074 – Is The bible Literal?

Is The Bible meant to be taken literally? Or is it open for interpretation?

Is the Bible literal? Should the Bible be taken literally or figuratively? Are those stories we read really events that happened? So many questions! And the more you read, the more questions you come up with!

We view God through layers of distorted lenses we have picked up over the course of our lives. This week we are talking about how to unlearn what we think we know about God. We discuss how when reading the bible, often times we unknowingly lean on the information we have already been taught. This leads to a confirmation bias and robs us of gaining a newer, deeper, or even more truthful understanding of scripture. We view God through layers of distorted lenses we have picked up over the course of our lives.

Judaism is a religion that thrives on personal understanding and contemplative thought around their scripture. Sadly, we are a culture of Black and White thinking and we have carried the mentality into our religion. When we realize that most of what we read was much more open to interpretation, it unlocks a level of Spiritual life that is so far beyond what we limit ourselves to. Don’t believe us? Then just how do you think we created so many different translations from the same original texts?

View Transcription (by Otter.ai)

Cody Johnston 1:34
Hey, everyone, welcome to the reckless pursuit. My name is Cody and my name is Elaine and this is episode 74. So today, what are we talking about? Cody? Don’t ask me. You’re the one that came up with this episode idea. So today we are actually just kind of catching up just having a conversation with you guys about just what’s on our hearts and what we’ve been kind of mulling over this past week. I we I feel like we haven’t

Elaine Johnston 2:00
done an episode like this in a very long time of, of just kind of having a conversation about just what’s going on in our life, what we’re thinking about what we’re praying about what we’re reading. And we just kind of wanted to update you guys on what life is like right now.

Cody Johnston 2:15
Yes, but before we get into that, I have a few quick things I want to share with everyone. Number one, if you are not part of our mailing list or email list, I would highly encourage you to head over to the reckless pursuit.com forward slash subscribe, got it out without stumbling here. And go click Add your email to that. Because when you do that, every time we have a guest, we do something called the final five. And you get access to all of that extra content that is only available to our email list. You also get weekly emails Elaine and I send out weekly stuff just to kind of have private conversations with you guys via email now. So it’s not just auto generated stuff anymore,

You get like first notice on all the new updates we have going on. And the big thing with that is we are working toward and this is something coming in the not too distant future. nomads Academy, which is going to be a place to have all kinds of just not really quizzes as much as it is just like resources, and curriculum and classes and all of those videos, those final fives will be held there to private interviews, all that kind of stuff will be held there. And if you are on our email list, you get a private invite to join in on that, and you get invited to the group. So if you’re not in the group Anyway, you should be there as well. That’s nomads. And you can find that in the show notes below a link to that. But if you join the email list, you’ll be invited as well. And the other thing I just want to give myself a quick plug here because my new show itinerant biblical history beyond the Bible is out. It is everywhere. podcasts.

are. And I’ll link up to that in the show notes below as well. But I’m super excited. I’m happy that it’s finally out into the the podcaster realm.

Elaine Johnston 4:08
I just want to say I’m very proud of you. You are just very creative. And this podcast. Well, with any podcast, it’s a lot of hard work, but specifically your podcast, doing all the research from biblical history. You’ve been working on this for the past two or three months, just gathering information for just the three episodes that you have out currently. Yeah, and I just want to applaud you for that. And just congratulate you for having your podcasts out. And just getting that into the ears of people who want to dig deeper.

Cody Johnston 4:41
Yes. And so if you are someone who enjoys history, you like biblical history, maybe you want to hear about some of these people, places events that you’ve heard about in biblical history, but from maybe outside the perspective of just the Bible or just church history, then this is for you. It’s itinerant, like I said, you can find it in the show

Elaine Johnston 5:00
Below, I’m very proud of it’s very story based kind of has an eerie kind of almost mystical vibe to it. It’s a lot of fun. It’s, it’s in I hope it’s engaging to me. It’s engaging, and it’s a little more emotional and very, very planned, very structured very all that like and you can also read if you’re not like much on listening, all of the transcripts are available for that as well on itinerant podcast. com. So we’ll link up to that. But all of that out of the way, Elaine, let’s just take this conversation way. This is your topic, even though it’s not really a topic. So we’re different topics.

I’m just being vulnerable with you guys like so I from my story. I haven’t really been like I didn’t grow up in church up until I was about 14. I was in eighth grade. Remember, I went to my first know my first church service, but my first youth group service, my parents were kind of the people who went on Easter and special occasions, but we didn’t really have a home church up until I was in eighth grade transitioning into high school. And so with that, I’ve talked about this a lot on the show, I was super involved with my youth groups who were involved with leading worship, super involved with leading small groups during the week, and all of that fun stuff. And my youth pastor Mark Cox, who is actually on our show a long time ago, whenever we first started, he actually was one of the people in my life that said, Hey, ask questions. Seek the Bible out for yourself. seek it out and discernment and prayer and read the Bible, not at face value, but really dig deeper ask God to show you what the scripture means. Don’t just take scripture from a pastor.

or even himself, you know, at face value, really dig deep. And, you know, I had parents who told me to question everything. I had people in my life telling me to question everything. With that being said, I feel like I didn’t do a good job. I feel like because I had permission. I felt like maybe I was safe and didn’t have to, I don’t know. And so I’ve read the Bible. I’ve led small group lessons about specific topics and specific scriptures. I have my favorite scriptures. But Cody and I have been kind of on and off doing a Bible study, just us to right now. I think we started like in the New Testament, several months ago

Cody Johnston 7:39
last year, so yeah, the way through, we gotta go back to the golf.

Elaine Johnston 7:42
Yeah. Now we have revelation, we have it sorted that yet. And so I felt like as a Christian, I know the general consists of the Bible. I know the Genesis story of creation. I know throughout the different people. I know, the Gospels, all of that stuff. I know, Revelation has been taught as a scary subject, all that stuff. But after our Bible study the other day, you know, so Cody, and I do live videos every once in a while or not as consistent as it on it now. But we do Facebook live videos where we read part of the New Testament. I was reading out of New Life, or New Living Translation. Yeah. And then you have the easiest, not easy. I have the

Cody Johnston 8:22
English Yeah, yes, fee.

Elaine Johnston 8:24
Yeah. And so we have a different translation. So we knew that our Bibles are going to interpret things a little differently whenever we read and which is kind of annoying, but kind of cool, because you for me, at least it’s hard to keep up with what Cody is reading. But at the same time, it gives them the new translations and the different perspectives of the Bible. But after I think it was Monday, Sunday of last week or something, we had a Bible study. And we were reading in what third? JOHN? JOHN three or

Cody Johnston 8:51
Yeah, it was first, second third, john and Jude we read all of them are all like, a few paragraphs deep.

Elaine Johnston 8:55
So we were reading it. And there’s a couple different translations, we were like, Oh, this kind of goes I read well, and it was from my Bible.

Cody Johnston 9:02
Your real quick to kind of interject your Bible was or if you know much about Bible translations. ESV is much more word for word. And in LT the New Living Translation is more thought for thought, which basically means her Bible is more interpretive structure and poetic versus mine is to try to be a little bit more literal, just one supposed to be a little bit easier to read and a little more

Elaine Johnston 9:28
common time basically tells you what to think as the person who wrote that translation. Right? And yours is more of this is what this says interpret yourself

Cody Johnston 9:39
kind of thing. Yeah, kinda for

Elaine Johnston 9:40
the most. Yeah, for the most part. So we were reading it and there was a, there was a specific verse. I don’t remember what chapter book it was. But there’s a specific verse where it had talked about loving people. And it said, mine said, Love your Christian Brothers and sisters, yours just said, Love your brothers and sisters. So we were going to have a commercial. Well, what does that mean? Are we supposed to only love Christians? Are we supposed to love everyone? Well, of course, we believe we’re supposed to love everyone, not just Christians. But why did my translation say Christian? And so whoever wrote that translation interpreted as, hey, love Christians, whatever. So that didn’t really sit well with me. You know, and throughout our Bible studies, we’re kind of like, Oh, well, your translation says this really well, or my translation says, this very well says really well, but that specific verse that did not sit well with me, and I’m not trying to nitpick the Bible, I’m not trying to nitpick the person who wrote that translation. You know, we’ve talked about the Bible isn’t, is inspired, you know, people have, based on your experiences, your personality type, what you’ve gone through in life, and how you’ve been taught, you’re going to read the Bible differently than I read it. That can be a good thing. That can be a bad thing, whatever. But that specific verse did not sit well with me. And I was like, well, this Bible I got at the beginning of college, I didn’t know anything about the different translations, I just knew that I wanted something that was different from the typical and Ivy Bible that I that every Christian girl seem to have in high school. And so I kind of bought this book by myself. But then I was like, you know, I kind of want a new Bible. I want to read the Bible as if I’ve never read the Bible before. I want to approach God as if I’ve never approached God before. If I don’t know anything about him, it’s okay that I have the background like I am a Christian I, I do have a devout relationship with God. But I can set that aside and read the Bible, as if I don’t know anything about him to kind of understand who God is to me, not who God would was to me back in high school, or middle school or college or whatever. And so we went out, and I bought a new translation. It’s like the Christian, it’s CSCCSRV.

Cody Johnston 11:43
Somebody that see it’s a new transactions on the mark.

Elaine Johnston 11:47
Yeah. And so it’s only been on the market for the past couple years. But it’s more word for word.

Cody Johnston 11:53
It’s very literal.

Elaine Johnston 11:55
Yeah. It’s very literal, literal. It’s more geared towards the middle, I guess between, but it’s not exactly in the middle. I, we were actually looking at the different trends, translations of the Bible, the most popular ones, which I did not know there’s an interim linear Bible. And if you look up, look that up. Holy crap, like that is very stressful, very cool. Because it has like the Greek and the Hebrew interpretations, very blocky, and it tells you like exactly what that word meant in those languages. And then it kind of what puts it together as if you’re reading.

Cody Johnston 12:27
Yeah, structures that so you can understand how we got to where we’re at. can interject real quick. Okay, so backtracking a little bit to where you said, we were going through both translations, and one said, Love your brothers. One said, Love your Christian Brothers, right? I just want to clarify, we actually did go of it. If you don’t have a Strong’s Concordance, basically, like where you can go and look up the the actual meaning and usage of a word, there’s an app, you can get it. It’s like free, honestly, on your phone. And it’s super easy. I got it. Yeah, like it. It’s super easy to use, and much easier. I’m trying to like buy a Strong’s Concordance for what however you have it, we went looked it up and loving your brother is more accurate. It’s actually meaning. The terminology behind the word is encompassing humanity. It means love humans love, like minded or not like minded but like, love like people. So it’s, you’re literally to love people. And it doesn’t say anything about Christianity, it’s not used in that context. I’m not sure how that translation, that seems like a really big, took a really big stance on something there. That’s not not even that I don’t know how they got to that point. But whatever. However, they decided, like that’s very different. And I want to share a little bit about my experience with your shopping for different translations. But I’ll let you go ahead and finish but I just wanted to go ahead and interject there that the loving your brother was the accurate one not loving your quote unquote, Christian brother.

Elaine Johnston 13:51
And so we were looking at the graph actually how to graph from high school that mode Sunday school teacher had, which I’ll

Cody Johnston 13:56
post it as the picture for this episode.

Elaine Johnston 13:59
And so I had a great from high school, I went and found and it had, where the different translations interpretations kind of fall between the word for word or the thought for thought. And so Originally, I was like, Oh, the inner linear, like, I’m going to get that Bible and then I open it. And I was like, Okay, this would be a great study Bible. But for me, I could not that stressful as my everyday Bible. So the next one was like an ASP or something. And so I was like, Okay, well, this is like next to enter linear. This is the most word for word Bible, you can get like on the market. I’m going to get this. And then we were looking at the chart of the different translations and how they speak to different people are like the goal of that specific translation. So I looked at the NTSB, and I was like, Oh, it was specifically for event

Cody Johnston 14:50
like certain evangelicalism. Yeah, literally said, this is made for conservative evangelical.

Elaine Johnston 14:56
And so I was like, okay, that doesn’t make sense. If it’s geared towards the at those specific people. Why would that not be in the thought for thought because of course, the language is going to be geared towards evangelizing and stuff like that. And I was like, so how is this word for word? That didn’t click well with me either. And so I was just like, Oh, my gosh, like, why is the Bible so misconstrued? And why is the Bible just so like, why is it geared towards specific people? Why are there different translations? And we’ve talked about, like, people understand, perceive God differently in the Bible and stuff like that. That’s fine. But I was just getting so freaking overwhelmed. And so I just like, picked one, and then looked at it, and I was like, okay, and it was on sale is like $23 because Bibles are freaking expensive. They’re like, $60. And what are the struggles? I love a cute Bible. I love a cute journal. All the cute ones were like devotional. So that’s not what I was wanting. I

Cody Johnston 15:47
don’t want any comment here. Here’s what I did. Yeah, I’m just gonna try when I got my new Bible, it’s like no commentary, no extra anything. Honestly, if we can find one without chapter headers that would even best but you know.

Elaine Johnston 15:56
And so another problem, which is, like trivial, but and the problem was like, well, they don’t have cute Bibles unless you’re doing devotional. So I had to pick a pink one with like, Paisley flowers engraved in it, or whatever. And so I opened it. And I was like, okay, it’s a big font as chapters that has, like, you know, the footnotes of like, what this word meant, and Hebrew or whatever. And then like,

Cody Johnston 16:18
pretty much it

Elaine Johnston 16:19
Yeah, go. And then it has like verses where it talks about other types of the Bible. But other than that, that’s all it had was just scripture. And I was like, Okay, I guess I can get over the fact that that it’s not really that cute. But the Bible, you shouldn’t read the Bible, because it’s cute. I understand that. And so I actually really, really enjoy this Bible. I don’t remember exactly what it was like, specifically for I think it was like, word for word. But in a modern day, I don’t exactly when the two Yeah. And so that’s what I’m kind of discovering right now is just rereading the Bible and the parts of the Bible that I never really understood or agreed with, or even knew about, or, yeah, there’s just so many things, scriptures that were taught that the way I am reading in this specific translation, I’m like, how did people get to these conclusions?

Cody Johnston 17:10
Well, and that’s kind of where I want to jump in real quick. Because I had an interesting, call it revelation realization, whatever you want to call it, while we were shopping for what I’ve been shopping for Bibles in a few years. In 2017, I bought my current Bible that I read pretty regularly, like I said, it’s ESV. And I bought it specifically because it was simple. It was simple, I could just read through didn’t have all the devotional I didn’t have Oh, we think so. And so wrote this, or we think it didn’t have any commentary, any of that crap, it just was straight through. And so I read all the way through that was, like, read the Bible in a year challenge or whatever. And I did it first time reading cover to cover in order like that. And so that was kind of cool, just to see it all play out. And I would highly recommend anyone to do that. Don’t. I know the study guides and stuff, make it easy, where it breaks it up and move stuff around, but just read it straight through if you’re going to do it because you get a really good idea. And that’s some of the flow history, especially in the Old Testament, especially, that’s

Elaine Johnston 18:02
what I’m kind of currently working on. It’s not necessarily any year, but I’m like reading the Bible word for word literally as it

Cody Johnston 18:10
Yeah, that was and I have like a system I use for highlighting like squiggle means questioning like bolding the highlight versus like thin line. Like all that kind of stuff. I have like a whole system for my highlights. And I went through with just one calendar, the whole thing. Now we’re going back through together on a lot of this and I’m going to use a different color the highlighter but like that was the whole thing. It’s like it’s it’s completely free of everything. The reason I got this one is because I kind of did a little bit of research. Whenever I was looking for my Bible translation, I found that like ESP is very, it leans more toward what

Elaine Johnston 18:40
I was just gonna say. I think it’s funny that I’m 23 and doing this and you were 23 when you started?

Cody Johnston 18:46
Yeah, that is.

Elaine Johnston 18:47
Yeah, funny to me.

Cody Johnston 18:48
Yeah. Okay, go on your pattern. Yes. So anyway, so I bought this one specifically, I was doing a little bit of research trying to figure out which one I liked. And this one was kind of more word for word than thought for thought, which is what I wanted, I’m more of a literal person anyway, so I kind of wanted something like that. Found it like the way I read kind of similar to use this one, just what stuck out to me. So I got it. The reason I’m bringing that up, when we were shopping for Bibles for you, like I said, it’s the first time I’ve shopped for a Bible in three years ish, right? First, I’m probably more dealt with that long to you know, kind of like a fish out of water walking into the store. Now I look around, I’m like, wow, this is

Elaine Johnston 19:23
I go there for like teaching supplies. But that’s but

Cody Johnston 19:25
yeah, so Oh, yeah, I guess when you go there for your teaching supplies, but I was walking through there looking at all these has a look at these charts. And you had asked me the question, because you have like a ton of questions all the time, which is cool. Like, that’s why we do what we do here. Right? And I’m trying to get out of the habit of answering questions. Because that’s always been my position as like a pastor, as a youth pastor, as a worship pastor even like, I answer questions. And, you know, in a lot of modern church settings, it’s it’s frowned upon, if you don’t have the answers to questions like your look down on like, Oh, you have to have the answers. You know, it’s like, God forbid, you just say, I don’t know, let’s just pray about that. Or Wow, that kind of contradicts itself. Let’s pray about that, you know, questions equal, like backsliding or questions or not being able to answer your question means that your faith is weak. A lot of times, it’s not necessarily like Paul said that, but that’s what it’s portrayed

Unknown Speaker 20:17
as that bothers me. But isn’t it it’s

Cody Johnston 20:21
like, that’s kind of what what we portray. Yeah. In our faith. So you asked me the question, Why are not even what you said, How are there so many different translations if it’s all based off of the same thing? And that really got me thinking, and I don’t know why I’ve never thought about this before. I’ve always realized like, Oh, it’s just like denominations. Everyone reads a little different. But no, these are actually written differently. Like, they’re similar in some instances. Other instance, they’re very different. Right, the

Elaine Johnston 20:50
verse about the Christian and then loving Christians or loving everyone,

Cody Johnston 20:54
right? Well, and then you even get into like things like the message which some churches take his doctrine, I do not get it. Like, I don’t have an issue with the Message Bible, if you like poetry, but it was written as poetry. And then it was like, people liked it so much that the publishing house pretty much asked the guy to just write the whole Bible that way, because it was originally just a couple books,

Elaine Johnston 21:12
I think it’s beautiful. But I think it would be a great study tool, if you’re a very emotional and creative person, which I am I love, like, I think it’s beautiful and beautifully written. But at the same time for like, just everyday reading, I think you kind of almost lose kind of the importance of some of the Scripture, I’m

Cody Johnston 21:34
completely backwards. But you’re also for Graham on the five. To me, it’s a terrible study tool. Like you should never study the Message Bible, because you’re putting in a bunch of crap. That’s not actually what said, but it’s beautiful to use as like an expression. Yeah. So like, for me, it’s the polar opposite. But that’s because I’m a logical, like thinker, and you’re an emotional feeler. So that’s interesting. Just side note there. So you asked me that question. How are there so many different translations? And I just had this realization, because, and this is something I’ve already know, I’m sorry, I’m making you have like a bit of anticipation here, like, anxious to try to figure out what my answer is to this, the Hebrew language as a whole, the way the Old Testament especially was written, the people that wrote this, even though to Paul, who was a scholar, you know, he was basically a heresy, right? Like all of these people are Jewish descent. There. They are. Hebrews, and you look at this, and you realize, when the Hebrew language is written, when these original books were written, they were written from a place where they were open to interpretation from the person writing them. I think Austin actually mentioned that a little bit in our last episode was great episode, go check it out if you haven’t listened to it yet. But he mentioned how like the Old Testament, whenever it was originally written, there were no vowels. There were no vowels in the Hebrew language, because it was open for interpretation and vowels made the difference of things like love and hate, you know,

Elaine Johnston 23:15
just the letter change.

Cody Johnston 23:16
Yeah. And so when the person read it, they would insert the vows they felt that passage was referring to, and then they would all commune and talk. And if you ever talk to Jewish scholars, if you ever talked to people who study, you study that religion that you know that dissent in general, they will tell you Yeah, like this is how this is how we do things we don’t nothing is verbatim. It’s not black and white. That’s a very Western thing we have adopted with Christianity’s everything’s black and white. There isn’t like this in between area. But to them, it very much is like it’s open, like, oh, how do you get out? What do you get out of this? And it’s similar, like, Sure, we can go and read the Bible. And we can say, Oh, yeah, like that’s cool to us. That was this stood out to me. But we don’t really give the Bible the room in needs. We take everything, just this verbatim literal illness. That’s not how it was written. That’s not how Jesus taught. Like, if you want to sit there and say, Well, wait, the Bible’s supposed to be literal, stop. How did Jesus teach? It was all parabolic, everything he taught was parable, right? So everything is relating to something else is how Jesus taught. And even whenever he tried to explain himself, or what he meant, people still didn’t get it because of how much depth there was to his message. And so I realized, if you take a text that is intended to be read openly, then that means whoever wrote the ESV Bible is going to get one thing out of it. Whoever read the are translated over to the NLT Bible is going to get something else out of it, the new Christian standard, whatever it was that you were saying, that’s more conservative evangelicalism. If you have a group of conservative eventually articles, looking at everything through a lens of conservative evangelicalism, they’re going to create a Bible translated from a text to mirror conservative evangelicalism, because the Bible is meant to take out of it for each individual person. And then I realized, like, how many filters do we look at everything through and this kind of comes down to where you were reading recently, and you’re good at this. I have a hard time with this. I’ve grown up in church literally, as long as I can remember, I worked in church, I’ve been molded by church over and over again. So to unlearn this stuff for me is just so hard. Because I and like I said, I’m a knowledge person, I’m a 5 million new gram, I consume knowledge. Knowledge is power. To me, knowledge is comfort to me. And so I read the Bible, and I have this confirmation bias of like, Oh, yeah, this is what I’ve been taught. It says it here, here and here. And so I skim over all this stuff in between, that actually breeds out to a different story. If I were to actually stop and look at it, focus on it. You being an emotional person, I feel like you have an advantage reading the Bible, because you’re able to look past that and go, Wait, but why is it saying that? And we’re even reading about the Tower of Babel Babylon. Yeah. Okay. Whichever way you want to look, I think it’s Atlantis.

Elaine Johnston 26:14
I’m saying it’s, I think it’s the bread of the

way. I think you get that out of that scripture. Okay, okay. Okay. So it’s not about firing Brit. I know. Well, yeah. But I just envisioned, like making bread. Okay, but you fire Klay. I know.

Unknown Speaker 26:28
I know me.

Unknown Speaker 26:30
Okay, so that wasn’t my first thing that I saw. So like I said, Yes.

Unknown Speaker 26:36
Well, there you

Elaine Johnston 26:38
are observatory. So like I said, I’m trying to reread the Bible, from Genesis all the way through revelation in order, not necessarily in a year, but just completely trying to understand what the scripture is saying, without any emotional bias or without anything that a pastor is told me whether I agree or disagree, whatever, and trying to understand, like, okay, I can put these preconceived notions aside, and I can see them as Okay, well, that person obviously got that out of this first because it says this, or, you know, I don’t understand how this person got that. And one of the things that I’m learning right now is was the Tower of Babel. So I was reading that this week.

Cody Johnston 27:20
We just got like, you can tell how early she is. And we literally just did this like this happen. Yeah, this very current.

Elaine Johnston 27:27
Yeah, it was like Monday when I got the Bible or something. But so I was reading that. And in my journal, I obviously write down. So the way I do whenever I read Scripture, I have like, the piece of Scripture, whether like the chapter verse, whatever. And then, most of the time, I kind of paraphrase the scripture in like the way I read it, and then or at least, like what it’s saying. And then I put like, additional notes. So the Tower of Babel, or the Tower of Babylon, whatever you want to call it. I was reading that. And it’s a very short chapter, honestly. Yeah. And so I was reading it as if I’ve never watched the Veggie Tales version, as if I had never heard it in Sunday school, like, you know, you know, just trying to get rid of anything I know about this. And just reading as if I wasn’t a Christian or reading as if I just received the Bible. And it was basically, the way my translation read was these people live in different areas from the east and the west, and all the stuff and they were trying to be unified. And they had built this tower, because they all spoke the same, the same language in the same nation, or whatever. And so in my head, this is how it read. So they were from different areas, they built this tower, whether it’s a bread oven, or observatory here or whatever, Atlantis. So they built this tower that went to the sky that they were building it to go up to the sky. And I think mine says sky, some translations say heaven or heavens, touch on that. And so mindset, it was reaching to the sky. And so they were all of one nation under one language,

Cody Johnston 29:08
the one God, indivisible, with liberty and justice.

Elaine Johnston 29:11
And so they were wanting to be unified. And then God was like, hey, because they’re unified, nothing is impossible for them. Let me confuse them, and turn it into different languages. And I was just like, what the heck, like, I’ve been taught that they built this altar, and they were trying to make an idol out of themselves because they wanted to become God. And God was like, Oh, no, this is punishment, punishment, I’m going to confuse you. And I don’t see where people get that the chapter is so short, and says so few about what actually happened. It goes more into detail of what they made it out of then what the purpose of it was. And so I was just like, where do people get this notion that they were trying to become God? Obviously, I’m not a Bible scholar. I never studied the Bible. I don’t know scripture that much. It could talk about it way later in the Bible, there could be a good reason why people teach it the way they do. But as if I’ve never read this, I have no idea why we get taught the things we do.

Cody Johnston 30:08
Yeah. So interesting thing to me about that, right? The Tower of Babel. And this is like, why am I even going into this? First of all, it’s just to kind of show everyone Hey, like, we don’t have to take everything, the way we see like not everything we’ve been taught in churches right at all. So tower Babel, you think is the story. It’s like people all have the same language and descent, they build this tower because they’re trying to climb their way into heaven. Right? That’s their intent. We want to get into heaven, so we can become God. God confuses their languages and scatters them. That’s pretty much the issue. That’s, that’s the gist of this. In actuality, if you read, they don’t just build a tower, they build an entire city. It’s a whole city, based around a tower. Very similar to me, to Zoroastrianism and Dema. And the whole idea of that, the reason being is because in Zoroastrianism, those are, from my understanding of it, whenever you hear about the wise men coming from the east, the east of the West, the wise men coming from whichever direction they come from, sorry, don’t have that on top of my head. But they’re coming from Persia, which are the Persian Magi, which are Zoroastrians and they are astrologers, they studied the stars to predict the outcomes. Hence the reason they saw the star in the sky, and it didn’t look right. And they followed it, because that’s what they did. If you read through the little bit of the story of Babel, it’s actually talking about building an observatory. It’s talking about building a celestial map, basically, in the city. It’s not saying we want to build a tower to reach heaven, it says into the heavens, those are two different words, look them up in the Greek, two different words, does not mean you’re trying to get into heaven. It’s the same principle of God created the heavens and the earth as an celestial bodies around us, the the atmosphere in the first true different things. And so they’re basically building a map to understand and if you actually go into studying, this is deep crap. And I’m sorry, just bear with me what I read all the time. So I’m going to vent, if you go into like esoteric teaching, a lot of it is actually representative, even the Tower of Babel is not a physical thing, as much as it is representative of man trying to take on the knowledge of God or tried to understand so much that they basically just kind of like in the in the garden, whenever we say God, God speaks in plural, throughout the first part of Genesis, which is kind of interesting. In and of itself. We can argue Trinity, but there’s some interesting stuff there too. But it actually says, Man is becoming too much like us. And it actually said that they confuse the languages of the people. It doesn’t say, God, it speaks plural. There’s just a lot of things here that we missing about

Elaine Johnston 32:52
this, I just thought of another complete I like different idea about the Tower of Babel is maybe at one I have a question of like, if they were trying to reach heaven if they were trying to become like God and get to know God, what one Why Is that wrong? If we’re made in God’s image, and we’re supposed to be like, God, we have the gifts of God. Jesus says, we could walk on water, Peter walked on water, you know, like we have that we have a faith of a mustard seed, then why was it bad that they were trying to get into heaven, if that’s what it was saying. But then I have another I literally just thought of another idea of like, they all had one language, and they were under one nation understood each other, whatever. And then maybe the reason why God confused them, if that’s what happened, was because he’s like, hey, there’s different facets of me. There’s different people, you can’t all like you can agree on things, but not everyone’s going to be exactly the same. Here’s new languages of how to perceive me. Here’s new vocabulary words to use to understand yourself and creation and live. Maybe it was they had for you words to describe who God was, and only viewed God or themselves or creation. And like, few little, like adjectives, understanding God’s like, hey, there’s so much more vastness, vastness to you, to me to the world. So maybe it wasn’t to confuse but maybe to offer other assets of him and offer on different understandings and different languages. Sure, I

Cody Johnston 34:26
just a very good point. And then also, I think it’s, if anything, it’s a beautiful narrative and symbolic of how ultimately, man’s destiny throughout the Bible, if you read the Bible, kind of, I don’t know how to like explain this without visually drawing it. When you think I guess this is an easy way, it’s a circle, right? man’s ultimate intent is to get back to the Eden state, we are to get back to walking and communing with God freely without sin. That is, that is the ultimate purpose of man, if you read from Genesis to Revelation, or from Revelation digitas is it reads the same both ways. Honestly, like its creation, its damnation, it’s redemption. And then it’s restoration basically. And so like that is the nature or if you just want to simplify it, if creation on one, on the top of the circle, at the very bottom, you circle around a redemption. And now we’re working our way back to, you know, to restoration with God, which is creation essence. And so when you go to the Tower of Babel, God spread the people because we had to become an unified, so we can become unified. And that even gets into a little bit of the ideologies of hell of if hell is actually on earth. And we’re constantly going like we go through hell if Hell’s more symbolic, in, in the essence of purification of the soul through life, then the journey is you would have to scatter people to go through those purification, that filtering process to make their way back to the restorative Christ. And there’s a whole lot that is not even something we

Elaine Johnston 35:59
have this time, like, what Genesis 13 or something that I’m in, I’m not even halfway through Genesis right now. Like,

Cody Johnston 36:07
that’s the beauty of it, though. And that’s what we’re saying. The Bible is not all, there’s so many other lenses that we look at God through we have, you know, you think about like wearing a pair of glasses, and I just think of like these really thick framed glasses that have like 15 lenses, or like a camera lens has had like 15 different lenses to try to remove distortions to see things right. And it’s still distorts, you still have to have software and crap to clean up the image at the end, because it distorts. Where are I see it face to face. I mean, it’s in First Corinthians 13, the love chapter, it says, Now you see, as if you’re looking in a dirty damn mirror, then you will see face to face. There’s like this beauty to me. And this is like, one of my very first like, quote unquote, revelations that I had, when I read through that, and this is a sermon I preached one time, actually, but it still resonates true even after me working through a lot of this stuff that I used to believe, when you look at a mirror, scientifically, and this is just, let’s just put it this way. It’s kind of creepy. When you think about it, you’ve never seen yourself, you can never see yourself, it is physically impossible for you to see yourself. Unless you got eyeball extensions. I don’t think those exist yet. So you can’t see yourself, you can see your hands. You can see legs, you can see your shoulders, but you’ll never see yourself face to face. And you can say, well, I’ve seen myself in a mirror, or I’ve seen myself in the reflection of water. Or I’ve seen myself in a photo or a video. But you’ve never truly seen yourself through the undistorted lens of the human eye the most pure and accurate lens one can look through because it’s the gold standard, right? Everyone has eyes every most everyone has eyes. And everyone like that sees sees through those eyes. You know, a camera can never interpret what a human eye sees as good as the human eye can. Even if as a faster frame rate or faster shutter higher resolution than the human eye. It doesn’t matter because the human eye would never even be able to see that. So the human eye is the gold standard we refer everything to and every time you look in the mirror, every time you look at a photo, you’re seeing a distorted version of yourself, even if in the most minor way possible. They scientists have hypotheses hypothesize that if you were to see yourself, you would most likely not even recognize who you are. It’s kind of like hearing your voice on a tape recorder for the first time. Right and the

Unknown Speaker 38:29

Cody Johnston 38:30
Oh, yeah. Exactly. tape recorder Where am I? The 90s. Okay, it’s kind of like hearing yourself on a podcast for the first time. Yeah, like you have this. This realization. Oh, wow. That’s what my voice sounds like. But you’ve never actually no one can hear your voice the way you hear it. Because your voice is resonating out of you and echoing into the the conductive bones in your ear, you hear your voice the most pure way possible. Everyone else is hearing of you as a perception. Even your hearing of what I’m saying right now is a perception ran through filters and compression, all that to make our audio sound CRISPR. And all this kind of stuff to make it try to pull through as authentic as possible. But it’s not the same as if you were in the room or better yet not the same as if you were me. Well, the same thing can be said about God. And we take all these different lenses. This is what I was taught at church. This is the way I read this. This is the way society has told me to view things. This is the way my culture says to view things. This is the way that he tells Veggie Tales has to do it. This is the way my translation reads all these different things are filters. And when you realize you’re looking at God through a stack of filters, you know, hundreds deep when you start unpacking, you know, it’s kind of like in cognitive therapy, when you start unpacking. Why do you do what you do, you start breaking these agreements, you’re like, holy crap, I don’t just have an agreement to you know, always care about the way my hair looks, I actually have an agreement because my parents used to get on to me, because they said I wasn’t presentable, which actually goes to the agreement your parents made because of agreement with their like it goes down the line. There’s all these filters, and filters stacked on filters that we have picked up to view God through. And it’s like, we’re trying to read the text through 20 magnifying glasses to pick apart the small things. But if you remove all of those and look at the bigger picture, creation as a whole is beautiful. And it’s so vast, and it’s so amazing. And we’ll spend our whole life just trying to remove these filters enhance the beauty of God, when you get outside of this traditional churchy isms of literal black and white everything’s this way or that way, you know, tit for tat kind of mentality. You realize, like, wow, God is so vast, God is so beautiful. And just because I don’t believe in a seven day creation, or I don’t really know if I believe, you know, like, Genesis is accurate, which, you know, shocker. I don’t I don’t believe in Genesis deck. I don’t believe the story of Noah is accurate. I believe that it was written by someone many years later passed down orally tradition, if you find all that kind of stuff, interesting. My other podcast I generate, I just said, you know, another blog here. Literally, that’s what it’s about. Because this stuff is so fascinating to me. So if this is fascinating to you, like, please go find it, because I think you’ll enjoy it. But like, that’s what’s so crazy is you don’t have to come to the same realization to realize the redemptive power of Christ.

Elaine Johnston 41:22
Well, I want to preface this as well, is that we can get so hung up on those filters. Oh, yeah, we can get so hung up on what my pastor says this, but my dad actually says this, but I believe this, but my spouse thinks that, like, we get so confused, and so trapped in those filters, that we are actually saying, God, you can study the Bible and never actually know God, you can study, you know, the theology and the Greek and the Hebrew and all this stuff, and, and go to school for this, be trained for this be a pastor your entire life and all this stuff. And you can go your entire life without actually understanding who God is for yourself. And that can be scary. And I want to preface this that you don’t have to get hung up on that. You can ask questions, but you probably won’t get all the answers. And that’s okay. Not everyone can know every little thing. God’s not going to reveal everything, why he created things, every detail to every single person or even one specific person. But there’s beauty and asking questions, because you don’t know what you actually might find the answer to. And I feel like that’s the importance of discernment. That’s the importance of prayer and seeking it out for yourself. And not what somebody else told you. The Bible said, not what you think the Bible says. But really, what is God trying to reveal to you?

Cody Johnston 42:47
I think a beautiful way just to sum this whole conversation up is a verse in Jude 122. And it simply states have mercy on those who doubt like that. And the reason in it’s so powerful to me is not even because of the word doubt. But because, literally, to me, that doesn’t just say like, oh, that person’s doubting, bless their heart. It’s not what that means. What it means is, some of us have questions. And our questions are authenticated through Christ, some of us have things that we’re struggling with, you know, a doubt to you. what looks like a doubt to you may actually be a revelation to me.

Elaine Johnston 43:31
And the blog posts that actually wrote this past week was titled, you’re not as lost as you think you are. And I love how that ties into that verse. Because I didn’t see that verse until afterwards, but have mercy on those who doubt. God has mercy on us for when we ask questions, because we’re digging deeper into our relationship with him. If you’re not asking questions, I feel like that’s a big problem. If you think you have everything figured out, if you think you have all the answers, you’re not actually digging deeper, you’re like, Well, I know this, I don’t really need God, I don’t really need to press in deeper. But actually, you do need a question. And God loves only question. God has mercy on us when we when we question because we’re admitting, hey, we don’t have the answers. But we want to find out who you are for ourselves.

Cody Johnston 44:16
Yeah. And like the Greek translation is even more, I just decided to look this up real quick. The Greek translation of the word doubt is I’m going to try to say this, it’s a de aqui. No, and I’m probably just butchered that. But it means to separate thoroughly, that is literally and reflexively to withdraw from. And yeah, that’s to hesitate, and to discern, to doubt and judge or be partial. So literally, it’s saying, those who stagger those who discern differently, those who judge things differently, those who withdraw from or those who go toward, or those who separate through things who pick things apart, have mercy. Don’t be judgmental, because that is the beauty of Christ is learning about him. The beauty of Christ if we are, if we’re not exploring why we believe, and this is something I don’t know if Austin said it on last episode, but I know he said, if he didn’t say on the last episode is, is instead of this inspiring me right now is if your theology has 50 verses that line it up to believe one thing and one verse picks it apart, then you have to restructure your theology. This episode had a whole lot more direction than we thought it was going to when we started. So apparently, we gotta say, going somewhere with that, so we’ll just go with it. So real quick, I just want to pose this simple question. And I would love to hear your response as well. What is something that you have been taught about God? That doesn’t line up with what you’ve seen? What is something you’ve been taught about God that doesn’t line up with what you’ve seen? You can find us online, the reckless pursuit.com that’s isn’t a complete overhaul right now you can go there, join our email list and get all of that exclusive content delivered right to you. And that is honestly like the best place to get all the behind the scenes stuff. But the best place to keep the conversation going is nomads. a safe place for Christians asking safe questions. It is our private community group and we would love to have you apart, head down there, click that. Find the link and ask to join. If you enjoyed this episode, we asked you to share it on with a friend word of mouth is seriously that I mean seriously. Like I’m being really like real here. This podcast would not exist without word of mouth because that is like the fastest way to spread anything and keep that conversation going. And as always, we would love to hear from you drop us an email. Find us in that community group Say hi, we want to talk with you. We want to get to know you guys. Because this isn’t about us. This is about all of us coming together to explore Christ deeper and always be brave, be bold, and be reckless.

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You can study the Bible, go to church, and go to school but never actually know God - Elaine Share on X 
What looks like a doubt to you might actually be a revelation to me. - Cody Share on X 

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