I left this article untitled because I didn't want anyone trying to figure out where I was going with this. So let me ask you some questions— yes or no questions. No need to "keep score", just bear in mind what your responses are.
Would you consider a parent who told his/her child that they didn't deserve the parent's love and that they were never going to be able to do anything— no matter how good they behaved— to ever deserve that love to be a loving parent?
Would you consider a parent who punished one child for what another had done to be fair or just?
Would you consider a parent who held something his/her child had done as a child against that child for the rest of the his/her life to be mature?
Would you consider a parent who allowed one of his/her children be picked on by a bully to prove how strong the child was to be a wise parent?
Would you consider a parent who told his/her child that the child had to kill his/her favorite pet to prove that the child would obey him to be emotionally abusive or manipulative?
Would you consider a parent who told his/her child he/she was taking the child somewhere and then wandered aimlessly across the country for years to be a compassionate parent?
What would you think of a parent who said "You have a choice of what to do" and then punished the child for making the "wrong" choice?
What would you think of a parent who warned only one of his/her children that there was impending danger ahead, enabling them to avoid disaster but all the others were caught up in it?
What would you think of a parent who set a time limit for his/her child to ask for forgiveness and when that limit passed, turned his/her back on the child forever?
What would you think of a parent who told his/her child that if the child didn't live his/her life as the parent dictated for the rest of the child's life, the parent would cut him-/herself off from the child forever?
I'm sure that most of you have already realized that this parent I'm speaking about is God as I understood him to be revealed in the Bible and through Christian teachings. Now please understand that what follows is in no way a judgment on Judeo-Christianity, simply an explanation of why THIS writer could not continue to follow the teachings of the Christianity. I'm sure that Christians do not see the God of the Bible as I saw him through the teachings I received.
I have nothing but respect for the Bible. It is a book that has many wise teachings and profound insight into the nature of humanity and into the nature of God. My problem comes not with the Bible, but with someone declaring that they have THE correct interpretation of the Bible. THE interpretation that everyone who wants to be saved MUST believe. Even Christianity itself can't agree on what it means to be a Christian. Some Protestant Christians don't consider Catholics to be Christians. And Catholics believe they have the one, true faith. And I don't think many Protestants OR Catholics believe that Mormon's are Christians, although Mormons accept that Jesus was God, that he died on the Cross to pay the price for our sins and that he rose in three days to sit at the right hand of God and that all men are sinners and that the only salvation is through accepting Jesus' vicarious sacrifice. Within Protestantism are literally hundreds of sects that disagree on some major or minor point in the Bible. Some Christians feel that dancing is immoral. Some that women cutting their hair is immoral. Some that using musical instruments during church services is wrong. They all believe they have THE most correct interpretation of the Bible— otherwise, why believe what they do if they feel something they believe is wrong? How is one to know which of these is right?
What I finally came to realize was that each of these faiths is relying on the interpretation of the human being that started their sect of Christianity. And that if it got to the point where a member of their sect didn't agree with what was/is being taught, they switched sects to one they DO agree with. It is INDIVIDUAL interpretation that is based on what the individual feels God is leading him/her to understand. They rely on this understanding, even if it goes in the face of what they have been taught by their former faith. In other words, they follow the conviction of their hearts because they truly believe that that is where God is leading them. Any "evidence" to the contrary has an explanation that falls within the guidelines of their faith.
With that in mind, I too asked looked for guidance from God in understanding the Bible, because the way God was described to me as I grew up was certainly not the kind of God I wanted to believe in. So I did what the Bible said to do: Ask and you shall receive. I asked for help in understanding the Bible and in understanding God as he was revealed in the Bible. And I came up with answers that not only made sense to me but that showed me how much God DOES love me and how much he really is there for me if I but ask for his help. And yet, when I explain my beliefs and my understanding, which were arrived at in the same manner that other Christian sects arrived at THEIR beliefs, I'm told outright that I'm wrong because it doesn't agree with what they believe about God.
Like them, I will follow the understanding that I was given by God and not that given to someone else by God. Where we differ is that I will in no way say that their faith is wrong. Despite the apparent contradictions between my faith and theirs, I believe that it's possible for ALL of them to be true— for those that believe them, not for everyone in the entire world. By that I mean that faith is an individual path: that each of us follows that path on our own and that what is right for one isn't always right for another. But that doesn't make either of them wrong. They're right for the individual who holds them and for that individual alone.
I do not mean this article to be offensive to anyone. The questions I asked above were questions I asked myself as I was struggling with my faith. They're ones I couldn't answer within what I see as the narrow interpretation of "mainstream" Christianity with respect to the Bible. As I said, I'm sure that those who DO follow a Christian path don't see God in that same light. And that is wonderful! But that's how I saw God when I "limited" myself to Christianity's interpretation of the Bible. (I know that sounds condescending, but I don't know any other way to express what I'm trying to say here...) I am fully aware that many who are Christian will see my views as being the limited ones and the ones who are way out of line. And that's wonderful too! Because they don't have to live by my faith and I don't have to live by theirs. That is the wonderful glory about God— the ability to relate to each of us on an individual basis in just the manner we need him/her to be there at any given moment in our lives.
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