Lesson One

The Bible Is a Book of Words

  • What would we know about Moses, Jesus, or God - without a Bible? 

  • What would we know about the Exodus or the Early Church - without a Bible?

  • What would we know about the history of Israel or the beginnings of mankind - without a Bible?   

  • Without the Bible, could either Judaism or Christianity exist?

  • • •

BHC's First Bible Study Guideline
The Bible is a book of words and, in order to accurately understand them,
the reader must learn how words work. 

The one thing which all must completely agree on is that -- The Bible is a book of words!  Therefore, the primary goal of every Bible reader should be to learn how words work so he or she will be able to find the most accurate meanings for its words.  

The words of the Bible are very important to over two billion people.  For many people they were some of the first words spoken over them as babies, and they will be the last words spoken over them at their deaths.

The words of the Bible are found in the cultural building blocks of many peoples and are found in their legal, political, social and theological systems. They touch on almost every area of life.

The words of the Bible are some of the most familiar words known to mankind, embedded into the memories of hundreds of millions and engraved in countless monuments.  

The words of the Bible are also used to support one or more sides of those involved in many conflicts, even wars. How could the book that is called "The Word of God" be the source of unity, harmony, and peace for some, while also inflaming others to hate and murder? Why are Christians divided into so many of different groups that never communicate or interact with each other? And why does the religion that was supposed to have been founded by a Jew named Jesus require Jews to abandon their religion in order to become a Christian?  

Studying the Bible without understanding of how words work is like swimming in shark-infested waters -- and it can be just as dangerous. Countless numbers of institutions and individuals want you to believe their meanings of the biblical words.  

BHC's Prime Directive

If you have ever watched Star Trek you are very familiar with the term "Prime Directive."  It is the most important rule, the one that must be followed at all costs.  I formulated this guideline in the late 1980's and have been teaching and using it ever since.  It is the one thing that we ask all participants of our study groups to agree on.  I now want to share it with you and ask you to commit to following it.  It will transform you from being a "believer," to becoming an empowered "Informed Believer."  

BHC's Second Bible Study Guideline
My belief system is large enough to include all of the facts.
It is open enough to be tested.
It is flexible enough to change when I become aware of new facts.

 Of course, a person could be the opposite:

My belief system ignores all or some of the facts.
It is not open to being challenged or questioned.
It does not change when I become aware of new facts.

 Which one do you want to be -- "an Informed Believer" or the "other"?

If you want to be an Informed Believer, then the above guideline will become very familiar and a regular part of your Bible study routine.  The new skills that you are about to acquire will help you unlock the ancient meanings of the words of your Bible.  The one thing that every person who walked this path of yours has said is this: "These messages have always been right before my eyes, but they were invisible to me because I did not know how to uncover them." 

Facts & Beliefs

The one thing that a religious fundamentalist and an atheist share in common is that they are both “believers.”  One believes in God and the other doesn’t believe in any god. Believing is simply one aspect of being human.  It is the mission of the Biblical Heritage Center to help people become “informed believers” regardless of what they believe or do not believe. 

If you are able to read these words, then you are a believer because you are human.  Beliefs are like the systems programs that operate on every computer. They are behind everything the computer does and beliefs are involved in every decision we make – consciously or unconsciously.  The challenge facing each of us is to become aware of the beliefs that play such an important role in our lives and destinies.  The bottom line is that we have the choice of being an “informed believer” who takes control of his or her own life, or we can be an “uninformed believer” that can be manipulated without knowing it.

We have the ultimate power to shape the Belief Systems that form the realities through which we give meanings to our world.  Once we make the decision to be “informed believers” we make it our goal to identify the beliefs that influence our lives, reject beliefs that are harmful and accept those that are beneficial.  The first step is to clearly understand the meanings of two very important words.

(1) BeliefA construct of the mind in which trust or confidence is placed.  The vehicle that transports beliefs from the mental to the physical realm is language.   

 

(2) Fact - The quality of being actual; something that has actual existence. Facts are sensory perceivable and measurable.

Beliefs are a primary characteristic that separates human beings from the animal kingdom.  In many cases the human mind treats beliefs and facts as if they were identical, but they are not.  Facts are sensory perceivable and may be observed and verifiable by multiple individuals, while beliefs are found in the human mind and cannot be observed by others.   

The combination of beliefs and facts form the realities through which humans view their universe and give meaning to life.  Beliefs are a primary way humans deal with uncertainty and the unknown.  Many times beliefs are what we turn to when we search for answers to questions when there are no facts.  When something happens we want to know who, what, when, where and why it did or did not happen.  Once we have a belief based answer, chances are great that it will become part of our reality regardless of the quality of those beliefs. 

The ability to combine beliefs with facts in order to create an understanding has clearly played an important role in the survival of mankind.  It has also been a major factor in the conflicts that have brought destruction and death to lives of millions throughout history.  Until now this process has not been understood, but with the advent of the information age a growing number of people are becoming aware of the process that controls their lives. 

As human beings we are all believers by nature, but we have the choice as to whether or not we will be “informed believers.”  Informed believers make a conscious decision to identify their beliefs, understand their histories, be aware of those who have a vested interest in them and comparing them to related facts. 

Beliefs can change what our eyes see - 
and we may not even be aware of it!

At the Hanover Institute in Germany in the late nineteenth century, the following experiment was conducted.  Subjects were asked to put on goggles with inverting lenses.  That is, when the subjects looked through the lenses, the world appeared upside-down.  The purpose of the research was to see how subjects responded to this unusual situation.

Now, if you or I were asked to speculate on the ways the subjects might respond to this predicament, we would probably guess that they would learn to adjust to ‘upside-downness.’ (However, we would also worry about these goggled people trying to walk down steps or negotiate street crossings.)

How did the subjects deal with the upside-down vision problem? While some took a short time and others took many hours, all who wore the goggles ultimately reported to the experimenters that the world was back to normal. Their solution was simple: Turn the information right side up! Somehow they were able to unconsciously search out the vision-control mechanism inside their brains and ‘click the switch’ that turned the information 180 degrees around! That is an amazing solution to the problem.

When confronted with the choice of creating new rules to deal with the upside-down information or keeping the old rules and altering the data, the subjects of this experiment did the most efficient thing: They kept their rules and changed the data.

That change allowed them to deal with the world efficiently and effectively at minimum disruption to their way of seeing the world. This simple experiment is a very powerful demonstration of our ability to manipulate the physiological information coming into our minds. Who would have guessed that, by choice, we could so dramatically alter our sensory input? We have far more control over what we perceive and how we perceive than we realize. If our beliefs are very powerful, they can even create data that does not exist.

Seeing Red

An avid scuba diver quite often dived to depths of 100-150 feet to check fish traps he had off the coast of Miami Beach. Because that area is well trafficked by expensive yachts, lots of garbage is strewn along the ocean floor - especially beer cans. The problem was that when he saw Budweiser beer cans down at the 150-foot level, he clearly saw their red labels.

Why did that bother him? If you understand the physics of light, you know that the color red cannot penetrate through 150 feet of water. All that is left at that depth is green and a few other colors far toward the ultraviolet end of the spectrum. There is no color red at that depth! And that is what bothered him. He knew he should not be seeing red. So, how was he able to see the color that could not be there? He saw the red label because he knew the correct model of the Budweiser beer can. That is, he knew the color it was supposed to be, and, to make it fit the rules, he literally colored the can in his mind. In reality, that label could not show up as red. But as far as his perception was concerned, it was Budweiser red.

BHC's Third Bible Study Guideline
Our Belief Systems strongly influence our perceptions of the world
and determine what we choose to accept, reject, view, ignore, share or censor  

Our beliefs affect how we see the world - we see it the way we were taught that it is supposed to be. The Belief System effect has been observed in the fields of linguistics, anthropology, and cognitive psychology, as well as in many areas of business, education, and religion.  When we encounter information that conflicts with our Belief Systems we tend to write it off by calling it false’ or ‘inaccurate.’  Of course there also the possibility that our Belief Systems may even be completely screening it from our view.  

We see best what we have been taught to see -- what we think we are supposed to see.
We see poorly, or not at all,
information that does not fit into our belief system models.

You must constantly be aware of the power of your Belief System and the potential problem it presents as you study your Bible.  Chances are, your BS (belief system) may not want you to take a fresh look at the very familiar words of your Bible. It may not want to view the words of the Bible through the ancient authors' eyes.

Two very important Facts to include in your Belief System.

  1. There is NO one book that is "THE BIBLE."  There are many books called "THE BIBLE" and they are not identical.  They have different words and do not all contain the same books.  Click here for a partial list of those books.  When an Informed Believer is asked the familiar question -- "Do you believe in the Bible?" -- Their response is always -- "Which Bible?"

  2. There are a number of different religions that all use the same name -- Christian.  There is no form of Christianity that is universally accepted and has remained unchanged since the time of Jesus.  One of the major reasons for this is that they have different interpretations for the words of their Bible. Click here for a partial list of Christian denominations and sects.  Why did they come into existence and who founded them?  In many cases the issue was more about who would be in control than a theological truth, even though their version of history doesn't reflect it.

Congratulations! You have completed the first lesson!

false’ or ‘inaccurate.’  Of course there also the possibility that our Belief Systems may even be completely screening it from our view.  

We see best what we have been taught to see -- what we think we are supposed to see.
We see poorly, or not at all,
information that does not fit into our belief system models.

You must constantly be aware of the power of your Belief System and the potential problem it presents as you study your Bible.  Chances are, your BS (belief system) may not want you to take a fresh look at the very familiar words of your Bible. It may not want to view the words of the Bible through the ancient authors' eyes.

Two very important Facts to include in your Belief System.

  1. There is NO one book that is "THE BIBLE."  There are many books called "THE BIBLE" and they are not identical.  They have different words and do not all contain the same books.  Click here for a partial list of those books.  When an Informed Believer is asked the familiar question -- "Do you believe in the Bible?" -- Their response is always -- "Which Bible?"

  2. There are a number of different religions that all use the same name -- Christian.  There is no form of Christianity that is universally accepted and has remained unchanged since the time of Jesus.  One of the major reasons for this is that they have different interpretations for the words of their Bible. Click here for a partial list of Christian denominations and sects.  Why did they come into existence and who founded them?  In many cases the issue was more about who would be in control than a theological truth, even though their version of history doesn't reflect it.

Congratulations! You have completed the first lesson!

  Continue to Lesson 2

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