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)

God isn’t nearly as active in punishing in the New Testament as in the Old Testament. One explanation is that OT writers believed, thus wrote, it was sacrilegious to not express God(s) as all powerful and controlling. A God of freedom doesn’t control our cognitions. NT writers seemed influenced by Jesus’ example. Is God waiting to zap you if making a wrong move, or do our actions have their own destructive consequences? Selfish people often don’t have many friends!

Old Testament views of God’s wrath.

The OT is a bit schizophrenic when describing God and punishment. Ancient literature predating Genesis wrote about local floods in their lands. It is not fabrication if biblical writers used a local flood to illustrate global human problems. This was a common literary practice in Ancient Near East times. But there is no denying God is described as actively destroying than letting evil run its course in the Flood story. God in the OT is said to actively punish the Israelites and their enemies.

The Book of Job can be interpreted to paint a different picture. The moral of the story is that good and evil people suffer in this world. God doesn’t control who is punished and who isn’t punished for their deeds. Job is described as blameless and righteous (1:1) and doesn’t escape suffering. God isn’t portrayed as the bringer of pain, controlling when evil or good folks such as Job suffer.

In the New Testament God seems to respond differently to rebellion.  

The New Testament says the wages of sin is death (Rm. 6:23). This seems to say sin has its own punishment which eventually leads to death, not that God is going around killing people or choosing when people die. How do we explain passages such as Romans 1:24: “Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts ….” Our sins often lead to negative consequences when abandoning God’s ways. Jesus was sacrificed on the Cross and God didn’t punish the guilty. The reward for many believing in Jesus was martyrdom.

A punitive God suggests God is arbitrary. 

No one thinks a loving God plays favorites. Those who suggest God actively punishes reveal an arbitrary God. If God does actively punish and carry out wrath, God is letting a whole lot of evil in the world slide. An arbitrary, punitive God suggests God’s grace is not universal. Christians would admonish one another in Christ if mercy or discipline was exercised in such a fashion. God doesn’t love those spared more than those supposedly punished. 

What is God like?  

The only way to understand God’s love is to compare to human love. We all sense what perfect parental love is, even if we did not always experience it. God surely treats rebellion how we think loving, perfect friends or parents of older children ought to respond to wrongdoing. We hate what sin is doing but we don’t seek to pile on. We warn and don’t interfere with consequences, yet we don’t arbitrarily destroy. We hope for change before it is too late. God’s love, mercy, and encouragement, not God’s need for punishment, leads to becoming the person we desire to be.

 

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts. 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 or like my page on FACEBOOK and leave a comment. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.com

I don’t fully understand why I enjoy reading, discussing, and writing about God. I witnessed hypocrisy growing up but stayed with God. It isn’t because I’m more moral. Many seek to live a honorable life but God’s help isn’t sought in their journey. Depending on God or not depending on God doesn’t prove one has a character flaw. Why might some inclined toward more of a connection with God not bother? I am bias such a relationship can help us be more the kind of person we deep down desire to be.

The Bible may be a major reason many aren’t into God.

Many don’t accept the God of the Bible for good reason. In fact, many God-followers wouldn’t claim certain views toward gays or women if they didn’t believe the Bible requires such beliefs. Does it? See here. The Bible should be read literately rather than literally. Genesis is often claimed to be a scientific understanding of beginnings though not the writers’ intentions. People don’t need to lose their faith because they believe in evolution or that Adam was a representative rather than literally the first human. 

Evil and God just don’t mix despite the freedom argument.

God’s inactiveness with so much evil in the world may be the main reason many are atheists. Why doesn’t a supposedly all-powerful God intervene more? How is God allowing evil any different than a parent who stands by and watches this child being sexually abused? Maybe God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. Divine love limits divine power. Maybe God can only stop evil with the help of others freely helping. See God Can’t by Thomas Oord.

Gays and Women! 

Many only hold their views toward gays or women because a Book inspired by God supposedly condemns gays or restricts roles based on gender than gifts. Why would a gay person believe in a God who supposedly condemn them for sexual choices they no more choose than straights? How could a loving God favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face? Why believe in a God who restricts women though obviously gifted?

Hell is another good reason to reject God!

No one would believe God created a place such as Hell unless a Book on God supposedly claims so. Why would God possibly create Hell to torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. Turns out the Bible doesn’t teach such a place exist. See Here.

Friends with a hidden agenda is a turn-off.    

It is wrong to engage in friendships for the purpose of converting them to your beliefs without advising upfront this is your agenda. We should engage in relationships both to love and be loved. Discussions about God best come up naturally. The sinner’s prayer to avoid Hell isn’t in the Bible. When Jesus interacted with a woman caught in adultery, He first stopped the crowd’s stoning attempts. Then, Jesus simply told the woman “go now, and leave your life of sin” (John 8). Pretty good advice. Didn’t Jesus have a better evangelical spiel in case He never saw the woman again? 

Hypocrisy can be a stumbling block.

The truth is that we all are hypocrites. What human being lives up to the standards they know in their heart are honorable? But it is reasonable to expect those who talk about God to act godly. Baptists, Methodists, Protestants, Catholics, etc. fight over their different creeds, yet all supposedly believe in the same message of loving your neighbor as yourself. Some believe Paul called out gays (I Cor. 6:9-10), but they ignore Paul confronting greed in the same breath. Try living a day without greed before judging. Why would one consider God if god-folks don’t walk the talk?

Do you wish to be more focused on being spiritual?  

Focusing on being a better person physically or spiritually does take initiative rather than being passive. But we all are human. I will be more judgmental when I am where I want to be with my physical health goals. Focusing on being more spiritual with God’s help may though be a lot easier if God-followers didn’t put unnecessary barriers in the path of those seeking.

 

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts. 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 or like my page on FACEBOOK and leave a comment. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.com

 

 

 

The truth is we can’t prove that God exist or doesn’t exist. Either belief takes faith. If a Creator does exist, most agree only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we don’t have some notions of what perfect love is. The only way to understand God’s love is to compare to human love. God surely loves us the way we know how we ought to love others.

God and perfect human love must be the same.

The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We may not always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. God is often claimed a mystery because one’s interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. Such interpreters sense intuitively God and human love are the same.

Moral intuitions are a guide in what true love is.

It is plausible a universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated is how a Creator communicates how to treat others if in that person’s shoes. I don’t know any God or non-God person that doesn’t value the golden rule in relationships. Rational people don’t always agree what is our moral obligation concerning immigration, climate change, abortion, health care, taxes, or responding to evil dictators that murder their own people, but calm dialogue allows evaluating the challenges we encounter and finding what different views have in common.

What does God really think about women, gays, and non-Christians?  

Most intuitively question if a loving God really favors men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face. Most intuitively question if a loving God really condemn gays, who have to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility, when gays can no more choose who attracted to than straights can. Most intuitively question if God would torture infidels forever for beliefs while on earth only for a short time. Humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies.

We can’t know what God’s perfect love is only according to the Bible.

Many don’t question the above views because of the Bible. Did the biblical writers always understand God perfectly as opposed to being on the same spiritual journey we all are on – discovering what God is really like? How would God control every cognition and word written down? Besides, the Bible requires interpretation and biblical scholars, who respect Scriptures, don’t all agree the Bible teaches different roles for women and men or that the Bible condemns monogamous same-sex relationships. Not questioning a Book has led to sick and weak minds carrying out immoral acts contrary to common moral sense.

Uncertainty, rather than certainty, can be a good thing.

Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. It is hard to be relational when so damn certain! It is universally accepted that it is evil to kill or behead someone because of their beliefs unless you are a terrorist. Problems begin when insisting on our interpretation of a supposed inspired Book. God may not communicate more clearly, because God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. The road traveled of learning and reflecting may best lead to lasting convictions. The Bible was more direct communication, but it has been used to force beliefs on others despite subject to interpretation. Different opinions communicated respectively can stand together as we continually evaluate the most loving approach.

Can we judge what is truly evil?  

Terrorists believe that murdering or beheading others for their beliefs isn’t evil. One main clue about extreme behaviors is if our actions demonstrate loving others how we wish to be loved. Would terrorists accept their wives and children being murdered or beheaded for different beliefs from another group claiming God-speak? Even extremists want to be treated with loving kindness. I would ask extremists how we can be certain their Book is really God’s words or that they have interpreted correctly. I assume the conversation would go downhill until one accepts Books can’t be proven inspired or uninspired.

It matters what we think God is like!

Our mental images of God shape our relationship with God and how followers might treat others. The more you respect your earthly parents or God, the closer you are to them. We can’t claim with certainty, which may not be a bad thing, what God would do in every situation but human perfection is our best starting point for discussion. We can’t know what God is exactly like, but continually evaluating the most loving approach openly with others is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. Imagine what God is like. You may be right!

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts. 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 or like my page on FACEBOOK and leave a comment. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.com

The amount of violence recorded as commanded by God is undeniable such as ordering the death of women, children, infants and animals in war (I Sam. 15:3). Many assume a Book supposedly inspired by God means God approved what was written about God. Who is to say the writers weren’t on the same spiritual journey we all are on – discovering what God is really like! Violent views of God can often lead to justifying wars and killing infidels in God’s name.

It is best to admit we can’t prove God inspired (aka approved) all recorded in the Bible.

Let’s be honest. We can’t prove God took over the biblical writers’ minds to control what’s written. Writers rarely claimed audible God-speak. “God said” written hundreds of times could be a figure of speech expressing an inner impression about God – right or wrong. Writers/editors of the Bible didn’t intentionally lie but were honest about their understandings of God at the time. This may explain violence wrongly contributed to God. I think best to not use the word “inspired” as most associate that with God agreeing with every thought or belief the writers had about God.

Did God approve certain violence to bring the Israelites freely along to the truth?

It is argued Israel’s laws were a step up from other ancient near eastern laws. At times maybe they were, but it is rational to question many laws set forth. God surely didn’t approve a woman being required to marry her rapist (Deut. 22: 28-29) or killing boys and non-virgins but sparing virgins for the warriors (Num. 31:18). Did God accommodate because the Israelites couldn’t handle the truth that requiring a woman to marry their rapist or family murderer is further victimization? I doubt it!

Is violence by God simply warfare exaggeration or hyperbole?  

Warfare rhetoric was common in ancient literature to induce fear and victory. But, even if God didn’t mean to be taken literally, why would God inspire violent metaphors like I Sam. 15 to include women, children, infants, and animals? Imperfect, human leaders don’t even use such language. I question if the writers heard God correctly to command such language even metaphorically.

Maybe the violence commanded by God didn’t take place?

Archaeology can suggest biblical events never happened and were recorded centuries later to convey spiritual truths. The creation account in Genesis may not be an actual historical event. It is also pointed out many of the genocide-like commands supposedly from God were not carried out as survivors are listed later in the story. Maybe extermination passages are meant to be understood within the context of initially driving out the enemy. The problem though is that God supposedly said these violent commands – not if commands were obeyed, didn’t take place, or were hyperbole.

Is violence explained because God can do whatever the Hell God wants?  

It is normal to feel compelled to justify passages above because God’s actions in the OT aren’t always moral from a human perspective. So, it is suggested God’s ways don’t have to be fair because God is God. Yet, the Bible encourages us to be perfect like God or imitate God (Mt. 5:48, Eph. 5:1). If human and God’s morals are different, how can we know how to be perfect like God? We don’t always know what perfect love is, but I doubt God is the parent that says “do as I say not what I do.” God’s morals are not some mystery. God’s good isn’t sometimes evil.

Objections when claiming the Bible doesn’t always depict God perfectly.  

  • We can’t know God if we can’t trust the Bible. See here.
  • God wouldn’t allow so much uncertainty. See here.

 God’s uncontrolling rather than controlling love can explain much of the OT.

Many practices in the OT such as animal sacrifices and other behaviors supposedly desired and commanded by God were humans’ understanding of God during those times. God’s love never controls one’s beliefs but seeks to influence for good. Freedom is necessary for authentic, lasting relationships. I have no doubt that the Bible has God’s blessing. So much wisdom has been gained by reading and reflecting. But, God never intended a Book to not be questioned or to take the place of a relationship with God and others. God seeks to influence so we might make choices in the interest of ourselves and others in the long-run.

 

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts. 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 or like my page on FACEBOOK and leave a comment. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.com

 

The traditional understanding of Hell isn’t in the Bible. God isn’t a sadistic torturer who has to be appeased by killing their child? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place to torture their enemies after death. Hell was invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience. Such fear only causes confusion, pisses you off, or leads to hiding stuff. What really is God’s good news?

The Bible says nothing about the traditional understanding of the word Hell. See here.

Gehenna, the Greek word translated as Hell in the New Testament, was the name of a real valley near Jerusalem with a history of terrible slaughter. Gehenna is best translated Gehenna just as Mount Everest is best translated Mount Everest. There is no word in Hebrew or Greek for “hell.” Jesus used Gehenna to illustrate that spiritual death is as tragic as physical death. The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the NT never refers to Hell. Noah, or any prophet in the OT, never warned of Hell as a consequence for behaviors here on earth.

Is God saving us from earth to get into Heaven?  

The word “heaven” appears the most in the Gospel of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a place to go after life on earth. Jesus sought to bring heavenly love to earth – “on earth as in heaven.” Jesus said nothing about dropping to your knees to avoid Hell to go to Heaven after death. But, didn’t the Apostle Paul say “the wages of sin is death” (Rm. 6:23)? Paul is speaking of spiritual death because Paul is still alive though sin has put him to death (Rm. 7:11). Paul mentions Heaven twice in Romans, yet says nothing about Jesus dying so we can go to Heaven (Rm. 1:18, 10:6).

What does the Bible say God is saving us from?

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.” https://redeeminggod.com/confess-jesus-romans-10-9-10/

God wants to save us not from God but from ourselves.

God hurts because we are hurting ourselves and those around us. God seeks to encourage us to pursue heavenly than worldly ways. God seeks to empower us to be the unselfish people we deep down desire to be. This was the message Jesus was willing to die, rather than save Himself, to inspire us seeking God’s help in radically loving others. As God loves us, Jesus encouraged mercy, forgiveness, and going the extra mile in our relationships. Jesus sought changes of the heart for the good of the world. Loving God can empower loving others to the fullest.

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts. 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 or like my page on FACEBOOK and leave a comment. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.com

 

There are many advantages to being a part of a group of people who seek to encourage one another about God. Many of us had to leave the building but we haven’t left God. I will cite a well-researched book that interviews “dones” (Church Refugees by Packard and Hope). I will ask you at the end what your experience has been.

Why I left the church building

I will be brief. I was being taught beliefs about God that didn’t make moral sense of a loving God. They still don’t four decades later. My journey led me to question if Hell is real, if God only lets Christians into heaven, if God determines spiritual roles based on gender than gifts, and if God condemns gays. There are sixteen main misbeliefs about God I write about mostly. See here.  Eventually my journey led to starting and naming my blog What God May Really Be Like

I eventually stop going to the building because I couldn’t stop believing what I was learning. Whatever the leaders of the church teach is want most of the members believe. There was rarely open dialogue or in my opinion intellectual honesty, so I left. I have no desire to be divisive or undermine people’s faith.

Church Refugees seems to suggest the following reasons people left the church building:  

  • Lack of real community. Leaders were quick to judge rather than listen and then listen some more. It is important to earn the relational right to judge.
  • Lack of responsible stewardship. 60% of the budget went toward the 90-minute show without serving better those outside the building. The lights have to stay on but isn’t there better uses of the money?
  • Lack of meaningful dialogue. Being preached at doesn’t allow open discussions. Being so damn certain all the time is hardly relational, especially when even scholars disagree what the Bible says about issues impacting the lives of so many people.
  • Lack of grace. People weren’t looking to excuse their moral failures, but why can’t we focus less on sexual behaviors and more on the poor, homeless, etc. Who is perfect!

I am sure there are many, many reasons people leave the church. Abuse by leadership is real and why many may not only leave the church but God as well. I left because there were no outlets to talk about beliefs claimed about God that I was concerned was leading others away from God.

Why do you think others left or why did you leave the building?

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts. 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 or like my page on FACEBOOK and leave a comment. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.com

 

 

Moses challenged God about destroying the Israelites when they went back to worshipping idols when Moses was up the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments (Ex. 32:1-14). Moses won the argument (32:14). Abraham challenged God about destroying Sodom and Gomorrah and won (Gen. 18). Job challenged that God supposedly always blesses obedience and disobedience is always cursed (Deut. 28). God ended up agreeing with Job against his friends about the real world of justice. The God of the Bible doesn’t mind being doubted or challenged.

In Genesis 22 Abraham faces the challenge if to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar. Was God testing if Abraham would question and ultimately tell God NO? (See Matthew Korpman, Saying No To God). Let’s look at some textual clues:

  • If this is a story of God really wanting Abraham to kill Isaac in obedience to God, we must believe God actually would ever approve child sacrifice. God condemned child sacrifice (i.e. Lev. 18:21). Abraham should doubt if God would participate in a practice God abhorred!
  • Abraham tell his servants “we” (Abraham and Isaac) will be back (Gen. 22:5). The concept of a resurrection, after Abraham followed orders, simply didn’t exist during these times. Abraham must have thought God was providing a lamb (v.8), or Abraham was going to say No to God!
  • Abraham takes out a knife as if preparing to sacrifice Isaac (v. 10). Since Abraham doubted God approved, Abraham could have been challenging God to stop all the charades.
  • It seems God intended to stop Abraham if he didn’t take a stand against God (vs. 11-12).

Was God wrong to test Abraham, by challenging him to consider doing something immoral, to see if he truly understood God? In God’s defense, sometimes you can tell people till blue in the face what is right and it goes in one ear and out the other. Different communications may get through better such as a parable or a test. God gave Abraham a moral brain and expected him to us it!

Women, Gays, and Hell

Do you doubt a loving God would favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face? Do you doubt God condemn gays when gays can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? Do you doubt a loving God tortures anyone forever, when humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies? Different biblical interpretations are plausible. I am challenging any interpretation that makes no moral sense according to the brain God gave me!

Which view of God should we lean toward?  

It seems a universal, inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated is one way a Creator would communicate what is good versus evil? Choose the claim or interpretation about God that doesn’t contradict your intuitive sense of a loving God. Discuss with others. You are free to choose the most loving way. We don’t always know what perfect love is, but it is better to challenge God than not question God and be wrong. Imagine what God may be like. You may be right!

 

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts. 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 or like my page on FACEBOOK and leave a comment. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.com

 

 

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