Many of us read the Bible, but how many of us do our best thinking when we read it? In this series, author and philosopher Jack Pelham seeks to use the very best thinking methods to interpret the Bible, so as to avoid the cognitive errors shown in the Bible and in cognitive science as well. For example, where Jesus said, "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment," a cognitive scientist might say the same thing like this: "You need to decouple from your focal bias and look at ALL the evidence, so that you can draw a conclusion that jibes with reality." And so we re-examine the Bible in an attempt to get right what is so frequently gotten wrong.
The episode formats vary between solo-lecturer (Jack Pelham) presentations and family discussions with Jack's wife, Kay, and son, James. The solo episodes have episode-specific show notes on the web page that bears each episode.
Episode 39: You Are Not An Apostle.
DESCRIPTION: A great deal of confusion exists in the churches today because of the careless attention that is given to the various roles that people played in the First Century ekklesia (“church” to most). Without careful attention, it’s easy to assume upon ourselves roles and promises that were given to someone other than us. This episode takes a detailed look at the role of the apostles, and shows how it was a crucial and special role, and how we ourselves are not apostles.
This episode entails a reading (and expounding upon) of a September 2, 2013 article that Jack posted at his newly-restored website, bibleinvestigation.com. The article has been copied and pasted below for your convenience.
You are not an apostle.
You know this already, of course. So why am I writing an article to prove it?
Well, interestingly, an awful lot of believers who already know they are not apostles routinely assume upon themselves various promises and duties that Jesus gave to his apostles, and not to anyone else. So I thought it would be good to set the record straight on a few matters about which there seems to be widespread confusion.
First, some basic facts about the apostles:
1. The word “Apostle” means “one who is sent out”. From apo–out or away, stellein–to send. Read more a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="http://www.blueletterbible.
Episode 38: Recommending an Interview with Dr. John Walton at BibleProject.org
DESCRIPTION: Jack discusses various things, including a great and relevant interview The Bible Project did with Dr. John Walton, regarding interpretations of Genesis 1. Jack mentions the Jack, Anne, and George Problem (Hector Levesque) from Cognitive Science, and how it has such a crucial lesson for us with Bible study. (The lesson is to consider all the possibilities before giving a final answer.)
This episode recommends that you go listen to an interview that Tim Mackie and Jon Collins of The Bible Project did with Dr. John Walton, author of several books, including The Lost World series. The interview can be found at the link below:
Ancient Cosmology • Episode 6 Genesis 1-2: Origins or Identity?
Episode 37: Jack’s Considerations for Good Bible Study, Part B
DESCRIPTION: Jack continues discussing several ideas about what makes for good Bible study attitudes and techniques. It ends with a discussion of how having a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is not necessary for good Bible study, where having a high RQ (Rationality Quotient) is.
Jack’s Points (continued from Episode 36)
23. The (Protestant) Bible has over 31,000 verses across 66 books, some of which are themselves comprised of more than one document. It has nearly ¾ of a million words. You can read it again and again in your life, but you will never finished studying it if you’re the sort to want to understand everything in it as completely the author understood it—or further, as completely as God himself understood it.
24. If you are like most people, coming to an accurate and non-biased understanding of what a passage means will require that you keep shooing away the question “What does this mean to me?” so that you can maintain a sufficient focus on “What did the author mean?” Mature people can get good at this, but only through constant self-discipline.
Episode 36: Jack’s Considerations for Good Bible Study, Part A
DESCRIPTION: Jack discusses several ideas about what makes for good Bible study attitudes and techniques. It ends with a discussion of how having a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is not necessary for good Bible study, where having a high RQ (Rationality Quotient) is.
* Good Bible study should be done with a mental attitude of honesty, rationality, and responsibility. If you don’t want to know what the Bible really means, then what’s the point in studying it? To mislead yourself—and others?* It’s an exercise in decoupling from your own training, understandings, traditions, assumptions, wishes, attitudes, and moods, so as to seek to understand what the authors meant to convey and even why they meant to convey it.* Understand that they are going to mention things that their original audiences probably understood, but that YOU won’t understand. (E.g., Paul’s mention of “the third heaven” in 2 Corinthians 12:2) If you don’t track these things down, you are deciding to settle for a limited understanding of what you’re reading.* The Bible doesn’t explain everything it mentions.
Episode 35: Would You Approve of How Jesus Would Run His Kingdom?
DESCRIPTION: Throughout the history of humankind, there have been several distinct phases in how God has run things on the Earth. And every human is born into just one of these periods, and our lives rarely span across more than one or two of them at the most. But what if we don’t like what time it is? What if we would rather it be some other time? How docile are we in regard to all this? How open-minded?
Citations in this Episode
Some of his old joys had to go. Reagan could no longer ride his favorite horse. Nancy asked Reagan’s Secret Service man, John Barletta, to deliver the news. “I said, ‘I don’t think we should ride anymore’,” Barletta recalled. “By this time, there’s tears coming down his cheeks. And all he said, in his time of need, was, ‘It’s OK, John.’ I know he was trying to make me feel better.”https://www.newsweek.
Episode 34: Authentic Faith Will Swim Against the Tide
DESCRIPTION: In this lengthy episode, Jack discusses the gradient of faith that exists between mere mental assent to the statement that “Jesus is Lord”, and the opposite extreme at which someone is fully persuaded that the Image of God is good, and wholeheartedly invests him- or herself to living in that Image. He tells several stories about his own experience in the churches and his journey in trying to understand the Bible in a way that makes good sense—and that maps accurately onto what can be observed in the real world.
Resources for this Episode
Definition of faith (noun) at blueletterbible.org
Definition of faith/believe (verb) at blueletterbible.org