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Archive for May, 2018

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

Why Doesn’t God Communicate Clearer If 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 – it isn’t always clear the original intent of the author – so we must read the Bible with an open-mind.

God may communicate more than given credit for.

Our moral outrage hints of a human Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. A nation can make laws because there is universal agreement against murder, theft, physical or sexual abuse, etc. Thievery is wrong because all would object being stolen from. Actions violating personal or family safety are obviously immoral. Criminals often don’t defend their actions; instead, they deny committing such crimes. A universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated hints a Creator communicates to all what is good. Besides a Book wouldn’t be God’s main communication because the majority born into this world never had a copy of the Bible.

God’s invisibility can be out of uncontrolling love than cruelness.

God’s overpowering presence in our lives may only lead to consuming guilt or fearful obligations to obey. Beliefs are seldom life-changing or lasting if not freely chosen. God in person through Jesus’ miracles did not magically solve our problems if only God would stop hiding. How is human physical presence working for you in keeping you on the straight and narrow? Don’t we hide our feelings or actions from human partners or friends when not doing what we are supposed to.

Direct communication doesn’t always lead to moral behavior.

When God supposedly verbally dictated keeping the Sabbath as one of the Ten Commandments, some interpreted that as not helping an injured soul on that day while others understood helping wasn’t violating the spirit of the law. God separated the Red Sea and dropped manna from the sky to help a nation survive in the wilderness, but this didn’t always lead to the Israelites believing in God. Certainty what God wants often leads to forcing personal convictions on others but God believes freedom of beliefs best lead to long-lasting positive choices.

God doesn’t have to communicate as much as one may assume.

God guides us morally through intuitions to treat others like we want to be treated. God hasn’t predetermined the future so God can magically advise what job or relationship will work out best in the long-run. Know your gifts and pursue your passions with God’s support. Godly and human love may work the same. Children as they get older benefit more through a relationship than being told what to do. Is it necessarily bad that God has left more to our imagination? Maybe God really does forgive all things? Maybe God is the perfect parent we always have hoped for.

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 We Know God If 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 which can be wrong so we must read the Bible with an open-mind.

We can know God by reflecting on Scriptures.

2 Tim. 3:16 is quoted to defend the Bible’s infallibility: “All Scriptures is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” But, God-breathe is subject to wide interpretation. God-breathe doesn’t necessarily mean God controlled biblical writings; God can make useful writings about God coming alongside Israel climaxing in the life of Jesus for discerning what God is really like. God accepted human communication means available to begin conversations about God. We can benefit from reflecting on the experiences of beginnings with God as we continually discern God’s hopes for us.

We can know God’s views on morality because universal mortal intuitions exist.

We all experience moral outrage which hints of a common, human Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. A nation can make laws regardless if you believe in God or not because we are all opposed to being murdered, abused, stolen from, etc. Thievery is wrong because all would object being stolen from. Criminal don’t defend their actions; instead, they deny they ever committed such crimes. We just seem to know if something is moral or immoral.

We can know God because of personal expectations.

We all have a sense of how we “ought” to treat our family and friends. We intuitively know something is amiss when our actions don’t lead to loving others as we wish to be loved. Is knowing human expectations the same as understanding God’s expectations? When the Bible challenges us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48), the assumption is we know what such perfection is. Godly and human perfection must the same. In fact, those whose biblical interpretations suggest God is immoral humanly-speaking justify their explanations by arguing God sometimes is a mystery.

We can know God from open discussions rather than assuming infallible views exist.

Moral laws such as stealing, lying, or committing adultery reside in all of us. Supposed inerrant beliefs because of an infallible Book has led to threatening or forcing beliefs on others in the name of God. But, required interpretations are not infallible! Different opinions can lead to open discussions and evaluating the most loving approach in circumstances we face. Different opinions can stand side by side when humbleness and open-mindedness are part of the conversation tone. Democratic nations have no excuse. We live by moral laws most can agree while having the privilege to vote on differences that do not violate clear, moral laws.

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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