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!
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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
Surrendering Our Authority To Jesus – K. W. Lesley
Under Who’s Authority – Layman Seeker
authority? – Metler
The Age of the Spirit – Liz Dyer