Monday, October 19, 2020

A New Way to Talk About the Elephants in the Room

 

Christianity and Judaism are mutually exclusive monotheistic religions, which means a person cannot belong to both religions at the same time. In addition to that, some Christian and Jewish religious institutions do not agree about what important beliefs mean within their own religions. Those “polarizing beliefs” are “the elephants in the room” – beliefs that most people usually avoid talking about.

 

However, there is another reason that people ignore these “elephants.” They are “Institutional Truths” (see my previous email for more info about this), which means they are backed by the authority of powerful institutions.

 

Challenges to an Institutional Truth is viewed as a direct challenge

to the institution’s claim that it is an authorized representative of God!

 

For most people, emotions are much more involved in belief discussions than logic or reason. That is another reason people choose to “ignore the elephants.The bottom line is people have not had “a peaceful way” to talk about conflicting beliefs.

 

I created the Meme Model to make belief discussions more transparent -- a new way to see beliefs.” “Memes” are “pieces of information” in neural circuits of the brain and all beliefs are memes. Institutional Truths are complex meme structures constructed of four types of information.

 

Identity MemeName

 

Supporting MemesNames of things related to the Identity Meme.

 

Action MemesThings the Identity Meme does.

 

Authority and AnchorsAnchors link the Identity Meme to specific times and places. Authority identifies Institutions that are linked to the Identity Meme.

 

Below are Meme Models for stories I have discussed in previous emails.

_________________________

 

The Creator of the Heavens and Earth in Enuma Elish

 

Identity Meme: Marduk

 

Supporting Memes: A God ○ Born ○ Not Immortal ○ Male ○ King ○ Creator

 

Action Memes: Rules over other Gods ○ Uses Violence to Create and Rule ○ Actions driven by complaints of Gods  

 

Authority & Anchors: (Date [2000 – 300 BCE] – Place [Babylon]) Kings of Babylon, Kings of Persia ○ Priests and Scribes of the Temple of Marduk

_________________________

 

The Creator of the Heavens and Earth in Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a

 

Identity Meme: Unnamed

 

Supporting Memes: A God ○ A RUACH (spirit, breath, wind) ○ Origin Unknown ○ Not Mortal ○ Creator ○ King

 

Action Memes: Creates through speech and acts that are TOV ○ Follows a plan and creates in an orderly way ○ Values human life ○ Created humans in Its Image ○ Empowers humans to be Its representatives and exercise power as Co-Shepherds over all life on Earth.

 

Authority Memes: (Date [5th century BCE] – Place [Jerusalem Temple]) King of Persia ○ Priests and Scribes of the Temple of Yahweh.

_________________________

 

Yahweh The God Genesis 2:4b – 3:24

 

Identity Meme: Yahweh

 

Supporting Memes: A God ○ Origin Unknown ○ Not Mortal ○ Creator ○ Planter ○ King ○ Judge

 

Action Memes: Created a man from dust of the ground ○ Planter of a garden in Eden ○ Giver of a commandment ○ Maker of animals ○ Maker of a woman from the rib of the man ○ Judge of human actions

 

Authority Memes: (Date [5th century BCE] – Place [Jerusalem Temple]) King of Persia ○ Priests and Scribes of the Temple of Yahweh

_________________________

 

Three models created from information of three different stories. Differences in the models were used to teach ancient Jewish audiences important lessons about their God, themselves, and their relationships to each other. Meme Models may be used to create transparency in any Institutional Truth – religious, political, or economic! Meme Models will soon become some of your most valuable possessions.

 

Thank you for reading this and please share it with others.

 

Shalom,

Jim Myers

 

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Friday, October 16, 2020

Two Very Different Types of Truth

 


Wars have been fought over beliefs about God. People have been tortured in Inquisitions because of beliefs about God. Others have been excommunicated because of beliefs about God. Billions of peoples have beliefs about the afterlife that are based on beliefs about God. So, what is a “belief”? According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

 

A belief is a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence

is placed in some person or thing.”

 

Trust is a feeling of confidence. Be sure to note that belief, trust, and confidence are all emotional states. Beliefs are the building blocks of religious belief systems and they are viewed as “truths” to believers.

 

In his book, Letters from an Astrophysicist, Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson discusses the difference between science and religion (p. 99):

 

Science follows evidence. When strong evidence supports an idea, the concept of belief, when invoked the way religious people use it, is unnecessary.  In other words, established science is not an ensemble of beliefs, it’s a system of ideas supported by verifiable evidence . . . You do not ask if I believe in the sunrise. Or if I believe the sky is blue. Or if I believe Earth has a Moon. These are non-controversial truths about the physical world for which the word “believe” has no place.”

 

The term “verifiable evidence” means “facts.” “A “fact” is something that has actual existence. Facts are sensory perceivable. Facts are the building blocks of science.

 

But did you notice that in the above paragraphs, both religion and science used the word “truth.” It is defined as “the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality.” For this reason, it is essential for explorers of biblical heritages to make clear distinctions between the two types truths:

 

Fact-Based TruthsThis is what scientific truths are based on.

 

Authority-Based TruthsThis is what religious truths are based on.  

 

Religious truths are based on authority, including truths about “God.” I am not aware of any fact-based truths about God. But, in some cases, there are fact-based truths that are related to authority-based truths of religions – for example “beliefs about the Bible.”

 

Biblical Heritage Explorers are committed to following the guideline below:

 

My belief system will include all of the facts,

open enough to be examined and questioned,

and flexible enough to change if errors or new facts are discovered.

 

Now let’s use the guideline to examine the belief statement below:

 

My Bible is the inerrant infallible Word of God.

 

There are facts related to the “My Bible” part of the belief statement. It is a book that actually exists, and its words are sensory perceivable.  

 

The “inerrant infallible” part of the belief statement is an authority-based truth. In my case, those words were part of my church’s Statement of Faith. “Inerrant and infallible” means the words in the Bible are "without error or fault incapable of making mistakes or being wrong.”

 

One day I was reading my Bible, a New King James Version, and I read the verses below about God’s instructions to Noah. I have a banking background and numbers always catch my attention.

 

Genesis 6:19-20

 

And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.

 

Genesis 7:2-3

 

You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth.

 

The numbers in the verses above do not match:

 

2 of every male and female is different from

7 of every male and female.

 

Clearly, my Bible did not contain words that are "without error or fault incapable of making mistakes or being wrong.” Contrary to what some people say, what I discovered doesn’t mean I should throw it in the trash or that it is useless.

 

It simply means a belief about the Bible was wrong

and that I need to identify and examine the authority behind it.

 

Examining belief statements about God is a much more complex task, therefore we created a Meme Model to guide explorers. I will show you how to use it in my next email. Thank you for exploring with me. Please share and discuss this email with others.

 

Shalom,

Jim Myers

 

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Thursday, September 3, 2020

Are You Ready to Meet the Jesus of History?

 
In my last email I introduced the Law of Language and Linguistic Profiles (click here to read). Today I am going to introduce you to the Linguistic Profile of “the Jesus of history” -- the person who lived in Nazareth and traveled through Galilee and Judea preaching his gospel. We call him “the Jesus of history” because as we explore biblical heritages and travel from the 1st century to the 21st century, we will make new Linguistic Profiles from documents written between those dates. Those Linguistic Profiles will be about Jesus the Christ, Jesus The Christ of Paul, Jesus the Christ of Athanasius, Jesus the Christ of Arius, Jesus the Christ of Constantine the Great, Jesus the Christ of Augustine, Jesus the Christ of the Trinity, Jesus the Christ of Martin Luther, etc.
 
The information we acquire from creating or just reading Linguistic Profiles is very useful, but when we compare Linguistic Profiles of Jesus from documents written over a 1,500 year span, we acquire very valuable insights about the evolution of Christianity.
 
As you read the Linguistic Profile below you may find things that trigger your BS Warning System (BS = belief system). This happens when you read something that doesn’t agree with what you believe about Jesus. What you believe about Jesus will be found in the other Linguistic Profiles above. Later, as we explore biblical heritages, we will find the one you probably have for him. Now it is time to meet “the Jesus of history.”
 
1. Symbols: Taught orally in Hebrew; spoke Aramaic in his daily life. He may have been familiar with Greek and Latin too.
 
2. Source: Yeshua ben Yoseph (Jesus son of Joseph). Luke has “the virgin birth story and Matthew copied it from him. No “virgin birth” story is found in Mark or John. Based on his culture and the way he interacted with his Jewish audiences, our conclusion is they would have viewed him like any other person, except for his message and miracles. There are stories about other people in that culture proclaiming similar messages and doing miracles. The people that heard him most likely referred to him this way -- his name plus the name of his father. They did not have last names like we do today.
 
3. Time & Place: 25 - 28 CE. Information in the four Gospels provides two options for the length of time he led his movement – either one year or three years.
 
4. The Culture of Jesus: Late Second Temple Period Galilean Judean. His primary culture was that of the Land of Judea, but the influence of living in the Galilee would have been apparent to people in Judea. I run into the same problem, being a Texan living in the USA.
 
5. Personal Experiences of Jesus: Probably educated by Joseph and teachers at synagogue in Nazareth; his childhood textbook was the Torah (first five books of Bible); at age twelve interacted with leading teachers at the Temple in Jerusalem; probably worked as a carpenter with Joseph until age 30; influenced by the teachings of John the Baptist; he had a lot of knowledge about the Torah and the Prophets (especially Isaiah); began his movement around 25 CE (probably called “The Kingdom of Heaven Movement); led the movement for either one or three years; crucified by Romans for a political crime (claiming to be king without Roman approval).
 
6. Receptors: He spoke to Jewish audiences about Jewish things.
 
7. Goal: Proclaim that the Kingdom of God had arrived; the Great Day of Judgment was imminent; people must repent and do acts of righteousness (TDQ) or they will face eternal punishment instead of entering eternal life. A new age will begin after the earth has been cleansed of sin and purified and he will King of God’s new Kingdom.
 
It is important to note that the Jesus of history did not write anything. He only taught orally. So, how did his oral teaching end up in my 1769 King James Bible? That will be the subject of my next email. Please share and discuss this information with others. Thank you for reading Exploring Our Biblical Heritages emails!
 
Shalom,
Jim Myers
 
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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Whose Words Are You Reading In Your Bible?

You have probably heard this before, but the journey that led to the creation of the Biblical Heritage Center began when I prayed the prayer below in August 1980. I was preparing to begin classes at a Bible College and become an ordained minister.

 Dear God, please show me what you want me study in my Bible.

Immediately, these words popped into my mind:
 
Unless you know how words work
you can’t understand the words of the Bible.
 
If that was the answer, it made absolutely no sense to me -- so I forgot about it! After that I graduated from the Bible College, became an ordained minister and founded a church.
 
Four years later an advertisement for a new book came in the mail -- “Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus.” I ordered it and as soon as I finished reading it I remembered the answer to that prayer. That was the moment I decided to find out “how words work.” I spent an entire month in a university library doing research which led to the creation of my Law of Language.
 
A word is a symbol or group of symbols (or sounds)
with an attached bundle of associations which are products
of a Source’s culture, time period, place and personal experiences.
 
Below are explanations of key words:
 
1. Symbols: Letters of the alphabet and punctuation marks.
 
2. Source: The person writing or speaking the word.
 
3. Time Period and Place: When and where the Source wrote or spoke the word.
 
4. Culture: Knowledge, beliefs, morals, laws, religion, customs, concepts, habits, skills, institutions, and any other capabilities of a given people in a given period.
 
5. Personal Experiences: Experiences in the Source’s life that affect the meanings of his or her words.
 
6. Receptor: The person or group to whom the Source communicated his or her words.
 
7. Goal: Discover the Source’s meanings of the words.
 
The model above is used to create a Linguistic Profile for the words we are examining. I created the Law of Language to discover what the words of Jesus meant to him. So, I opened up my Bible, applied the Law of Language to the words of Jesus and created a Linguistic Profile.
 
1. Symbols: English language.
 
2. Source: Benjamin Blayney, chief editor of the project.
 
3. Time Period & Place: 1760-1769 Oxford University, Oxfordshire, England.
 
4. Blayney’s Culture: 18th century British.
 
5. Blayney’s Personal Experiences: Oxford University Master's Degree (1753); became a fellow and vice-principal of Hertford College (a constituent college of Oxford) (1768); employed by the Clarendon Press of Oxford University; member of the clergy of the Church of England.
 
6. Receptors: English markets and customers of Clarendon Press.
 
7. Goal: Correct errors, intentional mistranslations and other differences in editions of the King James Bible printed after 1611.
 
I was not reading the words of Jesus – I was reading the words of Benjamin Blayney’s translation team. I had always been told that my King James Bible was written in 1611, but now I discovered I was actually reading a 1769 Revised King James Version.
 
If they hadn’t revised it I could have been readings from the 1631 edition printed by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London. It was called the Wicked Bible, Adulterous Bible or Sinners' Bible. Below are a couple of verses from it.
 
● “Thou shalt commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14 & Deuteronomy 5:18)
 
● “Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his great-asse . . . .” It should have read “Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness . . . .” (Deuteronomy 5:24)
 
Obviously, that caught the attention Bible readers in 1631 – and it created a huge scandal. Historians discovered information that led to the conclusion a competitor planted a typesetter in the print shop to make those changes so Barker and Lucas would lose their “royal contract.”  The scheme worked.
 
But, the Wicked Bible remained in circulation with a number of other versions for over 130 years until the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge produced the version of the Bible I was reading. Whose words are you reading when you read the Bible?
 
I will create a Linguistic Profile for Jesus in my next email. Please share and discuss this information with others. Try making some Linguistic Profiles. Thank you for reading Exploring Our Biblical Heritages emails!
 
Shalom,
Jim Myers
 
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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Some Facts You Need to Know About BHC

 In my last email I told you the story about the prayer I prayed forty years ago – and the answer that made absolutely no sense to me. My first impression, after thinking about it later, was “obviously I know how words work I used them every day.” But that answer doesn’t hold water because I use a car, computer, smartphone, refrigerator, etc. every day and have no idea of how they actually work!

 

Nineteen years after praying that prayer, I co-founded the Biblical Heritage Center (BHC) with Dr. Ike Tennison (University of Texas at Arlington professor that taught courses I took in Classical Greek). This year BHC celebrates its 21st birthday. Below are the facts that have guided BHC since 1999.

 

1. BHC is an educational institution that teaches people How Words Work and How to Work with Words by applying that knowledge to the words of the Bible by Exploring Biblical Heritages.

 

2. BHC teaches people how to use the BHC Guideline below to Transform Belief Conflicts into Relationship Building Opportunities:

 

My Belief System will be

large enough to include all facts,

open enough to be examined and questioned, and

flexible enough to change if errors or new facts are discovered.”

 

3. BHC raises the awareness of the Biology of Believing -- the roles Subconscious Functions of the Human Brain play in what people consciously perceive.

 

4. BHC is committed to sharing the Most Accurate and Up-To-Date Information possible to help people make better decisions about what to believe and what to do.

 

5. BHC is committed to Networking Learners and Explorers together through the Internet, Social Media, Zoom and Local Gatherings.

 

6. BHC is not a religious institution and has no Statement of Faith.

 

7. BHC is committed to protecting lives, preserving lives, making lives more functional and increasing the quality of life.

 

One of the most important things we do is help people see

the actual words that are on the pages of their own Bibles

and discover the meanings of the original Sources.

 

While writing yesterday’s email I realized that most of the people reading it have never seen the seven statements above all written together. I am always focused on the latest research. Please forgive me for not doing this earlier and on a regular basis. I have redesigned to Home Page of the BHC website so every visitor will be made aware of this information (click here to check it out). Thank you for reading our emails, please share and discuss this information with others.

 

Shalom,

Jim Myers

 

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In my last email I told you the story about the prayer I prayed forty years ago – and the answer that made absolutely no sense to me. Twenty-one years ago I co-founded the Biblical Heritage Center. Read the seven fact-based principles facts that guide our work at BHC. https://mailchi.mp/238e0efff86c/some-facts-you-need-to-know-about-bhc

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Christians are not taught what Jesus taught about salvation.

 

My emails The Only Salvation Message Jesus Taught and The Salvation Message was a Parable not a Commandment! challenged members of his audience’s beliefs about salvation. That was his goal! It is important to always anchor words you read or hear to reality by linking them to the time and place they were communicated. Jesus taught salvation parable in Matthew 25 around 27 CE at the Mount of Olives.

 

At that time Christianity did not exist and

Jesus was not speaking to Gentiles.

The people he challenged were all Jewish.

 

One other point modern readers must clearly understand is that no one in the Jewish audiences hearing him viewed Jesus as being “the God” or “a god.” Members of his audience were trying to figure out if he was “The Anointed One,” an apocalyptic messianic figure. They believed that the arrival of the Anointed One signaled that the Great Day of Judgment was very near.

 

His words were not viewed as new divine commandments. Almost everything he taught was related to positions other Jewish sects were teaching or responses to challenges they were making to things he taught. His salvation parable was directed at positions of the three largest sects in Judea: 

 

● The Sadducees taught that “there will be no resurrection and Great Day of Judgment.” Only the Written Laws in the Torah (first five books in the Bible) are the Jewish Scriptures.

 

● The Essenes and Pharisees both agreed that there will be a resurrection, a Great Day of Judgment and the righteous” will be saved from being destroyed or punished. But, the Essenes and Pharisees disagreed over who the “righteousness” would be.

 

● The Essenes taught only members of the Essenes are “the righteous.” All other Jewish people – and Gentiles -- are lumped together and called “the wicked.”  

 

● The Pharisees taught “the righteous” are those who follow their Oral Laws and interpretations of the Written Laws in the Torah.

 

Jesus taught there will be a resurrection and Great Day of Judgment. The “righteousfrom all of the nations will be saved. No one is required to follow his interpretations of the Jewish Scriptures. The “righteous” are people that did acts of righteousness (TDQ). 

 

The salvation message Jesus taught was specifically directed at Jewish people who were also hearing the teachings of the Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes. The big difference between his position and theirs is this:

 

God cares more about the conditions of people’s lives

than he cares about religious rituals and interpretations.

 

In Matthew 5, Jesus directly addressed the Pharisee position:

 

Unless your acts of righteousness (TDQ) exceed those of the Pharisees,

you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”

 

In closing let me point out at even though Jesus was not speaking to a Gentile audience he made it clear that “Gentiles that do righteousness (TDQ) will be part of the Kingdom of God and be saved” – all nations were judged by the same standard in the parable in Matthew 25.

 

I never heard his salvation message at my church. When I trained to become a pastor of church, I never heard it there either. Were you taught it? So what should Christians today do? Below are my suggestions.

 

1. Remember that Jesus was teaching a parable not a law. Parables are less about “meanings” and more about “doing.” They are to remind and provoke people to do things. They bring to the surface unasked questions, and reveal answers the audience members have always known, but refuse to acknowledge.

 

2. Be more aware of the needs of people we encounter in the daily course of life.

 

3. Do acts of righteousness (TDQ) when possible.

 

4. Find out when, where, how and who changed what Jesus taught about salvation and created what we were taught.

 

We have an amazing opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to “truth”

by bringing transparency to our belief systems by incorporating facts.

 

This could inspire others to do the same! Thank you for reading this and please share and discuss it with others.

 

Shalom,

Jim Myers

 

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