Been there: " I find this discussion VERY interesting but I confess that I haven't been able to read EVERYTHING because I have a TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE pain in my arm.
Do not take anything I've written in the last seven years or so for granted."
Ed: Thank you Been there, i consider it an exceedingly interesting and important topic as well : ). Also i got diverted and did not remember to get back to your message, so please forgive me this injustice :).
Sorry about your arm and hope and pray that you are healed. : ).
I feel that people are enslaved to the deeply detrimental false teaching of the supposedly perfect bible as propagated by the institutionalized religious system and that anybody who can get free of this institutionalized strong delusion will be immensely blessed and will then be free to actually discern their bible for themselves by the Holy Spirit that lives in them rather than shutting this discernment off by preconceiving its perfection no matter how horrific, petty, inconsistent, confusing or otherwise ridiculous it makes God look.
Unfortunately people believe along with this institutionalized system that in defending the idea of the 100% perfect and God breathed bible that they are being loyal and faithful to God, when in reality it is the exact opposite. In many places the bible is slanderous against God's true character and thus deeply misrepresentative of Him. The sincere servant of the Lord who genuinely seeks His truth apart from institutionalized indoctrination will not simply go along with this counterfeit system in trusting that the many horrific atrocities in the bible ascribed against the infinitely loving Heavenly Father are truly of Him.
If the infinite living God who is the all loving, all knowing and all powerful creator of the entire universe and all life therein actually had written and/or breathed the 66 book bible Himself, it would have been vastly and overwhelmingly superior to what we ended up with and this book would have been dripping with His infinite love and wisdom all throughout every sentence with no exceptions. All we have instead are precious and amazing glimpses of Him throughout the book - most especially but not entirely limited to the words of Lord Jesus - amidst lots of fleshy and otherwise exceedingly disappointing man-breathed words that so deeply misrepresent Him. But in order to see this, the believer in the doctrines of the 100% God breathed, inerrant and infallible bible must first be willing to break free of what the counterfeit system so deeply indoctrinated into them.
When you say do not take anything you have written in the last seven years or so for granted, i believe you are saying that your heart continues to search for truth and that some of your viewpoints have changed over these seven years?
Once the genuine truth seeking follower of Lord Jesus recognizes that the institutionalized church system and various of its popularly propagated and vehemently defended doctrines are not trustworthy, it is a healthy consequence that the individual would ask themselves, "if this was a lie, then in what other ways did this religious system lie to me?". As a result of this honest self reflection, multiple false beliefs would invariably topple. I would recommend to anybody, if you have come to realize that you don't trust that system and/or that various of your deeply held beliefs came directly through the indoctrinations of that system, then it is highly worthwhile to reconsider everything that system ever influenced you to believe. As examples, the idea of mandatory attendance in an institution, the idea of having to submit under the covering of a seminary trained paid pastor, the idea of eternal torment in hell, the idea of the 100% God breathed bible that slanders God's character, etc.
Even for those who still believe that their bible is 100% God breathed, the institutionalized church system indulges in many completely unbiblical teachings and practices. It is therefore wise to consider, is this or that teaching or way of doing things in alignment with what Jesus taught or is it instead completely in contradiction with it? If one values ones overall bible and the pauline and/or pseudepigraphical letters ascribed to Paul as much as (or more than) one values the teachings of Lord Jesus Himself, then one can ask oneself if these teachings and/or practices go against Jesus but align with Paulianity. If this is the case then likely these individuals believe that the teachings of Paul (and the letters attributed to Paul but not actually written by him) over-rule Jesus, telling themselves that many of Jesus' teachings are not for us today, but that we are to follow Paul or pseudepigraphical-Paul instead.
Often times church teachings and/or practices go against both Jesus and Paulianity and then the individual needs to decide who he loves and trusts the very most and who he chooses to follow. Is it their overall institutionalized religious system and its popularly propagated doctrines, their institution, denomination and/or pastor, Paul, pseudo-Paul, the bible overall including the many atrocities ascribed against God's character, or Jesus. As for me, i love and trust Lord Jesus by far the most and i choose to follow Him.
If you get a chance to interject more of your thoughts on this topic Been There, i would be interested to hear what you have to say : ).