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Archive for April, 2017

Rethinking If God Is A Hellish, Sadistic Torturer!

Our mental views of God shape our attitudes toward God. Misbeliefs about God hinder engaging with God to pursue spirituality. If you think there may be a God, I am convinced you will not regret pursuing more of a connection with your Creator than regretting having a closer relationship with your partner, children, or friends. In this series of Posts the Bible is referenced because that is from where views of God are often formed. What if you discovered that the Bible says absolutely nothing about God being a sadistic torturer because Hell doesn’t exist? 

  • God not only respects the right to choose your own personal beliefs in this life, but God does not torture people after death for such decisions. The word Hell, a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words, was invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience. No such place as Hell exists according to the Bible. Like God is going to sadistically torture people forever for their beliefs while here on earth a short time!
  • Some may not even bother to know God if imagining the Creator is a sadistic torturer. And what God-person wants to tell others or defend such a God? Such a God is no different than the god of religious extremists. The traditional meaning of Hell must be dispelled as a biblical myth for God’s character is at stake. Jesus and the Bible say nothing about Hell.
  • Jesus used the Greek word Gehenna, wrongly translated as Hell, to illustrate how spiritual death is just as horrible as physical death. Jesus readers knew Gehenna was a real valley near Jerusalem where Israel children had been sacrificed to false gods (Jer. 7:30-31; 19:2-5). Josephus said this same valley was heaped with dead bodies of the Jews following the Roman siege of Jerusalem around 70 AD. Mt. 18:9 is representative of how Jesus used the word Gehenna in about four conversations: “And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell (Gehenna).” Gehenna was used by Jesus to symbolize spiritual death (a life of self-centeredness) is just as horrible as the physical deaths Gehenna was known for. Hell is not a translation of Gehenna, a valley, any more than the city of Atlanta is a proper translation for Chicago.
  • Paul wrote most of the New Testament and never mentions Hell. Scriptures only say after death that all are judged by our merciful God. The Hebrew word Sheol in the Old Testament is wrongly translated as Hell. Sheol was used to describe a place of darkness occupied by the dead regardless of beliefs. Job, an extremely righteous man in God’s eyes, desired to go there to escape his tremendous suffering (10:21-22). God didn’t warn Adam and Eve about Hell as a consequence for rebellion. Noah failed to warn evildoers about Hell before their death by Flood. The popular understanding of Hell is not found in the OT. Recent translations simply translate Sheol as “Sheol.”
  • The fear of Hell doesn’t change a person’s heart. We may want to threaten or tell an addict after the 10th relapse there is no hope, but this is not God’s nature. God’s continual encouragement and mercy, not fear or gloomy uncertainty of God’s favor, is our necessary nourishment for lasting changes of the heart. Jesus didn’t come to save us from Hell. Jesus came to earth to convey God seeks to empower us, through mercy and forgiveness, to shun evil and do good. Jesus knew God’s love is the same as perfect, human, love. Jesus came to save us from a life of self-centeredness which only leads to personal, relational, and world destruction.

The Bible doesn’t say as much about the afterlife as one may think. Jesus didn’t think of eternal life as something after death but a quality of life that begins here on earth to avoid future regrets. But, why wouldn’t a loving God seek to save all from a life of regrets, even after death? It would not be unlike God to show mercy and give all a second chance when meeting their Creator. Heaven may be more populated than many people imagine. It is not likely though that God will violate anyone’s freedom in life after death if they don’t want to live with their Creator.

Rethinking If God Is A Homophobe!

Our mental views of God shape our attitudes toward God. Misbeliefs about God hinder engaging with God to pursue spirituality. If you think there may be a God, I am convinced you will not regret pursuing more of a connection with your Creator than regretting having a closer relationship with your partner, children, or friends. In this series of Posts the Bible is referenced because that is from where views of God are often formed. What if you discovered that God wasn’t homophobic even according to the Bible?

  • Who doesn’t condemn homosexual acts mentioned in the Bible involving violent sexual activities against one’s will such as rape (Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen 19; Judges 19:22)! Certain homosexual acts are forbidden in OT laws, but loving, monogamous relationships surely aren’t in mind as stated alongside not burning babies on the altar (Lev. 18:20-22).
  • Jesus said nothing against homosexuality. Other NT passages condemn homosexual activities compared to adulterous or prostituting behaviors (I Cor. 6:9) or love devoid of fidelity (Rom. 1:31). It seems likely writers have in mind sexual practices common in their day. Masters often were involved in sexual acts with their slaves; men were having sex with younger boys. These passages are not referring to committed love between two people.
  • Sexual behaviors that are abusive, unequal, controlling, mindless, selfish engagements, as opposed to consensual monogamous relationships, are immoral to any rational human being. The church acts as if all gay relationships are the same; opposite gender relationships aren’t! The Bible is silent on monogamous same sex relationships, while supporting relationships that show love and concern for one another.
  • Everyone who shares something deeply personal isn’t asking what you think the Bible says. If we don’t have positives to share, we need to stop telling people what God thinks about them and let God speak to them. We clearly don’t agree on what the Bible says about many issues in life, or there would not be so many denominations with so many differing creeds.
  • Many refer to Paul’s list of sins to call out homosexuality but they fail to call out the greedy and slanderers (I Cor. 6: 9-10). Unless you are homeless chances are you have been greedy more than once this week by keeping more than you need and not giving the rest to those struck by tragedies. So when I see you, remind me to say “I love you, but I hate your behaviors.” Church folks condemn gay relationships but they get divorced half the time. One best examine their own life before condemning gay couples who are committed.
  • Please don’t insult others by comparing homosexuality to pedophilia, bestiality, etc. Friends are coming to us about themselves or their children about a very personal matter, and they are speaking about consensual, adult relationships. Do I think it is okay if three women marry four men? I will let you know when really confronted with that.
  • One may argue it doesn’t seem natural because 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. 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.
  • Each has their own story as to why they are gay. Most gay people will tell you they don’t feel their feelings are a choice. It is who they are. We must not deny anyone’s freedom to being gay or pass judgment on those who wish to try to change to being straight.

I am convinced God thinks, as most of us do, that committed, life-long, mutual-consenting, monogamous sexual relationships are always in our best interest. If your hearts tells you or your loved one isn’t condemned by God, you can follow your heart and God. I understand caring people can come to different conclusions what the Bible teaches. Since the matter is clearly debatable, I would suggest taking the less judgmental stance in relationships. Jesus never spoke about homosexuality and said when gone He would leave His Spirit to guide individual hearts.

Rethinking If God Is A Sexist!

Our mental views of God shape our attitudes toward God. Misbeliefs about God hinder engaging with God to pursue spirituality. If you think there may be a God, I am convinced you will not regret pursuing more of a connection with your Creator than regretting having a closer relationship with your partner, children, or friends. In this series of Posts the Bible is referenced because that is from where views of God are often formed. What if you discovered God wasn’t gender bias in male/female roles even according to the Bible?

  • Genesis doesn’t suggest God ordained separate gender roles and women are the helpers. The English implication of the word “helper” translated from the Hebrew word ezer isn’t in the Bible (Gen: 2:18). Ezer is used for God and implies or often is translated as “strength” (Deut. 33:29). Genesis 3:16 “…and he will rule over you” warns what sin can do in relationships. God is not prescribing but describing roles between the sexes when problems.
  • The Bible doesn’t condemn any of these women serving in authority roles. Miriam, a prophetess, served the Israelites along with brothers Moses and Aaron (Ex 15:20, Micah 6:4). Deborah led Israel against the Canaanites (Judges 4-5). Esther protected the Israelites from Haman’s evil intents. Women prophetesses included Anna (Luke 2:36) and Philip’s four daughters (Acts 21:9). Both Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos (Acts 18:26).
  • Paul doesn’t order women to never speak in meetings (I Cor. 14:34). Paul had just affirmed women praying and prophesying (I Cor. 11:4-5). Women with their new found freedom were being instructed about the importance of peaceful ways if people are going to learn. Paul says that a woman must not teach or have authority over a man but Paul had in mind erroneous teachings (I Tim: 2:11-15). Paul uses the first couple as an example of what must be avoided – Eve prevailing upon Adam to go against God’s ways. Paul would not disallow a woman to rightly exercise her teaching and leadership gifts. Paul said roles are according to one’s gifts and doesn’t mention gender (I Cor. 12:4-11).
  • Mutual submission is a way of life for all followers to imitate Jesus (Eph. 5:21). Verse 22 in the original manuscripts says: “wives to your husbands as to the Lord.” The verb missing is often added from verse 21: “wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” If wives are in subordination to their husbands, then we must also say church members are in subordination to one another (v. 21). No one needs a mediator between them and God. Men aren’t told to submit to their wives, but women aren’t told to love their husbands in this passage. Women don’t need male leadership in marriage; women need men who have the heart of a servant (5:28-29).
  • God’s ideal has always been “no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male nor female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).

As it turns out, one doesn’t have to give a disclaimer to the Bible that God supposedly suggest roles between the genders that can be interpreted as sexist. Beliefs have consequences. To believe the Bible teaches wives are in subjection to their husbands in a way husbands aren’t to their wives can create an environment more conducive for the atrocities women face at the hands of men throughout history. Mutual submission is impossible for men to twist to justify their subtle or blatant mistreatment of women. Men often interpret leadership as making final decisions when there is a stalemate. Jesus suggested we lead by serving, so perhaps the man should always submit to the woman’s final decision. Truly, in any dyad relationship there are many creative ways to resolve impasses such as going with the decision of the one with the most expertise in the area of conflict.

 

Rethinking If God Is Mysteriously Immoral Or Morally Perfect!

Our mental views of God shape our attitudes toward God. Misbeliefs about God hinder engaging with God to pursue spirituality. If you think there may be a God, I am convinced you will not regret pursuing more of a connection with your Creator than regretting having a closer relationship with your partner, children, or friends. In this series of Posts the Bible is referenced because that is from where views of God are often formed. What if you discovered that God’s morals are exactly what you would expect from a loving God?

  • Jesus, who represented God here on earth, made statements like: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). We are encouraged to “Be holy because I (God) am holy” (I Pet. 1:16). God clearly thinks we know what perfection or holiness is or these statements are meaningless. The fact that we strive to love others perfectly suggests we know what such love is. God’s ways are always moral humanly speaking. God isn’t a hypocrite who is partial but declares favoritism wrong (Jam. 2:1). We know what God is like because God’s love and perfect human love are one in the same.
  • Theologians often will play the mystery card when their biblical interpretations suggest God’s morals are not the same as perfect, human morals. They understand some explanation is required when their views of God are incompatible with most people’s idea of a loving God. God cannot claim to be moral if God condemns evil but then commits evil acts. This is nonsense in spiritual or human relationships. If two debatable interpretations in Scriptures exist, we must err on the side that portrays God as the most rational to the human mind.
  • Why did God even bother to communicate to us through the Bible if supposedly we can’t understand God? The Bible doesn’t claim that God’s character or ways are a mystery and incomprehensible to the human mind. The most common Old Testament passage used to claim God’s ways can’t be understood only declares our ways aren’t always as moral as God’s ways: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord…. so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
  • The Book of Job doesn’t suggest that we have the brain of a clam when it comes to understanding God. God didn’t tell Job to shut up and sit down because God is incomprehensible. Job was questioning God’s justness and why God did not intervene sooner in in his undeserved suffering: “Why must those who know him look in vain for such days” (24:1)? God defended they aren’t unjust because the righteous suffer and the wicked may prosper for a time here on earth. Job eventually acknowledged he was incapable of overseeing a universe where freedom is allowed, not that we can’t understand God.
  • Jesus’ teachings were not intentionally mysterious. Jesus would have preferred to not talk in parables but in straightforward ways, but human nature sometimes requires different ways to convince people for their own good. Parables are a different approach to get to the heart of a matter. God’s direct message often is only perplexing to one’s heart not the mind. Parables cause us to continually think of a subject to try to understand and eventually accept the application in one’s life. Parables, rather than directness, can stir those that may be interested and simply drive the uninterested away. Sometimes, we cannot understand Jesus’ parables at one point in our life but when open-minded to spiritual matters, we may more readily accept Jesus’ claims to always have our best interest in mind.

God is the ideal lover and desires to inspire and empower us to be the same kind of lover in our relationships. God’s ways are not mysterious according to the Bible; God’s morals are perfect humanly speaking. God isn’t a hypocrite who tells us to act morally but then acts immorally. God is the perfection of the human parents we have always desired. God’s love is the love we deep down desire to show others consistently. That is what God is really like!

Rethinking If God Is An Angry, Egomaniac!

Our mental views of God shape our attitudes toward God. Misbeliefs about God hinder engaging with God to pursue spirituality. If you think there may be a God, I am convinced you will not regret pursuing more of a connection with your Creator than regretting having a closer relationship with your partner, children, or friends. What if you discovered God’s personality is the same as the most loving parent you can imagine?

  • A survey of the times “fear of God” is encouraged in the Bible suggests fearing God was intended for those who don’t fear evil. God’s anger was against wickedness. God’s anger is simply a side of God’s love to steer one away from personal and worldly destruction. God hates what evil does to us. Human parents warn their children and show disgust for actions leading to destruction. God’s love, not His wrath, was center stage in Scriptures (I John 4:8).
  • God understands what human parents know – the fear of punishment is simply meant to deter one from acting against their best interests. Emphasizing God’s love doesn’t give people the license to sin more; selfishness doesn’t wait for permission. Religious leaders may have good intentions when they focus on rules and obedience, but fear doesn’t inspire being the kind of person we deep down desire to be. Lasting obedience, though never perfect, comes from gratitude to God’s mercy and love. It is gratitude toward God that empowers, not the worries of whether God will be angry with us. God simply desires to help us treat others like we want to be treated which leads to a life not full of regrets.
  • God often is said to be mostly concerned about their honor and ego. God’s love surely is other-directed not self-consumed. Parents may advise their children to honor them because abiding by a parent’s wish should be in the best interest of the child. God is not self-infatuated. If God was so worried about their ego, God certainly would not have given us freedom to contradict their wishes. God is not more concerned with restoring their honor than expressing a desire for a relationship to encourage and empower us.
  • God is no different than parents who realize they don’t have to heap on additional consequences. Sin has its own consequences; God doesn’t seek to pile on. God is only hoping we freely choose God’s ways as we understand God has our best interest in mind. God will never give up such hope.
  • It can be difficult to get close to a God who is portrayed as thinking we are totally worthless. Old timers bellow “how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!” Such words don’t convey God’s heart and thoughts. Thinking we are despicable may lead to giving up. God desires perfection for our own sake but surely celebrates our victories along the way. I am good if you believe God detests every aspect of your lying soul and that draws you close to God. Others may have a hard time understanding why human love seems better than Godly love. I have always loved my children to the core despite their faults. I simply hope they change harmful ways for their sake.

The truth is God is the perfection of the human parents we have always desired. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is really the Story of the Incredible Parent. God loves us unconditionally but respects our freedom. God waits and hopes. God’s love is unlike any human’s love we may experience. God wants us to know that God’s love doesn’t have to be earned. We try to earn points with God but God is not keeping score. Real intimacy doesn’t result from fear and obligatory love. Accepting than attempting to earn a relationship with God leads to the freedom to be the people we desire to be deep down. 

Rethinking If God Is Dogmatic About Beliefs!

Our mental views of God shape our attitudes toward God. Misbeliefs about God hinder engaging with God to pursue spirituality. If you think there may be a God, I am convinced you will not regret pursuing more of a connection with your Creator than regretting having a closer relationship with your partner, children, or friends. What if you discovered God doesn’t insist on beliefs proclaimed by others necessary to be accepted by God? 

    • God is dogmatic about one belief only. God simply encourages loving others as yourself which is in the interest of all. Forgiving those who regret their behavior is a path to healing. A self-centered life not only hurts those you love but yourself as well. Entering marriage without a life time commitment isn’t fair to your partner and children. Sometimes, we fail for reasons in our control or out of our control. Jesus came to assure that our Creator loves and continually forgives so we might not give up striving to do good and shun evil.
    • Insisting on certain religious beliefs being “the truth” requires conversations with an agenda to convert others to the supposed truth. People don’t need to be converted to a certain religion or set of beliefs. If God truly exist God can draw anyone to themselves if so desired. God surely desires one only act in the best interest of themselves and others. A loving God doesn’t insists on supposed beliefs only found in the Bible when the majority of people born never had such written knowledge while others may have a distorted view of God.
    • The one main belief that kills discussions about spirituality is “I am right and you are wrong.” Guess what! I may be right, you may be right, we may both be wrong. Now, if you think it is right to behead and kill people because they don’t share your personal beliefs about God, you are wrong! Many good, spiritual minded people assume they need to convert their friends to their beliefs in order to be accepted by God. Stop! I do think there are certain views of God that can be empowering in such a journey, but there are no sacred beliefs you must sign up for to begin the journey with God of being more the person you want to be.
    • We may believe Jesus was more of a representative of God than actually being God, since it is hard to understand how one can be God but not God. Jesus’ disciples wavered if Jesus resurrected. It is understandable why we may waver since we rely on historical as opposed to visible evidence. Each must consider the historical evidence for themselves. Jesus acted as if the only law that really matter was the Law of Love. Jesus had more issues with the religious, than the non-religious, of His day who insisted on certain truths to be accepted by God. Jesus confronted the most those whose actions were unloving to others and not those that were denying certain truths.
    • God cares the most about us considering loving others like we want to be loved. We all will be selfish at least one more time but we can strive. Also, in a broken world we have to consider matters such as justice and forgiveness, because one day we may be on that side of the fence. Love doesn’t mean we can’t protect ourselves from those pursing self-gratification. We don’t have to necessarily forgive those who have no regrets and continue to hurt us, but we must find a way to not continue to be victims by harboring bitterness or seeking revenge.

God has no sacred beliefs necessary to stand in your way of pursuing being more spiritual. You don’t have to believe that hell is real or that God judges homosexuals. The Bible is subject to interpretation so beliefs proclaimed to be of God may not be. Identify any beliefs of God proclaimed by others that may be erroneous, thus making pursing spirituality more of a challenge in your life. God only hopes we may come to believe God’s love for us so we might reflect such love back to others.

 

Rethinking If God Is Dogmatic About Spirituality!

Our mental views of God shape our attitudes toward God. Misbeliefs about God hinder engaging with God to pursue spirituality. If you have a feeling that there may be a God, I am convinced you will not regret pursuing more of a connection with your Creator than regretting having a closer relationship with your partner, children, or friends. In this series of Posts the Bible is referenced because that is from where views of God are often formed. What if you discovered God doesn’t insist spirituality is defined only by supposed beliefs in the Bible?

  • Being spiritual isn’t insisting on belief in the Christian God or the God of the Bible since the majority of people who have been born and died on this earth had no written knowledge of such a God. Suggesting a loving God insists one can only come to God by knowing Jesus ignores the realities of our world. The truth is one’s religion, or rebellion against a certain religion, is based on the family born into whether it be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.
  • Being spiritual is simply striving to love others like we want to be loved which is the kind of person most desire to be. Spirituality should not be confused with being religious or being Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, etc. If you can’t buy into the whole Jesus and Bible thing, don’t throw Jesus’ message out as well. Jesus only wanted others to know their Creator never gives up loving and forgiving us in striving to do good and shun evil.
  • Being spiritual isn’t converting people to a certain religion or set of beliefs; people need to be encouraged to have conversations how to love in their relationships. Jesus’ only agenda was to convince people to listen to their heart. Jesus simply said love God and love others as yourself when asked how to have everlasting life (Lk.10:25-27). In Jesus’ mind loving God was being empowered to love others to the fullest.
  • Being spiritual and being a law-abiding citizen aren’t the same. Laws can’t legislate matters of the heart to address the realities of our world. The Law can require amends for wrongdoing, but the Law can’t tell you to forgive that which can never be returned such as one’s reputation. The Law can require we not speed excessively by a car, but the law can’t tell us to help one stranded. Striving to be just good enough isn’t enough in a broken world.
  • Being non-dogmatic about spirituality doesn’t declare truth is always in the eye of the beholder. You don’t think murder is wrong. Get a clue. You don’t think lying, stealing, or coveting is wrong. Good luck in relationships. Some justify their self-centeredness or immorality, but most agree with the importance of living a more loving life.
  • Being spiritual understands a loving God surely only cares that we have the freedom to consider their existence and the implications. If such a God exist I have a hunch they can figure how to inspire others to be the person they deep down want to be toward family, friends, and co-workers.
  • I will put in a plug for God if you think it is possible God was the Beginner of the beginning. I have messed up in my relationships, but God has influenced me about the importance of confessing, taking responsibility and making amends. I am not quite sure how to explain but a relationship with God, who loves and forgives us, can inspire us to act the same toward others and not give up being an encourager than discourager. Some feel God couldn’t possibly love or forgive after they have done, but I believe God never gives up on us.

Define spirituality for yourself, strive for it, seek others for encouragement, and know how to get back on track when discouraged. My view of God’s love for me does this for me. Identify understandings about God that keep you from becoming more spiritual-minded. Honestly, I don’t think there are any legitimate excuses for being self-centered. Being more spiritual is essential for a better world.

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