This is a longer Post. Feel free to read sections below that interest more. I will make each section as brief as possible. You can go Here for more Posts on the Bible. I sat down to write a book on the Bible and decided instead to summarize my main thoughts in hopes it may lead to civil, fruitful discussions with others and ultimately to less judgmental actions.
Some believe God inspired all of the Bible thus is God’s final word on guidance; others believe the Spirit may guide us toward even a higher view of God than the biblical writers always had. One can still be a devoted God-follower though they don’t believe God inspired every word in the Bible. God may have intended the Bible simply to be viewed as recorded experiences of a nation’s beginnings with God culminating with the life of Jesus. God didn’t necessarily intend for the Bible to not be questioned. Not reading the Bible with an open mind has led to sick minds carrying out immoral acts in God’s name contrary to common moral sense.
Does God ever control human cognitions that would guarantee an inspired Book?
The presence of so much evil in this world, contrary to God’s wishes, suggests that God seeks to influence than dictate beliefs. An uncontrolling God cannot guarantee a perfect Book, but God can enter our world with the communications means available to help reflect on what God is really like. God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t support God performing a lobotomy on biblical writers or editors and controlling the canon process. The Catholic Bible has seven additional books in the Old Testament than the Protestant Bible. We can’t be certain our books of the Bible are the ones God intended to convey truth. There may be other books excluded that convey truth about God.
It is circular logic to suggest the Bible is infallible or inspired by God because biblical writers make such a claim. No one can prove that the biblical writers always understood God perfectly. They may have grown in their understanding over time. It is perfectly normal to think that when the Bible records “God said,” it was the writer’s impressions of God. Writers didn’t claim they were always hearing an audible voice. When the words infallible or inspired are used about a Book, many assume the words penned by the writers either came from God or have God’s approval. I doubt many things said about God in the Bible are true. See here.
Even if the Bible was inspired by God, we can never say “The Bible says…”
One may believe the biblical writers/editors always understood God perfectly, but the Bible as literature requires interpretation of a writer’s meaning and the writer isn’t around to ask what they meant. No Book can be proven to be supernaturally controlled, much less be perfectly interpreted. Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures interpret differently what God thinks about critical matters such as divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, and the afterlife.
Do you doubt a loving God would favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face? See here. Isn’t it shocking one country only recently loosen restrictions on women’s ability to travel without male guardian permission? Do you doubt God condemn gays when gays can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can, and they have to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility? See here. Do you doubt a loving God tortures anyone forever, when humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies? See here. Many biblical scholars that have a deep respect for Scriptures have the same doubts.
Assuming the Bible is inspired leads down dangerous, slippery slopes.
People often abandon common moral decency because of a supposed inspired Book. Inspired Books, as opposed to possibly fallible Books, has led down the slippery slope of justifying one’s interpretation as the Word of God. Many fail to acknowledge literature requires interpretation, and their interpretation may be wrong. Was God really the kind of Warrior described in the Old Testament? Since we are to emulate God, war is often justified in the name of God and justice. War may be necessary at times, but don’t hide behind the Bible as your only justification.
Only terrorists, because they don’t question a Book, believe a good God encourages beheading for unbelief. Common moral sense is demonized! Terrorists or extremists seldom admit all believers don’t interpret the Koran or the Bible the same. Terrorists aren’t the only ones who don’t question if God inspired the writer’s thought or if their interpretations are correct. It is seldom admitted that biblical scholars, who believe in the authority of Scriptures, do not agree on God’s views toward non-Christians which impacts billions of lives. How could a loving God approve only Christians go to heaven, when the majority of people born into this world rebel or adhere to the religion where born. Is God a God of chance? We must be guided by love, not just a Book!
So, how can we know what God is like?
If God exists and wants us to know Her, God may have provided other ways. After all, the majority of people born into this world from the beginning of time never had a Bible or had heard of Jesus. Even the Bible claims we best know God through the influence of God’s Spirit than the written word. Universal moral outrage toward murder, stealing, lying, etc. hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. It is universally known how to love others – like we want to be loved! Moral intuitions are fallible but at least they should join the party of fallible interpretations for civil discussions.
The main way to understand God’s love is to compare to human love. This is why many claim God is a mystery because their interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. It is often said the central message taught by the Bible is clear and the rest is nit-picking. Not true! We don’t agree what God thinks according to the Bible about women, gays, divorce, hell, etc. We may not always know what perfect love is, but surely God’s love and perfect human love are one and the same.
Does uncertainty make God a hidden, unloving God?
Let’s dispel the myth that anything goes when we can’t claim certainty. Who doesn’t know physical or sexual abuse is evil? Direct communication isn’t always magical. God supposedly spoke audibly when giving Moses the Ten Commandments. Some misunderstood God by not helping an injured soul on the Sabbath. Good thing there is no magic book to definitively tell us what God is like. We would just use it as a club to beat people into believing.
Certainty about God has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, denying women, condemning gays, and other atrocities in the name of God. Open-minded uncertainty rather than “supposed” certainty could go a long way to healing national and personal relationships! Imagine if all marriages adopted this attitude. God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. The road traveled of learning, reflecting, and non-coerced choices may best lead to lasting convictions. Moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Amoral decisions are open. Maybe God speaks to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!
Read the Bible in a creative and fun away!
Have fun discerning the moral of the story regarding the Tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden since so many interpretations exist. Was God warning us to keep out of God’s business since we can’t understand God? Was God trying to protect us by encouraging trusting God’s way than our own ways sometimes? Those not growing up in church don’t understand all the fuss. Who thinks literature subject to interpretation should be read so dogmatically? Read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love rather than with blind obedience. Discern a takeaway how to be more the person you deep down desire to be. That may be God’s Spirit talking to you.
It matters what you think God is like!
God is accused of being many things because of the Bible: sexist, homophobe, controlling lover, hellish sadist, hothead, egomaniac, etc. Most are convinced an unselfish than selfish life lived is a better legacy. What I believe is morally true about God intuitively is a far better version of God than what many claim according to the Bible. Most of us are decent people to begin with. Personally though, I am a better partner, father, and friend than I would be because of the insights, encouragement, and forgiveness that I sense from my Creator when reading the Bible. A right view of God may be the help our world needs in loving others like we want to be loved.
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