Some may assume about God what others have communicated based on their understanding of the Bible. Unfortunately, the Bible has been used to justify racism, gender inequality, or to suggest God wants to establish a Christian nation. God has always respected the freedom of personal beliefs, that don’t violate the rights of others, as the only path to genuine relationships. The Koran is used to justify forcing personal beliefs on others in the name of God. We must always use our brains and hearts when it comes to understanding God.
Many feel strongly that the Bible is God’s infallible inspiration. Textual criticism suggests we know over 95 percent of the words of the original manuscripts. But, it isn’t provable that God interfered with the freedom of a writer to not misrepresent God’s view on a matter, and we would have to prove God inspired others to select over time which Books should be recognized as infallible. Even if you believe the Bible is infallible, interpretations of a writer’s meaning are fallible and the writer isn’t available for clarification. Human reasoning is always necessary in getting to know God. God didn’t intend a Book to replace our relationship with God.
Since human reasoning must be used in deciding on interpretations of Scripture, we need some type of model to decide which interpretation is most likely of a loving God. When two debatable interpretations in Scriptures exist, shouldn’t we err on the side that portrays God as the most relational and rational to the human mind? Said another way God’s morals are surely the same as the highest human morals. God surely wouldn’t demand certain morals from us that God doesn’t live by.
For example some argue that the Bible teaches that God chose before creation who would or wouldn’t have eternal life. Since this doesn’t seem rational to the human mind, it is suggested God’s ways are sometimes mysterious and incomprehensible to the human mind. Earthly parents would be accused of favoritism if acting the same toward their children. Such behavior is morally indefensible and certainly not relational to the human mind concerning a loving God. Similarly, the traditional interpretation of hell is unlikely as not even humans would torture their enemies unending, knowing such suffering is pointless as it doesn’t produce any good.
This doesn’t lead to interpreting the Bible however you want. We all can agree murder, lying, or adultery is immoral. Much of the Bible is clear and we can agree to disagree on the more difficult passages. We can consider one another’s opinion gracefully if they don’t violate the freedom of others. Do we even need the Bible since it leads to so much abuse? The Bible helps to confirm certain characteristics of a Creator that might not always be intuitive. Religious leaders of Jesus’ day taught you needed to obey certain laws to gain acceptance by God. Jesus protested any teaching that suggested God’s acceptance isn’t a given as any loving parent.
If there are certain characteristics of God claimed by others that you just don’t buy, reject it! Don’t allow others’ understanding to keep you from exploring your own views. God always has our best interests in mind but doesn’t stop loving us any more than human parents stop loving us because we fail to obey. Sin effects how we feel about God, not how God feels about us. Humans may have limits as to how many times to forgive. God doesn’t and it is never too late to begin a relationship with God. I view God’s love the same as perfect, human, parenting love that we have always desired.