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I post often about the Bible. I have written a short Booklet: Rethinking The Bible – Is The Bible Really Inspired By God? It is natural to assume if God inspired the Bible, God approved all written in the Bible. We must question if the all of the Bible is inspired by God. Claims made about God according to an inspired Bible has keep many from having more of a relationship with God. God may be more like the God you expect!
It is claimed if the Bible isn’t inspired, then we can’t know God. But the Bible can’t be the authoritative guide about God, because we disagree what it says for major moral issues. Making God in the Bible’s image is complicated. Universal moral outrage concerning murder, sexual abuse, etc. hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know we ought to love others as we want to be loved. The idea that a loving God approves of beheading people for their beliefs can only arise from the notion that a Book is inspired by God thus speaks for God.
We can best know God through our moral intuitions
It is only intuitive that a Creator loves the ways their creations ought to love one another. Godly love and perfect human love are surely one and the same. What is perfect love? Every reasonable human being respects the golden rule in relationships. We were born to use our moral sense. Beliefs that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss, because they are contrary to our moral intuitions of perfection. We just know intuitively that we were created to love one another as our Creator loves us – perfectly.
Bible-believing Christians even suggest trusting your moral intuitions
Even those who claim God is a mystery believe in judging God according to moral human intuitions. Many argue God is a mystery because their interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. (I think it’s crazy talk to say God can do bad but then call God good). Such interpreters, who would agree humans were created in God’s image, are using their moral intuitions to imply God and human love are the same.
We can make God in the image of a perfect human lover
Most agree only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we are clueless about perfect love. Even the Bible implies we can understand God’s love because perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). We don’t always know what perfect love entails but we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly aka am I loving others like our Creator loves. Problems often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our understanding from an inspired Book.
An analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities in understanding God. The Bible refers to God as our Heavenly Father/Parent. God is a Spirit so God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for we cannot be in all places at one time. It is only natural to think a Creator would love us in the same way we wished to be loved by our parents. God has revealed themselves. God’s image is a perfect, loving Parent!
Don’t make God in a “male’s” image
We don’t think of God having more of the male than female anatomy. Both male and female best describe God’s image (Genesis 1:26). God is described as a woman in childbirth (Isaiah 42:14), or “a great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors.” (Ezek 17:3) Clearly, God is neither male, female, nor an eagle in terms of gender or form. The gods of the nations in biblical times were described as either male or female; the Jews did not speculate about the gender of God. The reason for more male references is the patriarchal cultures writers lived in.
We still must be discerning making God in Jesus’ image
It is argued, because of the challenges understanding God and violence in the Old Testament, that Jesus is the final word in understanding God. Jesus claimed to be God and His moral legacy seems undeniable. But God-followers don’t always agree what Jesus taught because of transmission, translation, and interpretation. Many disagree what Jesus taught about divorce which impacts millions of marriages. Turning the other cheek is interpreted to claim Jesus never advocated violence, but the possible literal translation of Mt. 5:39 is “do not resist by evil means.” Does Jesus agree violence is never desired but may be necessary sometimes? The NT is no different than reading the OT since we could be wrong what Jesus would teach. It can’t be avoided using common moral sense even when reading the New Testament and what Jesus taught.
What is God really like according to perfect, human moral sense?
I will list only a few beliefs that make no moral sense to me. For a full railing see here.
- God can’t be a hellish sadist. Such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. The only reason to believe Hell exist is because of some book, but I doubt the traditional understanding of Hell exist in the Bible. See here.
- God can’t be a religion excluder. A loving God wouldn’t only let Christians into heaven when the majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of Jesus the Christ. One’s religion, or rebellion against a certain religion, is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance?
- God can’t be a homophobe. A loving God couldn’t possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? If you are a straight man, aren’t you naturally attracted to looking at naked women than men? Ask gays their attractions! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility?
- God can’t be a sexist. God wouldn’t put men in leadership position over women which has enabled dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men. The Bible can be interpreted to restrict roles or endorse roles according to gifts not gender. Shouldn’t the most qualified or gifted, whether male or female, be appointed CEO, preacher, or priest?
Mental images of God shape our relationship with God and how followers treat others. If God really created Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. Uncertainty is not always a bad thing and can lead to acting more loving. I will address the issue of uncertainty in an upcoming post. Certain laws are just common, moral sense. Live by understandings of God that you sense are true of a loving God. You may be right!
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