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Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

Who Should We Vote For If We Vote At All?

 The Synchroblog is where bloggers write on spiritual topics – often different perspectives. This month we were challenged to write on If God-Followers Should Vote Or Not Vote. Links to other articles will be put at end of this Post October 31

The topic we were challenged to write about is close to my heart. I lost a dear friend who disagreed how I voted. In the last election I didn’t like either candidate because of their policies or how they treated others in the heat of politics. My friend suggested that I not vote at all to not lose their respect. I did think one candidate would deal better with major issues such as unemployment and the reality of evil in the world. I could be wrong on the issues of course.

We will only progress as a nation when we are able to agree to disagree respectfully.

Many who will read this blog believe in a Supreme Being. Most believe such a God would encourage treating others like we want to be treated for a more civil, safe, loving world. We have to learn to respond not react over our differences. Most believe we should let family and friends finish their sentences, and we might even politely smile to encourage discussion. We owe all people the respect of listening and not overreacting. Democratic nations have no excuse as we have the privilege to vote on our differences.

We have no right to claim moral superiority over others.

God-followers must not claim moral superiority because of the Bible. The Bible can’t be the definitive guide what God would do because even scholars disagree what God according to the Bible thinks about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, the afterlife, etc. Most God-followers seem to know physical and emotional violence is wrong, but they seem unaware how they come off morally superior based on their assumptions about the Bible. Being unable to declare the certainty or morality of our opinions forces us to listen and express ideas openly in love, possibly leading to new understandings and creative solutions.

Who doesn’t know physical or emotional violence is wrong?

Why is it not obvious physical violence is off the table not only in personal relationships but in politics as well? Martin Luther King demonstrated change is possible through peaceful protests. Imagine the reaction if a partner assaulted their lover. It is horrendous when people of different color or gender don’t naturally have the same rights, and the privileged must not remain silent.  But, authorities such as police must be obeyed while their actions can be reviewed by outside parties for possible expulsion or criminal charges.

Emotional abuse is just as wrong as physical abuse. President Trump’s family and those under his leadership must call him out for his belittling and name-calling. But, just because someone belittles you is no reason to respond back in like fashion. After all, you condemn such behaviors from your adversary. Politicians must be concerned that those who voted for them and those that didn’t vote for them can be provoked to retaliate against verbosity with physicality. Differences are resolved by respecting the freedom of opinions and committing to growing in understanding.

It should be obvious who to vote for and if you should vote.

Vote for or don’t vote your conscious. Any relationship, whether it be a partner or citizen, must learn and accept being incompatibly content. We owe one another civility when we disagree in both personal and political relationships. Respect one another’s right to make their own decisions. Seek out areas to agree on.

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. You can Like my page on  FACEBOOK   and leave a comment. Or, if you wish to discuss anything I have written you can email me at medwar2@gmail.com

Here are links from those who contributed this month. Go read them all!

Red, Blue, Green, or Neither? – Scott Sloan

Voting is Violence … So Vote! – Tim Nichols

Should I Vote in the Election? – Jeremy Myers

 

If The Bible Isn’t Infallible Or Inspired By God, What Is It?

I still don’t know exactly how to describe God’s role with the Bible after I started rethinking why the Bible can’t be infallible or entirely inspired. It just seems so unlike God to control thoughts written down, rather than allowing us to grow in our understanding of God when ready. Scholars who respect Scriptures are admitting the Bible isn’t infallible. These same theologians are slow to suggest God didn’t inspire all of the Bible, which suggests God approves of everything written, but see concerns below. Many have been provoked to not even consider a relationship with God when sexist, homophobic, and genocidal behaviors attributed to God in the Bible are rationalized.

Why the Bible can’t be proven to be infallible.  

The OT records thousands of times “God said…” Writers weren’t claiming God spoke audibly; they were simply writing about their “impressions” from God. We can’t prove such impressions were always right. It is circular logic to suggest the Bible is infallible or inspired because biblical writers make such a claim. Many who accept the Bible being infallible would not accept the Quran being infallible because it claims to be. God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t support God performing a lobotomy on OT writers’ impressions of what they thought God was telling them.

But, even if God dictated all of the Bible words are still subject to interpretation. Forget the Older Testament. Scholars don’t agree what Jesus meant when talking about Hell. The fact that we disagree about the meaning of the same passages makes the discussion of the Bible’s infallibility a moot point because interpretations aren’t infallible. The formation of the Old Testament was a long, slow development over centuries. The Catholic Bible has seven additional books in the Old Testament than the Protestant Bible. We can’t know the books of the Bible we have were the ones God intended to convey truth or that other books haven’t been excluded to convey truth about God. 

Why it is doubtful God inspired all of the Bible.   

To describe the Bible as inspired or authoritative suggest to many that God approves of everything recording in the Bible. It is hard for most to believe God inspired hundreds of OT passages like I Samuel 15:3 when God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Why would God inspire views that suggest God would endorse genocide? How could God inspire approving of a wife having her hand cut off when grabbing another’s man genitals protecting her husband (Deut. 25:11-12)?

There are good reasons to lean toward the Bible not being inspired because of certain morals attributed to God. An infallible or inspired view of Scriptures has led down the slippery slope of assuming interpretations are inspired. Not questioning if writers always understood God perfectly has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities in the supposed name of God. Different opinions must stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. God gave us a moral brain! 

What is the Bible if not inspired by God?

The Bible is recorded 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 can keep us talking and reflecting what God is really like. God didn’t necessarily have in mind that recordings would not be questioned. The Bible claims to be God-breathe which can literally mean God-spirited (2 Tim. 3:16). Only the Old Testament existed when these words penned. This passage could simply mean God uses writings about God to touch our spirit.

Certainty in God isn’t the Holy Grail!

An inspired Bible leads to interpretations magically becoming infallible. Believing such a Book exists has led to condemning gays in God’s name, though those who accept Scriptures as authoritative don’t agree the Bible disapproves of homosexuality. A fallible Book can’t hide behind infallible interpretations. Uncertainty doesn’t have to led to chaos as moral laws that violate the rights of others are obvious. The majority of people born in this world never read a Bible but seem to have an inborn knowledge of right and wrong, hinting a Creator not a Book communicates to all what is good.

How can we read the Bible?

Read the Bible reflectively than for solutions to specific problems. Read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love.  Jesus didn’t always answer questions directly because circumstances vary and 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? Don’t check your moral conscience at the door as you consider what a loving God is really like. As long as we read the Bible with a questioning spirit rather than blind obedience, it seems the Bible can continue to influence millions to live a more selfless life.

For related questions about the Bible go to:   

https://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/rethinking-the-bible/

 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. Like my page on  FACEBOOK   and leave a comment if you like. Or, if you wish to discuss anything I have written you can email me at medwar2@gmail.com

 

 

How Can Christians Not Turn Others From God Because Of The Bible?

The Bible because of certain views espoused from it about God may be a main reason people stay away from God. Women, gays, etc. are discriminated against or condemned because of what the Bible supposedly teaches. The truth is scholars who respect Scriptures as authoritative disagree what God thinks about gender roles, homosexuality, hell, etc. The problem is many don’t openly admit their interpretations may be wrong thus implying their interpretations are infallible.

Is the Bible inspired word-for word by God or did writers grow in understanding God?

My personal conviction is God did not inspire every word recorded in the Bible. How could God possibly approve of a wife having her hand cut off when grabbing another’s man genitals protecting her husband (Deut. 25:11-12). I’m convinced writers were influenced by surrounding cultures and grew in their understandings of a loving God over time. Others may disagree.

It is suggested that despite the hideous law above, it was a step up from other cultures that advocated even further mutilations such as gouging out eyes or breasts (See William Webb who doesn’t necessarily support the rationalization but reveals ancient near eastern practices, Corporal Punishment in the Bible: A Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic For Troubling Texts, Chapter 4). Such a rationalization is hard for many to stomach, so those who believe all Scriptures is inspired might recognize they often go beyond/above Scriptures.

Many who believe the Bible is inspired already teach progressive revelation.

William Webb demonstrates those who advocate for corporal punishment of children according to the Bible go beyond what the Bible implies for the good of the child. Advocates typical suggest spanking be limited to young children but this isn’t found in the Bible. The two-swat method is suggested to avoid bruising, but the Bible suggests bruises serve a good purpose (Prov. 20:30). Biblical defenders of corporal punishment suggest hitting the buttocks but the Bible suggests the rod is intended for the back (Prov. 26:3). I am opposed to any kind of corporal punishment but bible-believing Christians often go beyond the Bible because it makes common moral sense.

How can Christians represent the Bible with an open-mind?

I am convinced God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t support God controlling a biblical writer’s impression of God. But, if you believe every thought is inspired by God you can at least consider if God intended us to grow in our understanding of God, even from what is recorded in Scriptures. For example if you think the Bible teaches wives should be submissive to their husbands in a way husbands aren’t to their wives, one could still consider if mutual submission is less conducive to atrocities women face at the hands of men.

How can God guide us?

Even the Bible suggests when Jesus left this earth that we aren’t guided by a Book but by God’s Spirit in discerning Truth (Jn. 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem overly concern that Truth requires discernment. We may need one another to arrive at what is wisest or most loving. Can’t we tell others who have issues with the Bible, no matter our view of Scriptures, that it is possible God would encourage us to continue to grow in our understanding of God even beyond views of biblical writers. God may turn out to be like what you imagine a perfect, good God should be like.

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. Like my page on  Facebook   and leave a comment if you like. Or, if you wish to discuss anything I have written you can email me at medwar2@gmail.com

What If The Bible Doesn’t Always Portray God Perfectly?

The Bible may be one major reason people are done with religion or spirituality. I am not convinced most people are opposed to believing in the possibility of a God out of rebellion; instead understandings about God shape attitudes toward God. Don’t believe everything you hear about the Bible! Biblical authors were possibly encouraged by God to write about their experiences, but I have my doubts that God always controlled their thoughts/words of the Bible.

It is perfectly normal to question the Bible and God.  

I Samuel 15:3 says God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” There are hundreds of passages like this in the Old Testament. Is there any rational reason that a good God would endorse genocide? Reading the Bible with a questioning spirit rather than blind acceptance may lead to a more accurate understanding of God. God, like any parent, rather be challenged than ignored.

We really can’t know if the Bible is infallible or our interpretations are correct.  

It is circular logic to suggest the Bible is infallible or inspired because biblical writers make such a claim. Many do not accept the Quran being infallible because it claims to be. Writers weren’t saying they always heard an audible voice when writing “God said.”  God’s freedom-giving nature doesn’t support God performing a lobotomy on biblical writers’ impressions of God. 

Besides, literature require interpretation and we can’t be sure of a writer’s meaning. Forget the Older Testament! Scholars disagree what God thinks about divorce, homosexuality, hell, etc. in the NT. The reality of disagreement makes infallibility an impossibility. Many don’t openly admit their interpretations may be wrong but give the impression their interpretations are infallible. 

Why might people insist on a perfect Bible.  

Pastors and professors may lose their job questioning the Bible being the definitively guide on what God is like. I didn’t always speak openly about my mental health profession for fear of losing my job. See my journey with the Bible here.  It is objected that if the Bible isn’t inspired, “then you can’t know God for certain.” This assumes of course interpretations are infallible. Many leaders aren’t comfortable claiming uncertainty. It is easier giving advice due to supposed certainty rather than listening and helping one make their own decisions.

It is said we can’t know God if not through the Bible. 

Did billions born into this world who never had a Bible or heard of Jesus know nothing about their Creator? Even the Bible claims we best know God through God’s spirit than the written word. Universal moral outrage toward murder, abuse, etc., hints of a common, human Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Why do most oppose murder, abuse, thievery, etc. whether believing in God or not? We just know we ought to treat others like we want to be treated. The reason some condemn women in the priesthood is because supposedly a Book disapproves in God’s name. 

It is said uncertainty about God leads to chaos or lawlessness.

Certainty is an illusion because even if God is Truth, we still have to discern what is Truth. Failing to read the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love and putting oneself in another’s shoes has led to condemning gays in God’s name. Uncertainty can force us to accept one another’s differences. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. Differences don’t have to lead to chaos but can be resolved by remaining open-minded to new understandings and creative solutions. 

It is said the Bible is of no value if it misrepresents God. 

The Bible records beginnings with God culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other documents. God can draw us to do good and shun evil when talking about God or reading the Bible reflectively in striving to be more the person we desire to be. But remember, the majority born never had a Bible so God may speak to us by other means. 

Don’t read the Bible if it discourages you from loving others like you want to loved. We may be better off without the Bible if a Book replaces our relationship with God and common moral sense. Read the Bible reflectively than for solutions to specific problems as circumstances vary. The issue is our heart in solving problems. Reading the Bible with an open-mind motivated by love can continue to influence millions to live a more selfless life. 

It is said God is inhumane for not being more visible or clear. 

Direct communication isn’t always magical. God supposedly spoke audibly to Moses (Ex. 20) to keep the Sabbath as one of the Ten Commandments,  but some assumed that meant not helping an injured soul on the Sabbath. God’s overpowering presence in our lives may only lead to consuming guilt or fearful obligations to obey. There may be plausible justification for God not revealing themselves more openly. The road traveled of learning, reflecting, and freely choosing convictions over time may be the best journey. Beliefs are seldom life-changing if not through a relationship rather than being told what to do.   

It is said mortals should not question God but there are dangers assuming Bible infallible.   

Many reject God because of what an infallible Bible supposedly says about God. An infallible or inspired view of Scriptures has led down the slippery slope of assuming interpretations are inspired thus justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities in the name of God. We must use common moral sense. Even 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 seem worried that Truth always requires discernment.  

What might a world look like if Bible folks didn’t argue because the Bible says so? 

  • Imagine a world if women and gays were treated equally and not condemned according to God
  • Imagine a world where all followed the clear teachings of the Bible by looking out for the interests of others with God’s help
  • Imagine what a perfect God is like if the Bible didn’t exist
  • Imagine the Bible is worth reading but it matters how we read it
  • Imagine if religious leaders encourage a journey seeking self- understanding of God

For further elaboration seehttps://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/rethinking-the-bible/

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

Why Isn’t What’s Wrong In Marriage The Same For Citizens?

Citizens have vastly different opinions but why can’t we disagree as a nation without all the current chaos by recognizing that certain behaviors are just plain wrong in marriage, friendships, and among citizens. Imagine if all felt safe to express themselves no matter their opinions!

Physical violence is wrong.

It is obvious physical violence is off the table in personal relationships unless protecting yourself from danger. Can you imagine the uproar if people stood by while partners were physically abusing one another? We can peacefully protest but violent protestors must be called out by their own leadership. Those privileged whose rights aren’t being violated must not remain silent when those of a different gender or color are not treated equally.

Emotional violence is obviously wrong.

Is it ever okay for one to verbally abuse their partner? Those who have President Trump’s attention – call him out every time he belittles or name-calls. One can still agree with some of President Trump’s policies but oppose emotionally abusive, provocative behaviors. There are better ways to defend policies that you believe will advance a nation without violating one emotionally.

But, a nation has moral issues that marriages don’t!

Partners fall out of love when each start acting if their way is right. An issue is obviously moral when there is practically universal agreement and one in physical danger. We don’t have to vote if murder should be a law. 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 not a democracy when we impose our will on non-moral issues such as health care or taxes, where there are legitimate pros and cons.

We can’t change our partner or a nation but we can try to be a part of the solution.

  • Renounce all acts of physical or verbal violence
  • Stop claiming your views are morally superior to those you disagree with
  • Defend your reasoning, accept the freedom of opinions, and respect the voting process
  • Happily married couples and citizen begin conversations by looking for areas to agree while treating others the way they wish to be treated but it takes two to tango

 

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Is God Really A Sexist Regarding Women And Spiritual Roles?

I Timothy 2:12-14 may be the most frequent passage used in Scriptures to deny women and men are equal in God’s eyes when comes to spiritual authority: “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. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” There are several hints that this passage and the Bible do not make such a declaration and God believe roles depends on gifts not gender.

Is our interpretation of the Bible the only way to understand God? 

Who should be the CEO or preach? The most qualified or gifted in my mind. It seems doubtful an all-knowing God would suggest women to be under the authority of men when history has proven men are prone to dominate women anyway. The Bible cannot be our only source for discerning God’s true nature, because there are different interpretations of the same passage. It is best to question an interpretation that doesn’t make rational or moral sense to us.

Why would a biblical writer contradict themselves about God?

Many think the Apostle Paul wrote or served as editor for I Timothy as well as letters to the Corinthians and Romans. Paul affirmed and didn’t condemn women praying and prophesying (I Cor. 11:4-5). Paul mentions in practically the same breath 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, similar to both Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos (Acts 18:26). Doesn’t this presuppose that women can teach men, that it depends on the situation if a man or woman should lead?

Does I Timothy suggest advice given due to circumstances existing?  

Paul could have in a different culture encouraged men to be silent for the sake of peace. Paul in this same passage advises women to avoid certain hairstyles or jewelry (I Tim: 2:9), but seldom do churches make the same prohibitions as they do women teaching. Paul gave a list of rules for widows but they are ignored as assumed to be cultural (I Tim. 5). Paul likely used the first couple as an example of what to avoid – Eve prevailing upon Adam to go against God’s ways. But, if such a sin keeps women from preaching for eternity, maybe men shouldn’t preach either. Paul says Adam was responsible for what happened in the garden (Rom. 5: 12).

What if suggested the Bible teaches roles according to the color of a person’s skin?  

I hope you would take a stand if someone suggested God advocated racism or favoritism. Concerning women I am going to stand on the side that is potentially less abusive to half of God’s creations. Interpretations are not infallible! Do we really want to suggest that God doesn’t trust women to handle the Truth? Many men prove they can’t handle the Truth! Our beliefs are important because they shape actions. When a husband assume spiritual leadership over their wives, many men assume leadership means making final decisions in an impasse. I have never had an impasse in marriage that cannot be solve creatively without one partner making all such decisions.

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts only. 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

Did God Really Drown Millions In The Flood?

The Synchroblog is where bloggers write on spiritual topics – often different perspectives. This month is about the Flood in Genesis and God’s actions. Links to other articles below

I don’t blame those who morally question the story of the Flood in the Bible. There were surely a few people innocent of evil so horrific justifying such actions by God. We condemn people drowning just one child in a bathtub or a litter of puppies in the river. Why does God supposedly not blink an eye killing millions? Are humans holier or more moral than God?

Should we dare question God? 

Assuming stories in the Bible are always literal leads to rationalizing God’s behaviors and claiming God can do whatever and mere mortals must not question God. I have my doubts this is the thinking of a relational God. What loving parent, spiritual or human, commands morally “do as I say not what I do.” If a good God encourages us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48), how can we know what is good if God’s actions sometimes are evil according to our moral senses?

Does God seek our fear or respect to help in our battle against self-centeredness? Leaders don’t have true followers by commanding rather than earning respect. Fear only leads to brief obligations often out of guilt. Jesus who claimed to be God in flesh didn’t initiate relationships by demanding respect. Jesus got His dander up the most with the religious elite who portrayed God as demanding obedience rather than desiring a relationship through mutual respect. 

Doesn’t the Bible claim there was a literal flood where eight survived?

John Walton and Tremper Longman III in The Lost World Of The Flood suggest Old Testament writers used accepted literary practices in the Near East such as hyperbole in writing about historical events to convey spiritual insights. Other ancient literature wrote about local floods in their lands. It is not fabrication when a local flood is used to illustrate global human problems and convey spiritual food for thought.

There are literary cues to suggest that the Genesis stories were not always literal. There is a talking serpent. Are trees magical or used as a literary device to discuss a relationship between God and humans? The sun and moon were said to not be created until Day 4, though light and darkness is mentioned on Day 1. Many scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures suggest the creation narrative weren’t written to convey actual creation events to begin history but to convey God’s desire to bring order to existing chaos. We must be open-minded not dogmatic regarding interpretations so to not lead people to reject God for the wrong reasons.

What are some possible spiritual lessons from Genesis and the Flood?

It takes faith either way to believe there was or wasn’t a Creator. The Bible encourages us to consider there is a God who desires relationships with humans. The Creator of the Bible respects freedom and knows what humans know – freedom not force leads to genuine transformations. God warns us of the sometime catastrophic dangers of freedom. Unrestrained freedom only leads to destruction in relationships. A loving God only teaches what loving parents teach their children.

What are we to believe about God?

We cannot know with certainty the intent of writers thousands of years ago. Relax! Literature can’t mean anything. Only extremists don’t accept that their interpretations feed their hunger for power and control rather than love and freedom. It seems the idea of infallible Books has led to subjective interpretations being proclaimed as “certainty” in God’s name. The only reason some condemn gays or women entering the priesthood is because supposedly a Book disapproves in God’s name. It is best we read the Bible with a questioning spirit motivated by love and putting oneself in another’s shoes. A universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated hints a Creator communicates to all what is good. God’s influence may be most recognizable when we have thoughts to be the perfect partner, parent, or friend we desire to be deep down.

Click on FOLLOW at bottom right of this page to enter email address to be notified of future Posts only. 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

This post was part of the September 2018 Synchroblog on the topic of the flood. Here are the other contributors to this month’s topic. Go and read them all!

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