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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. Harris_davis

    For crying out loud. In this world there will always be fake. Fake christian, fake branded good, fake politicans, fake lover....

    Whether Ferrari is driven by a old bald man or a Formula one racer, it does nothing to undermine the true value of the Ferrari.
    Ferrari remain a Ferrari.

    If you want to critise something at least understand enough to speak about it.
    Anyone that read half a page or chapters of old testament bible and start judging is not a worthy athetist or sceptic.

    Look to fallible believers instead of learning about Jesus Himself ?
    Jesus spake a parable "Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?" Luke 6:39

    Before i know Christ, i was disgusted with Christians behaviour too. More so, I was also disguested all the nonense happening around in the world. The media give us nothing except despair and more bad news.
    But there was a hunger to know answer. What type of freaking %#@! God allow all this evil that is going on in the world .

    Take your seeking heart, your disgust and wrath to God.
    If He don't answer you, your belief that there is no God is assured.

    But if He did, your life will be flip. Mine did.

    August 2, 2011 at 1:41 am |
    • MikeP

      The problem with that statement is that pretty much every christian thinks all christians that aren't part of his or her particular sect to be fake christians. The average christian likes to quote figures about how many christians there are in the world, but rarely adds that they believe 98% of them are going to hell for being frauds.

      August 2, 2011 at 3:31 am |
    • Colin

      You say someone with a slight knowledge of the bible is not a worthy atheist. As an atheist I don't use the christian bible for anything. I don't my belief in opposition to "pious lies" to quote John Adams. If you had done any research rather than rely on your feelings and delusions and try to pass them off as fact you would know there is independant mention of jesus as a real person. This is not the first time a religion could have been made up to control people. Look ip mithra and mani.

      How shallow are you that base who you are by what is on in the media?

      August 2, 2011 at 4:20 am |
    • Jaydub

      The challenge to all Christians, I believe, is to demonstrate that our belief makes a positive difference in the world. If Christians do not behave "better" than non-Christians, it becomes more difficult to defend the faith. In particular, I'm speaking of behaving "better" towards people - and especially towards those whose beliefs differ from our own. If Christianity means anything, it means treating our neighbors as ourselves, whether those neighbors be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, or of any other belief system. But I seldom see Christians behaving better than others these days.

      August 2, 2011 at 7:07 am |
    • Boris_norris

      Yeah, Harris, you've flipped all right. And right, there are No True Christians. Read up on the No True Scotsman fallacy and others here http://fallacyfiles.org and get an understanding of why your big goddie in the sky stories are fiction.

      August 2, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • Jorge

      You will find that the legitimate, intelligent gripes about religion are not so much about the Ferrari, but about the reckless idiots trying to drive it.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  2. Name*craig

    Forget all this nonsense and become a true follower of Christ and His Church: become Catholic. Saint Alphonsus: ora pro nobis!

    August 2, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • Buzzy

      That is the smartest thing that I have read all evening.

      August 2, 2011 at 2:09 am |
  3. mike

    You know when you have been born again, friend. The joy of one's salvation is what draws those who want to experience that same joy in Christ...and also bonds those who have been born of The Spirit.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:53 am |
    • Colin

      The concept of being born again is pathetic. It is a spiritual Mulligan. It is meaningless. The rest you mindlessly quote: salvation, spirit are, things that only exist in your mind. They aren't real. You need to live a reality based life.

      August 2, 2011 at 4:30 am |
    • ImLook'nUp

      @ Colin

      Unless you have experienced that "Born Again" moment, no amount of explaining will do. It does happen, and when it does, you won't soon forget it. I live in "reality" every 24 hours of my day. Chores to do. Bills to pay. Places to go. People to take care of. You just have a greater understanding of the Spiritual that you didn't before. Helps you to see beyond..... It has great personal meaning to the person who has been afflicted. It is a rather 'out of body' experience, if I do say so myself.

      : )

      August 2, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • pfeffernusse

      Thanks, but I was born just fine the first time.

      August 2, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  4. Reality

    o Reiteration is great for the learning process. As is reading and rational thinking followed by conclusions based on all of it.

    The 21st century Christian: 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.
    -–––
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

    2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
    – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

    30-60 CE Passion Narrative
    40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
    50-60 1 Thessalonians
    50-60 Philippians
    50-60 Galatians
    50-60 1 Corinthians
    50-60 2 Corinthians
    50-60 Romans
    50-60 Philemon
    50-80 Colossians
    50-90 Signs Gospel
    50-95 Book of Hebrews
    50-120 Didache
    50-140 Gospel of Thomas
    50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
    50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
    65-80 Gospel of Mark
    70-100 Epistle of James
    70-120 Egerton Gospel
    70-160 Gospel of Peter
    70-160 Secret Mark
    70-200 Fayyum Fragment
    70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
    73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
    80-100 2 Thessalonians
    80-100 Ephesians
    80-100 Gospel of Matthew
    80-110 1 Peter
    80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
    80-130 Gospel of Luke
    80-130 Acts of the Apostles
    80-140 1 Clement
    80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
    80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
    80-250 Christian Sibyllines
    90-95 Apocalypse of John
    90-120 Gospel of John
    90-120 1 John
    90-120 2 John
    90-120 3 John
    90-120 Epistle of Jude
    93 Flavius Josephus
    100-150 1 Timothy
    100-150 2 Timothy
    100-150 T-itus
    100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
    100-150 Secret Book of James
    100-150 Preaching of Peter
    100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
    100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
    100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
    100-160 2 Peter

    3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
    – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"
    4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
    5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
    6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
    7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html
    8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias
    joezias.com/HealthHealingLandIsrael.htm
    9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.
    10. The Gnostic Jesus
    (Part One in a Two-Part Series on Ancient and Modern Gnosticism)
    by Douglas Groothuis: equip.org/free/DG040-1.htm

    August 1, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • J Fritz

      Very nice tally. There are many more. If we're going to go the foolish route of cramming religion down school children's throats (take a bow, Texas), then maybe we'd better start by taking a look at this list. I'd throw in some Dawkins, just for fun.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:53 am |
  5. Herewe Goagain

    Well, isn't that special!

    August 1, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  6. gg737

    All of the "born- again" Christians I know are some of the biggest hypocrites I've ever met. They claim to be pure and think being saved gives them a free pass to heaven, but really they are just as promiscuous as non-Christians. If not, even more. Also, if they converted to the religion and were not born into it, its mostly guilt- based on something they did in life and feel the need for forgiveness right away.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  7. MShawn

    CNN struck gold on this one.... 62 pages of mainly insults. Humanity is wonderful.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • xenophilius

      Sigh . . . I know. Sad, isn't it?

      August 2, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • LinCA

      Yes, very sad. And to think that these christians claim to be so compassionate. I guess they are showing their true colors.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  8. Jerri l

    How sad that so many of you are atheist! Your beliefs are only as high as your head. Faith never requires proof. But faith will open the way to experience. But your minds are closed and that is what is sad. You will never take the plunge into faith and so you will never experience the reality of the true and living God. And that is what you were created for. It is to know God and to have an ongoing loving relationship with him. You will only find that out in the end and then it will be to late. But I'm praying for you that Jesus will open your eyes and give you ears to hear with a heart of understanding. It is never to late on this side of life.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Atheist b/c Truth is Better Than Fiction

      Not sad at all. My beliefs are based on evidence, yours on fables. Atheists tend to live fuller lives due to living for the here and now and not some after life that can not be proven to exist.

      August 2, 2011 at 6:36 am |
    • pfeffernusse

      “You will never take the plunge into faith and so you will never experience the reality of the true and living God.”

      Actually, I took the plunge into faith. I was very involved in my church—a member of the choir, a member of the youth ministry, volunteering for church events, Bible study, service every Sunday. I prayed every night and day. But I never felt or sensed God. No matter how hard I tried. So, I decided to read the Bible. You could say that was the nail in the coffin of my Christianity.

      So, what were you saying?

      August 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  9. Chris

    Does it matter if they're speaking the Christian slang incorrectly? Its an organization built around faith in a work of fiction. This article is like saying Jedi at last years Star Wars convention incorrectly referenced the force. Sigh, humanity has a long way to go before ensuring our long term survival as a species.

    August 1, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • MShawn

      Written with such conviction ..... such faith.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  10. MrM

    We ALL speak the language of our subculture. We speak “American,” we speak “black,” we speak “liberal,” we speak “republican,” etc.

    EVERY subculture has its own language. Singling out Christians as if they’re the only ones that do this is absolutely ridiculous.

    Of course, that’s what this section of CNN.com constantly does: Portraying Christians in a negative light.

    August 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • complete_nonsense

      Nope – they do that to themselves...

      August 1, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • FatSean

      Christians portray all who are not Christians in a negative light. Of course they say they love these people and the "fix" is to become Christian!

      What do you expect from a cult of demon worshipers? Yahweh ordered the ancient Hebrews to commit genocide several times. Christians worship this demon. Yuck.

      August 1, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Manny

      These are the opinions of other Christians you lunatic! How can CNN be ridiculing Christianity when it is merely printing the opinions of Christian theological experts? Does paranoia run in the family?

      August 2, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • MrM

      MANNY, I’m always amused when I run across people like you for whom an insult is their best argument.

      If you have read this blog before, you know what I say is true. Then again, maybe you don’t.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • MrM

      Dear FATSEAN: you’re making no sense, buddy.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:41 am |
    • MrM

      Dear FATSEAN: you’re making no sense, buddy

      August 2, 2011 at 1:43 am |
  11. complete_nonsense

    This article has creepy written all over it...

    I also love the fact that given recent events surrounding cancelled 'raptures' – our 'christian' friends now seek to distance themselves from raptures whilst quietly also conveniently forgetting anything their bible has to say about it as well. Did they really expect us to forget about it so quickly? After we all went through our childhoods by being threatened with the consequences of missing it every other Sunday? (Or do they really think that we are as thick as their flock?)

    Then again – whenever something happens that will embarrass or endanger the church's reputation – they do have a very long and detailed history of actively moving to suppress/ignore such things in order to protect their reputation.

    For something so silly as a missed rapture – this means nothing and is also somewhat funny as the comment thread for this article proves. But when you realize that they also use the exact same tactics to deny criminal activity, that's when you start to realize just how sad and appalling the sham of religion really is.

    In this day and age, CNN should take a fresh look at what they are allowing to be published on their site and by whom. Because when I read about articles on CNN containing "coded messages" about us being needing to be one of them in order get along in life and get the things we want – not by hard work but rather by incantations directed at like minded individuals with a nudge and a wink.

    Then it doesn't do any "wonder-working" for me and in fact, it just ticks me off.

    More importantly, it does shake my faith in CNN's impartiality and objectiveness despite any fine print disclaimers. Articles such as this have no place in mainstream media. Let alone an entire CNN Religious blog...

    Shame on you. And stop it, because you know better.

    August 1, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • MrM

      So you think CNN is impartial and objective? Very funny!

      August 1, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • complete_nonsense

      @ mrm- conceded...

      August 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • xenophilius

      Wait . . . so, you say that atheist articles can be published on CNN, but Christian articles cannot? That is discrimination, plain and simple. This is called "Belief Blog". Did you notice the word "belief" in there? It doesn't say "Atheist Blog". There are hundreds of beliefs in this world; atheism is one of the minorities. So why would the "Belief Blog" only allow a minority to post on here? Every single religion should be allowed on here.

      People call us Christians intolerant and bigoted. Will you listen to yourself? "Articles such as this have no place in mainstream media. Let alone an entire CNN Religious blog..." What is that? Tolerance? It makes me truly sad to see how you are so deaf as to not hear your own words.

      Now, I know there will be a barrage of stinging comments against me, but I really hope this comment will at least start some on what Christians-speakers call "the right path" so that people can get "saved".

      August 1, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • john

      a lot of "us" and "we" in your post. are you seeking solidarity or approval with a bunch of "likes" on your post? just make your point but remember life can sck. people go with it, do their own thing and try to survive. you arent as wise as you think.

      August 1, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • xenophilius

      That's funny. I don't think I'm wise. I'm fourteen years old.

      When I say "us" and "we", my goal is merely to point out that I am a follower of Christ. As a matter of fact, the thought "I want a bunch of likes on my post" never even began to cross through my mind. I am not seeking "solidarity or approval", nor did I ever seek "solidarity or approval". In fact, I expected no response but what you gave. My goal is simply to get the word out, not to get pats on the back from other believers.

      When life sucks, I just turn to God for guidance. You'll say that I'm fourteen years old, and how can I know how life sucks, but I understand. The Bible is a fine model for this. It says to have faith in God and trust in Him to lead you on the right path. And as far as I am aware, from the words of many people who are older and more experienced than me, it works. You will disagree, and I understand that.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  12. oneone

    God is perfect, never makes a mistake.

    He tested mankind with a talking snake.

    Things didn’t work out like he originally planned.

    He decided to change his religious brand.

    He killed his son to “save” mankind.

    From the curse and wrath of his self centered mind.

    Now we have hell for those who doubt.

    And the fairy tale salesmen have a lot more clout.

    August 1, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      read your "poem?"8 lines of verse, false statements in 7 lines,one one more shot you could be !00% all wet.

      August 1, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  13. believer

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    John 3:16

    August 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • Atheist b/c Truth is Better Than Fiction

      way to quote mine!!! that scripture is complete self-righteous bs...sounds more like a threat than it does to portray anything worthwhile

      August 2, 2011 at 6:38 am |
  14. oneone

    God wants our worship and love it seems.

    But he only appears to us in our dreams.

    You can pray for his help, but don’t hold your breath.

    For his plan for you is your inevitable death.

    They claim if you believe, you’re heaven bound.

    But a witness for this has never been found.

    No guarantees for this claim, now THAT’s a sin.

    So don’t take the bait and get hooked and reeled in.

    August 1, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      Read your "poem?"8 lines of verse, false statements in 6 lines .75% error rate ...whats your point?

      August 1, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  15. believer

    God has no religion ~ Gandhi

    August 1, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  16. believer

    I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ ~ Gandhi.

    August 1, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  17. Lin

    BR – Good point, there are many different viewpoints on the free will question. I was speaking from my own point of view.

    On the Epicurus question, which I have seen posed many times, I ask this: Do you think you would be a better or happier person if nothing bad or difficult ever happened? If you never had to struggle through a difficult class or to graduate, would you appreciate your accomplishment when you finally succeeded? Would you be as motivated to help someone else if you never saw an injustice committed or felt compassion for their pain and suffering? Would you enjoy feeling well and healthy if you were never sick or injured? Would you appreciate the people you care about as much if you never lost one to death?

    My point is that bad things are going to happen to everyone sooner or later. Sometimes it's just nature, sometimes it's by someone else choosing evil, sometimes by our own mistakes. God wants us to be the best person we can be and He knows what kind of struggles will help refine us into a better person. When something bad happens, we can take the opportunity to learn from it and become stronger and better than we were by getting through it (and He will help us if we ask) or giving up and sinking into anger and despair.

    August 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  18. believer

    You think you are too intelligent to believe in God. I am not like you.

    ~Napoleon Bonaparte

    August 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  19. believer

    If there were no God, there would be no atheists.

    ~G.K. Chesterton

    August 1, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Libby Anne

      This doesn't make a lick of sense. No, seriously, it doesn't. Maybe you should explain, because seriously, that doesn't make sense.

      August 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
  20. believer

    Atheists express their rage against God although in their view He does not exist.

    ~C. S. Lewis

    August 1, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Geekalot

      I don't know a single atheist who feels rage against Christians or the God they believe in. Frustration, yes. Not rage. What we rail against is what appears to be a lack of evidence to support such belief coupled wth a complete unwillingness to openly explore the posibility that God doesn't exist. Every argument I have heard in support of God has relied on the use of texts whose veracity doesn't appear to hold of to objective analysis. Why is it that science can be accepted to be accurate only so long as it doesn't suggest something that contradicts a firmly held belief? Then, suddenly, the science is wrong.

      August 1, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • MC

      Mr GEEKALOT you say: "Every argument I have heard in support of God has relied on the use of texts whose veracity doesn't appear to hold of to objective analysis." What have you been listening to?

      Have you heard people like William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, and MANY others whose defense of Theism is far from the cartoonish characterization you offer?

      Please do.

      August 1, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • john

      geekalot. most of the athiests on these boards are as zealous and religious as the rest. true athiests could care less about god because they dont believe and dont want to waste their time. the athiests on these boards are on a mission to ridicule, be hateful, spiteful and generally be as invasive into religious arguments as possible. its true.

      August 1, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Libby Anne

      John – " true athiests could care less about god because they dont believe and dont want to waste their time."

      Seriously? I will stop caring when people stop making laws to coerce others into following their religious beliefs, and when people stop abusing in the name of an imaginary sky god, etc.

      August 1, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • The real john

      Libby. If thats the case, then you are going to be preoccupied with god every second of your life. You arent in it for lack of belief, you are in in for the fight. Your kind are called "born again athiests". The fight you are speaking of will never be won because religion is manmade and can never be extinguished as long as man is alive. If nothing but athiesm existed there would be religious wars amongst the athiests. And it might be called something different than athiesm by then. This is why Jesus hated religion. Because it seperates man from God.

      August 1, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
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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.