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The Nature of God

Religious Diversity…

April 12, 2015 — 2 Comments

I am bringing over a series of posts for my Sunday entries from my now inactive blog over at RedLetterLiving. This is the fifth of a six-part series from about a year ago about the importance of the Bible in my spiritual life. After a ten-year study I finally understand what millions of other have discovered before me…. It’s about Jesus, not the Bible…

What About The Bible… ? (Chapter 5)

Cell PhoneI used to mourn the fact that there are almost 40,000 different versions of Christianity around today. But, in reality maybe I should celebrate that statistic. At least it shows that we are all trying to find the heart of God. But the problem with this is that we end up picking the type of God we want. I don’t think that is really how God wants it to be but it seems that is the way it is for most of us. Some choose to try to discover God on our own. Some take the lazy way of just latching onto a version that is close enough to their reality or maybe they choose the “easiest” God that doesn’t interfere with their current lifestyle.  Some take it to a deeper and more personal journey.

Diversity seems to be the best we can do right now. For whatever reason God has chosen not to make his presence unquestionably known to us. But it sure would be nice to get a signal from him as to who among us has it at least a little right.  He doesn’t have to turn off the sun as he supposedly did in the Old Testament. How about just sending a text message to every cell phone in the world all at the same time? That sure would be helpful in knowing what he wants us to do on this earth.

Yeah, I know there are some out there that are screaming “JUST READ THE BIBLE!!!” But what version of the Bible do I read? Do I read about the God who demands constant blood sacrifices. Do I read about the God who allows, some say even commanded, genocide?   Do I read about the God who told us to pick up snakes as proof that we are true believers? Or do I believe the God of Love as personified in my interpretation of the Bible. Just reading the Bible is what got us in all these 40,000 versions in the first place so forgive me if I don’t think that is a real answer.

What it means to be a Christian is presently an open book with thousands of different paths.  It seems the best we can do is to passionately search for God on a very personal level and live out our lives with that  personal epiphany if we do find it. I personally choose to pick those words of Jesus about being our brother’s keeper and about loving God and loving each other as his message to me.  To me all the other stuff around today is just smoke and mirrors that just blur my vision of him.

Others may choose a vengeful god who is looking for any reason to condemn us to hell. Others may choose a god who asks them to just say the right words and then get a fire insurance policy to redeem when they eventually die. Other may choose the god of infinite rules and regulations. But for me, I choose the God of Love….

But it sure would be nice to get a text message from God himself letting me know if I kinda got it at least a little right…..

I am bringing over a series of posts for my Sunday entries from my now inactive blog over at RedLetterLiving. This is the four of a six-part series from about a year ago about the importance of the Bible in my spiritual life. After a ten-year study I finally understand what millions of other have discovered before me…. It’s about Jesus, not the Bible…

 

The Bible — History Book Or Idol???

CB064037When we treat the Bible as a history book we come to more thoroughly understand the varied opinions put forth. But I very much understand that a significant portion of those who call themselves Christians believe that every word, every punctuation mark came directly from God and therefore is literally true and without the possibility of any error.

It seems to me that this group of Christians actually put the Bible itself above Jesus’ messages and therefore have made it into an idol to be worshiped in and for its own sake.  The inerrants, as they are often called, put forth an argument that if there is absolutely anything in the Bible that is not absolutely true then the Bible as a whole is worthless. This logic totally confuses me. I have never seen its application anywhere else in the world. Is there anything logic that even comes close to this type of belief?

There have been hundreds of different books written about Abraham Lincoln. It is absolutely certain that not everything in them is factual. Each book is for the most part one person’s opinions about this or that aspect piled onto the history of his life. Each book adds a little more insight, and probably a little more myth, into the nature of that famous person.

The U.S. Constitution written more than two hundred years ago is a very unique document in human history. It has allowed our country to flourish while many others wither and die.  It is a very wise and amazing document. But even that document has somethings that are shameful by 21st century eyes. The establishment that some of its citizens are only worth 3/5 of others is an embarrassing part. Should we throw the whole think out and start over again because it contains some things that are just flat wrong by today’s standards? Of course not. We instead add amendments to correct previous wrongs.

The other part that some put on the Bible is that it is God’s total word for all time.  That it answers all our questions and nothing else is required. In some ways that shows to me that these believers think that God is no longer necessary in today’s world. That he has been replaced by the Bible. That he has nothing else to teach us!  He has nothing more to say to the 21st century follower than he did to the 1st century follower.  That he is somehow now an absentee landlord replaced by a book!

Thank God (pun intended) there are also many others outside this inerrant belief system that think that God has given us revelation throughout human history. He give us scientific knowledge when He knows we can handle it. He gave us the key to DNA so that we can now start to solve health crises throughout the world. He has been giving us new revelations and discoveries for the last two thousand years and will continue to give us more in the future. God was not done giving out pieces of his omnipotent knowledge twenty centuries ago. Far from it!

Scriptures does not give us all the answers to life, reality, or the universe. But, it is the major source of the stories and fables around the times that Jesus walked this earth. We all gain valuable glimpses into the life and teachings of Jesus from those stories. For that reason the Bible is revered text but it should never never be idolized.

I am bringing over a series of posts for my Sunday entries from my now inactive blog over at RedLetterLiving. This is the third of a six-part series from about a year ago about the importance of the Bible in my spiritual life. After a ten-year study I finally understand what millions of other have discovered before me…. It’s about Jesus, not the Bible…

 

How Did The Bible Get So Filled…

How did the Bible get so filled with things that have nothing to do with the messages of Jesus? That is one of many questions I have pondered over the last decade.  I want to study more about King Constantine and how the Bible was put together under his watchful eye.2014-02-13_11-37-06 Here is the crux of what I know now.

Constantine was a king during the age where the Roman empire’s power was dwindling. He was losing his grip over his kingdom. Some say that is why he grabbed on to the idea of making Christianity a mandated state religion. I know he was not baptized until soon before his death so that puts his sincerity at question. Was he just covering his bases? There is very little historical text now available that pre-dates the first compiled Bible so we really can’t be sure just what is not in Constantine’s Bible or what was added. These types of questions need to be understood in order to put the Bible in its proper sphere of influence. Was it written by God or redacted to meet the needs of the most powerful world government of the time?

 

2014-02-13_11-39-37I personally take the Jeffersonian stand of Christianity to at least one degree or another. That is Thomas Jefferson’s belief that Paul took the simple message of Jesus and made it complicated. I’m sure he was well-meaning but given his background it was inevitable that he would add rule after rule on being a Christian.  After all he was educated and trained by the Pharisees of his time and if nothing else they were absolutely about rules. Upon serious reading of Paul’s many letter it is surprising how little his teaching overlap with any of Jesus’ word or messages.  In fact he seemed to know very little about Jesus other than his brief personal experience on the road to Damascus.

We know that the documents, particularly the gospel accounts, that eventually made up the first Bible were generally not written until at least forty years after the events took place.  Before that all the biblical stories were likely passed down as was very typical of the time via an oral tradition.  We also know that except for Paul, who was not one of those who sat at Jesus’ feet,  most of the other leaders of the early church were very likely illiterate.  This necessitated that someone else would take their stories and put them into literary form.  For the most part we still don’t know who those scribes or the authors actually were. Under these types of conditions it is very likely that myths and fables were included in the written text.  Thomas Jefferson believed that is how most of the miracles of Jesus were established. It was just overzealous people adding a little bit to enhance a point. Those who study other historical sources know this is a very common thing of human nature.  George Washington was almost a god in early America and many myths were generated  and recorded about him. The most familiar is probably about chopping down a cherry tree.

In closing I am not saying that the Bible is without value simply because human foibles are contained in its text but it is important to understand that possibility when trying to put this document into the proper perspective in today’s church.  The messages of Jesus that are contained within these various writings, even though they were very likely tarnished by human actions,  are what is paramount to our following Jesus.  The Bible itself is just a means to convey those inherent messages.

RJ:

I am bringing over a series of posts for my Sunday entries from my now inactive blog over at RedLetterLiving. This is the second of a six-part series from a year ago about the importance of the Bible in my spiritual life. After a ten-year study I finally understand what millions of other have discovered before me…. It’s all about Jesus, not the Bible…

Originally posted on :

FuzzyWhat About The Bible… ? (Chapter 2)

I know that from all the rhetoric about this topic you are expecting the next word in the title to be “Clear” but actually for me it is “Fuzzy”. I don’t know how many times in my life I have heard the phrase “just study the bible for the answer to your problems. When a child dies from a fall in the bathtub the Christian answer to our total devastation is to “read the Bible”. It is as if we can just randomly open a page and then the tragedy in our life becomes clear.

Lets face it the Bible is simply not the homogeneous document that many want you to believe. When we realize that it is a collection of documents by for the most part unknown authors, who were recording events as they saw them or a story told to them…

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The Thing Is…..

March 15, 2015

RJ:

I am bringing over a series of posts for my Sunday entries from my now inactive blog over at RedLetterLiving. This six-part series from about a year ago was what I discovered about the Bible after ten strenuous years of study. I want to say up front so there is no misunderstanding that no, I did not get any personal revelations from God on this topic other than his possible guidance through my study. After ten years I finally understand what millions of other have realized before me…. It’s about Jesus, not the Bible…

Originally posted on :

CB064037What About The Bible… ? (Chapter 1)

I have been spending quite a bit of time lately thinking about the Bible and my experiences with it over the last decade or so. Around 2003 I decided to take up a serious study of theology and in particularly those around the words of Jesus. I naively thought I could get some clear directions for my spiritual life if I just understood why the Bible seems to mean so many different things to so many people. What I have discovered over this period of time awakened me. I did not get the concrete answers I was looking for but I did glean some surprising discoveries.

So, for the next several  weeks I will be spending Mondays on posts about that journey into the Bible. I have always been a little hesitant to voice my discoveries because if they surprised me they might…

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damaged goodsIn some way or another we are all damaged goods. Yes, we have been enhanced by some life experiences but we are also tainted by others. Whether we will personally admit it or not we all have dark sides. We all have things in our past that we would do differently if we had the chance. In other words we have all had experiences that affected how we look at life.

Too many of my Christian brothers use this fact as a reason to do nothing. The clergy in their pulpits constantly remind them that they are nothing but miserable sinners and God expects nothing from them in their totally rancid condition. They take those words to believe that if they are damaged then all their actions are also damaged. They take the words of the Apostle Paul in a different direction than he, and especially Jesus intended. They use this logic as an excuse for doing nothing to promote God’s love in this world. They throw up their hands and say they can’t do anything to please God so why even try. In fact they believe it really doesn’t matter as he has already reserved a place for them in heaven.

Instead of taking the words of Paul as an excuse to do nothing I cling to the words of Jesus’ brother James when he told us that faith without works is a dead and therefore a worthless faith.  There are just too many that make Christianity a “do nothing” religion. They think if they say the right words they can then sit back and do nothing. They cling to a faith that is very shallow.  They need to come to understand that faith is to be lived everyday of our lives. It is not to be put on a mantle somewhere just to be dusted off and casually view at on an occasional Sunday morning.

The reason Christ wants us to see ourselves as damaged goods is so that we will have compassion on absolutely everyone who we come into contact with. He wants us to love each other unconditionally as he loves us.  He wants us to disregard the smell of that homeless person and treat him with compassion.  He is just damaged in ways other than we are. He wants us to forgive that person who has done us wrong, perhaps even grievous wrong. He wants us to get it out of our mind that we need to kill those who we see as more  damaged than we are.

Being damaged goods is not an excuse to do nothing, instead it is a reason to try to do better and better each day. To become more Christ-like. That is what is expected of us who call ourselves Christians.