Honest questions for believers.....

by Paulapollos 52 Replies latest jw friends

  • Paulapollos

    Over the last couple of years, I have done a lot of reading, and rather than answering my questions, it has made me think even more - particularly about God and the Bible.

    When I was kicked out of the WTBTS, it was because of my personal belief in Jesus. I had these strong convictions in the body and blood of Jesus, and the power of Christ living in us. I also thought that the Bible was indeed inspired, but that Jesus was the “word of God”, rather than the Bible. In a sense, I thought clearly that Jesus would always teach me, not about the “truth” but rather, about himself. I would come to KNOW him, and that would be the greatest thing ever.

    However, over the last two years, I have done so much reading, that I have come to have some serious questions about these ideas.

    Take the Bible. Whether you believe in the documentary hypothesis, or the fragmentary hypothesis, or the redaction hypothesis, there is strong evidence that Bible is not inspired. It seems to be a clear compilation of myths, legends, and exaggerated stories. The historical truths it does have seem to have been spun so many times that resemblance to the original events is tenuous. It has political biases, and clear signs of tampering, redaction and addition. So how can it ever be relied upon as a guide to Jesus? Which parts of the Bible are “prophecies pointing to Christ”, rather than prophecies pointing to a deliverer for Israel, from whoever was oppressing them at the time?

    Isaiah and the suffering servant seems to be referring to Israel. Other parts of Isaiah (and other prophets) seem to be written to provide a rationale for the traumatic events of the exile, a sort of religious catharsis by the exiled scribes and priests in Babylon, to try to redefine worship of YHWH, in the light of the catastrophic events of the exile. They seem to be attempting to provide an explanation, some “reason” that God allowed these events to occur. They also seem to be propaganda documents, where the Yahewhist priests attempted to spin this national tragedy into a promotion of their belief system against the other idol cults that Israel was engaged in. In short, it seems far more like a deliberate attempt to shift blame onto the other cults in Israel on that time, while keeping the temple cult alive. Which part of these events, which part of the writings during the exile can then be spoken of as “inspired”? Are they not all cynical attempts to manipulate the fears and doubts of their fellow exiles?

    It seems that other “prophecies” in the Hebrew Bible are clearly misapplied to Jesus by the Christian writers – I’m thinking particularly of Matthew. So how can some Christians, and I’m thinking of some I have read on this forum, say that the parts of the Bible that point to Jesus are inspired, but the others are not? How exactly do they make this judgement? And, even more disturbingly, which parts of the Bible actually point to Jesus?

    Another point that has troubled me is the vicious nature of Jehovah. Who exactly is this “God”? Some people on this forum have said he is a vicious tribal God, yet still state Jesus is the Messiah, and that they are Christians. But I ask – the Messiah of what exactly? I mean, Jesus does not condemn “Jehovah’s” actions, does he? Is Jesus not a fervent worshipper of “Jehovah”? He refers to Sodom and Gomorrah, and Noah’s flood, as real events. Yet, one is a case of mass murder, and the other a case of genocide, all by “Jehovah.” How do Christians square these events with Jesus’ compassion? Jesus did not condemn these events. And if Jesus now says “let us all be peaceful” – why the change? Why has the vicious Jehovah been replaced with the loving Jesus? And more to the point, what right does this vicious God have to give us a moral code?

    Another question I have is the allowance of suffering. I understand that Christians have various answers – God knows, I have thought about it. But if God is simply “gathering the members of the body of Christ”, how long does he have to wait, and how many are “enough” before he steps in? I mean, how many women need to be raped, and how many children need to die of starvation, before he thinks “that’s enough”? Seriously?

    I have many other questions, but I’ll save them for another time. These are all sincere questions, and I’d really appreciate it if some Christians, particularly those who, like I used to, say they have a personal relationship with Christ and believe in the blood and the body of Christ, could answer them. I’m genuinely asking these questions.


  • wobble

    Good to see you posting Paulapollos, and such searching questions too ! Good luck with getting satisfactory answers.

    Just to take one, the question of Evil, the Archbishop of Canterbury dismissed this the other day, with the haughty remark that "this question has been answered", (or words to that effect) but I have never seen an answer that made sense.

    If a Theologian of his standing has to dodge the question, as I say, good luck with getting good answers.

  • cantleave

    Paulapollos, the more I read the more I conclude there is no God, religion is a construct and that science is where we will eventually get some the answers.

    I also concluded that there is no point spending life wondering why I am here, but to accept that I am here, so make the most of it, by enjoying life and doing what I can, within my sphere of influence, to help others to enjoy it too.

  • Paulapollos

    Thanks Wobble,

    I'm hoping that believers will simply engage and discuss my questions, rather than dismiss them out of hand. I would be stunned if Christians haven't thought about these things.


    I think you speak a lot of wisdom, and in some ways I agree. But I can't help but wonder if people have thought about these issues, and yet have retained religious belief, and why. I agree, life really too short in some ways to spend so long wondering why, that it finishes before you had a chance to live it.


  • Rocky_Girl

    I am a believer in God, but not a Christian.

    I have come to believe that the bible is, indeed, a collection of literature - poetry, myth, tradition. It has a lot of insight on the human capacity for love, hate, violence, peace, tolerance, and intolerance. If you read the bible as if you were reading a novel or book of poetry, you can gain some of this insight. I look at each story and ask myself why - why would someone write this? why are the characters acting this way? why does the author portray God this way? I can usually find a nugget of wisdom in each one.

    You will probably receive answers to the questions that you pose that will wind you through scripture and tradition - forcing your mind into a theological pretzel - but once you begin to question how scripture is applied, it is hard to accept apologetic answers.

    You can believe in God without believing that the bible was specially written by His direction, or without proof that He exists. Or, you can choose not to believe in Him and you may be right! In any case, remember that your opinion on these matters are as valid as anyone else's. Go with what makes sense to you. Trust your own intuition.

  • tenyearsafter


    I posted the following in another thread:

    I think the key to deciding on a spiritual path is to first acknowledge that there is NO PERFECT CHURCH! I know this may seem a bit simplistic, but the reality for ex-JW's is that we have always lived in a world of absolutes while in the WTS. This mindset makes it VERY difficult to even consider associating with another religion because it will automatically cause a mental conflict with the absolutes of belief that we lived under as JW's. As LWT mentions, most churches do not require absolute adherence to church dogma...there is no one policing of your thoughts or bringing you up before a judicial body for judgement. The key point taught in Christian churches, as an example, is the need for a personal relationship with Jesus and a fellowship with other believers. Beyond that, people take many other paths within the church. As Talesin points out, you may want to voluteer your time in some type of service to others...or you may want to work as lay teacher. Nothing is carved in stone.

    If we are looking for perfection in this world, we will never find it, be it in the WTS, other churches or in non-religious pursuits. Life is limited by the imperfection of man...as long as we accept that, it makes other choices both easier to make and accept.

    I too have struggled with some of the questions you are wrestling with. My wife really brought clarity to me on the subject when she pointed out that we live in an imperfect world, and as a result we will NEVER find the perfect church, organization or philosophy. Thus it becomes a search for the ideal place for you to pursue your spiritual path. If you are a believer in Jesus and the Bible, find a church that allows you to ask questions, think for yourself and avoid high control organizations. Many on this Board have embraced atheism or a form of agnosticism...I still choose to believe in God, but I can understand how others can't as a result of the intolerant and high control tactics they were subjected to while JW's.

    I wish you well in your search...the best advice I can give is to follow your heart.

  • Paulapollos


    thanks for your reply. Forgive my ignorance, but you seem to be saying that you do not have the Bible as a basis for your beliefs. I presume you don't have any other book either? If so, can I ask you, why do you believe in God? What has prompted you to? Do you feel that there is no need to have any "objective" proof for belief in God? I am genuinely interested, because you seem to have a fairly post-modern approach to the question of God, values, and the way we live our lives, and I'm intrigued.

    Forgive me if these questions are too personal, just ignore them if they are. As for the other believers, I'm looking forward to reading their replies.


  • snowbird

    PaulApollos, I am a believer in the God of the Bible, and, yes, I wrestle with those questions.

    I believe the Bible contains God's Message, but has been seriously compromised by Man.

    Perhaps that is why we're told that we have to search for God?

    After careful and prayerful research, I've come to the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth is Jehovah of the Old Testament.

    Reading the Book of Jasher has helped me to see why He had to fight fire with fire in defense of His people.

    There is a plethora of information out there, just waiting for us to digest and draw our own conclusions.

    Happy hunting!



  • Paulapollos

    Hi TenyearsAfter,

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I would agree with you, that if you are a believer, then it is probably a good thing if you find a religion very different to the WT.

    However, and please don’t think I’m being rude because that isn’t my intention, but my questions are more focused on the “factual” side. It was interesting to note you said “I can understand how others can't [believe in God] as a result of the intolerant and high control tactics they were subjected to while JW's.”

    I’m sure this is not how you are using it, but some believers I have spoken to use that as a sort-of cliché – “the WT turns people into atheists”. But my questions have nothing to do with people’s experiences in the WT. They are more fundamental than that. I suppose what I am asking is:

    How can believers maintain faith in the Bible, when so much of scholarship casts doubt on the claims the Bible makes about itself? How do they account for the parts of the Bible that have clearly been redacted, revised, and manipulated for contemporary political and psychological reasons? If the Bible is the book which points them to Jesus, surely it matters if it is reliable or not?

    How do some believers (on this forum) say that only parts of the Bible are inspired, but others are not – and how do they determine which is which? Is this done on the basis of some personal relationship with Jesus, who tells them what is to be trusted, and is not to be trusted?

    What prophecies in the Bible can be clearly shown to point to Jesus Christ?

    What accounts for the acts of Jehovah, the vicious, bigoted acts? Why did Jesus have such a different personality? And how is it that he did not condemn the actions of Jehovah?

    Why has Jesus, who is gathering the “body of Christ”, waited so long to “return”?

    I’m asking these questions of believers, because I too said I had a personal relationship with Jesus, and had faith in the body and the blood. And I really want to know – after all it’s important. Either there is a God, or there isn’t. Either the Bible is totally reliable or it isn’t. Either Jesus is Lord, or he isn’t. I'd like to ask believers these questions. Truth matters. As far as I know, two contradictory “truths” cannot be both “true”.


  • undercover
    I am a believer in the God of the Bible

    Congratulations. The first step in solving your problem is to admit that you have a problem...

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