“Hooks to hang doubt on” was a phrase I wrote in chapter 11 of Love’s Playbook 5. It describes a very important God-decision in the theory of freedom. God could wow us and overwhelm us with the reality of His existence, presence and power, but He doesn’t. “They” don’t because it would actually take away or ruin our freedom. In order for us to be truly free to make our own decision there has to be evidence of both good and evil that is balanced and adequate for us to consider and make a choice. There even have to be questions about God.
Scripture says God is all good. But in some places it looks like God is both good and evil. This increasingly bothered me as I grew up. Maybe I started reading too young without guidance (though there weren’t many Christians questioning then). Years later I wanted to believe God was good, and wanted to understand those passages, I did find some help, but I found that most of the people I read, or talked to, weren’t able to explain them. The collective consciousness hadn’t grown enough to push scholarship to understand. I find it still hasn’t.
Somehow it became very important to me to understand. I can’t even say when or how it started. But it became a burning desire to know and show that God is all good–even in gnarly hard-to-understand scriptures. I really didn’t think about how.
When the idea first came, it was so huge I dismissed it. When I actually began to consider writing a version of the Bible as a story making God look all good, I couldn’t imagine how I would. I questioned writing the flood story before I committed to start. I did think that far ahead, but not further–it’s in the first five chapters, and God said, “Don’t worry. We’ll help you.” And They did!
Now past the first five books, I don’t worry about that–we have gone through some really difficult stories and concepts, and They have always made it plain. I thought today, reading one with my group, I wish I had made it plainer. Some concepts are so big and so new it’s difficult to find words to express them.
I’m grateful my pastor wants our church to read through the Bible this year, and chose what seems to be a really good plan–the You Version that so far has, on average, two chapters of Genesis and two of Matthew, one in Psalms and a few verses in Proverbs every day. It’s the New Living Translation which is well-done and you can listen to it instead of read it!
My husband and I have been listening, and even though it is well-done and up-dated, there are still places that make me cringe. I realize in a translation you can’t explain the background, emotion, etc., like I get to in telling the story.
For example in the 3rd chapter of Genesis it sounds like God cursed the man, the woman and the ground. If you read very carefully you see that it wasn’t God cursing, it was sin, the choice to know evil; God just described the curse that evil brought. The only curse Adonai may have actually chosen was the serpent’s. Again through careful and extra reading, it seems it was a beautiful creature who lost it’s beauty and wings, and God put hatred between Satan and God’s children. (3:15) What a blessing that was! God made sure, right then, that we would still retain 50% of Their character of good to begin with so we wouldn’t be all evil! From then on it comes from our choices as we see in the next chapter with Cain. But that isn’t easy to see either unless you take the time to unpack it and really get into what God is saying and why, as well as what Cain is saying (and not saying) and why.
I was so glad that Matthew 13 came a few days later where Jesus alludes to the war in the universe and who the enemy is that is responsible for evil. (It was only a few days later for us because we were starting late and doubling up.)
There are other questions, but then there is Genesis 38. And you think Where did this story come from and why in the world is this in the Bible? Obviously, Jethro told Moses, and there is a lot left out. That is exactly why I’m writing–to slow it down and fill in the backstory, the emotion, the family systems thinking. The story could get bogged down, so necessarily explanations have to be brief.
You won’t get through the Bible in a year, but a chapter a night (or morning) would move you through the first five books, plus Job, in six months. And they contain some of the hardest stories to understand just reading fast. And if it takes a year, that’s ok. Understanding who God is and how it all fits together is important.
Reading fast is good for perspective. And when you get bogged down with questions, my books are there now. Freedom demands that there are hooks for doubt so that only sincere seekers find the answers. Only the whole-hearted are safe to have around for eternity.