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Archive for February, 2021

Is God More Mysterious Or Knowable?

I used the word “more” in the title of this blog because it seems obvious that we can’t totally understand an invisible or inaudible Being. It does seem intuitive that a God who creates freedom does so to have authentic relationships. Relationships dominated by mystery are difficult to have. Christians claim God communicates via the Holy Spirit. Would such a Spirit speak in a foreign or understandable language?  

How would a Creator communicate?

Universal moral outrage and agreement on the golden rule hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Criminals don’t defend but deny their actions. The Bible challenges: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Perfect human love and God’s love are the same. We don’t always know what perfect love entails, but we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly as our Creator loves us.

Does the Old Testament really declare God a mystery? 

The notion of a relational seeking God being mysterious, and not revealing, may only come from a Book. We aren’t as knowledgeable as God who is in all places at all times, but that doesn’t make God unknowable. Isaiah 55:8-9 is the most common passage to claim that God sometimes is a mystery: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” This passage isn’t suggesting we can’t understand God. The context suggests God exhorts us to forsake wicked ways (v.7) and turn to God’s higher, righteous ways (vs. 8-9). I know how to go low or high!

Does the New Testament really declare God a mystery? 

Jesus didn’t speak in parables to purposely hide His message. Nathan had more success confronting David indirectly with a parable (2 Sam 12). God’s truth is perplexing often to one’s heart not the mind. The “mystery of Christ” mentioned in the NT only reveals that God’s plan to bless all through Israel by way of Christ wasn’t fully revealed until after OT times. Paul says: “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2: 3-4). 

Assuming God is mysterious may only come from one’s understanding of a Book about God.

Biblical interpreters play the mystery card when their understanding suggests God’s morals are not the same as human morals. Isn’t this because we all have an inborn intuition that God and human perfect love are the same? Language breaks down if we say God’s evil sometimes is mysteriously good. If God is evil sometimes humanly speaking, are we supposed to hate God? If God isn’t understandable, why does the Bible ask us to imitate God (Eph. 5:1)?   

Why your view of God matters!

Our understanding of God can determine the depth of our relationship with God and how we might treat others. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. If we believe God is really warlike, we may justify our actions in war when we shouldn’t. If God condemns gays, we will condemn gays out of devotion to God. If we believe God thinks men have authority over women in some positions, that will filter down to your wives, daughters, and friends and stifle their gifts. Imagine what you believe a perfect God is like in your life and the lives of others you interact with. You may be right!

 

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. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.com If you wish to discuss anything I have written, you can email me at medwar2@gmail.com  

Do We Understand God Through The Bible Or Common Moral Sense

We can’t prove God exists much less prove our understanding of God is the correct one. If God does exist, what may be the most likely way to understand an invisible Creator? It seems doubtful a Creator would communicate to their creations only through a Book, since the majority of people born into this world didn’t possess a copy of the Bible. How God’s creations think they ought to love others (aka how we wish to be treated) may be how a loving, inaudible God communicates.

Where has an infallible or inspired Bible led us? 

God may have motivated/influenced/inspired writers to record the story of God, but that doesn’t mean necessarily that God controlled or approved all that is written about God. I Samuel 15:3 claims God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” We cannot really prove God inspired these words or hundreds of passages in the Old Testament that advocate violence in God’s name. God’s supposed warlike attitudes in the OT have been used to justify wars throughout history. Imagine if terrorists admitted God possibly didn’t inspire every word in a Book, and we had to use common moral sense to understand what a truly loving God is like.

A possible fallible Bible avoids the slippery slope toward inspired interpretations. 

It is common to hear one argue “The Bible says” without adding “according to my understanding.” It is often said we best know God according to “biblical truths.” The truth is contrary biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here. Supposed certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving relationships. Interpretation rules don’t guarantee understanding a writer’s meaning, much less confirm the biblical writers always understood God perfectly. We cannot avoid using common moral sense when understanding a loving God and Scriptures.   

Which interpretation more likely reveals who God really is?

It seems obvious a Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others. The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We don’t always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. Clearly, Bible or no Bible, not everything goes! Choose the view of God that doesn’t contradict your moral sense of a loving God. See  here.

What does God think about women, gays, etc.?

The Bible is God’s story beginning with Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in other documents. Reading the Bible encourages questioning and contemplating what a loving God is really like. Many recognize as bigotry if we chose business leaders based on gender than gifts. Similarly, should women though gifted be denied entrance in to the priesthood or pastorate? It doesn’t make moral sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more chose who they love than straight can. Mental health problems don’t originate because one is gay but because one is force to hide their true identify and experience condemnation. It is better to question rather than claim certainty and 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. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.com If you wish to discuss anything I have written, you can email me at medwar2@gmail.com  

Should Christians Push Others To Accept God And Their Beliefs?

It is often implied Jesus’ mission was to get others to confess certain beliefs to avoid hell and enter heaven. But Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but a life worth living here on earth. See here.  When Jesus interacted with a woman caught in adultery, He first stopped the crowd’s stoning attempts. Then, Jesus simply told the woman “go now, and leave your life of sin” (John 8). Good advice! Jesus didn’t advise her what to believe in case He never saw her again.    

Jesus stressed loving God and neighbors the most important commandments (Mt 22:37-40).

My children love me best by loving others to the fullest. A perfect, loving God surely desires the same of their creations. Loving God is loving others to the fullest. How do we love others? Who doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships – treat others as you wish to be treated? Turns out God only desires for us what we deep down desire from ourselves. A loving parent or God openly discusses beliefs to seek what leads to an individual’s own good and the world’s good.

Does God eventually require allegiance?

I don’t see how a God who creates freedom requires obedience. Evil in the world clearly reveals God doesn’t force compliance, or there wouldn’t be so much horrific evil in this world. God obviously understands what we humans know – freedom is necessary for authenticity. Not even God can force true love. Is there a day of reckoning for rejecting God here on earth? It is suspect God stops forgiving before or after death. One’s faith often depends what land or family born into. It is suspect God is a God of chance. Careful! Character developed here on earth may carry over.

Did the main writer of the NT demand certain beliefs?

The Apostle Paul certainly sought to convince others about Jesus. I would too if I had a vision of Jesus after he died (Acts 9), and knew eyewitnesses that had seen Jesus alive after dying on the Cross. Two thousand years later, we may have different discussions. Paul debated his beliefs with others who seemed open, though he didn’t force traditions that may have been important to him (Rm 14). In marriage Paul didn’t advise a believer to impose their beliefs on an unbeliever but let them go (I Cor. 7:15). Believers shouldn’t insist non-believers share their beliefs.     

How do we share with others about God and our relationship?

Those who feel loved, encouraged, and inspired in their relationship with God naturally want others to experience such a relationship. I enjoy discussing what a loving God may truly be like as much as one may want to discuss a great book they read. I am not suggesting such conversations be forced or that conversations have any hidden agenda to convert one to your beliefs. If you believe God desires to influence all for good, you will trust God to make such discussions natural.

One doesn’t have to be perfect to talk about God, but it is reasonable to expect those who talk about God to act godly.  I admit God conversations seldom happen in my life. Often others rightly smell hidden agendas to proselytize because of their past experiences. Such conversations are seldom successful if forced. It is up to God rather than us to inspire others to seek ways to be a more loving, caring person. One has to hope the life we live is enough for others to consider discussions about God when they have such an interest or need.  

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. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.comIf you wish to discuss anything I have written, you can email me at medwar2@gmail.com  

Was Paul, A Main Writer Of The New Testament, A Bigot Against Women?

I am not suggesting to read the Bible as a question-and-answer book. We can’t know if the biblical writers always understood God perfectly, unless God somehow magically controlled the writers’ thoughts and words recorded. The writer’s advice may not always be God’s advice. The Bible records experiences of beginnings with God culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in other documents. God didn’t necessarily have in mind that recordings wouldn’t be questioned but to contemplate what a loving God may be really like.

The Bible must not be used to further the abuse of women at the hands of men. All relationship circumstances aren’t the same. Use common, moral loving sense. Women, if in danger by all means run! Take care of yourself. Even if you believe God inspired every word written down, you still must interpret the writer’s meaning. Opposite interpretations exist on many major issues such as women roles, hell, gays, etc. Our interpretations are certainly not inspired, but I doubt Paul was a misogynist even according to the Bible.

I Corinthians 14:34 says: “women should remain silent in church. ….be in submission.” 

Paul’s advice must surely be due to the circumstances at hand – the gospel was liberating women but Paul wanted: “everything to be done in a fitting and orderly way (14:40).” That seems the best way to make sense that Paul practically in the same breath didn’t condemn women praying and prophesying (I Cor. 11:4-5). Pretty hard to prophesize silently! Paul mentions also that roles are according to one’s gifts and doesn’t mention gender (I Cor. 12:4-11). Romans 16 is only one of many chapters in the Bible that speaks of women in leadership roles (i.e. Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos (Acts 18:26). Women or men shouldn’t teach if leads to disruption not peace.   

I Tim 2:11-12 says: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”

Paul surely had in mind not spreading false teachings. Paul in verse 14 used Adam and Eve to illustrate what to avoid – Eve prevailing upon Adam to go against God’s ways. Keep in mind Paul says elsewhere Adam was responsible for what happened in the Garden. (Rom 5:12). Those who suggest this passage teaches women can’t teach men ever often allow women to teach women and children as if they are less important than men! Paul advises women to avoid certain hairstyles or jewelry (I Tim: 2:9), but churches don’t make the same prohibitions as women teaching. 

Eph 5:22 says: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do the Lord.” 

Paul also says in verse 25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Maybe husbands should hold off telling their wives to submit to their authority until he has successfully and perfectly loved her as Christ loves her. God doesn’t even demand we submit to God by creating freedom. One may say eventually we must submit to God as a reckoning after death. Men, then wait until you are dead to tell your wives to submit!

Submission is often interpreted in marriage to imply when there is an impasse, someone must make the final decision. Jesus said the first shall be last, but most men don’t interpret this to mean their wife is the final decision-maker. I have never had a marriage issue in 38 years that can’t be solved creatively together. Men in authority over women can encourage dominance on the man’s part and dependence on the woman’s part, which can be conducive for domestic abuse and the other atrocities women face at the hands of men. Give me an inch and I am tempted to take a mile! Women need men with the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29).

How do we decide how God really feels about women and men relationships?

It is plausible a universal instinct to treat others like we want to be treated is a personal external force communicating through our moral intuitions. I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same roles as men unless believing a Book about God teaches otherwise. Most agree not allowing equal roles because of skin color is immoral. Choosing who should lead the company based on gender is obviously bigotry. The most qualified or gifted should surely lead the company. Why not in church? It seems Galatians 3:28 may be God’s ideal if the truth can be handled: “There is neither Jew or Gentile, neither slave or free, neither male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).”

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. I also blog at http://donewithreligion.com If you wish to discuss anything I have written, you can email me at medwar2@gmail.com  

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