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Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

Does The Old Testament Always Convey What God Is Really Like?

Did OT writers always understood God perfectly, or were they influenced by surrounding cultures as to what an all-powerful God should look like? The OT frequently records “God said” but God wasn’t speaking audibly. The writers could have simply been conveying figuratively an inner conviction that God was revealing themselves. Jeremiah 1:8 says: “But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I commend you.” I doubt that Jeremiah always waited for some magical inner voice before speaking for God.

Did God really always do things the biblical writers claimed?

God supposedly denies Moses entrance into the Promised Land because Moses strikes than speaks to a rock (Num. 20). God supposedly kills Uzzah for touching the ark of the covenant as it was falling to the ground (2 Sam. 6). Even in the New Testament God supposedly struck dead Ananias and Sapphira for lying how much money they donated to the church (Acts 5). God is said to kill some for celebrating Communion without examining their heart (I Cor.11:30).

Did the writers always understand God perfectly?

We often attempt to rationalize how a loving God could be responsibilities for deeds that seem evil from a human perspective. Some explanation is needed when evil according to the brain God created us with is good sometimes. Rather than justifying it is also possible actions were wrongly contributed to God. Even today people claim God causes certain disasters in judgment. We have every right to question when God’s love doesn’t match how God created us humans to love.

What use is the Bible if the writers didn’t fully understand God?  

The Bible will always be valuable whether the writers always understood God perfectly or not. The Bible records 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 keep us talking and reflecting what God is like. God didn’t necessarily have in mind that recordings would not be questioned.

Then, we can’t know God if the Bible can’t be trusted?

C’mon! Who doesn’t know God hates murder, sexual abuse, beheading people because they don’t share your beliefs, etc.? The Bible doesn’t even claim to be the specific guide to Truth. Jesus when leaving this earth said His Spirit, not some Book, would guide us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). Jesus didn’t worry Truth requires discernment. Different opinions standing side by side, as we continually evaluate the most loving approach, is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. 

We can know God is relational.

Why would God even bother to create if not to share life together? He had enough angels for worship. God is often described as our heavenly Father/Parent. Our only analogy is human parents. I rather be challenged or questioned, than feared, if it will lead to more of a relationship. Love out of fear only leads to brief obligations. God’s uncontrolling nature, because of the freedom to oppose God, suggests God’s desire for authentic relationships. My prayers don’t begin: “Dear God, the Holy One, the Feared Creator of the Universe…” I talk to God as if a close Friend, and I haven’t been struck dead yet! God didn’t create us to give God the glory and shut up.

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

 

Which Laws Does God Hope We Follow In The Bible?

Some rightly may discount the Bible because there are some pretty crazy laws in there. Did God really think rebellious teenagers should be stoned (Deut. 21:18-21)? Maybe we don’t have to figure out if God really commanded such a law or the Israelites were influenced by other cultures in laws written. Justin Lee gives a framework for knowing which laws to follow if a God-follower (Torn: Rescuing The Gospel From The Gays-Vs.-Christians Debate, Chapter 13).

What are laws good for?

It is argued Old Testament laws only served as a guide to establish a moral society until Jesus came along and thus laws aren’t needed anymore. Laws or rules aren’t all bad. Laws help hold the lawless and lawgivers accountable. The wife and I knew we couldn’t smack each other when frustrated, but I felt it necessary to spell it out for the young-ins. I told my kids in no uncertain terms they couldn’t hit, kick, or push each other. Rules have limits though. If their younger sib wandered into the street and a car was coming, I could care less if they kicked their ass to the curb. 

Do we follow the moral laws but not the cultural laws in the Bible?

It is suggested the Bible is divided up into cultural and moral laws with moral laws being relevant for today. The Bible though doesn’t make such a distinction. Most wouldn’t argue God still forbids tattoos (Lev. 19: 28), but in the very next verse the Bible says don’t make your daughter a prostitute which is morally universal forever. Ask any parent including terrorists. The Bible never says some laws are moral and others are only relevant to that culture.

Paul and Jesus in the New Testament hint which laws to follow.

Honoring the Sabbath by not working must have been a big deal because it made the top 10 list. Religious folks freaked out when Jesus said it is good to feed the hungry or help the hurting on the Sabbath (Lk. 6:1-11). Jesus didn’t dismiss the Sabbath, but sometimes laws are meant to be broken. Which ones though?

The Apostle Paul who wrote much of the NT spoke of an instance where the Jews were disturbed when certain dietary laws weren’t followed (Rm. 14). Paul suggested the Jews shouldn’t impose on the Gentiles who weren’t raised like them; Gentiles shouldn’t try to tell the Jews what violates their conscience. Some go to a church building on Sunday; others don’t go to avoid being divisive.

The sniff test – do actions smell of love.  

Jesus said all the laws hang on loving God and your neighbor (Mt. 22:37:40). Loving God is loving your neighbor. The Apostle Paul said the same thing – all laws are summed up by loving your neighbor (Rom. 13:8-10). When Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish the law but fulfill (Mt. 5:17), He didn’t mean throw out all the laws. Don’t kill but sometimes we may need to defend our family. Honor your parents but sometimes we may need to disagree or even break ties. Laws are not written just as rules to follow blindly but to guide us in loving others.

Love rules. Love is more important to follow than the actual law. How do we know when love is better than the law? God’s spirit can guide us. Sometimes we need the help of others to discern God’s voice clearly. Lie if you might save a life from a ruthless dictator. Regardless of whether you think the Bible and God condemns gays (See Here), love rules. If you aren’t loving straight or gay people, regardless of what you personally believe, you are breaking God’s law!

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

It’s Actions Not Beliefs Stupid!

I am talking to the hand! I admit beliefs about God impacts how God-followers treat others. I blog ad nauseum that I think it is important to realize God isn’t a sexist, homophobe, hellish sadist, angry egomaniac, etc. Such beliefs are important but so what if they don’t lead to certain actions. I love my new beliefs about God, but I hate to admit talking/writing is easier than doing.

God doesn’t judge us on beliefs even according to the Bible.

I can’t find where Jesus in the Gospels talked about saying the sinner’s prayer or demanding his listeners accept certain beliefs before following Him. Jesus wanted us not so much to adhere to certain beliefs as much as He simply wanted us to seek God’s help in living out His message in the lives of others. It’s hard to find fault with any of Jesus’ message. God isn’t offended or waiting to check off certain beliefs we better have before engaging in a relationship.

If certain beliefs are required by God, then doubt would be unacceptable.

Can you imagine a loving parent saying “if you doubt me you are toast?” We only want our children to not doubt our wisdom because we believe we have their best interest in mind. But, I rather my kid question or challenge me whether I really care about them. Please doubt me than ignore me! If my wisdom is so valuable then I would have no problem trying to prove my love rather than first requiring certain beliefs. Doubt or challenge God all you want! 

The only thing God may be dogmatic about is taking action.

One main belief irrational is that we shouldn’t love others like we want to be loved. Word to extremists – a loving God who created freedom clearly desires their children freely reciprocate their love as opposed to being forced. Not even God can force true love. A loving God couldn’t possibly want to control or expect certain beliefs or else!

How am I acting?

The encouragement and support I feel from God make me a better man, partner, father, and friend. Deep down I want to treat others like I want to be treated. I sense God’s help when successful and support to not give up when failing. I still find it easier though to write about God than act like God, but I am going to die trying.

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

 

Does It Matter What You Imagine God Is Like?

Our image of God can dictate our actions. If God can do Hell, we may think we should emulate God in our attempts to judge and punish. Our understanding of God can determine the depth of our relationship with God and how we might treat others. We may imagine God, most often referred to Father, is like our earthly father or parent. We may think God is like what is claimed by God-followers, which often comes from their interpretation of the Bible. They may be wrong!

  • If we think God is hard to please and pissed off about sin rather than what sin is doing to us, we may judge others just as harshly rather than showing patience and mercy.
  • If God is really a warlike God according to the OT, we will use such behaviors to justify our actions in war when we shouldn’t.
  • If God condemns gays, we will condemn gays out of devotion to God.
  • If God thinks men have authority over women in some positions, that will filter down to your wives, daughters, and friends and stifle their gifts.
  • If God can prevent evil and doesn’t, isn’t that like a parent who arbitrarily decides to watch their child being sexually abused or not? Maybe God can’t love perfectly by controlling freedom. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom!

It matters what you believe a loving God is like. If God punishes us forever (Hell) for sins briefly while here on earth, aren’t we teaching others to fear God rather than experience God relationally like they would a human parent? Be open to discussions. 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. 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

 

 

Are Human Ideas Of Perfection The Same As God’s?

It is only natural to think a Creator would love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. It matters what we think God is like because our understanding determines the depth of our relationship with God and others. Those who believe in God typically suggest we should strive to be perfect like God. An atheist would say the only kind of God worth believing in is a perfect God. Such language assumes we know perfect from imperfect, good from evil.

Those who declare God is mysterious even believe human and godly perfection are the same.

God is claimed to be a mystery sometimes because one’s interpretation of Scriptures makes God appeal evil from a human perspective. Isn’t this because we all have an inborn intuition that God and human perfect love are the same? It’s nonsensical to suggest evil is sometimes good in God’s eyes. Even the Bible assumes we can know what perfect love is, because the Bible tells us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48). We must question our interpretations when God’s love seemingly is not the same as perfect human love.

But, we don’t all agree what perfection is! 

Most agree all should strive to treat others like we want to be treated. We seem to know how we “ought” to treat others. Now, there is disagreement. Should we show tough love to a loved one struggling with addiction or believe their regret of actions and give another chance? Certainty in how we should always act or know what God would do is an illusion. Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. Uncertainty, unless obviously immoral such as sexual abuse, allows different opinions to stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. 

Something isn’t immoral because we think the Bible says so.  

Many believe the Bible or Quran are revelations from God about what God is like. But, scholars and laypeople disagree on meanings of passages since literature requires interpretation. Certainty about God according to one’s interpretation is an illusion. Terrorists and extremists defend their beliefs because of a supposed inspired Book, but interpretations aren’t inspired. The world may be an amazingly different place if God-followers didn’t say “because the Bible says so.” 

Human perfection is our best starting point for knowing what God is truly like.

Common moral sense is not the enemy. Don’t let your interpretation of a Book override the golden rule with others of a different gender, color, or sexuality. Don’t condemn others because of your interpretation, whether you believe a Book is infallible or not. You can hardly ever go wrong treating others like you wish to be treated if in their shoes. Actions of love are always more important than any beliefs. What do you imagine a good God is like? 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. 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

 

What Are Good Reasons If True To Doubt God?

Confession. I write about the same topic often by asking some version of the question: What Is God Really Like? Open discussions as to what a perfect Creator is like are important; an imperfect Creator is not worth believing in. People may stop believing or never start believing in God if they accept everything they hear about God!

People when describing God often quote the Bible. Isn’t that where we discover what God is like? It may be if you have a Bible unlike the majority of people born into this world. So, there must be other ways to know God. The problem is scholars who respect Scriptures don’t agree on the meaning of the same passages. Interpretations aren’t infallible. We have every right to question interpretations that suggest a Creator doesn’t love how we were seemingly created to love others.

Who wants to follow a God who is antiscience, antiwoman, antigay, etc.? Many only believe or claim the following because of what they think a Book declares about God:

  • How could a God who teaches forgiveness seventy times seven possibly create Hell to torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. I am convinced even if you believe every word of the Bible is inspired by God, the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. See Here
  • How could a loving God demand only Christians go to heaven so all other Religions can go to Hell? The majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. Also, most rebel or adhere to the religion where born. If born into a Buddhist family, one is likely to become a nominal or devoted Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance?
  • How could a loving God condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can? If you think there is a 1% possibility that science proves that sexual orientation isn’t a choice, then let’s error on the non-judgmental side. Who chooses homosexuality when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility? See Here
  • How could a loving God favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face. The Bible can also be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. Women don’t need male leadership in marriage; women need men who have the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29).
  • Why would God insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis which seemingly denies the possibility of evolution? Scientists, who believe in the authority of Scriptures, have provided overwhelming genetic evidence that the human race couldn’t have originated from a single couple but through a population of some thousands of individuals. People don’t need to lose their faith because they believe in evolution. See https://biologos.org/
  • Why would God create or even allow evil? When we say God allows evil, it gives the impression God stands by when God could stop evil. A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Maybe God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom!
  • I have just begun.

What is God really like? Extremists insist on their interpretation of a Book. Anyway, we can’t prove every word of the Bible was inspired by God unless you argue a biblical writer making such a claim is definitive evidence. Writers may have needed to grow in their understanding of God. Listen to your moral inner voice what God is like. You may be right! God surely created us with intuitions how we ought to love others perfectly like God. Challenge God to help you find answers to your questions.

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

 

Reasons We Don’t Believe In God Or Stop Believing

We don’t know all the factors as to why some are inclined to believe and desire a relationship with their Creator and others aren’t. Believing in or not believing in God are both rational beliefs. The reasons many leave their faith in God may be why many don’t pursue God initially though desiring a relationship. I will end by suggesting advantages of a relationship with God based on experience.

First, let’s debunk the myth that those who don’t believe in God are simply rebellious.

The first chapter of Romans in the Bible is used to suggest all who don’t believe in God are suppressing what they know to be true. Actually, the writer refers to those who don’t doubt but ignore God and morality to justify their evil ways. Let’s not accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God as being wicked and ignorant of their feelings. If wrong to doubt God exists, Christians sin if doubt God in tough times.

A child sexually abuse by their father may struggle to accept a God betrayed as our Father in Heaven. Does God really judge them? Some are open or desperately want to believe in God but can’t get their head around why a loving God doesn’t intervene more with so much evil in the world. Does God really judge them? Why would a gay person believe in a God who supposedly condemn them for sexuality choices they no more choose than straights.

We are better off without God if the Bible is declared infallible and not questioned.

Christians according to the Bible condemn same-sex relationships, women are denied equal roles as men, and it is said only Christians go to heaven so all other religions can go to Hell. The idea of an infallible Book often leads to inferring interpretations are infallible. Literature, including the Bible, requires interpretation. Every view above is debated among biblical scholars who respect Scriptures. Don’t be dogmatic! God can speak for themselves to individuals. Now, if you think it is right to behead people because they don’t share your personal beliefs about God, you are wrong!

We may be better off without God if God declared a mysterious, moral hypocrite.

Some declare God mysterious when their interpretation of the Bible makes God appear immoral, but how can we have a relationship with a God we can’t understand with the brain God gave us? Is evil good sometimes? The Bible assumes we can understand God when challenging us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48). It is only natural to think that God and human perfect love are the same. Human love suggests a perfect God is not a sexist, homophobe, hellish sadist, hothead, egomaniac. A Creator surely love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. 

We may be better off without God if declared a prayer genie.

Praying doesn’t make God more caring. God is already doing all they can in a free world. Pretending God can simply heal without accounting for freedom can make one’s suffering worse. Did I not beg enough? Did I not behave enough or have the right attitude? God is tireless in working through individual lives to change the world. It seems God creating freedom necessitates one being able to do as much harm as they can do good. Authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. God, like parents, had a choice – to not create or create knowing suffering was a possibility in the pursuit of intimacy. Divine love limits divine power.

We may be better off without God if declared God causes or allows evil.

The problem of evil and suffering is a main reason people indicate they don’t believe in God. If evil is some grand scheme God can control or allows, why does the Bible say God hates evil so much? When we say God allows evil, it gives the impression God stands by when God could stop evil. A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom!

It doesn’t help when God-followers have hidden agendas in relationships.

I confess I use to think God wanted me to change people’s beliefs to avoid hell and go to heaven. Then, I discovered the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. A loving God surely only wishes we consider the possibility of a loving God who desires to help in our journey of becoming the person deep down we want to become. God simply encourages loving others as yourself since a self-centered life hurts yourself and others. True friends don’t seek to change one’s beliefs but to openly encourage one another in a life that leads to true freedom. 

When are we better off with God?

  • If a Creator exists they may know a thing or two about life and purpose for living
  • Life sometimes sucks and suffering is inevitable in a world where people have the freedom to bring joy or cause pain. A Creator can help navigate through such a world where we often face undeserved suffering. Bottom line – I need a companion
  • I am not the man I want to be. I have desires and thoughts that I know are wrong. I need guidance and encouragement in refusing them and knowing they are not in my best interests

Parents and friends often don’t love us for who we are but what they want us to be. God can often fill a void that humans can’t. Do you want to know God better? Find someone who seems to have an open relationship with their Creator and ask for help. If they want to give a lot of advice and act like they speak for God all the time – run! Challenge God to help you find answers to your questions. Seek a rational view of God rather than some pie in the sky God.

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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