens and does not make them deserving of the awful ways they are treated, especially by the christian world. They are doing nothing more than being themselves the way God made them.

Today I have a special sense of wanting to show those who are LGBTQ that all straight people who call themselves christian are not the same. I want to help promote information and acceptance between straight christian people and those who are LGBTQ, whether christian or not. I can no longer say I believe being gay is a sin. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinterpretation by the church and evangelical christians.

I recently read a book by Amber Cantorna called Refocusing My Family. It is such an interesting read, telling of her questions, struggles and hardships in her walk with God and her family. Her traditional christian upbringing and her dad being an employee of Focus on the Family made it extremely hard on her when she came out as gay. What terrible struggles and treatment she received. It is so hard for me to understand how parents can disown their children, yet I know it happens all the time.

I also believe that christians who still believe being gay is wrong are handling it all wrong. Whether you agree or disagree, our instructions from Jesus are to love God, love our neighbor and love one another. We are to love, not judge and condemn. I have read so many articles about the abuse the gay community takes: beatings, exclusion, disowned by their family, suicides…it is terrible. No matter what stand we take on the issue we are not to judge and condemn. As followers of Christ, we are to be known for our love and for treating everyone equally.

I personally am tired of the way the christian church has treated those who are LGBTQ. Whether they agree or disagree they should be treating everyone with love. For me, I have concluded that being gay is not a sin and I fully love and accept all people just as they are. I hope I can show that love and acceptance to others in some way.

I am tired of seeing the abuse, the exclusion and the discrimination against those who are LGBTQ. I pray that I can be a help by showing love and acceptance to those I meet who are LGBTQ and letting them know they are loved just as they are.

Following are a few good books I have read on the subject with links to Amazon:

** Is God a Gay Basher by Jan Liebegott

** God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines

** Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee

** Unashamed: A Coming Out Guide for LGBTQ Christians by Amber Cantorna

** UnClobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality by Colby Martin

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

The majority of people according to polls believe in a Supreme Being or God. I am not talking about how many go to church or synagogue weekly but God being more of peoples’ daily conversation. I’m not being judgmental. I enjoy talking about God for my spiritual health but often struggle to always walk the talk. I begin blogging years ago about God, because I couldn’t find people who wanted to converse about God. We don’t often get personal with others, but aren’t conversations about God as important as family and work relationships?

Maybe because of what you think God is like

Now, many are willing to talk about God – churchgoers – but many of us left the institutional church because claims about God’s character was contrary to our deepest moral intuitions. Why believe in a God you can’t respect. It is only intuitive that a Creator loves the ways their creations ought to love one another. Beliefs about God’s love that don’t match how you know you ought to love your neighbor may be amiss. Don’t believe everything you hear about God! See here.

Maybe because previous conversations have been “gotcha” conversions

Conversations with God followers often feels like them trying to change your beliefs. I hate to admit I use to have an agenda with those outside the church. I was taught God’s good news was saving people from Hell so they could get into Heaven. I was wrong according to Jesus. See here.   The ship may have sailed others trusting us to have open conversations. All I know to do is to focus on a life where actions speak louder than words and blog.

Maybe because God-followers make faith in God so complicated 

Many Christians insist on certain beliefs or saying a magic prayer to be a true follower. It’s said you can’t just believe there is a God; the Devil believes in a God! But the Devil was committed to opposing God. I’m not convinced the majority have such a commitment. The Bible even claims faith is what you can’t see, not a set of beliefs. (Heb 11:1) Why can’t a God follower be one who hopes/believes in a good God and seeks help being the person they deep down desire to be?

Maybe because it is said all of the Bible claims about God are true 

Scholars interpret the same passages differently – God condemns gays; God doesn’t condemn gays. We mustn’t act as if our interpretations are inspired by God. And we can’t prove the biblical writers always got God right. Don’t reject God because some claim the Bible doesn’t allow the possibility that God used evolution in the creative process. No one was there in the beginning. You don’t have to believe in Hell, that God is bias against women, that God condemns gays, etc. Don’t disregard your moral intuitions in discerning what God is like. See Rethinking The Bible

Maybe because so much evil and suffering in the world don’t mix with God

I don’t blame you thinking a God who can prevent suffering but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. It is said “everything that happens is part of God’s plan” to supposedly protect God’s all-powerful character. We claim God is a mystery to justify God’s evil is sometimes good. Crazy talk! Controlling love is an oxymoron. God’s nature requires their love to be unselfish and uncontrolling. There may be plausible explanations as to why evils exist and God doesn’t intervene. God may only be able to intervene when there is human cooperation. See God Can’t by Thomas Oord.

Maybe because of some trauma in your life

A child sexually abuse by their father may struggle to accept a God betrayed as our Father in Heaven. Does God really judge them? As mentioned, 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. Does God really judge them? I wasn’t close to my parents. I can’t explain why I accepted than rebelled against their beliefs in God.

Maybe because God-followers as a group are poor role models

We are all hypocrites, but God followers should at least admit and do something about their failings. Clearly Christians don’t get along as more and more churches and denominations keep forming that creates division not unity. Christian opinions should be able to stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving way. Religious leaders fail way too often only to deny their actions and act more authoritative than loving.

Maybe taking a leap of faith is worth it

I must admit I have no idea why many have an intuitive sense of a supreme power or being and other don’t. Let’s don’t accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch or those who question the reality of an invisible God as being evil. If wrong to doubt God exists, Christians sin if doubt God in tough times. It seems a loving God should be up to your challenging God to somehow prove they are worth following. Don’t believe everything others claim about God. If inclined, find a way to include God in your life and thoughts regularly. I am convinced believing in a good God and seeking help to pursuing a godly life is not in vain.

Why Doesn’t God Play A Bigger Role With Those Who Believe In 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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Our common focus is Jesus

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

by Jim Gordon

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.

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.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

Many are inclined to believe there is a Creator, but it’s understandable why many find it hard to believe in an invisible, inaudible God or Spirit. A major obstacle may be claims made about God, often according to one’s understanding or interpretation of the Bible. It is claimed God condemns gays, God is bias against women in roles in the institutional church or other settings, and that God has created a place such as Hell where unbelievers will suffer forever after their death here on earth. It is a hard sell to suggest God’s character is contrary to our deepest moral intuitions.

The Bible can’t be the authoritative guide about God

Biblical scholars with a deep respect for Scriptures don’t interpret the Bible as opposing women priests or preachers or that God condemns gays. See here. See here.  Scholars don’t agree that a literal Hell is a reality in the Bible. And we can’t prove God inspired thus controlled the thoughts of the writers to always portray God accurately. It is just as likely that the Bible is uncontrolled writings that encourage contemplating what a loving God is really like. See Rethinking The Bible

So how can we know what God is like? 

It is only intuitive that a Creator loves the ways their creations ought to love one another. Beliefs about God’s love that don’t match how we know we ought to love our neighbor may be amiss. 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). It isn’t too presumptuous to imagine what a loving God is like through our moral consciences. Don’t believe everything you hear about God! See here.

Why would a relational God be a total mystery? 

The universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Even those who claim God is a mystery judge God according to moral human intuitions. They claim God is a mystery because their interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. (Crazy talk to suggest God can do bad but then call it good). Christians speak of the Holy Spirit guiding them. Unless the Spirit talks to us audibly or visibly, we must discern the Spirit’s guidance by examining our intuitions.

How can we have a relationship with God if we can’t be certain?

God’s plan isn’t a detailed blueprint, to let us in on future secrets, but a general one to set us free to love. A free future can’t be known. God doesn’t have to speak directly about moral decisions. Some decisions are clearly immoral – murder, stealing, adultery. Many decisions aren’t clearly moral. God joins us in an unknown future to take risks to change the world.

So what? Our mental images of God can make a difference in our relationship with God and how we treat others. The more you respect your earthly parents or God, the greater their influence. God’s influence is the only way I know to explain my constant desires to be a better husband, father, and friend. I don’t fail as often as I think I might on my own. Why is God so hidden? God may communicate in less demonstrative ways to allow for non-coerced decisions that lead to lasting convictions. God may speak to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!

How Can We Know What God Is Really Like? So What?

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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