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My Take: Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing
Carl Medearis with Sheikh Nabil Qawouk Hezbollah’s number two leader.
July 24th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Take: Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing

Editor's Note: Carl Medearis is an international expert in Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations and is author of the book Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism.

By Carl Medearis, Special to CNN

Let’s do an exercise. I want you to fill in the blank on what you think you know about me based on what I’m about to tell you.

Here goes: Twenty years ago, I became a missionary. My wife and I left our home in Colorado Springs, Colorado to move to Beirut, Lebanon. Our job description was to plant churches and evangelize to Muslims.

Based on what I just said, Carl Medearis is a ______________ .

Depending on your background, the blank may look something like this:

Carl Medearis is a... hero of the Christian faith, a saintly super-man willing to sacrifice the comforts of home in order to share the love of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard the gospel.

Or this:

Carl Medearis is a... right-wing extremist who destroys cultures, tears apart families and paves the way for neo-colonialist crusaders to invade, occupy and plunder the resources of local populations.

Quite a range, isn’t it?

For one group of people, the words “evangelist” and “missionary” bring to mind pious heroes performing good deeds that are unattainable for the average Christian. For another group, those same words represent just about everything that’s wrong with the world.

I understand the confusion.

Based on my experiences of living and traveling around the world, I know that religion is often an identity marker that determines people’s access to jobs, resources, civil liberties and political power.

When I lived in Lebanon I saw firsthand how destructive an obsession with religious identity could be. Because of the sectarian nature of Lebanese politics, modern Lebanese history is rife with coups, invasions, civil wars and government shutdowns.

When I tell my Christian friends in America that some of the fiercest militias were (and are) Christian, most are shocked. It doesn’t fit the us-versus-them mentality that evangelism fosters, in which we are always the innocent victims and they are always the aggressors.

This us-versus-them thinking is odd, given that Jesus was constantly breaking down walls between Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, men and women, sinners and saints. That’s why we have the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Jews in Jesus’ day thought of the Samaritans as the violent heretics, much the same way that Christians think of Muslims today. The idea that a Samaritan could be good was scandalous to first century Jews.

Jesus was the master of challenging religious prejudice and breaking down sectarian walls. Why do so many Christians want to rebuild those walls?

Even the Apostle Paul insisted that it’s faith in Jesus that matters, not converting to a new religion or a new socio-religious identity.

What if evangelicals today, instead of focusing on “evangelizing” and “converting” people, were to begin to think of Jesus not as starting a new religion, but as the central figure of a movement that transcends religious distinctions and identities?

Jesus the uniter of humanity, not Jesus the divider. How might that change the way we look at others?

This is more than just a semantic difference.

When I used to think of myself as a missionary, I was obsessed with converting Muslims (or anybody for that matter) to what I thought of as “Christianity.” I had a set of doctrinal litmus tests that the potential convert had to pass before I would consider them “in” or one of “us.”

Funny thing is, Jesus never said, “Go into the world and convert people to Christianity.” What he said was, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

Encouraging anyone and everyone to become an apprentice of Jesus, without manipulation, is a more open, dynamic and relational way of helping people who want to become more like Jesus — regardless of their religious identity.

Just because I believe that evangelicals should stop evangelizing doesn’t mean that they should to stop speaking of Jesus.

I speak of Jesus everywhere I go and with everyone I meet.

As founder and president of a company called International Initiatives, my work is aimed at building relationships among Christian leaders in the West and among Muslim leaders in the Middle East.

It may come as a surprise to many Christians that Muslims are generally open to studying the life of Jesus as a model for leadership because they revere him as a prophet.

But now that I’m no longer obsessed with converting people to Christianity, I’ve found that talking about Jesus is much easier and far more compelling.

I believe that doctrine is important, but it’s not more important than following Jesus.

Jesus met people where they were. Instead of trying to figure out who’s “in” and who’s “out,” why don’t we simply invite people to follow Jesus — and let Jesus run his kingdom?

Inviting people to love, trust, and follow Jesus is something the world can live with. And since evangelicals like to say that it’s not about religion, but rather a personal relationship with Jesus, perhaps we should practice what we preach.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Carl Medearis.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Interfaith issues • Opinion

soundoff (3,792 Responses)
  1. Sammy

    @David Johnson and all of your posts......

    Ahhhhhh spoken like a true fool!

    July 24, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • mike

      A true fool because he doesn't just blindly follow the words written in one of several partially-conflicting books jostled across several languages and versions thousands of years ago, when mankind thought the world was flat, an eclipse was the work of the devil, and "science" was nowhere to be found?

      July 24, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • JF

      That should do it. Dave and all his sinner blogging cohorts will be converting over any minute now.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • Free

      Sammy
      Haven't you read the Bible? Calling anyone a 'fool' is a bit dangerous.

      In Matt. 5:22 Jesus says:
      "But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell."

      the, in 1 Cor. 3:18 Paul says:
      "Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise."

      Which may not actually be a contradiction as he never met Jesus anyway to know what his views of using that word were. The bottom line is, if you are calling David a 'fool' on Biblical grounds then you may actually be complimenting him on his wisdom, and condemning yourself in the process.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  2. Shawn Saleme

    Good article, as the world continues to get further connected, people from all different beliefs and backgrounds can come together and grow in greater understanding of one another.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • mike

      ...or find new and creative ways to assault, maim, and subjugate others in the name of God, Allah, Cornholio, or whatever deity du jour you choose...

      July 24, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  3. mike

    Believing that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day, whether you're Christian or Muslim, is loony. And the invisible man constantly needs your money...yep, lots of money. He's all powerful, but a little strapped for cash at the moment. And you have to spread His viewpoint, because he can't do it without you and your money. He's omnipotent, and has a divine plan, but I guess its success depends on what you do with your free time! You know, they used to burn witches and let demons out of the insane by boring holes in their skulls. Organized religion is one of the last true vestiges of our primordial ancestors.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Hello Mickey,

      This man in the sky is Not My God. My God live Inside me deep within the confines of my Brain Cells wherein they are akin to being Universes of the cellular design. All These Cellular Universes Inside me! So Much Room It would take Eons to fill up my Vessel of a Body with My Body's God and his Generations of Sons and Daughters ad infinitum. To turn aside from brother/sister incest, We Humans become the Progenitors of Seeding the Inner Kingdoms of one's unknowable God-head.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  4. Raz car mor

    .
    1 Corinthians 2:8
    8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

    1 Corinthians 2:11
    11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
    .

    July 24, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • So What

      Quoting mythology. Very impressive. Personally, I liked the ancient Greek mythology better. Better plots, more interesting characters and none of that do it my way or I'll kill you stuff. Also, our native Americans had some very good mythology too. Maybe you can learn that and quote it the next time. Did you know that religion has existed for at least 10,000 years? Yeah, there were some really neat icons and beliefs back then too. Since you are clearly into this stuff, did you know that there were at least three mythologies separated by thousands of years that had stories of virgin births, healing the sick, and the diety dieing badly after being turned in by – surprise – a member of another mythology group?

      I know, logic and critical thinking aren't needed when you have a good mythology to quote, so go ahead and wallow away.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  5. Spiffy

    There is no God. Jesus wasn't real. All religion is poison to human kind.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • Patrick

      Crass and tactless but very true.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • mike

      Crass and tactless? Hardly. A little direct and honest observation is refreshing.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • GodIsDead

      Amen mate! (yeah Im aware of the irony...but well said)

      July 24, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • whamo

      Spiffy you rock. Cheers.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  6. Russ

    you guys have no right to go tell these Muslims that they should convert to Christianity. they can be whatever they like but to tell these people that they should be Christians because it's better is WRONG! WRONG WRONG!

    July 24, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  7. Sammy

    There will be no atheists in Hell, everyone there will know that there is a God!

    July 24, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • mike

      blah, blah, blah.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • JF

      In either place you're a slave right? I'd rather be laughing it up with George Carlin than hanging out with a sicko like Warren Jeffs.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Sammy

      You said: "There will be no atheists in Hell, everyone there will know that there is a God!"

      If god is all loving, all good and all just as Christians profess, how do you reconcile this with the fact, that there is a place called hell?

      How could an all good, all merciful, all just god, spend His time constructing such a place?

      Did he whistle while He worked?

      If god is all loving, all good, all merciful and all just...how do you reconcile this with the fact that god would burn humans for all eternity? What crime could justify such a punishment?

      Man lives a finite number of years. Only a finite number of "sins" could be committed in this finite time. How is it just to punish a finite number of sins with eternal agony?

      Christians also claim their god is all knowing (omniscient). If this is true, then He would know who will be saved and who will be damned, even before they are born. Yet, god lets them be born knowing their ultimate fate is eternal punishment. Seems wrong somehow. Maybe it's just that I am sane...

      Christians often prattle on about having a choice of accepting Christ or spending eternity in hell. This is not a choice. This is Vito Corleone making an offer that cannot be refused. Pfui!

      If you were trying to start a religion, as the New Testament authors were, wouldn't this be a good PowerPoint bullet? I mean it really couldn't hurt the membership roster, right?

      Join = Eternal Bliss

      Decline = Eternal Agony

      If a puppy peed on the floor, would you hold it over a burner, even for a second? I couldn't. Not a puppy and certainly not a human. I am more moral than your vile god.

      Like many of your fellow Christians you seem overjoyed with the idea, that people who do not agree with you will be horribly punished. You draw it like a gun. It is the better part of any argument you make. If I am wrong and there is a god and there is a Jesus...you and I may be roomies.

      Cheers!

      July 24, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  8. Matthew Miller

    "The truth is an offense, but not a sin..
    Fools say in their heart, your God is dead.
    But I and I know, dread it shall be dreader dread"

    July 24, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  9. Brian

    Hell must be a nice place when you look at the people who are going to heaven. These evangelicals are some of the most obnoxious, stiff-necked fools you can imagine.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • Sammy

      Let me know how that works out for ya..

      July 24, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  10. deployedmarine

    Guy missed an chance to kill a terrorists. Instead he took a picture with him. Hezbollah, "The Party Of God," has killed thousands upon thousands of Lebanese, Syrians, Israelis and Palestinians.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  11. Jim

    Lenny, Christians are not pro slavery, to my knowledge. Your quoting the bible does not show that Christians approve of slavery, only that slavery was a norm of the times.
    Genesis 47:18-19 (NIV)
    When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, "We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. [19] Why should we perish before your eyes-we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate."Genesis 47:20-21 (NIV)
    So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh's, [21] and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • whamo

      So is the bible the word of your as-shole of a god or not?

      July 25, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  12. Juno

    Who got rid of the like button? This is a religious post, so my only option is to report abuse? WHAT IF I ACTUALLY like SOMETHING HERE?

    July 24, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • teresa, ohio

      juno: jus say "amen". ; ) kind of like saying " me likes"

      July 24, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  13. JustBelieve

    Jesus plainly said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one gets to the Father, except through Me."

    All Christians must continue to confess this core message of Jesus and the Gospel but in a loving & respectful way.

    It is not easy, I am not an expert – by any stretch – but continue to pray for God to embolden my faith, my future confessions to others & to use me for His purposes.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • JF

      use me for His purposes.

      How do you know that it's not "her" purposes? God may get really mad if you keep referring to her as him.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • frank

      Had Jesus preached that he'd killed his father because his father was a sick and bloodthirsty villain, repudiated his father and his father's acts, and now he (Jesus) was god, his message would be at least respectably ludicrous, rather than simply despicably ludicrous, and worshiping him would be a little less contemptible.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Robert

      "Based on what I just said, Carl Medearis is a ______________ ."
      The correct answer is: a Federal criminal under US law.
      Mr. Medearris is meeting with a leader of an terrorist organization which was responsible for the deaths of 241 US Marines ib 1983. Personally, I can never turn the other cheek for such a crime. I pray that he does't meet the same tragic fate as Terry Wright.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • MiddKid

      The Gospel of John was written circa 90 AD...John wasn't a tape recorder. Are you seriously utilizing a quote that John made up, inscribed 90 years after his death, anywhere from 30-50 years after the Synoptics?

      July 24, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • JF

      Middkid,

      good point. Also John didn't write John. The author is anonymous. Scribes changed it to the book of John to make it sound better. The same goes for Matthew, Mark and Luke.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  14. Richard S Kaiser

    HELLO MUNEEF!

    Muneef writes; “No Jesus (Issa) has existed and (Muhammad) existed and both are the prophets of GOD who brought to us the words of Truth from GOD Almighty...the proof for this the books and the believers of their existence and Holy Words…”

    Hello Muneef, The Problem that many “Christians” have with your above statement is that THEY Believe Christ to be GOD Almighty. I Though Believe that Christ Jesus is but a Solitary God Born of GOD through GOD’s Insemination of the Blessed Virgin, Mary. No seed from Human Manhood did this Miraculous Insemination that GOD Himself did so!

    Kind Muneef, could you please tell me the details of how Muhammad was Born?

    Muneef continues His writing saying; “Actually I as an Arab and as a Muslim hold all the respect for the personality of the present leader Mr. H. Nasserallah and to all of his team for their contribution of freeing Lebanon from their invaders and for uniting Lebanon after a long time of wear and tear...

    Muneef, could you enlighten me upon who this Mr. H. Nasserallah is? I am but a lowly person with little to no knowledge regarding much of the Middle East among many other regions of this world. Please Kind Muneef, Tell me about Mr. Nasserallah.

    Muneef keeps writing; “she had made a balance to our world better than any existing leadership in the Arabic or Muslim countries...they were alone in their last war better and more firm on the ground than any Arabic or Muslim countries..”

    Who Muneef is this “she”?
    Muneef continues; “. No matter from whom they get the finance or the arms... They are no Terrorists but rather world wanted it's privacy and freedom of belief as well as the ability to defend their community... Actually those inhabit the southern part of Lebanon meaning they are at the front of danger.”

    Are you Muneef trying to tell us that They, (Non-Terrorists) wanted “Privacy and Freedom of Belief “ along with an ability to defend community which is in the southern parts of Lebanon?

    Muneef continues: “They are Muslim Shia and I am a Muslim Sunni but admire their leadership although at the moment am upset for them being framed up by the international court for the late Alhariri assassination as mean of disarming them first and then court marshal them as terrorists for their bravery and high principals.. after all Armed or Disarmed you will not be left in peace for defending your rights and land..!!!

    Muneef, Are you saying that the Muslim Shia of which you are not, (You are a Muslim Sunni) were “Framed”? For what Muneef were the Muslim Shia Framed?

    Muneef writes; “[2:283] Do not withhold any testimony by concealing what you had witnessed. Anyone who withholds a testimony is sinful at heart. GOD is fully aware of everything you do.” On July 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I take, Muneef that you are quoting in the above statement which I take as being Scripture?

    July 24, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Muneef

      Well sorry Kaiser seems you have to work harder to get your informations about the world round you...
      About the she it was a mistake as was referring to Hezbollah...
      Peace

      July 24, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Hello Muneef,

      I was surely hoping we could reach some sort of constructive communication giving we are from different backgrounds. Oh well Muneef, if you care not to have a constructive Blog, so be it,

      Still, Be at Peace and hope you Prosper

      July 25, 2011 at 1:29 am |
  15. TG

    Jesus said: "Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations.... teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you."(Matt 28:19, 20) One of Jesus commands was not to meddle in the political arena, for he said that his disciples were to be "no part of the world."(John 15:19) As a result, Jesus said his disciples would be "hated" and "persecuted" just as he was persecuted.(John 15:20) These, because they carry the name of God, Jehovah, are indeed hated.(John 15:21) Few are willing to accept persecution in order to please God and thus be on the "cramped...road leading off into life.".(Matt 7:14)

    July 24, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • Free

      TG
      "One of Jesus commands was not to meddle in the political arena,"
      Tell that to everyone who usually votes Republican! 🙂

      July 25, 2011 at 12:44 am |
  16. Beatrice

    Evil mankind needs condemnation more than ever. Sugar-coated Christianity is not right.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Emilio Dumphuque

      Ooo, guess who's not gettin' laid?

      July 24, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Sammy

      It is not enough to talk about Jesus or discuss his teachings or say he was a great prophet. In order to be saved,(go to heaven), you MUST believe he the only begotten son of God , died on the cross to save us from our sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Muslims as well as other religions do not believe this. Jesus was, and is, God incarnate. The author states that doctrine is not as important as following Jesus. The sound doctrine is all about Jesus!!! About who He is, what He did for us and why. This is crucial and fundamental in order for you to "follow Jesus".

      July 24, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • Dustin

      Beatrice, when people like you stop all of their self-righteous condemnations and start helping the sick, the needy, and loving everyone for who they are without judgement, you will achieve the level of Christianity that God intended for his followers. You are not a Christian, you are a doomsday zealot whom no one, least of all God, has the slightest amount of time or patience for.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • JF

      Yes let's bring back the burnings. Maybe a little torture here and there. That should improve things.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • Free

      Sammy
      "Jesus was, and is, God incarnate."
      You do realize that this a declaration of faith, not a statement of fact, right?

      July 25, 2011 at 12:40 am |
  17. Beatrice

    Evangelicals will never stop testifying the truth. Satan and his allies and human villains just want silence of God's people. It's been that way throughout human history all over the world. Their schemes will fail. There will be God's judgment.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Emilio Dumphuque

      What's Satan's motivation for this action you describe? Why would he care?

      July 24, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Beatrice

      Oh, my deluded believer! There is no devil. No demons of any sort. Nothing under your beds. If there were, I would tell you.

      Satan was invented by men, because they felt "funny" worshipping a god that had just devastated a village of good people via a flood. They didn't want their god to be the one who did evil. So, Beelzebub was born.

      Consider: You believe god is all knowing. Yes?

      You believe god is all powerful. Yes?

      You believe everything written in the bible is true. Yes?

      You believe Satan is at least as intelligent as your average human. Yes?

      You believe Satan can read? Yes?

      Do you think Satan ever read the part, in the King James, where he loses the battle against god? What would be the point in continuing the battle, if the goal (victory?) ABSOLUTELY was not obtainable? I think this would be disheartening to any army. Even a band of fallen angels.

      Who, more than a fallen angel, would believe/know god was omniscient? Not to mention omnipotent. That would have been a stumbling block to any coup attempt. Right?

      So, rebellion would have been dumb of Satan and his band of angels. God would have said, "You will lose and you will lose your health insurance." End of rebellion, I think.

      These stories are fiction. Do you see that? What ent ity would rebel against an all powerful, all knowing god? You couldn't even sneak up on Him. Sheesh! Use your brain, just a little.

      What's funny, is that Christians bestow upon their god, the attributes of being omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient.
      Never mind that it is impossible for a god to be all those things at the same time.

      But, Christians never stop to think how these attributes affect their fairy tales. They never consider the ramifications resulting from these superlative qualities that they give to their god.

      Some have told me, that Satan knows he will be defeated. His goal is to take as many humans to hell with him as possible.

      But, Christians also say, their god is all knowing. If god can see the future, if the future can be known, He would know exactly how many souls will be lost and how many saved. He would know this, from the beginning.

      If god can know the future, Satan would be locked into his part. Like Judas and Peter, he would have no choice.

      If the predictions of the bible concerning Satan and the end times are true, then all the events and actions leading up to the fulfillment of these predictions, are predetermined. Predictions, cannot depend on chance.

      “For me, it is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”
      – Carl Sagan

      Cheers!

      July 24, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • mike

      ...and then the great Cornholio will come, and all shall bow down before the almighty bunghole!!!

      July 24, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Nernernerner

      Satan ain't real, go take your Thorazine.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Free

      Or, the entire idea of Jesus actually being God and dying to 'save' people's souls has been seen as ridiculous from the very beginning, and 'Satan deceiving people' has been just one of the favorite explanations used to justify why so many people don't buy it.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:37 am |
  18. Jeff

    "I believe that doctrine is important, but it’s not more important than following Jesus"

    Carl Medearis has taught an important principle that all can apply a little more diligently in our lives. Yes, Jesus Christ did teach us to love and accept others despite the lifestyle of those around us. But, where Carl goes wrong is that Christ did not teach love without accountability. As Christ did, Christians should share doctrine because they love others. Christ began his ministry with the words "Except a man be born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God," and he ended his ministry by telling them to "baptize," which was the symbolic ritual required to enter His church he established on the earth. Christ did not break down those prejudiced barriers to emphasize the importance of not teaching them his doctrine; rather, he broke down barriers to persuade the traditional Jews as to why those who were discriminated against could actually be a part of His covenant. Despite Christ's emphasis that religious affiliation is important and even necessary, the one thing he was also perfect at was emphasizing and tolerating each individual's freedom to choose. After people rejected him or refused to give Him the time of day, he didn't treat them like garbage or keep persisting at converting them; he simply let them walk away. So, while Carl is right that we could be a little more loving and tolerant and respectful to the choices and beliefs of others, it is false to teach that everyone should just stop wanting to share their own doctrine. Is it possible to follow Jesus without emphasizing His doctrine? I don't think so.

    If I try to share my beliefs with others and they reject them, then it is up to me to let them walk away while still keeping the commandment to "love my neighbors as thyself". But to completely ignore the other commandments that Christ gave to preach the gospel would be just as unloyal to the idea of following Jesus as it would be to give up loving them.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  19. Will Fernandes

    I disagree with the view of the author. Jesus said he was GOD many times. And that is contrary of what the Islamic faith that sees Jesus only as a prophet. There is no sense what to the author is saying as Jesus is God there is no need for Mohamed.

    Mark 14:61-64 “Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’”

    John 8:58-59 “I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.”

    John 10:30-33 “I and the Father are one.’ Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’”

    John 14:8-9 “Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ’Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

    July 24, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Will Fernandes

      There is no evidence that Jesus ever actually existed, let alone being a demigod.

      Cheers!

      July 24, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Patti

      Too true David. Not one shred of historical evidence, not one word written about Jesus in supposed lifetime.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • Dustin

      Why do Christians even need preachers and evangelist leaders? They all apparently think their personal interpretation of the bible is the right one. This is the problem. Because the bible is so contradictory and a book which is clearly saddled by history, it demand constant reinterpretation to keep up with the times. Hence, we get cherry pickers who use certain quotes to support their own beliefs or a certain political agenda. This author makes sense. His point is logical and grounded in years of personal experience. When have you ever been in a war-torn Muslim nation speaking with the people face-to-face. I would guess never.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Dustin

      You said: "Why do Christians even need preachers and evangelist leaders? They all apparently think their personal interpretation of the bible is the right one. This is the problem. Because the bible is so contradictory and a book which is clearly saddled by history, it demand constant reinterpretation to keep up with the times."

      Yep! You are totally right.

      Notice how many denominations of Christianity there are (~ 34,000). Each denomination can show you scripture, that "proves" they understand the wants of Jesus/god.
      All of the denominations could not be correctly interpreting the bible. Many are contradictory.
      Many of these denominations believe only their members will be saved.

      If the Christian god exists, and He is all knowing and all powerful and all good, why didn't He provide a bible that could not be misinterpreted? That everyone's comprehension of His wants would be the same?

      Christians believe god's purpose in creating the Bible is to guide human beings towards a knowledge of God, and to help them lead moral lives, Christians must be certain of the meaning of the Bible.

      ambiguity – a word or expression that can be understood in two or more possible ways : an ambiguous word or expression.

      "There are in excess of 1,000 Christian faith groups in North America. They teach diverse beliefs about the nature of Jesus, God, the second coming, Heaven, Hell, the rapture, criteria for salvation, speaking in tongues, the atonement, what happens to persons after death, and dozens of other topics.

      On social controversies, faith groups teach a variety of conflicting beliefs about abortion access, equal rights for ho_mo$exuals and bi$exuals, who should be eligible for marriage, the death penalty, physician assisted suicide, human $exuality topics, origins of the universe, and dozens of other topics.

      The groups all base their theological teachings on the Bible. Generally speaking, the theologians in each of these faith groups are sincere, intelligent, devout, thoughtful and careful in their interpretation of the Bible. But, they come to mutually exclusive conclusions about what it teaches. Further, most are absolutely certain that their particular interpretations are correct, and that the many hundreds of faith groups which teach opposing beliefs are in error." Source: Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance

      If the bible is ambiguous, then it cannot be said to be inerrant. If the bible is not without error, then how do we know which parts to accept as truth and which to reject as fiction?

      The Christian god is very unlikely to exist.

      Cheers!

      July 24, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • brad

      sorry doubters, there is a wealth of historical evidence that Jesus did exist and walk the earth when the Bible claims. Roman and Jewish historians and records attest to this fact.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • Free

      Will Fernandes
      No, there are reports that Christians now take as Jesus implying that he was actually God in the gospels, but no outright declaration of such.

      First of all, 'Christ, the Son of the Blessed One' in Mark does not mean a literal demi-god like the pagan Greeks would have understood it. The coming messiah was always understood to be a purely human savior. However, Jesus died before fulfilling any Jewish expectation of what the messiah's mission would be.

      You also like quoting from John, but in John 12:44 we have:

      "And Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me."

      Indicating that he did not, in fact, think of himself as God. Remember that the formula 'I Am' was a name that God (YHWH) used to refer to himself. Therefore all of the 'I Am' statements made by Jesus are better understood as Jesus speaking in reference to God outside of scripture, which might have been sacrilegious, but not a claim to divinity.

      David was also a 'Son of God'. The Greek cultured gentile converts just misunderstood. Not their fault, really. They were brought up in a culture where gods having hybrid offspring was commonplace. The idea of having just a single god was alien to even them.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • JF

      Brad,

      I don't know about a wealth of evidence, but yes there is evidence that Jesus existed. There is a lot more evidence that David Koresh existed. One big difference between Jesus and and David is that David was literate. Too bad god didn't ensure that Jesus could read and write. Then writers wouldn't have had to make up all the crap decades later.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  20. redeemed

    I give up have fun kids, when we die we awake some to eternal life,some to eternal damnation. the choice is ours,I will chose LIFE,good nite and God bless you all

    July 24, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @redeemed

      "There is no God. There's no heaven. There's no hell. There are no angels. When you die, you go in the ground, the worms eat you."
      - Madalyn Murray O’Hair

      Cheers!

      July 24, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Athiest Bob

      there are no worms

      July 24, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Athiest Bob

      You said: "there are no worms"

      Ahhh...there is tons of empirical evidence for the worms. And not even the tiniest speck of evidence for an afterlife.

      Theists believe in an immaterial soul. They believe this soul is our ident_ity or mind. It is essentially, "who we are". The soul is said to leave the body when we die. God decides if our soul will go to Heaven or Hell. Evidently, our souls are given a physical body, that we might enjoy eternal bliss or torment.

      There is no evidence for a soul. Our obviously material brains contain all that we are. All that we have experienced, all that we have learned, all of our perceptions. When we die, our brains cease to function. We no longer exist. All that we were, is no more.

      Evidence to support this argument, is that disease, drugs, and injuries affect our ability to think. Our personalities to change. Cerebral palsy occurs when babies' brains are deprived of oxygen. If our mind and personality was immaterial and separate from our physical bodies, our thinking and personalities would not be affected.

      Our brains are constantly generating thoughts. Brain chemistry determines our emotions. We can't really tell, that these thoughts and emotions originate in our brains. It's easy for Believers to perceive thoughts and feelings, generated by their brains, as coming from outside themselves. *sigh* Jesus? Is that you? LOL!

      Cheers!

      July 24, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • mike

      @David, a well-chosen quote. I personally prefer George Carlin's take on religion...

      July 24, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • Free

      redeemed
      Giving up? I see you've taken the missionary's article to heart.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Preethi

      Madalyn Murray O'Hair' own son became a Christian evangelist and said that his mother was one of the most evil and vil est person who ever lived. He knew her better than you David Johnson.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:15 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.