Monthly Archives: April 2018

Translating the Bible

The Bible was not written in English. The earliest manuscripts we have of any books of the Bible are in a form of ancient Greek known as Koine Greek. If we want to read the Bible in English, someone must first translate it into English.

But translation is not a simple process of substituting an English word for a Greek word. Decisions and assumptions have to be made. Every translation is, to some extent, an interpretation.  When we read the Bible, are we reading the Bible itself, or are we reading something that has been filtered and altered to fit the existing beliefs of the translators?

In this podcast, we look at the complexities and pitfalls of translating the Bible. We take one verse from the Bible as an example and translate it into English. There are only 17 words in this verse. It should be simple to translate, but we find that it’s anything but simple.

What we find is surprising and will forever change how you read the Bible.

For a transcript of this podcast, click here.

The Ten Commandments and the New Covenant

Most Christians know about the Ten Commandments.  Many Christians feel obligated to follow the Ten Commandments, or at least certain interpretations of the Ten Commandments, in their daily lives.  But in addition to the Ten Commandments, the Old Testament contains about 620 more commandments.  Many of these were given at the exact same time as the Ten Commandments, yet you don’t hear much about them.

Are Christians obligated to follow the Old Testament commandments?  If so, which ones?  If Christians only have to follow certain ones, how do you know which ones you have to follow?

Questions like these have been asked in Christianity since the very beginning.

This podcast begins by examining the Ten Commandments.  Exactly what is commanded in those and how do we know?  Do any Christians really follow them?  Then we move on to the other commandments and consider some of the problems created when Christians select which of the Old Testament commandments to follow and which to ignore.

But in doing that, we encounter an even larger question: How do we incorporate the Old Testament into Christianity?  As we consider that question, we have to wonder: Is Christianity an offshoot of Judaism, or is Christianity something entirely different?

Reincarnation in Christianity

Reincarnation is the belief that when a person’s physical body dies, the spirit begins life in another physical form on earth.  Surveys indicate that approximately 25 % of Americans believe in some form of reincarnation.  Christians believe in reincarnation in about the same proportions as the general society, as surveys also indicate that approximately 25% of American Christians believe in reincarnation.

Even though millions of American Christians believe in some form of reincarnation, reincarnation is not an accepted belief within any major American Christian denomination.  American Christianity officially believes that no part of you existed before you were born into this life, and that at the end of this life, your spirit, or soul, goes to its eternal destination.

However, some claim reincarnation was an accepted belief in early Christianity.

In this episode, we examine whether the Bible contains passages that refer to reincarnation.  Then we look to see whether we can find evidence from early Christianity itself that early Christians believed in reincarnation.  What we find is surprising.

Then, we take a general look at how Christian beliefs developed.  We look at various influences upon the process of the development of those beliefs.  Then we look at a very important question: Can a person reject certain beliefs that developed in Western Christianity without rejecting Christianity itself?

For a transcript of this podcast, click here.

Where Do Peoples’ Religious Beliefs Come From?

There is often a difference between what people say they believe about God and what they actually do believe about God deep in their hearts.  When asked about their religious beliefs, most people will respond with the things they have been told they are supposed to believe.  But actually, their true beliefs may be very different.  People have difficulty admitting they don’t really believe what they have been told they should believe, even to themselves.

So where do peoples’ true religious beliefs come from?  If they don’t come from what they’ve been told they’re supposed to believe, where do they come from?

In this episode, we consider where our true religious beliefs come from.  We get there in a roundabout way, though.  First, we consider something that is very popular in Christianity today, the effort to make Christianity relevant to peoples’ lives.  That is probably the most widespread trend in Christianity today.

Then we consider something related to that, the question of how Christianity became not relevant to peoples’ lives.  What happened to make Christianity so not-relevant that so much time and energy is expended trying to make it relevant?

We find the answer to that question in the way many modern Christians look at the Bible.  The way many modern Christians look at the Bible leads to a certain picture of God.  It is that picture of God which makes Christianity seem so not-relevant to peoples’ lives.

Then, we look at how all that is tied in with how peoples’ true religious beliefs are formed.  By going about it in this roundabout way, we are able to come to an understanding of how our true religious beliefs are formed, not the beliefs we say we have, but the beliefs we really do have, deep in our hearts.

For a transcript of this podcast, click here.