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March 19th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Rob Bell punches back against claims of heresy

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

New York (CNN) - For two weeks while controversy swirled around him, Pastor Rob Bell stayed silent. His critics said he was playing fast and loose with heaven and hell, salvation and damnation. The eternity of souls was on the line, they said.

All this was over Bell’s new book, “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.” Critics tore into it before the book even hit store shelves on Tuesday, some going so far as to label Bell a heretic. The controversy pushed the book into the third spot on Amazon’s sales ranking, virtually assuring the book a place on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

On Monday night, dressed in black and sporting his trademark black-rimmed glasses, Bell strolled quietly into the auditorium of the New York Ethical Culture Society. This was his chance to hit back.

“I never set out to be controversial,” Bell told CNN before the event. “I don’t think it’s a goal that God honors. I don’t think it’s a noble goal.

“What’s interesting to me is what’s true. And what’s interesting to me is what’s inspiring. And what’s interesting to me is where’s the life? Where’s the inspiration? That’s what I’m interested in. If that happens to stir things up, that was never my intent, but I’ll accept that.”

Bell said he was surprised by the controversy around his book. Critics said he was preaching universalism, a theology that suggests everyone goes to heaven and hell is empty.

“I’m not a universalist. So that’s just not true.” He reiterated that again in the event that evening where he expounded on that idea and said that he didn’t believe God reaches down and sweeps everyone to heaven.

'Good environment for dialogue'

After a budding career as a rock star was derailed by a freak illness, Bell set his sights on the seminary. Now, at 40, he has risen to become America’s hipster pastor and one of the most influential preachers in the country.

He is quick-witted, non-denominational, and he unabashedly loves Jesus. He preaches to 10,000 people at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, the church he founded. His first four books sold nearly a million copies combined, and his short film series, Nooma, has sold more than 2 million DVDs.

He will tell you he again and again he is a pastor, not a theologian or a biblical scholar.

But for a guy who dresses in black, Bell has made his mark examining the gray areas of Christianity. His questioning of traditional approaches without always giving answers has brought him fans and made his critics gnash their teeth.

“It’s very appealing because he brings lots of facts and lots of information into it and lots of historical context into whatever discussion he has,” said Kristi Berderon, a 25-year-old Bell fan who drove an hour from New Jersey for the event. “He leaves it open-ended. He lets you think and draw your own conclusions for yourself instead of spoon-feeding what he grew up hearing or what he was taught in seminary.”

She and her friend Tommy Hayes are a lot like the others in the crowd tonight: wearing skinny jeans and dark-rimmed glasses - and openly exploring their faith. Berderon’s parents are Southern Baptists; she was home schooled and raised in the church. Today she attends a non-denominational church and self-identifies as a “Christ follower” but bristles at being called a Christian.

Danielle Miller and Maryalice Spencer took a two-hour train ride from Walden, New York, to hear Bell speak. They walked 25 blocks and stood in line in the cold to get in. Miller uses Bell’s short films as a discussion starter in her church. “I think it’s always good to ask those hard questions, and I think that’s what he’s doing, and it creates a good environment for dialogue,” Miller said.

Bell was in New York City to sit down with Newsweek’s Lisa Miller for a conversation on stage and take questions from the 650 audience members and thousands more watching the event streaming live on the Web.

Bell and Miller on stage at the New York Ethical Culture Society auditorium.

Before the crowds arrived, a contemplative Bell settled into a pew to talk with CNN about the book and to answer his critics.

The book began, he said, five years ago. “As a pastor, you interact with so many people [that] some of the same questions keep coming up. And ultimately you keep bumping up against what people really think about God.”

In his church and around the country, he saw what he considered a misrepresentation of the Christian narrative in the Bible.

“At the heart of the Christian story is [the message that] God loves the world and sent his son Jesus to show the world this love. So that’s fundamentally first and foremost the story. God is love and God sent Jesus to show this love.

“In our culture Christians are known for a number of other things. … Rarely do you hear people say, ‘Oh yeah, those are the people who never stop talking about love. Oh a Christian church - that’s where you go if feel beaten down and kicked and someone has their boot on your neck. You go there because it’s a place of healing and a place of love.’

“I’m passionate about calling people back to [Christianity’s] roots,” Bell said.

'Theology of evacuation'

In his new book, Bell challenges the traditional notions of heaven and hell.

“For many people the fundamental story was one of escape - Jesus is how you get out of here. I think for many people in the modern world, the way they heard it was fundamentally, ‘This place is bad, and there is some other place, and Jesus - believe, accept, trust, confess, join, get baptized, whatever sort of language got put on it - Jesus is how you get to some other realm where things are good.’

“So essentially it’s a theology of evacuation. And my understanding is the Bible is first and foremost a story of restoration. It’s a story of renewal.”

“The fundamental story arc of the Bible,” he said “is God is passionate about rescuing this world, restoring it renewing it. So discussions about heaven and hell … for many people are irrelevant and esoteric. … But what happens is, what you believe about heaven and hell deeply shapes how you engage this world now.”

Bell said if a believer has their eyes on heaven, they can miss the opportunities to bring people a taste of heaven here on Earth - and they can miss seeing the hell around them.

“Greed, injustice, the sex trade in Far East Asia, we see hell all around us, whenever people reject what is good and human and right and peaceful and all that,” he said.

“I begin with this world right now and the observation that we are free to choose. It’s the nature of love. So then when you die, I would assume [given] the nature of love you can continue to make these types of choices.”

For Bell the here and now is just as important as any possible life to come. “I think it’s very very important to point out … [that] we are speculating about after you die,” he said.

“In the Jewish context in which [Jesus] lived and moved, you didn’t have that articulated belief system about when you die. It was very rooted in this life - dirt and wine and banquets, family and fishing. [In] his stories, it’s all a very visceral – this world is our home, this world that God loves, that God is redeeming - so that’s the starting point.

“I think for many people they were taught you’re either in or out. But Jesus invites us to a journey that’s a fundamentally different way to think about it, and that frees you up from a lot of things that I think haunt people, bind them up and make them miserable. Then it creates all sorts of space for wonder and awe and mystery and the unexpected,” Bell said.

His perspective does not line up with many of the traditional views about heaven and hell, of separate spaces and places with streets of gold or lakes of fire.

For Christians who see salvation and heaven as crucial elements to their faith, Bell’s message can be abrasive - which in part led to so many people pouncing on his book before it was released.

What stirred many critics was a promotional video in which Bell asks whether Mohandas Gandhi, India’s non-violent leader, was in heaven. Bell’s answer offers a good insight into his view of salvation.

Bell would not be surprised if he saw Gandhi in heaven. “Jesus was very clear. Heaven is full of surprises. That’s central to Jesus teaching.”

Bell insists there is room for mystery in salvation and that Christianity is open to discussion.

“The historical orthodox Christian faith is extremely wide and diverse,” Bell said. “No one has the last word other than God. I am taking part in a discussion that’s been going on for thousands of years. Everyone can play a part in that discussion.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Devil

soundoff (1,308 Responses)
  1. Reality

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated based on the studies of historians and theologians during the past 200 years- see section 1 for some typical references used by said scholars)

    I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    ...............................................................................

    March 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • airwx

      Did you finish dinner already Reality???

      March 19, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Yaakov

      Reality,
      SHTUYOT in mitz agvanyot! And that includes the mamzer part as well !

      March 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  2. SuperFed

    This is an article about a debate within christendom and what the bible says or doesn't say about hell. I don't understand why atheists even bother to comment on this subject. A lot of passion on their part for something they say doesn't exists. Good grief, it's even in the "Belief Blog"!

    March 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Freak in Tongues

      The belief blog is not just for Christians. It would be called Christian Blog, if that were the case. It is about belief, which is a fairly ambiguous term. Atheists get invloved in Christian debates, because they are concerned for Christianity's influence on the rational world. I'm not trying to argue with you about anything, I'm just making the point.

      March 19, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  3. Ian

    The Bible IS logically consistent. What isn't is man's interpretations and traditions that have been accepted wholesale without any attempt by most to look at the original Hebrew and Greek. The English translators, the Latin Vulgate, and the dictates of some leaders in the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches have made a bloody mess for the Ages.

    March 19, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • airwx

      Well said my friend. If more people would learn Hebrew, Greek and Chaldeon, or even back translate with and OLD Strong's concordence, many would learn how much more meaning there is than in the modern translations.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Magic

      So, the alleged guidance by a "Holy Spirit" went awry and allowed all of these mistaken translations?

      March 19, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Mike J

      No Magic, read the man's comment – men went awry, not the Holy Spirit.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Magic....I have yet to find a reference to the Holy Spirit doing a translation, ordering a translation or participating in a translation....so you get your concept where?

      March 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  4. hop

    wow. a person who is passionately religious as well as intelligent, reflective and compassionate? i'm impressed. didn't know the combination existed anymore.

    March 19, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  5. Chris

    You can try and appeal to everyone as Bell is trying; or you can read the words of Jesus and see that Jesus believed in a heaven and hell; in fact Jesus spoke more of Hell.

    March 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  6. Mike J

    whenever people reject what is good and human and right and peaceful and all that,” he said. (1) The trouble starts when people reject God.
    Bell would not be surprised if he saw Gandhi in heaven. “Jesus was very clear. Heaven is full of surprises. That’s central to Jesus teaching.” (2) Jesus clearly taught salvation through Jesus Christ and Him alone – He said I am the door, not a door.

    March 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  7. D'Mailman

    Why are Athesist sooo Disgruntled ?

    March 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Fred Glaucus

      Not so! Very happy and prosperous, actually. I could say the same thing about the religious people who post here, as they often seem angry and hostile and heartless. However, it is really not possible to have serious debates on forums, as many of the participants quickly run out of ideas and devolve into personal assault (and some do that just for entertainment).

      Actually, most atheists I know are relatively happy, as are a number of the religious people I know. These forums do not reflect the temperment of the average person, and I sincerely hope they do not reflect the average intelligence level.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Fred... we all need to be civil in our discourse. I agree that there are often the "trolls" on both sides that can ruin a discussion. Some of them are so bad I'd rather have a debate with a satanist. Can we agree to stay civil with each other?

      March 19, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Haze736

      We're disgruntled because full grown adults still believe in things like Santa Claus. It's maddening. To say that god exists because you're too stupid to read a science book is like ME saying a magic munchkin lives in my car engine and runs it on fairy dust.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  8. Kris

    As I see it, rapists and murderers can say they accept Christ and they will be saved, but me who just lives a good life and doesn't do a thing to hurt anyone will be dammed. Doesn't make sense to me.

    March 19, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • airwx

      I would point out a small thing..saying you belive is not enough....you must believe....as to your own end...you work that with God yourself

      March 19, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Mike J

      Everyone sins. The problem is we try to categorize and put people into categories. Which category would you put people in and who would decide. I am thankful that it is God that does the judging and will make all things right.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Yaakov

      Shalom Kris,
      Just as a thought about your "rapists and murderers": You are right that it does not make sense that God would let them into His kingdom from a logical point of view. However, as a thesis, the New Testament is the only teaching of all the religions in the world where you do not attain to the goal of religion by the things you do - but by the things someone else has done for you. Every religion in the world has one thing in common; whether it's nirvana, heaven, oneness with nature, or whatever - you always attain it with your own deeds. My thesis is that the New Testament teaches exactly the opposite. That no matter how good you are, or no matter all the good things you've done, you can never be good enough to attain to God's kingdom. The only way to attain to that, is to let someone else pay the price for you. Those "rapists and murderers" have just as much value to God as any "Johnny-good-deed." Some of them, have actually realized how bad they are and that they need that someone else. No one ever said God plays by our rules. He plays by His rules. They are clearly spelled out in His instruction manual. Don't believe anyone. Check it out for yourself.
      Kindly,
      Yaakov, Israel

      March 19, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  9. Yaakov

    In my opinion, what is completely missing is any actual reference to the Bible. It seems that all of Bell's ideas come from his personal desires of how his God would be or what his God would do. I find this common among people who say "My God would do this....and...My God would not do this..." They build their God(s) to be their servants, and to do what they would have done - As opposed to what He says He will do. Throughout the article, everything is compared to "traditional" beliefs, and Bell compares "historical Christian faith." However, nothing is mentioned about comparing what Bell is teaching with the scriptures. Sure, you can twist the scriptures to say anything you want, but there is only one true meaning that the author had in mind when he directed the writers to pen each book. I can play games all my life long, but in the end I will have to give an account to the author of the Bible. Whether I like it or not, he makes it very clear, "Yeshua (Jesus) is the way the truth and the life. No one comes to God except by Him." {John 14:6}
    יעקב, ישראל

    March 19, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • ShellyinTexas

      Excellent point! Whether or not he uses biblical references in his book, I don't know. But he sure hasn't proven his point from any of the interviews I've seen or read. You HAVE to line up your beliefs with the Bible. Otherwise you're just going on your own personal experiences and wishes and feelings.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  10. Tony Buzzardi

    My head hurts, believe in something and be done with it. treat others as you want them to treat you, that's an easy doctrine. Pushing your religion/belief system on to others is where everything falls apart. If i listend to some people, I would think God is Hydrogen gas! Be Good, peace!

    March 19, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Not hydrogen. Helium. Definitely helium.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  11. steve

    I like his message but hope and pray that he does not become so famous and rich from all his books and speeches ect that he ends up like so many other falled preachers. I think that may not be the case here though because his message is about Gods LOVE and Compassion and not about condeming people ike the others have... but fame and riches often leads you down a treacherous path...

    March 19, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  12. John

    Sounds like someone asked a few hard questions and those questions where the proverbial match into the dynamite shed of religious thought, which then exploded in a shower of accusations. Rather ironic because a little historical research points out that Christianity was labeled as heretical & blasphemous by Judaism for questioning existing beliefs, and here someone doing the exact same thing is facing the same accusations.

    I might just go see this guy preach. Consistency and honesty in religion – who would have thought it was possible? Maybe there is hope for non-atheists yet.

    March 19, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • ShellyinTexas

      The Jews did call early Christians heretics because they were saying Jesus was the Messiah. Um, did you perhaps miss the fact that Jesus said he WAS the Messiah? So who was actually being a heretic? You can't be a heretic when repeating what God himself in the form of Jesus said.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Were they wrong, or are you?

      March 19, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Magic

      Shelly,

      "did you perhaps miss the fact that Jesus said he WAS the Messiah?"

      Did he? Or is that something that the first century evangelists *said* that he said?

      March 19, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • John Richardson

      But if Jesus was in fact NOT the messiah, then he was just about the worst sort of heretic you could be, If he is not the son of god, god is gonna be REAL peeved if he in fact said he was. I don't think the Jew-ish concept of the messiah included the notion that the messiah would be god or the son of god, let alone both god and the son of god, whatever that means.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • airwx

      @ John...There is something you might not have considered... That the Jews were looking for a king in glory, not a servent king. And by their teachings that is what they did expect, not knowing that they will find Him on the day the trumpets sound, not the day they hung him on a tree.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  13. mykiey

    Everyone who believes is spreading ignorance!

    March 19, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  14. Freak in Tongues

    Without the threat of hell many weak minded Christians would not be at church. This begs a question, why would Christianity want people in its poulation that are only there because they are afraid of hell? Why would God really see these people as sincere? So why the threat? Because it's real, or because it keeps a higher amount of 10% of each church member's earnings coming to the church accountant's office? The idea of hell smells of manipulation of the populace and for many others reasons than the one I gave above. I just wouldn't think an all powerful God would need the use of fear to command his followers. However, I do see many reasons why the human element in Church leadership might have to turn to such deparate measures to keep the Church "strong." If God is the loving, caring enity The Bible says he is, isn't that enouogh? Why the contrast? And, I'm not trying to provoke offence with this comment. I am just putting these questions out there.

    March 19, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Yaakov

      Shalom "Freak",
      I just want to encourage you not to believe in what Christians say, or what the church says, or what articles say. If you want the really know the truth, the pick up a Bible and find out what it says. Read the book of John for example, and make your own conclusions. It's really quite simple, when you don't let churches, books, and articles tell you what's supposed to be "in there."
      Yaakov, Israel

      March 19, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • cheetahsmom

      Most Christians are not in church because they don't want to go to hell. They are there because they love God and want to worship and praise him, as well as support other Christians. Unfortunately, many people feel a strong need to attack Christianity when they actually do not know anything about it.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      cheetahsmom: and what is the view of many Christians about Muslims? Or Hindus? Or Zoroastrians? Or (insert your favorite belief)? What do some of these televangelists say about Catholics? I could go on...

      March 19, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Yaakov, why do you assume that Freak has NOT read the Book of John? There are lots and lots of people who pretty much just ignore religion and religious texts, but among those who overtly reject the bible as "The Truth" generally come to their disbelief through serious study.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Freak in Tongues

      @cheetahsmom...How can you speak for all the Christians out there? Or you ordained by God to do so? You simply cannot assume that all the other Christians out there have the same motivations as yourself. My comment wasn't simply an attack, as you so pretentiously assume. Neither am I someone who knows nothing of Chrisitanity, as you also seem to assume. I have read the Bible front and back and attended church three times a week for twenty years. And I, like yourself, was there more to praise God than to bow to my fears of Hell. However, do you really think that there would be as many people in church, if it wasn't for Hell?

      March 19, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Yaakov

      Hi friend [Richard]
      If someone makes a claim, that you know from 1st hand experience is not true, it's not always because of malicious reasons. Sometimes, it is a lack of subjective information. I did not say Freak had never read the book of John. (check out my post) I used that for an example how he can check things out for himself. It was obvious to me {opinion} from what he posted, that he lacked the objective information contained in the source - which is the Bible.

      Also, you claim in your post that people reject the Bible as "The truth" as a result of "serious study." Without being offensive, I find your claim to be absurd and void of any objective facts. I have been Messianic now for 35 years, being a son of Holocaust survivors. Of all the people I have ever met in my lifetime, the amount of people who have rejected "The truth" due to serious study has been less than I can count on one hand. Unfortunately, with those exceptions, everyone rejects the Bible as a result of something they have heard, or read in an article, or web page, or been told, regarding what is written in it. Worse than that, unfortunately they are sometimes willing to listen to their religious leaders.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  15. b4bigbang

    @airwx
    Do you share from any website? A couple of my Christian friends have set up nice ones with some teaching and testimony..

    March 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • airwx

      I do not have the time to do more than post in forums such as this; I have a full time job with extensive travel times each day. I would be happy to see the websites...we all need to be spiritually fed.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  16. seabeau

    Maybe he didn't stop the germans because the Jews had rejected him. ie ,Passion of the Christ

    March 19, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Workingbeliever

      That is not a fact, in fact it is dead wrong. the Jews are not responsible for the death of Christ. That issue was settled decades ago, and only ignorant people who dislike the Jews keep pushing it. Not one denomination holds to that belief. Read, study, pray, get your own information. Don't rely solely on information given to you by anyone else. The Protestant Reformation was all about you having direct access to God. Use that access and grow.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  17. Harry Hippobottomus

    There are 4,200 religions in the world. Everyone believes that at least 4,199 of them are wrong. The only difference for atheists is that they believe in one less.

    March 19, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • NL

      Actually, we atheists don't have so much to say about religions per se. It's the belief in the supernatural that we disagree with, but if a religion ends up supporting actions and beliefs that harm others because of a belief in something supernatural, then we're against that too.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Harry Hippobottomus

      Was it not clear by what I said that I am an atheist? I mean, you stated that nicely and clearly, but you may as well have informed me that I have two feet.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • a2rjr

      Atheism is a religion all it's own. And you know it.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • Freak in Tongues

      @a2rjr...You can call atheism a religion all you want. My guess is that calling it a religion gives you more reason to present all humans as dependent upon religion itself, therefore strengthening your own faith in your personal belief in your religion and its validity within your own mind. However, technically speaking, Atheism is the lack of a belief in any god. Religion is the belief in a god or supernatural higher power. Therefore, atheism is not a religion. I think it's hilarious, when believers want to define it as such. But, I tell you the truth, one cannot deny the words of the dictionary. You can call a cat a dog all you want, but a cat remains a cat. And, don't think I am an atheist, just because I'm posting this. I'm just correcting your false statement.

      March 19, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • Harry Hippobottomus

      Atheist sacred texts: none
      Atheist places of worship: none
      Atheist rituals: none
      Deity atheists believe in and worship: none
      Atheist behavior code: none
      Atheist heirarchy of authority: none

      It appears that atheists have no component necessary to be considered a religion. It is really only that religious people just cannot fathom how someone could go about their lives without god invading their every thought, so they artificially reinsert god into their theories of atheists. Another comical version of this tendancy are "atheists are angry at god."

      March 19, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • NL

      a2rjr-
      Atheism isn't a religion. It's just having a personal relationship with reality! 😉

      March 20, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • NL

      Harry Hippobottomus-
      I know that everyone is supposed to have two feet, but how could I have known that you actually did?

      March 20, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  18. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    Of course I will admit that many people have lives that are much harder and less pleasant than my own, but I think that my life and this world are pretty good overall. I have no wish to escape it, and do not believe in an afterlife of any kind. I don't need or want "saving." True morality and goodness have nothing to do with religion. We can all work to improve ourselves and the world around us. We don't need "God" for that. Religion is for weak-minded sheeple, people who never fully matured. "Heaven" and "Hell" are just made-up places, and "God" is Santa Claus for grownups. Grow up, people! Think for yourselves. Live as long as you can as well as you can, being as good as you can to others. Then try to accept death calmly when it's approaching you. Why would anyone need anything more?

    March 19, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Mary

      Yet when most Atheists die, they call out for God..
      Ever wonder why?
      Could it be from a life time of denial? Thinking it's easier to be running their own lives their own way..? Then when all is said and done and it's time to finally meet their maker..They don't want to do it still denying him?

      March 19, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Observer

      "Yet when most Atheists die, they call out for God.."

      Please supply FACTS to back up this nonsense.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • ShellyinTexas

      Why is it that when I or someone else professes a firm and unshakable belief in Jesus Christ people like you say "Grow up!" "Think for yourselves!" I am grown up, if you consider 47 yrs. old grown up. I went to college. I own my own business. I read voraciously on many, many topics. But there is not one shred of doubt in my entire being that Jesus Christ was and is a real person. That Jesus Christ lived, died and lives again. And there is not one shred of doubt that heaven and hell are very real places. As real as the ground you walk on every day and will one day return to. What happens after that is your choice. Eternal life with Jesus or eternal punishment for your unbelief.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Kris

      I agree with your sentiments. Why can't Christians just be nice while alive and enjoy what they have instead of waiting for the rapture and death and destruction(if you believe that that is).

      March 19, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • God Illusion

      Mary – foxholes are full of atheists, fact, go ask!

      Atheists only call out for god on their deathbeds in the hopeful minds of the brainwashed myth believers.

      Stop citing nonsense as fact.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Steve

      The people who desperately need to sell religion will make up any lie, statistic, premise or incident to try to separate you from logic and then, of course, your money. Mary is another brainwashed idiot.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • God Illusion

      Shelly – I wouldn't tell you to grow up, it's lovely that you have invisible friends and go through life with the support of a life affirming fantasy.

      As long as your religion doesn't abuse children, steal money, blow themselves up, advocate war, alienate huge portions of the population with arrogant, sanctimonious nonsense, reject alternative lifestyles, advocate no funding of stem cell research, try to reduce a woman's right to choose, avoid distributing condoms in Africa – instead trying to preach abstinence and further spreading AIDS, picket soldiers funerals, knock on my door, etc. etc. then your beliefs are fine by me.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Freak in Tongues

      @Mary...Are you there when all these atheists die? Or are you simply repeating some "fact" your preacher told you? Generalizations such as yours are why some people see Christians as limited in perspective.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  19. JesusisLord

    But you're the only one who thinks Gone With the Wind is divine.

    March 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      Well, if we are looking at numbers to justify things, 68% of the world does not believe in any form of Christianity, and does not believe the Bible is divine.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Observer

      I never said that, but "Gone With the Wind" is more logically consistent than the Bible.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  20. Darwin

    Jesus apparently doesn't love everyone, because he sat around up in heaven and did nothing as the Germans killed millions of Jews, including a couple million children. How can anyone worship such an uncaring horrible person, who had the power to intervene and stop the slaughter, but did nothing. The problem is, anyone who "questions" the "fact" that Jesus loves you, is considered a heretic. However, it's just logical thinking (but of course we all know Chrisitians hate THAT!)

    March 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • ryan

      what good is logic when it is based on faulty premises?

      March 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Ryan, you are by far the most intellectually dishonest person posting. Hearing you grumble about faulty premises is just too rich.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • God Illusion

      Darwin – an example of the Epicurean paradox? I fully subscribe to this also.

      “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”[

      March 19, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • max

      God gave us all free will...right from the start with Adam & Eve.They had a choice, God given, & they made it. Just like every human through history, up to You & I. God is not a puppet master, never has been, never will be. People who make the argument that God should intervene & stop all bad things are ignorant of the Bible. God wants you to choose Him. He won't make you. Believe the story or don't, & make your choices accordingly. Feel free.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • camphoneguy

      You forget that God didn't interfere when His own son was dying on the cross. This is a fallen world, pain and suffering do occur. But God has a plan that is eternal. Takes faith? Yes, but so does believing that life on earth, even to the point of humans, just happened- that ones hard to swallow also.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • digdoug

      Job 2:10 – Shall we accept good from God, yet not adversity? We will never be able to explain why some things happen, just as Job at the time could not explain why all the terrible things happened to him and his family. There is a greater purpose than our own.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • camphoneguy

      And evolution is even less caring- not only did it allow Hitler to come into being, it has NO plan to do anything about the suffering he created. God has an eternal plan.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • God Illusion

      Max and Camp – you do realize that by clearly stating that god does not meddle in the affairs of humans or intervene in any way, that you admit that praying for ANYTHING at all is a total waste of time, right?

      March 19, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Kara4

      God is good, all the time. These things did not come from God, but from the poor choices of man.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Kenneth Wilson

      God's sovereign over all things. He controls both good and evil in the world and he works all things to His glory and for those who are called according to his purpose's (Christian's) good. Easiest example of a dictator being used to show God's glory is Pharaoh in Egypt, ‎"For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

      In short: We're finite, he's infinitely wise. Get over yourselves.

      March 20, 2011 at 2:25 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.