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Don't over complicate what is a simple message of Salvation
"Scripture is simple enough to be understood by the humble, yet deep enough to challenge the most learned scholars." - Anonymous
Have you ever wondered why some people have a distorted view of what is written in the Scriptures, and why some people are so fixed in their views that they cannot see or understand the obvious? And why do some people spend significant time and effort diverted from the Fathers Way by seeking pagan rituals and hidden secrets when what they should be doing is seeking a personal relationship with the Father? It is all because of delusion.
One of the great tools used by our enemy is delusion. What better way to destroy individuals witness, or to drive people running from the Scriptures by challenging their learning and understanding.
There is a learning and understanding problem where people unconsciously, but selectively, understand what is familiar to them. It is called "confirmation bias". It is one of the "cognitive bias's" that refers to the tendency of individuals to seek out, interpret, and remember information in a way that confirms their pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses, while disregarding information that contradicts them.
In other words, individuals tend to look for information that supports their existing views and ignore information that challenges those views.Confirmation bias can occur in various contexts, including politics, science, everyday decision-making, and effective understanding of the Scriptures. For example, if someone believes that a certain medical treatment is effective, they may seek out information that supports their belief while ignoring evidence that contradicts it.
Similarly, individuals may selectively listen to news sources that confirm their political views while disregarding sources that challenge those views. If someone believes certain conspiracy theories, they will interpret all events through their understanding in a conspiracy theory. The challenge we all have as Natsarim is how to reach out to those individuals, how to be an effective witness and lead by example, and how to be on hand when the Ruach HaKodesh creates a moment of truth that causes individuals to question alternatives.
Confirmation bias is a cognitive bias that affects people's ability to evaluate information objectively. When it comes to religious beliefs, confirmation bias can be particularly powerful because people often feel very strongly about their beliefs, and may be resistant to considering alternative perspectives or evidence that contradicts their beliefs.
Confirmation bias can lead to the development of different denominations, doctrines, and beliefs, as people interpret religious texts and teachings in different ways. This can create division and conflict, as people may become entrenched in their own beliefs and reject alternative perspectives regardless of the evidence that may amass.
However, it's important to note that not all differences in religious belief are solely due to confirmation bias. Religious texts and teachings can be open to interpretation, and are often blended with paganism or personal choice, or even and understanding of the world around them. It is one of our enemies great tools.
There are two related issues I wanted to discuss with you today. The first is about individuals interpreting and hunting hidden truths and secrets in the Scriptures, and being diverted from the evangelical work the Father has for them. The second is to talk a little more about confirmation bias as it is something we all have to a greater or lesser extent.
1) Being diverted from the work of the Father
It's important to remember that while there may be deeper or hidden meanings in the Scriptures, the primary focus of the Scriptures is on the message of Salvation through faith in the Messiah. As Natsarim, our mission is to share the good news of the gospel and help others come to know the Messiah, rather than getting caught up in interpreting every detail of Scripture.
While it can be interesting and enlightening to study the Scriptures in depth, we must always remember to keep the main thing the main thing - spreading the Gospel message and sharing the love of the Messiah with others.
The Scriptures are a complex and multi-layered text that can be interpreted in many different ways. It contains stories, parables, poetry, and prophetic messages that speak to the human condition and the relationship between the Father and mankind. One of the common mistakes I have seen individuals make, is to take verses or sections of a verse and either apply current understanding of meaning and words, or link a similar theme from one verse in one book, to another verse somewhere else. This just does not work, the Messiah did not do it, and if anything, it is bending or adding to the Scriptures.
Understanding the Scriptures involves considering relevant historical, cultural, and literary context. This includes understanding the language, idioms, and literary devices used by the writers and the cultural and historical background in which they wrote. Phrases used by writes 2,000 or so years ago carry very different meanings to what we understand by the same phrase today. It's important to seek wise counsel and guidance from trusted spiritual leaders, rather than relying solely on our own interpretations or even worse, false news from the internet.
Taking verses out of context or applying modern understandings to ancient texts can lead to misinterpretation and potentially distort the meaning intended by the original writers. Some individuals may seek out conspiracy theories, hidden meanings, or deeper spiritual experiences when interpreting the Scriptures. While it is important to understand the Scriptures, it is also important to avoid falling prey to confirmation bias or overly complex interpretations that may cause distraction from the true Salvation meaning of the Scriptures. The message the Messiah gave us is simple - and distort the simple message of the Scriptures.
The Messiah emphasised in his response to the question about the "great commandment in the Torah", and stated that the greatest commandment is to love the Father with all one's heart, soul, and mind, and to love one's neighbour as oneself. This simple yet profound message emphasises the importance of love, compassion, and empathy, and is the true message the Messiahs teaching give us.
While it is important to explore the many layers of meaning in the Scriptures, it is also important to remember that the ultimate goal of every believer should be to cultivate a deeper relationship with the Father and to live a life of compassion and service to others. This is what the Messiah did. By focusing on the simple yet powerful message of love and compassion, we can avoid getting caught up in conspiracy theories, hidden meanings, or overly complex interpretations that may distract us from the true message of the Scriptures which the Messiah stated in Matthew 22:37 When he quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18
Matthew 22:37 And Yahusha said to him, “ ‘You shall love Yahuah your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the first and great command. 39 “And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 “On these two commands hang all the Torah and the Prophets.”
We all have a natural tendency to seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs and discount information that contradicts them. This can be particularly challenging in religious contexts, where our beliefs are often deeply held and emotionally charged.
Confirmation bias is a type of cognitive bias that affects the way individuals perceive, interpret, and recall information. It occurs when individuals seek out, interpret, and remember information in a way that confirms their existing beliefs or education, while disregarding information that contradicts them. This bias can occur in many different contexts, including interpretation of the Scriptures. It is the key reason why there are so many different church doctrines that are vehemently protected by denominations. Well, I think that they all cannot be right particularly when some of the doctrines contradict each other.
One example of confirmation bias is an individual who believes that the creation story in Genesis is just that, a story, and considers that evolutionary theory is the truth. However, the evidence of evolution and radio isotope dating does not stack up once it is examined in detail. An individual may have been taught evolutionary theory all of their life, and their peers believe in evolutionary theory. In this case, the individual's pre-existing belief is that the creation story in Genesis is not true, and that evolutionary theory is true. So they are more likely to interpret the Genesis story in a way that fits their belief and ignore or dismiss evidence that contradicts it, even if that evidence is strong and well-supported by data. This bias can prevent individuals from considering the simple truth in the Scriptures, limit their ability to objectively evaluate evidence and cause them to dismiss information on other matters if that information is presented by someone who believes in creation.
Confirmation bias is one of the reasons we have so many different (and at times contradicting) doctrines. It is why individuals will worship the pagan e-a-s-t-e-r and c-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s festivals and not the Fathers Feast Days.
Confirmation bias can also affect the way individuals recall information about the Scriptures. For example, an individual who believes in a certain theological framework may remember Scriptural verses that support this framework while forgetting or distorting verses that contradict it. This can lead to a skewed understanding of the text and a limited ability to consider alternative perspectives.
That is one of the reasons why individuals who could significantly impact on the growth of belief in the Father may “turn off” or mislead other potential believers. What a great weapon against belief, and we know where that comes from.
Confirmation bias can take many different forms, but it generally involves selectively perceiving, seeking out, interpreting, recalling, or maintaining information that confirms existing beliefs while disregarding or downplaying information that contradicts the information that is held. It is existing knowledge that creates bias, you may recognise these.
With awareness of these bias's and a willingness to challenge existing beliefs, you can overcome obstacles and continue to learn and grow in the Fathers Word as he intended. But importantly, you can be aware of these bias's when you talk to others, as each conversation needs to unique to the person you are speaking to, as their confirmation bias will be different.
Selective perception bias: This bias involves selectively perceiving information in a way that supports existing beliefs while ignoring information what contradicts them. For example, a climate change skeptic may focus on news stories that support their beliefs while disregarding scientific evidence that supports climate change.
Information bias: This bias involves seeking out and selectively using information that confirms existing beliefs while ignoring or rejecting information that contradicts them. For example, an individual who believes in a conspiracy theory may selectively seek out and interpret information that confirms the theory while ignoring evidence that contradicts it.
Interpretation bias: This bias involves interpreting information in a way that confirms existing beliefs while ignoring or downplaying evidence that contradicts them. For example, an individual who believes that vaccines are harmful may interpret studies that show vaccines to be safe as flawed or biased.
Recall bias: This bias involves remembering information in a way that confirms existing beliefs while forgetting or distorting information that contradicts them. For example, an individual who believes that they are always right may remember instances where they were correct while forgetting instances where they were wrong.
Belief perseverance bias: This bias involves maintaining existing beliefs even in the face of evidence that contradicts them. For example, an individual who believes in a certain political ideology may continue to support it even when presented with evidence that contradicts its claims.
To overcome confirmation bias, individuals can try to be more aware of their own biases and actively seek out information that challenges their existing beliefs. Additionally, they can engage in critical thinking and consider alternative perspectives to evaluate evidence objectively. For instance, what is the counter-factual. Great evil exists in this world, then great good must.
When you give your heart, mind body and soul to the Father, you also need to give up many things in your education and life that you may have believed was correct as these are contributing to your own confirmation bias. This is probably what the Messiah meant in Matthew 18:2 when he said we must come to him as children, as confirmation bias does not form at a young age. While there is no specific age at which confirmation bias forms, research suggests that children as young as four years old may exhibit a tendency to seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs and to ignore or reject information that contradicts their beliefs. As children grow and develop, they become more sophisticated in their thinking and reasoning abilities, which may affect the extent to which they exhibit confirmation bias.
Matthew 18:2 And Yahusha called a little child to Him, set him in their midst, 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become as little children, you shall by no means enter into the reign of the heavens. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the reign of the heavens.
When I understood that my biggest barrier to Salvation was my education, and I took a step in faith to release the bias's I had developed over the decades, it was the turning point in my life. Turning from sin, but also turning from the education that contradicted the Scripture and is barrier to understanding and ultimately salvation. The veil across my eyes was torn, just as the Temple veil was torn and I could understand the Scriptures.
I sought forgiveness, a renewed heart and a renewed born again mind that was free from confirmation bias. Now I follow the Messiahs teaching to cultivate a deeper relationship with the Father and to live a life of compassion and service to others, and shield my understanding from distractions and delusions.
So the key message is
Don’t seek hidden meanings in the Scriptures that may not be there. The truth is in the Messiahs teaching and that is what is expected of us. We all need to obey, not pick and choose what we will obey, but obey all instruction from the Father. We must follow the Torah and the Fathers Salvation Plan, and the teachings of the Messiah.
Avoid distractions and delusions. As Paul said in his letter to Timothy and to Titus
2 Timothy 2:23 But refuse foolish and stupid questions, knowing that they breed quarrels. 24 And a servant of the Master should not quarrel but be gentle towards all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 in meekness instructing those who are in opposition, lest somehow Yahuah gives them repentance unto a thorough knowledge of the truth, 26 and they come to their senses, out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his desire.Titus 3:9 But keep away from foolish questions, and genealogies, and strife and quarrels about the Torah, for they are unprofitable and useless.
Just as a final point, to overcome:
Distraction and delusion - focus on the Scriptures and the Messiahs teaching. Who cares about arguments about a flat earth, focus on developing a relationship with the Father that comes through prayer, the Torah and the Fathers instructions to us. The Sabbath, the Feasts, faith and works.
Confirmation bias, try to be more aware of your own biases and actively seek out information that challenges existing beliefs. If you are in a denomination that celebrates e-a-s-t-e-r or c-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s consider the alternative perspective, investigate what is behind these festivals and how they have been hijacked and evaluate evidence objectively (or if you like, write to me, I would love to hear from you).
Web page added 18 March 2023
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