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My Take: Stop sugarcoating the Bible
The 17th century painting Judith Beheading Holofernes, by Artemisia Gentileschi, depicts a biblical scene.
February 25th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: Stop sugarcoating the Bible

Editor's note: Steven James is the author of more than 30 books, including "Flirting with the Forbidden," which explores forgiveness.

By Steven James, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The Bible is a gritty book. Very raw. Very real. It deals with people just like us, just as needy and screwed up as we are, encountering a God who would rather die than spend eternity without them.

Yet despite that, it seems like Christians are uncomfortable with how earthy the Bible really is. They feel the need to tidy up God.

For example, look in any modern translation of Isaiah 64:6, and you’ll find that, to a holy God, even our most righteous acts are like “filthy rags.” The original language doesn’t say “filthy rags”; it says “menstrual rags.” But that sounds a little too crass, so let’s just call them filthy instead.

And let’s not talk so much about Jesus being naked on the cross, and let’s pretend Paul said that he considered his good deeds “a pile of garbage” in Philippians 3:8 rather than a pile of crap, as the Greek would more accurately be translated.

And let’s definitely not mention the six times in the Old Testament that the Jewish writers referred to Gentile men as those who “pisseth against the wall.” (At least the King James Version got that one right.)

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The point?

God’s message was not meant to be run through some arbitrary, holier-than-thou politeness filter. He intended the Bible to speak to people where they’re at, caught up in the stark reality of life on a fractured planet.

Dozens of Psalms are complaints and heart-wrenching cries of despair to God, not holy-sounding, reverently worded soliloquies. Take Psalm 77:1-3: “I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help” (New Living Translation).

And rather than shy away from difficult and painful topics, the Old Testament includes vivid descriptions of murder, cannibalism, witchcraft, dismemberment, torture, rape, idolatry, erotic sex and animal sacrifice. According to St. Paul, those stories were written as examples and warnings for us (1 Corinthians 10:11). So obviously they were meant to be retold without editing out all the things we don’t consider nice or agreeable.

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I believe that Scripture includes such graphic material to show how far we, as a race, have fallen and how far God was willing to come to rescue us from ourselves.

God is much more interested in honesty than pietism.

And that’s what he gives us throughout Scripture, telling the stories of people who struggled with the same issues, questions and temptations we face today.

Peter struggled with doubt, and we hear all about it.

Elijah dealt with depression; Naomi raged with bitterness against God; Hannah struggled for years under the burden of her unanswered prayers.

David had an affair and then arranged to have his lover’s husband killed. Noah was a drunk, Abraham a liar, Moses a murderer. Job came to a place where he found it necessary to make a covenant with his eyes not to lust after young girls (Job 31:1).

It’s easy to make “Bible heroes” (as Protestants might say) or “saints” (as Catholics might refer to them) out to be bigger than life, immune from the temptations that everyone faces.

I find it encouraging that Jesus never came across as pietistic. In fact, he was never accused of being too religious; instead he partied so much that he was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton (Matthew 11:19).

Jesus never said, “The Kingdom of God is like a church service that goes on and on forever and never ends.” He said the kingdom was like a homecoming celebration, a wedding, a party, a feast to which all are invited.

This idea was too radical for the religious leaders of his day. They were more concerned about etiquette, manners, traditions and religious rituals than about partying with Jesus. And that’s why they missed out.

That’s why we miss out.

According to Jesus, the truly spiritual life is one marked by freedom rather than compulsion (John 8:36), love rather than ritual (Mark 12:30-33) and peace rather than guilt (John 14:27). Jesus saves us from the dry, dusty duties of religion and frees us to cut loose and celebrate.

I don’t believe we’ll ever recognize our need for the light until we’ve seen the depth of the darkness. So God wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty with us about life and temptation and forgiveness. And grace.

Only when the Bible seems relevant to us (which it is), only when the characters seem real to us (which they were), only then will the message of redemption become personal for us (which it was always meant to be).

We don’t need to edit God. We need to let him be the author of our new lives.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Steven James.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (5,744 Responses)
  1. Emily

    Amen!

    February 26, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  2. Jerry

    NVRWRNG,
    You might want to dig a bit deeper when you look at the claims of science. Every new discovery that science makes requires God. Things are just to marvelous and complex to be the result of the mindless forces of nature alone. Look at the inside of a cell sometime and see how it works.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • David

      ...so that's it? You get to a point where you cannot comprehend science and you just chalk it up to magic? Let's not impoverish the advancement of enlightenment, kiddo...

      February 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • momoya

      Science deals with what can be measured. As with every other person on the planet, science can measure anything "god," so science does not comment on god. Why use science at all if you disagree with the parts you don't like by using "faith?"

      February 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • momoya

      sorry 'science CAN'T measure anything "god."

      February 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • NVRWRNG

      Wow. So the new type of hearth caths that have been discovered recently were because of god or the new type of bone replacement therapies developed were because of god and not the hundreds of thousands of hours spent by real human beings in the lab? Give me a break. I hope you're being sarcastic. What did your mythological create have anything to do with all of those people and their hard spent time? Did god create the tools needed, nope pretty sure that was man. Did god create the scientific findings, didn't think so either, man again.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Liberals Are Stupid

      The Bible isn't a science book, but in instances where science is dealt with in the Bible, it has been dead on and more accurate that the ever-changing secular scientists of our day.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • NVRWRNG

      LAS

      example?

      February 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Jerry,

      In Leviticus 14 "God" spoke to Moses and told him the correct treatment and cure for leprosy. It is the dangedest, silliest thing you'd ever want to read. This was the LORD speaking, Jerry, THE LORD – how dare anyone search for a better treatment! Never does the LORD say, "this'll do ya' until you come up with something better".

      Briefly:
      Get two birds. Kill one. Dip the live bird in the blood of the dead one. Sprinkle the blood on the leper seven times, and then let the blood-soaked bird fly away. Next find a lamb and kill it. Wipe some of its blood on the patient's right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle seven times with oil and wipe some of the oil on his right ear, thumb and big toe. Repeat. Finally find another pair of birds. Kill one and dip the live bird in the dead bird's blood. Wipe some blood on the patient's right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle the house with blood 7 times. That's all there to it!

      February 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Someone

      To: Liberals are Stupid:

      I would really, really like to see you support your wild-ass claim with evidence.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • NVRWRNG

      LAS please show me one scientifically proven fact that is in the book that was proven years later. If you do I will stop commenting.

      I swear to god.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  3. Shane

    Nice article. But, why do people insist on posting in topics or they don't believe in? Grow up. I have questions too, but I don't ridicule people for the sake of being an a*#.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  4. Brad

    Four nuns were standing in line at the gates of heaven. Peter asks the first if she has ever sinned. "Well, once I looked at a man's penis," she said. "Put some of this holy water on your eyes and you may enter heaven," Peter told her. Peter then asked the second nun if she had ever sinned. "Well, once I held a man's penis," she replied. "Put your hand in this holy water and you may enter heaven," he said. Just then the fourth nun pushed ahead of the third nun. Peter asked her, "Why did you push ahead in line?" She said, "Because I want to gargle before she sits in it!"

    February 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Jim in Tampa

      LOL!!!!

      February 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  5. John T

    I don't disagree with this article at all. In fact I completely agree ... as long as we also don't sugar-coat the issue of sin. If we get that wrong, none of the rest of it matters.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  6. Rasta

    As I posted earlier, I will say again- the christian dogma is very odd psychologically (or,rather, very telling) in that it essentially espouses human blood sacrifice for the remission of "sins". Not only human blood sacrifice, but the diety himself has to "die" so your "sinful" selves can go free from the consequences of your "sins". Then again there is the insistence that he did not actually "die" but resurrected to live again. I mean, which is it? Did he die or not? I for one don't want anyone to have to die so I can go free from the consequences of my own "sins". Least of all the most ideal and god-like person! What's wrong with the idea that you should pay yourself for that which you yourself has done? Like I said, very telling.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • momoya

      It's hard to blame christians for what they believe, though. After all, they think god sacrifices himself to himself in order to save humanity from himself by exploiting a loophole in the plan he himself made. The logic hasn't been invented that can overcome that sort of stupidity.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Liberals Are Stupid

      His physical body died, but He remained spiritually alive. You know, it's not my dogma; it's the Bible that sets out the facts. You know as well as I do that we all die physically. What you want to believe happens to you after you die is something only you can determine. You will be either spiritually alive or dead in the afterlife. God gave His only Son (the perfect gift of life and love) to pave the way for us to eternal life. To receive or reject that gift is your option.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Someone

      To: Liberals are Stupid

      You know, I could just say "You talk like you actually *know* for a fact these things like having souls and what happens to your soul when you die, and what God said and did and all, when you actually make a bunch of wild allegations that have absolutely no basis or evidence to support them".

      But I will simply ask: "How do you know?"

      February 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Pause and Think

      I understand that you would want to pay yourself for what you have done, but the point of Christianity is that no person can pay for what he has done, because every has sinned horribly. The only one who can atone is the perfect one who never sinned–Jesu Christ. He didn't have to die for you. He went willingly, even though you may not like it. For example, I might be tied down on the railroad tracks with a train coming, and you might decide to untie me and throw me out of the way. I could yell and scream all I wanted, but if you were dead set on saving me you would get me out of the way. If you push me out of the way right before the train hits you, I'm not going to throw myself under the wheels because it should have been me instead. You chose to save me, and now I have a second chance at life. Of course this analogy can in no way compare to Christ's actual sacrifice, but it gives a rough idea.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Rasta

      @liberals are stupid – If you look at the story of Jesus' ressurection in the bible as you say I should refer to, he goes through great pains to show his disciples that he is physically alive. Showing them his hands and even eating food in front of them to show them that he is not, like, a ghost or spirit. Spirit bodies do not eat honeycombs, etc. What say you about this?

      February 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Another voice

      If it's true that man needed a redeemer, and that mankind is in a state of sin, how can mankind "pay" for his own sin? Analogy: If one is in debt, meaning he has no way of settling his accounts, how can that person pay for it. Only three things can occur: one, they remain in that state of debt; two, the account holder forgives the debt (unlikely); three, someone pays the debt off for the debtor.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Rasta

      @pause and think – christianity is very obsessed with "sin" and how to be free from the consequences of "sins". Maybe the old european culture from which most of the modern christianity stems from has this deep guilt consciosness but not everyone is caught up with this concept. I can only speak for myself when I say I am not afraid to die and I don't want anyone to die so I can be free from whatever I myself has done (which,by the way ain't much). Least of all someone as righteous and spiritual as Jesus. I actually feel like the phrase "he died for your sins" really means "he died as a result of your sins of not recognizing what he really stood for". I'm just saying I have no problem answering for myself and no one's blood need be shed to save me from my own "sins". Might as well cut a chickens neck like the jews of old.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Another voice

      Orignial sin simply means that we inherit the nature or bent to sin through the blood. This is the same way we inherit all things, whether it is personality, height, complexion, sicknesses, etc. So why is it so hard to believe that sin is passed on the same way? Strangely, we attempt to fix or healing diseases and social disorders that we've received to no fault of our own, but many are not as vigilant about the sin we've received. You don't believe in sin? Then you're dishonest. So, this is what necessitated a blood sacrifice. Since sin is pass on through human blood, then it was a human being, Jesus Christ, that was sacrificed for the redemption of mankind. It's like for like. The bull, lambs and goat that were sacrificed in the Levitical system was a type and shadow of God's intent to cleanse mankind of its sin, and make a way for man to return back to Him.

      February 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Rasta

      @another voice- he can find work, hustle, do odd jobs, or otherwise put his shoulder to the wheel and pay it off in time to stick with your analogy. We also have bankruptcy in which debts can be essentially "forgiven" by the creditors themselves without much intercession by another. One can even negotiate directly with their creditors for reduction etc. You catch my drift? Maybe your analogy does not really reflect what you are trying to say, but, hey, you chose the analogy, not me.

      February 26, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Rasta

      @another voice- Original sin? Passed on through the blood? Now you talkin' crazy. But that is YOUR BELIEF, not an accepted fact. Was not Jesus borne in the womb of a "sinful" human? Are you saying the infant was not fed through the placenta of the mother, mixing the bloods? I've had enough now, and the evidence that christian doctrine/dogma of today is kinda crazy is overwhelming to me(and maybe a few others).

      February 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Another voice

      Rasta, it is admirable that you want to take responsibility for yourself. However, you do not set the rule in this world. It is the same as the rules in your own home. You and I are strangers. If I were to come into your home, it is culturally appropriate to adjust my behavior and manner to suit your culture and house rules. It would be offensive for me to disregards your rule simply because I did not agree with them. It is the same with God. This world, this universe, is God's house. The bible, in part, is His rule book on how to behave – what is acceptable to Him. You can't change that simply by electing to. There are consequences for that, just as there would be if I dishonored the rules of your home e.g. being asked to leave. So, while you want to own up to your sin, which is not much according to you, is not acceptable to God. Therefore, according to Him, you have to accept that you are a sinner and that Jesus is indeed that payment for your sin. It is, according to Jesus, the only way to the father. Now, if you choose to remain in your state of sin, and not receive God's provision, then you will receive the penalty. Now, whether you give regard to that or not is irrelevant; just as it would be irrelevant if I regarded your house rules: I still would be asked to leave. You also will be asked to leave the presence of God on the Day of Judgment and cast in to the outer darkness along with all those who decided to go their own way. and house rules. It would be offensive for me to disregards your rule simply because I did not agree with them. It is the same with God. This world, this universe, is God's house. The bible, in part, is His rule book on how to behave, what is acceptable to Him. You can't change that simply by electing to. There are consequences for that, just as there would be if I dishonored the rules of your home e.g. being asked to leave. So, while you want to own up to your sin, which is not much according to you, is not acceptable to God. Therefore, according to Him, you have to accept that you are a sinner and that Jesus is indeed that payment for your sin. It is, according to Jesus, the only way to the father. Now, if you choose to remain in your state of sin, and not receive God's provision, then you will receive the penalty. Now, whether you give regard to that or not is irrelevant; just as it would be irrelevant if I regarded your house rules: I still would be asked to leave. You also will be asked to leave the presence of God on the day of judgement and cast in to the outer darkness along with all those who decided to go their own way.

      February 26, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Pause and Think

      @ rasta– It doesn't matter whether or not you feel comfortable with Jesus dying for you. The fact is, he already has. Refusing to accept his gift doesn't change the fact that he died. And about sin–I'm not sure what you mean about "guilt consciousness," but Christianity has nothing to do with feeling guilty and becoming a Christian to feel better. The point is that as soon as we lie, or steal, or cheat, or think selfish thoughts, or hate another person, we are no longer perfect and lose the ability to enter heaven. Every single person on earth has sinned in some way, so even a really "good" person cannot get to heaven. The only way to pay for sin is death–that is why the Israelites sacrificed unblemished animals. But God loved people so much that he sent his perfect son to be a sacrifice, one that was sufficient for all people for all time. So Jesus died. He knew what he was getting into, but he did it so even people like us (because I am pretty much the same way), who wouldn't want someone else suffering in our place, could be free from the ultimate consequence of sin, which is death. Of course sin still has consequences and God is (I believe) disappointed when his children sin, but he is not angry and forgives us as if we had never sinned at all, because Christ's blood covers up our sin. I apologize for using the word "sin" so much in this response because you clearly dislike it, but I don't have a better one.

      February 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  7. Brad

    The Devil went down to Georgia, he was looking for a soul to steal. Does anyone know if that was a direct quote from the bible or was it just Charlie Daniels trnaslation?

    February 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • gman

      don't think it was the bible , georgia wasn't around then as we know it today.

      GREAT SONG DUDE and i'll somehow i'll bet you can wail on the fiddle.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • christophorm

      possibly charlie and jack daniels

      February 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Cielo

      The "Devil" is a very christian invention. No doubt, Charlie Daniels just distilled the common ideas of his time (great song, too).

      February 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  8. Robrob

    Always amazing the amount of analysis spent on a book of fairy tales.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Elspeth

      I hear ya man! I don't ever want to have to analyze Girmms Fairytales ever again...oh wait that's now what you mean 'twas it. People study and analyze ALL forms of literature whether the person studying the text believes that the subject matter is real or not. Only the most base and uneducated would suggest that the Bible is not as worthy of study as is Homer's Illiad or Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  9. Mike

    I have never heard so much believable truth about the Bible than that which I've just read. An excellent article!! I'm buying his book "Flirting with the Forbidden".

    February 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Judy

      I loved the article too. What great insight. I am interested in his book. It is true-many churches are so caught up in the ritual and they forget the spiritual life of love. Loving your neighbor and forgiving your enemies is hard, but with Jesus in your heart, it is easier. We really should all try to live as Jesus lived. Be kind to one another, because life is very short.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  10. anuj

    people, just admit that HINDUISM is the best. Every other region sucks and is inferior

    February 26, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Liberals Are Stupid

      Yeah, right. Watch you don't step on an ant on your way out.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  11. Skyler

    Religious faith is all about hope.

    Without hope, people cease to live (if even just on the inside). Religious faith fills the void where one perceives there is no hope. We see this in convicts serving life sentences, for example. Or in someone who has experienced what he or she perceives to be a horrendous, life-altering event and desperately needs to make sense of it where no rational sense can be made.

    Religious faith provides hope to people who don’t otherwise have any. You might say it’s a survival instinct. To question someone’s faith (hope) is to question the very thing that keeps them going. No wondering they’re so defensive. Hope is powerful. People who find none often take their own life, or need to be medicated (not that there’s anything wrong with medication).

    Hope is so powerful that people will believe the most ludicrous writings from eons past… when nobody knew any better. Mega evangelists recognize this. They know the kind of money that can be made by preying on those struggling for hope. Just as a drug dealer knows that an addict will do almost anything for the next fix.

    But here is the best news; religious faith is not, by far, the only source of hope in the world. We can find examples of human achievement and actions that we can all strive to emulate. The sacrifices of D-Day. The selflessness of passengers on UA flight 93. The innate compassion in a 9-year-old human citizen who is undeterred in sending half his piggy bank savings to help people in Haiti. Just because. No religion necessary.

    We’re all the same. If you look beyond today’s headlines, which are mostly filled with everything that is wrong with humanity, you will discover acts of sacrifice and kindness by people like you and me that are truly humbling and make you glad – hopeful, even – that you’re merely a human.

    There is hope to be found in humans. That’s where your faith should be. That’s where true immortality resides.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Cielo

      I agree with you, up to a point. People are also spiritual beings. Hope and the need for it comes from this unmapped and unmappable place in each person. Religion unfortunatley has a habit of squashing hope in its minutia of ritual. Look around you at beauty in all of its natural forms and you will also feed your soul.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  12. Arthur Paliden

    You ever notice that it is always God that kills people in the bible never the Devil....

    February 26, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • SHAIARRA

      GOOD POINT

      February 26, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Liberals Are Stupid

      ...says the misguided atheist who never bothered to read the Bible.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • christophorm

      No... Jesus and paul said God uses the devil and men to kill people as vessels of dishonor but also has power to through a wicked/sinful soul into hell.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Arthur Paliden

      @christophorm:

      So what you are saying is that God also hires 'hit men' then to do his dirty work.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • April2010

      Death toll in the bible:

      God – 2,476,633
      Satan – 10

      Actual numbers from the bible, no estimates. I wonder who has and who has not read the bible?

      February 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Arthur Paliden

      @April2010:

      Yes but for that one event where the ten were killed it was the result of a bet instigated by God.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  13. John D

    This is a rather trite sentiment, but I think that if more Americans actually read the Bible, we'd have a lot more atheists... Or, failing that, at least more people whose understanding of the almighty is NOT rooted in purportedly holy writ.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  14. christophorm

    Another God hater that can't read the Bible like most american preachers can't.There are two covenants.The First with "natural Israel" which is no more... and the second with "spiritual Israel" (mostly made of gentiles and a few natural jews).In the first, God took the least of nations(natural israel) after much trial, to a physical land of promise destroying pagan nations, full of wickedness/witchcraft and serveing demons.The secong is through His son and he is makeing more sons through promises.They are called disciples, who keep the commandments jesus taught and are comeing into the likeness of Jesus christ.They are not fake hypocrites , money preachers and they don't run to a sunday or wednesday service to get fire insurance.They are the church.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Elspeth

      What exactly is a "natural Jew"

      February 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Arthur Paliden

      One grown without additives and the user of pesticides and fertilizers.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  15. Scott

    My pastor was discussing this very issue this morning at church. America has become too pc in the way that it deals with real issues because it is afraid of offending someone. The facts of life are that real life is not easy; it's tough and either you grow up knowing this or you will learn it as an adult. It is much harder to understand that you're not the center of the universe as an adult because it works against a person's ego. Hell is real; Heaven is real; Which path that you take is your choice and God will fulfill which choice that you take. He is not going to force you to accept Him.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  16. The Central Scrutinizer

    The "God" and the "Jesus" that Christians worship today are actually amalgams formed out of ancient pagan gods. The idea of a "virgin birth", "burial in a rock tomb", "resurrection after 3 days" and "eating of body and drinking of blood" had nothing to do with Jesus. All of the rituals in Christianity are completely man-made. Christianity is a snow ball that rolled over a dozen pagan religions. As the snowball grew, it freely attached pagan rituals and beliefs in order to be more palatable to converts. You can find accounts like these in popular literature:

    •"The vestiges of pagan religion in Christian symbolism are undeniable. Egyptian sun disks became the halos of Catholic saints. Pictograms of Isis nursing her miraculously conceived son Horus became the blueprint for our modern images of the Virgin Mary nursing Baby Jesus. And virtually all the elements of the Catholic ritual – the miter, the altar, the doxology, and communion, the act of "God-eating" – were taken directly from earlier pagan mystery religions."

    •"Nothing in Christianity is original. The pre-Christian God Mithras – called the Son of God and the Light of the World – was born on December 25, died, was buried in a rock tomb, and then resurrected in three days. By the way, December 25 is also the birthday or Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus. The newborn Krishna was presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Even Christianity's weekly holy day was stolen from the pagans."

    February 26, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Scott

      Proof?

      February 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Liberals Are Stupid

      ...said the misguided atheist who has created his own history.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • SHAIARRA

      MOSES USED THE NAME YAH FOR GOD AFTER THE ETHIOPIAN JETHRO AND ZIPORAH, EL, ELOHYM AND EL ROI AND YHVH WERE IN USE LONG BEFORE ABRAHAM OF UR aka SUMER AS THE WORD EDEN AND ADAMA

      February 26, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • gman

      once again you state assumptions not facts because you are not truly familiar with scripture. most

      christians believe Jesus was born in a time frame more close to late september or october. we just accept the

      historical worship day.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Elspeth

      If the God of the world is ONE and he has but one begotten Son, then who cares when the names were existent in human history...as they have always been existent since God...

      February 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Someone

      OK, to anyone who doesn't get Central Scrutinizer's post:

      The point here is that Christianity is not unique, or original, or inherently "truer" than any other religion. Just like other religions, it borrows, steals, usurps, and assimilates ideas and concepts that have been rehashed numerous times. It is meant to challenge Christians' belief that their particular fairy tales have more validity than anyone else's fairy tales.

      Get some perspective please.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Elspeth

      Oh we get the point. And "steal" is a blatant attack. If there is only one God, which Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe then what one calls Him is irrelevant. Furthermore, if there is only One then there is nothing to "steal.". Right is right and always will be regardless of the name you affix to it. If the Sumarians were worshiping God then the name they called Him by is irrelevant.

      It's semantics you and your kind argue. And it's boring

      February 26, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Someone

      To: Elspeth:

      Really? So what you're saying is, then, it doesn't matter whehter you're Christian, Muslim, Jew, or Pagan for that matter. They're all the same.

      I don't see the average Christian going around and saying to the average Muslim "Hey brother! You're cool! It's the same god".

      As soon as you start celebrating December 25 as the Winter Solstice Celebration for the lengthening of the days and coming of the next spring, as Opposed to "Christmas", I'll start taking you sriously.

      February 26, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  17. anuj

    hinduism is the best religion, christianity sucks

    February 26, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Sean McGuinness

      Thank you for this work. As an Irish Sinner, I take amazing comfort in this article. It's nice to know Jesus' eyes would have lit up at my Kai-Joose Whiskey right after he thumbed through my Kung-Fu movies and selected "Fearless" by Jet Li. Things may not be so bad after all...

      February 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      I don't really look at Hinduism as a religion, even though it is often described as the oldest religion. It is more a life style. And very tolerent with many different styles of living a daily moral life. Some Hindus are even athiests. It is really about being a good person and an interest is some very old, but still relevant philisophies. Hey, I think I agree with you!

      February 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • peace

      That is your opinion. It is my understanding Hindus are not taught to criticize. Remember, as you be so shall it be to you.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  18. Chris Church

    I don't see that using the term "menstrual rags" makes the Bible more relevant to us today where menstrual rags are no longer used and filthy rags are much more familiar. Nor is there any great movement to "tidy up" God by Christians today. Most of the Bible "censorship" you describe occurred in 1611 when the KJV was translated.

    As a civilization, we have advanced beyond cannibalism, child sacrifice, slavery, crucifixion, and a lot of other behaviors that were common in ancient times. Dwelling on the barbarity of past ages does not bring us closer to God. Nor do I see that spreading the knowledge of the true idioms that were used in the original biblical languages causes us to identify more closely with God. Why shouldn't the Bible use the language and idioms we use today that reflect the world as we know it rather than the world as it then was? Doesn't that make it more relevant rather than less so?

    Finally, you wrongly emphasize the isolated misdeeds of famous biblical heroes and represent them as patterns of character. Just because the Bible records that Noah got drunk does not mean that Noah was a drunkard. Nor was Abraham an inveterate liar, nor Moses a murderer (though he did kill an Egyptian overseer in defense of another Hebrew), nor Jesus a "partier." In the latter case, you corrupt the original meaning of the scriptures by using a modern term that connotes an excess and licentiousness that can in no way be ascribed to Jesus Christ. Jesus was not an ascetic, like John the Baptist. He ate heartily and drank wine, so his detractors labeled him a glutton and a drunk. But he was, of course, neither.

    In our desire to make the Bible "relevant" and its heroes "real," it is equally dishonest to portray the apostles and patriarchs as altogether like the average man or woman as it is to make them gods.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • theTruth

      thankfully we tamed the christians. Well, at least somewhat. Otherwise it'd be inquisitions all over the world. (BTW: it was good people who made that happen, not religions)

      February 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Elspeth

      Wow! And what letters follow your name pray tell? The article is on point. Filthy vs menstural is HUGELY different. A person can contemplate picking up a filthy rag but I dare say there is not a man alive who would voluntarily pick up menstural rags. The same goes for "piles of [excrement]" vs "piles of garbage". One is merely unpleasant the other is disgusting to the point of causing vomit.

      The "new" translations of the Bible that tout they have gone back to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, are lying because we see nothing like these illustrations above in e new translations.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Elspeth

      And...Jesus was a "partier" by standards of his day the same as a "partier" of today standards. He deviated from social norms in ways that modern people would consider "lodies" and "drunkards" deviants.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  19. 1man

    The Bible is a complete work of fiction. And should be treated as such , just like Zues and the gods of olympus. It is a "fun" little fun fairy tale.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • John

      Amen! 🙂

      February 26, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • christophorm

      Im all about the good news, that man can get out of his own way and live a clean life, through faith in the blood that cleanses a man or women, which is supernatural and glorious... but a good video to watch is" 23 minutes in Hell' by bill wiese.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  20. theTruth

    ..good and evil are an expression of your personal needs. An atheist will do good deeds without a promise of afterlife. A religionist is tainted, and often becomes confused with why.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • theTruth

      The cons sp-ank-ed as children learn to h-a-t-e (as the Taliban). ..

      February 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • theTruth

      So hateful to destroy school budgets for disadvantaged children and to end healthcare so that only a select group gets these advantages. Just a sad truth.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.