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Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

What Does The Bible Say God Saves Us From Since Hell Doesn’t Exist?

A God whose focus is saving people from the threat of burning forever after death is about fear not a relationship. Fear often leads to hiding stuff; a loving relationship leads to life changes. Adult children don’t respect and devout themselves to their parents’ guidance because they fear them. It may surprise many that the traditional understanding of Hell isn’t in the Bible. The Bible also doesn’t talk a lot either about Heaven as an escape from earth. What is God’s good news?

The Bible says nothing about the traditional understanding of the word Hell.

Humans wouldn’t even create a place to torture their enemies after death. The only place we would get such an irrational idea of a supposedly loving God is from a Book. Gehenna, the Greek word translated as Hell in the New Testament, was the name of a real valley nearby Jerusalem with a history of terrible slaughter.  Gehenna is best translated Gehenna. There is no word in Hebrew or Greek for “hell.” Jesus used Gehenna to illustrate that spiritual death is as tragic as physical death. The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the NT never refers to Hell. Noah, or any prophet in the OT, never warned of Hell as a consequence for behaviors here on earth.

If there is no Hell, was Jesus main message to get the hell away from earth to enter Heaven?

The word “heaven” appears the most in the Gospel of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t talking about going to a place after death. Jesus speaks of bringing heavenly love to earth – “on earth as in heaven.” Jesus said nothing about dropping to your knees to avoid Hell to go to Heaven after death. But, didn’t the Apostle Paul say “the wages of sin is death” (Rm. 6:23)? Paul is speaking of spiritual death because Paul is still alive though sin has put him to death (Rm. 7:11). Romans is Paul’s longest and most theological letter and when Paul mentions Heaven twice, he says nothing about Jesus dying so we can go to Heaven (Rm. 1:18, 10:6).

What does the Bible say God is saving us from?

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jeremy Myers says it best that the Bible isn’t about escaping Hell but being delivered from consequences of sin: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.”

https://redeeminggod.com/confess-jesus-romans-10-9-10/

God has a dream! 

God hurts because we are hurting ourselves and those around us. On this day as we celebrate Martin Luther King’s life and message, God too seeks to convince us of the evil of bigotry. Jesus came to earth to convey God seeks to empower us to constantly shun evil and do good. Seek and experience God’s help in being more the person you know deep down is in your and others’ interest. Consider misbeliefs about God that hinder that pursuit. Share with others such a God when they inquire.

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

 

Certainty May Be The Greatest Sin Of All!

There is so much civil unrest because both sides demonize 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. Open-minded uncertainty rather than supposed certainty could go a long way to healing our nation and personal relationships!

Certainty about God because of the Bible

It is circular logic to suggest the Bible is infallible or inspired by God because biblical writers make such a claim.  Writers could have clearly misunderstood God. God’s nature is not to control thoughts and words of writers. Besides, the Catholic Bible has seven additional books in the Old Testament than the Protestant Bible. Which books are supposedly infallible? The Bible isn’t a question and answer book. Jesus didn’t always answer directly because the issue is our heart in solving problems. Can you imagine a world where all looked out for the interests of others and not just themselves when facing difficulties?

Certainty about our interpretation of the Bible

It is not often admitted one’s interpretations may be wrong but instead emphatically stated “the Bible says…” Literature always requires interpretation of a writer’s meaning and application to our personal circumstances. Scholars and laypeople, who even respect the authority of Scriptures, frequently disagree on the meaning of the same passage. Turning the other check is interpreted to claim Jesus never advocated violence, but the possible literal translation of Mt. 5:39 is “do not resist by evil means.” Is violence never desired but necessary sometimes?

Certainty about what is best for individuals about their relationships

Bible folks and non-Bible folks frequently talk as if knowing what is best in one’s circumstances, whether about personal or work relationships. It is easier giving advice than listening and helping one make their own decisions. Bible-folks claim one shouldn’t divorce because the Bible supposedly says so. It’s complicated. A partner may respond with gratitude for a second change or another chance may simply enable bad behaviors to continue.

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?

Certainty about what is best for a nation

God-followers must stop implying or claiming moral superiority because of the Bible for reasons stated. Thankfully, we live in a democratic society. We don’t have to vote if murder should be a law because one’s physical rights are clearly violated. Physical violence when disagreeing is obviously wrong and must be condemned, but it isn’t obvious if building a wall is right or wrong. Discussions best start with what parties agree on. Until we stop claiming morality according to a Book or our own intuitions, we will never be able to solve our differences. It is a dictatorship when we impose our will on non-moral issues such as health care or taxes.

Uncertainty, not certainty, can lead to creative solutions not chaos.  

  • We must first stop claiming our views are morally superior to those we disagree with
  • We must handle differences with physical and emotional civility
  • We can begin conversations by looking for areas we agree
  • We can discuss differences by defending our reasoning, respecting the opinions of others, and committing to growing in understanding
  • In a democratic society the vote of the majority must be followed until voted on again

 

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Book Review: Where Is God During Suffering?

Thomas Oord’s book GOD CAN’T is for those who have suffered and have trouble understanding why a supposedly good, all-powerful God did nothing. Maybe you have just questioned why such a God allows so much evil in this world or at least doesn’t intervene more. We know God doesn’t cause evil but why doesn’t a loving God, if truly powerful, at least stop certain evils? Oord offers the best solution I have read so far.

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. Are you dissatisfied with conventional answers such as: “It’s all part of God’s plan;” “God wants to make you stronger;” “God’s ways are not our ways;” “You didn’t have enough faith;” “Everything happens for a reason.” (P. 11) If evil is some grand scheme God can control, why then does the Bible says God hates evil so much?

Thankfully, GOD CAN’T doesn’t appeal to “God is a mystery” as an explanation. How we are supposed to know and love like God if God is mysterious? We are told to be perfect like God, but how can we know what this means if we can’t know what perfect love is.  God’s love surely is like perfect human love. Oord offers rational answers to the biggest questions of our lives.

Some say God doesn’t cause evil, but allows it, to bring about a greater good. Oord reminds us greater good doesn’t always come about. A surgeon may have to break open your chest to save your life, but what purpose is served from rape, torture, betrayal, murder, deception, corruption, incest, and genocide as if part of some good plan? From this twisted perspective, evil is good! (P.14)

Thomas Oord offers an alternative to the idea that God either causes or allows evil for some grand purpose. God can’t is actually in the Bible. God can’t lie (Titus 1:2), God can’t be tempted (Jm. 1:13), etc. (P.25) It is also logical that a good God can’t be unloving, God can’t change the past, God can’t deny freedom, God can’t be truly loving if controlling. See also Oord’s Book – THE UNCONTROLLING LOVE OF GOD.

GOD CAN’T suggests that God can’t prevent evil singlehandedly (Chapter 1). The book concludes that God needs our cooperation in intervening in evil (Chapter 5). Believing God can’t prevent evil moves us past thinking God causes or allows pain, tragedy, and abuse. We shouldn’t blame God for the evil God can’t prevent. If you accept this you can move on to believing God feels our pain (Chapter 2), God works to heal (Chapter 3), and God squeezes every bit of good from bad (Chapter 4).

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_8?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=god+cant+oord&sprefix=God+cant%2Caps%2C183&crid=1QGZX4WJB8XWR&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Agod+cant+oord&ajr=0

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

Book Review – What Are Your Spiritual Gifts?

J.D. Myers title WHAT ARE THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS is perfect and delivers in identifying spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible and how to personally discover your gifts to help others. Those who grew up going to church are very familiar with the topic of spiritual gifts. I would encourage those who didn’t grow up in the church to read as well if wishing God’s help to make a difference in the lives of others through your talents, interests, skills, and abilities.

J.D. Myers greatest insight into this subject may be that God desires to empower us to love and serve not just those in church but those we encounter in all aspects of our life. J.D. explains “the church” in the Bible isn’t referring to a building but individuals seeking to make a difference in the world.

There is a Spiritual Gifts Inventory at the end of the book that many will find very useful. But, don’t overlook Chapter 4 – How Can We Know Our Gifts? The Chapter is easy to read and offers several ideas of how to discern our gifts to help others.

Chapter 5 rightly disputes the notion that some gifts are better than others. That is good for us introverts. Extroverts often get credit, though they don’t need it because others are telling them what a difference they are making. The great news is God loves introverts and extroverts the same. Introverts can make a difference in ways extroverts can’t.

Now, those who grew up going to church want to understand more about gifts such as tongues, prophecy, etc. The book does a great job of discussing whether some gifts no longer exist and how we can understand such gifts.

WHAT ARE YOUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS concludes by encouraging all to embrace their unique gifts. God does! I enjoyed reading J.D.’s personal story about his and his wife’s gifts. Couples can actually enjoy helping others though different and with a fun than critical spirit. Be and accept who you and others are! God would not have it any other way!

https://www.amazon.com/What-Are-Spiritual-Gifts-Christian-ebook/dp/B07L1KBTJM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1544969890&sr=8-1&keywords=jd+myers+spiritual+gifts

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

 

Did Jesus Die Because God Was Pissed And Couldn’t Forgive Us?

It can be confusing or turn others away from God by the way we talk about the Cross. A death doesn’t magically heal the pain we have caused God or others. The most healing we can hope for is when there is confession and forgiveness. A partner can never undo their betrayal, but taking responsibility and not blaming others can be a start toward healing. Many growing up in church may not have a problem with the idea of a child being sacrificed to appease God – neither did the OT gods – but an outsider using common moral sense has to wonder why a God who truly loves requires this. Does the Bible really teach God requires blood before forgiving?

Requiring a debt be paid isn’t really forgiveness.

If you owe a monetary debt and you are required to pay it off, how is that forgiveness of a debt? God can’t both forgive a debt and require repayment. Demanding the blood of an innocent party doesn’t legally resolve another person’s guilt.  My going to jail for a friend’s wrongdoing doesn’t somehow clear my friend of their crime. Guilt is not somehow magically removed by someone else’s confession of a sin they didn’t commit.

We may need to rewrite John 3:16 if Penal Substitution is true.

“For God was so filled with wrath against the world, that he sent his only begotten son to take the beating that we all deserved. That if anyone would want to escape eternal suffering, and would raise their hand and repeat this prayer after me, they would escape this horrible wrath. For the son was not sent into the world to change our minds about God, but to change God’s mind about us. So now that Jesus has taken the punishment for us, God can now finally love us, and forgive us.”  https://www.patheos.com/blogs/keithgiles/2018/11/for-god-so-hated-the-world/

Jesus and the Bible sometimes contradict the necessity of blood to forgive our sins.

Jesus forgave the paralyzed man before His death (Mt. 9: 6-9). Jesus sure seemed to accept supposedly evil people in society before His blood was spilt on the Cross. Why does the Bible talk so much about the Cross defeating evil, rather than the Cross defeated evil so God could forgive us (Gal. 1:4, I Jn. 3:8, etc.)? Jesus seemed on a mission to help us battle ongoing evil, not to pay for a once-for-all crime.

If blood was necessary for God to forgive, why did even 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). In the OT sacrifices were for unknown sins while known sins were punished not forgiven. Even in the NT God is said to not desire or be pleased with sacrifice and offerings though offered in accordance with the law (Heb. 10:8). These passages contradict passages that supposedly teach God required Jesus’ death to forgive us.

But, don’t Bible verses also say Jesus died for our sins?

Many passages insinuate that Jesus died for us because of our sins (I Pe. 3:18, Rom. 5:8, I John 3:16, etc.). They don’t say Jesus died for God’s sake. Jesus could have died because of our sins rather than for our sins. Jesus’ death actually proves violence doesn’t solve differences. Jesus’ message was acceptance and forgiveness lead to healing. If the Bible was crystal clear the purpose of Jesus’ death, why do so many theories exist as to why Jesus died?

Why did Jesus die? 

It is okay to speculate why Jesus was willing to die on the Cross. Biblical scholars haven’t figured it out. Jesus jumping off the Cross or overpowering His enemies was expected or hoped for but we would have learned nothing. We may still be talking about Jesus’ message of radical love as the best path for reconciliation, because He was willing to die rather than power over others. Jesus’ desire to inspire unselfish living empowered by our Creator is what really changes the world.  Jesus’ death rather than His power has inspired billions to live unselfishly.

Jesus’ death can enable us to not feel overwhelmed by guilt and truly loved by God. Terrorists blow others up for a message they feel strongly about. Jesus only blew Himself up for a message He believed very strongly in. Soldiers often sacrifice their lives because they are convinced certain freedom are that important. Jesus died in hopes we may understand true freedom is found by understanding what God is really like.

God forgives if we seek God’s forgiveness – no strings attached!

God is dying to forgive you of wrong doing in hopes to inspire you to change for your interests and the interests of others. God’s love and mercy, not God’s need for punishment, is our necessary nourishment in being the person we desire to be. That doesn’t get you a free out- of-jail card for a serious crime. That doesn’t mean when forgiving a friend that has betrayed you, that you have to pretend the relationship is back to the way it was. It takes two to tango. Unfortunately, most of us don’t seek forgiveness from humans or feel a perfect Creator accepts us and could simply forgive us for sins we have a hard time forgiving ourselves for.

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 Do Christians Want To Avoid Having in Common With Terrorists?

It is difficult for many to be drawn to a God that has anything in common with the God of terrorists. I am not saying Christians believe in resorting to beheading unbelievers. It is sensible though for all God-followers to consider any of their portrayals of God that look anything similar to terroristic views. A good God couldn’t possibly have anything in common with such views.

We must avoid all appearances that a good God is solely determined by a Book.

The idea of an infallible Book seems to shut down questioning and common moral sense. An infallible Book would not be so dangerous if extremists acknowledged literature is subject to interpretation, thus their interpretation cannot be proclaimed as “certainty” in God’s name. We must always openly admit our interpretation could be wrong, thus allowing personal views to be challenged.

Let’s avoid suggesting a loving God would deny freedom of beliefs.

One would think a God who is powerful enough to create, unless a respecter of freedom of beliefs, would annihilate immediately those who choose evil and oppose God. God’s love in the Bible is most frequently compared to that of a human parent. No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world desiring their children not freely reciprocate their love as opposed to being forced. Forced love is an oxymoron. A good God couldn’t possibly want to control beliefs through fear.

Let’s avoid suggesting a loving God tortures unbelievers before or after death.  

Delayed torture is still torture in the eyes of many. We mustn’t claim Hell is real according to the Bible because biblical scholars don’t agree Hell exists in the Bible. Most humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies! The word hell is a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words and seems invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience. It is important to defend God respects the right to choose your own personal beliefs in this life, and God does not torture people after death for such decisions. 

Let’s avoid claiming a loving God’s view of women hints of inequality.

I am not suggesting some Christians are saying Paradise is a lustful adventure for men at the expense of women, but it is important to not be dogmatic that the Bible teaches women are under the authority of men in the God of the Bible eyes. This can encourage dominance on the man’s part. Women and men surely need unselfish partners who have the heart of a servant. Some religious extremists would rather be dead than advocate for that. We must avoid proscribing gender roles which more frequently are used to oppress women than men.

What can Christians be certain of about God?

All religions must differentiate themselves from terrorist or extremist views to avoid misunderstandings about a God worthy of trust. Jesus simply wanted us to know God was the kind of Creator or Parent desiring a friendship to encourage a journey of shunning evil and doing good. Our views must encourage loving others like we want to be love. Accepting the freedom of beliefs, if not physically harmful to others, is foundational. A good God surely respect freedom of beliefs in this life and life to come and encourages roles according to one’s gifts not gender or race.

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 Might One Condemn Gays Out Of Devotion To God?

I recently wrote here why a fair-minded person may think God approves of women being restricted from roles men are offered. Many opposed such equity because of bigotry but bigots don’t read spiritual blogs. It is so important how God-followers represent God.  The good news is what is often said about God may not be true. There may be similarities as to why fair-minded people think God favors roles according to one’s gender and why God condemn gays.

Many people of faith only condemn gays because they think the Bible does?  

Many of us were taught to believe God condemns gays because the Bible says so.  Some may be unaware biblical scholars who respect the Bible believe Scriptures do not condemn gay monogamous relationships. See  here. The bigger argument though is that no one can claim God condemns gays because the Bible says so. Literature require interpretations and we disagree. One main reason fair-minded people condemn gays is because of a misunderstanding of the Bible, thus misguided devotion to God.   

Some may also argue God condemns gays because homosexuality just isn’t natural.

You don’t have to be gay to understand one can no more control their feelings toward those of the same sex than you can control having feelings toward the opposite sex. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel natural to you. You aren’t gay. Let’s don’t cause others to keep secrets at the expense of their mental health. God-followers must always use their hearts and minds when loving others by being non-judgmental and putting themselves in another’s skin.

It is argued the world could not have populated in the beginning! We are no longer in that situation and the world will continue to populate because not all couples are gay. We have unwanted children who need loving couples. Is adoption by a same sex or different sex couple not a better situation than groups homes or orphanages? Many gay couples are far better parents than many opposite sex parents. Don’t worry! Loving couples don’t try to scare a child straight or gay.

How can we know what God thinks about gays?   

If God exists even atheists agree God must be morally perfect. The best way to understand God’s moral perfection is through our thoughts of human perfection. How we think we ought to treat gays is how to know what God thinks of gays. The test for human or godly morality is if treating others like we want to be treated. Let’s not defend our position only because the Bible supposedly says so. We do not have to check our moral conscience at the door. Be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices. I hope one doesn’t think I approve of pedophiles for such love is not between two consenting adults. 

How must we treat gays or anyone?

Psychological harm is done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. Monogamous relationships, as opposed to mindless, selfish, uncommitted relationships, are in our best interests, though I am not suggesting we all should impose our views of consensual, sexual behaviors on others. One’s sexual orientation is personal and between them and their Creator. Personal relationship decisions are not violating anyone’s personal rights as do immoral behaviors as stealing, murdering, etc.  I hope more may stop judging others about their personal relationships because God supposedly condemns them through Scriptures.

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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