"While God will not violate His Word, He often violates our understanding of His Word."
The Rules of a Truth Quest.
How do we determine what is actually truth? We have to agree there is a source of truth, and if we don't agree that the Holy Bible is that source of truth, you can probably stop reading right here. That said, I believe the Word of God to be inspired - but the translations of that Word far less so. We'll talk about that in a minute...
Have you ever watched that move "Zombieland"? The main character has his list of rules to surviving the zombie apocalypse. Rule #1: Cardio. Rule #2: Double Tap. etc. Well, I have a list of rules as well.
Rules to Surviving False and Misleading Teachings.
(Yeah, I need to work on the title) But seriously, finding real truth can be difficult - because most teachers, preachers and Baptists think they know it all. (I'm joking - I can poke fun because I was a know it all Baptist for 40 years) But when what they believe to be the God's honest truth disagrees with one another, well, Houston, we have a problem. We can't all be right just because we identify that way...
Hence, the rules...
LET THE BIBLE INTERPRET ITSELF
If you are unfamiliar with this concept, let me tell you - you will be surprised to find how often this clears up misled teachings and misunderstandings! Before the days of google search engines and eBibles you had to practically have the entire 2000 page book memorized to be able to do this. At the very least, you have to own several lexicons and commentaries and reference books and have a desk large enough to open them all up and time to cross reference each topic... Good gosh, it's no wonder we have some misunderstandings in the church! You are not disrespecting your childhood Pastor by rethinking some of the things you were taught. He did the best he could with what he had. Much respect to people who taught the Bible prior to the desktop computer and smartphone. BUT - we are not there anymore, and it's time to fact check.
This can be a bit more tedious to uncover, but the information is out there. I like how Martin Trench explains it by using Facebook as an example - if someone 2000 years from now, were to read about this generation, he would not understand references to Facebook and no one would actually explain in the writings what Facebook is, because everyone in this generation knows what it is! That reader would look up the definitions to the words "face" and "book" and try to determine what the heck we are talking about... And be completely wrong. He would have to do some research into the time period we are living in and determine that we were using these archaic desktops and phones to share photos of our kids and what we ate for dinner. To understand the scriptures, we must understand the time period in which it was written. This clears up a lot of misunderstandings. Before we can figure out what it means to us, we must know what it meant to THEM.
I cannot over-emphasize how important this is!! The ancient Greek and Hebrew languages are complex and behave much differently than English. Words can carry emotions as well as meaning, and understanding gender use in common nouns can change the entire meaning of a verse. The characters were multi-purposed and could add depth to the word and be used as numbers too! This is a great resource for getting a feel for the complexities of the Hebrew language.
It has been said that reading the Word in it's original language is like dining at a 5 star restaurant, while reading the English translation is like eating fast food. Both will feed you, but the 5 star restaurant is a completely different experience. The Word of God is inspired, but the translations are far less so! We must go to the source and see what words He used when He commissioned it! There are many cases where the translations completely change the original word to support their own beliefs or agendas. And that leads us to...
REMOVE YOUR GOGGLES
In fact checking and searching for truth, I found that there were many things I believed to be Biblically accurate truths, that actually weren't Biblical or True. They were denominational truths. Very different thing. I discovered that I was reading the Bible through a pair of lenses that looked like coke bottle glasses. My lenses were called "Baptist." Everything I believed came from that point of view and was filtered through that set of rules. Your lenses may have a different name. You might have Methodist, Catholic, or Jehovah's Witness glasses on. Before you do anything, if truth is what you seek, you must take off your glasses. Forget what you know, or think you know. This is easier said than done, but it is essential. Ask Holy Spirit to help you with this. Do a prophetic act and literally take the goggles off your face. Ask for eyes to see and ears to hear. It's a bigger deal than you might think.
The technical term for reading your current beliefs into the scriptures is EISEGESIS. An understanding of the difference between EXEGESIS and EISEGESIS is pretty valuable.
Exegesis is letting the Bible interpret itself, without reading into it what you already believe it to say or mean. In order to properly do this one MUST remove their denominational "glasses." Reading "exegesically" is challenging because it requires more of the reader.
You have to seek to understand the text historically and contextually. What was the culture like and what did this text mean to the people it was written to?
You need to understand that this is a translation, and much meaning can be lost when interpreting languages. You have to seek an understanding of the original words used in their original language.
You must see the Bible as a whole. The passages have to agree and support each other across the entirety of scripture.
Eisegesis in contrast, is reading into the text that which supports your current beliefs, rather than allowing the Bible to speak for itself. This is how most people read the Bible, although unaware they are doing so. When reading "eisegesically," you allow the text to confirm what you already believe. You are reading through a filter and understanding the text based on that filter. Eisegesis also leads to a lot of "cherry picking" of passages. We read a verse that seems confirm our current belief and we hold tight to it, memorize it and quote it in support of our cause. But when you zoom out, and read the whole context, and then zoom out further and weave it into the entirety of the message of the Word, it often doesn't mean what you thought it did.
CONTRADICTIONS, VAGUENESS, SILENCE
If anything contradicts what we find in the Bible, it has to be tossed out as false.
Being vague or silent is not necessarily a contradiction.
In cases where mentions of the topic are vague, we need to look very carefully at what the Bible does and does not say, and connect the dots to form a picture that is supported and consistent with scripture.
Those are the rules, but MOST IMPORTANTLY - ask Holy Spirit to guide you into truth and understanding. And then allow Him to show you where you are wrong, lies you are believing. Don't hold onto any teaching too tightly! Let this become your final answer "This is where I stand on that CURRENTLY..."
It is using these rules that I studied out each of the topics below.
My results are as unbiased and accurate as could be with the information
I found on each topic. I am always adding more and updating each study
as I come across new information, so check back often!