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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. Zach

    I know nothing of Carl Medearis. The article is an interesting view at best. The thought that Christians are in any way violent or attacking or coercing of muslims is saddening. However, Carl's theology and understanding of the scripture is poor. Only with a watered down Christianity which is popular today, could you come to conclusions like he has come to. I am excited that Carl wants to "talk" of Jesus, and there is definitely a line Christians should not cross, namely to "coerce". But Jesus is not calling his followers to be "coercers" or "talkers", but to engage the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and with the love of Christ. That is certainly more than the "talking" Carl seems to be persuading Christians to do. There is no doubt that what Carl is speaking of is not leading him to be hated by muslims. However, what Jesus was clear about in John 15, regardless of methodology, was that Christians would be hated by those outside the Christian community. Do with Jesus what you will, but please don't change the Christian mission in the world to make it palatable, and John 15 untrue, or any of Jesus's very separating messages (Luke 11:23 specifically) non existant. It may be diplomatic, but it is scripturally ignorant.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      If you like being hated then keep being that kind of Christian. I haven't found that Christian in my bible.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Mike

      What are you talking about Keith?

      July 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Ike

      Why can't we all just get along? I mean Christians want to bring the Muslims to God through Jesus and the Muslims want to kill the Christians for heresy. There is no pressure to be saved, except if you die, then you will be lost. So by all means lets us just talk. Jesus wasn't out to unite humanity, he was out to save souls. The Bible sates that houses would be divided amongst themselves because of those that believed in the Gospel and those that didn't, with the non-believers persecuting the believers. A house divided against its self cannot stand. Peace was to be achieved in the realization of being saved.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Sporkify

      @Ike – except it's the believers persecuting everyone else. Funny. Wait, I meant sad.

      August 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  2. Jason K

    Carl, it was never your job to convert anyone. Your job is to go to a place and spread the word. Its the job of the Holy Spirit to determine which ones grow and which ones don't. Take the example of the parable of the soils. The same seed is spread over many soils, but only one takes root and produces fruit. The sower isn't trying to make the plants grow in the sand or rocky soil, its only his job to spread the seed.

    You share the same problem that most "Christians" do. You think its YOUR faith IN Jesus Christ. You believe faith is something innate in all mankind and that they need to make the decision to follow and obey Christ.

    Read the old testament, the entire thing is an object lesson by God telling Israel that they CANNOT keep the law. Its impossible! No, faith is not something everyone has, but rather it is a gift. Works and obediance are rather the fruit of an individual that has been changed by the Holy Spirit into a "New Creation, the likes of which the Earth has never seen before".

    A sovereign God knows who His elect are, and will draw them when the word is laid on the soil of their heart, and the rest won't care, or will rise up quickly with furvor and fall away.

    He who has eyes, let him see, and the rest, let it be a stumbling block.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Spiffy

      God isn't real and Jesus never existed.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Ike

      There are fewer writings on historical people such as Homer, than are the writings on God and we believe they exist. The Bible has been historically correct in every manner. People and places continue to be dug up that historians said never existed, but the Bible did. So the question could be asked: Who is ths Spiffy person? I'm not sure he is real and has ever existed.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Spiffy

      Have you ever read the story of Jesus' birth? It is filled with historical inaccuracies. If Jesus was so important why did no one write of him during his life? Why is that Jesus' story fits perfectly with that of pagan traditions across the Mediterranean?

      Homer contributed the Odyssey and the Iliad. The oldest works of literature in Western culture. What has Jesus and his followers contributed to Western culture but oppression?

      July 25, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Ike

      Have you ever read the story of Jesus' birth? "Yes I have."
      It is filled with historical inaccuracies. "What historical inaccuracies?" Do you mean Herod, from what I have read Herod did live, he built a large temple, he had a horrible death.
      If Jesus was so important why did no one write of him during his life? "Actually there are the Gospels and hundreds of manuscripts that coincide with the Gospels. Largely Jesus led an underground movement and it grew that way." Why is that Jesus' story fits perfectly with that of pagan traditions across the Mediterranean? As in resurrection, the peheonix, etc. Good question, but none ogf them have the background and propehcies tht Jesus does.

      Homer contributed the Odyssey and the Iliad. The oldest works of literature in Western culture. "We think Homer did , if he even existed."
      What has Jesus and his followers contributed to Western culture but oppression. What oppression? Christians were oppressed when they came about and it is the "church" that has oppressed, but the "church" is hardly Christian. Christians are Christians.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Spiffy

      If David had lived at all he would have lived thousands of years before Joseph. Why is that they would have to go back to Bethlehem when no one in their right mind would have done so? That would be like me going back to Germany because I can trace back there. There was a census at the time but it was a local one not one for the entire empire. The census took place in 6 AD long before Herod's death. The entire Biblical account of Jesus' birth was made up to try to fit prophesies. When people started asking questions they decided to fit Jesus into the prophesies.

      There are no recordings of Jesus' life when he was alive because he simply didn't exist. The gospel accounts you mention were written 50-80 years after the death of Jesus. How accurate can those be?

      The pagan stories fit perfectly into Jesus' life. They were just made more Jewish friendly later by adding parts.

      Do you know something that puts into question Homer's existence?

      So the people in charge of the Christianity were not Christian? How does that make any sense? Christianity has oppressed scientific progress. Christians today are the ones doing the oppressing.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • o.k.

      Spiffy–you readily question the validity of an historical account that is 50-80 years after the fact so I must ask if you do that for all historical accounts. Is a biography today of one of our founding fathers to be considered suspect? 50-80 years–did WWI or WWII actually happen? We both sure it did, but under your accuracy test, it's still suspect. Until you can establish that oral tradition is absolutely unreliable, you can not say with absolute authority that the gospels inaccurately describe the people and events that they say lived or took place.

      July 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  3. Simon Peter

    Jehovahs Witnesses dissident speaks out on JW belief system .

    A) They are at your door to recruit you for their watchtower society corporation,they will say that *we are just here to share a message from the Bible*... this is deception right off.

    B) Their *message* creed is a false Gospel that Jesus had his second coming in 1914.The problem with this is it's not just a cute fairy tale,Jesus warned of the false prophets who would claim *..look he is here in the wilderness,or see here he is at the temple*.

    C) Their anti-blood transfusion ban against *whole blood* has killed thousands.

    D) once they recruit you they will *love bomb* you in cult fashion to also recruit your family & friends or cut them off.
    --

    My family was spiritually and financially swindled by the Watchtower society,3rd generation Jehovah's Witness Danny Haszard

    July 25, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Mike

      Sigh – what does this have to do with anything in this article.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  4. chris

    Wow, what a great article. As a Sunday School teacher to 4th graders, I can't just recite doctrine to the kids and expect them to understand. I have to explain stories in a way they can understand and allow them to ask any questions. As Christians we are required to test everything. Most other religions, including Islam, do not allow you test all their beliefs and so the best Islamic scholars are in non-Islamic (i.e. free) countries. If you take the time to understand the Bible by actually reading it and having someone explain parts you don't understand (like the Ethiopian and Philip in the book of Acts) then you can be set free from the chains of sin and have joy and hope in your life.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  5. Mike B.

    If you TRUST Jesus/God as a real and powerful person and not just a bunch of words in a book, if you believe HIS power, love and wisdom are still alive and working today (which I definitley do) then why cant you tell people what GOD has done in your own life, and TRUST in GOD to do the rest? This is gonna sound weird maybe but I like analogies so this is my feeble attempt at using one that just came to mind lol Anyway here it goes...If a man tells me he has a wife and he tells me how amazing she is and how beautiful she is and how she has helped him so much in his life and shes the best thing that ever happened to him etc What do you think would be more convincing in order for me to believe him, for him to keep talking about her or for him to actually let me meet her? Anyway that might not have been the best analogy but anyways what im saying and what I think Carl is saying is just introduce Jesus to people, let them meet him and let him prove himself to that person...we are not Jesus's defense attorney lol

    July 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Tripp

      The Woman is REAL, god is not. Thats why I beleive him. God is NOT real, therefore easy to cast doubt and call you a liar and that god is a figmant of your imagination.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • i_wonder

      Elwood P. Dowd introduced everyone that he met to his invisible 6'3" rabbit friend, Harvey. A very cute movie ("Harvey" [1950] with Jimmy Stewart)... you should watch it.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • xavierz7

      THIS IS FOR TRIPP. YOU ARE A WOMAN AND FOR THAT, YOU MOST OF ALL SHOULD BE WORRIED! BUT LET ME EXPLAIN, SCIENTISTS HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR THE LAST COUPLE HUNDRED YEARS, THAT DAVID AND GOLIATH DID NOT EXIST THAT IT WAS A MYTH!! BUT IN 2005 THE PALACE OF KING DAVID WHO KILLED THE GIANT WITH A SLING, WAS FOUND IN ISREAL AND THE TOMB OF HIS BELOVED SON!! THEN IN 2010 THEY FOUND THE PALACE OF KING SOLOMON SON OF KING DAVID, THEY MAY OF 2011 ARCHIOLOGISTS FOUND THE MINES OF SOLOMON! TRIPP SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE THE ONE IN DANGER OF BECOMING IMAGINARY!! SCIENTISTS ARE LIERS, FIRST DINASOURS CAME FROM REPTILES NOW THEY COME FROM BIRDS? DO YOU BELIEVE MEN THAT SAY ONE THING TODAY AND TOMORROW ANOTHER?? THE WORD OF GOD, IS THE SAME TODAY AND FOREVER!!!

      July 25, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Mike B.

      Sorry you feel that way Tripp I hope that one day you give Jesus a chance 🙂 His teaching and life have helped me in so many ways, if you ever decide to look into it read one of the books in the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) see for yourself 🙂 Anyway I have to go I wish you the best in every aspect of your life!

      July 25, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • i_wonder

      xavierz7,

      I don't think that anyone disputes that some of the characters in the Bible were real - there is *some* history, geography and cultural anthropology in it, as well as *some* valid morality tales and concepts to foster peaceful human behavior. It is the myth, legend, fantasy and superst'ition that are disputed.

      King David really lived; but did he really slay a giant with his slingshot?
      George Washington really lived; but did he really cut down the cherry tree with his little hatchet?

      July 25, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  6. Mark

    Carl, so what exactly is your point? Your whole story is a contradiction.

    Really?...."Don't evangelize, but feel free to tell others about Jesus every chance you get".
    Really?...."Tell people it's OK to follow Jesus and emulate his good deeds, but don't ask them to become diciples".

    It seems to me that you HAVE no point. I don't even think YOU know what you believe Carl.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  7. Paul T.

    Whether attempting to gather converts to Christianity, or just "fans for Jesus," Medearis ignores the simple fact that those of us with no Christian heritage, tradition or belief couldn't care less about either Jesus or Christian religious principles. Moreover, evangelists like Medearis (and, yes, that's what he remains) do not understand how fundamentally (pun intended) disrespectful it is to approach other mature adults and tell them, in essence, "Your beliefs are wrong, mine are right, so listen to what they are!"

    I have no interest in Jesus, thank you. Please show me the simple respect of leaving me alone.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Imagine your Muslim neighbors trying to convert you night and day. "You can wrap your head in a towel and beat your wife!" they tell you. "No thanks, really," you tell them. "But you can pray at work, and when you die you get a bunch of virgins!" "Seriously, no, I don't want to convert." They come back with "Christ is for weenies and you must convert right NOW!!" What do you say to them? Probably the same thing I say to you: LEAVE ME ALONE!

      July 25, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Mike

      Clown, imagine a world where no one was free to discuss their beliefs. By your rule of law, there should not even be any posts on topics such as this, because others shouldn't have to be exposed to what you believe. What you ask for is control over speech and information. Sounds slightly scarier than the world of your dreams!

      July 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Thomas

      Paul,
      I would want to push back against your statement regarding the avoidance of telling another that their beliefs are wrong. People incessantly do this in all realms of life – not just religion. Politics, morals, law, you name it. In fact, you just did tell a mature adult what to believe. What you're suggesting is an impossibility if society is to function properly. Granted, there is an appropriate and an inappropriate way in which to disagree with another. But, we can't avoid all conflict or disagreement.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Mark

      Please tell me who these Christian "browe beaters" are. Where are they? I've never seen em. I've been in Church my whole life. I grew up in Church. I became a Christian at a fairly young age, and I've always been scared to death to share Christ with others. I find it one of the hardest things in the world to do. Yet, to hear your account (and those of others) you'd swear that a flock of "holy rollers" show up at your door step every Sunday ready to tie you up and haul you off to Church against your will, force feeding you scipture versus along the way. Most of the discussions I've ever been included in (whilst at Church) pertaining to "sharing you faith" is how to get people more WILLING to talk to others about Christ not LESS willing. Most Christians I know find it difficult simply because they know most people aren't interested.

      No Christian that I know of has the gift of clarevoyance. They don't know who's gonna be receptive and who isn't. The only way they know is to share their faith with you and then allow you to respond in whatever manner you choose. But, I seriously doubt that you've been "has-sled" by too many Christians that are just bound and determined to see you converted to Christianity come hell or highwater.
      I do know people who (as a part of their Church ministry) go door to door telling people about Jesus and inviting them to Church. But, none of those people that I know ever make it a point to go back over and over again to a house where that individual made it clear that they aren't interested. Yep, it would be nice if I could pull out a city map and be able to cross off all the houses where the people wouldn't be interested, but funny thing is, you can't know until you've gone there.

      If the very fact that Christians exist and are willing to come up to you and share their faith you is what's bothering you, then that's YOUR problem, not theirs. All you have to do is say, I'm not interested. How is that so hard? Why do you feel the need to respond any differently than you would to anything else someone was offering that you didn't want?

      July 25, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  8. Hmm...

    "When I tell my Christian friends in America that some of the fiercest militias were (and are) Christian, most are shocked". Just because I tell you I am a racecar driver doesn't make it true. Once you saw me drive around the track it would be very clear I am not who I said I was. Likewise, just because they claim the name "Christian" doesn't mean they are. If their actions prove otherwise they are not. Fiercest militias were Christian!?!?!? Quite the oxymoron!

    July 25, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Mike

      Yes – corrected version should read "fiercest militias CLAIMED to be Christian," or "fiercest militias were pseudo-Christian."

      July 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • LK

      Because, of course, Christians are capable of no wrong. So there can be no "fierce Christian militias." Third base.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Mike

      LK – that's not the point. Of course Christians are capable of wrong. However, if someone who claimed to be Christian were also a member of a militia or military movement of any type, their "form of Godly devotion" has "proved false to its power," as 2 Tim. 3:1-5 mentions. In other words, they are Christian in name only and are not recognized as such by God's standards. Jesus' standards were clear ... his followers would be no part of the world and would imitate the same principles of neutrality and non-violence that he set. Otherwise, you're just talkin' the talk ...

      July 25, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      Fundamentalist of any sort are dangerous, Christian or otherwise.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Meh

      To all who say that being Christian means being anti-militant... What of those who Serve and Protect in our Police forces? What of those who Serve and Protect in our Military? Are they not Christians because they are militant?

      What of the Crusades? What of the Papal policy that not only supported but encouraged the Crusades? Is the Pope not Christian?

      We of the Christian faith have committed as many atrocities throughout history as all the religions we accuse the same of doing. We are no better and have no right to force our faith on anyone.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Mike

      Meh – Jesus was the one who set the terms for what it meant to be Christian. He did not take up arms for any reason, even though the state he lived under was under oppressive rule by outside forces, nor did he encourage such. Rather, he sternly told his disciples to put their swords away when they attempted to defend him. When Rome finally invaded Jerusalem in the year 70, rather than work to defend their home city or even support local law and order, Christians had been given the instructions to flee to the mountains before the fighting broke out. I'm not the one who makes the call as to who is living by Christian principles or not ... but after reading and thinking about what the Bible actually says on the topic, you can decide for yourself whether or not individuals like the Popes or those who join the military are actually making choices that are in harmony with Christ's thinking or not.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  9. A Follower

    Jesus is indeed the most polarizing person to ever walk the earth. Many have tried (unsuccessfully) to capture and contain the "who He is" factor. Jesus cannot and must not be viewed through the prism of man's intellect or experience. For example, not matter how true one thought it was that the earth was flat, it did not change the truth that is was round: it had always been round since its creation. This is true concerning Jesus. If one wants to know Jesus you MUST go to His own words and find out; not going by what someone else said about him. To say by intimation or implication that Jesus did or does not divide but only unites is disingenuous. Jesus loved the will of God and HATED anything that would come between Him and its fulfillment. This included the Pharisees, Sadducees, His own family. Let me repeat that: HIS OWN FAMILY. He united men, women, poor, rich, yes. BUT, it was under the banner of His purpose which was to save mankind. He did NOT unit at the expense of the purpose for which he came. He did NOT compromise the plan of God in the name of unity. In fact, there was NO compromise in Him: either you were for Him or against Him; no middle ground. Now, Jesus does not BELONG to Christians. He did not come to establish ANOTHER religion. All the factions of the church are the result of man's hand, not God's. Jesus was born, crucified, buried, and rose again FOR ALL MANKIND. He indeed, from His own mouth, declared this. Having said that, it is inexcusable for any true believer to water down His ONE WAY message to accommodate others feelings. Jesus never minced His words. He always gave it to us straight. If you want to follow Jesus you MUST leave your old life behind. And if that means forsaking a paganistic religion or one that is derived from pagan culture, then you must forsake it to follow Him. There just is no middle ground here. One must take up his cross and follow Jesus. One must put his hand to the plow and not turn back. Jesus said if any man (women included) desires to come after Him, he/she must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. And if you are not willing, then you are not worthy. Read it. That's in the bible too. So, if one wants to follow Jesus, prepare to sacrifice everything not worthy of His kingdom. Period.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Mark Dearborn

      Well said. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. I don't believe that He came back to say "Oh, Mohammed too".

      July 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Rick

      How can you discount the very real possibility that what has been claimed that he said is a result of editing from man, along with the translation over thousands of years and different nuances of language?

      July 25, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Jason K

      Dear "A Follower" Jesus never minced words? Have you even read the gospels? Why did Jesus speak in parables? If He wanted to always give it straight He would not have spoken in parables that most of His disciples STILL didn't understand after He explained them. The purpose of this was that so those who the gospels were for would understand them. The gospels have no doctrinal value. The entire time Jesus is offering the Jews the Kingdom to fufill prophesy. Its still the 5th dispensation of law, you really can't take anything except the death burial and resurrection and apply it to the church.

      The problem is that "Christians" don't want to see God outside their prism and think He is bound by the same "rules" He holds us to. This stems from people's misconception over what "sin" means.

      Sin is simply doing something God commanded you not to do, or not doing something God commanded you to do. Therefore, God can do anything He wants, including deceiving the entire house of Israel for 1500 years.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Barry

      Very well said!

      July 25, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • A Follower

      Dear Jason: Perhaps you are not aware of the idiom "to mince words" or what it means.

      Here it is: mince (one's) words: to soften the effect of one's words. "Tell me what you think, and don't mince your words. A frank person never minces words."

      Parable: a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson.

      Yes, Jesus taught in parables, but even His parables offended the Jews at that time. He never soften His words to make people feel comfortable. Need I remind you of John 6 where He invites His followers to consume His flesh and drink His blood? Do you remember what occured after this parable? Many departed because it was a hard saying. Now, I have read the ENTIRE bible, old and new testament three times, and working on my fourth. So, yes, I have read the gospels extensively; studying them in their originial languages using word studies, commentaries, lexicons, greek, hebrew and aramaic (for the old testament) dictionaries, etc. Most of all, I have His Holy Spirit in me to guide and teach me. As far as the other concepts you mentioned, I'd love to discuss, but that would take this thread off topic. However, one thing I must say, GOD CANNOT DO ANYTHING HE WANTS TO DO. GOD IS LIGHT, IN HIM THERE IS NO DARKNESS AT ALL. GOD CANNOT NOT BREAK HIS WORD, HE CANNOT LIE. HIS WORD CANNOT RETURN TO HIM WITHOUT ACCOMPLISHING WHAT HE INTENDED IT TO DO. So, there are many things God CANNOT do. God certainly cannot sin. You ought to read the word from cover to cover and ask Him to teach you His way. For God is holy and blameless in all His ways. His judgements are true. God is Love.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Sporkify

      If God is "all powerful" yet can't do all those things you just listed...then he's not God. You idiots contradict yourselves at every turn. Glad your fairy tale is slowly fading into irrelevance. You'll take as many more to the grave as you can before it disappears though, I'm certain.

      August 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  10. Mike B.

    BTW it saddens me to see so many people upset with Carl for various reasons I never got that feeling or vibe when listening to him talk or reading anything he has wrote, quite the opposite I feel like hes just trying to take the focus off of hate and prejudice and instead put the focus back on Jesus! I could be wrong as I have a million times in my life but it seems to me like Carl is just trying to get people to have an open mind and like I said sort of before...Meet Jesus for yourself and learn about who he was for yourself! Dont let anyone or any religion tell you about Jesus but instead find out what Jesus was about for yourself!

    July 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      ".Meet Jesus for yourself " He's dead. He doesn't meet people. Right?

      July 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  11. Ike

    People that are against doctrine don't understand what doctrine is. Doctrine simply means a teaching that is strictly followed. If you follow that 2+2=4, then you are following a doctrine. Jesus and the apostles came preaching and teaching and they expected thier teachings to be followed, as opposed to the teachings and doctrines of men. John says that Jesus was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God and the Word came down to man. You cannot seperate Jesus from His doctrine without destroying both. And just because The Church as in Catholic Church did horrific things doesn't make religion bad. Many people did bad things using the Bible to justify thier actions, when it did not. Jesus converted, but not with a sword of metal, but with the "sword of truth", which was the Word of God.

    Ironically when you get rid of "the higher power" of the Bible, "which has set values and morals", then you are left with us and people that have shifting values and morals that degrade as time goes on. Talk about problems. People load the sin of slavery on the Bible and yes there were slaves in the Bible, but slavery didn't become mean, curel and degrading until "the Origin of the Species" cast black people as lower on the evolutionary scale. It was the Puritans that marched against this cruelty.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Mike

      Exactly – it's just another excuse for gorging oneself on the "schmorgasbord" of beliefs and stopping the search for truth in earnest in exchange for an elusive "individual truth." No different than if the entire world were left to decide for themselves how long and inch or a foot should be and there is no agreed authority. We'd end up with some pretty funky looking buildings out there ... the same as we've ended up with millions of funky-sounding beliefs.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Mike

      One thing I would correct in this statement, though: "just because The Church as in Catholic Church did horrific things doesn't make religion bad." Should say doesn't make "all religion bad." Only religion that is based on lies and misinformation ends up with bad results and bad fruitage, and can therefore be classified as "bad." For their worship to be acceptable to God, Christians are obligated to worship "in spirit and TRUTH."

      July 25, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Rick

      "Jesus and the apostles came preaching and teaching and they expected thier teachings to be followed, as opposed to the teachings and doctrines of men."

      What were the apostles, if not men?

      July 25, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Ike

      Religion is bascially a system of beliefs and is only as good as the beliefs. But yes we must 'worship in spirit and in truth' and we must have the truth to worship. Athiesism is a religion in that it requires the belief that there is no God and therefore must follow evolution, humanism, etc.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Monica

      Wait, what? There was a point when slavery WASN'T cruel and degrading? I'm sure that people in ancient times were super nice to their slaves.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Mike

      Monica – it's true that in ancient times the thought of slavery was very different in some cultures. It was viewed more as a term of employment and slaves had the option of leaving the servitude at the end of a specified period of time. People "sold themselves" into slavery if they were unable to pay off debts, and if it turned out that they liked the person they served and were treated well by them, many of these slaves opted for another period of servitude out of loyalty and love for their master. It's very different from the harsh concepts promoted in more modern times. Keep in mind that this was not the case in every culture, but it was part of Judeo law and still relatively common in the Greek and Roman cultures of the first century.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  12. Mike B.

    I encourage everyone to watch the DVD series "Engage". It was my first time hearing Carl and another awesome guy Jay Pathak speak about "religion" and "Jesus" and I must say I am forever changed! As far as evangelism goes I must say I agree with Carl's approach...I have experienced firsthand the wonderful and amazing Love/Forgiveness/Mercy/Power and Wisdom of GOD and I therefore trust that If someone will just give God a chance and read about Jesus for themselves they will also experience these same things. I dont believe we have to defend Jesus or cram anything down anyones throat so to speak, or scare them into a church with threats of HELL and FIRE! If I am wrong I pray God forgive me! I dont think Jesus's message was to get people to follow a religion but instead was to get them to seek GOD in a real way on a PERSONAL level! Anyway sorry for rambling I mostly just wanted to post to support Carl and to say that I am happy to see this blog on CNN 🙂 -Mike

    July 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Mike

      Are these photos an advertisement for orthodontics?

      July 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Mickey B wrote, "If someone will just give God a chance"

      Whose God, yours mine someones Ricardo Montebauns' The Popes Father Wisenthals? The trouble lays with each one's individualist God;Head and solarity as to Whose God is Who and with there being as many Gods as there are people I therefore Declare My God to be the God of My Body! Nothing else of Otherly Gods, Goddesses Matters.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  13. KRICKET

    Satan always Deceives and twists the Bible. Are you sure you were a Christian, Carl?. Even your smile is scary.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  14. Richard S Kaiser

    Carl Madearas is a smooth salesman as He involves many bloggers and thru His Blog Manifesto does intice a few maybe Many of us to buy His book. Kudos to you Carl!

    July 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  15. Reality

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems with the "Reformed" and "Born-againers":

    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    July 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Dadnabit Reality get with the program de la pew et al Brutus

      July 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  16. TechLinkOnline

    I met Carl in person and his talk raised many questions – including did the Muslims convert Carl Medearis to Islam? The NUMBER ONE mistake Carl has made (and continues to) is he claims Muslims revere Jesus (more-so in his eyes than many professing Christians) this is NON-SENSE as the Muslims Isa is not even the Jesus of the Bible! "Who do people say I am" remember Jesus asked that to his disciples "some say Elijah, others say John the Baptist or one of the prophets" JESUS PAID THOSE ANSWERS NO MIND! That's the answer Muslims give! So Jesus asked his disciples "Who do you say I am" and Peter answers for the group "Thou art the Christ, Son of the Living God" which is a blasphemous statement to a Muslim. To Carl Medearis we say like Amos 3:3 "Can two walk together except they be agreed?"

    July 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Chris R

      Can you tell me where in the Bible Jesus says he is the living embodiment of God? Can you show me where the idea of the Trinity is laid out?

      July 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • ram

      Very interesting statement you make there, TechLinkOnline! You know what, he may have very well converted to Islam, or perhaps even worse, adopted a Christianized version of it. Given the volatile nature of Pentecostals, it should come as no surprise if every so often one of them flies over the cuckoo's nest.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Meh

      To all who say that being Christian means being anti-militant... What of those who Serve and Protect in our Police forces? What of those who Serve and Protect in our Military? Are they not Christians because they are militant?

      July 25, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • TechLinkOnline

      Chris R. the Bible as a whole clearly paints the picture of the Trinity God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – 3 equal persons perfectly co-existing as the God-Head. For a specific verse try 1 John 5:7 which says "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost" God shares his throne etc. with nobody so how is it that there are 3 that bear record in heaven? It's the Trinity my friend. For any doubt that Jesus is the Word see John 1.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  17. Miss Ilene

    Nicely said.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  18. Michael, Chapel Hill

    Hi GiveMeABreak,
    Do you think that you can control yourself?

    July 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  19. GiveMeABreak

    Or how about we just stop this nonsense altogether.

    No Jesus, no Christians, no Muslims, no "higher power".

    Just us, in this world together, making the most of it.

    Then, all of a sudden this entire article and all the problems in it just go away, and no one loses anything over it.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Laughing

      Hey! You're a poet and you didn't even know it!

      July 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • haww

      You are crazy.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Janet Goodell

      I don't think that would make the greedy and/or power-hungry disappear. I wish...

      July 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  20. goatlord

    HAIL SATAN!!!

    July 25, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • haww

      You are tooooo sick!!!!!

      July 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • haww

      You are saying that out of pure ignorance!

      July 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
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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.