This site is a collection of fairly short Bible articles by Jack Pelham. Articles are generally categorized by the categories listed in the header of this page.
The Bible remains the best-selling book of all time, and yet controversy about its nature and its meaning abounds as never before. To make matters worse, there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding regarding how or if the Holy Spirit helps believers to understand the Bible. So, this site is about taking a step back in order to investigate honestly and thoroughly what the Bible says and does not say, what it is and is not, and how it should be applied. Here we don’t rely on feelings or traditions or on what may or may not be the moving of the Holy Spirit from within. Rather, the exercise here is to see what would happen if we were to approach the scriptures with high diligence in honesty, rationality, and responsibility.
The views expressed here will generally be considerably different from traditional Christian beliefs since they come from an investigation of the texts themselves, and not from any religious institution or tradition. You may love some of what you read here, and hate some of it, too–and that’s OK. But I definitely want you to understand what this kind of Bible study is about. Perhaps you will think it is inadequate, or even wrong. And perhaps it is. But at least you’ll know how I have reached the conclusions published herein, and you can judge for yourself whether to take it or leave it, either as a whole, or article by article.
To put it succinctly, the problem this site seeks to solve is the one pointed out by American humorist, Mark Twain:
“In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue, but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”
~Mark Twain [i]
Welcome to a work in progress!
You’ll have to bear with me as this site is far from being complete enough to offer you a substantial body of reading at present. These modest beginnings are the vision of a man with far too little time to bring them swiftly to fruition.
The idea here is that, regardless of one’s “big picture” view of the Bible and of Christianity, one ought to be able to examine the Bible at the granular level with honest objectivity, in a “just the facts” approach. Whereas most like to consider their religious beliefs or doctrines as a unit–such as a brick wall–the goal here is to examine the individual “bricks” that make up that wall. When the bad bricks are disposed of and good ones put in their places, one ends up with quite a different wall from what his less-careful neighbors build.
The goal, therefore, is not to develop a position that is not anti-this-denomination or anti-that-denomination, but one that is pro-good-bricks, wherever that may lead.
A lot of what you’ll find here are simple lists of things. These may appear dry and “academic” in their own right, but I have found them necessary in reaching accurate “big picture” conclusions about the Bible. Say, for instance, that a person is convinced that some certain word (We’ll call it word “A”) he finds in some certain book, chapter, and verse, has meaning X. If a list of all instances of word A throughout the Bible shows that at least 90% of the time, it can be soundly taken to mean X, then our friend is on good shape. But what if it never means X elsewhere? Perhaps he should consider this a weakness in his case. (Not that he is necessarily wrong—but the goal here is to be objective, rather to be dishonest, right?)
Or similarly, consider the very common mistake by which believers refer to themselves as “Christ’s ambassadors”, using as support for that claim, this famous passage from Paul:
2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (NIV)
When one considers this verse out of context, it’s easy to assume that the “we” refers to all believers. If, however, the entire context of 2 Corinthians is studied, one finds a considerable body of we/you language, whereby Paul compares and contrasts his apostolic “team”, as it were, to his Corinthian audience. Indeed, even if the entire verse is considered, as opposed to only the first sentence in the verse, we see the we/you aspect at work again as Paul (part of the “we” in question) says he implores the Corinthians (the “you” in question) to be reconciled to God.
Another focus of this investigation are the various themes that run throughout the Bible. And still another is the incomplete nature of the Bible documents. For instance, in time, I will point out quite a large number of Bible one-liners—passages that make a brief mention of something without giving any details about it, and passages that mention fairly major events without any other corroboration from other Bible documents. (For example, the resurrection of “many holy people” just after Jesus’ resurrection. Matthew 27:52.) Since so many facts are left out of the Bible texts, it’s my opinion that we should be extra cautious while attempting to draw conclusions regarding what was said, done, and taught. It’s just too easy to reach faulty conclusions—and all the more in our hearsay culture where so few believe they ought to confirm things themselves before repeating them as fact to others. What’s the point of having adamant belief in anything that cannot be solidly supported by fact, logic, and valid sourcing?
This, therefore, is the sort of investigation I have in mind for BibleInvestigation.com. Ironically, some will consider such a pursuit to be “legalistic” or, perhaps, “unspiritual” in some other way. Perhaps they will see it as “nitpicking” or “critical”, or even as “divisive”. All those opinions aside, however, the the proof is in the texts, and not in the opinions of the readers. It simply does not matter to the facts of the scriptures what a reader believers about those passages. Errant belief does not change the facts, no matter how adamant or fervent or sincere it may be. If it did, we could all get together and make the Earth flat simply by deciding to believe that it’s flat!
Hence, this investigation—from a guy who simply doesn’t want to believe anything that is not true. My hope is that a growing number of people will adopt a clearer and more-honest approach to belief. And what better tribute could there be to the obvious paradigm of truth shared by God and Jesus?
I hope you enjoy reading. Because comment spam is such an issue these days, I have turned off the discussion feature on this website. I would be quite happy, however, to receive messages through the Contact Page. If I have got something wrong, got something right, or if you have more information for me, I’d love to see it!
[i] The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Revised edition. Charles Neider, Harper & Row. Chapter 78, p. 401, (1959)