Freedom of beliefs is essential for people and countries to live in peace with one another. Christians and Islamists must consider one another’s opinion gracefully, as long as they don’t violate the freedom of others, so all can work out their own convictions. Different interpretations about God can be easily handled when people don’t violate God’s gift of freedom. We must consider if a teaching seems plausible based on what a loving God would be like. Human reasoning is not the enemy. Biblical interpretations are fallible so our opinions aren’t “the” truth. In any discussion you could be right, I may be right, or we may both be wrong.
Christians must recognize God has been a respecter of freedom of beliefs from the beginning. Otherwise, why would a God who is powerful enough to create not annihilate immediately those who choose evil and oppose God? God never thought fear led to life-changing transformations. Human or spiritual parent brings children into the world hoping their children freely reciprocate their love as opposed to being forced. The God of the Bible surely is not like the supposed God of terrorists who thinks that controlling or destroying free, moral decisions results in true love.
It is suggested God is more of a God of wrath than love in the Bible. God’s tough love was only to deter people from self-destruction. God’s judgments and declarations of war against other nations in the Old Testament were not because of a refusal to worship God, but because people were involved in despicable immoral acts such as child sacrifice. War may be the most humane action with nations today if child sacrifice is a ritual. Jesus got His dander up the most with the religious elite, the Pharisees, because they portrayed God as demanding obedience rather than desiring a relationship which led to religion being self-serving rather than self-sacrificing.
I am not suggesting Christians who preach “believe or go to hell” are the same as religious extremists who behead infidels. But, it is important to understand the traditional meaning and understanding of Hell, where you will burn forever after death for not believing in God while on earth, doesn’t exist in the Bible. Hell, not a translation but a substitution for certain Hebrew and Greek words, is an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. As it turns out God is a respecter of freedom in this life and life after death.
I am not suggesting some Christians are saying Paradise is a lustful adventure for men at the expense of women, but it is important to not be dogmatic that the Bible teaches women are under the authority of men in the God of the Bible eyes. This can encourage dominance on the man’s part and dependence on the woman’s part. God did not create a male-controlled relationship between Adam and Eve in the beginning. Nations thereafter chose to be patriarchal, but God does not simply annihilate people who oppose God’s will. Jesus encouraged equality and mutual respect between the sexes against culture norms. Some religious extremists would rather be dead than advocate for that.
I am not suggesting Christians who believe in a legal understanding of the Cross are child-sacrificers, but it is important to not be dogmatic. The gods of the Old Testament would sometimes demand the sacrifice of children to be appeased. Jesus did not die to appease God’s anger and honor so God could love us. God is more offended by what sin does to us than God. The Cross was not meant to change God’s attitude but our attitude toward God. Jesus walked in our shoes, even facing undeserved suffering, to gain credibility and influence. God is not a blood-thirsty Creator. God went to great means to convince us of their unimaginable love and that their ways were truly in our best interests if we only listened to our hearts. One hint terrorists are misguided is they don’t just blow themselves up to spread their gospel. Jesus didn’t come to conquer the evil Roman Empire; Jesus sacrificed His own life to influence others.
God has been a respecter of freedom of beliefs from the beginning. God knows freedom is necessary for authentic relationships. God only encourages people to listen to their heart. Fear-based theology is a misguided attempt to control our behaviors. God for sure never advocates the torture or beheading of infidels. God never demands that blasphemers be put to death. The traditional understanding of Hell is nowhere to be found in the Bible. Who doesn’t know unending suffering is pointless as it doesn’t produce any good. You can choose to not believe in God but who doesn’t know how you treat others has consequences. God does not have anything in common with any religious extremists concerning freedom of beliefs, women’s rights, or the killing of women and children.