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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. an80sreaganite

    I love how atheists get to frame the conversation in their terms, somehow making it seem odd to 'be saved' or 'to accept Christ'. Personally, I think their complete and udder belief in global warming (oh, that's right – now its called "climate change") is as much faith based, as is our belief that we have a saviour who died for our sins, in order that we make have a relationship with a living God whose spirit lives in each of us. No 'science" has proven climate change and no science has disproven the existence of Christ. In fact, the more you apply science to Christ, the more believable His story becomes, whereas, the more you apply science to global warming/climate change, the less believable it becomes. I guess none of us will know definitively until we die. If I'm right, I get to spend eternity with my heavenly father, if they're right....... Well, then I spent the majority of my life striving to live a life worthy of God who didn't exist, which is still an honourable life and no less worthy than that of atheist..

    August 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Magic

      80s,

      Well, I won't even touch your "udder belief" - that could be endlessly 'milked'.

      But here goes on your other point about covering your bets by believing:

      This is another tired repeti.tion of Pascal's Wager - thoroughly refuted since the 17th century (where have you been?)

      - What if the real "God" is Allah, or Vishnu, or Zeus, or any of the other of thousands which have been dreamed up over the centuries? Some of them are very jealous and vengeful and will relegate you to nasty places for not worshiping them. You'd better cover your butt by believing in ALL of them and fulfill their wishes and demands.

      - What if the real "God" prefers those who use logic and reason and punishes you as a silly sycophant?

      - What if the real "God" detests those who believe something just to cover their butts in eternity?

      August 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • fred

      Not sure what global warming has to do with it with the exception putting someones feet to the fire. That road is narrow so stay on it

      August 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • BRC

      Actually, climate change was always the appropriate name. The weather patterns observed (not projected, not predicted or estimated- observed) displayed a gradual increase in severity of the seasons. Colds were colder, hots were hotter. The exact cause of it may be up for discussion and determination, but the effects are observable, and there are many equally observable and fairly likely causes. As for science proving gods or Jesus... not that I've seen or heard of.
      As always , I don't speak for all athiests, only for myself; but I don't think there is anything odd about being "saved", I just don't think it's possible. I believe this life is what it is, noone's interfering from the outside. That being said, having faith in Jesus, or a god, wishing to living a good life, and using that motivation to do your best is an admirable thing, which I completely support. I try to do the same, just for different reasons. That's the cool thing about not answering to any particular religion, athiests don't need place value on people's lives based on what they believe might happen after they die; they get to be much more worried about what we all do while we're here.

      August 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Peace2All

      What if... when we die there 'is' life after death, however, it is 'not' the christian view of judgement, etc...?

      Maybe it will be something else that you can't even imagine, are you good with that...? I am.

      And... If there isn't anything after death, I'm o.k. with that too.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      August 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I am sure the hijackers who blew up the World Trade Center believed the same thing.

      If your life is based on a lie that is inconsequential than no one cares if the cult is controlled.

      Alas, you are in a cult, a cult that commits abominations in the name of you and your imaginary sky friend.

      Your fellow followers do enormous harm and hide behind your altars. Either turn over the guilty, or we shall burn your altars down

      August 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Laughing

      I LOVED your little rant about how christ makes sense once you apply science whereas climate change only makes less sense, especially when you can't provide any citations or evidence explaining exactly what you mean. For instance, are you saying that once you apply science to the bible, it only bolsters the fact that of course jesus could walk on water, and of course he could come back to life after 3 days. There's been no certifiable evidence that it's possible so because resurrection and other miracles are impossible it makes the bible more believeable? On the other hand we have observable evidence that there are record breaking heatwaves and cold snaps, humongous storms and this has all spiked since the industrial revolution, but when you apply critical thinking to this, clearly these spikes and fluctuations have nothing to do with anything, I'm going to go back and start calling it global warming now so when another huge blizzard hits I can ask, "If this is global warming, then isn't it supposed to get hotter?!"

      August 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • J.W

      Why do so many Christians on here use the Pascal's wager argument? I you use that argument then you are agnostic.

      August 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      How does Astrology enter into this, or do you have to be suffering from dementia to see the relevance?

      (Since the original poster appears to be an 80's Reaganite)

      August 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      J.W asks "Why do so many Christians on here use the Pascal's wager argument?"

      Could it be that they never learned C++ ?

      August 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      J.W

      Why do so many Christians on here use the Pascal's wager argument? I you use that argument then you are agnostic.

      -------------–

      They say it to humor us to express the great lack of faith they have. They are on their way to being Agnostic.

      August 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Lard

      Your age and techy nature are showing

      August 1, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • BR

      - an80sreaganite-

      -Science has significant evidence for climate change. The root cause and our role in exacerbating the phenomena is debatable.

      -Theists have scant and questionable evidence that Jesus ever existed at all. Even if the point is granted that he did exist, that’s all it proves. That xtianity was based on a real person over 2000 years go. It’s a long way from there to divinity.

      -It is not our job to prove he “didn’t exist”. Theists make the claim, it is up to them to substantiate that claim.

      -Care to demonstrate how applying science to the story of Jesus makes it more believable?

      -Look up the phrase, “Pascal’s Wager” and get back to us.

      August 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • fred

      Magic,
      There is only one God and can only be one God. One is the perfect number not one plus N. Perfect unity implies one. I could never find myself more spiritually in tune than Jesus, Moses or Abraham so why would I follow something else. These are 3 major figures in world history and every drop of blood that has been shed over religion was shed as a result of these or their offshoots. Anyone who knows more about the existence of God needs to take a look in the mirror. Jesus was the one written about in the old testament and this is the year 2011 AD. If you have another god in mind why is his date of birth not stamped everywhere you look in western culture. I know, just another coincidence. Either way I cannot think of a better explanation for what lies outside of nothingness. No one has yet to prove anything Jesus said wrong or disprove the God of the Old Testament. Thousands of years of evolution and still can't do it. God of old said we cannot comprehend the incomprehensible.
      We know Allah is not God because he came from the combination of the Hebrew God and the Christ. Created in 610 AD you can follow how it copied the old testament and the new testament. At best Islam is a version of Scripture just like other denominations took parts they liked and embraced. Mohamed did not like the Jews so he flipped key figures such as Ishmael and Isaac. To this day Scripture holds true and we see the decedents of these two still at each other’s throats thousands of years later. The Garden of Eden in this 4,000 year old record was smack in middle of the Iraq / Turkey area. Good and evil, Jews and Muslims, life and death, the cross of Christ all right there. The first shot of the final war was fired from that area by Muslims and the response from a Born Again Christian George Bush. Nuclear weapons are within the grasp of Ishmael and will be aimed at the decedents of Isaac. The Scripture speaks of lands laid waste uninhabitable in the blink of an eye. Step by step one by one prophecy fulfilled before our very eyes over 4,000 years yet you consider it nonsense.

      August 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      @Magic, you're my hero.

      August 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Hey there Reaganite Fan!

      Isn't it an obtuse angularization of Christendom to tary away far from the maddening Crowds who belch out infirmities against the value system of Religiously devoted Christian? :-(

      August 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Praise the Lard

      PraiseTheLard
      J.W asks "Why do so many Christians on here use the Pascal's wager argument?"

      Could it be that they never learned C++ ?

      LOL...!! Most excellent PTL !! :D

      Regards,

      Peace...

      August 1, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  2. Christian

    Oh, great, another 'brand' of Christian. If someone tells you I am a 'this' Christian or a 'that' Christian, know that he is a lying SOB. Christ knows better.

    August 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Isn't Chrisitian just a brand of Jew, and Jew just a brand of Zoroastrianisim?

      You Guys need a new God, it seems your current one can't keep his flock of sheep in line.

      And this time, try and find one who dosen't want his clergy buggering little boys.

      August 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Lin

      Mr. Demuth, on your second point, He doesn't 'keep' us in line. WE choose whether we want to stick with it or not and we have to deal with the consequences of that choice.

      August 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Lin

      Wrong. In case you hadn't heard, Christians think the future is pre ordained, which means you do NOT have free will.

      In fact, in your twisted world, no one ever has.

      August 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • J.W

      Very few Christians believe that the future is pre-ordained.

      August 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • BR

      Lin-Demuth isn't exactly being fair. The truth is there are over 3000 denominations of xtianity alone so he can hardly be accurate in generalizing that 'xtians believe...[insert any of thousands of assertions]"

      The basic problem here is that there is no single, universal thread among xtians. Even Jesus's divinity is questioned, though that is a severe minority. The point is that it is so maleable as to be shaped into anything at all to fit an individual's requirements, even if that is in direct opposition to an entire denominations beliefs. As to your "choose to follow" concept...that, itself, is contrary to the concept that god is omnipotent. Epicurus said it best.

      Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able...then he's not omnipotent.
      Is he able but not willing...then he's malevolent.
      Is he both willing and able...then whence cometh evil?
      Is he neither willing, nor able...then why call him god?

      August 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Wrong!

      All common versions of the Bible speak of the future as being ordained.

      The concept that Christ will return is based on things being preordained.

      For example, if he comes back and I kill him when he gets here, the biblical prophecies can’t come true.

      Yet Christians believe they must, therefore they are preordained.

      Which means do WHATEVER you like, because it is all God’s will.

      (or maybe God is a fabrication?)EPICURUS RULES!

      August 1, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Careful Christian on Christendom's Christianized Christians of Christianity! :-)

      August 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • J.W

      Just because Jesus was prophecized to come doesnt mean people dont have free will.

      August 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  3. Kyle

    Yeah, I speak Christian: "DERP, DERP, DERP."

    August 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  4. BOB in Indiana

    "MARANATHA !!!!!!!!!"

    August 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  5. Mike Peralta

    THE REAL DEAL:

    Since you mentioned the term RAPTURE. The best explanation of this belief is contained in the following book series:

    Read Volume 1 of The Prophetic Book Series, I AM COMING. This Series Contains Urgent Messages From God – yes from God Himself through prophecy – about the soon Rapture and Tribulation.
    You can download the free ebook from http://www.smashwords.com
    Use the search phrase: I Am Coming by Susan Davis

    Some prophetic words from Jesus in I Am Coming, Volume 1 :
    “This is your LORD. Time is short. Time is running out. The clock is ticking. I must come soon. Life will never be the same. You have the power to choose. Life is in your hands. I will not wait forever on MY people. This is serious. If you stay you will die. If you leave, you must leave with Me.”
    “You must choose life or death. I come quickly. MY hour is near, the hour I retrieve MY Bride. She is ready. All is ready. The hour is close at hand. Be ready. Look for ME.. Only the pure of heart will see MY face, MY beautiful face. MY heart is broken for those who will be lost.”
    “Save yourselves, turn and surrender. The hour is close at hand. All will be dark soon, but the Bride will be safely put away. Be the Bride: turn, repent, come to ME. I am gentle. I am kind. MY words are soft and tender. I am a gentle God. MY people see, MY people know I am love. I spare no expense for MY children. Love is MY moniker. This world is going to die out soon. Soon it will all be over. Repent while you still can. Please come to ME, I am waiting. These are your last opportunities. You choose: life or death.”
    “Choose against ME and discover that you have made a move that has eternal consequences. You will never see ME again. You will never hear MY voice. You will never experience MY ways: I am LOVE. I am HOPE. I am KINDNESS. I am PEACE. I am WISDOM. I am KNOWLEDGE. I am STRENGTH. I am SAFETY. I am BLISS. I am JOY. I am TRUTH. I am GREATNESS. I am LIFE. I am ADORATION. I am all the good things you enjoy in this world. Hell does not have these things. It will be never-ending sad futility.”
    “MY children who are in hell have no hope. They will not find hope or love again. They are experiencing the worst things. Some of MY children have witnessed hell and speak of it. Many have been there for short times and experienced its anguish. But there is nothing worse than an eternity apart from ME, your MAKER. I am sorry for their loss, but MY Word is clear and the people are without excuse if they choose against ME and find themselves in hell.”
    “Now I am putting forth MY final pleas and I am warning you about the horror to come. .. MY people left will have to go through the worst imaginable things. I want them to know that the choice they are making now has severe consequences if they choose against ME... It will be very hard for those who want to turn back to ME. The choice now is easy. Later it will be very difficult. Choosing for ME will be very hard after I take MY people home. Come with ME now. Follow ME now. Save yourself. Time is running out. Don’t waste precious moments. Turn, turn, turn NOW. Repent! Lay your life down before ME. Give ME everything. I will save you. Now is the deciding hour. Time is running out.”
    “I, GOD, I, JESUS am waiting for your answer.”

    August 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Time is short. Time is running out. The clock is ticking. I must come soon. Life will never be the same. You have the power to choose. Life is in your hands." – Sounds more like a 16 year old boy trying to get in his girlfriends pants...

      August 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • BRC

      @Mike,
      Out of curiousity, Who recieved these prophecies? When? Where? How? In what language? And how did anyone go about confirming they were actual prophecies, and not just well semi-well meanin and more than a little creepy musings?

      August 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Madtown

      Urgent Messages From God – yes from God...
      ---
      How do we know this is a message directly from God?

      August 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I believe the best interpretation was from Blondie

      Something about an alien that eats guitars.

      I was a dumb song, but Deborah Harry was HOT!

      As for that late great planet earth stuff, it is just like World Of Warcraft for stupid people

      August 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • iconoclast

      ME ME ME ME ME, Jesus is an egotistical sociopath!

      August 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Goodstuff

      LOLOLOL at GodPot's response. I'm sitting in my Chronic Epidemiology class and I couldn't help but Laugh Out Loud. Caused a bit of a secene, but it was worth it :)

      August 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Fred1

      And just where in the bible does it say all that?

      August 4, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  6. GodPot

    Christian's have to speak in code so they can tell each other apart from the rest of society, their exclusive lifestyles wouldn't work if they were just like every body else. Just like in the Doctor Seuss book "The Sneetches on the Beaches" they want to feel like they have star's on thar's. They can't have a party and accidently invite some Hindu's or Muslim's over, prayer before the meals just becomes to awkward and besides, they are probabaly cooking burgers so that won't go well with a bunch of vegetarians... and since they have the "true" religion they certainly aren't going to go out of their way to make anyone else feel comfortable just because they don't believe the same way...

    August 1, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Oh Really?

      I'm trying to think of the last time I got an invite to dinner from one of my Hindu or Muslim friends....nope, I'm drawing a blank here.

      So much for that argument.

      August 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • GodPot

      They used to be able to tell each other apart just by skin color, but thats becoming more difficult as more and more melanin has been injected into Christianity's epidermus.

      August 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • GodPot

      You have Hindu or Muslim friends? I'm shocked. Well, maybe more skeptical, because I do not know any Christian's who do anything other than malign those of other religions instead of befriending them. When's the last time you welcomed a Muslim or Hindu to the neighborhood (with something other than a hurled insult or a nasty stare)?

      August 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Mark

      GodPot...

      Actually, I do have a Hindu friend. A good friend in fact. And I'll cut the sarcasm. In all fairness, he has invited me to his house for dinner...twice. And I graciously accepted the invite both times. Me, my wife, and kids. On one occasion I got to meet his parents who were visting him from India. Very nice people. Food was awesome! I felt honored to be there.

      I have also had him over to my house. He was, is, and will remain welcome in my home. Religious differences be what they may, he's a good friend and I enjoy his company. I know he's Hindu, and he knows I'm Christian. We don't talk about it really.

      August 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • GodPot

      @Mark – No disrespect for those who are reaching out like yourselves, though you must admit you are likely the exception, not the rule among Christians.

      August 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • BRC

      @Mark,
      Very nice to hear a rational view. I've never understood why religious beliefs come between people. If you're looking to marry someone, fine that could be an issue (if one persone wants to spend eternity with the other, and the other doesn't even belive its possible, that could cause friction); but why do day to day people have problems with it. If 2 people have completely different religions, but both encourage the same upstanding lifestyle, where does the conflict come from. There is no more proof for any one religion than any of the others, each person makes their bid for what they think is going to happen, then lives life as best they can. That shouldn't be a problem for anyone (Middle East has its own issues, they're hatred is as much about past and present offenses as it is about differences in dogmas).

      August 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  7. andrew.peter

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

    This is so unbiblical!! See 1 John 2:15
    "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

    August 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      YAY, quoted rhetoric!

      August 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • J.W

      In the Bible the words 'sinful' and 'worldly' are used pretty much interchangeably. When the verse says do not love the world and what is in it it means the sinful aspects and materialism in the world.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      WOW, J.W., how insightful! You are a truly spiritual person!! Jesus must love you most!

      August 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • J.W

      Jackdaw, why the sarcasm? I was just explaining how the quote was taken out of context. If you have something to add then say it.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Dave

      The same apostle who wrote your quote from 1 John also quoted Jesus saying, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3.16)

      August 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  8. AvdBerg

    Make no mistake, gay Jesus will return. Go to our website to learn more http://www.gaychristian101.com

    August 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  9. Charlie

    There are many false teachings in Christendom and many have been misled. It is one of the signs of the end times. For those of you who don't know, The True God has a name. In English it's pronounced Jehovah. Be Warned. His Kingdom is coming soon!!

    August 1, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • KingdomCome

      Charlie...
      His kingdom is breaking forth now continually... it is already here... read scripture

      August 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Charlie

      Yes, his Kingdom is already in place in Heaven and has been for almost 100 years now... but soon it will come to EARTH as it already is in heaven.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Don't we stone you to death now?

      Jehovah indeed! Just another idiots spin on a 2000 year old reality show!

      God is a lie, perpetuated by men who like to rip off old ladies and bugger little boys.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • KingdomCome

      @ Charlie:
      ‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.’ (2 Cor. 10:3—5)

      Luke 11:20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • BR

      Charlie...the majority of the other denominations of xtianity called. Here's their message:

      "You have been misled."

      August 1, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Fred1

      His kingdom was suppose to be here about 2000 years ago. Since it hasn't gotten here yet I'm not too consurned it will be soon

      For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. (Matt. 16:27–28)

      August 5, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  10. News Flash

    Fair enough ? You cannot be serious. Your mis-characterizations and over-simplifications don't fly.
    1. If "misinformation is "spewing hate" then you also do a good job at that. (And just because you disagree with the author of the article, you don't need to accuse him of "spewing hate".) What exactly is "hateful" ? You just can't handle someone who disagrees with you. (Why does that threaten you so much ?)
    2. The LACK of beliefs is NOT belief. It is a fundamentally different view of reality. They refuse to suspend their reason, while you choose, (or maybe NEED), to do so. It is not the "opposite" anything. There are many communities of non-believers who gather, communicate, and in many ways resemble your belief communities.
    3. "One denomination believes there is nothing after death or before birth"
    What ?? There's new one. Now you are saying Christian theology tells you you exist before your birth ? Sounds pretty heretical to me.
    4. Comparing everyone to criminal revolutionaries who were cricified on either side of the third criminal insurgent, who attempted to terrorize the temple in the week before his trial and execution, is really disingenuous. Sorry that you find life so complicated, difficult and messy, and NEED to arrange it all in 2 simplistic categories for yourself, ("Either way it boils down to two basic conditions of the human mind and heart. Jesus as in all that related to life and spirit made all things clear regardless of faith or no faith"), but you're telling us more about your mental health than you are about any religious concepts.

    August 1, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      Nobody knows what you are talking about. I checked.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • fred

      In the context of the New Testament we are all sinners, criminals if you will because all have fallen short of the glory of God. One during his lifetime sees the truth and simply calls out to Jesus for forgiveness asking Jesus to remember him the other during his lifetime rejects Jesus to the bitter end with harsh tones. Both having full opportunity to demonstrate the condition of their mind and soul will receive what they have asked for. What is unfair about that?

      August 1, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  11. The Jackdaw

    Who is really shocked that Christian's do not have a clue what they are saying?

    August 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  12. The Jackdaw

    Deity worshipers are all fools.

    August 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • KingdomCome

      The Jackdaw:
      How did you know?
      "We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor"...1 Cor. 4:10

      August 1, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      I know because critical thinking proves me right.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Mark

      Yeah KingdomCome. You know...Critical Thinking.

      Kinda like the "Critical Thinking" that several hundred years ago said the Earth was flat, or that the Sun revolved around the Earth, or that there were only about 2000 stars in the Heavens because that's all the naked eye could SEE.

      That kind of Critical Thinking.

      August 1, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Fool –
      1 : person lacking in judgment or prudence
      2a : a retainer formerly kept in great households to provide casual entertainment and commonly dressed in motley with cap, bells, and bauble
      2b : one who is victimized or made to appear foolish : dupe
      3a : a harmlessly deranged person or one lacking in common powers of understanding
      3b : one with a marked propensity or fondness for something
      4: a cold dessert of pureed fruit mixed with whipped cream or custard" – Merriam-Webster

      I would have to say that you are correct Jackdaw, but only in so much as the definition for Fool 1, 2b & 3a and maybe just a touch of 4...

      August 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • BRC

      @Mark,
      To be fair, none of those are examples of critical thinking. Those are all examples of "knowledge" before societies began to embrace the scientific process and challenge the ideas in front of them. Those are all "facts" produced by people who took what they were told at face value, pretty much the opposite of critical thinking.

      August 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • KingdomCome

      Funny how we have evolved and now realize that the earth is NOT flat by using critical thinking skills, yet we still can't let go of a belief in Christ...You would think with that ALL that critical thinking and self evolution stuff... we would have given up on our beliefs by now... it must be a miracle that we STILL believe and WILL ALWAYS be FOOLS for Christ...
      This becoming a fool for christ confounds the wise of the world... I know, I know...

      August 2, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • LinCA

      @KingdomCome

      You said "You would think with that ALL that critical thinking and self evolution stuff... we would have given up on our beliefs by now" and "we STILL believe and WILL ALWAYS be FOOLS"

      I really can't argue that.
      See, with a little bit of creative quote mining, we can agree. ;)

      August 2, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Real Deal

      Kingdom Come, "This becoming a fool for christ confounds the wise of the world..."

      It's not confounding at all. The fantasy is greatly enticing and exceedingly seductive.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • KingdomCome

      @ LinCa
      The greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer.
      by
      CHARLES CALEB COLTON

      August 2, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  13. Danny

    This shows you how bad our NEWS is here. What was it 736ad .. easy here, a man that wrote hymns.. they have the scroll pfft. What matters is Yeshua. Hes real you don't need any Christian or anyone. Just talk to man Himself.. who died for you.

    August 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  14. Chris Tian

    Trust me when I tell you it's one of those "you have to be there" type of scenarios. They call Scripture the Living Word because it speaks to each one of us individually. You get what you put into it. It's kind of like growing a garden, sometimes we spend so much time tending to weeds, insects, and drought, we forget that we're trying to grow sustenance to feed our souls. If we focus on the seeds, water, sunshine, and proper nurturing, we tend to reap a better harvest. But don't just take my word for it. Read Scripture and ask God to reveal your correct path in life. Don't just go by what others say – even me.

    August 1, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Chris Tian

      Trust me when I tell you it's one of those "you have to be there" type of scenarios. They call Scripture the Living Word because it speaks to each one of us individually. You get what you put into it. It's kind of like growing a garden, sometimes we spend so much time tending to weeds, insects, and drought, we forget that we're trying to grow sustenance to feed our souls. If we focus on the seeds, water, sunshine, and proper nurturing, we tend to reap a better harvest.

      You Said: "But don't just take my word for it. Read Scripture and ask God to reveal your correct path in life. Don't just go by what others say – even me."

      And, should God tell me/us that it is the 'right' and 'true' thing to be a Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim, etc... what would you think of that coming from God...?

      Regards,

      Peace...

      August 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Peace2All

      *Ooops... Left in your text above in my response. Apologies.

      Peace...

      August 1, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • William Demuth

      So scripture is like LSD? Each idiot that ingest it oges on their own trip into a world of distorted illusion?

      Sounds about right!

      August 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Chris Tian

      The Truth is out there. It is our choice to seek it, understand it, grow from it. Some will fear it, others will reject it, some will hate it, and some will die for it. I believe we tend to underestimate God's jurisdiction. As I mentioned before, Scripture is the Living Word, seek His guidance and advice and you will get the right answer. Asking me for answers just places an intermediary before you. You don't want that. It's my hope and prayer that you do seek the Father.

      August 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Chris Tian

      I appreciate that. However, you basically dodged my question to you.

      Care to take a stab at it...?

      Peace...

      August 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Madtown

      As I mentioned before, Scripture is the Living Word...
      ----
      Scripture is the "living word"? Is that the justification for why it changes so often? And why it's been transcribed and edited, since all 'living' things undergo change? We are also told the bible is infallible, thus perfect and not needing change. So, which is it?

      August 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • pfeffernusse

      Chris Tian, you are operating under the assumption that people who do not believe have no familiarity with the Bible. Most of them do. Most of them used to be believers. I find this preconception interesting. Troubling, but interesting.

      “Read Scripture and ask God to reveal your correct path in life.”

      I did that. Nothing happened. Now what?

      August 2, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  15. well said

    @ William D-Do u really need to sound negative to make a point, do u have anything positive or enlightening to say at all?

    @ Amit-you have articulated the point quite well!

    August 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Who me, negative?

      Perhaps the truth hurts!

      On a positive note, Christianity seems to be being replaced in most of the world, and that wicked organization may soon fade into history.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  16. Reality

    The 21st century citizen speaks: from yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years–

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

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

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

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

    August 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      @ Reality

      Was not Christ Jesus inseminated by the Holy Spirit incognito GOD? With this said, Joseph was really This Son of GOD's stepfather/dad. Just a thought! :-)

      August 1, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • William Demuth

      You forgot the whole Virgin head trip his mother laid on him to avoid admitting he was actually sired by a Roman soldier.

      I saw the whole thing on an episode of Desperate Hosewives of Palestine.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  17. gogogopher

    Jesus smelled the burning flesh of a virgin girl..... "An aroma pleasing to Him"...... You know the story/fable in the Bible... a army leader prays for victory.... promises to sacrifice the first thing he sees when he gets home.... it's his only child.. a female virgin.... he tells he hang out w/yo friends for two years and come back for yo death sentence.... she does.... he kills her. Now in those days...
    .... they way they sacrificed a human or animal was.... they slit the throat and collected the blood.... scholars? back me up on that... they put the blood on the hot coals.... the body on the rack...... and the BLOOD IS WHAT MADE THE SMOKE AND AROMA...... "Pleasing to Him".... That's how they did it. THANKS JESUS!

    August 1, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  18. Bob from Bellingham Ma

    We have a never ending line of folks that can speak Christian. What we lack are folks that live Christian. So called Christians that can speak it but don’t live it are the main reason there are so many atheists and non believers.

    August 1, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • PMS

      There are so many atheists and non-believers because it's mythology. It has nothing to do with the language and behavior of Christians.

      August 1, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  19. Reality

    Ian,

    Citation? Yours truly and based on reviewing 200 years of conclusions by historians and theologians from these 200 years.

    August 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  20. Brad

    People should not be able to just make up crazy new parts for an established religion!

    They should stick to the crazy stuff that was made up a thousand years ago!

    August 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Demanding consistency from religion?

      Keep talking like that and they will burn you at the stake.

      Please increase your Kool Aid dosage, and say three "Our Holy Maries not a virgin anymore" prayers

      August 1, 2011 at 1:51 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.