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Archive for March, 2018

If God Didn’t Inspire The Bible, What Was God’s Role?

We have to question God’s role with the Bible when reading passages that contribute horrific violence to a supposedly good God. I Samuel 15:3 says God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” There are many, many passages like this in the Old Testament. 

It is suggested the Bible is God’s infallible or inerrant words to us.

Why would a good God morally think or say the exact words above that command violence? Besides, how would God control the minds and words of the writers so not impacted by cultural influences that suggest it is sacrilegious to not speak of God being all-powerful and controlling? God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t support God performing a lobotomy on OT writers. Something else must be going on.

It is suggested the Bible is inspired by God, though God didn’t necessarily override less than perfect views such as the earth being flat than round.

God inspiring the Bible implies God approved or motivated immoral views that contributed so much violence in God’s name. It is suggested God accommodated certain views, such as animal sacrifice, to freely bring to a better understanding of God’s desires. But, why would God accommodate rather than disclaim genocidal-like behaviors. Something else must be going on.

It is suggested the Bible is God-breathed to possibly avoid using words like infallible or inspired.

2 Timothy 3:16 is the New Testament passage most frequently referred to suggest the Bible is God-breathed: “All Scriptures is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” The challenge is God-breathe is subject to wide interpretation, thus not clarifying God’s possible role with the Bible.

I suggest the Bible simply represents God’s desire for a recording of coming alongside Israel climaxing in the life of Jesus in getting to know what God is really like.

We can’t prove whether the writers did or didn’t have perfect views of God, but it seems a moot point. The Bible can’t be an authoritative or definitive guide of what God is like exactly because we disagree what it says. Literature is always subject to interpretation, so even if you believe the Bible is God’s infallible words to us, our interpretations can never be infallible. We must approach the Bible with an open-mind and some uncertainty.

https://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/2018/03/17/we-cant-know-what-god-is-like-for-certain-is-that-so-bad/

 So, how can we read the Bible?

God joined us here on earth with the communication means available so we may grow more in understanding what God is like and would do in situations. A Book can’t replace our relationship with God and others. God never intended for us to check our moral conscience at the door in considering what a loving God is truly like. Read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love. Different opinions can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach in circumstances we face. Is it better we threaten or force our supposed inerrant or inspired opinions on others in the name of God?

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Open Letter – Parents Who Worry Their Child Isn’t Going To Heaven Because Of Beliefs

It is natural for parents who believe in an afterlife to be concerned about their child’s future destiny. It is also quite natural for parents, who believe the Bible teaches there is a Hell and that certain beliefs are necessary to go to Heaven, to be concerned when their child doesn’t proclaim beliefs their parents think necessary. I am convinced such parents need not worry.

A particular view of how one is saved according to the Bible, thus going to Heaven, is frequently taught in Christian churches. It is said to be important one must say some version of the sinner’s prayer to be saved to go to Heaven and avoid Hell: “God, I am a sinner and ask for forgiveness. Jesus, I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. Please come into my heart as I trust you as my Savior.”

Does the Bible teach certain beliefs are necessary to be saved and go to Heaven?

Jeremy Myers at his blog redeeminggod.com says: “In Scripture, the word “save” (saved, salvation, Savior, etc.) almost never means ‘gain eternal life so you can go to heaven when you die.’ This is what most Christians think the word means, and this is how most Christians use this word, but the Bible does not support such a definition. The word ‘saved’ simply means ‘deliverance’ … You can be delivered from enemies, sickness, drowning, premature death, and a variety of other disasters… look in the context to figure out what kind of deliverance is in view.” The Bible refers to everlasting life as a quality, not quantity, of life to begin living here on earth. When Jesus was asked directly how to obtain eternal life, He said nothing about Heaven (Lk. 10:25-28). Jesus spoke of a life worth living being a loving life empowered by our Creator.

Christian parents worry about their child’s beliefs not only to go to Heaven but avoid Hell.

I am totally convinced the traditional understanding of Hell is not in the Bible. In the New Testament the Greek word Gehenna translated into the word hell was a real valley near Jerusalem known as a site for terrible slaughters. Gehenna, a pronoun needing no translation, symbolized choosing selfishness over love lead to spiritual death. Gehenna (Hell) is not a place created by God where people go after death to be tortured forever for not accepting Jesus.

So, it doesn’t matter what my child believes in God’s eyes?

A loving God, like any loving parent, wants their child to live a life that leads to less regrets in the long-run. No child or parent lives a perfect life, but is your child on the right track or did they not hear a word you said and only give a damn about themselves and not others? If you taught your child to be totally self-centered, you got what you deserve. But, I doubt such parents are reading this. Now, some children despite loving parents have gone completely off the guardrails. It happens because children as they get older have the freedom to make their own choices and temptations seek us out. I hope such parents can at least draw comfort that good parents increase the chances of a child making better choices or returning to their senses at some point in life.

Why would a loving Creator’s love be any different than an imperfect parent’s love?

The Bible is a story about God coming down to join the nation of Israel to reveal his love for all nations. God came in the person of Jesus to reveal God’s desire to empower all to live life to the fullest. I fail often and God picks me right back up and encourages me to not give up the good fight. That is all Christian parents want for their children – to feel loved and empowered to live a life in their best interest. That is what life is about in God’s and a parent’s eyes – not escaping earth to go to Heaven and avoid Hell.

I am sure many who are reading this are still skeptically of what I claim the Bible says.

Let’s assume that a set of beliefs is required for eternal life. First, keep in mind the majority of people born into this work didn’t have a Bible thus knowing anything about Jesus. Is a loving God really going to have everlasting life with one’s Creator depend on a Book most never had? Besides, God wouldn’t make a Book an authoritative guide about supposed required beliefs. Literature must be interpreted so definitive conclusions aren’t possible. So, we don’t have to live in fear about “required” beliefs our children must have.

In case you believe certain beliefs are necessary to go to Heaven, one can’t assume God is not a God of second chances after death. God gives us a million chances here on earth, but then the moment we die God’s forgiveness well dries up! Imperfect parents can’t stop being forgiving. Are we more forgiving than our Creator? If you think I might be right about what the Bible says about Hell, then those who claim the Bible teaches there are no second chances could be wrong.

But, my child has no excuses to not be laser-focused spiritually.

Even if you accept that there aren’t certain beliefs one must have here on earth to be accepted by God after death, you may think you child has no excuses because you taught there is a God who wants to have a relationship with each and every one of us. Your child seemingly has no interest. Aren’t they without excuse? I don’t agree. There are as many reasons why they aren’t seemingly spiritual-minded. First, you don’t know they don’t believe in God or have some kind of relationship though they don’t talk about it much. No one knows what goes on in private. I got friends who wear their spirituality on their forehead and they can’t walk in the boots of some friends, who rarely speak of God, who treat others much better like they want to be treated. I could show you in the Bible where beliefs don’t matter – if you aren’t walking the talk, you aren’t walking with the Lord. Our futures surely don’t depend on some kind of beliefs but God’s grace and mercy.

I can’t name all the reasons one isn’t as spiritual-minded as you are.  Maybe people in their life claiming to know God, they wanted nothing to do with their God. Maybe they see all the suffering in the world and can’t get their head around how a loving God could truly exist. Would you rather they not care about all the suffering in the world! Some have heard what some Christians claim about creation that don’t fit the scientific facts. Maybe they have called on God in the past and feel nothing happened. Yes, there are good reasons why people are atheists! But, this is more about God than what your child does or doesn’t believe. Does God run out of patience or give up when one doesn’t accept God in the way you do?  Your child may not be into God, but do you really think God is not involved with them at the level they can accept?

So, what should my relationship with my child be when they aren’t laser-focused spiritually?

If I have helped you to relax in any way that eternal life isn’t about a set of beliefs, you can go back to having a normal relationship with your child. With friends we have no business pushing our spirituality on others. Just be an open book when others want to talk about God. You don’t need to schedule outings or trips in hopes the God-conversation comes up. Is that really how to be a loving friend or parent – to have a hidden agenda to convert? I get with my children and friends to enjoy one another. When I hurt, hopefully they will be there for me. When they hurt, I want to be there for them. When they want to talk about God, I am there. Personally, I love talking about God as much as others like talking about their favorite hobby. But, don’t push your agenda on others. Enjoy your children. Relax. Encourage them. Give advice when asked. When they are treating others like dirt, show the other side of love – tough love. Let God speak to them when they want to talk.

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts only. 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

How Can Good People Avoid Misrepresenting God?

Many have wrong ideas about God because it is self-serving. Their interpretations allow them to do whatever they want whenever they want against whoever they want in the name of God. A good God who obviously doesn’t control evil choices in this world surely doesn’t approve forcing God on others. But, how can good, decent people avoid possibly misrepresenting God to avoid other rejecting God for the wrong reasons?

Many believe that God in the Bible appoints a husband to be the loving leader of his wife, and that a woman cannot serve as a pastor or priest. The Bible can be interpreted to teach an equalitarian view in marriage, which can lead to less abuses, and God’s ideal is that church roles are best determined according to one’s gifts not gender. But, what I think the Bible says isn’t the point of this Post.

How we read the Bible can lead to less misunderstandings about God.   

God always allows the freedom to form our own beliefs about God. God didn’t perform a lobotomy on the biblical writers. Jesus didn’t pretend the writers always had perfect views of God. Jesus questioned the OT law “eye for an eye” by suggesting going the extra mile rather than exacting revenge (Mt. 5:38). God never intended a Book to take the place of a relationship with God, who created us with moral consciences to continually discern what a loving God is really like.

Prioritizing love over the right interpretation can lead to greater understandings of God.

Even if God controlled the minds of the writers, literature always requires interpretation and infallible interpretations don’t exist. This is why scholars differ on what the Bible says about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, etc. What is wrong with different opinions standing side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach? Is it better we threaten or force our opinions on others in the name of God when we could be wrong?

Don’t win the argument but consider views that portray God the most relational and moral.

Uncertainty doesn’t have to lead to chaos. Those who argue God advocates beheading infidels are obviously serving their own evil desires to control. Shouldn’t our views lead to more love for our neighbors, treating others like we would want to be treated if in their shoes? I suppose God could speak audibly to avoid misunderstandings, but God’s overpowering presence may only lead to brief obligations to obey out of fear than making heart-felt, lasting choices.

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts only. 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

We Can’t Know What God Is Like For Certain – Is That So Bad?

God obviously doesn’t communicate verbally what God is exactly like or would do in every situation. And, the Bible can’t be the authoritative or only guide what God is truly like because even scholars disagree what it says. Literature is always subject to interpretation.

Why then doesn’t God show Themselves or at least write in the sky every morning?

Direct communication isn’t always magical. When God spoke to keep the Sabbath as one of the Ten Commandments, some kept the Sabbath by not helping an injured soul and others understood helping wasn’t violating the spirit of the law. Besides, God’s awing presence may lead to fearful obligations to obey. Beliefs are seldom life-changing if out of obligation and not freely chosen.

Certainty cannot always exist in a free world.

We know what God would do because of “in our gut” moral laws such as murder or abuse. But, do we always forgive someone who denies wrongdoing? When a sexual abuser doesn’t acknowledge their actions, secret behaviors might continue. Forgiving can cause feelings of victimization and bitterness; for others forgiving can control bitterness and possible acts of revenge. We can make the wisest choice we know. In a free world we can’t know with certainty what job will work out best, or that the person we marry won’t betray us.

What can we know about God?

Most assume One claiming to be God must be perfect. Most sense godly and human perfection must be the same as opposed to two perfect standards. In fact, those whose biblical interpretations suggest otherwise justify their explanation by arguing God sometimes is a mystery. We know a lot about perfection because we have a sense of how we “ought” to treat our family and friends.

Total certainty doesn’t always work out.

Proclaiming certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. Reading the Bible as an infallible, authoritative guide rather than with an open-mind motivated by love has led to justifying slavery or condemning gays in God’s name. Certainty has led to dogmatism in the name of God rather than open-mindedness and a willingness to grow in understanding.

Uncertainty about God doesn’t have to lead to chaos.

Only extremists who seek to control for their own selfish desires believe forced love rather than free love is God’s way. Differences because God doesn’t drop “words from heaven” can be resolved by respecting the freedom of others as God does. The conversation changes completely when humbleness and open-mindedness are part of the tone while treating others how you wish to be treated if in their shoes.

What is a solution to not pretending we know what God is exactly like or would do?

God’s invisibility can lead to moral growth and making heart-felt, lasting decisions. A loving God surely wishes to encourage and empower us to make choices motivated by love. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. How is threatening or forcing certainty working out? Differences can be resolved by respecting the freedom of others as God does, while continuing to grow in understanding.

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts only. 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

Open Letter To God-Followers Who Believe Gays Are Immoral?

It saddens and embarrasses me to admit that I use to judge gays as being immoral because I believed such a stance was required to be devoted to God. I know that may seem strange to many, but I hope to explain below. I have been a God-follower for a long time and early on I thought the only way to know God was according to what the Bible said.

But, I have always questioned God. I was taught in church wives were to be submissive to their husbands rather than mutually submissive. I felt this created an environment more conducive for the atrocities women face at the hands of men while mutual submission is harder for men to twist to justify their mistreatment of women. I was taught God created Hell, but I couldn’t understand why a loving God would torturer anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. It also made no sense to me why God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can.

Eventually, I came to understand that the Bible can’t be viewed as the authoritative guide to what God thinks because we disagree what it says. Literature is always subject to interpretation even if we had the original manuscripts. God also communicates to us through our moral intuitions. Moral outrage hints of a common, human Creator communicating through our moral intuitions that lead to outrage. For example, there is universal belief we ought to treat others like we want to be treated.

As mentioned final decisions what God may think can’t solely be determined by what we think the Bible says. Our interpretations could be wrong, especially of a Book written over 2000 years ago edited over centuries by dozens of writers. But, I know many are convinced the Bible clearly condemns the gay lifestyle. Please reconsider. A must read is David Gushee’s book Changing Our Mind. Please see what I have written below:

https://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/2017/10/16/we-cant-use-the-bible-to-suggest-a-caring-god-condemns-homosexuality/

 So, if the Bible can’t be used to condemn homosexuality how can we know what God thinks? God guides us through our moral intuitions. As stated, it makes no moral sense to me why a loving God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can. But, your heart may tell you otherwise, though thinking you must reject your gay child can change minds. Jesus condemned religious folks of this day for using Scriptures to justify unloving actions toward one’s neighbor. Shouldn’t we err on the side that seems more loving to most?  Do we want people to reject God over views about God when we could be wrong?

You may be wondering if I think there are any guidelines when it comes to love. I am convinced the Bible or God doesn’t condemn monogamous love, straight or gay.  I am also convinced monogamous relationship, as opposed to mindless, selfish, uncommitted relationships, are in our best interests. It just seems to be the way we are created. I am not suggesting God-followers impose their monogamous views of sexual behaviors on others. I may speak up when one is involved with many sex partners and their partners aren’t aware regardless whether they believe in God or not; otherwise, I am not going to impose my values on others as God doesn’t even do that to me. God is capable of guiding those who seek God’s guidance.

When there are any doubts what the Bible might be advising, God-followers must take the most compassionate, less judgmental stance toward others. Please don’t tell someone “I love you but I hate your sin.” It is impossible to not feel unloved and rejected when such words are uttered. Gay people will tell you they have no choice. This is who they are! It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel natural to you. You aren’t gay. Let’s don’t cause others to keep secrets at the expense of their mental health. If you are absolutely convinced God condemns gay people, I would encourage you to accept one’s sexual orientation as personal and between them and their Creator. God-followers must always use their hearts and minds when loving others, being non-judgmental and putting themselves in another’s skin.

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts only. 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

Concluding Remarks About God And Women

I asked the following questions in this series of Posts which you can read below.

God And A Woman’s Role – God Is Not A Sexist!

  • Why Matters What God Thinks A Woman’s Role Is?
  • Why Matters What Men Think A Woman’s Role Is?
  • What Problems Arise When Roles According To Gender Than Gifts?
  • Can We Determine God’s Views on Women According To The Bible?
  • Does The Bible Definitely Say God Thinks Roles Based On Gender Than Gifts?
  • How Can We Know What God Thinks If Not The Bible?
  • How Have So Many Possibly Gotten The Bible And God Wrong About A Woman’s Role?

It matters what we claim the Bible says about women and roles because many determine their beliefs about God according to the Bible.

I am convinced our hearts tell us that roles in personal, business, or spiritual relationships should be determined according to one’s gifts not gender. Who should be the CEO or Pastor or Priest? The most qualified of course. Who should handle the finances in the family? The most qualified of course.

Since interpretations of literature are not infallible, I typically stand on the side of the interpretation that seems to make the Gospel the best news to those on the edge of accepting or rejecting/ignoring God. I rather not take a chance of others rejecting God for the wrong reasons.

Complementarianism is a theological view held by some in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere. I think Egalitarianism or mutual submission is harder for men to twist to justify their subtle or blatant mistreatment of women.

When two debatable interpretations of Scriptures exist on the same issue, it seems more loving to err on the side that leads to less mistreatment of human beings. Choose the interpretation that more likely leads to more love for your neighbor. Men, pretend you are a woman and treat them like you would want to be treated regarding roles.

When we insist the Bible is infallible, we often end up defending our interpretations as infallible. We become dogmatic in our views rather than sharing different opinions with a flexible attitude. The Bible can be used selectively to justify almost any belief in the name of God.

Maybe many have gotten this issue wrong because of their view of Scriptures. They esteem their interpretations over common moral sense, though interpretations and common moral sense come from the same source – the Spirit (John 14:16). Using your moral sense isn’t heresy.

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts only. 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

How Have So Many Possibly Gotten The Bible And God Wrong About Women?

“The whole debate, in my mind, is a matter of hermeneutics. Complementarians are not at all consistent with 1 Tim. 2, ignoring the admonitions to women about hair and jewelry and that women will be saved in child bearing—or they do hermeneutical gymnastics with the phrase. They likewise ignore the long passage in 1 Tim. 5 about rules for widows. So they pick and choose their biblical passages. We all do, and we all must be aware of personal bias when we interpret the Bible. But it is arrogant for them to claim that their gender interpretations are right and their challengers are wrong because it is their side that holds tight to the infallibility of the Bible.”

Ruth Tucker – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2018/02/01/words-women-ruth-tucker/

Those who suggest I Timothy teaches women can’t teach men often allow women to teach women and boys and girls as if they are less important than men! As Dr. Tucker says – if you say women can’t teach because of this passage then women must not be allowed to wear jewelry. If you claim women can’t have authority or teach because of I Timothy 2, do you faithfully apply the rules in I Timothy 5 about widows because God says so? Maybe many have gotten this issue wrong because of their view of Scriptures. They esteem their interpretations as if infallible, over common moral sense and love, though interpretations and common moral sense come from the same source – the Spirit (John 14:16). Human reasoning to discern truth isn’t godless if we believe all are made in the image of God. Don’t check your moral sense at the door when reading the Bible.

Next in Series: Concluding Remarks About God And A Woman’s Role

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts only. 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

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