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Archive for June, 2018

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

A Fallible As Opposed To Infallible Bible Isn’t Problematic

The Bible is recorded experiences of beginnings with God and Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other documents. It is suspect God inspired views in the Bible that contribute so much violence in God’s name. Weren’t writers influenced by cultural norms that suggested it was sacrilegious to not speak of God being all-powerful and controlling?  God respects freedom of beliefs – including writings – but seeks to influence not coerce for good?

I have suggested here why uncertainty or fallibility may be better than certainty about God and the Bible. Besides, an infallible Book is impossible to prove or claim for two main reasons. It is circular reasoning to use a Book, whether it be the Bible or Quran, to prove it own’s fallible. Secondly, even if we had the original manuscripts of the Bible literature requires interpretations which cannot be claimed infallible. Scholars who believe in the authority of Scriptures disagree what the Bible says about critical issues such as homosexuality, gender roles, and Hell.

A fallible Bible doesn’t mean there is no objective truth according to God.

When I respond to chats online and suggest the Bible may be fallible, a common response is then there can be no objective truth concerning God. That really isn’t the case. If I claim God according to the Bible condemns murder or adultery, there is almost universal agreement because moral laws are obvious. If I claim roles at home or in the church depend on gender as opposed to gifts, there is great division. Scholars defend both egalitarian and hierarchical relationships between the sexes according to the Bible. An infallible Bible requires interpretations, which are subjective, but often declared as objective truth about God.

A fallible Bible doesn’t mean we can’t know God.

The possibility of an infallible Book has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others of what God is really like. A fallible Book can’t hide behind infallible interpretations. Moral laws that violate the rights of others are obvious. The majority of people born in the world have never read a Bible but have an inborn knowledge of right and wrong. A universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated hints a Creator communicates to all what is good, thus what God is like.

A fallible Bible doesn’t mean the Bible isn’t worth reading.

The Bible was written to find God not specific solutions to problems. Jesus didn’t always answer directly because the issue is our heart in solving problems. Imagine a world where all looked out for the interests of others and not just themselves when facing difficulties! God never intended a Book to take the place of a relationship with God and others. We mustn’t condemn gays, all abortions, etc. or impose morality in God’s name because the Bible supposedly says so. Reading the Bible reflectively with a questioning spirit rather than blind obedience can continue to influence millions to live a more selfless life.

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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