My Advice To My
"A.O.G. Ministerial Student" Nephew
PS: Where, if not in the Bible, do you look for truth? Please write back.
First of all, are you sure you are right in trusting that the Bible contains Truth?
I know, I know, I know all the pat answers. I know the Bible. I studied it for at least half an hour every day for 25 years. I have read it cover to cover many times. Two of my sons (your cousins) have degrees (worthless) in theology. I had a very impressive library of many books explaining the Bible. I have used the Bible to give Sermonettes etc. etc.....
I was told it was God's word. I was told that it had no contradictions. In fact, I am able to show you the contradictions and explain how they really aren't contradictions at all. You see, all you have to do is look at the original Greek or Hebrew.....blah, blah, blah.......
But when you look into it, there is more wrong with the Bible than just some little contradictions. There is very credible evidence (to me, at least) that this book has been assembled by men and then used as the ultimate tool to manipulate and control people by playing upon man's deepest fears and superstitions.
But, lets approach this from another angle.
There is a big difference between "religion" and belief in God.
If God wanted to communicate with us and the Bible was His means, then, I would have to say that He is, at least, incompetent. If our salvation rests on a book that is so confusing and contradicting and needs so much explaining then God must not want too many people in his kingdom or whatever afterlife there may be. Is it our fault if He doesn't want to communicate clearly with us?
Is God so weak that he needs you or anyone else to go around the world preaching some message that, if the person does not hear it, he will be, at least, condemned to eternal death, if not punishment? I want no part of such a God.
It is a matter of faith that people believe the Bible is God's word. There is no evidence that it is. I do agree that it is a "religious" book. One thing that the Worldwide Church of God taught that I still do accept is that "if you can prove one part of the Bible is untrue then you can't believe any of it." I have found many things untrue about the Bible. I will not put my faith in something that is flawed.
Since I can plainly see that the Bible is flawed, how could I then know what is in it that I can believe? You could pick and chose whatever you wanted to believe. This is how we have so many "Christian" churches, all believing completely different things and each believing that they alone have the keys to the Kingdom. And, hehehehe, getting it all out of the Bible!
I look on the Bible as just one more tool of men who use God to use men. The church stands on the Bible but the Bible is insupportable without the church. They hold each other up. They also both fall together.
Religion has been all about control and power from the beginning of mankind. Who had the power in the ancient times? The medicine man, the shaman, the priest. They had the power of the afterlife. A very scary person. This fact has not been lost on those who want to control people and have money and power down through the ages and up to this day. Just because certain religions have been very successful in propagating their message and beliefs to basically ignorant people, does not mean that they are from God. Most Christians don't even read the Bible. They don't know who wrote it or what is in it. Yet they believe it is God's word. They allow certain religious leaders, who they think they can trust, to tell them what they are supposed to believe out of this book. These leaders can be just as ignorant or brainwashed as the people they are leading. The blind following the blind. Different leaders jerking you around telling you that you have to do thus and such or God will not like you. That you have to say the magic words or be lost forever. And people believe them without questioning the source of these beliefs.
Because of religion, more human beings have been murdered, tortured, maimed, denigrated, discriminated against, humiliated, hated and scorned than for any other reason in the totality of the history of man.
You should see the hate mail that I get from people because I expose a man they believe was from God. One guy wants to kill me. All in the name of religion.
I believe that God is bigger than man-made religions. God worked with me before I joined Worldwide Church of God, He worked with me while I was in it, He continues to work with me today. God doesn't need "religions." Men do. At least, some men do. And church "leaders", are more than willing to take advantage of that "need" to line their wallets and gain a following and feel real important.
I would think that God is very sad at what goes on in His name.
We are not ignorant, uneducated people. We can investigate. We can reason. We can read. Read! Read! Read! And not just the propaganda put out by one particular belief.
Once again, here are just a few of the books you can read if you want to educate yourself about the Bible:
"The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You to Read"
by Tim C. Leedom; 446 pages.
"Who wrote the New Testament?" by Burton L. Mack
"Who wrote the Bible?" by Richard Elliott Friedman
All available from Amazon.com or you can order them at a local bookstore.
In fact, I would be willing to loan you my copies for a limited amount of time, if you would indeed read them.
If you are searching for Truth, this is where you should start.
And especially if you are going to become a minister!
Don't just parrot the pat answers that your church teaches. Question, question, question. Don't believe anything just because someone else tells you it is true. Don't trust anybody. Don't put your trust in men. The people you trust could be just as deceived or misled as anyone. I think you are a very likable person. That doesn't mean I will accept everything you say to me. You may believe it with all your heart, but be completely wrong. Just because a person is convinced doesn't mean he is correct. So don't accept anything without proof.
Don't just read the answers to the critics; read what the critics say too.
I look at it this way:
Either only one religion is correct or they are all wrong (because they all believe something different).
Only one church is correct in that religion (because they all believe something different).
Only one person in that church is correct (because no two people believe exactly the same).
OR.... Nobody is right and we're all wrong and there is no hope for any of us.
OR.... Nobody is right and religion doesn't matter to God.
I subscribe to the last proposition.
When you start looking for truth, it will take you a lifetime to find it. And none of us are really going to know what it is until we are dead. Watch the movie "Contact". It has an interesting theory that "God" is much bigger than anything we could ever imagine. I find it much more appealing than the petty, bickering of manmade religions.
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