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It is said that God demands worship and awe which may discourage a close relationship and oppose God’s wishes.  God, like any loving parent, only hopes to persuade through mutual respect that their love is in one’s best interest. We weren’t created to worship God so shut up and give God the glory. God surely created us to share life together.

Doesn’t the Bible command respect for God?

It is easy to read the Old Testament and think that God demanded respect from the Israelites or else! The OT also speaks of Abraham and Moses thinking of God as a Friend. It matters how one reads the Bible. The writers in getting to know God were influenced by their culture where gods were to be feared and revered. But, then Jesus who claimed to be God in flesh didn’t initiate relationships by demanding respect. Jesus got His dander up the most with the religious elite who portrayed God as demanding obedience rather than desiring a relationship.

God’s uncontrolling nature suggests God’s desire for genuine relationships.

If God was controlling or demanded obedience or respect, wouldn’t there be a lot less evil in the world? God doesn’t appear to be like the God of extremists who think that controlling or destroying free, moral decisions result in true love. It may that a God who respects freedom can’t always intervene to stop evil. God may know what we humans know – freedom not force likely leads to genuine, lasting transformations.

The Bible isn’t the only place to understand God and relationships.

The Bible doesn’t even claim to be the specific or only guide to Truth. Jesus when leaving this earth said His Spirit, not some Book, would guide us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem worried that Truth always requires discernment. Those who claim biblical writers always understood God perfectly likely accept that God created us in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). That passage has a sense of God desiring we represent God here on earth. How can we represent an inaudible God who leaves us with a Book subject to interpretation if we don’t share moral and relationship expectations influenced by God’s Spirit?

Who do you have the most genuine, closest relationships?

I know some may consider it heresy to suggest parents should earn not expect respect as their children age. My parents grew up in the generation where children were expected to be seen and not hear. Parents weren’t seeking to earn their child’s respect must less become close friends as they grew older. Parents were always parents and children were always children.

I was convinced that my children were more likely to act on my guidance, which should be in their best interest, when they desired to do so out of respect than commanded to do so. “Do as I say and not what I do” didn’t make sense to me. Our obedience has absolutely nothing to do with God’s love or a parent’s love for us. Employees or parents have genuine followers not by demanding respect but when there is a sense of mutual respect.

God seeks a close relationship through mutual respect.

God never thought fear led to life-changing transformations. Has gloomy uncertainty as to God’s favor conquered your battles against self-centeredness or long-standing habitual sins? Getting to know what God is truly like can inspire us to be the kind of persons we deep down truly want to be. You can’t get enough of a person or God because you have so much respect, not because you are commanded to love. Love out of fear often only leads to brief obligations out of guilt. My prayers alone or with others doesn’t begin: “Dear God, the Holy One, the Feared Creator of the Universe…” Such talk doesn’t invite getting to know one’s Creator. I talk to God as if a close Friend, and I haven’t been struck dead yet!

 

It is suggested Jesus showed a better way through example and words, than the Old Testament, by dealing with enemies and relationships by non-violent means. But, would Jesus condemn a nation who sought peaceful means to resolve terrorist threats but when necessary protected themselves? Would Jesus really condemn an individual citizen who opened fire on one seeking to kill all in site in a school setting? If you would protect your own children, why not consider means to protect children in a foreign land from a dictator who enslaves them for sex and other evil acts?

It matters how we represent God when it comes to violence.

Condemning others in God’s name when we aren’t absolutely sure of God’s disapproval can drive people to unwarranted feelings of guilt with God or cause people to reject God for wrong reasons. One may think: “Why would a God who doesn’t intervene always in evil not allow me to protect myself.”  Obviously, God is opposed to beheading others for their religious beliefs. When we advise God opposes all violence, implying it is wrong to protect ourselves against evil, such words condemn military individuals fighting for freedoms or private citizen forced to protect their family or others in a dangerous situation. Does God really condemn all violence?

The Bible can’t be our only source for guiding us about God. 

The Bible surely wasn’t written to be an answer book as to what God would do in our unique situation. Jesus often didn’t answer questions directly. Jesus sought to change hearts which changes how we solve our problems. Imagine a world where all looked out for the interests of others and not just themselves when dealing with difficulties. Besides, literature requires interpretation and we don’t always agree what the writer meant speaking for God. Even the Bible tells us the Word of God has never been the Bible but flesh in the body of Jesus (Jn. 1:1-14). Jesus’ Spirit now lives in us to guide us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). Reading the Bible with a questioning spirit rather than blind obedience can lead to more accurate understandings of God.

Does Jesus really oppose all violence?  

As you might suspect since the Bible must be interpreted, there is disagreement about the passage most often used to advice Jesus speaks to a new way in dealing with our enemies: “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also…You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Mt. 5: 39, 43-44). I just don’t know anyone in their right mind that would advise a wife being beat by their husband to turn the other cheek or not protect themselves. It is possible the literal translation of Mt. 5:39 is “do not resist by evil means” which is more in line with Rm. 12:17: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.”  

I am opposed to pulling verses from the Bible to prove a point, but there are passages which can suggest God is not opposed to protective violence. In Acts 23 the Apostle Paul, who wrote much of the NT, defended himself quite strongly and then requested military protection from being killed by religious leaders. Jesus didn’t exactly turn the other cheek when struck while defending His innocence (Jn. 18:22-23). Parables are not meant to be taken strictly literally, but one might think if Jesus was opposed to all violence His teaching would have less violent metaphors (i.e. Mt. 13, 18, 25; Mk. 12; Luke 20). Evil is real and may require a violent response.

What we can know for certain about God and violence.   

The majority may agree that God would oppose violence if more peaceful means were available to individuals or nations. More often than not violence begets violence. If we are always looking to meet violence with violence and never consider peaceful means, there will never be room for changes of heart and forgiveness. But, if you think niceness always begets niceness and a soft answer always turns away wrath, you may be leaving a slew of victims behind. In fact, some may only change when forcefully confronted with the pain they are causing. Though we may not know exactly what God would do in each situation, human shortcomings suggest violence should be our last option. If you are anything like me, I am quick to defend myself and confront others without consideration of other possibilities.

Lack of certainty what God or Jesus would do doesn’t have to lead to chaos.

Supposed certainty in the name of God has led to justifying genocide, sexism, homophobia, racism, and other atrocities. Being unable to declare the certainty of our opinions about God forces us to listen, think carefully, and come to an agreement. I don’t always know what God would do in personal or national situations. I do think the Bible as a whole encourages not seeking revenge and praying for ways to change hearts. I can’t say God would never advise a nation or individual to meet evil with force.  Future lives may be saved. I do think the Bible as a whole encourages exhausting all peaceful ways possible. God surely desires a world where all look out for the interests of others and not just themselves when dealing with difficulties.

 

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!

 

How can we know God even exist?

I’m not sure why some are inclined to believe in a Creator more than others. I am not always a better human than some who don’t believe in God; I do know I am a better man with God’s influence. Don’t reject God because you can’t believe what others claim about a loving God. They may be wrong! It takes faith to believe that God or Heaven exist or that “we live and we die.” I am convinced my belief in a loving God isn’t wasting my time on earth.

How can we know what a relationship with an invisible God is like?

If there is a Creator, it is plausible they instilled in their creations a way to know them. An invisible, loving, perfect God – which most demand if One claims to be God – could reveal themselves through perfect human love. God is like a perfect human parent! God or parents don’t ask for worship or respect for egotistical reasons, but so we might become more like them. A relationship with God is surely better than any amazing human relationship we wished we had.

So, what is perfect human or Godly love like?

Until we believe God is worth respecting, we will never have the relationship with God we desire.  When loved by another person you deeply respect and care what they think, you feel total acceptance not judged. You can never get enough of their wisdom, but you never feel forced in what decision you make. I so long for a relationship with a older person that I have a deep respect for, so to grow more in wisdom. You just cannot get enough of humanly or godly perfect love!

What God doesn’t promise in a relationship?

I don’t like to make promises about or for God. I can tell you that the prosperity gospel is miserably false. A person who believes that all their troubles will be swept away through a relationship with God is left with the logical explanation that God has failed them. Why don’t these false teachers take their message to those in extreme poverty or go to hospitals and heal the sick? The Bible is clear that lack of faith is not the reason for physical ailments or economic hardships. In my experience I can promise you once you understand God you will be a better person than you were.

What may be God’s greatest promise in a relationship?

Think of God’s Spirit residing in us as other influential voices in our lives. God promises to influence and empower us to be the perfect partner, parent, or friend we desire to be deep down. We know the Spirit’s influence when we have wronged someone, we quickly confess and make amends. That just isn’t always natural. We know the Spirit’s influence when we don’t seek to control our friends or children. Such freedom leads to heart-felt lasting choices, not brief obligations to obey motived by fear or guilt. God speaks to when we hear: I love you; I forgive you; I won’t abandon you.

God isn’t offended you thinking what’s in it for me!

God seeks to encourage not condemn, so we might be the person we deep down desire to be. A relationship with God empowers us to be more like God. God isn’t pissed if you ignore them any more than a loving mom or dad is. They will do whatever it takes to convince you they love you and have your best interest in mind. They seek to influence you and your relationships for good.

The Synchroblog is where bloggers write on spiritual topics – often different perspectives. This month is How Are Christians Doing Disagreeing? Links to articles will be put at end of this Post August 29

I recently wrote how a nation can handle their differences less chaotically here. Obviously, not all people are God-followers. I have written how marriages can best handle differences like a nation here.  Finally, I wrote an open letter to President Trump, which I am sure he has framed on his wall, how leadership must lead here. But, Christians or God-followers surely need to set the example for handling our differences since we claim and aspire to love others as God loves!

God-followers sadly are not leading the way!

The Christian’s, God-follower’s, or religious person’s motto is to treat others like we want to be treated. It often doesn’t happen! In a Facebook group discussion when I suggested the Bible can’t be the final word about God since biblical scholars disagree on meanings of the same passages, one God-folk starts the conversation “poor lost soul.” Okay, maybe you aren’t that uncharitable, but how do you start a conversation after a statement pisses your soul off?

Over 30,000 denominations in America reeks of conflict though we all claim to worship the same God. I feel like throwing around a few tables in the temple. I want to curse and shame God-followers who can’t agree to disagree. But, I have a confession. I have a legacy of not agreeing to disagree respectfully. I claimed and still do sometimes that my raised voice, etc. is just passion but those very close to me don’t always agree.

So, what is the main reason that God-followers or Christians suck as examples?

God-followers must stop implying or claiming moral superiority because of the Bible. The Bible can’t be the definitive guide what God is like because interpretations of literature aren’t infallible. Scholars disagree what God according to the Bible thinks about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, end-of-the world views, etc. The fact that we may disagree, even if we had the original autographs, make infallibility a mute issue. Most God-followers seem to know physical and emotional violence is wrong, but they seem unaware how they come off morally superior based on their assumptions about the Bible. Let’s change!

I know, I know, we can’t know God if we don’t believe the Bible is inspired.

This is the most common attack when suggesting we need to rethink the Bible. How did over half those born into this world know God since they didn’t have a Bible? Besides, literature requires interpretations which aren’t infallible. Our moral outrage hints of a common, human Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. All are opposed to murder, abuse, thievery, etc. whether you believe in God or not. But, some condemn gays or women entering the priesthood because supposedly a Book disapproves in God’s name. Yet, the Bible tells us the Word of God has never been the Bible but flesh in the body of Jesus (Jn. 1:1-14). Jesus’ Spirit now lives in us (Jn. 14:16-17), and the Spirit knows the thoughts of God (I Cor. 2: 11-16). Let’s rethink the Bible:

https://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/rethinking-the-bible/

Uncertainty doesn’t have to lead to chaos!

It is more logical to suggest we can’t be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks. Unfortunately, supposed certainty has led to justifying atrocities as slavery and early church theologians not opposing the execution of those not agreeing with their theology. God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating through our moral senses, but God’s overpowering presence in our lives may only lead to consuming guilt or fearful obligations to obey. Being unable to declare the certainty or morality of our opinions forces us to listen and express ideas openly in love. Starting a conversation with “I may be wrong” more likely leads to new understandings and creative solutions. Try it in marriage, friendships, or spiritual conversations. Let’s stop inciting others from being open to spirituality and God!

Can you imagine a world where God-folks …. 

  • Didn’t claim or imply moral superiority, thus looking more Jesus like
  • Didn’t communicate as if their interpretations were infallible, thus forcing God on others
  • Didn’t think leaders had to know-it-all when it comes to what God is really like

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts only. No other unrelated emails will be sent. Go to About/Using This Site tab at top of page or Menu on phones to help navigate this Site. If you wish to discuss anything I have written, you can email me at medwar2@gmail.com

Here are links from those who contributed this month. Go read them all!

What God May Really Be Like – Why Can’t Even God-Followers Get Along?

Wesley Rostoll – Why did God accept Abel’s offering and not Cain’s?

Jeremy Myers – Three Views on Hell (and a fourth view I hold)

Liz Dyer – Religious Freedom is NOT Freedom to Discriminate

Jordan Hathcock – Let’s Get Dirty

How can we know God even exist?

I’m not sure why some are inclined to believe in a Creator more than others. I am not a better man than some who don’t believe in God; I do know I am a better man with God’s influence. Don’t reject God because you can’t believe what others claim about a loving God. They may be wrong! It takes faith to believe that God or Heaven exist or that “we live and we die.” I am convinced my belief in a loving God isn’t wasting my time on earth.

How can we know what a relationship with an invisible God is like?

If there is a Creator, it is plausible they instilled in their creations a way to know them. An invisible, good, perfect God could reveal themselves through perfect human love. God is like a perfect human parent! God or parents don’t ask for worship or respect for egotistical reasons, but so we might become more like them. A relationship with God is surely better than any amazing human relationship we wished we had.

So, what is perfect human of Godly love like?

Until we believe God is worth respecting, we will never have the relationship with God they desire.  When loved by another person you deeply respect and care what they think, you feel total acceptance not judged. You can never get enough of their wisdom, but you never feel forced in what decision you make. I so long for older relationship where I have such a deep respect, so I might grow more in wisdom. You just cannot get enough of humanly or godly perfect love!

What God doesn’t promise in a relationship?

I don’t like to make promises about or for God. I can tell you that the prosperity gospel is miserably false. A person who believes that all their troubles will be swept away through a relationship with God is left with the logical explanation that God has failed them. Why don’t these false teachers take their message to those in extreme poverty or go to hospitals and heal the sick? The Bible is clear that lack of faith is not the reason for physical ailments or economic hardships. In my experience I can promise you once you understand God you will be a better person than you were.

What may be God’s greatest promise in a relationship?

Think of God’s Spirit residing in us as other influential voices in our lives. God promises to influence and empower us to be the perfect partner, parent, or friend we desire to be deep down. We know the Spirit’s influence when we have wronged someone, we quickly confess and make amends. That just isn’t always natural. We know the Spirit’s influence when we don’t seek to control our friends or children. Such freedom leads to heart-felt lasting choices, not brief obligations to obey motived by fear or guilt. God speaks to when we hear: I love you; I forgive you; I won’t abandon you.

God isn’t offended you thinking what’s in it for me.

God seeks to encourage not condemn, so we might be the person we deep down desire to be. A relationship with God empowers us to be more like God. God isn’t pissed if you ignore them any more than a loving mom or dad is. They will do whatever it takes to convince you they love you and have your best interest in mind. They seek to influence you and your relationships for good.

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts only. No other unrelated emails will be sent. Go to About/Using This Site tab at top of page or Menu on phones to help navigate this Site. If you wish to discuss anything I have written, you can email me at medwar2@gmail.com

The writers didn’t claim to always be talking to God directly; they often wrote about their impressions from God. Besides, the writers’ words are subject to interpretation and we may get their correct views wrong so the Bible can’t be our absolute understanding of God. Many may admit God accommodated writers’ less than perfect understandings of God but insist the Bible is God’s inspired or authoritative word. But, why would God inspire or claim authoritative false understandings? We must be careful misrepresenting God, so others don’t reject God for the wrong reasons. I address here questions, as briefly as possible, that come to mind when questioning if the biblical writers understood God perfectly.  A link for more detailed explanations listed at the end.

Can we prove or disprove writers understood God perfectly?

It is circular logic to suggest the Bible is infallible or inspired because biblical writers make such a claim. Many who accept the Bible being infallible would not accept the Quran being infallible because it claims to be. Writers weren’t claiming they heard an audible voice when writing “God said.”  God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t support God performing a lobotomy on OT writers’ impressions of what they thought God was telling them. 

Even if we could prove writers understood God perfectly, are interpretations perfect?

The Bible can’t be the definitive guide what God is like because interpretations of literature aren’t infallible. Scholars disagree what God according to the Bible thinks about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, end-of-the world views, etc. The fact that we may disagree, even if we had the original autographs, make infallibility an impossibility.  We can’t know if a writer may advise another audience differently, since no circumstances are exactly the same. Jesus said turn the other cheek but would He give such advice to a wife being beat by their husband?

Why we have every right to question if God inspired all of the Bible?

I Samuel 15:3 says God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” There are hundreds of passages like this in the Old Testament. When believing writers understood God perfectly, one is tempted to rationalize how a good God could endorse genocide. This renders goodness nonsensical and unknowable! It is appropriate to ask if God really inspired such a thought. Reading the Bible with a questioning spirit rather than blind obedience can lead to a more accurate understanding of God.

Is a fallible Bible really worse than an infallible Bible?

When one is certain what God thinks according to the Bible and fails to acknowledge their interpretation could be wrong, this can lead to forcing supposed certainty on others and other unloving actions. It has led to claiming God condemns gays and women can’t serve as priests or pastors. A fallible Book can lead to acting more loving by listening to differences openly, leading to new understandings and creative solutions. Different opinions, that don’t violate the physical rights of others, can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach which is God’s approach (I Jn. 4:8).

How can we know God if not through the Bible?

Our moral outrage hints of a common, human Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. All are opposed to murder, abuse, thievery, etc. whether you believe in God or not. All object from    being stolen from. We just know if something is moral or immoral. The only reason some condemn gays or women entering the priesthood is because supposedly a Book disapproves in God’s name. Even the Bible seems to suggest Jesus was a more exact representation of God than prophets (Heb. 1:1-3), so we should interpret all of Scriptures through Jesus’ example and words as best we can.

Are there dangers in assuming biblical writers understood God perfectly?

An infallible or inspired view of Scriptures has led down the slippery slope of assuming interpretations are inspired. Not questioning if writers always understood God perfectly has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities in the supposed name of God. Different opinions must stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach, rather than forcing our opinions on others in the name of God.

Might the Bible actually defend what you believe true about a perfect God?

Hell is not biblical. No Hebrew or Greek word pictures what our word Hell suggests – a fiery torture chamber. The Bible doesn’t deny women entrance into priesthood, or say husbands are leaders over their wives. My Bible suggests women need unselfish men who have the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29). Many, many biblical scholars who believe in the authority of Scriptures do not believe the Bible condemns monogamous, gay relationships.

Why bother reading the Bible if we can’t trust the writers always understood God?

The Bible claims to be God-breathe which can literally mean God-spirited (2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible didn’t exist as we know when the Apostle Paul wrote this statement. Could this passage mean God uses writings on paper about God to touch our spirit? The Bible records beginnings with God culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other documents. God can draw us to do good and shun evil when talking or reading about God. But, the majority born never had a Bible so God can speak to us by other means. 

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. 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 you are reporting the facts. Jesus simply was not the stuff legends were made up.  See here

Do God-Followers have to read the Bible or are we better off without the Bible?

The Bible can be used to unite and encourage or divide and discourage. Don’t read the Bible if it discourages you from loving others like you want to loved. Keep in mind that billions of people have lived and died without any knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. We may be better off without the Bible if a Book replaces our relationship with God and common moral sense. But, it can be helpful for individual religions to have written records so contradictions can be weighed respectfully to determine what is more likely truth about a loving God. 

Was the Bible written to answer my specific question?   

The Bible is often read as if an answer Book for our particular dilemma. One may read the passage about turning your other cheek and assume God says we can’t defend ourselves against violence. When I write I am not hoping one picks a random sentence (aka verse in the Bible) to address their problem. The Bible can’t record all the speaker didn’t say in a situation or might say differently if speaking to a different audience with their unique circumstances. Divorce is not ideal but in some circumstances, it might be best. Jesus didn’t always answer questions directly but spoke about our hearts. Can you imagine a world where all looked out for the interests of others and not just themselves when dealing with difficulties?

How can we read the Bible?

Read the Bible reflectively than for solutions to specific problems. The issue is our heart in solving problems as circumstances vary. Read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love.  Don’t check your moral conscience at the door as you consider what a loving God is really like. Unquestioning obedience has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities in the name of God. Reading the Bible reflectively rather than with blind obedience can continue to influence millions to live a more selfless life.

Why would God allow so much uncertainty?  

It is more logical to suggest we can’t be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks, but supposed certainty has led to justifying atrocities as slavery and theologians such as St. Augustine not opposing the execution of those not agreeing with their theology. God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating through our moral senses, but God’s overpowering presence in our lives may only lead to consuming guilt or fearful obligations to obey. How is human physical presence working in keeping you on the straight and narrow and not hiding actions from human partners or friends?  Beliefs are seldom life-changing or lasting if not freely chosen. God may know human nature benefits more through a relationship than being told what to do.

Why do we hold on to an infallible or inspired view of the Bible?

I know pastors and professors may lose their job speaking openly by questioning the Bible being the definitively guide on what God is like. I didn’t always speak openly about my profession – Mental Health. When you have written books with one view, it isn’t easy to go in an opposite direction. See my journey with the Bible  here. It is commonly suggested if the Bible isn’t inspired, “then you can’t know God for sure.” This assumes of course interpretations are infallible. Many leaders aren’t comfortable claiming uncertainty. It is much easier giving advice due to supposed certainty rather than listening and helping one make their own decisions. Even the Bible tells us the Word of God isn’t a Book but flesh in the body of Jesus (Jn. 1:1-14), whose Spirit now lives in us (Jn. 14:16-17).

Can you imagine a world where Bible folks didn’t assume they were right about God according to the Bible?  

  • Imagine a world were women were treated equally and gays were not condemned according to God
  • Imagine a world where all followed the main teachings of the Bible by looking out for the interests of others and not just themselves with God’s help
  • Imagine what a perfect God is like if the Bible didn’t exist
  • Imagine the Bible is worth reading but it matters how we read it
  • Imagine a journey getting to know God as opposed to be told for sure what God is like

Do you use others’ perceptions of God to not seek understanding of God on your own?

If seeking more explanation of questions asked above, please see here.

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