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.
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