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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. CRYINGTOGOD

    understand depths of sin. if you were like me i saw bible verses but no one explained to me what it meant, what were key pts to understanding how to be saved. if only someone had i coulda been saved earlier.

    romans 3:23- for all have sinned and fallen short of glory of God: means we are sinners. sin is breaking of Gods commandments such as lieing stealing listing
    romans 6:23 Wage of sin is death but gift of God is eternal life in Christ: shows payment for sin is hell
    romans 5;8 God demonstrated his love ot us in yet while we were sinners Christ died for us. Christ shed his blood on corss and rose on third day to show you can have a new life in Christ. be forgiven by blood of christ
    "Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you in to my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior. I want to serve you always."

    then preach away, read bible, pray, ask God where he would have you to learn in a church setting or hone setting or whatever. be filled with Holy Spirit, confess sins (james 5:16)
    not good works or being good person. understanding ultimate sin in our herats and depths of it and our greatest need for salvation that is found only thru jesus christ and his blood shed on cross and only way we can overcome sin is by receiving Holy Spirit in our hearts to overcome sin and be washed clean amen!

    February 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Paul

      masturbating to God

      February 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Nemo

      No one is going to have the patience to read all that, You're wasting your time.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Paul, I masturbate often and I resent you bringing God into it. I think you are a strange, inhibited man and you need to do something besides bother people with little statements like that.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • CRYINGTOGOD

      dear soul who is seraching is never a waste of time.,

      February 26, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Nemo

      At least spell some of your words right to appear reasonable then. And remember; paragraphs are your friend.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  2. John Arevalo

    I am sick of people telling me what God wants or doesn't want. How do you know what God wants? Does God want us to recite prayers over and over and over, to gain God's favor? Does God want to be endlessly worshiped? That kinda seem a bit egotistic... not very god-like. But what do I know... what does anyone KNOW?

    February 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Paul

      ur question is the basis for all churches .. educate yourself and the church will go away

      February 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Liberals Are Stupid

      Read the Bible and stop acting stupid. It's all right there. Put your big pants on and stop acting like a baby.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • NVRWRNG

      Liberals – You are basing your entire life's faith off of one book, that was written 2000 years ago? That to me is insane. While I don't disrespect you in anyway, I really truly believe it should be mandated that all children should be forced science down there throats and not until the age of about 12-16 should they be allowed into a church at all. Give them some time to build factual information. If they have all of that background and choose to believe, power to them, no one can hate on them for that, some people just have the inherited gene to believe. But I bet you if that became law, religion would ultimately die out.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  3. SHAIARRA

    PeacePirate
    Oh Debra Algebra Ebneezra Kadabra! Witch Goddess, Witch Goddess of Lankershim Boulevard! Cover my entire body with Avon Cologne And drive me to some relative's house in East L.A. Just till my skin clears up Turn it to Channel 13 And make me watch the rubber tug When it comes out Make me kiss your t... more
    Oh Debra Algebra Ebneezra Kadabra!
    Witch Goddess, Witch Goddess of Lankershim Boulevard!
    Cover my entire body with Avon Cologne
    And drive me to some relative's house in East L.A.
    Just till my skin clears up
    Turn it to Channel 13
    And make me watch the rubber tug
    When it comes out
    Make me kiss your turquoise jewelry!
    Emboss me!
    Give me boss-relief!
    less

    February 26, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Paul

      now that was smart ... u need to get laid

      February 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  4. Paul

    Educate yourself ... u are very much free to believe in God, if you want to, just don't use God as a mean to preach people into ignorance, just because if suits your wallet

    February 26, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  5. CRYINGTOGOD

    understand depths of sin. if you were like me i saw bible verses but no one explained to me what it meant, what were key pts to understanding how to be saved. if only someone had i coulda been saved earlier.

    romans 3:23- for all have sinned and fallen short of glory of God: means we are sinners. sin is breaking of Gods commandments such as lieing stealing listing
    romans 6:23 Wage of sin is death but gift of God is eternal life in Christ: shows payment for sin is hell
    romans 5;8 God demonstrated his love ot us in yet while we were sinners Christ died for us. Christ shed his blood on corss and rose on third day to show you can have a new life in Christ. be forgiven by blood of christ
    "Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you in to my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior. I want to serve you always."

    then preach away, read bible, pray, ask God where he would have you to learn in a church setting or hone setting or whatever. be filled with Holy Spirit, confess sins (james 5:16)

    February 26, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Paul

      you mean masturbating to God ...

      February 26, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • CRYINGTOGOD

      not good works or being good person. understanding ultimate sin in our herats and depths of it and our greatest need for salvation that is found only thru jesus christ and his blood shed on cross and only way we can overcome sin is by receiving Holy Spirit in our hearts to overcome sin and be washed clean amen!

      February 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  6. sybaris

    Religion, the ultimate ponzi scheme

    February 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Paul

      church, the body to legalize ponzi scheme

      February 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  7. Sandra

    It would be nice just once to read the comments on an article such as this and see the article itself discussed instead of everyone trying to convince each other if there is or isn't a God.

    February 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • hez316

      Agreed! I doubt anyone will have a change of faith based on arguing on this thread.

      February 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  8. augustghost

    Ahh this story seems to have brought alot of the religious nut cases out.....It's all a fairytale people....

    February 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Jack_of_Arts

      Again it's people/trolls like yourself that proves that Atheism is now the new religion in this Century. You folks are as fanatically driven to is disprove the existence of spirituality or an afterlife as any Muslim, Evangelical Christian, or Jew. Welcome to the religious world! Prepare to be disproven with equal amounts of passion and vitriol!!

      February 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  9. J Brouillette

    Matthew 10:28: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Matthew 23:33: You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

    There is a movement today among certain groups of people to deny the existence of hell, because that way we can all just sin and have a good time here on earth with no fear of everlasting fire. Don't be fooled. This is a satanic trap to get even more people to sin. Hell is real, it's hot, it lasts forever, it stinks, it's loud, it's hopeless, it's torture, it's ugly, and it's lonely. Heaven, on the other hand, is beautiful beyond belief, with new colors, heavenly singing, full of love and goodness and it lasts forever too. Choosing the things of this world over the things of the next world is like exchanging a trillion dollars later for a bright shiny penny now. Choose wisely!

    February 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Paul

      u poor thing, u are doing what the Devil wants u to do

      February 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Lilith

      I'm amazed that the same people who can believe that stuff to that degree can actually operate a computer.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Liberals Are Stupid

      Ahhh yes....No sin (AKA – No liberals). Something to look forward to.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by J. Brouillette presents a false dichotomy and consists essentially of a form of the flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager combined with supersti-tious thinking and circular reasoning .

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#H6

      February 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • JLS1950

      It seems to me that this Paul is citing as authority one he does not appear to believe exists.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Liberals Are Stupid
      "Ahhh yes....No sin (AKA – No liberals). Something to look forward to"

      Like the world after the rapture, without judgmental believers?

      February 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  10. Rod C. Venger

    Do gooders have been dumbing down the Bible since the 70's, and probably before that, but it's become a thing for certain groups to do to make the Bible more "accessible" and palatable to the masses. There seems to be some myth running around that the "thee"'s and "thou"'s of the King James version is too strange for modern man, but fact is, the KJV has been THE most accessible bible in our history. For the better part of 1500 years, there was only one Christian religion and was the Catholic church. All those centuries, very few people had bibles and those that did were the nobles and the churches, who could afford a handwritten copy. It wasn't until Gutenberg that printed bibles became available...in LATIN, no less. Tyndale changed that with the first English language printed bible in the mid-1500's, I think. The King James version, actually two versions, came out about 100 and 200 years later. People find it difficult to read in archaic language, but it is what it is. MOST people on the planet do not read greek, so the original isn't of much use to us. So far as I know, the King James version is the most accurate in the English language. The rubbish that came about from the 1970's on was basically a cynical lure to get people to at least open a bible in a "language you can understand", which insults their intelligence and their morals. It seems that some, I'd say liberals especially, seem to feel that reading an archaically worded bible makes them unacceptably religious to their peers, as if a KJV makes them a Jesus Freak or something. Yet a "plain, every day language" bible is somehow acceptable to the skeptics? Methinks the writer is barking at the moon here though. Correct he may be, his complaint isn't valid. There's something here that he's hiding and as per usual, he goes about it through the back alley:

    "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."

    That's what he said. Bible heroes? I've been a "protestant" for about 40 years and never heard such a thing. Jesus freak in the 70's, southern baptist, baptist, foursquare gospel, church of Christ...been there done that and all have their good points and bad. But we worship no man, KNOW that there is no person that speaks to God for us other than ourselves, not "heroes" not pastors...certainly not "saints". The Catholics believe that "saints" are somehow able to hear us and speak to God for us...intercede on our behalf...even though there's not a single biblical reference to anything of the sort. I challenge the Pope himself to show me it.

    So why is this guy trying to equate some notion he made up about protestant "heroes" to the Catholics made-up saints? I don't know, but you gotta feel in your bones that it's satanic in it's origin. Take it or leave it.

    February 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Paul

      here is one thing you could do, educate yourself.. you have along way, in the mean time, shut up

      February 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • CRYINGTOGOD

      dear mr rod you have some good pts. all i would say is just preach away and preach the gospel as much as you can. defend the truth. be filled with Holy Spirit, confess sins and christians get hem prepared to deal with hearts as well as getting nonebelievers saved. christians must deal with unconfessed sins of heart.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • thanks

      Though I'm not a KJV only type of person, I still appreciate the response since it actually adds to the article, rather than just a bunch of gibberish that attacks religion. I appreciate the fact that you use your wisdom as a Christian to bring further insight.

      To the rest of you guys, seriously, we're really tired of hearing your crap. If you guys are against prosletyzing, then why do you do it so much?

      February 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • CMT

      Rod, the King James is NOT the most accurate version out of the Bible. The King James version was actually written so that everyone in the native country would be reading the same words and believing identicle beliefs as the king...which is where the name comes from. The ESV is as close to accurate as you will find in modern day language. Many of the modern day translations translate sentences or phrases instead of word-for-word interpretation.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  11. Gumball

    Religion is nothing but altered reality. A "nice' one at that. That's why people don't want to give it up. It's the equivalent of a drug addict.

    February 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Paul

      it's a bit more complicated that that... but yes, it's a bunch of crap, at least in the doctrine ... some of the teaching, like you shall not kill , are actually appropriate. but those have nothing to do with the belief in God

      February 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Rod C. Venger

      You only say that because your own "hero" Karl Marx jotted it down on paper. Think for yourself, just this once. You CAN talk to God. On occasion he even answers.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  12. CRYINGTOGOD

    Love is freewill. Love is choice. Love does not make us be robots. Love let you choose. in end you cannot say anything bad against Him. however Love will always continue to try to rescue you...in hopes that you will be persuaded to choose right path cuz if you were going over a cliff do you think Love would just stand by and say okay goodbye. Know Love fights to rescue your soul cuz Love loves you and warn you to utter last breathe they have. God doesnt force you to sin, he knows what you will do, but you choose the sin.

    February 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      This is a primo example of what my old psychology professor referred to as "word salad".

      February 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  13. Mike

    Can someone explain to me coherently how Hell works? I was raised Christian, but lost belief and developed new ones once these questions came up: Is Satan punishing sinners in Hell? And what is so much better in Heaven? How does that place work? Every time I ask a Christian what Heaven is like and who gets in, they all have different requirements. Which denomination is correct? If we follow a timeline and afterlives are eternal, how and where do we intersect?

    I'm tired of being told that it's better to believe in God, just in case Hell is real, but I don't think I'm being a moral person if I need the threat of Hell or the promise of Heaven to see the merit of doing good deeds just out of love for my fellow conscious human beings, and the environment that has allowed for such an incredible evolutionary process. Besides, if after living a life doing my best to be the best person I can be, learning as much as I can, and attempting to understand this universe and the consciousness around me, I STILL HAVE ALL ETERNITY in the lake of fire to continue thinking and trying to figure out the nature of God, the cosmos, existence, Heaven, and Hell. If I try to live by outrageous doctrine, with constant guilt, and it turns out that those beliefs were not accurate, I'd have spent my one and only life I have to live trying to appease the imagination of illiterate goat herders thousands of years ago.

    February 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Jon

      You can't start questioning things in Christianity. Once you do that it all falls apart.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • CRYINGTOGOD

      GOD NEVER MADE HELL FOR HUMANS IT WAS FOR DEMONS AND FALLEN ANGELS. BUT WHEN MANKIND CHOSE TO EXALT SATAN THEY CHOSE TO MAKE HELL THERE HOME. BY MANS REFUSAL THEY ONLY THROW THEMSELVES INTO HELL BY REJECTING. GOD NEVER WANTED HELL FOR HUMANS BUT SINCE MANKIND CHOOSES SATAN, THEY CHOOSE HELL FOR THEMSELVES. YES GOD HAS POWER TO THROW BOTH BODY AND SOUL INTO HELL HOWEVER HE NEVER INTENDED HELL FOR HUMANS NOR DOES HE WANT ANY HUMAN TO GO TO HELL. BUT IF YOU CHOOSE SATAN AS YOUR god AS THEY DID IN BEGINNING, YOU ARE ONLY DO IT TO YOURSELF....
      jesus2020.com if wanna get saved
      if already saved, be filled with HOly Spirit, confess sins, preach gospel and rescue souls with Love

      JEREMIAH 7: IF YOU BELEIVE IN OTHER gods YOU DO IT TO YOUR OWN HARM

      February 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Liberals Are Stupid

      Don't put your faith in what I say or what any man says. Place your faith in Christ, alone, for your salvation. Read the Bible – The Bible says we can know we have eternal life. It has nothing to do with good works. It's not about how "good" or "bad" we were in this life.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • NVRWRNG

      @crying – Reread what you posted.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • CRYINGTOGOD

      you questioning most likely shows that you most possibly dont have Holy Spirit cuz a person with Holy Spirit will never question that deep if they truely have Spirit of God. But only you know. it is just rare for someone who truely has HOly Spirit to not know they arent saved. sure they have alot of questions but youi arent even sure about christianity. so i will not say for sure but you need to understand first how to get saved. go to jesus2020.com and get saved first. ROMANS 3:23 SAYS FOR ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALLEN SHORT OF GLORY OF GOD. dont worry about denominaytions understand depths of your sin nature and punsihment is hell (romans 6:23) however God loves you and wishes you not to go to hell. man chose to sin agaianst God and make satan there god so now we have humans going to hell thing. but you can escape. Jesus died on cross to pay for your sins and rose on third day so you can have a new life in Christ. turning from sin and receiving forgiveness of Christ and his blood that can wash away all your sins.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • NVRWRNG

      @crying – think it is you how needs to get checked. Do you realize how crazy you sound. Amongst actually believers you are the minority in your beliefs. Extremists never prevail in anything

      February 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Nemo

      Hell is a fallacy. I benevolent god wouldn't allow his own creations to suffer eternally for either having common sense or living in the wrong place at the wrong time.

      If there is a god, it's not the kind that lets people roast in a pit of eternal fire.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • CRYINGTOGOD

      understand depths of sin.

      romans 3:23- for all have sinned and fallen short of glory of God: means we are sinners. sin is breaking of Gods commandments such as lieing stealing listing
      romans 6:23 Wage of sin is death but gift of God is eternal life in Christ: shows payment for sin is hell
      romans 5;8 God demonstrated his love ot us in yet while we were sinners Christ died for us. Christ shed his blood on corss and rose on third day to show you can have a new life in Christ. be forgiven by blood of christ
      "Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you in to my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior. I want to serve you always."

      then preach away, read bible, pray, ask God where he would have you to learn in a church setting or hone setting or whatever. be filled with Holy Spirit, confess sins (james 5:16)

      February 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Clarify

      I wouldn't come here to ask those question or you will become further confused. Ask a believer who you trust or a pastor who your friends/family trusts. The questions are answerable to the seeker but avoid these forums that draw a lot of dark-hearted individuals.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • CRYINGTOGOD

      i do what i did with my n eighbor. i give you bible scripture and tell you what it means. i give you key pts. pretty much reads it for itself.
      understand depths of sin. if you were like me i saw bible verses but no one explained to me what it meant, what were key pts to understanding how to be saved. if only someone had i coulda been saved earlier.

      romans 3:23- for all have sinned and fallen short of glory of God: means we are sinners. sin is breaking of Gods commandments such as lieing stealing listing
      romans 6:23 Wage of sin is death but gift of God is eternal life in Christ: shows payment for sin is hell
      romans 5;8 God demonstrated his love ot us in yet while we were sinners Christ died for us. Christ shed his blood on corss and rose on third day to show you can have a new life in Christ. be forgiven by blood of christ
      "Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you in to my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior. I want to serve you always."

      then preach away, read bible, pray, ask God where he would have you to learn in a church setting or hone setting or whatever. be filled with Holy Spirit, confess sins (james 5:16)
      not good works or being good person. understanding ultimate sin in our herats and depths of it and our greatest need for salvation that is found only thru jesus christ and his blood shed on cross and only way we can overcome sin is by receiving Holy Spirit in our hearts to overcome sin and be washed clean amen!

      February 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Randy

      According to the Bible, we all deserve to go to Hell because none of us live life the way God wants us to. Sure, some people are better than others in certain ways, but even the best person has his/her vices.

      The good news is that Jesus died on the cross and payed the penatlty that we deserve for our sins. We must believe that He existed, believe that He did this, and believe in Him, in order to be redeemed of our sins. In addition, we must follow Him in our daily lives and begin to live the way that He wants us to live by turning away from our sins/vices/hangups/follies/lusts/greed/hatred/lies/hypocrisy/anger etc, etc. Then we will be saved from Hell.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Rod C. Venger

      Why ask other Christians? The Bible says what it says about it, nothing more or less. If you read and I read it, what's changed? Nothing at all. Why not read it and then ask God what it all means? The references to hell are what they are, as are the references to God's kingdom. In the latter case we are told that we cannot imagine it. In the former, it's far darker but there's still clues. They may be metaphorical or may not. Again, I suggest you read it and then ask The Writer what he meant. The answers are there for those who listen carefully and tune out the din of the peanut gallery, both human and otherwise, that would mislead you.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  14. Lords-Messenger

    For you gullible people that need someone to put themselves into a position to make you think they are closer to God than you, I'm taking messages for God and I'll be delivering them to him later today. Leave your messages for God here and I'll get them to him.

    February 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I really need Jesus. Please let God know.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • NVRWRNG

      Considering this is by far the most important message. Tell God I really need the Cowboys to win the Superbowl before I die. Book that and give him a $100 for me as well to make sure that happens. Thanks in advance!

      February 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Can I get a reliable e-mail address for him? I suspect I've been using the wrong domain name, because he never answers.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  15. Remnant of God

    As history has proven, Hitler was used by the Vatican to do similar acts so as to allow the Vatican to assure certain global laws were enacted that would benefit them and them alone. As we look at what Islam has done, and what Rome has done in the past, and how Rome has been making friends with Muslim nations the world over, is a pattern emerging? As we look at many of the laws that have been passed around the world that help the Vatican gain power, while at the same time guarantee Muslim powerful benefits, is there any wonder the man Rome would choose to lead the USA would be a Muslim? They did this very same thing with Hitler, did they not? Still, since the Vatican invented the religion of Islam, it stands to reason they also invented the Koran. That way they can influence future events as well as cause certain events they have planned appear as prophetic fulfillments. Within the Koran's pages are so called prophecies that can now be easily understood to actually be an agenda rather than prophecies that were literally penned by Vatican prelates.

    February 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  16. bob

    Science is the new religion of the 21st century.... Science has not detected a human Soul, so there is no Soul...Our purpose is just biological, and since all human bodies and civilizations fall and decay.. Our only true purpose is to turn O2 into CO2, and plant matter into fertillizer.. All else is an illusion.. Evolution tells us that one day our species will be no longer, and the earth itself maybe be destroyed in the future.. Yes, Solomon was a Wiseman, all things done by man is Vanity..

    February 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Paul

      that is as stupid as any religion ... u don't know the future, but you can define it by your action.
      It doesn't matter if an where we'll be, it matters that we journey to our discovery.
      that's it . so simple

      February 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • sybaris

      Bob, you really need to learn science from a real scientist and not from christians who claim to be scientists and certainly not from CARM or the Creation Museum.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • NVRWRNG

      Actually bob is kind of correct. Our life here in no more important than an insects or molecule of hydrogen. We make things out of nothing. We feel like our life and those around us are important because we have critical thinking ability and we would like to think we are important. Truth is we aren't important in the grand scheme of things. We will all be fertilizers one day. Regardless of what you do or the impact you leave. It will be useless in the grand scheme of things.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Science is not a religion. Atheism is not a religion. Football ... well, OK, football IS a religion.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Science isn't a religion. What religion would so readily throw out old ideas when new, better ones come to light? No, religion says "In spite of what we have learned, let's keep our old ways and outdated beliefs because an ancient book tells us to."

      February 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  17. Allen

    IIt's amazing how people hold on to believing the Bible word for word, when in fact it is no more real than a steven king novel. Puleeese.

    February 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Stephen King writes MUCH better dialog!

      February 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  18. PLEATOGOD

    God knows ahead what you will do, but he doesnt choose for you inside of your own brain and force you to do what you will do. called you freewill choose to do it.

    February 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • NVRWRNG

      That is ABSURD. I hope you spew that crap to your kids, god I hope you don't have any. The earth doesn't need people like you reproducing.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Lilith

      Thank you O lord for creating me with free will, fully knowing what I will choose to do just so you can condem me to eternal fire .. good job!

      February 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Paul

      So, why then has God allowed the Holocaust? Oh wait .. he was too busy masturbating ..

      February 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      I behave as if I have free will because what choice do I have?

      February 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Clarify

      Lilith, you do the condemning, not He. You can choose h ell or heaven. Why not heaven? Why not eternal joy, love, and peace?

      February 26, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • CRYINGTOGOD

      you have a choice to do good or evil. you can chooe evil and be controlled by it or choose Christ and be overcomer of evil that tries to control you inwardly. choose Christ and purging fire will come in your heart

      February 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • hez316

      @richardsrussell I need to remember your comment. Like.

      February 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Clarify
      At the cost of being a judgmental person, willing to shun people for no better reason than to better your chances at getting into a place with others just like that? It sounds like you're trying to get into an exclusive country club, and willing to step over people to do it. Sorry, but not everyone is that self-centered.

      February 27, 2012 at 8:13 am |
  19. J Brouillette

    Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (313-350), Bishop of Jerusalem, Doctor of the Church
    Catechesis before baptism, no.1 (trad. Migne 1993, p. 36 rev.)

    "Leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him": Lent leads to baptism
    You are catechumens, those who are preparing for baptism, disciples of the New Covenant and sharers in Christ's mysteries. Already – now by your call and soon also by grace – you have been made «a new heart and a new spirit» (Ez 18,31) to the joy of the dwellers in heaven. For if, according to the Gospel, the conversion of one sinner stirs up this joy (Lk 15,7), how much more will the salvation of so many souls not stir up the heavenly inhabitants to rejoicing?

    You have undertaken a good, a most splendid journey: set yourselves to running the race of enthusiasm. The only Son of God is waiting ready to redeem you: «Come,» he says, «you who are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest» (Mt 11,28). You who labor under sin, bound with the shackles of your misdeeds, hear what the voice of one of the prophets says: «Wash, make yourselves clean, put away your misdeeds from before my eyes» (Is 1,16) that the choir of angels may cry to you: «Happy are they whose transgression is taken away, whose sin is remitted!» (Ps 32[31],1). You who have come precisely to light the lamps of faith let your hands be diligent in guarding the flame so that he who, on our most holy hill of Golgotha, opened up paradise to the malefactor through faith (Lk 23,43) may grant you to sing the wedding song.

    If there is anyone here who is a slave of sin, let him prepare himself by means of baptismal faith for the new birth that will make a free man of him, one of the children of adoption. Let him forsake the lamentable slavery of his sins to win the blessed slavery of the Lord... By faith acquire the first fruits of the Holy Spirit» (2Cor 5,5) so that you can be received into everlasting dwellings. Come to the sacrament that will seal you with a view to making you intimates of our Lord.

    February 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  20. Steve

    Thank you to the various nay-sayers and atheist on this message board who have so eloquently shared their disbelief with the rest of us. According to them, we are all fools.
    I can live with that. I believe what I believe. I know what I know. They can have their views and their idea of what "knowledge" is. I know my God. I know my redeemer lives. I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and that's more than enough for me.
    This article was written for those who believe in the bible. You can tell this by reading it. So if you don't agree with the Bible, why do you care? If you don't agree with the idea of a God – what's it to you if I do? Take your hate, your belittling and share it amongst yourselves. Work yourselves into a frenzied state and talk to each other about how smart you are and how dumb Christians are.
    Stating your beliefs here won't change anything. The only thing it says to me is that you’re desperate to find others who don't believe in God. You feel stronger in your atheistic faith by insulting those with different beliefs. How sad.
    I found this piece right on. To those who have studied who Jesus is, I think they’ll agree.

    February 26, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Atheism is not a faith. Atheism is the absence of belief in any gods. It doesn't take faith to arrive at that position, only open-minded willingness to follow the evidence where it leads. Faith is only useful for arriving at positions for which there is absolutely no supporting evidence, and frequently ample contradictory evidence.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Gumball

      Your brain is enslaved to a dumb idea. You are not any different than a drug addict on the street that's enslaved to his drugs. Just to let you in on some understanding why the atheists find the Christians so disgusting.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • In Reason I Trust

      Sorry, you don't "know" jack. You "hope" god is real, but you have no scientific evidence. Your gut feelings about your religion are shared by every fool in every other religion that ever existed. Grow up.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Again, the ongoing topic is "belief." One side, on the most basic level, has the opinion that having faith in something is enough to make it "true", and the other side is of the opinion that it is not. So here we discuss these views, see?

      If you want a Christians-only site that doesn't allow open discussion on matters of faith there are plenty of those elsewhere on the internet.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Jon

      What I don't get though is that Jesus didn't save the world or anything like that when he was alive. All he did was wander the middle east, perform a few tricks to help some poor people then die on a cross in front of a bunch of annoyed Romans. Why do people think he is some kind of messiah. He didn't change the world when he was alive. The world was fine before him and fine after him. Why is it that people dedicate their lives and ideals to this random nobody just because he claimed to be the son of god.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Steve
      "Stating your beliefs here won't change anything."
      If you really believe this then what's the harm of us doing so? No, I think you're just a little concerned actually that people being exposed to "the other side" might actually get them thinking.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Bobby

      Jon
      Jesus, had he actually lived, was most likely just a rather wise and liberal rabbi who gathered a following Nothing more. It was Paul who made him into a hero modeled on the Greek demigods like Hercules. Without Paul, Christians would probably be a small sect of quasi-Judaism today, like the Samaritans.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • citizenMikeM

      That's as well put as anything I've ever read on a comment board. Thank you.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Paul

      none is stating beliefs here but you. The only problem is that you ignorant believers are damaging the hope of millions of people, and there is plenty of proof for that.
      Educate yourself ... u are very much free to believe in God, if you want to, just don't use God as a mean to preach people into ignorance, just because if suits your wallet

      February 26, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • bmw070402

      While I respect your right to whatever belief you have steve, I view religion as a work of fiction. Like the boogey man, easter bunny and santa clause. Unfortunately for all you true believers, there is no evidence to support your belief. I think religion is a useful psycological tool, as without some unfounded belief in life after death, there wouldn't be much hope or anything to get out of bed for in the morning. Deluding ourselves into believing that the eye in the sky is watching over us perhaps helps us cope with the tragedy that is the world. Nice stories and message, but not one shred of evidence to support the belief. Something I have never understood about the whole life after death thing is that in all the eons of people on this planet that have died, why hasn't even one of them figured out how to come back? Or at least been able to let us know that they are there in the afterlife?? Of course I could be totally wrong, but I don't want to prove it one way or the other as there is only one way to find out!!

      February 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Clarify

      Well said. As you can see from the comments following yours, atheists come onto these forums not for the purpose of enlightenment or reasonable discussion, but to bully and verbally crucify Chri stians. There is no reasoning in blind hatred.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Clarify
      Where do you get "hatred" out of the things I've posted after Steve's comment?

      February 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Clarify

      @oh yeah...the majority have a cruel enjoyment of persecuting believers. I did not phrase this otherwise as there are usually so very few respectable atheists who stop at the belief threads.

      February 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Clarify
      From my perspective, many believers see simple criticism as "persecuting", and let's not forget that it cuts both ways, and there are a lot of equally offensive believers here as well.

      February 27, 2012 at 8:09 am |
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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.