Our mental views of God shape our attitudes toward God. Misbeliefs about God hinder engaging with God to pursue spirituality. If you think there may be a God, I am convinced you will not regret pursuing more of a connection with your Creator than regretting having a closer relationship with your partner, children, or friends. In this series of Posts the Bible is referenced because that is from where views of God are often formed. What if you discovered God isn’t a religious extremist much less the God of terrorists who demand certain beliefs or allegiance or be rejected or killed.
- Since the Bible is full of God’s anger and wars, it is supposed that God demands certain beliefs or allegiance or be rejected or killed. Religious extremists, much less terrorists, don’t understand what the God of the Bible understood. True love, where authentic relationships can develop, cannot be forced even by an all-powered God. The God of the Bible doesn’t control or destroy free decisions as if that resulted in true love. Religious fanatics refuse to consider one another’s opinion, so all can work out their own convictions. Unfortunately, theologians such as St. Augustine and Calvin didn’t understand the importance of freedom to God, as they did not oppose the execution of those who disagreed with their theology.
- God’s declarations of war were not against those who simply refused to worship the God of Israel. Why then would a God opposed to evil, who is powerful enough to create, allow so much evil in the world? The God of any extremist is neither patience or tolerant of rebellion. Israel had occupied land in Canaan until taken into slavery by Egypt. It does not appear God or the Israelites simply went to war with only desires to conquer.
- The Israelites demonstrated willingness to live in peace with their neighbors, but Old Testament nations weren’t isolationists but sought to conquer. I doubt there are any pacifists when their child is being attacked. God sought to protect and isolate Israel from other nations involved in horrible immoral acts such as child sacrifice. I imagine most of us, if we lived next to an armed community where hundreds of children were being used as sex objects, would even be the aggressor to save the lives of current and future generations.
- God not only respects the right to choose your own personal beliefs in this life, but God does not torture people after death for such decisions. The word Hell, a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words, was invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience. No such place as Hell exists according to the Bible. Like God is going to sadistically torture people forever for their beliefs while here on earth a short time!
- Most Christian extremists don’t say 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 God’s 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; nation thereafter chose to be patriarchal. Jesus encouraged equality and mutual respect between the sexes against culture norms, but some religious extremists would rather be dead than advocate for that.
- God in the Bible is said to desire a friendship than demand obedience in hopes to change the world for good. Jesus confronted the most the religious elite because they portrayed God as demanding obedience rather than desiring a relationship. No human or spiritual parent desires their children feel forced as opposed to freely reciprocating their love.
A loving God respects the freedom of beliefs in this life and after death, encourages men and women to be equally vulnerable to one another, and seeks only to convert others from evil actions. Jesus suffered so we might consider His message that our Creator loves us and seeks to empower in doing good and shunning evil. Any religion based on control than service isn’t true religion. A loving God surely respects freedom of beliefs if not violating the rights of others.