home
RSS
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.)

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. David Claytor

    @Lawrence Renyer Jesus' teaching were the most revolutionizing lessons every taught in the history of the world. Love thy neighbor, love your enemy, do good to those that despitefully use you, humility, selfless giving, denying yourself for the sake of others and the greatest lesson of all was not spoken but demonstrated and it is summed up in these words: greater love has no man than this but that a man would lay down his life for his friends. Jesus died for all because he loves us all. What is it about him that you despise?

    February 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Yo!

      Jesus was never the son of a god. DUH!

      February 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • jimtanker

      There was no jesus to say those things. The gospels were written by MANY anonymous authors 100 to 400 CE. Noone was sitting around writing down what your character jesus said. There are NO firsthand accounts of what happened. NONE.

      February 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  2. Rebecca

    postmorm...you seriously come off as a child. Just because you live in a life that's full of hatred, insecurities and unresolved issues doesn't mean you should respond in animosity to everyone that doesn't see things like you do. Try growing a little. And if you say your life isn't full of hatred, insecurities and unresolved issues then there's another problem...your living in denial. now, I don't know you but I know when a person lives in these conditions they respond that way. I know because I myself found myself in the same situation years ago.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  3. stanton

    PAUL TOOK THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND ADDED TWO HUNDRED MORE DOES AND DON'TS FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN'T AND WONT AND TELL YOU THAT YOU HAD BETTER NOT EITHER!!!!!

    February 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Is there a reason you are screaming at us?

      February 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  4. David Claytor

    @There_are_no... How many times do you have to say that Jesus never existed before you believe it? Say what you want about him but he DEFINITELY lived and walked the earth over 2000 years ago. You can attempt to debate his deity but his existence cannot be debated. He is alive and I know it because He lives in me! "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent..." Matt. 11:25

    February 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • jimtanker

      No he didn't DEFINITELY live. If you have any contemporary extrabiblical evidence whatsoever that this fictional character was ever real then you will be the first person ever.

      February 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Joe T.

      So he lives in you. I hope he is paying rent.

      How do you know he is living in you and you aren't just insane? Can you offer any proof besides "Thinking about Jesus makes me feel all happy inside" or "the Bible says..."?

      February 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  5. Wisdom4u2

    Again and again:

    “….And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35
    ‘…and for a sign to be opposed’ and ‘…to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’
    And you unbelievers say the Bible isn’t true….REALLY? You all have ‘opposed’ Him, and your darken ‘hearts’ have been ‘revealed’. And that is just a small sample of ’hitting the nail on the head’, keep going…you are only proving God‘s Word to be ‘TRUTH‘. Derrr

    February 27, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • jimtanker

      I can quote nonsensical bible quotes too.

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      February 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      I'm sorry, I'm not following you.

      What does your quoted verse have to do with the discussion at hand?

      February 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Wisdom4u2

      jimtanker, Bizarre, MarcTTF and all of your other dumb aliases.... You're not funny, you're just sad. You're just a troll with no one to call your own.....poor thing.

      February 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Joe T.

      Troll what? He's refusing to sugarcoat the Bible by posting about the horrible stuff God said to do. It is very relevant to the article.

      Oh wait, you don't like that part of the Bible. Oh I'm sorry. I forgot. Christians like to sugarcoat the Bible.

      February 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Wisdom4u2

      My bad.....@ myweightinwords ~~~~~~ Grow a brain. I was addressing the bozo's who falsely believe that the Bible isn't 'truth'. Therefore, it has everything to do with the article….okay?

      February 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Wisdom4u2,

      I am none of those nice folks, but thanks for the compliment.

      February 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • jimtanker

      “All right,” the Lord said. “You may bake your bread with cow dung instead of human dung.”
      –Ezekiel 4:12-15

      February 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Forgive me, I was attempting to engage you in meaningful conversation regarding the topic of the article and your use of that particular quote. I was rather hoping for you to expound upon your reasons for choosing that particular quote and how you believed it spoke to the concept of language and the evolution of religion out of the context of the bible, how translations and "sugarcoating" have affected the way we see the bible.

      I was unaware that faced with such a request, you would divert to insults. I will leave you to your juvenile trolling and seek civil discourse with another.

      February 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  6. stanton

    STICK THIS COLUMN WHERE THE SUN DON'T SHINE!!!!

    February 27, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  7. Religion is Not Healthy for the Individual or Society

    Prayer is delusional and changes nothing.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  8. Brad

    Wonderful article, I totally agree!

    February 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  9. Lawrence Renyer

    Why don't we just get real and call it what it is, some distorted history and a whole bunch of myth

    February 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  10. Reality

    Only for Mr. James,

    Welcome to the 21st century:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    “New Torah/OT For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    February 27, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Dan

    Nice Atheist spam rambling that has nothing to do with the article.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |

    Richard57

    some of what you say about misuse and disrespect of religion is true. of course, you neglect anything good about it..your position is not supported..just recitation of other's works. 66 writers....2000...years....more sophisticated than you know. in imperfect language , about imperfect man struggling with good and evil...oh, just because you don't believe it doesn't mean it isn't the truth.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |

    Reality

    For those who are reading challenged: (from a PowerPoint slide)

    SAVING 2 BILLION LOST CHRISTIANS:
    THERE WERE NEVER ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY.

    SAVING 15.5 MILLION ORTHODOX FOLLOWERS OF JUDAISM:
    ABRAHAM AND MOSES PROBABLY NEVER EXISTED.

    Added details upon request.

    February 27, 2012 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |

    Dan

    Excellent article Steven James, and thank you CNN for posting it!

    February 27, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Katharine

    I feel compelled to point out that the painting depicted in the article photo is actually derived from the Apocryphal story of Judith slaying Holofernes. Curious that the author would select a scene that isn't found in the Biblical canon.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Ajhuman

    Don't be so sure the author selects the accompanying photos. I would venture to guess he's as surprised as you.

    February 27, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |

    Betsy

    Great article!!!

    February 27, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Steve

    The Church will continue to 'sugar coat' anything if they feel it will bring extra $ on Sunday. It has nothing at all to do with Religion and everything to do with Marketing. That's because Religion is a human-born sham. The truth hurts.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Mark from Middle River

    So when many churches give back to the community in the way of outreach and homeless ministries, activities that are generally viewed as good in the community, you still think those churches are a sham?

    February 27, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    there's a difference between THE Church.. and local churches..

    February 27, 2012 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |

    Steve

    @Mark from Middle River – Many, many businesses and charitys are very giving. That is not the point I am making.

    February 27, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |

    Ricky

    My take: the bible, as all the other so-called "holy" books, are a mixture of fairy tales, half-truths, and hearsay. They are an interest read, because as other works of fiction, they do include some accurate historical references that give us some light of how people lived back them. However, just like other fictional works, they should not be taken seriously, and much less as the word of a god(s).

    February 27, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Da King

    Ricky, God may reach out and touch you someday. He would like you to know He loves you but you will have to get over your rebellion against him so you can know he is there for you. He sent his son because he lover YOU.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    Ricky: kindly keep your opinion to books you have read.. do not try to over-generalize. you'll be closing your senses to some great inspiration..

    February 27, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |

    Ricky

    Well, if he/she/it wants to talk to me, I would like that; I'm a very approachable individual, and for I read about Jesus, he and I would have gotten along well.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |

    Ricky

    I have read the bible anonfemme. A few times actually.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |

    HeavenSent

    Da King, maybe Jesus will help Ricky get over his addiction to oil cans due to his condition of dry bones.

    Amen.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |

    HeavenSent

    GIAR Ricky, you're suppose to read the Bible throughout your life.

    Amen.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    i trust that you have read the Bible (hopefully not to anyone under 18.. it's quite uncensored in its choice of words).. just don't use your experience with Christianity to defame other faiths.. that's all.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |

    Ricky

    HeavenSent (LOL), it is not by far the biggest book I've read, and I'm a fast reader. I've read it twice while in catechesis. I cannot imagine how it would take you a life long?! I guess then that I have read it more than you. Don't worry, i wont tell you how it ends, but there is a twist at the end

    February 27, 2012 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |

    TheMiddleWay

    You can read the bible anyway you want because it is a work of fiction. Who gives a flying monkey's /\s$ how you read the bible. Just don't read it like the Quran or else we'll have some christian taliban issues that we all could do without right about now.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Mark from Middle River

    That would contend with the bigoted view that everyone who reads the Koran are Taliban.

    Wow Middle, your definition of the Middle is very biased.

    Also, the Koran reading Taliban were not a problem when we, the United States were fighting the Soviets. Then they were our friendly Koran reading ..Allies

    February 27, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    i love you Mark from Middle River.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |

    Da King

    It was written by God. Seem like you are stuck in the middle of the way there.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |

    Ricky

    I agree. I enjoyed reading the bible because I like fiction. The same with the qur'an, torah, vedas, etc.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    wow.. i'd love to see Ricky's book collection.. easy to say you've read them all.. much harder to actually do that tho..

    February 27, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |

    Richard57

    66 writers over 2000 years. they concur and they speak accurately of a future. every year the validity and reliability of the scriptures is strengthened through archaeology. Dead sea scrolls. every argument is refuted. stopped as though someone expected it and planned for it. it even speaks of scoffers and fools People who don't want it have the freedom of rejecting the promises and directions toward a healthier life. a relationship with god in Christ Jesus has been working in my life. ELIJAH, ISAIAH.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |

    HeavenSent

    Middle, we have the likes of you dry bones that believe in the fairy tale that you derived from apes so you can use the excuse to act like animals or the big bang theory, so you can explode at any given point throughout your life ... to contend with.

    Amen.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |

    Rob

    So nice to see an article like this one on CNN. Thanks for not giving us LZ's take on things. I think after his race card article last week, that should be enough on the subject. So sad to see so many splintered ideas. Seems odd but I never meet the Christians that the Athiests always speak of in posts. Please the ram their beliefs down other people's, well you know. If the Ten Commandments have been on the wall in a court house for 50 or 60 years. Why is it now that you are so offended? What was it about the previous half century that made them Ok? Most would agree that the 10 commandments are a good moral code to follow for all of mankind at the least. So if I like a good moral code to be displayed where criminals and lawless people are taken to go before a judge and jury, I am imposing some kind forced religion on you. Pretty silly. Very sad.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Sick and...

    Let's see if we can't get this discussion to 72 pages...

    Place your bets everyone, how much internet rage shall be posted before the day is out? Do I see *73* pages? *74*? Over 9000?

    February 27, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Da King

    Yea, all the hype about the verbiage seems petty. The writer seem to be a believer, but the masses have been fed by the Word
    just the way it is for 2000 + years. I think the writer wanted to draw attention to himself.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |

    REE

    Amen... I don't think I would go so far as to say Jesus was a "partier", but the point is that unlike the strict piety of the supposed Holy men of the Sanhedren He was approachable and He knew the frailties of man. Because frailties are born into man He knows them to be acceptable until THE better way is seen. One very important point: You really need to read it in order to state opinions of The Word. Most do NOT.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:17 am | Report abuse | Reply

    HappyMadison

    Bible editing is nothing new. The oldest bible is the Codex Sinaiticus. There's a whoooooole lot of difference between that and the current one. For one thing, there's nothing in it about the resurrection of Christ. Pretty big difference.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse | Reply

    CJP

    However, the resurrection is even referenced in extra biblical sources and it is also the one really good explanation as to why Christianity flourished in the first century.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |

    HappyMadison

    What 'extra bibllical' sources are you speaking of? And are you saying that a story must be true in order to be propagated?

    February 27, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    i agree.. the story of Jesus' resurrection was a political tool used to propagate the political party of Christianity to overcome the Romans..

    February 27, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |

    Inoculated

    Are you just a big Adam Sandler fan or what?

    February 27, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |

    Codex Sinaiticus has the Resurection Story in it.

    Try Wikipedia or the website for the Codex Sinaiticus. There is not much difference between modern Bibles and this one. Why post your stupidity when it is so easy to verify a statement. You must not really be a happy person.

    February 27, 2012 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    no sir.. the Codex Sinaiticus does NOT say anything about a resurrection.. it merely says that the disciples found an empty tomb! try again..

    February 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    p.s. "try wikipedia" ..really? lol

    February 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |

    impressed

    Great article! This cuts through religious mumbo jumbo and gets closer to the heart of God. The world has had enough of religion, let's focus back in on the love of Jesus!

    February 27, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse | Reply

    anonfemme

    so.. the actions of your "Lord" Jesus were such that observers called him a drunkard and a glutton? ...great role model you got there!

    February 27, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Sick and...

    But we must remember that, at the time, if you drank wine or had any kind of unnecessary celebration, you were a drunkard an a glutton.

    I would hate to live back then, wouldn't you?

    February 27, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |

    CJP

    It wasn't that he was a drunkard and a glutton. These were accusations. There were many more. However, they were all bogus. The same criticism is directed at Christianity today by people who want to discredit it.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    but you must also remember that the wine referred to in the Bible is not the alcoholic wine you drink of so freely. we must also remember that Jesus lived in a time of excess and illiteracy and immorality.. so no, you would not be considered a drunk or glutton by having a few sips.. also, what sort of unnecessary celebration was Jesus a part of.. I can't think of any he did "unnecessaril." he was a great Prophet of God, one who maintained a righteous and model life on earth..

    February 27, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |

    ryan l

    some how i think you missed this point "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."

    February 27, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    piety is as much a part of the teachings of Jesus as honesty. if we stop striving for piety.. no level of honesty will allow us into the Gates of Heaven..

    February 27, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |

    Sane Believer

    No, self-righteous, pretentious religionists called him a drunkard and a glutton. Not unlike the way modern-day Pharisees behave.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |

    Glen

    The Pharisees called Jesus a drunk and a glutton because he dined with sinners. He went to the house of Matthew the tax collector. Jesus was not in fact a drunk and a glutton..

    February 27, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    yes.. he absolutely was not! he was religious, he was mindful that his actions would influence those around him.. he would never have "partied" so much that people would have even falsely accused him of any indecency!

    February 27, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |

    TR6

    @Me:” God is all loving and forgiving, but he is also a just God. He can't be just if the unrepentant don't get punished.”

    So because your god is just, he is prevented from being mercyfull.

    February 27, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |

    Pastafarian

    Fact: the bible was written by ancient, uneducated men to control the masses through fear and guilt.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse | Reply

    anonfemme

    maybe not originally.. the council of nicea really messed things up tho by giving this elite group in the Church pick and choose what would become a part of the Bible.. since then every new version has brought about changes.. if the Bible was so true and pure.. it should have been left untouched.. the original words of Jesus' disciples are nowhere to be found!

    February 27, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |

    Missouri Boy

    Nope: Fallacy. The Bible was NOT written by ignorant and un-educated men. Only parts of the Bible were written by "unlearned and ignorant men".....but the "educated" took knowledge that these ignorant and uneducated men" had "been with Jesus"!

    February 27, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    correct.. it was the "educated" that decided which of the teachings of Jesus to mess around with ie. drinking alcohol, consuming swine, incorporating pagan symbols and traditions. all things things added to appeal to the ignorant masses to bring them within the political fold of Christianity..

    February 27, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |

    Obvious

    You love conspiracy theories, don't you? The texts written by these "uneducated men" are still being read by billions of people thousands of years after they were written. What have you done that one person will talk about even 100 years from now?

    February 27, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    not only are they being read but criticized for the inaccuracies WITHIN the texts.. for holy books LEFT OUT of the texts.. not one version matches with another.. how can you defend a text that has no similarity to its original! this is not what the disciples of Jesus wanted to convey.. it is mish-mash of hundreds of thousands of human minds who thought they knew better than Jesus himself!

    February 27, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |

    Butters

    If god is all-loving and all-forgiving, why did he have his followers commit genocide on many of those nations?

    February 26, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    Syman Pons

    People who truly understand what the Creator desires do not kill or try to kill other spiritual beings. People who do such things do not understand or know the Creator.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |

    SciGuy

    God is not all-loving and not all-forgiving. That's popular, but not biblical, theology.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    Syman: didn't the writer just say that Moses is a murderer in the Bible.. did Prophet Moses not truly understand his Creator?

    February 27, 2012 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |

    Me

    God can only forgive those who want to be forgiven. Those people didn't acknowledge or worship Him as their creator and savior. God is all loving and forgiving, but he is also a just God. He can't be just if the unrepentant don't get punished. There's your answer.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |

    Jimmy

    God's primary job is to bring about salvation. Sometimes it is necessary to wipe out a few (for instance Al Queda) in order to promote good. Here in America we lock up in jail the bad apples. Should we say then, why are. Americans so cruel by imprisoning people who get their kicks doing bad?

    February 27, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |

    Observer

    Syman Pons,

    "People who truly understand what the Creator desires do not kill or try to kill other spiritual beings."

    So for THOUSANDS of years before Christ, believers were NOT to follow the long list of commands from God to kill people?

    February 27, 2012 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |

    Observer

    Jimmy,

    "God's primary job is to bring about salvation. Sometimes it is necessary to wipe out a few"

    It's been estimated that the Bible directly references the killing of over 1,000,000 people by God's DIRECT commands.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    a "follower" does not merely have to verbalize his position.. he must also follow God's commands and live by the examples of His Prophets.. otherwise, he is insane.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |

    anonfemme

    ultimately it is for God to decide who was following His Commands and who was using His Name to propagate his own insanity.. we must not turn away from faith because of someone else's actions.. there will be not pointing fingers on the Day of Judgement..

    February 27, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |

    Paul

    My Take: toss the Bible where it belongs, in the Trash can together with the Koran.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    Syman Pons

    Paul:
    Try asking the Creator to establish a relationship with you. You will be surprised with the result. You will then understand what the value of the Bible and the Koran are to yor fellow spiritual beings who read and study them and why.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |

    « Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 Next »

    Post a comment

    Name: (required)

    E-mail: (required, but will not be displayed)

    February 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Wisdom4u2

      What a sad and loney individual you are!!

      February 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Nope

      ~The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.~

      February 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  12. kme

    With the idea/"mystery" of the Trinity, religion really "jumped the shark". After that, everything is explainable as magic and nothing matters any more.

    It's no wonder people are "sugarcoating" language...once you've sugarcoated the whole of reality, what's a little euphemism among friends?

    February 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  13. stanton

    YOU HAVE DESTROYED MY BELIEF WITH YOUR CENSORSHIP!!!!!!

    February 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      stanton,

      If you quit SHOUTING, I will post the list of word fragments which trigger the automatic filter here...

      February 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      If it was that easy to destroy, it probably wasn't worth believing. What's your excuse for not using the shift key?

      February 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  14. Bob

    I'm not going to engage in an argument with the self-proclaimed atheists or those who hate the Bible, Christianity, religion, etc. If that's you, then the article is meaningless to you anyway. For those of us who do believe in God and the Bible, it's a well-written and thought provoking article. Kudos to Steven James.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      I am neither an Atheist nor a hater of the bible.

      I do not believe the bible to be anything more than a collection of myth and legend of a particular people at a particular time and place, but I do not hate it.

      That said, and offering up the notion that I am a writer myself, I can appreciate the article for calling believers to go back to really understand the words as they are written.

      Of course, when I did that, I ended up leaving the faith.

      February 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  15. David Claytor

    @ Horus Beasts survive, humans live. I don't know about you but II don't want to simply "be", I want to live. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

    February 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  16. stanton

    MORE CENSORSHIP THAT'S JUST ABOUT WHAT I EXPECTED FROM YOU GUTLESS COWARD'S

    February 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • sam

      Uh oh...*somebody's* new to the internet!

      February 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      No apostrophe in "cowards"

      February 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  17. realtalk

    Good article. What till the truth comes that God and Lord are pagan names and "God's" real name had been removed long ago. Or, wait till the fact come that Israel were people of color, and were constantly being confused with Egyptians (who were black in those day) and Ethiopians. What will the world (west) do. Oh i know, edit the bible and give you an image of Jesus, regardless what the bible says he and his people look like.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  18. Wisdom4u2

    “….And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35
    ‘…and for a sign to be opposed’ and ‘…to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’
    And you unbelievers say the Bible isn’t true….REALLY? You all have ‘opposed’ Him, and your darken ‘hearts’ have been ‘revealed’. And that is just a small sample of ’hitting the nail on the head’, keep going…you are only proving God‘s Word to be ‘TRUTH‘. Derrr

    February 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • MarcTTF

      "Bah, Bah a black Sheep,
      Have you any Wool?
      Yes merry have I,
      Three Bags full,
      One for my master,
      One for my Dame,
      One for the little Boy
      That lives down the lane."

      Mother Goose 16:71

      February 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Wisdom4u2

      you poor silly ass thing!

      February 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Wisdom4u2, For you:

      An Ass put on a Lion's skin and went
      About the forest with much merriment,
      Scaring the foolish beasts by brooks and rocks,
      Till at last he tried to scare the Fox.
      But Reynard, hearing from beneath the mane
      That Raucous voice so petulant and vain,
      Remarked. O' Ass, I too would run away,
      But that I know your old familiar bray'.
      That's just the way with asses, just the way.”
      ― Aesop(620-560 BC)

      February 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      LET's Religiousity Law #2 – Circular holy book reasoning + sweaty fervor = mental retardation

      February 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  19. reason

    If you look at organized religion objectively there is virtually no chance any one is truth, and even if one does turn out to be true, that god has provided no rational basis for believing in it. The gods of all organized religions, if true, would all be horribly unjust and evil dieties to send billions of people to eternal suffering for choosing the wrong one or being born in the wrong place.

    The Christians who think God is truly just and will send non-Christians to heaven simply for being good people give little reason to believe in their long obsolete world view.

    Nobody knows for absolute certainty what the truth is and deluding yourself in organized religion does nothing to change the reality of whatever the truth actually is. If there is a just god and an afterlife atheists are more likely to go to heaven than those who reject reason and lie to themselves and others about organized religion.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Hmm, somehow that sounds absolutely ridiculous! So, you believe if heaven exists (which comes from the Bible), only the people that reject the Bible and God will enter? That's not really "reason" at all! So, if Never-neverland does exist, one thing we can be certain is Peter Pan has it wrong? Just doesn't follow logic at all! Also, there is a right answer. To completely reject that a single religion could have that truth is just beyond illogical!

      February 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • J

      Unjust deities...funny to think that somehow we are so awesome that we can impose our own morality onto God. As the Bible says, God's way are "above our ways". What if God is so holy that any amount of injustice cannot stand before him? That is what the Bible says...it is just hard for people to accept the fact that they are not in control.

      And your comments show you don't understand the message of the Bible at all. Nowhere does it say that people will go to heaven "simply for being good people". What is says is that just being a "good person" does nothing for you, it is only through having a life-changing relationship with God and accepting Jesus' death in your place is the only way that you are good enough to go to heaven. Not through what we do.

      February 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  20. KD

    Excellent commentary Steven

    February 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91
Advertisement
About this blog

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