The Unorthodox Believer

I wrote the book, The Unorthodox Believer, but you might be one too. This is some one who cares about the original biblical message and getting it right. The unorthodox believer cares more about the original message of scripture than fitting into a religious scheme or fitting into a social structure. For the Unorthodox Believer, truth is more important than tradition or status quo.

The book explores the cultural manner in which we modern westerns think versus the thinking patterns of the ancient easterners who wrote our scriptures. It explores how modern orthodoxy was invented via the logic argument methods of the ancient Greek philosophers — the educational background of the early century theologians. Then it contrasts that with the manner in which the ancient Hebrew believers derived their beliefs, based on their Hebrew background. Essentially, modern Christian beliefs were derived from Greek and Romans studying the biblical texts with no regard for the Hebraic culture.

To say it that way, makes the whole process of converting an ancient Hebrew faith into a modern gentile faith seems like the modern version is on a shaky foundation. And it is. However, every culture must understand the message of God's salvation for His people. It must be understandable to the intended audience. Introducing ideas completely foreign to a culture is a sure way to be misunderstood. When we read and study our Bibles, we are reading God's message intended for the ancient Hebrew culture, as it was, at a certain time in history. However, we are at a different time in history and in a very different culture. Without understanding the original message as given, we might not understand how to translate it correctly into our culture and I believe we have missed a lot.

 

I submit that in modern times, we have not understood the original cultural message well and then, based on misunderstandings, we proceed with a poor translation of the theological message into our modern western culture. Effectively, we lost a lot in translation, not of language but of culture and hence we lose important parts of the theological message. Worse, modern Christians seldom read the foundational documents of the faith, the Old Testament. That represents nearly two thirds of the whole message. The New Testament is based on the Old Testament. It quotes it, refers to it frequently. The  concepts and ideas of the Old Testament support the New Testament. Without it, sometimes we guess about what the New Testament writers really meant.

There are several concepts from the Old Testament which are lost in modern times. These include a clearer understanding of the two seeds conflict, the original concept of the messiah, the Hebrew concept of agency and the original mission of all of God's people. Another concept lost in translation is the overall story of the Bible: Paradise to Paradise, it is one complete story broken up into many episodes. In the beginning, God made a place for man to dwell and Himself with them. The Kingdom of God (heaven in Matthew) is a promise of a righteous dwelling place on earth. In the final paradise read about at the end of the book of Revelation, paradise comes to earth. No where in the Bible does it say that humans ever dwell in heaven. Our rewards, remembered by the God of heaven are stored there but it is not a dwelling place for humans.

The agency concept is totally lost in translation. This is how the Hebrews thought the acts of God were carried out in this earth by agents, not directly by the deity Himself. Agents representing a master was common in the ancient middle east. Today only a remnant of it exits in our concept of power of attorney. But in scripture, this cultural feature comes up frequently. This accounts for many things where there is confusion between God interacting directly versus indirectly. The book, The Unorthodox Believer, devotes a whole section to this alone.

Another aspect of our practical Christian life which is useful to understand, is where our English Bible version come  from. There are political and commercial reasons for how they came to be and how they are translated from the biblical languages. It is important to note these important influences when reading a modern Bible. All these topics and more are in The Unorthodox Believer book. The book is available on Amazon.com. Author's page URL: http://www.amazon.com/author/jlbrown

Enjoy a new view of the Christian faith … if you dare.

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3 Responses to The Unorthodox Believer

  1. bowlegs says:

    When I first contacted you I was reading The Unorthodox Believer.  I finished it this morning.  I mentioned to you that I had started writing to sort out some conclusions from 8 years of fairly intense study after having had cancer and spinal fusion in mid-life.  It was only after writing that I realized I was an unorthodox Christian, and when I searched under that term in Amazon, up popped your book.

    When I got to the back of the book and read your appendices, I saw that we had arrived at some of the same conclusions about the early bishops.  I suspected they had changed verbage in the early manuscripts to suit their own ruthless purposes, as you indicate they did.  I had totally lost confidence in the "Christianity" that grew out of that, compounded in its duplicity by the self-serving corruption that began with Constantine in the early 4th century.  I had also concluded that aIl English translations are biased.  In the end, I wound up thinking the voice of what I call the Holy Spirit was about all I could really count on in sorting the wheat from the chaff in the Bible.

    What you have brought new to the table for me is the concept you call Cultural Theology, coupled with your strong conviction that the Bible is a one continuous Hebrew story from beginning to end. Perhaps in these things you have provided some additional tools I can use.

    Tell me, aside from the fact that you favor the ESV, what other English translations fall in the categories of best and worst, in your opinion?

     

     

    • John John says:

      Bowlegs,

      Bible versions are all based on an existing English text, usually the ASV of 1901. They vary from attempts at literal to free flowing English. I favor the more literal versions over the free flowing … the latter freely inserting modern western theology wherever possible. The free flowing versions, like the Living Bible and NIV are favored with status quo folks. Truth seekers tend toward the more literal versions unless they are educated in Biblical languages. I know of one researcher who favors the NIV because it’s popular but offers many corrections from his own studies. Bible Versions ChartI don’t have a worst and best versions. I take all with a bit of scepticism. Perhaps this chart is helpful. — JB

       

       

  2. bowlegs says:

    It it helpful, thank you.  Can't beat graphics when it comes to comparisons.

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