If you are like a number of people when it comes to religion, you are becoming less and less interested. You may be questioning the existence of God or among the growing group that rejects religion completely. However, if questioned, you might admit that you don't know the fine points about your religion or much of anything about its history.
You are not alone.
A Pew Research Center survey tells of a decline in religious belief in the United States. When speaking of belief in God it says, "There are strong signs that many are less certain about this belief than in years past. And a small but growing number of Americans say they do not believe in God at all." But, how are the wavering making decisions about believing or not believing? By feelings?
The fact is that, regardless of where you may have felt connected along the evolution of the tenets of a particular denomination, the God and the religion that Christian and Jewish people are accepting or rejecting stem originally from one source and one source only--the Five Books of Moses in the Hebrew Bible. In order to make an informed decision about falling away, one must understand this source.
I imagine that those conflicted enough may turn to the clergy or the halls of academe for answers. In today's environment, though, I suspect that many in those roles spend little or no time searching for the original meanings set forth in their religious texts. Instead, sermons and articles disseminate personal interpretations of this or that verse, which, I've often noticed, in no way relate to the intended biblical meanings. But, because these "religious" messages are promulgated by professionals, they are accepted as "the gospel truth," permanently cementing their faithful audiences in misunderstanding and making their questioning audiences strain to believe at all. At the very least, this irresponsible scholarship and leadership have resulted in messages that, if compared to the original text, would be largely unrecognizable.
Why do I make this dogmatic statement? A few years ago, I compiled my 50+ years of researched into a book titled Talking With God (Publishing Institute). In it, I explored several key Hebrew words from the Five Books of Moses, including the words traditionally translated as "sin," "glory," "guilt," and "soul." I compared them with their counterparts in neighboring ancient languages and found that the other languages' similar words had totally different meanings. For example, using the meanings found in the other languages, it turned out that in the Hebrew "sin" initially meant to contaminate; "glory" described a dangerous, naturally occurring radioactive substance; "guilt" meant susceptible to contamination; and "soul" was probably a substance found in the T-cells in the blood.
Tragically, the key Hebrew words that shape our understanding of the Bible, religion, and God have been so grossly misinterpreted and therefore mistranslated as to leave their true meanings incomprehensible. Properly translating any one of these words and watching it neatly reconcile itself into its biblical context would sufficiently challenge the questioning and newly disbelieving to hold off on any final decisions in this regard.
So that no one is operating out of abject ignorance, it's going to take a revolution among scholars, independent and in academe, as well as educated clergy (whose main worry today is maintaining their congregations). It's going to take those with courage and who are able to take up the radical task of studying the Bible's individual words and then correctly translating them. My hope is that a resulting text, pristine in logic, will almost miraculously appear. When that day comes, thoughtful people will reconsider their beliefs and make their religious decisions from a knowledge of what the Bible is actually trying to tell them, rather than what today's fallible teaching has proclaimed.
Roger D. Isaacs is the author of The Golden Ark: A Pictorial History and Talking With God: The Radioactive Ark of the Testimony. Communication Through It. Protection From It. To order your copies, visit TalkingWithGod.net.