The great English philosopher, John Stuart Mill, has somewhere observed that mankind cannot be too often reminded that there was once a man of the name of Socrates. That is true; but still more important is it to remind mankind again and again that a man of the name of Jesus Christ once stood in their midst. - Adolf von Harnack
To love our neighbor is important, but to love God is more important. So the nature of the case makes clear upon reflection, and so Jesus taught when asked what is the greatest commandment, answering, “The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.” Furthermore, loving God with all our heart, soul, and strength does not diminish or distract loving our neighbor. On the contrary, it inspires and deepens the love of our neighbor. It inspires the love of our neighbor because it furnishes an additional reason for the love, namely, that our neighbor is valuable to God and so their well-being means God’s well-being. And it deepens the love of our neighbor because it motivates us to seek our neighbor’s greatest need, which is to be reconciled to God their Father, without compromising our pursuit of their lesser needs.
People are right to reject ridiculous doctrine and the ridiculous interpretation of the Bible upon which ridiculous doctrines are built. And if people reject the entire Bible outright thinking the Bible actually says the ridiculous things they have been told it says, then that is understandable. It is hasty, but understandable. Same goes for the rejection of Jesus. As Thomas Jefferson said about the likes of John Calvin, “Their blasphemies have driven thinking men to infidelity (unbelief), who have too hastily rejected the supposed author himself (Jesus) with the horrors so falsely imputed to him.” In short, the Christian Church has messed it all up. The beautiful, reasonable teaching of the Bible, and the beautiful, reasonable Jesus they have obscured, in fact, worse than obscured, with the specious interpretation of the Bible and, as Jefferson said, the horrors falsely attributed to Jesus. But having said all this, we must be careful to not give able people, a free pass to not seek God with all our heart and strength. Many, even most people interested in God, including Christians, do not take the time and effort to devote to the matter the attention it deserves. Think about it: if there is a God, what greater obligation could there be than to try to do his will? He gives to us everything: life, breath, everything. Therefore, above all else we must strive to do his will. And his will is not burdensome! Indeed, doing his will is the only thing that gives us ultimate happiness, or well-being. But the tragedy that is lived out in one life after another one day after another is the choice day after day to choose to do everything else but seek to know and love God, or almost worse, to choose to do the bare minimum of seeking to know and love God. God is not stupid, and he is not some impersonal force. He knows who is really seeking him and who is not. And he does not want perfunctory “love”; he wants FRIENDS, SONS. He wants people to truly try to love him, to become friends of his, sons and daughters. That is what Jesus was at pains to teach. He was trying to teach people to forget about everything and become friends of God. I think if people try to do this, then regardless of the obstacles in terms of false doctrines or whatever else may be in there heads, God will help them to get past all that. As Jesus said, “Seek and you will find.” I know that this has been true for me. Again, I cannot emphasize strongly enough that God is a real person who wants a real relationship of real love with us. THAT is what it all comes down to: there are those who have such a relationship and those who do not. Those who have that, those who have chosen to be partners with God, friends with God, sons and daughters of God, they are the ones who can count on living forever with God. Those who have not, they cannot count on anything beyond the grave. They have chosen for their portion a short “life”. They have not chosen God.
. . when we no longer see through a mirror darkly, when we know as we are known, when God’s sorrows are made manifest to us, we shall see that we have never experienced anything that we could, without shame, describe as sorrow. — Peter van Inwagen
Specious interpretation of the Bible, that is, interpretation of the Bible that is superficially plausible but actually wrong, is the life-blood of erroneous theology.