Rethinking The Bible — Why Does God Tolerate So Much Uncertainty?
By Mike Edwards
I post often about the Bible. I have written a short Booklet: Rethinking The Bible — Is The Bible Really Inspired By God? It is natural to assume if God inspired the Bible, God approved all written in the Bible. We must question if all of the Bible is inspired by God. Claims made about God according to an inspired Bible has keep many from having more of a relationship with God. God may be more like the God you expect!
Just to be certain, total certainty is an illusion because even if God is Truth, we still have to discern what is Truth. Certainty is not found in a Book even if infallible. Literature requires interpretation. For example, there is disagreement if God of the Bible desires preachers or priests be women or gay. Even if Jesus was God in person, His words still require interpretation. We don’t agree what He advised about Hell, divorce, etc. Many 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!
Uncertainty by God could be out of love
God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. Relationships that require more faith and trust due to the unknown may reach greater heights. Is our love in human relationships greater when we have to trust than know for certain what the future holds together? 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 that last. The road traveled of learning, reflecting, and non-coerced choices may best lead to lasting convictions. Maybe God speaks to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!
Where has certainty got us?
The stories have it that God dropped manna from the sky and separated the Red Sea to escape one’s enemy, but the Israelites still did not believe or at least put their total trust in God. God even came in person but Jesus’ miracles did not obtain the results some may suggest if God would stop hiding. Supposed certainty in God’s name according to the Bible has been the main reason some condemn gays or oppose women entering the priesthood. Certainty has led to slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities in God’s name. Uncertainty, not supposed certainty, about God can protect against imposing beliefs on others in God’s name. Honest, open dialogues allow continually evaluating what a loving God is like. Common moral sense isn’t the enemy!
Uncertainty doesn’t have to lead to chaos or lawlessness
It is often said we best know God according to “biblical truths.” The truth is contrary biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here. I don’t know any reasonable God or non-God person that doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. Certain laws are just common, moral sense. Who doesn’t believe physical or sexual abuse is wrong? Immigration laws can be discussed as which are the most caring for the greater good. What we do with the communication we have, then lack of communication, may be the bigger challenge. Open discussions can steer us away from demanding “supposed truths.”
God isn’t as hidden as one may think
A universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated may be a personal external force communicating through our moral intuitions. Problems begin when we stray from common moral sense and insist on our understanding from an inspired Book. We all have an innate knowledge of right and wrong. What rational person doesn’t believe murder, lying, stealing, or adultery is wrong? Maybe God doesn’t have to speak to influence. A parent’s influence, not commands, often speaks louder to a child. Doesn’t God mostly speak through influencing? The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit guiding us in truth (Jn. 14:16–17; 16:13). We know the Spirit’s influence when we have thoughts to be the perfect partner, parent, or friend we desire to be deep down. Is the Spirit influencing when we quickly confess and make amends if wronged someone? That’s just not always natural. Maybe we just have to be open to God’s influential Spirit.
God isn’t hiding an unknown future. It is natural to think an all-knowing, powerful God has special insights into future outcomes to avoid problems. But to say God knows the future suggests a predetermined future making freedom nonsensical. God’s plan is not a detailed blueprint but a general one to set us free to love. God can’t tell you if the person you want to marry won’t end up betraying you or the job you take won’t end up being phased out. God joins us in an open future. God deals with uncertainty as we do. We surely have God’s blessing choosing the wisest path at the time based on past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations.
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. Uncertainty, not certainly about God, may better protect against imposing beliefs on others which is not God’s nature.
Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like He can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org