Belief systems are important part of human lives. In this respect, the formation of belief systems among human beings is an important process that determines how these people will perceive issues in the society. It is however important to understand that there are different factors that influences belief systems in people. Note that whereas these influences are important, they can easily influence negatively the lives of people in the society. Among these influences that have been identified so far include; cultural influences, spirituality and religion. Importantly, to interpret the scriptures correctly, one must learn how to guard himself/herself against these influences.
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To begin with cultural influences refer to those influences that emanate from exposure to a particular kind of culture. In reference to Hegner & Needham (2001), people from the same culture usually share similar values, customs, clothing, and food preferences. These values and customs have the capability of influencing the belief system of a person, either positively or negatively. Spirituality on the other hand refers to the part of a person that gives a sense of wholeness by fulfilling the human need to feel connected with the world and to a power greater than. Note that spirituality influences belief systems of people specially in regard to right and wrong, death, etc. For instance, there are different societies that believe in life after death while other believes in incarnation.
On the other hand, religion too plays a vital role in the formation of belief systems. In essence, religion refers to the formal system that includes rituals and ceremonial acts that are an outward expression of faith, which are coupled with or rather accompanied with religious of special significance such as stones, rings, talismans, etc. Notably, there are different ways that one can use to guard himself/herself against the influences of spirituality, religion and culture in regard to the interpretation of the scripture.
Fundamentally, understanding different cultures and how they perceive important aspects of life remains as the most important factor in guarding oneself against cultural influences that affect the interpretation of the scripture. Similarly, the level of understanding or rather skills in interpreting the scriptures also depends on the level of spirituality. In this respect, to guard against one’s interpretation being adversely affected by spirituality, one would need to understand the fact that spirituality issues are personal. By arguing from this perspective, one needs to avoid relyiing on spirituality when interpreting scriptures. Similarly, open-mindedness when interpreting scriptures from a religious point of view plays a vital role in averting influences on belief system. Note that every religion attaches different meaning to different factors in the society. Therefore, one has to remain open-minded when interpreting scriptures.
In line with this, Bibliology, i.e. the Doctrine of the Bible remains as an important part of theology. In this respect, different issues of Bibliology such as inspiration, canonicity, special revelation, and authority and application are part of the areas of theology that are affected by belief systems. However, to avoid personal interpretation from being influenced by belief system, I have to first appreciate the scriptures as independent entities that have both open and hidden meaning. Therefore, rather than ascribing meaning that is influenced by religion, spirituality and cultural influences. Furthermore, seeking further information on these topics, especially from experts as well as other scriptures helps in enhancing the interpretation of scriptures. Similarly, depending on independent sources that had expounded more on this area of theology has also been found to reduce the influence of these factors on the interpretation of scriptures.
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