The Logic of Love: Why God became Jesus

I want to talk to you about a subject that is near and dear to my heart. It is also at the heart Christian belief.

Though it is delivered in the form of an article, you can think of it as my personal testimony.

Why am I a Christian? Given that I think of myself as a reasonably scientific and rational person, how can I possibly believe that a historical, flesh-and-blood human being named Jesus actually was God with us (Matthew 1:23)? How can any logical, rational, and scientific person believe such an illogical, unscientific, and preposterous thing?

The answer lies in a higher logic: the logic of love. In a previous article, I said that “God is Love . . . And That Makes All the Difference in the World.” Believing that God became Jesus, who is God with us, flows logically from the simple statement, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).

But before we flesh that out, let’s look at things from the perspective of the skeptics.

The unscientific idea of God

From a skeptical perspective the first question is, “How could any rational, scientific person believe in God?”

There is not a shred of scientific evidence for the existence of God. You can’t see God with your eyes or hear God with your ears. You can’t smell, taste, or touch God. Based on the physical senses, there is no good reason to believe that there is any such thing as God.

Science deals with things that can be perceived with the physical senses, either directly or through various extensions such as microscopes and telescopes. And since God is generally posited as a non-material being, this means that God is beyond the scope of science.

Therefore materialists of all stripes deny that there is a God.

The rallying cry of atheists and skeptics everywhere is, “Where is the evidence of God?” Without evidence, they say—scientific evidence, evidence that can be perceived with the physical senses—it is baseless and irrational to believe in God.

The crazy idea of Jesus

Many skeptics and atheists have a general disdain for people who believe in God. They think of religious people as ignorant and unsophisticated, or at least as blind and stupid when it comes to their religious beliefs.

However, they often have a special disdain for Christians.

Why?

Because not only do Christians believe that there is some imaginary God in the sky, they actually believe all those fables in the Bible about a virgin birth, and some old guy named Jesus being God.

Obviously that is the craziest and most irrational idea ever. It goes against every principle of biology and genetics. If the idea of God has no evidence to support it, the idea that Jesus was God, born of a virgin courtesy of the Holy Spirit, is just plain loopy.

Clearly, anyone who believes in such silly, unscientific fairy tales must have a few screws loose.

The literature is full of satire and attack against the crazy, unscientific, childish, and naïve notion that Jesus is God. There’s no need for me to detail the many scandalous (to Christians) suggestions about how Mary really got pregnant, and so on. I’m sure you’ve run into them yourself by now. The more hard core of the skeptics and atheists are not shy when it comes to expressing their scorn and derision for the central belief of Christianity.

Evidence for God?

This is not the time or place to mount a full-scale defense of the existence of God. For one thing, since you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you already believe in God, and there’s no need for me to convince you.

However, here’s the short version:

There is plenty of evidence for the existence of God. It’s just that none of it is scientific evidence. Though the evidence for God may come to us by way of our physical senses, the evidence itself is not physical. Since God is non-material, we should expect that the evidence for God would come through non-material channels.

And that is exactly what we find.

Throughout history, in every culture and region around the world, God has reached out to the minds of many people, who have, in turn, provided both oral and written testimony to the existence and reality of God and spirit. That testimony is then passed down through the generations.

The world is awash in testimony to the existence of God. It comes in the many sacred texts of humanity, each of which records the ways in which God has touched humans on earth from within. Surrounding those sacred texts is a vast literature of spiritual experience and interpretation, as well as religious instruction and practical guides to spiritual living. In the West, the very first substantial book to be printed with movable type was the Bible. And if the entire body of religious literature, including books, sermons, and articles, were put together, it would be a healthy percentage of the total literary output of humankind.

If anything, when it comes to knowledge and information about God and spirit we have an embarrassment of riches. How do we sort it all out?

For anyone who wishes to believe in God, and is willing to accept sources of information other than the physical senses, there is a massive amount of evidence for the existence of God distributed throughout all the peoples and cultures of the world. True, none of it is scientific evidence. But all of it is human evidence.

It would be more realistic to say that the issue is not whether there’s evidence. It’s what sort of evidence we are willing to accept.

  • If we are willing to accept only the evidence of the physical senses, we will most likely reject the idea of God and become atheists.
  • But if we are willing to accept evidence that comes from within, from the realm of human experience in the mind and heart, we will find plenty of reason to believe in God and spirit.

What about Jesus?

All of that may be well and good.

But even if there is such a vast amount of human literature and experience pointing to the existence of God, how could we possibly believe that God actually became human in the person of Jesus Christ? After all, many religions believe in God, but only one religion, Christianity, believes that Jesus Christ is the unique human expression of God.

How can we make that leap from a Creator God above all things to Jesus Christ, a human being, as God living among us? Even if we do believe in God, isn’t believing in Jesus as God still illogical and irrational? Can we really believe that stuff about a virgin birth? After all, there have been stories of virgin births in other religions and cultures as well. And even Christians don’t accept those virgin births as anything more than myths.

Why should we accept that in the case of Jesus, it really happened?

Spectacular real virgin births!

Strange but true: virgin births occur in nature quite regularly. As detailed in a recent BBC article, “Spectacular real virgin births,” it is now well-established, both scientifically and from common experience, that the females of many species of animals have the ability to reproduce asexually, without the benefit of a male.

Granted, this capability seems to be limited to non-mammals such as reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds. However, in 2004 scientists successfully produced genetically engineered mice that could produce baby mice by parthenogenesis, or virgin birth. And not only that, their babies could have babies, too.

So perhaps a human virgin birth isn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility even from a scientific point of view.

But it still strains credulity. Humans are a lot more complex than mice. And how could such a far-fetched idea be central to one of the major religions of humanity? Isn’t that still pretty illogical?

The logic of love

The answer lies in a higher form of logic: the logic of love.

If, as the Bible says, God is love, and if, as Christians believe, God is all-powerful, and if, as the famous verse from the Gospel of John says, “God so loved the world . . .” (John 3:16), doesn’t that throw a whole new light on the subject?

The Bible says, “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). If there is something God wants to do out of infinite, tender love for humanity, won’t God find—or make—a way to do it?

What would you do?

Let’s put it in terms of a human example. Put yourself in this situation:

You are the parent of a twelve-year-old boy. Naturally, you love him, and you want the best for him.

Unfortunately, he’s recently attached himself to the neighborhood bully. That kid is a couple years older than your son, so your son looks up to him. The older boy walks around the neighborhood with a swagger. Everyone is afraid of him and keeps out of his way. To your son’s pre-adolescent mind, he looks like the coolest kid around.

You’ve warned your son about him. “He’s no good,” you’ve told him. “He’ll just get you into trouble,” you’ve said. “And if you ever cross him, he’ll turn on you, too.”

But your son won’t listen. And he is starting to get in trouble. It’s breaking your heart.

One day you hear some shouting in your back yard. You look out the window and see your son flat on his back with the bully kid on top of him, punching out his lights. You see your son’s head jerking back and forth with each punch, and blood all over his face.

What do you do next?

Do you let the bully beat your son senseless to teach him a lesson?

Do you yell out the window and tell the bully to stop?

Do you call 911 and wait for the police to arrive?

No.

I’ll tell you what you’ll do.

You’ll race out to the back yard, drag that kid off your son by the nape of his neck, and if he’s lucky and you’re not totally steamed, he’ll get away with dire threats of what you’ll do to him if he ever so much as touches a hair of your son’s head again.

Then you’ll take your son inside, clean him up, and tend to his wounds. And you might even tell him you love him.

That’s what any good parent would do.

God, our loving parent

According to the Bible, God is the ultimate parent. God created us. God loves us deeply. God wants the best for us eternally.

So wouldn’t God be at least as good a parent as we are?

Two thousand years ago, when God looked out of the window into the ol’ back yard here on earth, what did God see?

God saw a world in the grip of the ultimate bully. The Bible calls that bully “the Devil.” What that really means is the full force of human evil, which we also call “hell.”

What God saw was a world in the grip of evil. Violence covered the earth. Nations and empires arose and oppressed the people. Human life was cheap and expendable. People were dying like flies. Life was short and brutish—and it was getting worse, not better. Kings oppressed men, men oppressed women, men and women oppressed children.

In short, the world of human society was lying flat on its back, getting its lights punched out by the vast bully of the combined force of human selfishness, greed, and grasping for wealth and power.

God had warned us about this many times. God had sent priests and prophets to teach us, to preach to us about how foolish and dangerous a course we were on.

But we wouldn’t listen.

And now we were flat on our back, pinned down under the weight of all that evil and oppression, having our life, both physical and spiritual, squeezed and pounded out of us.

If you were God, what would you do?

Why God became Jesus

That’s why God became Jesus.

It wasn’t because God was angry at us or desired to punish us for our sins. No, it was because God so loved us that God could not bear to stand by and watch from heaven as we were bloodied and broken in body and spirit.

God had to come to us. God had to come personally to face evil, the Devil, and hell straight on. God had to pull that bully off of us—God’s beloved child—and send hell packing with its tail between its legs. And then God had to carry us home, clean us up, tend to our wounds, and bring us back to life and health, both physically and spiritually.

So yes, from the perspective of skeptical materialism, the idea that God became Jesus is the most unscientific, irrational, and illogical idea ever.

But God is not bound by our human, materialistic logic.

God follows a higher logic.

God’s logic is the logic of love.

That’s why I believe and know in my heart that God became Jesus. The logic of love says that a God who loves us as an infinitely loving parent could do nothing else.

For further reading:

About

Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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33 comments on “The Logic of Love: Why God became Jesus
  1. Walt Childs says:

    Excellent article, Lee, very well written and makes perfect sense.

  2. Paul Hierholzer says:

    The Incarnation, more than any other event in Christianity, holds a deeply personal, meaningful, and real place within. I dare say, it is even more personally meaningful than His crucifixion (whilst fundamentalists hiss and scream Heresy!!!) I suppose this is so because of a genuine “rebirth experience” many years ago in John’s gospel at a time when I was earnestly searching for God in “all the wrong places.” Jesus reached out and pulled me to Him through John’s gospel. Aside from that, I suppose birth and incarnation are much easier to meditate on than death and torture.

    Yes Lee. Christianity has been so screwed with through the ages that it has become inaccessible to so many people. His basic message of love has been tortured and transformed into something unrecognizable, as He was. It’s sad.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your testimony, and for your thoughts, which I very much agree with. Restoring the real Christianity, and the real Jesus, to this world is a mission dear to my heart. It saddens me greatly to see God pictured as angry, condemning, punishing, and requiring blood to satisfy his wrath, when the truth is just the opposite. Still, people see God as they need to see God at their particular place on their spiritual journey. As people’s hearts are softened and warmed by the stronger presence of God in the world, I believe those old, harsh theologies will gradually fall away, and be replaced by a knowledge and experience of the true, infinitely loving nature of the Lord our God.

  3. Paul Hierholzer says:

    Amen.

  4. Donna Newby says:

    Hello Lee, You say “That’s why I believe and know in my heart that God became Jesus.”.

    The Bible makes it clear that Jesus was not created. It was God, then Jesus was made, or God turned into Jesus. Saying that “God became Jesus” makes it sound as if there is only one ‘being’ who has changed Himself from one ‘thing’ to another, not that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit exists at the same time as one.

    In the Bible (John 1:1-3) it says… “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made: without him nothing was made that has been made.”

    It says a little later in the chapter…(John 1:14)…”The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”. We know that Jesus is the Word. So the Word became flesh, meaning that Jesus changed into flesh; which is different from saying that God became Jesus. God did not become Jesus, jesus just became flesh. God was still God and the Holy Spirit was still the Holy Spirit.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      I am aware that Catholic and Protestant doctrine holds that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existed from eternity, and that the Son was “born from eternity.” However, those beliefs are based on various Christian councils, starting with the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, and not on the Bible itself. In the Bible itself, there is absolutely no support for a Son born from eternity, nor for a Holy Spirit from eternity.

      The language I used in this article, that “God became Jesus,” draws directly on the passage you quote from John 1:14, which says “the Word became flesh.” So I am saying the same thing that the Bible says. The Word was not only with God, but “the Word was God.” So when the Word became flesh, that is the same thing as God becoming Jesus. Jesus, the Son, is the Word made flesh.

      There was also no Holy Spirit from eternity. The Holy Spirit came into being with Jesus. The Bible says, “But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet; because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). The word “given” (after “yet”), which is put in italics in the King James Version, is not in the Greek manuscript–though some manuscripts do read differently. This passage links the Holy Spirit to the glorification of Jesus. Before that point, the Holy Spirit, though it began to be present with the conception of Jesus, had not fully come into its own, and was not yet present in the world.

      The idea that there was a trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit before the birth of Jesus has no support in the Bible. Instead, the Bible says that the Word became flesh, and lived among us. That is why I say that God became Jesus. It is straight out of the Bible, not from the human councils and creeds that invented the non-Biblical doctrine of a trinity of persons from eternity.

      For more on God and the Trinity, please see my article “Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?

      For a historical and Biblical view, see: “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

    • Lee says:

      Hi Donna,

      About your other recent comment, I have deleted it. For the reason why, please see our Comments Policy. If you have sincere questions about my beliefs and their Biblical basis, I will be happy to answer them.

  5. David Gray says:

    Hi Lee,

    I really like what you wrote here about scientific versus historical evidence. One of my skeptical friends is frequently saying “There is no evidence for God” when what he is really saying is “There is no *scientific* evidence for God.” I think I need to get him to realize that historical testimony IS evidence. It may not be conclusive proof, but one cannot say that there is NO evidence.

    I also appreciate your bully analogy for understanding the Christus Victor view of atonement. I’m still a bit confused on how Jesus’s life and death saved us from the powers of evil, but I will have to do more reading.

    How does Swedenborg deal with John 3:36? It is true that John 3:16 talks about how God sent his Son because He loves us, but John 3:36 says that God’s wrath remains on anyone who does not believe in the Son. I’m guessing you would dispute the translation of this phrase from the original Greek?

    David

    • Lee says:

      Hi David,

      Yes, these days many people equate “evidence” with “scientific evidence,” as if science is the sole method for obtaining any kind of reliable knowledge. And yet, much of our knowledge comes from other sources besides science.

      About Jesus saving us from the power of evil, it’s necessary to understand that most of what he accomplished while on earth was invisible to us. He was fighting spiritual battles within himself against evil and hell. In the Gospels we get only brief glimpses of these battles, such as his temptation in the desert after his baptism and his temptation in Gethsemane before his crucifixion.

      Humanity had become so mired in evil in the times leading up to the Incarnation that it was threatening to overwhelm us spiritually, and take away our freedom to choose God and goodness. This is exemplified in the Gospels by the many demon-possessed people out of whom Jesus cast demons. Evil had become so powerful in the spiritual world that even innocent people were being overwhelmed, and no human being could overcome that great buildup of spiritual evil.

      By fighting against it with divine power throughout his entire life, Jesus brought evil, hell, and the Devil (which are really just different words for the same thing) under control, and restored the balance between good and evil so that all people would once again be free to choose the good over the evil during their lifetimes on earth.

      I don’t know if this is precisely the Christus Victor view, but I believe Swedenborg’s teachings about salvation are at least fairly compatible with Christus Victor.

    • Lee says:

      Hi David,

      About John 3:36, Swedenborg quotes it many times to illustrate that Christians should believe in Jesus Christ, who is their God, and that if they don’t, they can’t go to heaven. Non-Christians, he says, must believe in God as their religion teaches them about God. And if they do, his general teaching is that after death they will be taught that the Lord (Jesus) is God, and they will accept the Lord then. This does not seem to be a hard-and-fast rule though, since Swedenborg does describe some low-level heavens in which the inhabitants don’t worship Jesus directly as God.

      About the wrath of God, Swedenborg has several teachings. They all depend on understanding that the Bible is written to reach fallen human beings, which often means speaking in human terms and even human appearances.

      The wrath of God is one of those human appearances.

      First, some people at low levels of spiritual development need to believe that God is angry with them and will punish them if they do wrong. This very literal fear of God is a powerful motivator for low-level materialistic and self-centered people to desist from doing evil things, and do good instead. They’re afraid that if they do the things they crave to do but that are forbidden by God, God will punish them with disaster either here on earth or in the afterlife, or both. So God lets them believe in a literal “wrath of God” to induce them to “cease to do evil and learn to do well” (Isaiah 1:16-17).

      Related to this, Swedenborg also mentions several times that for some people who are attracted to evil things and impressed by the seeming power of evil, if they didn’t believe God did evil things such as slaughtering his enemies, they would think of God as a weak God, and would neither respect nor listen to God.

      Looking deeper, Swedenborg speaks of the “wrath of God” as the way God looks to those who are themselves angry at God and in opposition to God because they see God as someone who condemns their evil actions and destroys their pleasures by punishing them when they do evil. The reality, though, is that the evil itself is what brings the punishment upon them. Isaiah 55:1-2 says:

      See, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save,
      nor his ear too dull to hear.
      Rather, your iniquities have been barriers
      between you and your God,
      and your sins have hidden his face from you

      so that he does not hear. (italics added)

      Or put very simply:

      Evil brings death to the wicked. (Psalm 34:21)

      However, evil people think that their evil is good, so when they receive the inevitable pain and punishment, they get angry at God, and see their pain and punishment as “the wrath of God.”

      Looking even deeper, “the wrath of God” is the effect of God’s love on those who are opposed to it. Love nullifies anger, hatred, evil, selfishness, and greed. So to an evil person, whose life is all about those thingts, love looks like a terrible, destructive power. The example I like to use is that for a snowman, the warmth of the sun is a terrible, destructive power. And yet, that warmth is what gives us life.

      To pull it all together, “the wrath of God” is what those who have set themselves in opposition to God by living evil lives, and clinging to false beliefs that justify their evil, feel when they are in the presence of God’s love. To them God looks like an angry, wrathful, and destructive being. But in fact, it is their own evil motives and actions that brings destruction upon themselves.

      I hope this helps.

      • Richard Neer says:

        Hi Lee,

        Pertaining to “the wrath of God” being only that which we perceive and bring upon ourselves through our own thoughts and behaviors, how does this translate into the biblical references of God’s wrath, particularly those of Egypt’s supposed ten plagues which occurred seemingly on-demand due to God being angry with the pharaoh in the stories of Moses and the Israelites?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rich,

          Good question! But I’m going to hold off on answering it for now because I’ve received a spiritual conundrum on this very subject, and plan to write and post a response to it this month. Don’t miss our next exciting episode! (Or the one after that . . . .)

          Meanwhile, here’s a teaser:

          The Bible is written according to the spiritual state of the human cultures in which it was written. Many things in the Bible are expressed in the way they appeared to the human beings who received the revelation rather than how they truly are from the perspective of God and the angels.

  6. Mark says:

    Hi Lee, I’m glad I stumbled on your website. Very interesting stuff! I found it through Garret’s YT channel, JourneyOfDesire, which I also find to be quite compelling. I’ve watched probably 1,000 or so NDE’s myself over the past several years.

    I have a question. You say that God came to earth (as Jesus) to directly confront the “evil” being perpetrated by man. That makes sense to me. But what about the “stories” in the Bible, where it is God, himself, who is the one perpetrating brutal acts upon us, his beloved children? What do you make of that? Like sending 2 she bears to maul 42 children for mere name-calling? Or drowning every man, woman and child on the planet, save one family, to hopefully build a new, more noble society of people (which doesn’t seem to have worked, anyway). Or ordering his precious children, whom he supposedly loves, to execute one another for a wide variety of offenses, some rather trivial.

    Apparently Jesus was also horrified by these capital punishment practices of the day and endeavored to stop them with his admonition: “He is without sin; cast the first stone.” I would be even more impressed if he would have said something along the lines of: “And I want you all to stop this barbarism immediately. All this killing in my father’s name was a tragic mistake. Stop killing your friends, neighbors and even family members because my father and I are only about love, not viciousness and bloodshed. The Scriptures are wrong on this! So we do not want you to do this any more. As I told you, I want you to learn to love everyone, even your enemies.”

    So do you think all of this wrath of God stuff in the Scriptures is basically the fear-driven fantasies of ancient, “primitive” peoples? That’s what it seems like to me. Thanks, Lee.

  7. Özcan says:

    Hi Lee,

    Just wondering, why do you believe that the Bible was sent by God – is it just blind faith?

    What if God never sent any “revelation” and that people made them up? Wouldn’t this be an insult to God? We are attributing many absurdities and evil things to God because they are written in some “holy book” like the Bible and the Qur’an. Perhaps one day God will punish us for lying about Him and deceiving people.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Özcan,

      Thanks for your comment. I believe that the Bible, and other holy books, were sent by God because we humans have largely closed off our spiritual minds, and we therefore need externalized, written sources of spiritual understanding and inspiration in order to guide us toward God and spirit.

      Yes, there’s a lot of stuff in these holy books that we know not to be true historically and scientifically. And there’s a lot of material that represents a rather crude and old-fashioned conception of morality and human life.

      However, God must speak to us in language that we’ll understand. And God must speak not only to the great philosophers and mystics, but to ordinary, earth-bound, materialistic, self-centered human beings—who seem to make up the majority of the earth’s population even today, let alone many centuries ago when most of our holy books were originally composed and written.

      So although these books may seem outdated and in some ways even absurd to educated people today, they were written that way in order to reach people of all types, both educated and uneducated, both spiritual and materialistic.

      If you were tasked with writing a book explaining nuclear physics to everyone from Maori tribesmen to MIT physicists, and everything in between, how would you go about doing it? That task would be child’s play compared to God’s task in reaching the massive variety of humans on this earth with a message about God, spirit, and the purpose of our life here on earth.

      I could go on, but instead I’ll refer you to a few articles that might be helpful:

      If, after reading these articles, you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

      • Richard Neer says:

        The answer is, simply, “42”. ;-p

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rich,

          Well, thanks . . . I think.

          Let me know when you get back, and say hi to Zaphod Beeblebrox for me while you’re out there.

          Happy Hitchhiking!

        • Richard Neer says:

          Hahaha! Actually, I think the concept of infinite improbability might be one you could use to your advantage if applied properly toward helping rationalize, to those of us who are struggling over-thinkers, that which is ineffable … 🙂

      • Özcan says:

        Hi Lee,

        Thank you for your response, that does make sense to me. Your understanding of religion would never harm society and wouldn’t cause divisions and hatred among people of different religions. I’m not sure whether God sent any revelation, but I don’t think it’s that important to be honest… Because He gave us a conscience and reason, which I think can solve all our problems if we use them sincerely and correctly….

        I agree with Dalai Lama;

        “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

        – Dalai Lama

        • Lee says:

          Hi Özcan,

          That’s a very good definition of religion. It’s the same thing Jesus was getting at when he said that all the Law and the Prophets depend upon loving God above all, and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). Swedenborg, too, said, “All religion relates to life, and the life of religion is to do good” (Doctrine of Life #1).

  8. Özcan says:

    Hi Lee,

    I apologize, I forgot to add one more thing that you might find interesting.

    Al-Razi, a famous medieval Iranian polymath harshly criticized religions.

    He asked :

    “On what ground do you deem it necessary that God should single out certain individuals [by giving them prophecy], that he should set them up above other people, that he should appoint them to be the people’s guides, and make people dependent upon them?”

    Concerning the link between violence and religion, Razi expressed that God must have known, considering the many disagreements between different religions, that “there would be a universal disaster and they would perish in the mutual hostilities and fighting. Indeed, many people have perished in this way, as we can see.”

    Isn’t this a valid criticism of religion? Interestingly, this was said centuries before the European enlightenment… maybe even more interesting is that he wasn’t killed..

    • Lee says:

      Hi Özcan,

      Islam hasn’t always been as harsh and fundamentalist as much of it is today. For several centuries while the Christian world was mired in the Dark Ages, there was a great flourishing of scholarship and knowledge in the Islamic world (see: Islamic Golden Age at Wikipedia). Al-Razi lived during that time period, which may explain why he wasn’t executed.

      But to these statements of his, and your question about them:

      Although it may not be good for people to become dependent upon certain individuals, the reality is that some individuals are more willing than others to listen to God’s message and guidance and convey it to others. Those who are especially willing become God’s messengers and prophets. In many ways, it’s simply a matter of division of labor. People tend to gravitate toward the type of work they’re best suited for. And for some people, spiritual work is what they’re best suited for. Nothing wrong with that. Most people are too busy doing other things to spend a lot of time studying the Scriptures and listening for God’s voice. Having some people in society who focus on that and provide spiritual guidance and leadership to the rest is, I believe, part of God’s plan. Yes, religious leaders can become corrupt, and mislead and abuse the people. But the fact that something can be corrupted does not mean that it is wrong or evil in itself.

      I do not believe there is any such thing as a “religious war.” Rather, there are wars over power, territory, and wealth in which religion is used as an excuse and a rallying cry. This is a misuse of religion, for sure. But the motives behind the various wars of humankind have to do with money and power, not with religion.

  9. Richard Neer says:

    Hi Özcan,

    This is a very good question and point, given the quoted source and his conviction in presenting the query.

    • Özcan says:

      Hi Richard,

      He also said this about the Qur’an;

      “You claim that the evidentiary miracle is present and available, namely, the Koran. You say: “Whoever denies it, let him produce a similar one.” Indeed, we shall produce a thousand similar, from the works of rhetoricians, eloquent speakers and valiant poets, which are more appropriately phrased and state the issues more succinctly. They convey the meaning better and their rhymed prose is in better meter.

      By God what you say astonishes us! You are talking about a work which recounts ancient myths, and which at the same time is full of contradictions and does not contain any useful information or explanation. Then you say: “Produce something like it?!”

      And about devout Muslims’ behavior, he said;

      “If the people of this religion are asked about the proof for the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill the blood of whoever confronts them with this question. They forbid rational speculation, and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed.”

      He was obviously very intelligent and had high morals….

  10. Ian says:

    Hi Lee,

    Thank you so much for the wonderfully written article. I do have a question for you though – something I’ve been struggling with for quite a while. If god is Jesus incarnate, why did god “have” to become jesus. Why is jesus necessary? If god is jesus, and exists above all, can he not forgive us of our own sins if we come to believe in him and ask for forgiveness?

    Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing your response

    – Ian

    • Lee says:

      Hi Ian,

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

      Your question is an excellent one.

      To understand the answer, you must first rid your mind of a number of false and non-biblical dogmas that have taken hold of the traditional Christian Church—especially Western Christianity—over the past thousand years and more. To help in this process, I recommend that you read my eight part series on “The Faulty Foundations of Faith Alone,” starting here.

      Meanwhile, here is a somewhat shorter version:

      The bulk of Western Christianity now teaches that we are saved because Jesus satisfied God’s justice by dying instead of us (Catholicism) or appeased God’s wrath by paying the penalty for our sins (Protestantism). The idea is that when we have faith in Jesus, this satisfaction and appeasement of God the Father by God the Son is applied to us (“imputed” to us, in traditional theological language), so that God the Father will forgive us instead of sending us to hell.

      There’s only one problem:

      The Bible doesn’t teach any of these things.

      • The Bible never says that Christ’s death satisfied God’s honor or justice or wrath.
      • The Bible never says that Christ paid the penalty for our sins.
      • The Bible never says that Christ’s merit is imputed to us when we believe in him, even though we’re still sinners.
      • The Bible never says that we are saved by faith alone.

      These and many other false doctrines that now pass as “Christian beliefs” were made up by human beings such as Anselm of Canterbury, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin 1,000 to 1,500 years after the Bible was written.

      I invite you to read the Bible for yourself and see if you can find any of these teachings stated there. For over twenty years I’ve been challenging Protestants to do so. And not a single person has ever been able to show me a single verse from the Bible that says any of these things.

      That’s because they’re all false, non-Christian doctrines.

      Jesus did not die to satisfy God’s justice or turn away God’s wrath. Rather, Jesus lived and died to fight a battle against the sum total of human evil—called “the Devil” and “Satan” in the Bible—because we were losing that battle. The power and weight of evil was enslaving us, and we had neither the will nor the strength to resist it. That’s why God himself had to fight the battle for us, win for us, and free us from our slavery to evil.

      For a somewhat longer explanation of this, please see the article, “Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?” starting with the section titled, “What is Redemption?”

      There was no need for Jesus to die so that God could forgive us. God already loves us with a love that passes all understanding, and forgives all of our sins before we even commit them.

      The problem isn’t on God’s side. It’s on our side.

      As long as we continue sinning (living an evil, selfish, greedy, and power-hungry life—or just a lazy, shiftless, useless one), we reject God’s forgiveness. We can’t accept God’s forgiveness when we’re still sinning and don’t even believe we’re doing anything wrong. So as much as God forgives us, it has no effect upon us as long as we continue to live an evil, selfish, and destructive life.

      That’s why the entire Bible, from beginning to end, tells us that in order to be saved, we must repent from our sins and live a good life of love and service to our fellow human beings instead. When we do this, we can finally accept God’s forgiveness because we are no longer actively engaged in an evil and sinful life. No, we’ll never be perfect. (And the Bible never says that God will reject us if we’re not perfect.) But once we’ve turned around and started moving toward God, goodness, and love instead of away from them, we are no longer headed toward hell, destruction, and eternal death.

      That’s why John the Baptist, Jesus, and Jesus’ disciples all preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. In fact, in the Gospel of Luke this is a primary point in Jesus’ final message to his disciples after his resurrection:

      Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:45–47, italics added)

      If all we have to do is believe in Jesus and we are automatically saved and our sins forgiven, why is repentance so important that it is preached and taught throughout the entire Bible as the key to forgiveness of sins?

      Jesus didn’t gain forgiveness for us by satisfying God’s justice or wrath. Rather, he made it possible for us to repent from our sins and live a good life by fighting against and overcoming the power of the Devil (evil in general) that had gotten so strong that we were no longer able to resist its power to drag us down into hell. In other words, by “overcoming the world” (meaning the worldly power of evil), Jesus made it possible for us to repent, believe in God, and turn our lives toward good instead of evil—and in this way accept the love and forgiveness that God is always extending to us.

      And while he was fighting that victorious battle, he also gave us “the words of eternal life,” teaching us about repenting from our sins, loving God above all, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

      There’s a lot more I could say, but I’ll stop here for now. I hope this helps to answer your question. If you have further thoughts or questions, feel free to comment again.

      Meanwhile, Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

  11. Jamesvclaflin says:

    Do you have to earn God’s love? And/or CAN you earn it?

    • Jamesvclaflin says:

      Or does He want us to earn it?

      • Lee says:

        Hi James,

        Good question!

        And the answer is that we neither have to earn God’s love nor can we earn God’s love, because God already loves us fully and infinitely. In fact, there is nothing we can do to make God stop loving us:

        But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:44–45)

        The issue is not earning God’s love. Rather, it is accepting God’s love instead of rejecting it.

        Accepting God’s love means loving other people at least as much as we love ourselves, because that’s what God’s love is like. If we love only ourselves and our own pleasure, possessions, and power, and don’t care about anyone else, we will reject God’s love because what we want is directly opposed to God’s love.

        So no, we don’t have to earn God’s love. But if we want to experience God’s love in our life, we do need to follow the two Great Commandments given by Jesus:

        When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

        He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:34–40

        Of course, we’ll never reach perfection in doing this. But as long as it is our daily intention and effort to actively love God and our fellow human beings, we are accepting God’s love into our heart, mind, and life.

        For a related article, see:
        How do I Love God with my Whole Heart?

  12. gerald lane says:

    Hi Lee I have been reading Swedenborg for 10 years or so and am part way through “Delights of Wisdom…” So far so good. I was a prison visitor for 13 years taking God’s love into the unloveables. One Evening as I was leaving God suddenly said to me “Gerald I do not want you to be my child, I want you to be my lover”. I was shocked and said that it was hard for me to think of Him in that way and would need help to do so. It came I could send you something of what that was. Swedenborg talked about regeneration in a series of steps.I know what they are. Hope to hear from you and I send my love to you and your wife.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Gerald,

      Thanks for stopping by and telling your story. Glad to hear you’re gaining both delight and wisdom from reading Swedenborg. About what God said to you, I doubt that was meant to be taken literally. Probably more like the church being the bride and wife of the Lord in a relationship of mutual love. Though we are always children of God, as adults we can also move into a more mature relationship with God in which we seek to give back to God as much as we can of what God has given to us, largely by showing love to all of the people and other beings God has created all around us. For some of my thoughts on what it means to love God, see:
      How do I Love God with my Whole Heart?

      Meanwhile, Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

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