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My Take: The church can end extreme poverty
October 17th, 2011
10:35 AM ET

My Take: The church can end extreme poverty

Editor's Note: Scott C. Todd, Ph.D. is the senior ministry advisor in the President’s Office of Compassion International. Previously, he served as director of Compassion’s AIDS Initiative, Child Survival Program and strategic interventions. He is the author of Fast Living: How the Church Will End Extreme Poverty.

By Dr. Scott Todd, Special to CNN

(CNN)–Here’s a headline I haven’t read or heard yet: We’re winning the battle against extreme poverty.

I know that sounds unbelievable, but it’s not. It’s just that we’re conditioned to believe the opposite is true.

Every “breaking news” item that hits my inbox or travels across the bottom of the TV screen carries the potential to be another gut punch to the world’s poor. A hurricane in the Caribbean. An earthquake in Asia. A famine in Africa. Or a disease outbreak anywhere.

When we hear enough bad news, “crisis fatigue” kicks in. Often we go into protection mode to deaden the impact or filter the news out altogether. We turn the channel. Read something else. Or simply focus on our own lives. They’re topical anesthetics to deaden the ache of chronically bad news.

But I believe there is a better story when it comes to extreme poverty and long-term solutions. People are often surprised to hear this, but I am rationally optimistic about the destruction of extreme poverty. There’s no anesthetic needed because we’re winning.

Consider that from 2000-2008, 78% fewer children died from measles.

Malaria infections have plummeted by 19 million cases per year between 2005 and 2009.

We used to say 40,000 children under 5 died every day from preventable causes. No more. In 2010, that number is 21,000.

We’ve dramatically slowed the spread of HIV infections.

And most of all, 26% of the world’s population now exists in extreme poverty. That’s a staggering number until you realize that it is half of what it was in 1981. We’ve cut the extreme global poverty rate in half in just 30 years.

Let me say that I don’t believe in the magic power of positive thinking or soft, Pollyanna optimism. I don’t subscribe to naïve idealistic platitudes. But I do believe that churches—thinking creatively and working strategically—have done and are yet to do amazingly redemptive things.

This is really the strength of my optimism. Governments have their role. Charitable organizations have theirs. But no entity has the reach, the placement and the backbone to meet the needs of the poor, as do the churches located in the world’s poorest communities.

First, these churches don’t need to arrive on a white horse from the outside. They are strategically planted in the poorest communities right now. Some are large, visible entities. Others are small gatherings on roads that lead into alleys. But they are there.

Second, their intimacy is deeply embedded in those very neighborhoods. I have walked dangerous streets I would never walk alone because I walked them with the pastor of the neighborhood church. They knew the residents. They knew the needs inside the homes. They don’t know poverty on a philosophical level. They know it by name—the Ngari shanty in teeming Nairobi. The Hernandez apartment in dangerous San Salvador. Or the Raj home in Kolkata.

Third, this strategic placement, coupled with a practical passion to do good, make churches the most powerful delivery system in the world. Period. Much of the progress that has been made against the realities of extreme poverty is because of these strategic churches. They are the ones who sunk wells. Taught sanitation. Enabled health screenings. Instructed in nutrition. Distributed food. Taught planting. Encouraged education. Rescued children from abuse and trafficking. And facilitated micro-enterprise—just to name a few of their redemptive strategies.

There simply is no organization on the globe with the placement and the reach to deliver strategic aid and give hope like the hundreds of thousands of Christian churches around the world.

There is stubborn power in good news, inspiring motivation in progress, and hope in the rock-ribbed evidence of statistical facts. We don’t need to look the other way when we face extreme poverty, or duck the darts of guilt. We can face the hard realities ahead knowing that we are well on our way.

I believe that abject poverty—poverty at its worst—is beatable in our lifetime. I know that is has been Christian churches who have paved the way. And I know they are poised to do even more.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church

soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. Irina

    the church can't end extreme poverty, but with God's help, all things are possible....... with out God we could do nothing

    October 21, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  2. James

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Red3R17FlUQ&w=640&h=360]

    October 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  3. James

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mdIWaRi-7c&w=640&h=360]

    October 19, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  4. Jenna

    The church only cares about lining its own pockets. Buying lube with which to molest little boys.

    October 18, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Sarah

      You do realize that the Catholic Chruch was never mentioned in the article right? Right? Oh my gosh plz tell me you actually read the article!

      October 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  5. Ed

    @David, No one can deny that the Bible recounts some alful things that had been attributed to God. Basically you are asking why he would do it. I don't know maybe to prevent something even worse from happening. May be because it was necessary. We humans keep trying to discribe God in our terms and explain his actions in our terms. Its not fair but we simply don't know haow to describe him. Try explaining your self to a dog. It will listen intently espeacially if you feed it and pet it but it will not understand. we are beyond its ability. God is similarly beyond ours. Maybe one day we will have a good answer to your question but for now we just aren't ready.

    One other thing you have picked out some negatives God did how come you never see the positives. For instance if you beleive God could have done any of things on your list then you also have to accept that he could have created the universe. If you can't accept that stop blaming him for you list. He is either real or not. So when was the last time you thank him for the air you breath, since you blame him for the wrong things you think he did thank him for the good things.

    October 18, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • BRC

      @Ed,
      Not all of us are asking why "God" would do it. Some of us are asking why people would follow a religion that follows a god like the one described in the Bible. I don't believe there are any gods, if you do fine, your life your faith, but I don't see why someone would follow the "God" of the bible. It doesn't matter why the acts were committed, they're still horrible, and go against our sense of humanity. You made the comparison of a dog not understanding a humna they way a human wouldn't understand a god. And while that comparison is quite valid, we still have a justified scorn for people who needlessly abuse animals, the higher being should be the one who shows greater care for the lesser.

      As for why we never show thankfulness for things like "God" creating the universe and air; simple, we don't believe he did. I'm not going to say thank you to someone we don't believ exisits. Pointing out bad portions of the bible is not a concession that there is a god, it's a point of evidence made to show that the religion is flawed, really it has no effect on whether or not god exists. It explains why even if there was a god, and he was the Abrahamic "God", we still wouldn't follow him.

      Personally, I don't say thank you beause even if there are gods, they weren't invovled in my creation my parents were. If they were involved at all it was millions of years ago giving the universe a jolt, and since I didn't ask them to do that, I don't need to say thank you.

      October 19, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Ed

      @BRC =, I accept not all of you are asking why God does it but some of you are. in either case I don't know why he does what he does. I not sure he does all people blame on him. Yes some of the things attributed to God are awful. My point with the dog analogy is that there may be a reason we don't understand. I can't tell you what that reason could be but it could be. As for why some of us follow him. we his God even if you don't like him his God. we follow the president even if we don't like him. We may not have voted for him we mey not vote for him next time. But we accept him as our leader while his there. Granted we have no say in God but the idea is the same.

      You said you don't give thanks because you don't beleive fair enough but then stop placing blame . I see a lot of people deny God is real but blame him whenthings go wrong. Frankly its far more fair for the faithful to blame him the the none faithful. At least the faithful priase him sometimes too. You may not be one of te people placing blame but read Tom Tom and you'll see some people are. Also you thank the person that opens a door for you even if you didn't ask them too. Why treat God differently if you beleive. BTW I'm not really saying you should thank him for air every day but if you can't do that stop blaming him for doing something wrong 2000 years ago already. Even though your parents directly gave you life not life would be possible with out God so a little quiet appreciation seem warranted. Not to suggest thank your parent is not a good plan too.

      Religion is indeed flawed becasue man is flawed while is real our understanding of him is limited and we keep trying to explain him in our terms. But since we aren't yet able to understanfd our explanation is flawed.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • BRC

      Submitting to the government and submitting to "God" are not the same thing. 1)I know the government is real, ther eis proof, I can see them. 2) the government is composed of people, they are as frail as I am, and suffer from the same things. People are more apt to be sympathetic and supportive of people then a god who is all powerful. 3) If I don't like the government, I can leave. According to many religions, I have no choice, I will be judged by "God", no matter what, despite the fact that I have never asked anything of him, and never agreed to be involved with any of his rules.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Ed

      @BRC you think you have a choice with government? Did you agree to pay taxes? I didn't but I have no choice. Did you vote for every elected offcial currnetly in office I didn't but I have no choice, at least till the next election. I could leave but every place has agovernetment so again no real choice. Granted we need a government and system of laws but still its not really a choice.

      You said you can see the government, so if you couldn't you would not beleive in them? I have never seen an atom but I beleive in them. I have never seen an elcetro magenetic feild But I beleive they exist. Why do people find it so easy to beleive in something told to us by someone calling them selves a doctor but can not beleive in something divine?

      October 19, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • BRC

      You do have a say in where you live and what government you participate in. And if you want, you can go outside of governments, but you'll be a hermit and living on your own without public support. Still an option.

      You actually can see an atom, and electro-magnetic fields are easily displayed. I don't really trust doctors, I find many of them to be kind of stupid (I'm with the military, our medical treatment is free for a reason), but what they tell you can be confirmed through analysis of the body and observation of past cases.

      Basically, all of those things that you compared to the divine exist in the real world, and whether or not you've taken the time or had the opportunity to observe them, they exist. Divinity does not exist in the real world, and as of yet has not been proven. Until it is, I can't think of a reason to trust it.

      October 19, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Ogre

      Ed,

      It is *possible* (where is that teeny, tiny, real light gray font when I need it?) that your "God" scenario is exactly as you allege. It is just as *possible* that we were put here by aliens - there is even a book/religion based on that idea. It is *possible* that the universe is just a shedded skin cell from some huge clueless ent.ity - someone could make a book/religion on that one (I want a cut of the profits, though). Lots of stuff is *possible*. That your "God" did it - end of investigation - is not the default answer. We don't know (yet, if ever). Let's keep looking for real answers, with real evidence - and let's try to get along as best as we can in the meantime.

      October 19, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Ed

      @BRC I know have illustratec atom I don't beleive they have found away to show an actual atom yet I may be wrong. In either case people often beleive in what they can not see of directly feel but find they can not beleive in God. WHy not if you can beleive in one thing you can not see why not something else?

      @Ogre I sgree your other expalnations are plausible. I still have my faith and am not trying to tell anyone they have to agree. As for being open minded That is something I have asked many atheist on thiese blogs to try and have found very few willing to seek answer in an iopen minded fashion as aposed to just telling the faithful they are wrong and often adding a few insults to boot. I do try to get along with people of all faiths and encourage research and understanding for all points of view. I have told my daughter many times to research any faith she has expressed interest at any level including wiccan and judaism. I don't want her to feel christainity is required for my love. Her faith is as it should be entirly her right to chose. I have friends of many faiths and lack there of I don't let that determine my opinon of them.

      October 19, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  6. brooksjk

    My new book, The Four Pillars of the Kingdom, is set to be released soon. It is, not only a response to some of the metaphysical arguments of the so-called New Atheists, but also a call to believers to take their faith serious in a very real way. You can find a few excerpts from the work at my website, The Immaculate Conservative, here:

    http://bit.ly/qWrueX

    Please read and let me know what you think!

    Thanks,
    Joe Brooks

    October 18, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  7. WOT

    James, I am a biologist that is not true***** You do not know the Bible!

    October 18, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • Buybull Babble

      You are suspiciously illiterare for a highly educated scientist like a biologist. It might make one think you are lying. Care to tell us your educational track?

      October 18, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  8. James

    WHO! WHO!WHO!WHO! Did this guy just say the church cured measles,Malaria infections, HIV infections.That's Absurd There's no math or biology in the bible

    October 17, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Scott Smith

      Lol, you proceed from a false assumption James. We are not claiming to cure those diseases. We provide mechanisms for people to survive. For instance, the mosquito nets to cover beds and prevent infection is not a cure for malaria. It interupts the delivery vector for the infection to occur. HIV is not cured by the church, however health care education and microloan empowerment of women have empowered women to not be the "entertainment" for men already infected. The provision of condoms and other mechanisms mean the transfer vector is inhibited, less HIV transmission. Vaccinations by church medical teams have provided vaccinations all over the world in partnership with WHO at time, other times on their own initiative. But the actual point of the article is because the church is everywhere, it is an effective system of delivery for important health material and it goes where governmental systems do not go. Partnership and cooperation can accomplish a lot.

      October 18, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  9. WOT

    The church is within you! The building has a light, water,phone,internet,and up keep bills. Money does not fall from the sky into churches(buildings). When was the last time you gave a dime to the church(up-keep)!

    October 17, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  10. whynot

    that's does not do in my comment. woops

    October 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  11. whynot

    I like the article. I think church do have a great reach in the world today. Not only to just feed them physically first but Spiritually. We need to start acting as Jesus would to feed the poor and help those in need. I know I am a hypocrite at times, but when you not only just read the Bible but do what it says it really shows others the love that Jesus would have shown.

    October 17, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Too bad the bible doesn't teach people grammar skills.

      October 17, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  12. Anglican

    Peace to all, no matter belief or creed or situation. Peace to all.

    October 17, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  13. Just Stating The Obvious

    What kind of horrible wretch would God have to be to create things like diseease and famine and poverty and war and disaster, and to make them affect or kill his believers every bit as often as non-believers?

    The concept of God makes no sense at all.

    October 17, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Ed

      yes how dare God create a world for use to live in and not make absolutly perfect in every way. No work no hardship no effort just luxury. The we would all be happy a sing his priases. Then we would all be prefectly content

      October 17, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • tom clements

      Why is it that no matter how hard all of us try we can not help from sinning? Even the most kind hearted good people? Are we not created with or learn the difference between good and evil?

      October 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Anglican

      God created heaven and earth. God did not invent hate and selfishness. Time and evolution and pollution has created, or at least contributed, a significant percentage of disease. Ending things like poverty and disease is up to us. This is earth, not heaven.

      October 17, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Ummm

      "Time and evolution and pollution has created, or at least contributed, a significant percentage of disease."

      Ummm....if you're god created everything – it created diseases. Oh my god is so great....except for all the bad things it doesn't do that. LOL! Either your god is all knowing all powerful or it's not. LOL!

      October 17, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's "absolutely", Ed. And please don't attempt to pretend it's typo. You've made the same stupid mistake before.

      If god loves us so very much, why shouldn't the world he gave us be perfect? What purpose does he have in causing infants to die of painful and incurable deformities? What purpose is there in allowing a woman with young children to die of cancer before she's 40?

      Go on, explain how merciful and loving and omnipotent your god is again. I can hardly wait.

      October 17, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Ed

      why does God owe you anything/ He never promised us a perfect world. Did your parents provide a perfect home? Do you? no we have to work for what we want that is life. Why do you think God owes you a erfect world? He gave us this one and all you do is deny him him and complain.

      October 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You dufus, don't you get it? If your god is loving, merciful and omnipotent, why would such a being inflict disaster, disease and pain on his beloved creation? If he's not omnipotent or merciful, why should I worship and incompetent or merciless being?

      Life isn't perfect. You have that right. It wasn't created by some sky-fairy. You got that part wrong.

      October 17, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Anglican

      Ummm. Not to smart are we.

      October 17, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • Anglican

      Tom tom. Is your life perfect? (mine is not) And if it is not, is it God's fault or yours? No where in scripture (i know what you think and will blog) does God say life will be easy or what we might want it to be. Life on this side of the curtain is what it is.

      October 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's "too". you muttonhead. You morons don't get it. There isn't any "supreme being" running this show. If there were, it would be perfect-what would be the point in allowing suffering if your 'god' were merciful and loving? Why would a merciful and loving creator cause pain if he were omnipotent?

      If you can't answer that, you're as stupid as you appear to be, whether in the rear-view mirror or right out in front.

      October 17, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Anglican

      Tom, tom. I asure you I am not stupid. If there is not higher power, why be here at all? If no reason to be here, why give a crap about the poor? Purpose or chance. I choose purpose. Choose what you want.

      October 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • Slim Dusty

      Do you really need to be told why someoone who does not believe in God woould not want to help someone in need? Do you really presume that atheists are sociopaths totally devoid of compassion?

      While there are those who do not want to be charitable towards the poor, a great many of them are Christians and Republicans.

      October 17, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Ed

      Hmm...

      It is said: "By your fruit you will be known."

      Let's look at your god's "fruit".

      God directly or at His insistence, murdered men, women and children including babies. This isn't evil? Is this moral?

      God killed every living thing on the face of the earth other than Noah and his family, because man was wicked. Afterwards, He decides He won't kill everything again, because man's heart is evil from his youth. This isn't evil? Is this moral? An all knowing god didn't know this BEFORE He murdered everyone on the planet? OOOooopsie!

      God had a man believe he was going to sacrifice his son to Him. Do you know how traumatic that would be for a father and his son?
      If you had the power would you do this? Would you be so insecure? This isn't evil? Is this moral?

      There was a man who loved God. God made a bet with Satan that even if the man were tortured, his Possessions taken, and his children killed, he would still love God and never curse Him. God won the bet.
      Would you do that? Would you kill a man's children for a bet? This isn't evil? Is this moral?

      God sent a bear to kill a group of children, because they had teased one of His prophets.
      Did the children deserve to die, because they teased a bald man? This isn't evil? Is this moral? Is this a just god?

      God allowed a man to sacrifice his daughter to Him, for giving the man a victory in battle. Human sacrifice! This isn't evil? Is this moral?

      God created a place He can send people to be burned for all eternity. Could an all benevolent god construct such a place of misery?

      If a puppy wet on the floor, would you hold it over a burner? Even for a second? I couldn't do that. Not to a puppy. Certainly not to a human. I am more moral than the Christian god.

      I call Jesus, Himself as a witness!

      Jesus had this to say:

      Matthew 7:17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

      Luke 6:43 "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.

      1. A god who is not evil, can't do evil things!
      This is established, by Jesus' testimony.

      2. The Christian god is guilty of horrid crimes against humans
      Evidenced by the atrocities recorded in the bible and the Christian god's own admission:

      Isaiah 45:7, KJV says the Christian god is responsible for at least some evil: "..I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."

      3. Therefore, god is evil. He bears bad fruit.

      If you whine that I am taking these examples out of context, then I invite you to read the examples of god's behavior again. Tell me in what reality or under what circ_umstances, these actions would not be evil?

      Cheers!

      October 17, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Anglican

      Slim. I simply defend myself as not stupid. I would wager that I am more liberal that you. We are all brothers and sister, no matter our beliefs or faiths. Peace.

      October 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'm better than all of you.

      October 17, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Anglican

      I am happy that you are better than me. Peace.

      October 17, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      " If no reason to be here, why give a crap about the poor? Purpose or chance. I choose purpose. Choose what you want."
      -–
      ugh. Really? Try this on for size – one does not need to have Universal Cosmic Significance in order to find purpose in one's own life. No deity is required to be a decent human being. I can care about my fellow humans and for my planet because I'm here and want to make a difference, I don't need some Grand Purpose or Reason to do so. I also don't need the carrot on a stick or threat of punishment to do what I know to be right.

      October 18, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • Brandon

      Tom, perhaps I can answer what no one else can. First God created the universe/heavens/whatever you want to call it. Next he created all angelic beings including Lucifer (Satan) who was the choir leader in heaven/God's dwelling (I'm not just making this up by the way). Satan thought if himself vert highly and created a "riot" recruiting 1/3 of the angels to join him. God gave everyone a chance to chose sides and then fate was sealed. He cast out Satan and his mislead followers.
      Before Satan sinned God had created the earth, Adam and Eve and all the creatures who call earth home (I forgot to mention that earlier, sorry). God had also created numerous other inhabited worlds and God, out of justness, permited Satan to tempt all of the worlds. Once Satan arrived at earth he finally succeeded and sin was brought into the world.
      Adam and eve were cast out of the garden and that's when bad things started to happen. Animals were eating each other the ground wasn't to fertile but humans and animals coexisted peacefully up until God flooded the earth. After the animals had left the ark god put fear of man in their heart and I'm assuming it's about here that disease happened. Satan can create things too actually considering there is no biblical evidence contradicting that.
      While I hope this was an adequate answer, not the best I'm sure. Please excuse any grammatical mistakes because I am only 14 years old and I'm seriously not proofreading what I just wrote.

      October 18, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • Buybull Babble

      Wow, Brandon! Really? Why do you believe such an obviously absurd fairy tale? Seriously, why do you believe that? I mean, haven't you ever given any critical thought to your beliefs, or do you accept really silly things like what you wrote unquestioningly?

      Why would God create Satan as he did, knowing what he would do before he created him? Why would he create Adam and Eve as he did, knowing what they woud do before hand (and why would he get angry at them when he knew all along what would happen)? Why would God condemn everyone who did what he made them do for doing what he made them do? On Earth, that is entrapment.

      Really, that's just absurd.

      October 18, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • Ed

      @Tom Tom really best you could do is throw insults? You know when you start with an insult peole tend to stop listening.

      I think its funny you stand up and say God does not exist, if he does tell him to mind his own business and let me live my life my way, tell him to go away. So he does then you say why did you let bad happen why didn't you protect me? you said you wanted him out of your life he is you gopt what you asked for.

      Also who said God is running your life? His not. OSmetinmmes bad things happen its life just is sorry. Sometimes its just bad luck. Do you thank God when good things happen. Of course not you don't believe but you blame when bad things happen. Do you have kids/ Have they every falled or gotten hurt at all in any way even small ways like a stubbed toe? If so buy your definition you are an unfit parent your kids should hate you and deny you exist. Because you failed to keep them safe and amke life perfect. What kind of dad are you? Obviously you can't make their life perfect even if you did they would not grow. Its the same with us as a species and we have a lot of growing to do.

      Finally read your posts with fresh eyes you will see that you basically say you will only beleive in God if he lets you do what ever you want nd still makes your life perfect in every way. So you want him to serve you for free with no rules no pay and no appreciation. You have rules for your kids. When they are old enough you expect to at least say thank you. Why should you treat God worse. Basically you want the supreme being to be your slave or you simply won't believe. Not quite fair. Just because his God doesn't mena he doesn't have feelings.

      Go dnever promised us a perfect life in fact read the Bible he pretty promised the opposite. You belief is your choice but do learn to have respect for other peoples points of view

      October 18, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Apparently, I'm a lot better than herbie. He can't even post under his own name.

      October 18, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You are not answering the questions I asked you, Ed. Why is that? I didn't say I "expected" your god to do anything, since I cannot believe in such a being. I asked you why a loving, merciful, and omnipotent god would allow his creation to suffer. To what end? Is he omnipotent and cruel? Or powerless?

      You have yet to address this question. When do you plan to do so?

      October 18, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Ed

      @Tom Tom, I did address the question God is not running every aspect of our lives. Which you have made it clear you don't want him too. Becuase he is not things happen in life both good and bad. Thats life take away one or the other and its not really life. Think about it, if everything was perfect what would you complain about. You need to compain its in our nature the tradegy would become the rem,otes out of reach or some eat the last donut. You want proof its never enough I give Martha Stewart super rich still commit a crime to get richer, or Paris Hilton born with everything has to behave poorly to get public attention to be happy.

      By the way whos idea of perfect should we use mine, yours what if there not the same? I like it around 70 degrees how hot do you like it? some one is always going to complain. Do you like skiing? Without plate movement there would be no Rockies so no skiing in California or Utah. The was designed to work fine just not always the way we want. God gave us a world and we f'd it up not you say why doesn't he just fix it. Since he doesn't he must not be real. So again he does it my way or I don't believe and we are right back to you want him to serve you so you will beleive in him

      October 18, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Ed

      @David, No one can deny that the Bible recounts some alful things that had been attributed to God. Basically you are asking why he would do it. I don't know maybe to prevent something even worse from happening. May be because it was necessary. We humans keep trying to discribe God in our terms and explain his actions in our terms. Its not fair but we simply don't know haow to describe him. Try explaining your self to a dog. It will listen intently espeacially if you feed it and pet it but it will not understand. we are beyond its ability. God is similarly beyond ours. Maybe one day we will have a good answer to your question but for now we just aren't ready.

      One other thing you have picked out some negatives God did how come you never see the positives. For instance if you beleive God could have done any of things on your list then you also have to accept that he could have created the universe. If you can't accept that stop blaming him for you list. He is either real or not. So when was the last time you thank him for the air you breath, since you blame him for the wrong things you think he did thank him for the good things.

      Sorry must not have hit reply

      October 18, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • HellBent

      @Ed,

      What's more likely. That god, in his infinite wisdom, killed nearly ever man, woman, child, infant, animal, and plant on the entire planet, or that some humans made the whole thing up in an attempt to describe the natural processes around them that they couldn't understand. Nearly every religion has tales of epic floods – not because some deity decided to come down and alter the laws of physics he/she/it created in order to destroy his/her/its creation for a mulligan, but because all early civilizations were founded near rivers and floods were both unpredi.ctable and devastating.

      October 18, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Ed

      @Hellbent, Iagree your explanation of the flood is plausible. However it could be ecvery early society has the story becasue it really happened too. True must settlements were near water for obvious reasons and flood happen it could be random. As I said God does not run our lives or it could be true. Either is plausible. As for more likely thats matter of opinon.

      I have one for you though whats more likely that some how the universe sprouted out of complete nothingness in violation of the laws of physics with no extrneral force. Or that something very powerful outside the know universe got he ball rolling so to speak?

      October 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Ed

      @Buybull
      "Why would God create Satan as he did, knowing what he would do before he created him? Why would he create Adam and Eve as he did, knowing what they woud do before hand (and why would he get angry at them when he knew all along what would happen)? Why would God condemn everyone who did what he made them do for doing what he made them do? On Earth, that is entrapment."

      Ok its not entrapment to have entrapment you have to have no prediposition to commit the crime Adam and eve and Satan did not no emtrapment. Its why an undercover cop can ask to buy drugs from a drug dealer and its nt entrapment. As for why he created Lucifer and Adam and Eve, why wouldn't he? id you ave kids you knew befroe they were born the would do things you didn't want them to do you had them anyway. You love them anyway. Same exact thing. Just like your child the choice to sin was still their's God did not make them break his rules just like you don't make you child break yours. Your child does becuase children do. You correct your child so they learn and grow. Lucifer made his own choice God told him not too he did it anyway. Same with Adam and Eve. Same with us. It your choice to believe or not to follow the rules or not. God loves you either way but sometimes correction is appropriate

      October 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Thank you for proving how awesome I really am.

      October 18, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ed, you are truly just lost in a storm. If your god is omnipotent, he'd have created us to either love any temperature, or he'd make sure that the temperature was perfect according to each individual's wishes. Why not? He's omnipotent, right?

      Explain what purpose your omnipotent god has in afflicting children with cancer. If he's omnipotent, he's a mean cuss. If he isn't, why worship him? And if he expects us to worship him, to what end? Why does he have a need for us to worship him?
      If he's omnipotent and a mean cuss, again, to what purpose?

      You have dodged every question with an excuse that god isn't involved in our lives if we don't want him to be, yet you are unable to explain why those who worship him without stopping are allowed to suffer horrible fates. For what purpose?

      Go ahead, Ed. I can wait.

      I doubt herbie or US can, though.

      October 18, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • Ed

      @Tom Tom I don't knoe whoherbie and US are I can't find their posts. But he answer to your questions as to why God lets some peole get cancer. I don't know. I don't not kow the mind or will of God ther may be reason we just don't understand or maybe he just stayed out of that person life completely. I don't know. But it is unfair of you to say God you suck becauseyou did this and in the same breath say stay out of my life. That is what you are doing. You say God give me evrything I want or I won't beleive in you. God make my life perfect or your not real. Then God says I have a few rules and youi say no no rules serve me or I won't beleive. I wonder how you would react to your kids if they treated you like that for very long.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  14. Ed

    this article makes one point. It shows regardless of the good the churches do some one will complain. I not saying the reduction of poverty is soley the result f the churches work, but the churches Christian and others did help. I wonder why the ateist can not give credit were credit is due. They have no problem giving blame for everything the church does wrong. Be fair admit it when the do good.

    October 17, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • snow

      as do the govt help reduce the poverty.. But I don't see any temples built to praise the glory of the kingdom of govt..

      October 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Evan

      People will complain regardless. Atheists are angry at the Church because of Muslim extremists (I did say Muslim), the Crusades (700-1000 years ago), and pedophile priests (Catholic Church).

      October 17, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  15. David Johnson

    The church always needs to proselytize when they help out. Hungry people always make the best audience. Evangelicals make me puke.

    The Religious Right would like t take over social programs for the poor in this country. They want the needy to be beholden to god and not to government.

    The government provides help based on income. They don't proselytize. They don't care what faith you are.

    And, the government exists! I can prove it. Jesus is a myth.

    Keep religion out of government as the founding fathers intended.

    Cheers!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Brandon

      You are so full of hate and bigotry. Erase the hate man.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Anglican

      Dave. You know Jesus of Nazareth existed. Greetings. Long time. Peace.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Trystan

      There's that magical "bigotry" word their kind all like to use. Anyone who uses the word "bigot" or "bigotry" to address someone is a flat-out hypocrite. The connotation carries a negative tone that speaks against the beliefs of another; in other words shows intolerance. The user is intolerant of the originator's comment, and therefore chooses to call the originator names instead of proving the originator wrong. In short, this means that the user itself is in short, a bigot.

      Pat yourself on the back, Brandon. You just called yourself out.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Ummm

      "Dave. You know Jesus of Nazareth existed. Greetings. Long time. Peace."

      Yeah so did Santa Claus, doesn't mean all the stories about him were actually true.

      October 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Evan

      "Jesus is a myth"

      He's mentioned by a number of historians, such as Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, Suetonius, Mara Bar-Serapion, Pliny the Younger, and the Jewish Talmud, the former of which contains what could possibly be a contemporary arrest notice for Him.

      You might complain that none of these are contemporary, which is not only wrong, but ridiculous. So only contemporary sources can accurately record history? If you say yes, you might as well start burning history textbooks...

      October 17, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Evan

      You said: "He's mentioned by a number of historians, such as Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, Suetonius, Mara Bar-Serapion, Pliny the Younger, and the Jewish Talmud, the former of which contains what could possibly be a contemporary arrest notice for Him."

      Assumptions:
      Jesus died in 30 C.E.
      Hearsay is worthless as evidence.

      Hearsay – unverified, unofficial information gained or acquired from another and not part of one's direct knowledge: I pay no attention to hearsay.

      Source for the following: Did a historical Jesus exist?
      by Jim Walker

      Josephus – birth in 37 C.E.

      Tacitus – birth in 64 C.E.

      Lucian – birth 120 C.E.

      Suetonius – birth 69 C.E.

      Mara Bar-Serapion – The mention in question (letter) was written after 73 C.E. and likely after 135 C.E. No claim is made that this is an eyewitness account. Scholars dispute that the "wise king" mentioned was Jesus.

      Pliny the Younger – birth 62 C.E.

      Jewish Talmud – Christians claim that Yeshu in the Talmud refers to Jesus. However, this Yeshu, according to scholars depicts a disciple of Jehoshua Ben-Perachia at least a century before the alleged Christian Jesus or it may refer to Yeshu ben Pandera, a teacher of the 2nd centuy CE. Regardless of how one interprets this, the Palestinian Talmud didn't come into existence until the 3rd and 5th century C.E., and the Babylonian Talmud between the 3rd and 6th century C.E., at least two centuries after the alleged crucifixion. At best it can only serve as a controversial Christian or Jewish legend; it cannot possibly serve as evidence for a historical Jesus.

      Cheers!

      October 17, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Anglican

      Dave. How are you? Getting old like me? Life goes on. Peace my friend.

      October 17, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Evan

      What's even funnier, is all the historians that lived during Jesus' time, who didn't write about Him. It's like, He never actually existed... LOL

      There were no eyewitness accounts of Jesus. The Gospels were written by god knows who in the third person. The Gospels were written with an agenda i.e., Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God.

      We know virtually nothing about the persons who wrote the gospels we call Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
      -Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton University, (The Gnostic Gospels)

      The bottom line is we really don't know for sure who wrote the Gospels.
      -Jerome Neyrey, of the Weston School of Theology, Cambridge, Mass. in "The Four Gospels," (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

      Jesus is a mythical figure in the tradition of pagan mythology and almost nothing in all of ancient literature would lead one to believe otherwise. Anyone wanting to believe Jesus lived and walked as a real live human being must do so despite the evidence, not because of it.
      -C. Dennis McKinsey, Bible critic (The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy)

      There are no known secular writings about Jesus, that aren't forgeries, later insertions, or hearsay. NONE!

      Most of the supposed authors lived AFTER Jesus was dead. Can you say hearsay?

      Philo of Alexandria (20 BC – 50 AD) a contemporary Jewish historian, never wrote a word about Jesus. This is odd, since Philo wrote broadly on the politics and theologies around the Mediterranean.

      Lucius Annaeus Seneca (ca. 4 BCE – 65 CE) A.K.A. Seneca the Younger. A contemporary of Jesus wrote extensively on many subjects and people. But he didn't write a word about a Jesus.

      Gaius Plinius Secundus (23 AD – August 25, 79 AD), better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher. Plinius wrote "Naturalis Historia", an encyclopedia into which he collected much of the knowledge of his time. There is no mention of a Jesus.

      The area in and surrounding Jerusalem served, in fact, as the center of education and record keeping for the Jewish people. The Romans, of course, also kept many records. Moreover, the gospels mention scribes many times, not only as followers of Jesus but the scribes connected with the high priests. And nothing about the Jesus. Nada! Not even something chiseled on a wall or carved into a tree like: "Jesus Loves Mary Magdalene".

      John 21:25 King James Version (KJV)
      25And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

      You would think a fellow this "gifted" , would have at least been mentioned by one of these historians.

      There is a line in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar that says:"The rocks themselves would start to sing".

      Hmm...

      We don't even have a wooden shelf that Jesus might have built. Or anything written by Jesus. God incarnate, and we don't even have a Mother's day card signed by Him.

      Mark 3:7- 8 King James Version (KJV)
      7But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great mult_itude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea,
      8And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great mult_itude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.

      Yet, not one of these adoring fans, bothered to draw a picture, chisel a bust, or even write down a description. Even Mohammad has a description. Virtually all important people do. And god, being god, could have preserved it.

      The Dead Sea Scrolls did not mention Jesus or have any New Testament scripture, as some have claimed.

      Jesus, if he existed, was not considered important enough to write about by any contemporary person. The myth hadn't had a chance to flourish. The future stories and miracles needed awhile to grow and spread.

      Paul's writings were the first, about Jesus. But, Paul's writing was done 25 to 30 years after Jesus was dead. In a primitive, ultra-supersti_tious society, 25 years is a lot of time for a myth to grow. Twenty-five years was most of the average person's lifespan in the 1st Century.

      Some people feel that Paul, not Jesus, is the real father of what most Christians believe today (Pauline Christianity).
      Paul never actually met Jesus. His knowledge and faith was the result of hearsay and an epileptic "vision".

      Questions on the Crucifixion story:

      "Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save." Mark 15:31

      "Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe..." Mark 15:32

      It would appear, that the chief priests are admitting that Jesus "saved" others. If they knew this, then there is no reason for them to demand that Jesus descend from the cross, in order for them to believe. They already admitted to knowing of Jesus' "miracles".

      This is just an embellishment by Mark. A work of fiction possibly constructed to make it appear that some Old Testament "prediction" was fulfilled. Like:

      "I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting." – Isaiah 50:6

      Here is another:

      1 Corinthian 15:14-17 – Paul says Christianity lives or dies on the Resurrection.

      1 Corinthians 15:4 "4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures"

      Matthew 12:40 – Jesus said, that he would be buried three days and three nights as Jonah was in the whale three days and three nights.

      Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning is only 2 days at the most. Or, if you count Friday and Sunday as entire days, then you could get 3 days and 2 nights. This is a gimme though. The Mary's went to the grave at sunrise and it was empty.

      Obviously, the fundies spin this like a pinwheel. I have seen explanations like: Jesus was actually crucified on Wednesday or maybe Thursday; The prophesy actually means 12 hour days, and not 24 hour days; The partial days are counted as full days. This one is true, but still doesn't add up.

      At any rate, the crucifixion day and number of days and nights Jesus spent in the grave, is disputed.

      It looks very much like, that Jesus was not in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights. The prophecy was not fulfilled.

      And what of this?:

      Jesus had healed a woman on the Sabbath!:

      Luke 13 31:33 KJV
      31The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.

      32And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

      33Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.

      NOTE that Jesus is saying, it is impossible for a prophet (Himself) to be killed outside of Jerusalem.

      Yet, Jesus WAS killed outside Jerusalem!

      Calvary or Golgotha was the site, outside of ancient Jerusalem’s early first century walls, at which the crucifixion of Jesus is said to have occurred. OOoopsie!

      And there is this:

      According to Luke 23:44-45, there occurred "about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour, and the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst."

      Yet not a single secular mention of a three hour ecliptic event got recorded. 'Cause it didn't happen!

      Mathew 27 51:53
      51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ crucifixion and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
      How come nobody wrote about zombies running through the cities? 'Cause it is all b.s.

      An interesting note:

      "The same phenomena and portents of the sudden darkness at the sixth hour, a strong earthquake, rent stones, a temple entrance broken in two, and the rising of the dead have been reported by multiple ancient writers for the death of Julius Caesar on March 15, 44 BC." – Sources Wikipedia (John T. Ramsey & A. Lewis Licht, The Comet of 44 B.C. and Caesar's Funeral Games, Atlanta 1997, p. 99–107

      Hmmm...
      If you can't even believe the crucifixion story how likely is the resurrection account to be true? In a book that is a mix of fiction and "fact", how do you know which is which? Especially, since all of the bible seems very unlikely and does not fit with the reality we see around us.?

      If Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God, who died for man's redemption, then this would be the most important event in the history of man.

      Having gone to the trouble of impregnating a human and being born god incarnate and dying for mankind's sins, why wouldn't god have ensured there was tons of evidence that this was true? Multiple Writings by contemporary eyewitnesses – Jews and Romans and Greeks.

      You are going to want to say that there IS lots of evidence, but look at reality: There are way more people, in the world, who are not Christians (67%) than who are (33%). Obviously, the evidence is not adequate to convince even a majority of the world's people.

      You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep-seated need to believe. – Carl Sagan

      Cheers!

      October 17, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Anglican

      I hope you are well my friend. My beliefs are a hard thing for me. Do I believe too greatly, or do I not believe at all? I would like to be at peace with this some day.

      Cheers!

      October 17, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • tom clements

      It sounds to me like yo have made government your church.

      October 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Anglican

      Dave. We are all in this journey together. I have never met you, but you are my brother, and I truly am so happy to blog with you again. I hope that you and I can live in peace in the life we have been given. i pray, with respect to your beliefs, that we both have peace.

      October 17, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • tom clements

      "Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save." Mark 15:31

      This was a reference to psalm 22. Much of the crucifixtion story is contained in this psalm. Even the same words are used My God My God Why have you forsaken me. I know you are versed on how the "teachers" taught back then. They did not ask the students to open their bibles obviously, so they would say the first line of scripture. The chief priests would have known what the rest of psalm 22 said. This crying out was not in weakness, Jesus was once again telling the chief priests he was who he said he was. The lamb of God prophesied in the old testament.

      October 17, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • tom clements

      Psalm 22 ....All who see me mock me;
      they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
      8 “He trusts in the LORD,” they say,
      “let the LORD rescue him.
      Let him deliver him,
      since he delights in him...

      they pierce[e] my hands and my feet.
      17 All my bones are on display;
      people stare and gloat over me.
      18 They divide my clothes among them
      and cast lots for my garment.

      October 17, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Anglican

      No scripture, no psalms, just peace, just peace.

      October 17, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      Dave your funny, you say you don't pay attention to hearsay and then go on making claims, that by definition are, hearsay.

      The historian Luke wrote about Jesus, you just choose to rejected. But again because Pagels, who "unverified, unofficial information gained or acquired from another and not part of one's direct knowledge: ", says so I guess you do not count all hearsay as "worthless evidence"

      October 18, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Mike from CT

      you're

      October 18, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • Scott Smith

      Jesus is not a myth my friend.

      October 18, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Matthew
      Mark
      Luke
      John
      Peter
      Paul
      James
      Pliny the Younger
      Tacitus
      Suetonius
      Josephus
      Mara bar Sarapion

      and 14 others wrote about Jesus, that I don't have time to do your own investigation, for about 26 in total which btw is about 16 more then Caesar Do you doubt Caesar?

      October 18, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Mike from CT
      It seem that you're missing David's key point – which is that Caesar was written about by countless contemporaries – the life of Jesus was written by people who were born after His death.
      We have doc/uments written in Caesar's own hand – nothing of the sort exists for Christ.
      There are doc/umented stories about Gilgamesh that pre-date Christianity by thousands of years.
      Do you believe that there really existed a 3/4 divine Babylonian king for rules for more than century?

      October 18, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      for rules = who ruled.
      I think the cold and flu pills are getting to me today....

      October 18, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Mike from CT

      countless is really about 10.

      October 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      What would be expected if Genesis were a copy of Gilgamesh?
      The first striking thing that one notices when reading the Epic of Gilgamesh is how silly the story is. Part of the silliness is because of the obviously human-like behavior of the gods. They are constantly fighting amongst each other, plotting and deceiving each other. One would expect this part of the story to be removed from a Genesis copy. Therefore, we would expect that the Genesis account would be changed to involve some kind of judgment, since Yahweh (God) does not capriciously destroy humans, as was done in the Gilgamesh epic. It would, therefore, make sense that Noah would be chosen for his righteousness although Utnapishtim was chosen for no apparent reason.

      Even with these major changes not considered, there are many dissimilarities that would not be expected from a story copied from another story. For example, the timings of the flood accounts are vastly different. The Gilgamesh flood took only 3 weeks, whereas the Genesis flood lasted over a year. The Gilgamesh flood included several 7 day long events. This "perfect" number is found throughout the Bible, so would be expected to be retained if copied from the epic of Gilgamesh. However, the Bible uses numbers like 40 and 150 – much longer timeframes.

      The boats in the two accounts are quite different. The Gilgamesh boat was an unseaworthy cube with a slate roof. Obviously, such a design would immediately flip over or roll around in the water. In contrast, the ark had dimensions that were ideal for a seaworthy ship. This fact might be surprising, since both cultures were not noted for their nautical skills. It is obvious that the gods of the Sumerians had no expertise in shipbuilding.

      http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/gilgamesh.html

      October 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Reality

      For reviewa of the historic Jesus written by mostly PhDs in Religion and/or History, see the following references:

      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–
      Some examples from this reference set:

      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

      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. 7. The Gnostic Jesus
      (Part One in a Two-Part Series on Ancient and Modern Gnosticism)
      by Douglas Groothuis: equip.org/free/DG040-1.htm

      October 19, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Reality

      Continued from above:

      11. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
      Presented on March 18, 1994
      ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM#2

      12. The Jesus Database- newer site:
      wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=Jesus_Database

      13. Jesus Database with the example of Supper and Eucharist:
      faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb016.html

      14. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:
      mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm

      15. The Journal of Higher Criticism with links to articles on the Historical Jesus:
      mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm

      16. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/

      17. Di-seases in the Bible:
      etd.unisa.ac.za/ETD-db/theses/available/etd-08022006-125807/unrestricted/02dissertation.pdf

      October 19, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • Reality

      Continued from above:

      18. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
      theologians, ethics, etc.
      religion-online.org/
      19. The Jesus Seminarians and their search for NT authenticity:
      mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      20. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/
      21. Writing the New Testament- existing copies, oral tradition etc.
      ntgateway.com/
      22. The Search for the Historic Jesus by the Jesus Seminarians:
      members.aol.com/DrSwiney/seminar.html
      23. Jesus Decoded by Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco (Da Vinci Code review)jesusdecoded.com/introduction.php
      24. JD Crossan's scriptural references for his book the Historical Jesus separated into time periods: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan1.rtf

      October 19, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • Reality

      Continued from above:

      25. JD Crossan's conclusions about the authencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the conclusions of other NT exegetes in the last 200 years:
      faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan2.rtf
      26. Common Sayings from Thomas's Gospel and the Q Gospel: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan3.rtf
      27. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
      28. Luke and Josephus- was there a connection?
      infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html
      29. NT and beyond time line:
      pbs.org/empires/peterandpaul/history/timeline/
      30. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
      harvardhouse.com/prophetictech/new/pauls_life.htm
      31. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.
      32. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
      33. The books of the following : Professors Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
      34. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
      35. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

      October 19, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Reality, thanks for the cut and paste, but as Dave would say, since all your sources are after the life of Jesus they are hearsay. I would say they are debunked because the PhDs you claim to back do not have a PhD in Semitic background of the NT.

      I notice you did not put any of William Lane Craig's sources up there.

      October 19, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Boring .....

      Mike from CT,
      And not ONE of them, except Paul, (the founder of Christianity) said he was "divine".

      October 19, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Reality

      Mike from CT,

      Definition of SEMITIC

      : of, relating to, or consti-tuting a subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic language family that includes Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, and Amharic

      A PhD in Religious Studies/Theology requires courses in the biblical languages.

      e.g. Notre Dame's Graduate School of Theology:

      Biblical Studies

      Summer 1:
      Intensive Greek or Intensive Hebrew

      Fall 1:
      Greek (Beginning or Intermediate)
      Hebrew (Beginning or Intermediate)
      Biblical Studies
      Systematic Theology

      Spring 1:
      Greek (Beginning or Intermediate)
      Hebrew (Beginning or Intermediate)
      Biblical Studies
      History of Christianity

      Summer 2:
      Intensive German or French

      Fall 2:
      Greek (Intermediate or Advanced)
      Hebrew (Intermediate or Advanced)
      Biblical Studies(600 level)
      Biblical Studies

      Spring 2:
      Biblical Studies
      Moral Theology
      History of Christianity
      Liturgical Studies

      October 19, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      @Boring
      John records such in John 14:6, 10:30, John 18:6
      Luke 1
      1 Peter 2

      @Reality,
      I took chemistry, I do not have the background to discuss complex chemical compounds.

      October 20, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Reality You yourself need to look into the biases of the Jesus seminar and finish the book The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright in Dialogue

      I am not going to go through it again with you, you are responsible for your own smoke screens.

      October 20, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Reality

      From: Will the Real Jesus Stand Up?
      > > A Debate Between William Lane Craig
      > > and John Dominic Crossan
      > >
      > > By: Ron Maness
      > >
      > > edited by
      > > Paul Copan
      > >
      > > Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1998, 179 pages

      Crossan noted:
      > >
      > > "When I look a Buddhist friend in the face, I cannot say with
      > > integrity, "Our story about Jesus' virginal birth is true and
      > > factual. Your story that when the Buddha came out of his
      mother's
      > > womb, he was walking, talking, teaching and preaching (which I
      must
      > > admit is even better than our story)-that's a myth. We have
      the
      > > truth; you have a lie." I don't think that can be said any
      longer,
      > > for our insistence that our faith is a fact and that others'
      faith
      > > is a lie is, I think, a cancer that eats at the heart of
      > > Christianity" (page 39).

      October 20, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Reality

      : As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      October 20, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Reality

      With respect to John's Gospel and John' epistles, again from Professor/Father Raymond Brown in his book, An Introduction to the New Testament, John's Gospel, Date- 80-110 CE, Traditional Attribution, (2nd Century), St. John, one of the Twelve,

      Author Detectable from the Contents, One who regards himself in the tradition of the disciple.

      First Epistle of John, Authenticity- Certainly by a writer in the Johannine tradition, probably NOT by the one responsible for most of the Gospel.

      From Professor Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Jesus,

      "Conventionally, scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John's Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source......
      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John#Authorship

      "Since "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, some historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus.[3][4] "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous,"[5] and date it to 90-100."

      "The authorship has been disputed since at least the second century, with mainstream Christianity believing that the author is John the Apostle, son of Zebedee. Modern experts usually consider the author to be an unknown non-eyewitness, though many apologetic Christian scholars still hold to the conservative Johannine view that ascribes authorship to John the Apostle."

      See also http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/1john.html

      October 20, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Reality

      Luke 1:

      "35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

      38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

      Thomas Jefferson

      "And the day will come,
      when the mystical generation of Jesus,
      by the Supreme Being as His Father,
      in the womb of a virgin,
      will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva
      in the brain of Jupiter."

      - Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
      Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

      Then there is this:

      "Lüdemann [Jesus], (122-24) presents four (4) reasons for regarding the miraculous conception of Jesus as unhistorical: (1) Numerous parallels in the history of religion; (2) it represents a rare and late NT tradition; (3) Synoptic descriptions of Jesus' relations with his family are inconsistent with such an event; and (4) scientific considerations.

      More positively, Lüdemann concludes that we can extract as a historical fact behind Matt 1.18-25 the existence of a hostile rumor about the ille-gitimacy of Jesus. Lüdemann suggests that r-a-pe by an unnamed man, possibly even a Roman soldier, is the most likely explanation. He notes that while such an event would have disqualified Mary from marriage to a priest, it would not have prevented from marrying and have other children.

      Lüdemann [Jesus], (261-63) discounts Luke's account as a legend deriving from Jewish Hellenistic circles that were concerned to hold together the pro-creation of the Spirit, the authentic sonship of the Messiah and the vi-rginal conception."

      See more commentary at http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=026_Jesus_Virg-inally_Conceived

      October 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      On the other hand, Wright insists that one cannot separate the resurrection from the birth of early Christianity. It is the resurrections that makes sense of what folows - the establishment of the Christian community with its own distinctive story, praxis and symbols. Given that Jesus was not the first of the last to lead a messianic movement and that such self-proclaimed messiahs were routinely put to death Wright asks, why did his movement live on without replacing him as leader? The best explanation, he concludes is the resurrection.

      Again Wrights point is a great one that I continually ask you... If the resurrection never occured explain the birth of the Christian community in the first, second and third centuries?

      Explain the boldness of the apostles, who are shown as weak and cowardly in the gospels, after pentacost.

      Name one example where one person has ever died for what they know to be a lie?

      Don't worry your not alone, even in Matthew 28, it clearly states even then some doubted. You need to re-read the introduction.

      By the way if you are a follower of Crossan's then you should heed his advice but you can not

      "We have the truth; you have a lie." I don't think that can be said any
      longer,

      So then follow your idol and stop calling Christians a liar claiming to have a knowledge above everyone else. Oh and also 2+2 now equals 23942 with this logic... who are you to tell me you have the truth of 2+2.

      October 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  16. Reality

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?? Said money would go a long way in ending extreme poverty.

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never was and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror

    One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There was and never will be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity.

    The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion. Ti-thes and other donations to various Christian sects would no longer be tax-deductible.

    Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses probably never existed.

    Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!
    =========================================================================================

    October 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Brandon

      You are so full of hate and bigotry. Erase the hate.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Trystan

      There's that magical "bigotry" word their kind all like to use. Anyone who uses the word "bigot" or "bigotry" to address someone is a flat-out hypocrite. The connotation carries a negative tone that speaks against the beliefs of another; in other words shows intolerance. The user is intolerant of the originator's comment, and therefore chooses to call the originator names instead of proving the originator wrong. In short, this means that the user itself is in short, a bigot.

      Pat yourself on the back, Brandon. You just called yourself out AGAIN.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  17. Richard Kaiser

    snow wrote on Monday, October 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm, stating, "*snot.. good luck.. Vatican did not do anything except write a letter even during the Holocaust.. what makes you think they would give a whit's a$$ about the sufferings of a common man? But if you have some extra money laying around, they would surely take them off you for a little charge."

    "True" religion deals with the 'Self" in that, One needs to make peace with their 'natures'.The 'built by man's hands' churches are not of GOD but are built to benefit mankind's elitists who yet do pander their way thru Life unashamedly via wanton seeded gifts/donations. The 'poorest' of the poor are but elitists' emblematic tokens for which they give castrated gestures only, while their flocking members do oooh and awe at the wonders their elitists do enthrall upon.

    Life here, has yet, no fair 'gamesmanships' upon this celestial shoreline of Cosmic Relativity. Lost are we within the yet to be completed Socialism of Global Order (SGO).

    October 17, 2011 at 4:30 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.