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Archive for May, 2019

Dangers In Not Questioning But Assuming The Bible Is Entirely Inspired By God!

This is a two-part Post. First part here.

Most God-followers get their understanding of God from the Bible. Non-God followers often understand God from what people claims about God according to the Bible. Readers may be aware of arguments suggesting dangers when assuming the Bible isn’t entirely inspired by God. I wish to address dangers when not questioning if the entire Bible is inspired by God. When the Bible is said to be infallible or inspired by God, most assume the words penned somehow came from God and thus approved by God. Few suggest God dictated the entire Bible word per word, but a dictatorial style is implied if God somehow prevented biblical writers from having less than perfect views of God. It is very different to approach the Bible from the perspective that God acts uncontrolling but continually seeks to influence for one’s moral good.

The danger of destroying souls and families because the Bible supposedly says so

Ever moral fiber in a parent’s body doesn’t wish to condemn their child for feelings they can no more control toward those of the same sex than heterosexuals can control their feelings toward the opposite sex. Biblical passages that condemn homosexuality are highly debatable which should lead us to listen to our moral senses. God surely supports all loving, consensual, caring relationships to avoid heart-break. Family members and friends no longer need to be broken-hearted by thinking their devotion to God requires them to reject their loved ones.  Scientific knowledge available suggests sexual orientation isn’t a choice. Why would anyone choose to be gay based on the condemnation and bigotry they face? It just isn’t possible to be told “I love you but I hate your sin” and not feel unloved and rejected. We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. We must be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices?

The danger of valuing right beliefs or interpretations at the expense of loving others

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. Love others like they want to be loved because you could be wrong.

The danger of making assumptions about God’s actions if controlling

God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t suggest God is capable of performing a lobotomy on biblical writers’ impressions of God. An uncontrolling God cannot guarantee a perfect Book, but God can enter our world with the communications means available so we can grow in our understanding what God is really like. If God’s nature allows this kind of control when it comes to the Bible, why doesn’t God control so much evil prevalent in this world? Doesn’t God care? God’s loving nature doesn’t allow God to control. God much less humans know beliefs are only genuine and lost-lasting when freely chosen.

The danger of using the Bible as if a rules or answers Book

Jesus didn’t always answer questions directly because circumstances vary and the issue is our heart in solving problems. Imagine a world where all looked out for the interests of others and not just themselves during difficult times. The Bible is quoted that we must always forgive, but God is often said to not forgive the rebellious (i.e. Josh. 24:19). It’s complicated. Easy forgiveness can allow a husband’s abusive behavior to continue. When a sexual abuser doesn’t acknowledge their actions, secret behaviors continue. Victims can feel more victimized, and feel God must not understand their pain, when told to forgive despite their abuser denying any wrongdoing. Isn’t the whole point to do whatever helps control bitterness to stop the victimizing?

Read the Bible for what it is. Use common moral sense 

Those not growing up in church don’t understand all the fuss. Who thinks literature subject to interpretation should be read so dogmatically? When one fails to acknowledge their interpretation could be wrong, this can lead to forcing personal convictions on others in God’s name. A fallible Book can lead to listening to different opinions as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating through our moral senses (how we ought to treat others). The Bible wouldn’t be God’s main communication anyway, because the majority born into this world never had a copy.

Let’s err on the side of God that seems morally correct to most, to not turn people away from God for the wrong reasons. Would you desire to pursue God and spirituality more if you knew God was the kind of God you imagine according to how they have created you? The Bible is still valuable as it lets us know God seeks a relationship with all individuals in all nations as evidenced by Jesus’ message and life. Read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love rather than with blind obedience.  Use common moral sense as you consider what a loving God is really like.

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts. 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 or like my page on  FACEBOOK and leave a comment. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.com

Dangers In Not Questioning But Assuming The Bible Is Entirely Inspired By God!

(This is a two-part Post. Second part next week. This Post is longer than usual)

Most God-followers get their understanding of God from the Bible. Non-God followers often understand God from what people claims about God according to the Bible. Readers may be aware of arguments suggesting dangers when assuming the Bible isn’t entirely inspired by God. I wish to address dangers when not questioning if the entire Bible is inspired by God. When the Bible is said to be infallible or inspired by God, most assume the words penned somehow came from God and thus approved by God. Few suggest God dictated the entire Bible word per word, but a dictatorial style is implied if God somehow prevented biblical writers from having less than perfect views of God. It is very different to approach the Bible from the perspective that God acts uncontrolling but continually seeks to influence for one’s moral good.  

Even if God did produce a perfect collection of Books, we could not know for sure

We don’t have the original manuscripts so infallibility is a non-starter. If infallibility was critical, why didn’t God find a way to preserve the original texts if God controls the writers’ thoughts. The most common defense for arguing the Bible is inspired is to claim the biblical writers make such a claim. Such logic would not lead those same people to accepting the Quran being infallible because it claims to be. There are many dangers in assuming the Bible is inspired as opposed to accepting the Bible as a document recording experiences of beginnings with God and Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other documents. Writings about God can keep us talking and reflecting what God is really like. God didn’t necessarily have in mind that recordings would not be questioned. 

The danger of wondering or assuming God is an accomplice to immoral behaviors 

Did God really inspire or approve a woman being required to marry her rapist because writers couldn’t handle the truth about God at that time? Laws proclaimed by Moses supposedly came from God. Deut. 22: 28-29 says: If a man happens to meet a virgin…and rapes her…He must marry the young women, for he has violated her. One who assumes this law was inspired or accommodated by God rationalize that in that culture woman would be worse off unmarried. The idea of a woman ever having to marry her rapist as a good thing hardly inspires many about God. I am convinced only humans thought this was a good law at that time, not God, and with time most would understand there are more compassionate solutions to a woman violated by a man.  

Did God really inspire acts or language of genocide? I Samuel 15:3 says God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Today, only evil dictators approve of such actions or talk during war. Hundreds of passages in the Old Testament advocate violence in God’s name. One might suggest, to protect a certain view of the Bible, it was common in literatures in OT times to use warfare rhetoric to induce fear and inspire victory but women and children would be spared when possible. Isn’t it more rational to ask if a good God would inspire or approve such thoughts or language?

The danger of an infallible Book can lead to the idea of infallible interpretations

Most admit literature requires interpretation, thus why biblical scholars often disagree about the meaning of the same passage. Scholars, who respect the Bible as authoritative, disagree if the Bible supports loving hierarchal or equalitarian relationships between partners.  It is seldom voiced one’s view about God according to their interpretation could be wrong. Such an admission would better encourage different views standing side by said as we continually evaluate the most loving approach, rather than forcing opinions on others in the name of God. Infallible Books, as opposed to fallible Books, often lead down the slippery slope of justifying interpretations as if infallible.

The danger of justifying violence in the name of God.

The possibility of an infallible Book has led down the slippery slope of assuming God’s view on morality only comes from a Book such as the Bible or Koran.  Not questioning if writers always understood God perfectly has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities in the name of God. Interpretations must be questioned by our moral consciences. It is suggested that Jesus, who was said to be God in person, must be the lens through how we view possible misunderstandings of God in the Old Testament. It may be true that Jesus had a more correct view of God, but this still leads to certain interpretations of Jesus considered more correct and deemphasizes the priority of a relationship with our Creator rather than a Book.

The danger of declaring God mysterious leads to an unknowable and unrelatable God 

God sometimes is said to be a mystery beyond human comprehension because one’s interpretation clashes with common human moral sense. When assuming the writers understood God perfectly, we often search for ways to rationalize certain passages. But the Bible ask us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5: 48). How can one understand a God who created us to know and hate evil, if their evil in our eyes is supposedly good sometimes? God says hate evil, so should we hate God sometimes! To declare God is mysterious is to perhaps do the opposite of what God desperately desires – to be knowable and relatable. When we rationalize certain biblical passages, we don’t question God and create barriers in the relationship.   

The danger of leading people to reject God for the wrong reasons  

Many only condemn gays or restrict women’s spiritual roles because of the Bible, but two plausible interpretations exist on most major issues when speaking of God’s character. Many defend that the Bible teaches that God proclaims women cannot be in authority over men in roles such as a priest or pastor. Scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures also proclaim the Bible can teach roles are based on gifts not gender. Many recognize as bigotry if we humans used such criteria in business or other roles. Women can feel disrespected and confused why a supposedly loving God would put men in leadership position over women which has encouraged dominance on the man’s part and is has been conducive for abuse and other atrocities women face at the hands of men. When God is portrayed in unloving terms, understandably this leads to atheism or rejecting God. 

The danger of causing crises of faith because the Bible is supposedly without error

When insisting all of the Bible is inspired or approved by God, it forces one to reject God if the Bible is wrong on any issue. Many insist the Bible can’t support evolution. These same people also insist the Bible is without error. If one believes evolution is a possibility, this forces them to reject the Bible and often God goes with that. There are already enough issues to cause one to turn from God than encouraging the Bible to be another reason by claiming it can’t be without error.

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts. 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 or like my page on  FACEBOOK and leave a comment. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.com

Why We Must Approach God And The Bible Openly Not Dogmatically – Biblical Examples

We could change a nation and relationships if opposing sides did not demonize one another by declaring their view the only and right view. Maybe you weren’t as stupid as I was when getting married. The wife and I didn’t have much conflict in dating so I assumed my wife’s love and respect pretty much meant agreeing with my point of view. I learned the key to a great marriage is accepting differences and finding ways to be happily incompatible. Best friends do it but we tend to take the gloves off inside the walls of marriage.

God-followers must approach the Bible the same way they do marriage. We can never claim our view of God according to the Bible is correct. Imagine how many wouldn’t be turn away from God if all had such an attitude. Literature requires interpretations and even those who respect Scriptures as authoritative disagree.  Even if we could prove the Bible was infallible, we still do not know which interpretation is the infallible view of God.

The infallibility of the Bible is a non-starter because we don’t have the original manuscripts and then interpretation is required. We must avoid dogmatism that often drives people away from than toward God. The Bible has inspired millions to lead a less selfish life. The problem isn’t the Bible but how the Bible is represented. The Bible is simply a recording of Israel’s understanding of God, which we can’t prove were perfect, that God can use in understanding what God is really like.

Examples below help support the importance of not claiming we can assume the Bible we possess is infallible or entirely inspired, which often leads to claiming interpretations are inspired. Just one example of later biblical writers/scribes contradicting or adding additional thoughts to earlier biblical writers makes claiming the Bible is infallible or inspired a problem:

  • Karen Keen in Scripture, Ethics, And Same-Sex Relationships points out that a scribe added sentences to the oldest manuscript we know of on Isaiah 2: 9-11. Our current Bibles read (The italicized words added to the original): “So people will be brought low and everyone humbled— do not forgive them. Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from the fearful presence of the Lordand the splendor of his majesty! The eyes of the arrogant will be humble and human pride brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (p. 59, 126). Later scribes intensified God’s anger which may or may not best portray God’s true nature.
  • Keen provides an example where the writer in Deuteronomy 15 alters slavery laws from Exodus though the original slavery law was given by God to Moses directly on Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:18-21:11). The updated law in Deuteronomy applies freedom also to female slaves not just male slaves, improves circumstances for slaves, etc. (p. 60-61). The writers of Deuteronomy had no problem updating supposed spoken words from God to Moses best for their circumstances. We have to be open-minded which laws are wisest in our circumstances.
  • It would seem throughout the OT that animal, blood sacrifices are necessary for God to forgive. But, why did later OT writers over time begin to write 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)? Why wouldn’t writers at least say both animal sacrifice and contrite hearts are necessary? This leads to very different interpretations of the Cross and view of God for many – did Jesus die to appease God’s wrath and need for sacrifice or to prove God’s amazing love so we might follow in Jesus’ footsteps.
  • Keith Giles points out in Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word Of God From The Bible that 2 Sam 24:1 says God incited David to take a census of Israel which lead to massive slaughter. But, I Chron 21:1 says Satan incited David (pp. 136-37). Did NT writers understand God better by writing that God, no matter how Holy God may be, never tempts anyone to do evil (James 1:13). What many assume of a good God doesn’t always match what the Bible says!
  • Deut. 28:63 says God takes pleasure in destroying. But, Ezek. 33:11 says God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. So, which view portrays God most accurately? Paul says the Spirit helps us make final judgments (I Cor. 2:15), but we must respect one another’s opinion.
  • NT writers relied on a Greek translation of the Hebrew OT called the Septuagint. This is an older version of the Hebrew Scriptures than the Masoretic text which came later and from which most of our OT Bibles are translated today from. There are many differences. In the story of David and Goliath, the Masoretic text our Bibles use has many more details and it twice as long as the Septuagint version (Giles, p. 139). Thus, the version we read in our Bible is an expanded version of the original, supposed inspired version. Later biblical scribes felt completely free to update earlier scribes, perhaps to make their point.

My point is not to emphasize that our Bibles are full of errors but to encourage us to change how we read and represent the Bible to others. Uncertainty is not the problem! Uncertainty can lead to more loving actions by accepting one another’s differences. Certainty often leads to opposing sides demonizing one another by insisting they are right and the other side is wrong. Can you imagine if couples acted this way when disagreeing? God-followers and religious leaders seem hell-bent in telling people what must be believed about God according to their understanding and interpretation of the Bible. Certainty rather than open-mindedness about God has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, condemning gays, and other atrocities in the name of God. Let’s have a discussion than demonize one another and turn others from God when we could be wrong.

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts. 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 or like my page on  FACEBOOK and leave a comment. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.com

 

 

 

 

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