To those done with religion but not God and my kids (Click FOLLOW for future Posts; See ABOUT/USING THIS SITE tab to navigate Site)

Moses challenged God about destroying the Israelites when they went back to worshipping idols when Moses was up the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments (Ex. 32:1-14). Moses won the argument (32:14). Abraham challenged God about destroying Sodom and Gomorrah and won (Gen. 18). Job challenged that God supposedly always blesses obedience and disobedience is always cursed (Deut. 28). God ended up agreeing with Job against his friends about the real world of justice. The God of the Bible doesn’t mind being doubted or challenged.

In Genesis 22 Abraham faces the challenge if to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar. Was God testing if Abraham would question and ultimately tell God NO? (See Matthew Korpman, Saying No To God). Let’s look at some textual clues:

  • If this is a story of God really wanting Abraham to kill Isaac in obedience to God, we must believe God actually would ever approve child sacrifice. God condemned child sacrifice (i.e. Lev. 18:21). Abraham should doubt if God would participate in a practice God abhorred!
  • Abraham tell his servants “we” (Abraham and Isaac) will be back (Gen. 22:5). The concept of a resurrection, after Abraham followed orders, simply didn’t exist during these times. Abraham must have thought God was providing a lamb (v.8), or Abraham was going to say No to God!
  • Abraham takes out a knife as if preparing to sacrifice Isaac (v. 10). Since Abraham doubted God approved, Abraham could have been challenging God to stop all the charades.
  • It seems God intended to stop Abraham if he didn’t take a stand against God (vs. 11-12).

Was God wrong to test Abraham, by challenging him to consider doing something immoral, to see if he truly understood God? In God’s defense, sometimes you can tell people till blue in the face what is right and it goes in one ear and out the other. Different communications may get through better such as a parable or a test. God gave Abraham a moral brain and expected him to us it!

Women, Gays, and Hell

Do you doubt a loving God would favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face? Do you doubt God condemn gays when gays can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? Do you doubt a loving God tortures anyone forever, when humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies? Different biblical interpretations are plausible. I am challenging any interpretation that makes no moral sense according to the brain God gave me!

Which view of God should we lean toward?  

It seems a universal, inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated is one way a Creator would communicate what is good versus evil? Choose the claim or interpretation about God that doesn’t contradict your intuitive sense of a loving God. Discuss with others. You are free to choose the most loving way. We don’t always know what perfect love is, but it is better to challenge God than not question God and be wrong. Imagine what God may be like. You may be right!

 

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Bible folks are probably familiar with the Apostle Paul’s saying: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith (I Cor. 15:14). Paul of course said this because he heard Jesus’ voice after his resurrection (Acts 9:5). I wasn’t there but I am still convinced God’s message to live an unselfish life is worth it, even if it turns out there is nothing at the end of life.

Who can blame many for lack of belief in God?

An assumption often made about atheists is they don’t buy into God because they are trying to justify an immoral lifestyle. Please! There are many reasons one may not believe in God or any afterlife. One could certainly understand why many reject God based on claims made by Christians– God created Hell, God condemns gays, etc. The good news is that these beliefs are questionable even according to the Bible, much less whether could be true of a loving God.

Do we follow God only for the reward?

Many God-followers rightly speak out against claims that Jesus came to save us from Hell because God is so pissed at us. Turns out such a torture chamber doesn’t exist in the Bible. See here. But, how is obeying God to avoid Hell any different than obeying God to get into Heaven? Genuine relationships aren’t based on fear or reward. What kind of relationship do you really have with a parent when you can’t speak openly for fear of being punished or rejected?

What did Jesus try to save us from?

We humans are always looking for a scapegoat when we fail. Was God really pissed at us and needed to use violence to have his thirst for justice quenched? God could have let his anger go and simply forgiven when one truly regretted their actions. Wouldn’t you? Jesus hoped to work a moral change in the hearts of individuals, trying to save us from ourselves not God. Jesus on the Cross reveals a loving God, a forgiving God, a God willing to suffer with us in a free world where life sucks sometimes and isn’t fair.

Being the person you want to be deep down is worth the journey. 

A legacy of treating others like you want to be treated is worth living! It isn’t useless to go the extra mile in relationships or to forgive others than to exact revenge. A loving God if exists surely desires to empower us to consider unselfish love in relationships. It was this message Jesus was willing to die, rather than save Himself, in hopes to inspire seeking God’s help in following Jesus’ footsteps through expressions of radical love. Changes of the heart are for our own good and for the world. I believe there is something at the end of death but I live the life I do because I got nothing to lose except selfishness and a lousy legacy. A godly life lived is not in vain!

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

 

We must use our moral sense and brains when reading a Book. At least non-Bible folks understand no Book can be proven to be supernaturally controlled, much less be perfectly interpreted. The Bible has been used to support either hierarchal or equalitarian relationships between the sexes. It’s a big deal! History has proven appointing men as authority over women exclusively is conducive for atrocities women face at the hands of men. We cannot avoid and we must ask which interpretation is morally likely of a loving God.

Mistranslations require moral brain power.

Ed Oxford reminds us certain Greek words were not translated as homosexual until 1946 in some bible versions. Before it was translated as boy molesters. A big deal uh? See here. Certain words are translated as Hell over 50 times in the King James version. The NIV uses the word hell 14 times. Some translations don’t use the word hell once. It’s huge if God did or didn’t create a torture chamber for infidels. See here. We can’t avoid using human moral judgment in understanding God’s character since translation isn’t perfect. 

A Book couldn’t be a Creator’s only type of communication.

We don’t all agree on the correct interpretation or translation. We can’t even prove biblical writers weren’t on the same spiritual journey we all are on – discovering what God is really like. Meanwhile, the majority of people born into this world never had a Bible. Most rational people advocate the golden moral rule being a valuable guide in relationships in determining good from evil. A Creator may inspire such intuitions. Problems often begin when we insist on our understanding of an inspired Book and abandon common moral decency.

What if terrorists at least valued their intuitions than just their beliefs about a Book?

Terrorists claim murdering or beheading others for their beliefs isn’t evil. Would terrorists accept their wives and children being beheaded for different beliefs from another group claiming a Book is direct God-speak? Even terrorists deep down want to be treated with loving kindness. Terrorists can only defend their belief according to a supposed infallible Book. It cannot be proven any Book is word for word inspired by God. What if terrorists or extremists were open to questioning if a Book was entirely inspired by God or why there isn’t universal agreement on interpretations? 

We must trust our moral intuitions because of mistranslating, misinterpreting, etc.

We may not always know what perfect love entails but at least we always know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly. How we ought to love one another is surely the same as how a loving Creator loves us. Good thing there is no magic book to definitively tell us what God is like. We would just use it as a club to beat people into believing. Moral intuitions are fallible but at least they should join the party of fallible interpretations. We will disagree but civil discussions are more likely than claiming a Book is infallible.

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

 

You may believe God inspired and approved every word written down in the Bible. We still must discern the writer’s meaning and application to our circumstances. Personal interpretations are not infallible. Opposing sides often demonize one another by declaring their view of God according to the Bible is right. It is said since Jesus was God in flesh, Jesus is the final authority in understanding God. We still though have to interpret Jesus’ words. Scholars hardly agree what Jesus advised on divorce. Which interpretation is best when two reasonable interpretations exist?

Did you know scholars disagree about women and gays according to the Bible?

Bigotry or a Book, where every word is thought to be inspired by God, are main reasons different treatment of women from men are justified. Two plausible interpretations exist on most major issues when speaking of God’s character. Many defend that the Bible teaches God proclaims women cannot be in authority over men in roles such as a priest or pastor. Scholars also proclaim the Bible teaches roles are based on gifts not gender. See here. Scholars disagree if the Bible condemns monogamous same-sex relationships. See here. These views have impacted billions of lives!

How would a Creator convey what like since any Book is subject to interpretation?

Is it possible a universal, inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated is one way a Creator would communicate what is good versus evil? After all, half the people born in this world didn’t possess a Bible. I don’t know any God or non-God person that doesn’t advocate the golden rule being a valuable guide in relationships. How would we want to be treated if in that person’s shoes? Which view is most loving from a human perspective?

Even those who claim God is a mystery imply God speaks through our moral intuitions.  

Many claim God is a mystery because their interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective. 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. It is certain that we don’t always know what perfect love is, but this doesn’t mean anything goes. Only terrorists, because they don’t question a Book, believe a good God encourages beheading for unbelief.

Choose understandings of God with fewer negative human consequences.

Many recognize as bigotry if we chose business leaders based on gender than gifts. Putting men in leadership positions over women can encourage dominance on the man’s part, which can be conducive for abuse and other atrocities women face at the hands of men. It is hard for men to twist mutual submission to suggest husbands make the final decisions in a stalemate. It doesn’t make moral sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more chose who they love than straight can. Ask them! Why would anyone choose to be gay based on the condemnation and bigotry faced? Which interpretation? Err on the side that doesn’t contradict your intuitive sense of a loving God. Discuss with others. You are free to choose the most loving way.

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

 

Those who didn’t grow up with the Bible maybe aren’t familiar with the Holy Spirit. Some Bible translations refer to the Holy Ghost which may bring Casper the friendly ghost to mind. We can think of the Holy Spirit as God’s Spirit or Presence. Even the Bible suggests to look for God’s guidance through a Spirit than a Book (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). The context of these passages though suggests guidance in spiritual or moral truth as opposed to future, specific, individual decisions.

A word of caution when advocating God’s Spirit or the Holy Spirit speaks to us today.

Christians often encourage being still and listening so you can hear the Spirit’s voice. Such statements without explanation leave others feeling spiritually inferior or confused. You aren’t less spiritual if you can’t distinguish a supposed voice from inner impressions. At least I can’t. We can’t really know when personal desires impact our understanding of God’s voice. This doesn’t mean God can’t guide us through intuitions and the influence of others.

How might God speak to us morally?

A Book such as the Bible can’t be our only moral guide. Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures interpret differently what God guides morally regarding divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, etc. One possibility for a universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated is an external force communicating through our moral intuitions. Common moral sense isn’t the enemy when making moral decisions. Be careful though because rational folks often don’t agree what is our moral obligation when it comes to important matters.

How might God speak when we disagree what is moral?

Rational people don’t always agree morally concerning immigration, climate change, abortion, health care, taxes, or responding to evil dictators that murder their own people. Truth often exists on both sides of the fence. Certainty has led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. Calm, open dialogue allows evaluating the most loving approach to complicated challenges we face. Certainty isn’t always less chaotic than uncertainty. See here.

God isn’t hiding an unknow future in non-moral decision-making.  

A predetermined future makes freedom nonsensical. God can’t know an undetermined future. God isn’t keeping secrets. God can’t tell you if your partner will end up betraying you or the job you take won’t be phased out. Many who speak of an “inner voice” assume God knows the future. God took risks creating us free; we must take risk making decisions. Stay connected with God choosing the wisest path at the time based on past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations. Do all the good, in all the places, to all the people you can.

What about biblical examples of clear guidance?

There are biblical examples where God communicated clearly. It was infrequent but if God speaks to you through a burning bush like Moses (Ex. 3), through a donkey (Numbers 22:28), or a voice from heaven that others heard like Paul (Acts 9), you might want to take notice. This just isn’t my personal experience or most I come in contact with. Inner impressions, often thought of as God’s voice, are not the same as clear communications.

Maybe the Spirit speaks or guides us through an indescribable, quiet influence.  

Don’t we recognize the Spirit’s influence when we have wronged someone, we quickly confess and make amends? Maybe all we have to do is be open to the Spirit’s influence. Humans inspire by their example without speaking. When I am trying to discern the Spirit’s influence, and often it is about relationships, I aim to make a wise decision if to take the risk. If it works out, I don’t know if coincidental or not. In an unknown future God doesn’t know if it’s going to work out either.

I admit I have minimized God speaking clearly to us but if God was more demonstrative, we might use it as a club to beat the Truth out of people like we have with the Bible. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow the road traveled of learning and reflecting leading to lasting convictions. Much of moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Honest open dialogue, not claiming certainty, best leads to loving decisions when there is disagreement. Future decisions are open. One is surely guided by the Spirit of Truth when following Jesus’ example and not demonizing others when there is genuine disagreement.

For another view consider Woodland Hills sermon series beginning January 26, 2020. See here.

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

 

There are many things we can’t prove. We can’t prove God exist; we can’t prove God doesn’t exist. We certainly can’t prove that God inspired every word of the Bible, controlling the writers’ thoughts to understand God perfectly. The writers may have been on the same spiritual journey we all are on – discovering what God is really like. Not questioning or reading a Book with an open mind has led to sick and weak minds carrying out immoral acts contrary to common moral sense.

Did God really always inspire what the writers claimed about God?

  • God supposedly would send wild animals to kill the children of the disobedient (Lev. 26:22)
  • God supposedly orders the murder of women, children, infants, and animals in war (I Sam. 15:3)
  • God supposedly ordered killing boys and non-virgin women but sparing virgins for the warriors (Num. 31:18)
  • God supposedly approved rebellious children put to death (Lev. .20:9)
  • God supposedly approves a wife’s hand being cut off when grabbing another man’s genitals (Deut. 25:12)
  • God supposedly insisted on animal sacrifices but later OT writers say God prefers contrite hearts over animal sacrifices (Ps. 51:16-17, i.e. Jer. 7:22, Micah 6:6)

Writers/editors of the Bible didn’t intentionally lie about God but were honest about their understandings of God. We simply don’t possess in other documents the Israelites’ beginnings with a God different from the other gods at that time. The Bible is the main document of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. God didn’t necessarily intend for recordings to not be questioned. These stories are written down for our reading, reflecting, and discovering what God is truly like.

Why it matters how you read the Bible. 

There are contrary biblical interpretations for most major issues. Scholars rightly debate if the Bible condemns monogamous same-sex relationships. Families are destroyed because parents out of devotion to God condemn their child for feelings they can no more control toward those of the same sex than straights can control toward the opposite sex. You have every right to doubt a loving God tortures anyone forever, which serves no lasting purpose, when humans wouldn’t even create a place such as Hell for their worst enemies.

Read the Bible with a questioning and open spirit.  

Those not growing up in church don’t understand all the fuss. Who thinks literature subject to interpretation should be read so dogmatically? We must question interpretations about a loving God that make no moral sense. It only makes intuitive sense that a Creator surely love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. Even extremists want to be treated with loving kindness. We may not always know what perfect love is, but surely God’s love and perfect human love are the same.

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

Total certainty is an illusion because even if God is Truth, we still have to discern what is Truth. For example, there is genuine disagreement if God of the Bible desires preachers or priests be women or gay. I am convinced so many people are leaving the institutional church, but not God, because of lack of open dialogue. It’s hard to be relational when you are so damn certain!

Certainty is not found in a Book even if infallible.

It is implied that we can only know God through the Bible. Newsflash – literature always requires interpretation. You are interpreting my meaning as you read this blog. Am I saying God disapproves all certainty or that uncertainty isn’t all bad? A fallible, not infallible Book, more encourages questioning than demonizing views to the contrary. God-followers seem unaware, as I was, how they come off morally superior based on their assumptions about the Bible.

How can we know God if certainly not through the Bible? 

Only a perfect or good God is worth believing in! Who doesn’t know a good God hates beheading people for unbelief unless a supposed infallible Book speaks for God? God doesn’t get enough credit for communicating through our moral intuitions. Criminals often don’t defend their actions; instead, they deny committing such crimes. A Book couldn’t be a Creator’s only type of communication, because the majority of people born into this world didn’t possess a Bible or know of Jesus. Problems often begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our understanding from an inspired Book. How can we decide what God is really like? See HERE

Where has certainty in God’s name gotten us?

It is logical to suggest we can’t be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks, but supposed certainty has led to justifying slavery and revered theologians such as St. Augustine and John Calvin not firmly opposing the execution of those not agreeing with their theology. Certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving, monogamous, consensual relationships. Women, though gifted, are denied entrance into the priesthood or pastorate in God’s name. 

Uncertainty doesn’t have to lead to chaos or lawlessness.

As mentioned, the Bible can’t be the definitive guide what God would do because scholars even biblical scholars disagree what God says about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, the afterlife, etc. Uncertainty unless talking about beheading infidels, not certainly about God, protects against imposing beliefs on others which is not God’s nature. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. 

Uncertainty must exist in a free world.  

Freedom is absolutely necessary for authentic relationships. God’s constant interference and presence could prevent true intimacy from emerging. Freedom leads to a great deal of unpredictability. The only way for a God to protect us completely against emotional or physical harm is to create robots. God can’t promise you a certain outcome in relationships or jobs and still be a respecter of freedom. God deals as much with uncertainty as we do, as not even an all-powerful God can know a free, undetermined future.

Uncertainty about God may be out of love.

God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. When parents push their agendas, even if in their child’s best interest, they may resent or rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. The road traveled of learning, reflecting, and non-coerced choices may best lead to lasting convictions. Moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Amoral decisions are open. Maybe God speaks to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!

Uncertainty can lead to acting more loving.

Being unable to declare the certainty or morality of our opinions forces us to listen and express ideas openly. Forcing beliefs doesn’t lead to long-lasting change. Starting a conversation with “I may be wrong” more likely leads to new understandings and creative solutions. Try it in relationships! Uncertainty doesn’t result in lawlessness. Who doesn’t know God hates murder, sexual abuse, stealing, adultery, even not treating others like you want to be treated? Continually evaluate the most loving approach is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. A loving God only wishes to influence us to make choices with the interest of others in mind.

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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