Our theology should not make it difficult for people to turn to God!
I began wondering in my twenties if what I had been taught about my Creator could be a stumbling block to those seeking God. People already are looking for reasons to turn their back on God; let’s don’t give them possibly untruthful reasons. When there are two debatable interpretations that can stand up to scrutiny, I believe we must err on the side that portrays God as the most relational to the human spirit. For example Hell portraying God as a sadistic torturer, if there is a defensible exegetical alternative, should be rejected. Humans don’t even keep their enemies alive on purpose so we can keep burning them.
More recently, I begin to think about wrong theology being harmful to followers. It does not appear fear-based theology has changed the church one bit. Has such theology been a misguided attempt to control our behaviors in an attempt to produce godliness? Jesus seemed to get the angriest with religious types. Jesus seemed to think if people understood God’s true nature and unconditional love for them, this would lead to real change. Does real change come from fear of being caught or genuine respect?
I have always wondered what it meant to be created in God’s image. How are God and I alike? Is what I think is fair in my gut what God is thinking as well? If an interpretation about God’s character doesn’t seem to portray a loving God, then I must keep studying to make sure my interpretation is correct. This is why I have concluded past teachings on topics such as God elects only certain people to enter Heaven or that God favors men over women when it comes to leadership, despite their gifts, is misguided.
Finally, I for some reason get agitated when God is said to be a mystery. How does that invite investigation by those who may be seeking God for the first time? Maybe the way we use the word is not the same way the Bible uses it. I believe God is far more comprehensible than incomprehensible. God created us to know Him and be in a relationship with Him. Sometimes, we may say God is incomprehensible because we can’t explain our theology as to how it could possibly be true about a loving God. Why evil exists and God does not constantly interfere may be more understandable than we think.