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Archive for May, 2018

Hell No!

The Synchroblog is where bloggers write on topics – often different perspectives. This month is God and Hell. See links to more perspectives at the end of this Post.

Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies. Our mental views of God shape our attitudes toward God. Many would rightly not engage with God to pursue spirituality if imagining the Creator is a sadistic torturer. Maybe Hell is a myth!

Hell isn’t possible for moral reasons.

Moral outrage hints of a common, human Creator communicating through our moral intuitions that lead to outrage. How do we intuitively know it is wrong to steal, murder, lie, or commit adultery? We also sense a Supreme Being must be perfect to claim to be God. A perfect God wouldn’t torture people forever since unending suffering is pointless. Besides, humans much less God are fully aware beliefs are influenced by opportunities, role models, or misinformation. It is suspect an impartial, moral God determines our destiny based on beliefs while living a brief time on earth. The only reason to think a loving God would create such as a place as Hell would be if we believed a Book taught such a horrific thing.

Hell isn’t possible for biblical reasons.

The biblical writers weren’t thinking of a torture chamber after death when using certain Hebrew and Greek words translated into the English word Hell. The Hebrew word Sheol referred to a place of darkness – the grave – where all were thought to go regardless of beliefs. The best translation of Sheol is Sheol. The Greek word Gehenna translated as Hell was the name of a real valley nearby Jerusalem with a history of terrible slaughter. Jesus when referring to Gehenna didn’t have in mind torture after death for all human beings. Hell is not a translation of Gehenna, a valley, any more than the city of Atlanta is a proper translation for Chicago.

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth by knowing your Creator loves you and seeks to empower you to shun evil and do good. The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament never refers to Hell. Noah, or any prophet in the OT, never warned of Hell as a consequence for behaviors here on earth. The word Hell was a substitution for certain Hebrew and Greek words, possibly invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience.

Hell isn’t possible for justice reasons.  

Punishment doesn’t bring back a victim’s robbed memories of the future due to the murder of a loved one. Real justice is being forced to understand your victim’s pain and accept the harmfulness of your actions. After death God may bring to memory every action of betrayal and how it felt to their victims. The cleansing and educative effect may take longer for some than others. Humans like God may forgive their enemies if they truly regret their actions and seek forgiveness. Justice from a fair, merciful God is possible despite people being given a second chance after death.

Hell isn’t possible because of a loving God.

A loving parent much less a loving God is always seeking to restore than pay a price. If there is no Hell, there is real hope for our loved ones who didn’t acknowledge God much less have an obvious trusting relationship with their Creator. But, God wants a life with fewer regrets to begin now for all. I haven’t died yet so I can’t positively tell you what happens after life here on earth. But, I am convinced the Bible and our moral intuitions tell us God is not a sadistic torturer

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

This post is part of the May Synchroblog, in which numerous bloggers around the world write about the same topic on the same day. Links to the other contributors are below. If you enjoyed my article, you will also enjoy reading what they have to say about the topic of hell.

Isn’t Uncertainty About God Less Chaotic Than Certainty?

It is more logical to suggest we can’t be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks. But, don’t so many different churches exist, despite the shared message of love because they are certain about their beliefs as opposed to others? One reason for claims of certainty about God is due to certain beliefs about a Book. But, the Bible or any Book can’t be a definitive guide of what God is like because even those who respect as an authoritative guide disagree what it says.

Certainty often leads to unloving actions.

When one is certain what God thinks according to the Bible, perhaps out of fear or respect for a Supreme Being, this can lead to threatening or forcing supposed certainty on others. Condemning gays, though those who accept Scriptures as authoritative don’t agree the Bible disapproves of homosexuality and denying women entrance into the priesthood or pastorate have been justified in God’s name.  Besides, God doesn’t even force beliefs though surely God is certain because that doesn’t lead to changed hearts.

Uncertainty can lead to acting more loving.

Being unable to declare the certainty or morality of our opinions forces us to listen and express ideas openly. Starting a conversation with “I may be wrong” more likely leads to new understandings and creative solutions. Try it in marriage! Conversations change when humbleness is part of the tone. Certainty when it comes to political matters such as taxes or health plans has lead to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality.

It is argued that if we can’t know what the Bible says, it can be used to mean anything. This happens regardless because interpretation is always required. Extremists make it mean anything they want in the name of certainty. The truth is there is practically universal agreement on most moral matters. Criminals don’t defend their murderous actions; they deny they committed such actions. Actions that violate one’s physical or emotional rights are clearly wrong. Consensual gay or straight relationships don’t violate the rights of others. We mustn’t condemn gays, all abortions, etc. in God’s name because the Bible supposedly certainly says so.

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Pope Francis On How A Good God And Suffering Can Possibly Co-Exist

I thought what Pope Francis said on 60 Minutes recently about God and suffering may be a helpful explanation to many who struggle with how a good God and suffering can co-exist. I know there are many “yea buts” but for now I will let it stand on its own:

“It’s a question that we all ask ourselves. And if you ask me why children suffer, the only thing I can say is: ‘Look at the Child of God on a cross.’ I don’t know what other answer to give you. But let’s talk about why God allows it, which is the core of the question. Quite simply, because he created us as persons, and as such: free! God is respectful of freedom. He allowed his son to be killed on the cross. The game of human freedom: God risked a lot here! It would more dishonor man, if God could take away his freedom, than if man, with his freedom, committed a crime.”

 

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Would God Forgive If Jesus Wasn’t Murdered?

The Cross is such a universal symbol. I can never quite figure out how to be best express, to avoid misunderstandings about God, why Jesus really died on the Cross. The God I know wouldn’t demand human sacrifice before God could or would forgive us. The God I know wouldn’t demand their child’s murder to save face and appease their sense of justice. God’s character and reputation isn’t based on whether others reject God or not.

What if Jesus and His message was accepted as God doesn’t predetermine choices?

God doesn’t cause others to commit evil acts. The Devil doesn’t make us do it and neither does God! People aren’t always killed because they claim to be God. What if the Jews and Romans had accepted Jesus’ wisdom – the world can be changed by treating others like you want to be treated. Jesus encouraged loving God because that is the same as loving others to the fullest.

Would God manipulate circumstances in case Jesus wasn’t killed, so God could justify forgiving us?

Maybe God just forgives when we have regrets and seek forgiveness. We may still be talking about Jesus because He was willing to die not for God but for a message He believed in. God always seeks to influence one’s moral sense than power over people to encourage genuine, lasting changes.

How Can We Read The Bible If Not Infallible?

The word infallible is confusing or unknown by those who didn’t grow up in the church. Did the biblical writers always understand God perfectly from the beginning rather than growing in knowledge? How would God control the minds and words of the writers anyway? This may explain violent warfare actions in God’s name as writers thought it was sacrilegious to not speak of God as almighty and controlling.  Regardless, literature requires interpretations meaning we could be wrong about the original intent of the author, so we must read the Bible with an open-mind.

Read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love.

Even if the Bible was infallible, literature is subject to interpretation anyway so we are required to read with an open-mind. Scholars differ on what the Bible says about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, end-of-the world views, etc. Don’t check your moral conscience at the door as you consider what a loving God is really like. Unquestioning obedience has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other violence in the name of God. God never intended a Book to take the place of a relationship with God and others. The Bible is not a story controlled by God. God got involved with the nation of Israel and by reading of their journey, we can begin to discover what God is truly like. “The problem is when this focus on correct interpretation becomes primary, and love takes a backseat, the focus is placed on ‘being right’ and ‘orthodox’ at the expense of love” (Derek Flood, Disarming Scripture, p.67).

Read the Bible with Jesus in mind but questioning is still required.

Reading the Bible through Jesus-shaped lens isn’t the only answer. Jesus often spoke in parables which are subject to misunderstandings and different applications. Jesus said the OT pointed to His arrival (Lk. 24:27,44) rather than claiming the OT writers always understood God perfectly. For example, Jesus challenged the OT “eye for an eye” mentality by suggesting going the extra mile rather than exacting revenge. Jesus suggested evaluating interpretations and others by the fruit they produce or don’t (Mt. 7:16).  The Bible was God accepting human communication means available to begin conversations about God without condemning those who unselfishly misunderstand it or never had a chance to read.

Read the Bible reflectively than for solutions to specific problems.

The Bible wasn’t written to tell us want to do in every situation. Jesus didn’t always answer directly because the issue is our heart in solving problems. Can you imagine a world where all looked out for the interests of others and not just themselves when facing difficulties? When Jesus was asked how to treat our enemies (Mt. 5:38-48), He understood individual circumstances vary. Jesus wasn’t saying parents or soldiers can’t protect their family or themselves: “if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Jesus often spoke in parables which allows discerning applications in our circumstances. When one is ready to change, parables enable listeners to recall matters intended to change hearts which best leads to a changed world.

Read the Bible humbly and not with an argumentative attitude.

Different opinions can be expressed without physical or verbal aggression 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. Should we even bother to read the Bible with so much confusion? As long as we read the Bible with a questioning spirit rather than blind obedience, it seems the Bible has influence millions to live a more selfless life. Religion has done harm as well as much good.

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

What Are Dangers In Assuming The Bible Infallible?

The word infallible is confusing or unknown by those who didn’t grow up in the church. Did the biblical writers always understand God perfectly from the beginning rather than growing in knowledge? How would God control the minds and words of the writers anyway? This may explain violent warfare actions in God’s name as writers thought it was sacrilegious to not speak of God as almighty and controlling.  Regardless, literature requires interpretations meaning we could be wrong about the original intent of the author, so we must read the Bible with an open-mind.

Violence is often justified when assuming the Bible is infallible.

The possibility of an infallible Book has led down the slippery slope of assuming interpretations are infallible. Fallible books can’t hide behind supposed infallible interpretations. Literature always requires interpretation and we could be wrong. Scholars don’t agree what the Bible says about gender roles, homosexuality, etc. Not questioning if writers always understood God perfectly or assuming our interpretations are infallible has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities. Supposed biblical commands must stand side by side with our moral consciences.

People may reject God for the wrong reasons when assuming the Bible in infallible.

Moses claims God approved during war killing boys and non-virgin women but saving virgins for yourselves (Num. 31:18). The Bible is used to claim God condemns gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can. Besides, it is often not acknowledged the Bible can be defended to not condemn monogamous gay or straight relationships. When God is portrayed as less than perfectly moral or unloving, understandably this can lead to atheism or rejecting God.

We declare God more mysterious than relational when assuming the Bible is infallible.

God sometimes is said to be a mystery beyond human comprehension because one’s interpretations clashes with even their own moral intuitions. This makes God mysterious, not knowable. Scriptures claiming God is not evil is nonsensical if evil sometimes is good. We can’t claim to know good from evil in God’s eyes if evil is sometimes good. How can we be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48), unless God created us to know good from evil? When we rationalize certain biblical passages, we don’t question and stop learning from God.

We read looking for the right interpretation at the expense of love when assuming the Bible is infallible.

We must prioritize love over the right interpretation because interpretations could be wrong. It isn’t godless to approach Scriptures openly questioning with the aim to love others like we want to be loved. Different opinions can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach, rather than forcing our opinions on others in the name of God. Jesus didn’t always answer questions directly because He sought to change hearts which influences solving problems with the interests of others in mind.

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

Is Uncertainty Worse Than Certainty Since The Bible Isn’t Infallible?

The word infallible is confusing or unknown by those who didn’t grow up in the church. Did the biblical writers always understand God perfectly from the beginning rather than growing in knowledge? How would God control the minds and words of the writers anyway? This may explain violent warfare actions in God’s name as writers thought it was sacrilegious to not speak of God as almighty and controlling. Regardless, literature requires interpretations meaning we could be wrong about the original intent of the author, so we must read the Bible with an open-mind.

Uncertainty doesn’t exist as much as one may think.

Whether one believes in a God or not, most expect a Being claiming to be God must be perfect. We know a lot about perfection thus God because we all have an innate knowledge of right and wrong. A nation can make laws because there is universal agreement against murder, theft, physical or sexual abuse, etc. A universal expectation to treat others like we want to be treated hints a Creator communicates to all what is good.

Uncertainty must exist in a free world.

Freedom leads to a great deal of unpredictability. The only way for a God to protect us completely against emotional or physical harm is to create robots. A partner may respond with gratitude for a second change or another chance may simply enable bad behaviors to continue. God is supportive of the wisest decisions we know under current circumstances. God can’t promise you a certain outcome in relationships or jobs and still be a respecter of freedom. God deals as much with uncertainty as we do, as not even an all-powerful God can know a free, undetermined future.

Certainty doesn’t always unite or lead to loving actions.

How is threatening or forcing supposed certainty working out? The idea of an infallible, authoritative Book has led to subjective interpretations being proclaimed as “certainty” in God’s name.  Failing to read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love and putting oneself in another’s shoes has led to justifying slavery, condemning gays, and denying women entrance into the priesthood – all 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 can force us to accept one another’s differences.

God understands as much as humans that forcing beliefs doesn’t lead to long-lasting changes. A loving God only wishes to encourage and empower us to make choices with the interest of others in mind. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. Differences don’t have to lead to chaos but can be resolved by remaining open-minded to new understandings and creative solutions. The conversation changes completely when humbleness because of uncertainty is part of the tone.

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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