Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32, New Living Translation.
Our Journey will start with the Bible.
“Why the Bible?” you may ask.
And I respond, “what else have you tried?”
This is a serious question. People look in all sorts of places to find themselves: relationships, sex, work, education, drugs and alcohol, power and wealth, religion, science, and travels around the world seeking “the answer.”
King Solomon tried most of those things but didn’t find the answer in them. Instead, he said, “ I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 1:12-14.
With the explosion of knowledge over the past century, surely we have more data to help us. Recently I searched the website of a national bookstore and looked for resources that might help with our investigation. Here are the results from several topics.
Identity: 16969 books, DVDs and CDs. Way too broad. Results included —
- Identity CD by Colton Dixon
- The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
- Identity Unknown by Suzanne Brockman
- Wild Ride by Julie Ann Walker
- Unknown by Lexy Timms
— and that was just the first line. I’m afraid to do a Google search. Most are irrelevant to our search, so let’s narrow it a bit.
Self-Help + Identity: only 3 matches!
- You May Be a Liberal If…: A Self Help Guide For Those Suffering Identity Crises During These Times Of Rampaging Liberal Irrelevance By Bob Sagan
- Amongst Ourselves: A Self-Help Guide to Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder by Tracy Alderman
- My ‘I AM’ Journey Self-Study Course: Helping You Clarify Who You Are & Why You Are through Identity Awareness Mapping by Terikka Faciane
Meta-Physics (a branch of philosophy exploring the fundamental nature of reality) + Identity: 20.
- Essays in Metaphysics: Identity and Difference by Martin Heidegger
- Unity, Identity and Explanation in Aristotle’s Metaphysics by D. Charles
- The Metaphysics of Identity over Time by D. Oderberg
- The Metaphysics of Identity by Andre Gallois
- The Phenomenal Woman: Feminist Metaphysics and the Patterns of Identity by Christine Battersby
New Age + Identity: 26.
- Ladakh Through the Ages, Towards a New Identity by Shridhar Kaul
- Identity in the Age of the New Economy by Torben Elgaard Jensen
- Old and New New Englanders: Immigration and Regional Identity in the Gilded Age by Bluford Adams
- Organizational Relationships in the Networking Age: The Dynamics of Identity Formation and Bonding (New Horizons in Management by Wim Koot, Peter Leisink, and Paul Verweli
- The Modular Brain: How New Discoveries in Neuroscience Are Answering Age-Old Questions about Memory, Free Will, Consciousness, and Personal Identity by Richard Restak
Bob Sagan’s book could be entertaining. I don’t think I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, but this guide might help some people. I really don’t want to wade through metaphysics. Evidently, Ladakh is a region in India. Probably Organizational Relationships won’t help us; the focus is too narrow. And I doubt I could understand the science in The Modular Brain, although it might be fun to try – sounds interesting.
Why not start with what religions teach? Large groups of people agree with these various approaches, so at least we would know the popular views.
According to Wikipedia (yes, I know it is not always reliable, but it cites “The Global Religious Landscape”. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Pew Research center. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013), the breakdown by percentage of adherents in 2010 was:
- Christianity 31.5
- Islam 23.2
- Irreligion 16.3
- Hinduism 15.0
- Buddhism 7.1
- Folk religions 7.1
- Other religions 1
I’ll let you study Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and any other ones you want. We are going to explore Christianity.
Even if you don’t believe in Christianity at this point, if you want to be a well-rounded and informed person, you should not ignore what almost a third of the people on the planet believe.
And if you want to know what Christianity teaches, then you have to go to the source of its knowledge, the Bible. Jesus taught from the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament), said it was true, called himself ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ (the subject of the New Testament), and stated that the truth could make us free. So, we’ll start there.
Children’s Sunday School Song: The B-I-B-L-E, yes, that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E
NEXT WEEK: What is the Bible?