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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 • Faith • Fundamentalism • Politics • Uncategorized

soundoff (3,878 Responses)
  1. Fish Flakes

    Excellent article from my perspective, which is that true Christianity (meaning the kind of Christianity Christ himself would have promoted) and many (not all of course) modern offshoots of it are so different from each other. The most glaring thing about the dfiference to me is that modern Christianity seems to lack a compassion and respect for the poor and unfortunate, and instead focuses on self and what "I " deserve. I blame those who have lead the masses in this direction for this. They have convinced their following that the poor have only themselves to blame, are lazy and sinful, and are undeserving of our love and assitance. Yes, we are responsible for ourselves, but Christ said in no uncertain terms that we are responsible also for our brothers, and we are to love one-another as ourselves. That is not what is occuring these days. So many times I read the response, "God helps those who help themselves". Poof! Instant absolvement – dont have to think about poor people anymore. Except that isn't ni the bible. Someone like Ben Franklin said it. But, helping your brother IS in the bible.

    July 31, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • MikeE

      And don't eat those nasty shellfish

      July 31, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • cosmicsnoop

      You are right in the respect that we should treat each other as ourselves because the fact is we are each other; there is only one and there is no separation. This is what Jesus was saying; it had nothing to do with a religion.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • AvdBerg

      It was John Lennon and the Beatles who said that, but they are bigger than Jesus anyway.

      "and we are all together" fits you and all other gay Ghristians too. Read more here http://gaychristian101.com and Come Together.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • sassypants

      Who have you helped lately?

      July 31, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • AvdBerg

      It was John Lennon and the Beatles who said that, but they are bigger than Jesus anyway.

      "and we are all together" fits gay Christians too. Read more here http://gaychristian101.com and Come Together.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Fish Flakes

      To sassypants, I try and help someone every day. To Comicsnoop, I am a hetero female.

      July 31, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Fish Flakes

      Sorry snoop, meant AvdBerg

      July 31, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  2. Richard S Kaiser

    Nunti sunya says, “religion perpetuates the myth that we must look to something outside ourselves for truth, redemption.. .salvation.
    religion breeds duality and separation.
    religion serves as a way to control the masses, namely through fear.
    no one needs saving or forgiving. no one needs a mediator.
    i recently read that "god" is simply "humanity as oneness." this requires each of us to divest ourselves of archaic truths that have been handed down for centuries. this requires each of us to exchange "me" consciousness for "we" consciousness.” On July 31, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Funny Thing Religion. Laws and the penal codes, I thought were formulated to get people of wickedry and evilness and vile Acts were once used to “control the masses”? My Bad! :-)

    July 31, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  3. Bible Scholar

    Attention all Christains!

    Provide a lick of proof from outside the holey bibble for your imaginary pal and i will send you a coupon for a Mchappy Meal.

    All you people have is circular logic.

    Da holey bibble is true because the holey bibble done sez so!

    July 31, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      5th grade or maybe 7th? I dunno.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Truth Be Talking

      They haven't been able to do so in 2000 years.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Duane

      If you try, you'll find out.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Buddy R

      The overwhelming proof is that the universe could not produce itself out of a steady state of absolute nothing. The first cause had to be self-existent, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, powerful, wise, and intelligent. God. Atheists is probably the most irrational religion ever dreamed up by man.

      The claim of atheism prior to the COBE sattelite and Hubble observations was that the universe is eternal. We now know that it in fact had a definite beginning. That was the death knell of atheism as any pretense of a rational religion.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Bible Boy

      Buddy, please stop making a fool of yourself. You know jack about science and look like a knucklehead as a result.

      Heed these words:

      "Often a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens,
      and the other parts of the world, about the motions and orbits of
      the stars and even their sizes and distances,... and this knowledge
      he holds with certainty from reason and experience. It is thus
      offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk
      nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based
      in Scripture. We should do all that we can to avoid such an
      embarrassing situation, lest the unbeliever see only ignorance in
      the Christian and laugh to scorn."

      - St. Augustine, "De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim"
      (The Literal Meaning of Genesis)

      July 31, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Richard Schmidt

      That was the death knell of atheism as any pretense of a rational religion.

      -

      Are you really this retarded?

      July 31, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Proof? Do birds fly, does a fish swim, do frogs leap? Need more? Do ants assemble, do bees propogate flowers in search for holy pollen to make honey and wax? Look around and see all the wonders of Life here upon this Heavenly World of many splendored species! :-)

      July 31, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • christian z

      I do respect the way you think, the proof that I can give you is that when you die you will go to hell, it is not an option, because you don't believe in my God, hope you have a good time there with your own palI, I know that you kind of people will love to find out for yourselves that what it was said all along was the true

      July 31, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • Spiffy

      Atheism doesn't claim the universe came from nothing. I don't think you will meet any logical person who says so. We don't claim to know everything. We don't claim to know exactly how the universe came into being. Religion on the other hand offers irrational ideas that we somehow came from an omnipotent being that has always existed. Religion claims to know the answers and that is simply false.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Rick

      Buddy....how do you make the leap of logic from a creator to a god? Provide some connection, or go home and get your shinebox, boy

      July 31, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Andy

      Excuse me Buddy. But since when has the universe 'had a beggining'. You may be referring to the universe AS WE KNOW IT. meaning, the universe following the most recent big bang. Scientists theorize what existed before the big bang and the universe is most probably in a cycle of repeating big bangs. So the universe did not have a beggining. but that doesn't matter. Simple physics stating a relationship between time and space(time space continuum, e = mc2, etc.) can disprove you. If the universe ever did not exist, then matter did not exist, thus, time did not exist. So if you tried to make a timeline of the universe, it would be impossible to make a starting point because that point in time doesn't exist. Get it. The universe is existence. It is impossible for existence to have not existed at any time. I want you to point to me at what point, what year, did God decide to create the universe. When did existence begin? You'll never find that point. It doesn't exist. The universe has always existed and always will.
      Confused? Try this! The universe has no boundries. You can travel in a direction for as long as possible and you will never reach the edge of the universe. Why? The universe isn't just some box with dimensions that someone made. Its an infinite plane. It is impossible to create something without boundries. God couldn't have created the universe. Still confused?
      This fuzzled my brain the first time i heard it in physics, but once you think about it for a second, its actually pretty simple.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @Andy & Buddy
      First of all, it's "beginning" not "beggining".
      e=mc2 is the relationship between energy, mass, and the speed of light, (squared), and says NOTHING about time and space. This universe began, (space-time) and all that is in it, at the Big Bang. There was no universe, (this one anyway), "before" the big bang, because space-time did not exist "before" the big bang. This universe did NOT exist before "OUR" Big Bang. We do not know for sure the universe has no boundaries, and there are differing opinions on that. If it is curved on itself, (like a balloon), then it would "appear" to have no boundaries, but as they look backwards further and further towards the Big Bang, it appears to have had a beginning, and may or may not have an outward boundary. They don't know yet. (You are STILL fuzzled.) If there was a God, it could have done anything it wanted, but there is no evidence it did anything. There also is no "overwhelming proof" of anything. You don't know what there was "before" the universe existed, because there was no "before" time existed, and there IS proof that virtual particles, and quantum fluctuations come and go out of and into existence all the time. "Powerful, wise, and intelligent", are all anthropomorphic TEMPORAL concepts. They work only if TIME is in existence ALREADY. "Power" means it can "do" something, ("doing" means it starts to "do" something, does it, and then stops doing it, (unless you are really saying it was "potentially powerful", but doing nothing), Wise means it thinks something, (starts thinking it, thinks it, stops thinking it). Intelligent means it has a process of reasoning. It starts reasoning, reasons, and stops reasoning. It can't do all those things if there is no TIME, and the dimensions of "space-time" begn with the the Big Bang, as far as the theory goes.
      Atheism is not a religion. It is the absence of belief. If SOME atheists claimed something once, it may or may not have relevance at some prior time, now or in the future, but your generizations are not useful, ie "The claim of atheism prior to the COBE sattelite and Hubble observations was that the universe is eternal." Where did you get that ? "We now know that it in fact had a definite beginning." So? That does NOT disprove atheism. And it was not the "death knell" of anything just because you say it is. Just because YOU don't know (yet) how something happened, or what may have been it's origin, does not mean it's logical to jump to "god did it". We also DO NOT know "in fact" that it ALL "had a beginning" at the Big Bang. The theory is that THIS universe began at the Big Bang, and the COBE observations and observations of Hubble that the universe is uneven, and expanding at an excellerating rate, say nothing aboout it's origins or ultimate fate.

      August 1, 2011 at 2:04 am |
  4. Buddy R

    "They say that many contemporary Christians have become pious parrots."

    No, atheists are just ignorant of spirituality because they have covered their eyes and stopped up their ears. They mindless squawk parroted phrases from Dawkins and Hitchens. "Squawk!!!!! Religion is evil. Sqqqqqawk. Christians are delusional. Squaaaaaawk. There is no God. Squawk!!!"

    July 31, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Truth Be Talking

      Oh Buddy, you are the mindless parrot who cannot grasp that he's a parrot.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Buddy R

      There is one easy, surefire way to shut all those atheists up. Provide evidence that your god exists. Hell, provide evidence that any god exists.

      Unless and until you do, it is the believers that choose to remain blissfully ignorant. That is pretty close to the definition of delusional.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • Colin

      Watch this space, Buddy R, I think you will soon find that the number of theists mindlessly quoting the Bible outnumber those quoting Dawkins or Hitchens by a factor of about 100 to 1.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      :-) Plus :-( = Whats up Doc?

      July 31, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Fred

      Hey, LinCA...
      Provide some real hard evidence that evolution is fact. Problem is: YOU CAN'T.
      Evolution is just a big fat lie. They take fossils and extrapolate from that and call it "proof."
      Prove that there is a chemical origin of life. Problem is: YOU CAN'T.
      There is no way to mix chemicals in a lab and make it come to life.
      I feel sorry for you guys. Trolling the religion blogs trying to agitate Christians ranks right up there with the worthwhile pursuits of life, I'm sure.

      August 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Fred

      Yes, fossils are the only thing that makes evolution ironclad......I'm sure you've really done your homework on the matter and your opinion is really top notch, I really really respect it (read entire line dripping with sarcasm)

      Also, it sort of invalidates your comment about feeling sorry for atheists when 1) you are also on this blog so you have about as much of a stake in this as any atheist here and 2) if agitating christian ranks only takes asking for proof and debating religion in a coherent matter, christian foundation must be pretty shaky indeed. Please don't pity a rational thinking atheist, they're here to help you.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • J.W

      I do not feel sorry for anyone on here. I think we are all on this blog because we either have questions or feel like we have something to contribute. I agree with Fred on a couple of things. I do agree with evolution to an extent. However, from the things I have read, from what I see the fossil record does not show how the original organisms evolved into all of the organisms that we have on earth today.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  5. Dustin

    Christianity – the best fiction novel EVER!

    July 31, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • Buddy R

      Atheism, the biggest horror story in human history. Atheists have been responsible for the deaths of over 250 million people in the past 100 years. Far more than all other religions combined for all of recorded history. I refer of course to Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and a dozen lesser know atheist tyrants.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • Spiffy

      Except they did what they did not because they were atheists but because of they were insane and wanted complete control.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Free Thinker Seeking Reason

      @Buddy R
      ... and we're supposed to be thankful that you at least left out Hitler, who was Catholic?

      The tyrants you listed made their own state-run religions to invoke their terror. To compare those butchers to modern day Atheists is ridiculous and just proves your lack of understanding of history. Sounds like you've overdosed on Fox News. Maybe you might want to try CNN or MSNBC for a while? They're not great at dispelling the woo either, but they're a whole lot better than the Murdoch propaganda machine you appear to be addicted to.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  6. Steve G

    I really do not understand how semi-intelligent adults don't see striking similarities between belief in god and belief in Santa Claus. Neither one have proof, and as you grow up you realize that the whole idea of Santa is BS. Put that same thinking to the test with god. There is no proof. You cannot back up claims for the bible being true with verses from the bible...completely redundant and circular logic. Grow up christians...everyone is scared to die...but it's something we all need to accept and deal with....not invent a heaven where we will live forever...ridiculous.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      You are definitely young and untouched by life. You do not have to be Christian (of that faith) but time is going to wear on you and humble you .. it has a way of doing that.

      July 31, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Ben

      You might be well served to read the book My Life Without God by William J. Murray, the son of Madalyn Murray O'Hair. There's a man who started life as an atheist and became a Christian, and he makes a very persuasive argument for that decision.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • MikeE

      Ben, you might be well served to read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and The End of Faith by Sam Harris.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  7. Actually Read the Bible

    God is love?

    Oh lord, he's an evil monster who loves the smell of blood.

    Human societies mete out punishment commensurate with the transgression. You pay a $175 fine for speeding and life in prison for murder. In some places you're executed.

    Your evil insane god metes out infinite torture for someone merely belonging to a different faith or no faith at all.

    Ask yourself how many years Hitler deserves roasting on the hellfires.
    My feeling is 500,000 max.

    Your hideous god doesn't care what type of person you were in life. He only cares that you had faith in something for which there is no evidence.

    Remind me again how People of Faith differ from People of Credulity?

    I spent 12 years in religious school and by the second or third grade was thinking, "This is preposterous nonsense." I was morally horrified by the OT god.

    Unfortunately, the NT version isn't much better. First he introduces hell which doesn't exist in the OT. Then the only solution this "loving" god can come up with to this mess is to sacrifice himself to himself.

    Could he not have just wiggled his nose like I Dream of Jeannie and forgiven everyone instead? That 's what any sane being would have done.

    Final thought.

    Why is there so much suffering? Well, according to your absurd and immoral religion two naive teens broke a rule long ago. Instead of your grotesque monster god smacking them on the bottom and sending them to bed without supper, he chose to punish all humanity in perpetuity by placing the Curse of Original Sin on them.

    So you and I suffer because of what Adam & Eve did.

    IOW, you are born with such a powerful handicap (i.e., Original Sin) that no amount of good deeds can save you. Only through joining the People of Credulity can you supposedly be saved! (This is a standard cult trick to scare the suckers into joining.)

    Human society also does not mete out collective guilt for the transgressions of an individual or two. Yet, your Hitler-like monster god does with his Curse of Original Sin.

    PLEASE WAKE UP AND THINK ABOUT THE ABSURD NONSENSE YOU WERE BRAINWASHED AS A CHILD TO BELIEVE!!!!!

    Take care.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • Father Guido Sarducci

      Just more proof that the bigger and more outrageous the lie, the more the suckers will believe it.

      July 31, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • cosmicsnoop

      Hitler didn't go to Hell, there is no hell. And get an editor.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • marc

      Ignorance is bliss and you certainly are a blissful mindless twit!

      July 31, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  8. Sean Russell

    What? Christians parroting phrases they don't know the real meaning of? Hate to break it to you, but that's not news. That's been standard operating practice for centuries.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • Saved BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS

      There is only one thing that will forever stand and that is Jesus Christ is real and you should read your Bible especially the book of John and Matthew chapter 25 everything in there is coming to pass and Jesus is getting ready to reveal himself to all the athesist buddhist etc the whole world.He is the King of King and lord of lords,if you think i'm crazy ask him to reveal himself to you if you are serious.Christianty is not a thing it is again a personal relationship with Christ thru his Holly Spirit that if you are 100%ready to call on and accept, its like your job you go to everyday you open the door and walk thru it,if you didn't you wouldn't know that it was there. If you walk thru Jesus door you will find him to be real as you or I.He says in his word I'AM THE DOOR TO ETERNAL LIFE,THE ONLY DOOR.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • MikeE

      "Saved by...", yeah just don't read those gory bits about sacrificing animals to god, and that bit about don't eat shellfish. God put those in by mistake.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  9. Ben

    This is a very poorly written article from a writer who clearly doesn't understand the topic, and which quotes a scholar whose greatest passion is to tear down Christianity. The inaccuracies of this article make my heart ache.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • Jaleeq Windupyerip

      If "Belief Blog" has a purpose, and that's a very big IF, it is to tear down Christians while pretending to be a non-biased showcase of knowledge regarding all religions.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • Buddy R

      Oh, anti-theists understand the topic. They just love to lie about Christianity.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • MikeE

      Jaleep, that would be a noble cause, but sadly, it is only a Belief blog, for the time being.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  10. Handonwall

    The only one essential thing and all for Christians is that Jesus is Christ. I don't know whether intended or not intended, but He is taken aside completely except once or twice referred in this article. Or is that what this article wants to say?

    July 31, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  11. Cole

    Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Non Believer

      Hey, we just posted the same thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

      July 31, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  12. LadyAnon

    I honestly have nothing against anyone's religious beliefs.

    The only time I find any religion offensive is when people use it to justify crimes, hatred or bigotry against others in that religion's name.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • Bob Schmidt

      Which is pretty much 99.99999999% of the time.

      July 31, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  13. Former Christian

    Christianity explained in one sentence:

    "He came down to earth as an incarnation of Himself, to sacrifice Himself to Himself in order to forgive His people, who he had made in the image of Himself, and save them from–wait for it!–the wrath of...HIMSELF! TAAAA-DAAAH!!!!!!"

    July 31, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Steve G

      Best. Quote. Ever.

      July 31, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • Don

      Greatest party trick ever!

      July 31, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Non Believer

      I have a better one: Christianity is the idea that a cosmic zombie Jew can help you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically accept him as your master so he can rid your body of evil spirits that are only there because a rib woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat forbidden fruit from a magical tree.

      July 31, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • LadyAnon

      Non: That whole "eating his flesh" and "drinking his blood" is FREAKY isn't it? Glad you pointed that one out. My son did ask me once if Jesus was a zombie after I explained to him what Christians celebrate at Easter. (Jesus rising from the dead) I always got my kids baskets, painted eggs and told them WE were celebrated Spring.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  14. Richard S Kaiser

    Let Christians be with themselves and likewise let Gay purees be with themselves! Which will live on and which will fall by then wayside never to be seen again! Oh, I forgot, The :Public school system is under seige to "promote" Gay values, WAFN! :-(

    July 31, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  15. ___.__

    Religion exists because humans fear death.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Non Believer

      ......and cannot make moral decisions on their own.............and need a father figure all of their lives...............

      July 31, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • cosmicsnoop

      Bingo, There is nothing to fear.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Brian GC

      Why do people fear death?

      July 31, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  16. yojimbo

    the faith of christians is trivial except where it intersects the real world, but it's useless I admit, to expect anyone to change their mind. It goes against the human psyche to discard a belief long held even in the face of overwhelming proof.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Buddy R

      The overwhelming proof is that the universe could not produce itself out of a steady state of absolute nothing. The first cause had to be self-existent, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, powerful, wise, and intelligent. God. Atheists is probably the most irrational religion ever dreamed up by man.

      July 31, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Bob Schmidt

      Buddy R, thank you for demonstrating yet again that your average Xian knucklehead has no understanding of science.

      July 31, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • Brian GC

      What proof?

      July 31, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  17. Steve G

    I really do not understand how semi-intelligent adults don't see striking similarities between belief in god and belief in Santa Claus. Neither one have proof, and as you grow up you realize that the whole idea of Santa is BS. Put that same thinking to the test with god. There is no proof. You cannot back up claims for the bible being true with verses from the bible...completely redundant and circular logic. Grow up christians...everyone is scared to die...but it's something we all need to accept and deal with....not invent a heaven where we will live forever...ridiculous.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • LadyAnon

      But...but...Santa gives people stuffsss. Although I always did think that one song was creepy in a spy/stalker kinda way: 'He knows when you've been sleeping; He knows when you're awake; He know if you've been bad or good...'

      Anyone else ever get that creepy stalker vibe about Santa after hearing that song as a little kid?

      Or did it scare the wits out of anyone when they heard the term 'Holy Ghost'? (kids only hear that Ghost part, you know) And that God's Always watching them along with the Son and Holy Ghost. No one ever explained who THAT was, but it literally scared the crap out of me.

      So, basically, God and Santa are spying on people constantly (it's what they tell kids). The only difference when you do something wrong with these two is:

      Santa (who hangs out with elves and flying reindeer) just decline to give you as many presents on Christmas.

      God (who has a Holy Ghost and whose own son was totally tortured and brutalized) will send your soul into a flaming, burning pit, where you will be tortured by demons FOREVER!

      Catholic school actually made me turn away from Christianity...funny.

      July 31, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  18. Tom Raven

    Here CNN has again written an article that trivializes the faith of Christians. This time they have only quoted a scholar who has repeatly claimed not to believe the accuratciesif the Biblical texts and chairs a group (Jesus Seminar) who annually discredits the scriptures. Borg is clearly passionate about Jesus, but only as he sees Him.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • The True Believer

      When it comes to the invisible unknowable angry-eye-in-the-sky, only I know the truth~!!!! The other guy is wrong! Waaaaaaah!!!!

      July 31, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Evan

      "When it comes to the invisible unknowable angry-eye-in-the-sky, only I know the truth~!!!! The other guy is wrong!"

      1) Do you think you're right? Probably. Do you think that I, a Christian, am wrong? Yes. Then you're a hypocrite by you're own definition.

      2) God is not a guy-in-the-sky.

      July 31, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Bible Scholar

      Whatever Evan. Clearly thinking is not your forte.

      July 31, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  19. Thinker

    Bears repeating:

    "Strange…a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness multiplied seventy times seven and invented Hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him!" – Mark Twain

    July 31, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Richard S. Russell

      "Letters from the Earth", one of the greatest works of American literature ever and my favorite work of fiction. My favorite NON-fiction book came along half a century later, Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer". I keep copies of both in stock so I can hand them out to friends who haven't yet had the pleasure. (Does that make me an evangelist? Probably. But at least I never ask for money, let alone your undying devotion or eternal soul.)

      July 31, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • LadyAnon

      CTRL C / CTRL V

      Interesting quote...figured I'd keep that for my "Quotes" collection – thank you :)

      July 31, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  20. nunti sunya

    religion perpetuates the myth that we must look to something outside ourselves for truth, redemption.. .salvation.
    religion breeds duality and separation.
    religion serves as a way to control the masses, namely through fear.
    no one needs saving or forgiving. no one needs a mediator.
    i recently read that "god" is simply "humanity as oneness." this requires each of us to divest ourselves of archaic truths that have been handed down for centuries. this requires each of us to exchange "me" consciousness for "we" consciousness.

    July 31, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Evan

      "religion perpetuates the myth that we must look to something outside ourselves for truth, redemption.. .salvation"

      How is this bad?

      "religion breeds duality and separation"

      I'm my experience, it breeds quite the opposite.

      "religion serves as a way to control the masses, namely through fear"

      That's alot of BS. Yes, in the past, the Church has tried to get more power than it should, but look at the book of Acts. Do you really think the Apostles were trying to contol anyone?

      "no one needs saving or forgiving. no one needs a mediator"

      Do you have evidence for this, or is it simply Atheist dogma that you mindlessly repeat?

      July 31, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • The True Believer

      Do you have evidence for this, or is it simply RELIGIONIST dogma that you mindlessly repeat?

      Well? Any evidence?

      Didn't think so.

      July 31, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Bible Scholar

      Evan, provide a lick of proof from outside the holey bibble for your imaginary pal and i will send you a coupon for a Mchappy Meal.

      All you people have is circular logic.

      Da holey bibble is true because the holey bibble done sez so!

      July 31, 2011 at 9:42 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.