I no longer feel that it is even remotely accurate to see the biblical God as being all-good and all-loving. Instead, I think the Bible’s description of God and whatever parts of the real God we can discern from other religions and nature that agree or contradict this image end up showing Her/Him to be both good and evil. I conclude this after many years of intensely examining the Bible, the natural revelation and my own experience. This God’s behavior switches often between vastly different and opposing ethical systems, yet He/She expects us to consistently follow some kind of intuitive moral backbone that is within us by design, regardless of whether we possess realistic access to biblical revelation (not to mention how difficult to understand, seemingly contradictory and full of such diverse information on the same topics that interpretations of it naturally vary widely depending on who, how, where and when one reads it). Brief or extended studies into human psychology and the history of world religions demonstrate that Judeo-Christian virtues and monotheistic spirituality, in the particular ways that the Bible teaches and demands, are frequently not obvious to human beings. Throughout our lives, we are surrounded by ambiguity and a multitude of apparently credible and beneficial pathways/techniques in pursuit of moral/spiritual/cultural growth.
Such a great sifting and cleansing through the muddy morality of this character is necessary to make Him/Her palatable to contemporary minds and hearts. She’s brutal and unfair. When He shows mercy, the Bible says it is grand and gracious, but given that God put us in this “human condition” with all the deep negativity it includes and stacked the decks against us by creating a very significant weak/evil dimension inside our bodies and souls……and intentionally crafted all the pain, suffering and confusion built into nature as a whole…….Her kindness is thus revealed to be relatively small.
I now think that Christianity should be abandoned as a functioning religion, but many of the positive and realistic principles should be salvaged, in the same way that many ideas and metaphors should be appreciated from other religions and philosophies, even as we recognize that not every aspect in their systems are useful and healthy. The benefits of keeping Christianity up and running do not outweigh the costs (please see my other posts for much more background on this point). People often need spiritual community, moral instruction, etc., but there are better ways to provide this (examples: twelve step programs, Unitarian Universalism, explicitly humanistic spiritual systems or other similar organizations/approaches).
As potential examples, I’ll highlight two humanistic organizations that, if developed, adapted and expanded to meet the needs of the global population, could replace Christian churches over many generations or even centuries – for those people who want a communal institution to participate with instead of traditional religion – one old and one new.
Many of the wisdom teachings of the Bible and Christianity are very helpful and inspiring. However, their repeatedly interwoven obsession with spiritual warfare, the doctrine of original sin and the need for salvation from a condition we are born with…are incredibly misguided. These biblical themes are tremendously harmful distractions, and by them their Christian advocates unwittingly attempt to move us away from living in full and honest reality.