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July 31st, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Do you speak Christian?

Editor's note: Kirby Ferguson is a New York-based writer, filmmaker and speaker who created the web video series Everything is a Remix. His videos, like the one above, can be found on Vimeo, an online community where artists share their films.

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Can you speak Christian?

Have you told anyone “I’m born again?” Have you “walked the aisle” to “pray the prayer?”

Did you ever “name and claim” something and, after getting it, announce, “I’m highly blessed and favored?”

Many Americans are bilingual. They speak a secular language of sports talk, celebrity gossip and current events. But mention religion and some become armchair preachers who pepper their conversations with popular Christian words and trendy theological phrases.

If this is you, some Christian pastors and scholars have some bad news: You may not know what you’re talking about. They say that many contemporary Christians have become pious parrots. They constantly repeat Christian phrases that they don’t understand or distort.

Marcus Borg, an Episcopal theologian, calls this practice “speaking Christian.” He says he heard so many people misusing terms such as “born again” and “salvation” that he wrote a book about the practice.

People who speak Christian aren’t just mangling religious terminology, he says. They’re also inventing counterfeit Christian terms such as “the rapture” as if they were a part of essential church teaching.

The rapture, a phrase used to describe the sudden transport of true Christians to heaven while the rest of humanity is left behind to suffer, actually contradicts historic Christian teaching, Borg says.

“The rapture is a recent invention. Nobody had thought of what is now known as the rapture until about 1850,” says Borg, canon theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon.

How politicians speak Christian

Speaking Christian isn’t confined to religion. It’s infiltrated politics.

Political candidates have to learn how to speak Christian to win elections, says Bill Leonard, a professor of church history at Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity in North Carolina.

One of our greatest presidents learned this early in his career. Abraham Lincoln was running for Congress when his opponent accused him of not being a Christian. Lincoln often referred to the Bible in his speeches, but he never joined a church or said he was born again like his congressional opponent, Leonard says.

"Lincoln was less specific about his own experience and, while he used biblical language, it was less distinctively Christian or conversionistic than many of the evangelical preachers thought it should be,” Leonard says.

Lincoln won that congressional election, but the accusation stuck with him until his death, Leonard says.

One recent president, though, knew how to speak Christian fluently.

During his 2003 State of the Union address, George W. Bush baffled some listeners when he declared that there was “wonder-working power” in the goodness of American people.

Evangelical ears, though, perked up at that phrase. It was an evangelical favorite, drawn from a popular 19th century revival hymn about the wonder-working power of Christ called “In the Precious Blood of the Lamb.”

Leonard says Bush was sending a coded message to evangelical voters: I’m one of you.

“The code says that one: I’m inside the community. And two: These are the linguistic ways that I show I believe what is required of me,” Leonard says.

Have you ‘named it and claimed it'?

Ordinary Christians do what Bush did all the time, Leonard says. They use coded Christian terms like verbal passports - flashing them gains you admittance to certain Christian communities.

Say you’ve met someone who is Pentecostal or charismatic, a group whose members believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as healing and speaking in tongues. If you want to signal to that person that you share their belief, you start talking about “receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost” or getting the “second blessings,” Leonard says.

Translation: Getting a baptism by water or sprinkling isn’t enough for some Pentecostals and charismatics. A person needs a baptism “in the spirit” to validate their Christian credentials.

Or say you’ve been invited to a megachurch that proclaims the prosperity theology (God will bless the faithful with wealth and health). You may hear what sounds like a new language.

Prosperity Christians don’t say “I want that new Mercedes.” They say they are going to “believe for a new Mercedes.” They don’t say “I want a promotion.” They say I “name and claim” a promotion.

The rationale behind both phrases is that what one speaks aloud in faith will come to pass. The prosperity dialect has become so popular that Leonard has added his own wrinkle.

“I call it ‘name it, claim it, grab it and have it,’ ’’ he says with a chuckle.

Some forms of speaking Christian, though, can become obsolete through lack of use.

Few contemporary pastors use the language of damnation - “turn or burn,” converting “the pagans” or warning people they’re going to hit “hell wide open” - because it’s considered too polarizing, Leonard says. The language of “walking the aisle” is also fading, Leonard says.

Appalachian and Southern Christians often told stories about staggering into church and walking forward during the altar call to say the “sinner’s prayer” during revival services that would often last for several weeks.

“People ‘testified’ to holding on to the pew until their knuckles turned white, fighting salvation all the way,” Leonard says. “You were in the back of the church, and you fought being saved.”

Contemporary churchgoers, though, no longer have time to take that walk, Leonard says. They consider their lives too busy for long revival services and extended altar calls. Many churches are either jettisoning or streamlining the altar call, Leonard says.

“You got soccer, you got PTA, you got family responsibilities - the culture just won’t sustain it as it once did,” Leonard says.

Even some of the most basic religious words are in jeopardy because of overuse.

Calling yourself a Christian, for example, is no longer cool among evangelicals on college campuses, says Robert Crosby, a theology professor at Southeastern University in Florida.

“Fewer believers are referring to themselves these days as ‘Christian,’ ” Crosby says. “More are using terms such as ‘Christ follower.’ This is due to the fact that the more generic term, Christian, has come to be used within religious and even political ways to refer to a voting bloc.”

What’s at stake

Speaking Christian correctly may seem like it’s just a fuss over semantics, but it’s ultimately about something bigger: defining Christianity, says Borg, author of “Speaking Christian.”

Christians use common words and phrases in hymns, prayers and sermons “to connect their religion to their life in the world,” Borg says.

“Speaking Christian is an umbrella term for not only knowing the words, but understanding them,” Borg says. “It’s knowing the basic vocabulary, knowing the basic stories.”

When Christians forget what their words mean, they forget what their faith means, Borg says.

Consider the word “salvation.” Most Christians use the words "salvation" or "saved" to talk about being rescued from sin or going to heaven, Borg says.

Yet salvation in the Bible is seldom confined to an afterlife. Those characters in the Bible who invoked the word salvation used it to describe the passage from injustice to justice, like the Israelites’ liberation from Egyptian bondage, Borg says.

“The Bible knows that powerful and wealthy elites commonly structure the world in their own self-interest. Pharaoh and Herod and Caesar are still with us. From them we need to be saved,” Borg writes.

And when Christians forget what their faith means, they get duped by trendy terms such as the rapture that have little to do with historical Christianity, he says.

The rapture has become an accepted part of the Christian vocabulary with the publication of the megaselling “Left Behind” novels and a heavily publicized prediction earlier this year by a Christian radio broadcaster that the rapture would occur in May.

But the notion that Christians will abandon the Earth to meet Jesus in the clouds while others are left behind to suffer is not traditional Christian teaching, Borg says.

He says it was first proclaimed by John Nelson Darby, a 19th century British evangelist, who thought of it after reading a New Testament passage in the first book of Thessalonians that described true believers being “caught up in the clouds together” with Jesus.

Christianity’s focus has long been about ushering in God’s kingdom “on Earth, not just in heaven,” Borg says.

“Christianity’s goal is not to escape from this world. It loves this world and seeks to change it for the better,” he writes.

For now, though, Borg and others are also focusing on changing how Christians talk about their faith.

If you don’t want to speak Christian, they say, pay attention to how Christianity’s founder spoke. Jesus spoke in a way that drew people in, says Leonard, the Wake Forest professor.

“He used stories, parables and metaphors,” Leonard says. “He communicated in images that both the religious folks and nonreligious folks of his day understand.”

When Christians develop their own private language for one another, they forget how Jesus made faith accessible to ordinary people, he says.

“Speaking Christian can become a way of suggesting a kind of spiritual status that others don’t have,” he says. “It communicates a kind of spiritual elitism that holds the spiritually ‘unwashed’ at arm’s length."

By that time, they’ve reached the final stage of speaking Christian - they've become spiritual snobs.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Culture wars • Episcopal • Evangelical • Faith • Fundamentalism • Politics • Uncategorized

soundoff (3,878 Responses)
  1. Peikovian

    Tom Paine, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, et al would not have passed muster in today's faith-based politics. History recalls these men did a tremendous service for this country just the same.

    July 31, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • hypermeme

      Deism worked pretty well for them. Their form of Deism was more like "Well I'm an Agnostic but I would probably be stoned if I told people this, so this is a good compromise for society to see me as."

      July 31, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • One7777777

      "today's faith based politics"

      Excuse me, but THEY are FALSE. They exalt the rich over the poor, they LIE, they DECEIVE, they are HYPOCRITES.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • JoeB

      Soooo, hypermeme, what you are saying is that they pretended to be religious to get ahead in politics? Sounds exactly like today's politician lol. You speak the truth though, no matter what people try to rewrite history to say, many of our founding fathers were not very religious and did a great service to this country keeping religion out of politics.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Torah101

      July 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Jesus

      Following the way of many evangelical preachers, I will now speak in tongues, prbnsjui9olkg rhdc ijkgdfasb. Translated that means, "Give me MORE of your money". Religion is the last and greatest legal con game in this nation.

      July 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Jessy

      @ hypermeme – Deism is nothing like Agnosticism. Deism is believing that God exists, but only created the Earth and then left it alone for us mortals to do as we want. Agnosticism (not to be confused with Gnosticism) is when you're not sure whether God exists or not. If you're going to use terms, make sure you understand them next time.

      July 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • hahaha

      Jessy, and all chrsitians believe the earth is 6,000 yrs old if you want to place a absolute definition on words. Deism back then was most likely the same as atheism today if you really want to compare.

      July 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • gupsphoo

      Deism and agnosticism are different but they're both so far removed from theism that you can consider them to be similar in a practical sense.

      August 1, 2011 at 2:03 am |
  2. Jarrett

    Rapture is in the Bible, it's in the Latin Vulgate. For hundreds of years all Bibles were in Latin and during the protestant reformation they used the Vulgate to translate Bibles into other languages. That is where we got the word rapture. As far as a literal translation whether they are right or wrong in their beliefs early Christians and Jews before that did take a literal belief in the Bible. Early Christians were not martyred for metaphors and fictional stories. Whether the Bible is real or not the early Christians believed it was. As far as some of the crazy miracles and stories go, if you can get past Genesis Chapter 1 the rest is not that big of a miracle. If God created the universe out of nothing with just a word then having Jonah survive in the stomach of a large fish is not really a big deal. If God created the physical laws that we live by then manipulating them is not a tough challenge.

    July 31, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • hypermeme

      Actually most of the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek (also Aramaic which is a kind of offshoot from ancient Greek common in Judea). I wonder how the word Rapture (the Latin root for it) was translated from the Aramaic (most likely Aramaic since much of the New Testament was originally written in that).

      July 31, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • Jarrett

      The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek. Also by the time of Jesus the old testament was usually found in Greek called the Septuagint. But in the Middle Ages most Bibles were in Latin. My problem is that either CNN purposely left out the fact that rapture comes from the Latin Vulgate or they were incompetent their reporting.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Peikovian

      Aramaic is one of the semitic languages related to Canaanite, Hebrew and Phoenician. It became the everyday language of the Judeans for several hundred years prior to their revolt against the Romans. Some Eastern churches still use a version called Syriac. Because the Jews considered Hebrew a sacred language, they may have thought of themselves as living outside of Bible times by having ceased to speak it. This could explain why the Gospels, written in the foreign language of everyday Greek, did not seem sacred to them, and most of them were probably not eyewitnesses to the events described.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:34 am |
    • elshaddai

      AMEN!

      July 31, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • JoeB

      Just another example of non-religious people knowing more about the bible than the people that believe it.....

      July 31, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  3. Stan in Toronto

    What is it with you americans and these religion articles?? Nothing better to report?

    July 31, 2011 at 2:10 am |
    • Pastafarian

      please dpn't group all Americans in with these religious nutbags.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • hypermeme

      Ah! A fellow Pastafarian! Have ye been touched by His noodly appendage?

      July 31, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • sukkitgod

      nope. religion is always relevant to zombie americans

      July 31, 2011 at 2:18 am |
    • Eddie

      do you have anything better????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

      July 31, 2011 at 2:20 am |
    • EuphoriCrest

      Eddie: Kinda spaced out there, aren't you?

      July 31, 2011 at 2:25 am |
    • Pastafarian

      Yes brother. I have been touched by His Noodly Appendage.

      Ramen!

      July 31, 2011 at 2:25 am |
    • hypermeme

      Ramen!

      July 31, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • saaaly

      stan your post is fake

      July 31, 2011 at 5:56 am |
    • Da King

      American Media finds it's good fodder. Then, they can go to the beach.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • One7777777

      Perhaps you should read your Bible and then you would know how to recognize the persecution of all Christians. It marks the End Times.

      So – your question would be better submitted to CNN and ask them why they are promoting it? Oh wait...their motto was put into place in 1980, so it appears they already knew when that would be:

      "We won't be signing off until the world ends. We'll be on, and we will cover the end of the world, live, and that will be our last event... we'll play 'Nearer, My God, to Thee' before we sign off."

      July 31, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Bob

      One7777777, I think many christians are more likely persecuted for being idiots than they are for being christians.

      July 31, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • total non sense

      In America (like in any other place on earth), there is a lot of idiots. Countless simple minded peoples who mind is so simple they cannot understand basic knowledge and science. so they choose to beleive in magic.

      Beleiving in god is a sign of weekness of the mind. a sign that you are missing a fews neurons, a sign thta you can easly be controlled by the CRIMINALS who runs churches accross the country, a sign that you will give your MONEY (and will) to anyone who tell a pretty story.

      Maybe it is time you look arround and realise that religion only cause pain, war, discrimination and violence..... maybeit is time you let go of the fairy tale.

      July 31, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Jessy

      I am not with stupid -–>>>>> "Organized Religion"

      July 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • cm

      Stan, there are some Canadians that believe in God therefore that concept is an important part of many lives so deserves news coverage.

      July 31, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • Prem

      Bob, You're right on!

      Jesus does say in the Bible that christians will be called fools (or perhaps idiots like you did) by others, while being persecuted! So in a way he predicted your comment :)

      August 1, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  4. hypermeme

    I find it kind of funny that atheists comment the most on CNN articles about religion. It's almost like they need to prove something to themselves.....

    July 31, 2011 at 2:10 am |
    • Pastafarian

      It has nothing to do with proof. As you well know, proof is something religious people are allergic to. It has to do with the hopes that we can get any of you to even begin to question the absurdity of your beliefs that keeps us coming back. Plus, if CNN flashes a pic of a dumb cross on their front page, it kinda pushes my buttons! lol

      July 31, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • billp

      Studies also have shown that atheists know the Bible better than so-called believers. It's similar to when immigrants do better on citizenship tests than native-born citizens – citizens assume their tradition and don't need to understand or critique it.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • AGuest9

      I find it disgusting how the radical religious are tainting science education in this country, claiming that evolution is wrong, that the dinosaurs co-existed with early man, and that it was only 6,000 years ago that the earth was created in six days. I want my children taught the truth, not lies based on some old book "written" by barely literate shepherds, updated by monks during the Middle Ages. Stay out of my classrooms and labs, and I'll stay out of your "faith"!

      July 31, 2011 at 2:20 am |
    • hypermeme

      Actually Billp the only recent studies I've seen about atheists knowing more about religion than believers seem to be on News networks. Places where many trolling atheists like to hang around and have access to Wikipedia and such. There are plenty of religious people out there that don't spend a lot of time on the internet let alone comment or take surveys on CNN. So take a stats course and learn a little about the truth of a study.

      Pastafarian, did I ever say I was a Christian? If I do recall I am a fellow Pastafarian, remember, if ye do harm your brethren a watery tomato sauce hell awaits you in the divine pasta strainer.
      I'm just saying that many atheists are kind of trolling. When they should be out doing good work. Research, learn, enhance humanity. Trolling doesn't enhance humanity as much as a couple hours helping in a lab (like I do), or volunteering at a soup kitchen, or building houses for people. I find that the religious people with the best character are those that lead by example, maybe we can take a page out of that book. Seeing as how their book is really just full of stuff borrowed from religions before their own. As Freud once said, religion was necessary for the human race in our early years to create a moral compass. Now that we have science (at our current level) we no longer need it, but we still need the foundational morality from it. We shouldn't look at a Cross and get angry. We should look at it as Freud did, as a reminder that we have entered a new era. That we can take good morals from our religious ancestors and evolve our ideas to better fit our changing environment and culture.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:24 am |
    • Pastafarian

      Sorry Hyper. I don't believe that religion is necessary to promote or regulate morality. Morality needs to be achieved through proper choices, not guilt and fear. As for trolling, that is never my intention. I just like to make a clear point of the silliness that abounds in religion. Regarding labs, I spent almost 15 years in molecular biology labs between grad school, post doctorate work, and industry research. I've paid my dues ;)

      Ramen!

      July 31, 2011 at 2:30 am |
    • hypermeme

      It's hard to encourage people to help one another, the average man is a selfish man. I guess what many religions try to do is to fight the selfish impulse. Though modern psychology tells us we can do this without religion, how many people are exposed to modern psychology and neuroscience? If we can improve the economic conditions that most people live in today and improve global education one day I bet we could get people to preform wonderful humanitarian work or research or other productive activities without a religious catalyst. I say Freud was the first "Atheist 3.0" he recognized there was a lot of good to religion. Although we can live without it, but first we must improve education for everyone, or else we allow religions to fill that void. Sure we can spread morality without religion but before religious free morality must come education. Otherwise we as (the average) humans need a concise "morality package" that religion offers.
      I applaud you for your research, I'm just a grad student lol But with science are our dues ever paid? There's so much to learn. Though I do understand that their are time limits in a human life. We have family to take care of and lives to build lol If you ever have or adopt children I hope they follow your best footsteps (and maybe your worst too, mistakes teach us well).

      July 31, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • hypermeme

      I'm a cognitive neuroscience major lol But I've always loved molecular bio =)

      Ramen!

      July 31, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • checkyofacts

      @aguest9 "I find it disgusting how the radical religious are tainting science education in this country, claiming that evolution is wrong, that the dinosaurs co-existed with early man, and that it was only 6,000 years ago that the earth was created in six days. I want my children taught the truth, not lies based on some old book "written" by barely literate shepherds, updated by monks during the Middle Ages. Stay out of my classrooms and labs, and I'll stay out of your "faith"! "

      Where is the "6,000-year-old-earth" reference in the Bible?

      July 31, 2011 at 3:40 am |
    • total non sense

      they don't to prove anything..... on the other hand..... all ILLEGAL previleges, the religious nuts have been getting should be removed. until they can prove that good exist.....

      good luck

      July 31, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • hahaha

      If I didnt have to share my republic with crazy people who truly believe in magic and zombies I would not be here.

      July 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • cm

      It's what they do on weekends. They don't have much else to do.

      July 31, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • L R

      Yes, atheists are in the perpetual need of reaffirming themselves that all is OK, because they know that they have an appointment with death they can't avoid, and they cling to the hope there's not a judge on the other side of the door.

      July 31, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • hahaha

      LR, wrong! I actually think it would be nice if there was a judge. I live a good life and if some egotistical being needed me to worship it.. eternity in a firey pit without any christians (and people like ghandi, einstein, thomas jefferson, john lennon, aristotle, the list goes on) is a better option then nothing (ie the ~13 billion years before you were born).

      August 1, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  5. Tim

    Why, CNN, why is this nonsense on the front page?

    July 31, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • AGuest9

      It's the weekend, like the crap they put in the Saturday Wall Street Journal.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:11 am |
    • EuphoriCrest

      Good point, TIm. Oh... and have a blessed day.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • Pastafarian

      I'm so blessed to have read your post.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • jasonda

      It is a typical assault of Christianity and Christians by CNN; they do it all the time. Their meme here is that Christians are clueless idiots and they don't even know their own religion- and therefore, by extension, the religion itself must be false. Of course, the article makes a lot of false characterizations. For example, just because Christians may use the word "rapture" and it may not be in the Bible does not mean that it is not a teaching of The Bible. You do not have to call a concept by the exact Biblical term– we use many different terms in society to represent the same thing all the time. Sheesh.

      I'd like CNN to do an article about how Muslims who think their religion is a "peaceful one" and then quote the Koran to show how that they must not be reading their Koran which says things like "kill the infidens wherever you may find them." Or how that, though they may think their beliefs are a religion, in reality it is a political/government system, because 84% of the Koran talks not about religion but about Muhammed.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:20 am |
    • EuphoriCrest

      Pastafarian: I was hoping to be sarcastic. FSM4EVR!!

      July 31, 2011 at 2:22 am |
    • AGuest9

      @jasonda – are you referring to the Qur'an, perhaps?

      July 31, 2011 at 2:26 am |
    • Pastafarian

      Euphori: I know you were being sarcastic, as was I :)

      July 31, 2011 at 2:32 am |
    • saaaly

      i don't know. why didn't your mother decide to have an abortion???

      July 31, 2011 at 5:43 am |
    • One7777777

      Persecution of Christians...

      Their own motto from 1980:

      "We won't be signing off until the world ends. We'll be on, and we will cover the end of the world, live, and that will be our last event... we'll play 'Nearer, My God, to Thee' before we sign off."

      I'd suggest YOU pick up your Bible and start reading and then ask God and His Son to come into your heart.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  6. literary lew

    Damn it! I was just about to blog about this very subject! Seriously, this "talking Christian" is on the level of "talking cars", or "talking politics" or "talking the 'local sports team'". Faith needs to be about more than jargon.

    July 31, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • Jesus

      Faith needs to fall into the same category as talking about myths and fairy tales.

      August 1, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  7. hypermeme

    actually there are a number of religions that don't believe everyone is doomed to eternal punishment. Many do believe they are right and everyone else is only partly right. Many believe that we will all live happily every after in the after life (though they make an exception for believers in their own sect saying they will enjoy the benefits more than anyone else). I've been studying religions and culture (finally in working on my dissertation) and I have found that in America and other developed worlds there is a sort of "mainstream atheist culture," that kind of ruins the basic tenants of true atheism or agnosticism. Whereas a "fundamental" (a tricky word to use for atheists concerning their own beliefs) atheist believes in freedom of thought and independent reasoning. But many atheists get into the culture of intolerance towards other religions since there understanding of religions are quite superficial only focusing on the aspects of religion that augment and support their arguments and beliefs. Though they can read religious texts in their entirety they only pay attention to the segments that they believe can support their own arguments to one day use against a theist. I do understand many of my fellow atheists are atheists for a reason. They were once members of a religion and they became disillusioned by the atrocities and contradictions they seem to perceive in their personal experiences with local religion. With the advent of the internet they can easily become prey to "little learning." They now have an immense store of information at their hands and analyzing all of it correctly is difficult, probably impossible. So the data they are exposed to is filtered by their own bias in their minds by the opinions they formed from their early, bad, experiences with religion. I ask all atheists to be open minded, tolerant, and understanding. Use science and reason above all, and be nice. Trolling gets us nowhere.

    July 31, 2011 at 2:05 am |
    • me

      Very true.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • Pastafarian

      fair enough. Good points, hypermeme.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • Mr Cricket

      good points
      p.s.- "tenets" not "tenants"

      July 31, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  8. Ferit

    why are we seeing a Belief opinion piece ie pushing of religion onto our noses like once a month or more on CNN as the headline? Aren't there more important things in the world than talk about Christianity?

    July 31, 2011 at 2:04 am |
    • billp

      "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." – Santayana. When you consider the evil that Christianity and all other religions have inflicted on the world (for Christianity alone, the Crusades and Inquisition put it in the front rank) and how religious fundaeentalism continues to plague the world, yes, if it appropriate to discuss.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:10 am |
  9. EuphoriCrest

    How can you write an article on language and make up the word "conversationistic"??? The REALl word, "conversational" works just fine.

    July 31, 2011 at 2:02 am |
  10. Nacho1

    We should all speak the same language....the language called FREEDOM FROM ALL RELIGION................that is called the language of NONVIOLENCE AND BROTHERHOOD!

    July 31, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • Will

      You are allowing the actions of a small, vocal group of religious zealots, which exist in all of the world's major religions, to sway your judgement. If you would dig deeper, you would realize that true followers of religion are not the cause of violence and certainly encourage brotherhood.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:10 am |
    • morpunkt

      Freedom from atheism is more appropriate.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  11. Capercorn

    Okay? So Fundies have no clue what they're talking about. This isn't exactly news.

    July 31, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • Da King

      Things of the Spirit are spiritually discerned.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  12. Will

    What a joke. While I agree that some people do actually try to use terms they don't understand to claim they are Christians, posting this article is irresponsible and invites even more attacks against real Christians, which I can only assume is underlying intention of the writer. Every time I see an article about Christianity on here it has something to do about how people who call themselves Christians don't really understand what that means. Thanks for the Bible lesson CNN. Now mind your own freaking business when it comes to the subject. Liberal propaganda at its lowest.

    July 31, 2011 at 2:01 am |
    • jasonda

      Exactly. You will NEVER see them write an article pointing out the errors of Muslims, though. Like the idea that it is a "peaceful religion." First off, it is more a political system than even a religion. 84% of the words in the Koran have to do with Muhammed. And it commands things like "kill the infiden wherever you may find them," and many other similar statements. The terrorists, sadly, are more accurately living the Koran than those who think it is "peaceful."

      July 31, 2011 at 2:22 am |
  13. realmike

    queue the haters.......

    July 31, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • billp

      "it is necessary for salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." – Pope Boniface VII

      July 31, 2011 at 2:04 am |
    • Capercorn

      @billp: If it isn't in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it isn't a Catholic teaching. If you read the section of the Catechism regarding the theology of Justification, it's rather universalist.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • Jason

      Where? Where are the Xians? I don't see these haters you speak of. I assume you are talking about the Xians when you say that.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:14 am |
  14. billp

    The language of the Christian Right when it comes to national affairs and politics is very clear:

    1. We are on God's side and all others are not.
    2. We know God's will and all others do not.
    3. We will use the power of government to enforce our vision of God's kingdom over all other Americans.
    4. Anyone who disagrees or opposes us is anti-God.
    5. We will never make any compromise, or even listen to agents of Satan.

    All hail the Christian States of America.

    July 31, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • hypermeme

      you seem to ignore many other christian sects and use Catholicism as your main argument. This is a fragile argument that is easily broken down by simply exploring and learning. Too much to post in one comment but I recommend you educate yourself. You can't generalize all of Christian history and doctrine through Catholicism.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • billp

      In general the American Christian Right seems to hate Catholics, who typically vote more Democratic than Republican.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • hypermeme

      I do find many Catholics to be more liberal than typical American Protestants. Though the Catholic church has committed many atrocities in their time (and plenty of members still do terrible things today) it is nice to see that they do spend quite a bit of money and time in humanitarian work. Of course this is no excuse for any wrongdoings it is better than them not doing anything. It's hard to encourage people to help one another, the average man is a selfish man. I guess what many religions try to do is to fight the selfish impulse. Though modern psychology tells us we can do this without religion, how many people are exposed to modern psychology and neuroscience? If we can improve the economic conditions that most people live in today and improve global education one day I bet we could get people to preform wonderful humanitarian work or research or other productive activities without a religious catalyst. I say Freud was the first "Atheist 3.0" he recognized there was a lot of good to religion. Although we can live without it, but first we must improve education for everyone, or else we allow religions to fill that void.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • Mark

      You said it. Gives a whole new meaning "The bully pulpit" from Teddy Roosevelt times. I wish these ignorant religious people would just be gutsy enough to read,"The god Delusion" and "The Blind Watchmaker" by Richard Dawkins. Or the easier read "god is NOT GREAT. Of course, this sort of intellectual material is difficult to those who have spent their whole life with their head shoved up......their bible, shows, music, ceremonies, and other vodool We must get them out of government. I must get a membership to Freedom From Religion Foundation.......ffrf.org

      September 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  15. Nacho1

    I used to be a strong Christian until ALL religion turned into either a way to start a war or a way to make some minister filthy rich hiding behind Christ.......................we need to get rid of ALL religion including Christian religions and then there would be less chance of war and disaster and death!

    July 31, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • Will

      So you gave up on your faith because of the actions of others? Sounds like you were never a true believer to begin with and you were playing the same game that you now condemn others for.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • saaaly

      great fake post

      July 31, 2011 at 5:53 am |
    • cm

      Someone needs a history lesson.....The world would be empty without the spiritual side of life. Sorry to hear you chose to cut your connection and tune into things that you are not.

      July 31, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  16. Win.

    Actually no – "Duh, Winning."

    July 31, 2011 at 1:54 am |
  17. art

    The Abrahamic Religions (judaism, christianity and islam) are the cause of all the wars in the world. Period.

    July 31, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • me

      Read a history book. That is definitely not true.

      July 31, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • JP

      Not all the wars. Just most of them.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:00 am |
    • hypermeme

      Not even most, most wars are caused by class struggle ;)

      silly

      July 31, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • checkyofacts

      Thanks, Mel Gibson.

      July 31, 2011 at 3:22 am |
    • saaaly

      ...and you're the best pro-abortion argument alive

      July 31, 2011 at 5:58 am |
  18. Apatheist

    lol religion...so silly

    July 31, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Da King

      fyi God is opposed to religion because it is of man.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  19. TOdd

    Christian's use the Bible to justify everything.

    July 31, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • Da King

      Like, love your neighbor.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  20. What language should YOU speak?

    How To Speak Christian In One Easy Lesson: "We are right, everyone else is wrong and doomed to eternal punishment."

    How To Speak Islamic In One Easy Lesson: "We are right, everyone else is wrong and doomed to eternal punishment."

    How To Speak Judaism In One Easy Lesson: "We are right, everyone else is wrong and doomed to eternal punishment."

    How To Speak Christian In One Easy Lesson: "We are right, everyone else is wrong and doomed to eternal punishment."

    How To Speak Every Religion In One Easy Lesson: "We are right, everyone else is wrong and doomed to eternal punishment."

    How Speak Secular in One Easy Lesson: "Don't waste your time with all that bullshit; just be nice and go have a good time."

    July 31, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    • Win.

      Win.

      July 31, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • xtheist

      concur.

      July 31, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • Nacho1

      Plus the churches and the mosques have turned into nothing more than BANKS!

      July 31, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Brendan Ross in Georgia

      Dead on. It sucks that one has to believe in the farce to get elected to office in this country.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • checkyofacts

      How Jesus Speaks to Christians In One Easy Lesson: "I lived for you. I died for you. Please be with me forever."

      How Jesus Speaks to Muslims In One Easy Lesson: "I lived for you. I died for you. Please be with me forever."

      How Jesus Speaks to Jews In One Easy Lesson: "I lived for you. I died for you. Please be with me forever."

      How Jesus Speaks to Every Religion In One Easy Lesson: "I lived for you. I died for you. Please be with me forever."

      How Jesus Speaks to the Secular in One Easy Lesson: "I lived for you. I died for you. Please be with me forever."

      "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." — John 3:16 (King James Version)

      July 31, 2011 at 3:32 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.