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Archive for June, 2018

Is God Mysteriously Immoral Or Morally Perfect Humanly-Speaking?

Most agree One claiming to be God must be perfect. Some declare God is mysterious when their characterizations of God, supposedly according to the Bible, are incompatible with most people’s ideas of a perfect, loving God. It is nonsensical to use language to say God is good if good sometimes is evil. A personal External Force may communicate through our moral intuitions because of a universal expectation to treat others like we want to be treated. When the Bible challenges us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48), the assumption is we can understand God. God’s love and perfect human love must be the same.

https://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/what-i-believe/

 

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Who Gets To Say What Is Right Or Wrong?

The Synchroblog is where bloggers write on spiritual topics – often different perspectives. This month is How Do God-Followers Determine What Is Right Or Wrong. Links to articles posted below.  

Have you ever wished for or had a wise mentor when in a challenging decision you thought “what would they advise or do?” Don’t we wish to be the perfect friend, partner, or parent. Don’t we want our legacy to be “they always treated others like they wanted to be treated?” Most assume a Supreme Deity must be perfect if truly existing. If we could know what God is really like, wouldn’t we have the ultimate role-model in knowing morality from immorality?

The Bible can’t be the final authority on what God is like.  

It is an illusion to think we can know God definitively through the Bible. People who respect the Bible as authoritative disagree what God thinks about homosexuality, gender roles, and the afterlife to name only a few critical issues. Even if God somehow controlled the words when the writers first penned the words, when an editor(s) edited the original words, or finally when such recordings were gathered into a book to insure the Bible was infallible and perfectly represented God, literature is subject to interpretation. Interpretations cannot be infallible. The idea of an infallible Bible leads extremists to declare their interpretations are God’s, which often leads to control for personal gain. We must stop declaring something immoral because the Bible says so. 

Jesus can’t be our only authority on what God is like.

It is common in theological circles to suggest the Old Testament, with all its violence in God’s name, must be viewed through the interpretative lens of Jesus. When in doubt go with Jesus’ view. But, we can’t always agree what Jesus meant. People disagree if Jesus challenging the OT “eye for eye” mentality allows or rules out just wars when evil is rampant. The NT is no different than reading the OT since we could be wrong what Jesus would do. We cannot totally rely on a Book, which the majority born into this work never had a copy, concerning the most loving action in circumstances we face.

The “perfect answer” isn’t the holy grail. 

There are often no perfect answers or one solution to problems in life. What does God do when two qualified people God loves pray for the same job? A Creator who respects freedom doesn’t predetermine the future so they can magically advise what job or relationship will work out best in the long-run. Should one get a divorce? The guilty partner may respond with gratitude for a second change or another chance may enable bad behaviors to continue. God supports our gifts and passions so to empower taking risks, which may include the counsel of others, to make for a better world. Even an all-knowing God experiences uncertainty because of an unknowable future. 

Our moral intuitions and human reasoning aren’t always the devil’s tools.  

God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating. One possibility for a universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated is a personal external force communicating through our moral intuitions. The truth is there is agreement on most moral matters. We somehow know it is wrong to murder, steal, lie, commit adultery, or not treat others like we want to be treated. Terrorists are wrong because they don’t want to be beheaded, raped, or denied freedom of beliefs.

So, how do we make right or moral decisions?

God is dying to help in your spiritual journey. Listen to your moral inner voice. Love others like you want to be loved. We just seem to know what is moral or immoral. Criminals don’t defend their murderous actions; they deny they committed such actions. Read the Bible with a questioning and open spirit not to find answers but to find God. Whenever we talk about or read about God, I am convinced God works to helps us to do good and shun evil. Consensual gay or straight relationships, different health plans or tax rates, don’t violate the physical rights of others. A willingness to not declare the certainty or morality of our opinions, unless physical rights are violated, forces us to listen which can lead to new understandings and creative solutions. Try it in relationships!

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

Authority for Believers – Soulcare Ministries

Christian Authority – Done With Religion

Who Gets To Say What Is Right Or Wrong? – What God May Really Be Like

A Surprising Source of Spiritual Authority – Glenn Hager

Is it the Bible or Jesus that is authoritative for Christians? ANSWER: Yes – Jeremy Myers

Surrendering Our Authority To Jesus – K. W. Lesley

Under Who’s Authority – Layman Seeker

authority? – Metler

The Age of the Spirit – Liz Dyer

If God Hated Animal Sacrifice, What About Jesus Supposedly Having To Shed Blood On The Cross?

For good reason it is hard for many to respect a God who thinks killing animals is a good thing just so people can feel better about wronging others.

Would a loving God really desire killing of animals in the Old Testament to supposedly atone for sins rather than confession and amends for harmful behaviors?

OT laws involving sacrifice may have originated from assumptions that God was like all the other gods in requiring sacrifices to be appeased. Over time OT writers seemed to understand and wrote that God doesn’t like animal sacrifices but contrite hearts (Ps. 51:16-17, i.e. Jer. 7:22, Amos 5:21, Micah 6:6). The writer of Hebrews says God did not desire or was pleased with sacrifice and offerings though offered in accordance with the law (10:8).

God out of uncontrolling love allows others to form their own views of God but hopes to influence through a relationship over time.

God didn’t approve of Israel’s desire for a King rather than looking to God for dependence, but God didn’t prevent such behavior.  I doubt concubines were God’s idea, but God didn’t threaten to burn in Hell those who had concubines. God doesn’t overthrow but works within societies for freedom is necessary for authentic, lasting change. Loving control is an oxymoron. 

If God didn’t approve of animal sacrifice, what implications does this have for how we interpret Jesus’ death on the Cross?

Why didn’t Jesus overpower His accusers if God doesn’t demand blood to be satisfied? Displays of power grab attention but then things just go back to the way they were. Jesus sought to change hearts by not responding evil with evil. God is not an enabler but simply retaliating rather than working to influence for good is a vicious cycle. The Cross wasn’t meant to change God’s attitude but our attitude. God seeks to influence us to change our unloving attitudes toward others.

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

 

Are We Better Off With A Fallible Than Infallible Bible?

It is more logical to suggest we can’t always 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 in opposition to others? One reason for claims of certainty about God is because an infallible Book often leads down the slippery slope as if  interpretations are infallible. 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.

An infallible Book 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. But, those who accept Scriptures as authoritative don’t agree the Bible condemns gays or that women can’t serve as priests or pastors. Besides, there must be a good reason God doesn’t force beliefs though surely an all-knowing God is certain.

A fallible Book 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 led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality.

An infallible Bible leads to many rejecting God and justifying violence in God’s name.

People may reject God for the wrong reasons when assuming the Bible in infallible or the writers always understood God perfectly and didn’t grow in their understanding.  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. It is often not acknowledged the Bible can be defended to not condemn monogamous gay or straight relationships. When God is portrayed as unloving or less than perfectly moral, understandably this can lead to atheism or rejecting God. What’s the point of believing in a less than perfect God!

The possibility of an infallible Book has led down the slippery slope of assuming interpretations are infallible. Literature always requires interpretation and we could be wrong. 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 and open-mindedness.

A fallible Book may lead to knowing God better.

We make claims about God without acknowledging we may be wrong. Isn’t it better to be inquisitive rather than sure but wrong? Reading the Bible with a questioning spirit rather than blind obedience reminds us to not claim certainly because interpretations are subjective. Expressions of certainty than uncertainty are most likely to lead to chaos by forcing beliefs in God’s name. Actions that violate one’s physical rights are clearly wrong. We must be careful though to not condemn all other actions that don’t violate the rights of others because supposedly the Bible says.

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 Our Views Of Female Roles According To The Bible Matter?

A major Southern Baptist seminary fired one of the movement’s giants of the last quarter-century, Paige Patterson, because of his beliefs about spousal abuse and why it isn’t grounds for divorce. Southern Baptists, who represent over 15 million God-followers, call for male-only pastors and women to “submit graciously” to their husbands. In many countries a Book in God’s name is used to justify women not having the same rights as men to vote, drive, travel, or dress how they want. Such beliefs in the United States or other countries has led to environments conducive for atrocities women have faced at the hands of men throughout history.

Why do men not believe women have equal rights to men?

Not all men who believe roles should be determined according to gender than gifts are pigs? Their motives aren’t always so they can control or be in power. They often believe the way they do because they are convinced a Book teaches this is God’s will for humankind. I am married to a woman for 36 years who believes this and she is a better person than most of you. But, does the Bible teach loving leadership or mutual submission between genders in marriage and that women cannot be in authority over men in church roles?

How we must view the Bible?

I have defended here that the Bible can be interpreted to support loving hierarchal or equalitarian relationships. Too, I am not convinced that God controlled the minds of the writers where they couldn’t misunderstand God at times and needed to grow in their understandings of God. But, I will concede that I could be wrong. That is the point. An infallible Bible still requires interpretations which are subjective. We could be wrong! Certainty must never be claimed on the matter of what God thinks about women’s roles in work and worship according to the Bible.

How can we determine what God thinks?

I believe God speaks through our moral intuitions or how is their practically universal agreement that murder or stealing is wrong. We all have this “ought” inside us to treat others like we want to be treated. I am absolutely convinced equality of the sexes in choices is what God thinks, but if I don’t want others forcing their subjective “hierarchal or loving leadership” interpretations on others then neither must I force my views. We must not handle our differences by being dogmatic in our views of God, especially when scholars who consider the Bible authoritative disagree. We must admit we could be wrong and be open to creative solutions.

What if personally convinced roles are best determined according to gender than gifts?

I cannot in good conscience be a part of women not serving in leadership roles at work or in the church if so gifted. You may be married to a husband who doesn’t abuse their leadership role. Often though in an impasse, men assume leadership is making final decisions. I have never had an impasse in marriage that cannot be solve creatively without one partner making all such decisions. Besides, Jesus said being first is last so maybe the husband should always defer to his wife.

But, many men don’t handle well lack of mutual submission in their marriage. The temptation to abuse emotionally or physically is best removed. I compare it to spanking. I removed spanking as an option as a father because of the impulse to react and not consider creative alternatives. No, my kids didn’t all end up in jail! They are some of my best friends and they aren’t young. One should be free to speak openly if disagree that God ordains roles according to gender than gifts. We can handle differences openly and lovingly without declaring dogmatically because the Bible says so.

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 The Flood And Genesis Literal Or What Was The Writer’s Point?

Many reject God and the Bible when insisting the Genesis story must be considered a historical account. Many would rightly argue science doesn’t necessarily agree with the age of the world suggested by the Genesis and evolution could have been a process used by God to create. We must admit that the writers or editors weren’t there and God didn’t dictate information.

John Walton and Tremper Longman III in The Lost World Of The Flood suggest the writers used accepted literary practices in the Near East such as hyperbole in writing about historical events to convey spiritual insights. A local flood could have been used to illustrate global human problems. God can use the Bible to speak to us personally. We can disagree what the exact historical facts may be but all agree that Genesis was at least written to convey spiritual food for thought.

When I read Genesis the applications I consider for my own life:

  • The writer(s) suggests there was a Creator in the beginning. God didn’t have to create, but apparently God desired relationships with humans. It takes faith either way to believe there was or wasn’t a Creator. If there was a Creator, they would know what is best for their design to continue to run smoothly as a car designer would. A Creator of human beings can be a source of wisdom in our relationships.
  • The writer(s) suggests we were created in God’s image (1:27), suggesting we are God’s representatives here on earth. It is reasonable to assume God has given us intuitively a sense of how to represent or act like God toward others. God’s love is surely the same as perfect human love which we all strive more. God’s morals are surely the highest of human morals.
  • The writer(s) suggests our need for companionship. Some translations say “a helper suitable for him.” This is an example of where it is critical to not insist on one’s interpretation as the infallible truth. In referring to Eve the English implication of the word “helper” translated from the Hebrew word ezer is nowhere to be found in the Bible (2:18). Ezer is used of God and implies or often is translated as “strength” (Deut. 33:29). It is best to err on the interpretative side less prone to abuse. One-sided rather than mutual submission can create environments conducive for atrocities women have faced at the hands of men throughout history.
  • Things obviously went wrong in the garden when the first couple didn’t take God’s advice to trust God’s guidance. One could see this as a deliberate attempt on God’s part to tempt humans (3:5). A good God – why else would we even believe in God if not perfect humanly-speaking – surely only wanted to warn Adam and Eve that decisions exist that may be harmful in a free world. Freedom was clearly important to God. God obviously knew what human parents know. There is no greater feeling than your partner, child, or friend loving you out of choice than obligation because they know you have their best interest in mind. “Controlling love” is a contradiction in terms.

Read the Bible reflectively and for personal application. Consider the genre. We may not always know for sure the intentions of the writers. Relax! Literature can’t mean anything. Extremists’ interpretations feed their hunger for power and control rather than love and freedom. Uncertainty isn’t always bad. Certainty can lead to threatening or forcing opinions on others. Uncertainty expressed in discussion doesn’t have to lead to chaos but possible new understandings and creative solutions. Try it in your relationships!

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 Prove Themselves If Real?

We can debate proofs for the evidence of God but of course we have to speak in terms of probabilities. We have no tangible, visible proof. That billions are convinced there is a loving God cannot be declared definitely irrational or delusional. It is not irrational either to ask if God is real, why doesn’t God clinch the argument by making their Presence obvious?

God may remain invisible out of uncontrolling love.

God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. Beliefs are seldom lasting if out of obligation and not freely chosen. When parent push their agendas, even if in their children best interests, they may rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may more allow moral development for lasting convictions. God knows forced beliefs doesn’t lead to changed hearts, though God is certain what is always in our best interests.

God’s direct communication doesn’t always work.

God supposedly came visible in the person of Jesus but His miracles did not obtain the results suggested if God would stop hiding. Supposed direct communication via the Ten Commandments by keeping the Sabbath got interpreted to not help injured souls in need. 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 partners or friends when not doing what we are supposed to. It may be best to imagine an invisible, omnipresent Spirt sees all our secrets to save energy hiding.

Supposed certainty according to the Bible has often led to threatening or forcing beliefs on others. Biblical scholars don’t agree that the Bible condemns gays or denies women entrance into the priesthood or pastorate, but these actions are often justified in God’s name.  Being unable to declare the certainty or morality of our opinions can lead to new understandings and creative solutions. Now, there is practically universal agreement on most moral matters. But, extremists satisfy their thirst for control by claiming certainty in matters according to Book subject to interpretation.

God has communicated perhaps in the most loving ways.

God doesn’t have to communicate about non-moral issues any more than a loving parent must tell their child what career to pursue or what relational decisions are best. Many decisions aren’t either moral or immoral. God as any loving parent encourages us to know our gifts and pursue our passions to make for a better world. God hasn’t predetermined the future to make freedom a farce.

One explanation for a universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated is a personal external force communicating through our moral intuitions. There is agreement on most moral matters. We somehow know if an action is moral or immoral. How else do we know it is wrong to murder, steal, lie, commit adultery, or not treat others like we want to be treated? Even terrorists know they don’t want to be beheaded or raped.

There may be rational reasons God doesn’t prove themselves according to our ways.

A Creator may not reveal themselves for reasons we haven’t thought of and would accept in time. I am not sure I am ready to face a visible God yet. I need time to develop morally and avoid rebellion for a life after death with God’s presence. The road traveled of learning, reflecting, and freely choosing personal convictions over time may better lead to heart-felt lasting choices.

P.S. Some may read this and think “your answers just don’t work for me.” There are many rational reasons to not believe in a God.  I just happen to believe in a God that will work with us. I just hope the support I feel from God might be something you are looking for. God can do their own revealing.

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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