home
RSS
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. marybeth

    Just what we need in a time of so much hate and disrepect for one another! Every person has the right to believe what they wish. What I hear is a huge bashing of all believers, whom have done nothing to you. Why so much animosity toward a group of people who believe in something that promotes morals and family. Oh that must be bad. It is a sad world we now live in. I pray every night and know that my prayers are heard! In God we trust.

    August 2, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • pfeffernusse

      Quote from previous poster; “Atheists are evil and stupid.”

      Doesn’t sound very loving, does it? In fact, you’ll find these boards filled with comments from good Christians about how this country is going down the tubes because of atheists. How atheists are amoral and self-indulgent. How atheists worship themselves. How atheists don’t contribute to society in any positive way. There’s a lot of misinformation about atheists, most of it bad, some of it quite damaging.

      I am a firm believer in the First Amendment. I believe everyone is allowed to worship (or not) as they see fit. Faith is between that person and their god and should be protected. I get very riled up when I see people of faith are denied their First Amendment right. You have a right to believe and I will defend that right vigorously.

      Atheists get upset because while they are more than happy to let people believe, believers are rarely content to let atheists not believe. With Christians constantly smearing their character and trying to pass laws that adversely affect them based on theology, it’s enough to make an atheist testy. For the most part, people of other faiths (but it seems to be especially Christians) are threatened by atheists lack of belief and feel the proper response is to vilify them.

      August 3, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Doesn't matter

      @pfeffernusse

      First of you started with ,"Quote from previous poster; “Atheists are evil and stupid.”

      Doesn’t sound very loving, does it? In fact, you’ll find these boards filled with comments from good Christians about how this country is going down the tubes because of atheists."

      To call the person who made the above quote a "good christian" is simply ludicrous...they made no other statement about what or who they believe in...In addition, if someone who calls themselves a christian says "this country is going down the tubes because of atheists" they would be wrong...this WORLD is going down the tubes because of sin, plain and simple...

      Next you said, " How atheists are amoral and self-indulgent. How atheists worship themselves. How atheists don’t contribute to society in any positive way. There’s a lot of misinformation about atheists, most of it bad, some of it quite damaging."

      I wouldn't limit this diatribe to only atheists, we are ALL guilty of the things you listed above to some degree regardless of our faith or lack of...but as for your last sentence about misinformation, the same could be said about christianity, or islam or buddhism...so what are the facts? What does atheism lead to?

      Then you said, "I am a firm believer in the First Amendment. I believe everyone is allowed to worship (or not) as they see fit. Faith is between that person and their god and should be protected. I get very riled up when I see people of faith are denied their First Amendment right. You have a right to believe and I will defend that right vigorously."

      Appreciated but I think you forget that; at least as far as christians are concerned being right in the eyes of man is not what consumes our thoughts...it is being right in the eyes of God...

      Then you said, "Atheists get upset because while they are more than happy to let people believe, believers are rarely content to let atheists not believe."

      You misunderstand the role of evangelism if you believe what you wrote here...the idea is to help those who don't believe to see the truth...If you as an atheist saw a blind person walking toward a cliff, and you stopped him and told him there was a cliff and he dismissed you with, " I don't believe in cliffs!" would you let him continue on blissfully unaware? Or would you do everything possible to convince him otherwise? I realize this example is somewhat limited but I think the point can be grasped...

      Then you said, "With Christians constantly smearing their character and trying to pass laws that adversely affect them based on theology, it’s enough to make an atheist testy."

      This could resort to simple mud-slinging on both sides, because christians could make this same claim towards atheists...smearing of well-known christian's character is a media event! When someone prominent who says they are a christian does something wrong it's news everywhere! Splashed across the news from coast to coast! In addition many of todays laws seem to be going the other way as far as christianity is concerned; example gay marriage, abortions being legal...just to name a couple of the hot button issues.

      And lastly you said, "For the most part, people of other faiths (but it seems to be especially Christians) are threatened by atheists lack of belief and feel the proper response is to vilify them."

      Once again, this statement could easily be turned back around on you...It is very easy to say that atheists are threatened by the possibilty that there is a God and feel that the proper response is to villify and mock those who believe in Him...I think if you investigated the matter yourself with an open mind, you might be surprised by what you find...

      August 3, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • pfeffernusse

      @Doesn't Matter, the definition for Christian is one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah. If that’s what you believe, you are a Christian. There are no degrees. You are or you’re not. Now, does that mean that people who say hateful things about atheists (or other faiths) are “good” Christians? I think we can agree the answer is no. It doesn’t change the fact that they are still Christians. And many of them feel they are fine, upstanding Christians.

      Atheism doesn’t necessarily “lead to” anything. In fact, it’s often the destination. I didn’t come to my atheism overnight. It took decades. I evaluated personal experience, science, and study on the subject of theology before I came to the conclusion that there were so supernatural beings watching over us.

      I understand that Christians put God first in their priorities. But the United States is a country of laws—secular laws. Those laws are in place to protect everyone, not just a select few. You are protected, by law, to believe as fervently as you want. But, as the saying goes, your right to throw a punch ends where my nose begins.

      I am very clear on what Evangelists feel. I’ve dealt with many of them. To you, trying to tell me the “truth” is a loving thing. But to me, insistence that I believe what you believe is intrusive and arrogant. Intrusive in that I didn’t ask for spiritual help. Arrogant in that you would think you’d know better than I do what is good for me. I don’t go around telling the faithful not to believe. I don’t appreciate the faithful trying to tell me what to believe. And I REALLY don’t like it when they try to pass laws based on their belief that has a negative impact on me or others.

      You cliff analogy is faulty. Cliffs are real. We can all see them, feel them, measure them. They are a physical reality. If a blind person says they don’t believe in cliffs, they are just being foolish. If they want to walk off the cliff, that is their business. They will certainly learn the reality of cliffs when they tip over the edge. God is not a reality. God cannot be proven.

      “… because christians could make this same claim towards atheists...smearing of well-known christian's character is a media event! When someone prominent who says they are a christian does something wrong it's news everywhere! Splashed across the news from coast to coast!”

      That’s simply catching someone in hypocrisy. That is always news. When you have lawmakers that are adamantly against gay rights while they live a gay lifestyle, protected by their money and power, that’s news. When you have holy men preaching fire and brimstone about the sins that they—oops!—also commit, that’s news. That’s not smearing anyone. That’s catching someone in their lies and holding them accountable.

      That good Christian George W. Bush actually said that someone couldn’t be patriotic if they were not a Christian. He’s a notable example but not the only one. Insults come from all people of faith, but a lion’s share of them come from Christians.

      “In addition many of todays laws seem to be going the other way as far as christianity is concerned; example gay marriage, abortions being legal...just to name a couple of the hot button issues.”

      It’s a good thing we are a secular nation and not a Christian one, then, isn’t it?

      “It is very easy to say that atheists are threatened by the possibilty that there is a God and feel that the proper response is to villify and mock those who believe in Him.”

      I’m not at all threatened by other people’s belief. I know very few atheists in my personal life. Almost all my friends and family are people of faith. I mock people of faith when they lack logic and cannot express themselves unless it is with insults. I mock them when they make pronouncements about how much better they are than others because of their brand of faith. I mock believers who can’t even follow the basic rules of their faith (which I seem to know better than they do).

      “I think if you investigated the matter yourself with an open mind, you might be surprised by what you find.”

      And what makes you think I haven’t? I used to be quite active in my church. I sang in the choir. I attended Bible study. I went on retreats. I volunteered for church events. I prayed every day and every night. I sought God and sought him thoroughly. Then I decided to read the Bible so I could better understand Him. And that was the death of my Christianity.

      A great many religious people go around thinking that atheists don’t know anything about God or haven’t sought God. A great many atheists used to be religious. They just came to their own conclusions. They also tend to know quite a bit about other religions. In this country, it’s impossible not to know about God because our society is saturated with it.

      August 3, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • StevePi

      "In God We Trust" or you could have just said: In $ We Trust. Yeah megachurches!

      August 3, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • StevePi

      "You misunderstand the role of evangelism if you believe what you wrote here...the idea is to help those who don't believe to see the truth...If you as an atheist saw a blind person walking toward a cliff, and you stopped him and told him there was a cliff and he dismissed you with, " I don't believe in cliffs!" would you let him continue on blissfully unaware? Or would you do everything possible to convince him otherwise? I realize this example is somewhat limited but I think the point can be grasped..." - So there you have it. Atheists are comparable to the blind in the eye "Christians." Well don't complain when you get call ignorant buffoons.

      August 3, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • StevePi

      "In addition many of todays laws seem to be going the other way as far as christianity is concerned; example gay marriage, abortions being legal...just to name a couple of the hot button issues." - No one is forcing Christians to merry gays or get abortions. At least our secular laws allow them the free choice of doing so.

      August 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  2. Doug

    I just love the "name it and claim it". It sounds like you can cheat at the lottery. What ever happened to "give up all your worldly possessions ,pick up the cross and follow me". Not to worry,there is a work around. Just name it and claim it...oh...and also, pick up your cross. Christianity . What WOULD we do without it ?

    August 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  3. Doesn't matter

    I find it sad that the writer of this column knows so little about the very thing he claims in his column others know little about...the concept of the "rapture" was as much a part of early christianity as the resurrection! John Darby DID however bring some focus back to it, but to say it didn't exist until then is ridiculous...It is and has been the "blessed hope" since the disciples watched Jesus ascend in the clouds back to heaven...It's unfortunate that alot of the terms referred to in this column ARE used to exclude people, but alot of "mainstream" churches have lost the message in many much more severe ways than some silly and trite sayings and expressions. It seems that in today's world the "message" of christ dying for our sins...has truly been left behind in many churches...it seems that this column writer is one of the many people who are more worried about c.r.a.p than anything of any substance. Who cares about buzzwords? Does it even really matter when every day people are dying without christ? Shouldn't that consume our efforts and our thoughts and prayers?

    August 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Real Deal

      @Doesn't matter: "Does it even really matter when every day people are dying without christ?"

      I think that you should let "Christ" handle that (if he exists). An all-powerful and all-knowing "God" wouldn't need you for PR.

      What kind of just, loving "God" would penalize people who were born in a different part of the world, in a different culture, or who simply cannot believe that your outrageous fantasies are true?

      August 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Doesn't matter

      @Real Deal

      Actually, it's not about PR, as you put it...it's about sharing the good news, that Jesus is Lord and He died for us and ONLY He can save us...furthermore it's not about "needing me" for PR it's about His command to preach the gospel to all! As far as your second statement, God doesn't "penalize" people, they decide whether or not they want to follow Him, and they recieve what they choose...If someone chooses to disbelieve in what you term as "outrageous fantasies" perhaps they should be prepared for the outcome if they are wrong...

      August 2, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • pfeffernusse

      “Buzzwords” and “sound bites” matter very much. In our society of Facebook and Twitter, many people can’t handle any information beyond a few words. And those words are used to frighten the faithful and cause real harm.

      “God doesn't ‘penalize’ people, they decide whether or not they want to follow Him, and they recieve what they choose”

      Well, considering that modern humans have been on the planet for around 200,000 years, and the Abrahamic faith has been around for about 4,000 years, does that mean that God is letting all those people who lived before he started whispering in ears go to Hell? What took Him so long? And he makes himself known, but then 2,000 years later, he changes the game? What about all those people who continue to believe in his old faith?

      August 3, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Fred1

      @Doesn’t Matter: what part of “perhaps they should be prepared for the outcome if they are wrong” isn’t part of god pen_alizing people?

      August 3, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Doesn't matter

      You said "If someone chooses to disbelieve in what you term as "outrageous fantasies" perhaps they should be prepared for the outcome if they are wrong..."

      So you are prepared for the consequences that will come as a result of your choice to not believe in Thor, Ra, Zeus, Vishnu, Allah, Bob the Magical Blue Sock, The Spaghetti Monster, .....?

      August 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • matt

      You're wrong. The early church never practiced or knew anything about a secret rapture. They believed in the blessed hope which is the second coming of Christ wherein he will judge the living and the dead and bring forth the new heaven and earth. No second chances. No mortal people living next door to immortal people. No 1000 years earthly reign. Numbers in the Book of Revelation are symbolic – hence 1000 years is symbolic.

      August 3, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  4. MrMajestik

    I think I am gonna barf!

    August 2, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  5. HereIAM

    If Christians knew anything about God at all then they would know that it is they who reject the embodiment of Christ, God doesn't need Jesus to assert his authority and Christ doesn't either. He will anoint whoever he chooseswith his Spirit and they will be the Messiah. The term Christianity being built on false premises is a waning dogma that leads them to their own destruction. Keep kidding yourselves on the requirements. Being promised posthumous forgiveness by a apostate of Judaism isn't the same as being, upright. Righteous and goodness are requirements that are eminations of understanding and order. No sympathy here for all you poor lazy saps who didn't take time to really search and reason the theology and enviroment that these virtues would sustain. Your terminology and beliefs are your own shame.

    August 2, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  6. A

    So now, anyone who uses this terminology (either as a political jargon, or because it's the only culture they've ever known) will now be further stigmatized and pushed away from main stream society. From those of us who struggle to help the kids in these communities, I extend a sarcastic "Thank You!"

    August 2, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  7. Haime52

    I like the part about the rapture. About time someone siad that. Compare the parable about the wheat and the tares, they were allowed to grow together, then the tares were taken away. So too will the wicked be taken first and the righteous left, not the other way araound. Also, the Bible says the Christ will come with a SHOUT and the trump will sound, nothing secret here, on the contrary, a lot of noise.

    August 2, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  8. Lou

    Is it just me, or do too many people place Christianity with the belief in God? Why does one need to believe in Jesus to believe in God? I am not a Christian, but I am not vain enough to believe that I crawled out of some priomordial soup and created myself. It upsets me a bit that many people think that the belief in God automatically makes you a Christian. To all the athiests – stop grouping the 2 together, there is a difference. It seems crazy, but when I tell people I am not a Christian, they automatically think I am an athiest. Why the heck do so many people get crazy trying to proove or disproove what someone believes in? Just walk away and live your own life, stop the stupid protests and get a clue that noone really cares what you think or do not think.

    August 2, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • maizie

      Wy does one have to believe in Jesus? He claims/claimed to be the only way to God-the Gate, in fact. Simple really and yet a stumbling block to many.

      August 2, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • Pense

      There are (were) many people in this group: not in any particular religious group but believing in God: Albert Einstein, for one.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Fred1

      “Why the heck do so many people get crazy trying to proove or disproove what someone believes in? Just walk away and live your own life” Because they keep coming after me trying to enshrine their faith in secular law. Anti abortion laws for example or Bush and his limitations on stem cell research funding or killing millions of Africans by preventing US $ from being used to buy condoms. I don’t care what they believe. It’s what they do in the name of their religion that sets me off.

      August 3, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  9. RWESTUPID

    RELIGION IS A MENTAL ILLNESS!!!

    August 2, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  10. Donna Smaldone

    Well said. I just posted a blog last Friday noting, "Nowadays when someone asks me if I’m a Christian, my first response is, “it depends on what you mean by Christian. – because the truth is, if the asker bills himself a ‘Christian’ and behaves like a self-righteous, arrogant buffoon, I am most certainly not going to say, “yes, I’m like you.” I love Jesus and am humbled to have Him in my life. I don’t need to be labeled in order to love Him — or for someone else to deem that I do.": http://bit.ly/qZvg2S

    August 2, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • maizie

      Self righteous buffoon? That is harsh don't you think? Perhaps one would be better off not asking you anything.

      August 2, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  11. me

    Religion in any form is a crock of nonsense. No one needs it. Shame on them all for believing in fairy tales. It's all in their minds.

    August 2, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • maizie

      Well when you are facing a raging case of cancer or have someone stick a gun in your face, you remember this, okay?

      August 2, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • notsoamazie after all

      Yeah maizie because that nice loving god of yours gave you cancer. Think of that and blame the jerk if you are going to be consistent, or just realize that your god story is a huge load of horse manure.

      August 2, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Civiloutside

      Maizie: the fact that desperate people grasp at straws does not mean the straw will hold their weight.

      August 2, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  12. Jorge

    "...pious parrots." HA, that's a good one. Throughout the history of "Christianity" clergy have proved to be the worst kind of smellsmocks, warmongers, embezzlers, torturers, deceivers and revisionists. Only in the face of science, which they historically have tried to suppress, have they grudgingly acknowledged the error of much dogma that they have tried to force on society. They have tried manifold times to copyright and expediently revise the teachings of the Christ for ill-gotten profit. The proof is in the pudding; historically, so-called "Christians" have proved to be no less greedy, self-serving, tyrannical and manipulative than their equally enlightened counterparts of other religions. Nonetheless, no other religion in the world has been so ruthlessly dominating and self-justifying in it's aggressive pursuit of "manifest destiny" as Western European "Christianity."

    August 2, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  13. JS

    The buzzwords the writer references have nothing to do with Christianity, they have to do with modern culture.

    August 2, 2011 at 7:49 am |
  14. john

    There is a saying..."for those who believe,no explanation is necessary..for those who don't believe,no explanation is possible"...in other words..stop wasting your time and breath with unbelievers..rather pray for them and let God do the rest.Talking to an atheist about God is equivalent to bringing a blindman to see a movie.

    August 2, 2011 at 6:59 am |
    • D double-U

      A blind person could get something out of taking them to a movie. I think a better analogy would be to take them to a silent film.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Leon

      I think you have it backwards, the blind are those who have faith in something that can not be physically seen or scientifically proven.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  15. Avser Bastian

    GOVERNMENT "AFTERLIFE" FLASH MOB OR REAL SHOOTING IN UTOYA, NORWAY !!? stateofterror.blogspot.com/ or stateofterror.wordpress.com/ TEARS OF SORROW AND PAIN ON FACES OF MOURNERS OR TEAR GAS AND THEATER/HYPOCRISY ON FACES OF MULTICULTURALISM MANIACS !!? NORWEGIAN OSLO POLICE or COMMUNIST/LIBERAL CRIMINALS IN BLUE UNIFORMS WHO WERE PREPARING FOR TERROR AGAINST NORWAY ALREADY HALF DECADE AHEAD !!? No doubt about bombing in Oslo, but what about shooting in Utoya which was no different from the one in Arizona !!!? WILL THERE BE OBAMINATOR MORALES'S APOCALYPSE NOW OR TOTAL WAR AGAINST NEW WORLD ORDER(multiculturalism) !!? STOLTENBERG = BREIVIK(90 minutes vs 30 and for government vehicles or police even 20 minutes the most) !!!

    DICTATOR OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION http://avsecbostjan.blogspot.com/ or http://avsecbostjan.wordpress.com/

    COMMUNISM(Slowenien/Slovenia) IN CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE TODAY(2011) !!! http://sloveniatoday.blogspot.com or http://easterneuropetoday.wordpress.com/

    August 2, 2011 at 5:18 am |
    • Superdeeduper

      What are you babbling about Avser Bastian? I think it's time for your medication.

      August 2, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  16. Fact-telling

    Atheists are evil and stupid. They are like bad kids who don't acknowledge their good parents. America ALWAYS spoke Christian until about 3 decades ago. America wasted God's blessings by becoming immoral.

    August 2, 2011 at 4:47 am |
    • Superdeeduper

      "America wasted God's blessings by becoming immoral."

      Hey, ever heard the story about Lot & his daughters? Now tell me who is immoral.

      August 2, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • Civiloutside

      Fact-telling: I am sorry for your trauma. I hope that someday you will find the peace to deal with it without the need for lashing out against well-meaning strangers, or to hold them responsible for what others have done to you in the past. *HUGS*

      August 2, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Anonymous

      If you're trying to defend Christianity, fact-telling, calling atheists stupid and evil isn't going to help you. Christians are supposed to be "Christ-like," and show love over anything else. Namecalling isn't the way to achieve that. That's the problem with most Christians these days – they are nothing like the one they claim to follow.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  17. Buzzy

    Can an atheist please explain to me why the bulk of the comments, by atheists, have to be laced with sarcasism?

    August 2, 2011 at 2:27 am |
    • Nononsense

      Probably because the side of Christianity is inherently belief-based so it's a short leap to finding such ideas silly, especially if the poster is motivated by rational thought and provable data. Also, sometimes things that you read online can seem to be sarcastic when they're not (and vice versa).

      August 2, 2011 at 3:04 am |
    • Colin

      Well how else can you respond to infantile, illiterate, dangerous or just plain insane claims? Evan Thomas Jefferson knew ridicule was a way to attempt to verbally dismantle anti-democratic religions (read: all religions). When facts and reason and logic are dismisses out of hand and a 1700 year old propoganda tract is used as the be all, end all answer then ridicule, insults, sarcasm are some of the few options left. How do you think a math teacher would like to react if some brat said geometry doesn't exist because I say it doesn't exist. When pressed the brat says it is true because this book says so. He pulls out a fantasy book like Lord of the Rings. That is what arguing with a theist feels like.

      August 2, 2011 at 3:07 am |
    • MikeP

      Atheists view christians the same way you might view people who very seriously build their life around Cat in the Hat books. Without delving into the rightness or wrongness of any theistic or atheistic positions, try to put yourself in that position: if you felt a group of people held patently ridiculous beliefs, wouldnt it take all your effort to treat them and speak to them with genuine respect? It takes effort to do so, and most people don't bother to put in extensive effort when dealing with people who don't have any control over their lives.

      August 2, 2011 at 3:27 am |
  18. J Fritz

    For heaven's sake, who gave evangelicals the go-ahead to hijack Christianity? Or to develop a secret handshake and call it a language? Or to appropriate the term "Christian" to themselves and their non-denominational pastors' teachings? And why has the rest of the Christian world rolled over and let them do it? Born again? Didn't know the fundies were going back to a time when reincarnation belief was not yet banned.

    August 2, 2011 at 2:06 am |
  19. Kate

    I've become an Atheist because since I started going to church and Sunday school I have always questioned the teachings that did not make sense to me. By the time I reached my late thirties I decided that I don't have to keep trying to wrap my brain around something that doesn't make sense. I don't have to "give myself to the lord" or "have faith". Yes undying faith is what enables people to "believe". You must believe or you won't be saved! What a bunch of hoooey! Christ followers or Christians hate atheists for one reason and one reason only: Because we can't be brainwashed! I've had CHRISTIANS stop me on the street and tell me that I can be saved if I take Jesus into my heart. Well I did not ask to be saved so stop bothering me! I've been bothered by CHRISTIANS while walking into a rock concert too. I think the Christian protesters outside of concerts are losers! They aren't helping anyone except the guy who owns the church that they go to to make more money. I'm atheist and I don't care if Christians don't like me. Sticks and stones may break my bones... I have my own mind and I have personal choice too. My personal choice is that I don't believe in God and I don't want to be saved and the world isn't coming to and end.

    August 2, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Buzzy

      Rather strange as I have not meet one Christian who hates atheists. If anything it is the other way around with the atheists hating Christians.

      August 2, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • Nononsense

      Buzzy – you can't seriously think there aren't Christians who persecute atheists. Being an atheist in this country is like being black in the 50s and 60s.

      August 2, 2011 at 3:10 am |
    • pfeffernusse

      Quote from Fact-telling; “Atheists are evil and stupid.”

      Doesn’t sound very loving, does it? In fact, you’ll find these boards filled with comments from good Christians about how this country is going down the tubes because of atheists. How atheists are amoral and self-indulgent. How atheists worship themselves. There’s a lot of misinformation about atheists, most of it bad, some of it quite damaging. To the point where I am very careful who I admit my lack of faith to in my real life. I’ve experienced real consequences.

      Atheists get upset because they are more than happy to let people believe. They just want to be left alone to not believe. But with Christians constantly smearing their character and trying to pass laws that adversely affect them based on theology, it’s enough to make an atheist testy. Nononsense is absolutely correct. For the most part, people of other faiths (but it seems to be especially Christians) are threatened by atheists lack of belief and feel the proper response is to vilify them.

      August 2, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • Sharon

      Kate,
      Your wanting to ask questions about what you were taught is a good thing. There are many things I do not understand and try to seek knowledge as well. Growing up, I was never told to not question God. I think he understands and welcomes them. Heavens knows I've had many in my lifetime!
      I wish you all the best in life. Have a wonderful day!

      August 3, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  20. gimli420

    Christianity is stupid

    August 2, 2011 at 1:49 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73
Advertisement
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.