To non-religious spiritual pursuers and my kids (Click FOLLOW for future Posts; See ABOUT THIS SITE tab to navigate Site)

Archive for August, 2017

What Is God Really Like?

TAKEAWAYS
✓God is morally perfect humanly-speaking
✓Does your view of God lead to making God less or more of your life

I have suggested in this series if there is a Creator, they have communicated clearly through universal moral intuitions. God’s morals must be the same as perfect human morals. God can’t claim to not be evil unless God’s morals are the same as a perfect, loving parent. We may not agree what a perfect parent or God would do in each situation, but we may agree on many attributes.

God and loving parents are uncontrolling.

A God powerful enough to create obviously respects freedom because of not interfering in all the evil that is present in our world. Every instinct in me when raising children wanted to control their decisions when counter to my own. “Don’t you understand I have your best interest in mind!” But, I came to understand choices must come from within to be genuine and last.

God doesn’t control our moral or our amoral decisions. I understood it was my child’s decision who they chose as a partner, what career they wish to pursue, etc. God hasn’t mapped out what decisions you must make in the future. God advises morality through their example, but in amoral decisions God encourages pursuing our dreams with the gifts we have. Parents sometime need to accept God tugging on their heart to quit controlling their children.

A perfect God or parent never advises for self-interests reasons or how it makes them look, as opposed to what is in the best interest of who they love.

A perfect parent doesn’t utter the words “because I said so” because they are more concerned how certain actions will make them look. God only warns against immoral actions because of their consequences, which any loving parent would do. God’s always has our back. God only ask for faithfulness because trusting God is loving others to the fullest.

God can’t encourage us to be like God unless they are morally perfect and give us knowledge how to emulate.  

No loving parent lies, steals, or doesn’t always act in the best interests of others. We all have such moral intuitions, seemingly communicated by our Creator. Passages in the OT that suggest God encourages unnecessary violence must be the writer’s understanding of God at that time in their spiritual journey. But, no one is a true passivist as only coward don’t protect their family against those who intend to do harm. God surely seeks peace than war when possible.

A perfect God or parent is quick to forgive and begin anew.

A parent’s constant or subtle disfavor because of mistakes robs us of the encouragement we need. Why then would gloomy uncertainty as to God’s favor help us to conquer battles against self-centeredness or long-standing habitual sins in our life? God gladly provides relief from guilt so we don’t loss hope. Parents who truly forgive avoid the temptation to remind their children of their failures, as if they need reminding. All parents know what “piling on” means.

God is likely more the kind of God you imagined would be true of a loving God. Don’t let misunderstandings keep you from pursuing more of a spiritual life with the help and encouragement of your Creator.

  • What if God isn’t homophobic, even according to the Bible, who doesn’t say stuff like “love you, hate your behavior?”
  • What if God only encourages loving others without any hidden agenda to convert them?
  • What if the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist. Like God is going to sadistically torture people forever for their beliefs while here on earth a brief time!
  • What if God and the Bible don’t advocate gender bias in male/female roles? Roles and responsibilities are best determined according to one’s gifts not their gender.
  • What if God doesn’t have hoops to jump through to have a relationship such as going to church or abiding by certain religious rituals or beliefs?
  • What if some plausible explanations exist as to how a good God and evil and suffering can co-exist? Even God can’t necessarily control freedom if they are to create true freedom.

I can only speak from personal experience. I don’t consider myself a bad person but I am absolutely convinced I am less selfish and a better husband, father, and friend because of my relationship with God. I feel God’s constant acceptance and encouragement to be less unselfish, despite my failures.

Coming In This Series:
How We Know God Is Not A Bigot Toward Homosexuals!
How We Know God Is Not A Bigot Toward Females!
How We Know There Is No Hell And Hope Of Heaven For Loved Ones!

Advertisements

How Can We Know What God Is Really Like?

God gets a bad rap when claiming we only know what is good according to the Bible. Over half the world born didn’t have access to such a Book, implying they couldn’t know good from evil. Also, claiming God only communicates what is good through a book such as the Bible or Koran has led to justifying immoral actions because of misinterpretations. Literature is  interpretation, thus why we have many opinions on the meaning of the same passage.

Evil can result when we claim we can only know good through a book – even if believing such a book is the Word of God – because we justify our personal interpretation of God. Since most believe the Bible is God’s direct communication to us, we may not wish to claim only God knows good. Humans somehow know it is wrong to lie, steal, or not treat others like we want to be treated.

We can know what goodness is or what a good God is like according to our moral intuitions.

You believe morality exist if you believe evil exist. If we say goodness can only come from God or a book and not intuitions, then we can’t really know goodness since God doesn’t speak to us audibly and books are interpretations. It seems to me the presence of moral outrage hints of a personal external force communicating through our moral intuitions that lead to outrage. How else do we explain a universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated?

Obviously, not all have the same moral intuitions.

I suggest there is universal agreement on most moral matters. Nations can establish laws because most agree it is wrong to steal, murder, lie, or commit adultery. We know terrorists are wrong because they do not wish to be treated by our imposing our beliefs on them. Just as we know it is wrong to steal because we do not wish to be stolen from.

A good God couldn’t ask us to believe something contrary to moral intuitions.

Such intuitions can guide when debating interpretations of the Bible. But, the battle is won when we stop imposing our beliefs on others. Only extremists don’t know that disputes about supposed truth are not more important than love when personal beliefs aren’t violating the rights of others. True religion doesn’t seek to be served but serve.

If I was female, non-Caucasian, or gay, I know God is incapable of bigotry or favoritism because a good God can only be morally perfect.   

Goodness is not determined according to a Book or even belief in God. But if God exist, I know they don’t favor according to gender, race, or sexual preference because my intuitions tell me so. One reason we may might think otherwise is because we believe a Supreme Being suggests otherwise according to a Book. A good God is only capable of perfect love.

Please see Good God: The Theistic Foundations Of Morality by David Baggett and Jerry L. Walls for insights into how can we determine goodness.

Coming In This Series

What Is God Really Like?

How We Know God Is Not A Bigot Toward Homosexuals!

How We Know God Is Not A Bigot Toward Females!

How We Know There Is No Hell And Hope Of Heaven For Loved Ones!

Why Does It Matter What You Think God Is Really Like?

Most of us want to be a better version of ourselves. Societies and families are in desperate need of all striving for this end goal. We all know how we wish others treated us; that is how we wish we treated others. Most of us will admit we fall short of our ideal self. I suppose one’s goal could be to be “good enough,” but that isn’t enough in a broken world. Surely constantly striving to be our best brings the least regrets, the greatest satisfaction, and the best of worlds.

Most of us need HELP in striving to be closer to our ideal.

I don’t wish to say God-less people aren’t good people. We know many God-people that we wish had less to do with God, or least their version of the God they are seeking to please. Just think – they may be worse without God’s help! Many may have found their way in relationships in being all they can be without God. I have in mind those who recognize their need for help for more.

People may be less inclined to pursue a belief in God and for help because our mental views of God shape our attitudes toward God. Others may reject God because of poor role-models.  

Most people don’t reject God because they reject unselfishness over selfishness. The example you have had or what you have heard about God may not be true. If you have thought 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.

Consider if you want to be more of a spiritual person, which I take to mean becoming more the person inside you want to be toward others in good and difficult times.

We all benefit from relationships that guide and inspire us such as parents and bosses who are good role models. It may turn out that God is exactly what you thought a perfect God is like. Being a law-abiding citizen isn’t enough. The law can’t tell you to forgive or help a stranger. Challenge yourself to be the kind of person you wish your parents or children were.  You don’t have to attend church, synagogue, or mosque if such relationships don’t encourage you in your journey.

I am not challenging you to be more religious, only more spiritual for a better world.

God can provide insights into what true freedom is. God can help us to not fear death and look forward to being reunited with our loved ones. God can help suffering, that is inevitable in a troubled world, to not be meaningless by empowering us to help others facing similar undeserved sufferings. Personally, I can tell you I am a better husband, father, and friend than I normally would be because of the insights, encouragement, and forgiveness that I receive from my Creator.

 

Next In This Series:

How Can We Know What God Is Really Like?

What Is God Really Like?

How We Know God Is Not Bias Against Homosexuals!

How We Know God Is Not Bias Against Females!

How We Know There Is No Hell And Hope Of Heaven For Loved Ones!

 

 

Can We Make Sense Of Violence And Genocide In The OT Supposedly Approved By God?

The OT may cause more disbelief in God than we care to admit. I have been slow to accept the awfulness of the OT because it has been easy up to this point in my life to simply trust God. But, I believe we have every right to expect a rational, moral explanation of God. Most if not all claim the only God worth believing in is a perfect or good God.

I Sam. 15:3 says: “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them: put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” There are hundreds of OT passages that seem to advocate evil behaviors in the name of God. I have written about OT crazy laws elsewhere. How is one to think of God must less explain God when the Bible portrays God as lacking rational or loving feelings?

There are several possible explanations to passages such as the above:

  • Warfare rhetoric was common in ancient literature to induce fear and victory. A US leader may say we will destroy ISIS and anything having to do with ISIS. This doesn’t mean women and children will not be spared when possible. It can also mean innocent lives may not be spared when necessary to destroy evil. Terrorists often used civilians as human shields to carry out their wicked goals.
  • Exaggerative language may be going on in several passages. For example, Deut. 7:1 talks of driving out the enemy, 7:2 talks about not making treaties with the enemy, while 7:3 says you must destroy the enemy totally. Why mention not making treaties if the only goal is to annihilate the enemy. Extermination passages maybe are meant to be understood within the context of initially driving out the enemy.
  • Some passages are elliptical in nature – speaking on a subject without stating exceptions. Is the Bible advocating domestic violence when says to turn the other cheek? Joshua speaks of utter destruction in Debir and returning to camp (10:39-43), yet the writer in the same breath speaks of survivors from Debir being destroyed (11:21). Writers either mindlessly contradicted themselves, or didn’t always mean to be taken literally or unconditionally.
  • God obviously did not verbally dictate the entire Bible. We cannot be certain when God allowed the writers the freedom to misunderstand and express their understandings of God. Some declarations claimed to be the mind of God may be instead the writer’s beliefs of God at the time, explaining many violent passages supposedly in the name of God.
  • God’s uncontrolling rather than controlling love may explain many practices in the OT. God may have accepted animal sacrifices to guard against the use of child sacrifices common in OT cultures. Humans are always seeking a scapegoat to lessen their guilt. I doubt polygamy, concubines, or divorce for frivolous reasons were God’s ideal. God doesn’t control but works within societies as freedom is necessary for authentic, lasting change. God’s interference or dictatorship can prevent a superior world because of moral improvement of free creatures.

We don’t have to throw out the Bible but read reflectively, just because a writer may be expressing an erroneous opinion of God at that time in their spiritual journey. God never intended a Book to take the place of a relationship with God and others. God wishes to influence our heart to make choices in the interest of ourselves and others in the long-run. We can always consider Jesus’ perspective when OT passages confuse us of what God thinks.

Universal moral intuitions exist, making some opinions wrong. God prefers peaceful alternatives to violence when possible. God never intended women and children to be hunted down and killed. God doesn’t condone rape and beheading of enemies. God surely never violates one’s freedom to obey God or not, or I would be dead. A God who creates freedom doesn’t control choices when such choices don’t violate the rights of others.

Rethinking God And Punishment!

God can be misunderstood depending on why we think God punishes and how we think God feels about punishment. God surely would not depend only on a Book, the Bible, to convey their nature. Many have never had a Bible and ancient literature is always subject to interpretation thus misunderstanding. We can also know God based on how we think loving, perfect friends or parents should act when wrongdoing has taken place. How does God view punishment?

An angry Deity who delights in punishment comes to mind for some when reading the Bible. But, many passages suggest God threatened punishment only as a last resort. Fear seeks to deter evil but doesn’t lead to life transformations. Changes comes within one’s heart. Parents threaten punishment to steer their children from self-destruction and destruction of others. Tough love is simply another side of genuine love.

God or parents don’t relish or seek to pile on. Wrongdoing has its own punishment due to regrets or loss of relationships.

Repentance isn’t about somehow restoring God’s honor as if God can lose it. Regrets are for our own good, leading to healing and restoration. God hates when punishment is necessary (Jonah 4:2) and does so with a grieving heart (Gen. 6:6). God doesn’t seek fear but wishes to encourage in battles against self-centeredness or habitual sins in our lives.

God’s punishment is described in the Bible as withdrawing their influence in our lives because of resistance.

This best explains passages such as: “But I (God) will harden Pharaoh’s heart…” (Ex. 7:3).  It also says: “But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go” (Ex 8:32). Only a mindless writer would contradict themselves in practically the same breath. Paul says about Pharaoh’s instances: “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all” (Rm. 11:32). God is hoping freedom to carry out evil desires may lead Pharaoh and us to hit bottom and desire change.

God punishment in the Bible is also depicted as delivering us over to our own desires.

How else can we explain passages such as Romans 1:24: “Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts…” The Bible as a whole doesn’t suggest God makes us commit evil. God created freedom so we can make choices leading to real, lasting changes. Controlling love as opposed to uncontrolling love can simply lead to further or deeper rebellion.

God hates withdrawing or delivering us up to evil as any loving parent would. Such love by God or a parent though may benefit us in the long-run. Jesus’ death wasn’t to placate a blood-thirsty God who needed their child murdered to satisfy their need for punishment. God prefers much more a contrite heart then sacrifices (Ps. 51: 16-17). God as any loving parent desires to empower us to reflect such love back to others. A relationship, not fear of punishment, leads to becoming more the person we desire to be.

 

How Do We Make Sense of Crazy OT Laws In The Bible And God’s Supposed Approval?

One could rightly question whether God is rational or worth following if approving of some of the OT laws recorded. Why even consider the Bible as having any wisdom based on some of the OT laws? Who advocates stoning rebellious children (Deut. 21:18-21) or men having sex with men (Lev. 20:13).

Some laws may be God accommodating the hearts of the Israelites. For example, why didn’t God simply outlaw slavery. Perhaps, the Israelites perhaps were close-minded to abolishing slavery. These are people who had to be told to not sacrifice babies and don’t have sex with animals (Lev. 18: 21, 23). Some laws were attempts to at least make improvements.

Many OT Laws were surely not God’s ideal. I doubt polygamy and concubines were God’s idea. But, God doesn’t overthrow but works within societies for freedom is necessary for authentic, lasting change. Loving control is an oxymoron. God’s interference or dictatorship can prevent a superior world from developing because of the moral improvement of free creatures.

Some laws recorded in the Bible could have been from the minds of fallible human beings though claiming to be from God.

God didn’t verbally dictate the entire Bible. We cannot be certain when God did or didn’t allow the writers the freedom to misunderstand and express their understandings of God. God’s uncontrolling love surely can explain some laws claimed to be approved by God. Some of the crazy OT laws obviously didn’t meet with God’s approval.

Does this mean we can never know what God thinks are good versus bad laws?

The Bible was never meant to take one’s mind and heart out of what are loving actions in one’s personal circumstances. And, what better person to look to for wisdom than one who sacrifices their life to convince that God loves and desires to help us be the kind of person we want to be deep down. Consider Jesus’ perspective when OT laws contradict common and loving sense.

Laws are not even necessary in a society when humans always treat others like they want to be treated. Laws are only necessary when love is lacking. Laws were never God’s ideal. All the laws in the world don’t change hearts. Lifelong transformation result from a relationship with one’s Creator. The existence of universal moral intuitions suggest a communicative God exists.

 

 

Tag Cloud