Part 2 – I No Longer Believe in the God of the Bible or Jesus Rose from the Dead

Angry God

This is part 2 to the series I No Longer Believe in the God of the Bible.  See part 1. This started when an old acquaintance of mine I met in church told me that He no longer believes in the God of the Bible. He no longer believes Jesus rose from the dead. He told me he de-converted from Christianity.

He has also written a book about what led him to his new way of thinking.  He and I are still in conversation about how he came to be where he is and he is aware that I am using his materials in a Bible class I teach and in this blog.  Part 1 of this series was from a chapter in his book.  Part 2 is my response to the chapter.  I have decided not to use his real name at this point. We will call him Billy.

Hey Billy,

I have been thinking about the issues you raise about how the God of the Bible cannot be the real God who created the universe.  First, let me say I am not a Bible Scholar, nor a debater, but I am a Bible reader  with most of my education and training in the field of business and my perspective often reflects that. My theology has been hammered out and spliced together from hundreds of teachers and my own study over time. It is still evolving. The following is my response and some of my conclusions.

God is not in the same class with us.  He is the creator and we are the created. He does not exist in the same space/time continuum as we do.  His ways are higher than my ways. His intelligence, justice, righteousness etc. cannot be fully understood by me.  I don’t even have a clue about the type of reality God lives in or if there are others like Him.   It hurts my brain to even consider questions like this.

I say this even though I see no evidence of any created thing in the cosmos that compares to the intelligence of the human brain.  However, I believe in a creator who not only created the human brain, but also the cosmos.  The collective brain of all mankind doesn’t even begin to compare to the God who could create all this. On a continuum, our mind would be closer to the earthworm than to the mind of God, yet I believe we are intelligent enough to understand what we need to understand.

When I look at what is happening on planet earth, as it relates to what I know about God through the Bible, it appears to me that God is still creating.  As far as I can tell the whole of mankind is nothing more than in the middle of the creation process. I do not think we are even close to being the finished product God intends.  We are still in process.

Who is to say that the potter cannot decide to break the clay and toss aside what is less than the potter’s wishes?  Who can understand what God is creating?  Who can understand what He is willing to accept and not accept?  Who can know better the consequences of sin than the creator who is obviously not a novice creator? If I am the creator, why would I want to create something that is going to be an eternal heartache to me?

Can you imagine being the father of a son, whose desire it is to murder you, your wife or one of his siblings?  That is extreme, but sin might be that extreme to God.  I can see the practicality of destroying that son.  I would not call this act of a father unloving.  I can see the action as a loving act of protection for his family.  Maybe even a loving act toward the murderous son.  The father has a higher purpose.

I see God as a father who is creating a family that He can live with through eternity.  To me, earth is simply a laboratory.  In my mind, the laboratory is both for the creator and the created.  It is the place where the creator is creating and a place for the created to be honed to the specifications of the creator.

It is here that we see through the crucible of time God’s infinite wisdom of how He is creating us to be creatures of His love.  Those that don’t make the cut…they serve as an example of His great creative wisdom.

I happen to agree with you that no man, no matter how bad, is deserving of being tortured for eternity.  I also believe this idea of eternal torture is a misinterpretation of scripture. I do believe in hell, that it serves the Creators purposes, but I believe the punishment is limited and individualized for the worst offenders.

We don’t know much about the nature of hell.  Fire is most likely a metaphor for pain. I tend to think it is simply a place where the lost are sectioned off to be with each other for a period of time till they are destroyed with fire.  I imagine the worst of the punishment is being separated from God and grouped with these other lost souls. I see that as both psychologically and emotionally painful. I see these poor lost souls left to contemplate their condition. I think this could easily produce weeping and the gnashing of teeth in anger toward self and God.   It is a place without hope and the absence of hope is a horrible thing to the mind.

I do believe after a time, God annihilates or destroys a person much like an artist would destroy a piece of art that didn’t meet his minimum standard. I believe that is what eternal destruction means…destroyed forever.

I do believe that punishment will be worse for the worse offenders. Rev. 20:13, but the most compelling argument that punishment is not eternal is the beating and crucifixion of Jesus. The Bible teaches that He paid the sin debt for all mankind and it was not eternal torture.  At the end he died and I believe the Bible teaches the unbeliever too will experience a second death and be put out of his misery.

In the end the saved work of God, the person that passes the test, will see his great value to God.

What could God be doing in this laboratory we call earth?  I believe he is allowing the ones that will, to mature. They are becoming wise to ways of the opposition as well as growing in love and knowledge of God. I also think God is using human history as he plays various roles to reveal Himself to us and what He is all about.

It takes time…lots of time for man to get to know what God is like and what He values.  In the Old Testament He lays down the first track and reveals some aspects of Himself. He lets us know of his hatred for disobedience and his wrath and harshness toward sin.

Later, He reveals Himself as Jesus, where we see other aspect of God.  We especially see his mercy, compassion and love.  Jesus did not distance Himself or apologize for the wrath God displayed during the Old Testament.  He didn’t because He is this same God of the Old Testament, just another aspect of who He is.

In our conversation, you mentioned that one of the requirements for God to forgive man was that a man has to ask for forgiveness. Though many Christians teach this, I disagree with it.  Let me explain what I mean.  I believe the Bible teaches that God always knew that He was going to forgive mankind for sin even before He created man. Not only did He know it, He set it up that way.  Sin didn’t catch God by surprise; He engineered it into the process of creating man.

Again, let me explain what I mean.

The Bible teaches that man became separated from God because of sin.  Now I am saying that God engineered this to happen.  It was His intent for man to become separated from Him.  He could have prevented Satan from tempting Eve. The Bible says Satan cannot do anything without God’s permission.  Adam and Eve were sitting ducks, so innocent in comparison to Satan.  Why did God not protect them from Satan?  The why is because this was part of God’s plan for man to sin and be separated from Him.

God knew before the foundations of the world that He was going to send His son as an atonement for sin.  I Pet. 1:20 An atonement means to pay the price.  It means to forgive the sin of mankind.  So God knew man was going to sin and forgave man’s sin even before he sinned.

We make sin a big deal, because it separates us from God and because Jesus/God had to die for our sins to be forgiven.  And yes, it is a very big deal from the perspective of man.  All we have is our own life.  For God, it is not so big a deal.  He set it up so we would sin and that we would be separated from Him.  It was not hard for God to conceive of a plan to forgive us for something we could not help in the first place.

So what is this all about you may ask?

To me, this too is part of the creative process. God’s plan is to mature man.  So a process was designed where man has to come back to God in humility acknowledging both his sinful nature and his need for him. Forgive the manufacturing analogy, but this process is a quality control measure.   All is part of God creating an eternal family.

Unfortunately, some that start the process don’t make the cut.  They are unfit for God’s family.

Couldn’t God have just said I forgive you and not put on this gruesome show with the crucifixion of Jesus? I suppose He could have done it any way he chose to do it.  So why might He have chosen to do it this way? Why was He so angry that He needed to display His anger so prominently?  And then showed that His wrath was so intense, the only way it could be satisfied was His own death ie the death of His the hands of the created no less.

Forgive me if this next part sounds a little bit scientific and futuristic, but I think it can help us understand this next point.  Mankind is now developing artificial intelligence using robots and computers.  Artificial intelligence is simply computer programs that can make decisions based on how they have been programmed.  These people who design and develop these types of machines are definitely creators who are creating some amazing machines.

Now imagine a creator so brilliant that he can create intelligence so advanced that not only can it make amazing decisions by using it five senses, but it also has a free will.  That, my friend, describes us.  I think the science fiction writers are already all over this concept.

Now imagine the creative designer’s intent is to create a being not only capable of free will, but also capable of love and hate for both other created beings and capable of love and hate for the creator.  The creator also wants to create a being that will act as a companion and friend of the creator.

This kind of creation would certainly need to be carefully designed, constructed and tested for quality control.  What would be the biggest obstacle for the creator with this type of design?  I think this is how He deals with a very intelligent creation that has a free will.

Since the creation has a sophisticated mind and a free will, the creation must be convinced of the love of the Creator for his creation. What better way to prove the creator loves his creation than to suffer and die for His creation?

Imagine a plan that makes the price of forgiveness for exercising his freewill in an inappropriate way (sin), to be the death of the Creator.  What an amazing design impression the creator is imprinting into the mind of His creation.  A plan conceived that could convince the creation to freely choose to love and follow the Creator using his free will. This forgiveness and price to be paid were an essential part of the Creator’s plan for when it was accomplished Jesus/God said, “It is finished,” meaning the creation is forgiven and I have died so they may how much I value them.

This is enough for now.  For a continuation see Part 3 of I No Longer Believe in the God of the Bible.

I welcome your comments.

  • Rinson Drei

    I think you are on to it, Clay. The Passion express in no uncertain terms just how precious each soul is to the Father, and that He did literally whatever it took to unite us to Him.
    Many people mix competing ideas of God, defining Him as a set of abstract, vague principles devoid of personhood o on the one hand: omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent, etc., then judging Him as a person based on these impersonal ideas. But, from Genesis to Revelation, Good continually, without exception, reveals Himself as, first and last, as a Person. Thus we define God in grossly simplistic terms, judge Him by them, and find Him wanting. But we are created in His image, after all, and we can spend a lifetime with someone and never fully know them.
    What if I were to say, Clay Mize is a rational animal. As far as it goes, it is true. Suppose, then, I saw you do something I thought was irrational. Would I deny you? “I no longer believe in Clay Mize.” We are all guilty of writing people out of our lives for failing to live up to a our definition of them. A mature soul should say, “Maybe Clay is more than just a rational animal, and maybe what he had done was rational from his perspective. Either way, Clay is worth knowing.”
    The biblical account of God is messy, incomplete, and seemingly contradictory. This is because it is a record of how thousands of men and women, over scores of generations, interacted with the same Person. The “Rinson” you know from Torah Study is the same Rinson others only remember from high school band camp. And he’s certainly not the Rinson my mother sees! If y’all compared notes, you would find a lot of overlap, but each of you would be surprised, shocked, and disappointed with what you learned. And this grows increasingly true the more the person matters to us.
    If the Father created is in His image, then we are the first people He can interact with on a personal, intimate level. I believe by His image God did not create faded, incomplete copies of Himself, but that each of us is all the height, depth, breadth, etc. of our Father, as capable of creation, love, etc. as He is. If that is the case, then each of us is also as confounding to know as He is. The Cross points to this. Why would He sacrifice His Son for people He valued less than His Son?
    In this way, scripture is also a record of the Father getting to know His children and, just like us as fathers, finding actual children difficult to raise, as opposed to the ideal son or daughter we had in our minds before they were born. But this was what He wanted; though He knew beforehand it would be frustrating, painful, thankless work, he also knew it would, ultimately, be worth everything. I honestly can’t imagine a more perfect, or unconditional, love.

    • Clay Mize

      Great Comment Neal. Love the way you think and express yourself. I love your idea that we are just as confounding to know as He is and that He enjoys getting to know us too. I love that.

  • Rinson Drei

    One additional thought. In most cases I have known, people did not lose their faith as a result of reason, but over a single, very personal issue. These days it often stems from hurts over acceptance/rejection, often to do with sexual morality. A loved one is gay, and they just can’t stomach the idea that such a loving, kind person is excluded from most churches, for example. This leads to the question, “How can a loving God…?”
    The reasoning comes after.

  • Miguel P

    Yes, we can get deep into a discussion defending our faith, and defending God. There is definitely some value in that. In this case, Jesus may have given one of His shatteringly simple answers. I liked your “His ways are higher” reference. That could be all you need to say.

    At some point in our walks of FAITH, that FAITH is tested. God wants to see if we are able to TRUST Him, even in those dark moments, where we are confused and unclear. GOD loves and responds to that TRUST, always! In this moment, Billy could simply say, GOD, I do not fully understand, but I know you are the GOD of the universe, since you demonstrate your power and love and goodness over and over, so I will TRUST you.

    Every moment GOD demonstrates something that contradicts our understanding of Him, is an opportunity to get close to Him and discover something beautiful.

    We have seen these exact moments with our own parents and our own children. We have been on both sides of this. Just meditate on that one thing, Billy and you will have your answers. GOD is a HOLY, LOVING, SUPREME, FATHER.

    • Clay Mize

      Well put and good advice Miguel…thank you for sharing your insight.

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