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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. Religion is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer is delusional .

    February 28, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  2. Nii Croffie

    An atheist Christian sees the Church as a social club where there are nice friends. Maybe family. Its hard for an Evangelical atheist to understand but do try. The world is not simple. That is why one plus one is two if u r six years old. U know this but u wud rather insult me. Atheist Pharisees?

    February 28, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • ...

      Report abuse on Nii posts. Nii is a bigot and hateful ignorant coward and has no place here.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:39 am |
    • Mirosal

      You really ARE an idiot aren't you? Not one X-tian will say they are an atheist in any way, shape, or form. And not a single Atheist will tell you they are a X-tian. X-tians belive in a 'god'. Atheists do not. It's just that simple. So how can one believe in a god and NOT believe in a god at the same time?

      February 28, 2012 at 6:41 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Mirosal: This dolt fails to comprehend the simplest of things...why would you expect him to believe that there is no such thing as an Atheist christard? He does not grasp the contradiction in that. The only point he may have is that yes there are atheists that attend church but they are the ones who have yet to admit for whatever reason that they don't believe in the mumbo (families can be destroyed over admitting disbelief). He doesn't seem to grasp the fact that most of us were believers at one point. I don't expect him to comprehend much though given the fact that he doesn't know how to spell check his writings (wud not even an English word; u is only a letter, ur not an English word; r is only a letter). If he wanted to prove his intelligence he would make better use of spell check and show he comprehends basic English but with every post he looks more uneducated. I'm starting to wonder if he is lying about being a Civil Engineer or even in the Seminary. He sounds more like a teenager writing back and forth in text messages to their friends. Wonder if he his Mommy knows he is using her computer again?

      February 28, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      When Bishop Spong was writing RECLAIMING THE BIBLE FOR A NON-RELIGIOUS WORLD who did u think he had in mind? Not me. Of the worlds Xtins only about twenty percent are evangelical or fundamentalist. Research more. An atheist reseacher found atheist ministers n was shocked. To them a job is a job.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      WHY TP IS THAT DEFEAT I SMELL! Look don't be sad but some atheists do love being in Church. Just disbelief in God won't get you thrown out either. Maybe u n ur friends cud start at ur local United Church of Christ. They accept all shades of u.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • MarcTTF

      Coming from a “messianic jew”, I’m guessing the terms “atheist christian”, and “evangelical atheist” make sense to him???

      February 28, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Unlike you Nii, I have things to do with my day and I have made my point. Arguing with you is futile and much like arguing with my 5 year old nephew...the point never gets across. No defeat on my behalf. You are the one who fails miserably with your posts...you can't even provide one iota of physical evidence for your god or heaven or hell or satan and until you do, we as.sume you are not as intelligent you might wish to think you are. We have already proven you to be illiterate and a liar (you are not a scientist...at least not in any sense that counts when it comes to proving the big bang or evolution...civil engineering is not enough to make you a scientist).

      February 28, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 28, 2012 at 6:24 am |
    • Primewonk

      Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam!
      Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!
      Spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam.
      Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam!
      Spam spam spam spam

      February 28, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Jesus

      –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 28, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  4. Nii Croffie

    There are four books credited to King Solomon. Two in the Book of Proverbs, 1 each in Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. Read them to see if they describe a tyrant's mindset. You can take it to your psychologist for psychoanalyses too.

    February 28, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      You're the only one needing mental health help. You believe in imaginary things and speak to other things that have never been proven to exist...in the real world we call it schizophrenia, in the world of belief we call it religion.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • Prayer for the country

      God keep our land
      Prayer borrowed from the Canadian national anthem. A country founded by and dedicated to Christians.The minority opinion is expressed here by a majority of Canadians that are rejected by their fellow citizens in that God fearing and God honoring land.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • Mirosal

      You said "god fearing". WHY would one need to fear any 'god'?

      February 28, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      TP I always thought u sou.nded que.er. Not gay tho. I don't beli.eve in se.x.ual orien.ta.tion. U guys knock urself out! Trying to add me to ur ranks wont work. Maybe 100yrs from now gays can reba.ptise me like atheists rebap.tised Dar.win, Mor.mon-st.yle. lol

      February 28, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Nii; You're an idiot!! No-one baptizes anything in the name of Atheism you stupid dolt! As for being gay, no I'm quite happily hetero and in a serious relationship with someone who tear your delusions apart in a heartbeat-you might recall him-AtheistSteve.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Prayer for the country (aka Captain America; Just sayin'; Atheism is Not Healthy): You are such a moron!!! Canada is a secular nation. Approximately 30% have no belief in god and fortunately that number is steadily increasing. Using the word god in our anthem proves nothing.

      February 28, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • Mirosal

      My dear Lady Truth, a question please ... When was "O Canada" writen? Recently, or way back in the 1860's when your peaceful "little" (ok world's 2nd largest lol) country was chartered? 🙂

      February 28, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Mirosal: My dear friend, O'Canada was written in 1880, 13 years after we officially became a country. However it was not declared our national anthem until 1980. Initially the song was used in celebration of Quebec's holiday St Jean Baptiste Day. Further info can be found at http://www.pch.gc.ca/pgm/ceem-cced/symbl/anthem-eng.cfm

      February 28, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The tyrant's mindset can also be studied in Mein Kampf.
      The methodology of tyrannical statecraft is well laid out in Machiavelli's The Prince.
      Perhaps the most influential book for more than century, John of Salisbury's Policraticus forever changed western though as pertaining to "holy power" – be it Royal of Churchly. John was a devout Christian who nonetheless penned a detailed theory of tyrranicide, it being his opinion that "it is not only permitted, but it is also equitable and just to slay tyrants."

      Like Wikipedia, the Bible can be a good place to start research, but it surely shouldn't be the only source of information!

      February 28, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      The charges are that in Deuteronomy God asked the Hebrew Jews to murder non-Jews because they were not Jewish. This order was carried out by the Jews against their better judgement.

      February 28, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  5. Nii Croffie

    Have u seen a gay pride parade in China, Vietnam or Cuba. Try it n u will land in the most beautiful place beside H.ell.

    February 28, 2012 at 1:57 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Atheists love gays my foot!

      February 28, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • Nill is an idiot

      clearly a troll, people should just report his posts we we can be done with him

      February 28, 2012 at 2:08 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Report me when your blogname insults me directly? Also I do not use foul language. Who is the goblin now?

      February 28, 2012 at 2:20 am |
    • sam stone

      The most beautiful place besides Hell?

      February 28, 2012 at 4:52 am |
    • Religion is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer is delusional .

      February 28, 2012 at 6:01 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Actually Nii, I am Atheist and my closest friend is gay and you're damn right I love the man. A great many of my friends are gay or lesbian or bi-se.xual. It is only your own skewed image of Atheists that makes you think we hate people who are not he.tero.se.xual. Most Atheists are not bigots. Theism teaches bigotry.
      The following comes directly from your buybull:
      Lev.18:22
      Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

      Lev.20:13
      If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

      Rom.1:26-27
      For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

      See, those are not things you'll ever hear an Atheist agree with but you will certainly hear christards agree with them.
      Stop thinking you have any clue about what Atheists think or are about. Your view is tarnished due to the fact that you are in seminary and are being brainwashed to believe in something that can't and probably never will be proven.
      Btw: We don't dislike you b/c you are bi-se.xual, we dislike you b/c you are wrong on almost everything you speak of.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:31 am |
    • just sayin

      atheism contains the vilest and most deceptive theories that have ever been used against Gods creation.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • Mirosal

      Not true. Religion is the BIGGEST con in the history of humankind. So what theories were you thinking about in your walnut-sized dnosaur "brain"?

      February 28, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • just sayin

      The fools theory that there is no God tops the list doesn't it?

      February 28, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • Mirosal

      The theory that there IS a god, and not one human who is or has ever existed can offer one simple shred of empirical concrete evidence to substantiate the claim. Your theory is unproven.It's Russell's Teapot.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • sam stone

      "atheism contains the vilest and most deceptive theories that have ever been used against Gods creation."

      sorry, little fella, that honor belongs to religion

      February 28, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • sam stone

      "The fools theory that there is no God tops the list doesn't it?"

      As opposed to the fools who feel that they speak for God?

      February 28, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  6. Nii Croffie

    Momoya u still have not declared which church u used to attend n minister at. Here u r taunting Christians like u used to taunt non-Christians. Nothing has changed with u. Same old same old

    February 28, 2012 at 1:29 am |
  7. Huebenthal

    Man has always struggle with life and look up to the star's and wonder " Why Am I here"? I don't have the answer to everyone's question about " God " for only God can answer them to your satisfaction. But I know this much, I know of one man who's teachings has help me live my life according to the laws of " God " and his sacrifice. Here is some of his teachings: Learn well...

    And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

    Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

    And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

    And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

    February 28, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  8. Nate (Seattle, WA)

    Stop sugarcoating it? Heck, stop reading it altogether.

    People, this is the year 2012. Religion is an obvious attempt to make up for man's ignorance.

    It's time to let it go.

    February 28, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Charles

      "People, this is the year 2012. Religion is an obvious attempt to make up for man's ignorance.

      It's time to let it go."

      Nate, this is the year 2012. Your unsupported, condescending, nonsensical claims are an obvious attempt to make up for your ignorance.

      It's time to let it go.

      February 28, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Actually someone said that in the time of Solomon. The King relied thus,"The fool is an atheist at heart".

      February 28, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • Nill is an idiot

      yes nill because only a idiot would dare question that around him and let the world speak for itself.

      for only truly wise men hide inside buildings of stone, buried in thire, as this article states, sugar coated books.

      February 28, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • Cory Evertz

      This "My Take" blog was perfect. I mean perfect. I am sorry that some cannot see the truth that God has revealed. I will say, just like a book or movie, you can easily critique it if you have not read it. All together though, the Bible is not a book. Faith is gathered in one by a change of heart or at the minimum, an open mind. The "truth" is often mistaken as another religion, but this is not a religion, it is the truth. The truth of the whole story, and one that is unfolding even more today. There is too much too be told here, but I'll end this with one argument for those who are stuck in the crossroads, and those who just do not believe.

      How will you know the "truth" we tell about, if you wont invest your time into it? I went from agnostic to believer by learning the truth, and the fundamentals took me much time to grasp, but I was drawn in by (what i understand Christs promise to "draw me in") Its a "I will listen, I will try to have faith.....and then comes the 1st reward, Christ ability to peak your interest. Eventually everything else inside of you turns.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • sam stone

      "Your unsupported, condescending, nonsensical claims are an obvious attempt to make up for your ignorance."

      As we are talking about the bible......

      February 28, 2012 at 4:56 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      Nii Croffie
      Where does it say precisely "The fool is an atheist at heart"? Methinks you've posted a tad bit too hastily here, and you do know hat the Bible DOES say about that, right?

      Prov. 29:20 "Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him."

      February 28, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  9. Kelly

    To all the posts that decry this article and make a joke of it:
    I only ask you to consider one thing....
    If what you say and think is wrong you will have an ETERNITY to think about it.
    For your sake please take the time to make sure in what you believe. Forever is a very long time to reflect on a decision.

    February 28, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Nate (Seattle, WA)

      And if what you think is wrong, then you've wasted a good chunk of your life going to church, hating gays, oppressing women, holding back science, and getting us into wars.

      I'll take my chances that life ends when I die.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      And if keeping by butt out of Hell means having to step over people you judge as 'sinners', but I can't find any fault with, then you can keep it. I can't imagine being that self-serving.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      So the fact that some Christians hate gays irks u huh? There r many atheists who do too. As for Christians very few actually hate gays. To us murderers, adulterers and gays are the same. Does that mean we hate them? No, we love them as ourselves. To us they need help. You will check their religion.

      February 28, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Also explain how Copernicus, Galileo, Deotoshenes, Avicenna, Darwin, Newton, Einstein, Lemaitre, Allotey, and Ben Carson hold up science. Atheism is unscientific. Agnosticism is more scientific.

      February 28, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • Nill is an idiot

      wow nill, at it again. name one person who defines them self an atheist and is anti-gay.

      the only points people have pulled up against gays are religious ones, which are worth jack-all outside of your little fairy tale world.

      February 28, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • *facepalm*

      Nii,
      What makes you think that agnosticism and atheism are mutually exclusive?

      February 28, 2012 at 1:58 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      What made u think Christianity and science, gay rights, women's rights, social justice, atheism, agnosticism, Democratics party n common sense were mutually exclusive.

      February 28, 2012 at 2:04 am |
    • *facepalm*

      Way to completely avoid the question. atheism deals with belief. Agnosticism deals with knowledge. One can easily be an agnostic atheist. Most atheists I know would fall into this category.

      February 28, 2012 at 2:11 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Atheist or agnostic Christian ministers exist too, so what?

      February 28, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • *facepalm*

      How can one be both an atheist and a Christian? Those are mutually exclusive. Do you even know what you're saying? Get thee to a dictionary!

      Wow.

      February 28, 2012 at 2:30 am |
    • Kelly

      To Nate,
      I didn't say anything about hating anyone. I don't hate gay people or anyone for that matter. There is no excuse for hating a gay person just because I don't agree with their choice. Any "christain" who makes personal comments/judgements about gays is wrong as well. I'm no "better" than a gay person and my sin in my life is no excuse either. I'm also sure God loves them as much as me.

      February 28, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Atheist and Agnostic Christians? Get thee to Google, Encyclopaedias and History books. Also u can check out Sweden and religion on Wikipedia. There has been a post by the Agnostic Bishop Spong who is an Episcopalian too. Not to talk of a comment by a minister with an agnostic congregation member.

      February 28, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      I am an Anglican/Episcopalian and it is not a strange occurence at all.

      February 28, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • *facepalm*

      Nii. Let me type slowly, since you keep changing what you're righting. You said:
      "Atheist or agnostic Christian ministers exist too"

      I then said atheism and Christianity are mutually exclusive.

      You then try to say I'm wrong by saying that there are agnostic Christians. But I never disputed this. Agnosticism, which doesn't deal with belief, is not mutually exclusive to Christianity. Atheism, by definition is. Atheism is a lack of belief. Christianity is a belief. One cannot both simultaneously have and not have a belief. Logic 101.

      February 28, 2012 at 2:51 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      It seems u r trying 2 argue out de logic of being an atheist Christian. Unfortunately it doesnt work. There r a lot of people who r Christian but their creed isnt orthodox. So what if a Christian has an atheist creed? Swedes r proud X'tians n resent being called atheist or agnostic even if dey r.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:34 am |
    • GaryGuitar

      Wrong. People who are dead do not have an eternity to think about anything. Dead people do not think. Time only matters in the realm of the living. When you die, your time ends because when you are dead you cannot perceive of time or anything else, for that matter. Also, when you die your concept of religion or any other thoughts you might have had die with you. Get a grip and accept it like an adult. Santa Clause is also something else you should give up...just thought you'd like to know.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:36 am |
    • *facepalm*

      I'm quite frankly shocked you aren't getting this.

      A christian must have a belief. An atheist must have no belief. How do you simultaneously have a belief and have no belief? An atheist christian is an oxymoron. In what possible sense could a a christian have an 'atheist creed'. You're putting words together I'm guessing because you think it sounds intelligent, but your words are meaningless because they are, by definition, contradictory.

      A christian is a theist. A theist cannot be an atheist.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:38 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      I don't know what ur def'tion of Xtian is but even googling atheism 'll show u that atheism syncretises very well with other religions so de no.s of atheists isnt accurate. Also using semantics doesnt change de facts. There r religious Xtians(plus atheist Xtians), pious Xtians and spiritual Xtians.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:50 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Christian thought is not tidy or uniform. I am a spiritual Xtian because to me loving my neighbor as myself is my only creed as well as follow dogma n ritual which conform to this, pious christians follow dogma n ritual, religious come to church n follow ritual but have their own beliefs.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      The atheist which you might have in mind is the pious atheist (Liberal) and his Christian counterpart (Evangelical). Spiritual people are alike no matter their religion and so are the religious.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • Mirosal

      Nii, next time you go to your English as a 4th language class, pick up a rather large book called a 'dictionary'. Look up the words "theist" and "atheist". When you have fully understood the meanings of those two words, tell us again how anyone who belives in a 'god' (Jewish, Muslim or X-tian) can also be an atheist.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:22 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Oh c'mon people arguing with Nii is futile. This is the same man who just yesterday tried to say he was a scientist due to his civil engineering degree, yet civil engineering doesn't deal with cosmology which is what he was poorly attempting to explain and dispute. You can't expect a man of a 5 year old intellect to understand the difference between theist & atheist or gnostic & agnostic. He's far too conceited to understand simple definitions. People like him are what cause wars.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:44 am |
    • sam stone

      Kelly..look up Pascal's Wager

      February 28, 2012 at 4:59 am |
    • Mirosal

      Maybe Nii confuses cosmology with cosmetology lol .. after all, his facebook page DOES say he's interested in both man and women. Maybe cosmetology is something he does in his spare time, and since Ghana isn't really known as an enginerring Mecca .. he might have a LOT of spare time lol

      February 28, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Mirosal: It's just safe to as.sume that Nii is as blatantly clueless in real life as he is here on these boards. The man (and I use that term loosely) thinks that science.howstuffworks.com is an Atheist site but yet still claims to be a scientist. He could of course be confusing the pseudo term 'christian scientist' with an actual scientist who has done years upon years of research and deserves the ti.tle. For this guy and HS to believe the earth has 3 ages is a-tune to their belief that Atheism is a religion...neither have any bearing in reality.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:21 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Mirosal u r now getting in2 de region of the absurd. Dictionaries define words not people. If someone says he is a Xtian it doesnt make him a theist. That is just a simple n lazy supposition. There r many Christians who dont believe in God de way Evangelicals do. There r atheist Xtians.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • Mirosal

      Not all X-tians are evangelicals. There are Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Anglican, and almost too many to count denominations of X-tianty. But, they all have ONE thing in common; a belief in a 'god'. Therefore ALL X-tians are theists, for they ALL believe in a 'god'. Did you even look up the word 'theist' yet?

      February 28, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      Nii
      Perhaps you are confusing atheist with 'secular', in that many Christians can support secular government that does not adhere to Christian Law? I'm only guessing here, as you're thought thread is very difficult to follow.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      Kelly
      You 'hate' sin, and you consider being actively gay a sin, yes? The objection here is that it is now improper to regard being actively gay wrong. Maybe it made sense back in the day when men measured their heritage by the number of children they bore, but nobody believes that there will be a shortage of humans any time soon. Besides, gays can and do raise children, so this isn't an issue any more. The Biblical bias against them is as obsolete as it's passages against left-handedness and those in favor of slavery.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  10. new world translation

    i would like to invite all to read the new world translation of the holy scriptures. i have nothing against newer versions of the bible. but if you want a direct translation-try reading the new world translation. i could not believe how many times the name jehovah was found in the original hebrew and greek scrolls and how the authors of this bible thought it necessary to put god's name back in the bible as it should be.

    and this translation is not a watered down translation.

    February 28, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      If you want the oldest version available try the Codex Sinaiticus. I promise reading it will be an eye-opener.

      http://articles.cnn.com/2009-07-06/world/ancient.bible.online_1_codex-sinaiticus-constantine-tischendorf-new-testament?_s=PM:WORLD

      February 28, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Jason

      The "New World Translation" is a bad translation – It deliberately attacks the deity of Christ.

      Consider John 1: "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God."

      The NWT goes: "...and the word was a God"

      Scripture cannot be added to. The original Greek had no "a" there. Greek had no such word "a"

      February 28, 2012 at 12:58 am |
  11. Reality

    Only Mr. James who is still stuck in the Dark Ages:

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

    New Torah 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 doc-ument.

    The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

    February 28, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • mudfoot

      I notice you use words like, probably, more likely and other terms that prove your uncertainty.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • Reality

      Probably = Most likely

      which is the best historians can determine when dealing with most cases of ancient writings and archeology.

      February 28, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  12. "No Apologies Allowed" Weekly Apologetics Cartoons

    Reblogged this on No Apologies Allowed and commented:
    Fantastic article by Steven James over on the Religion Blog at CNN...

    February 27, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  13. eddard

    Though bible characters were sometimes based on real people, it is entirely a work of fiction. I don't understand denying reality. Most intelligent people navigate life quite well without the bible, as being good is human nature. Its time to grow up people.

    February 27, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • ARMYofONE

      It is said that were many writers who wrote of things they heard and put to paper sometimes thousands of year later. So how can the bible be exact truth? There were originally 252 commandments in the Old Testament, in Judaism there are 613 commands found in the Pentateuch (the first five books of Moses, a.k.a. The Torah.), and in the modern day Christian Bible a mere 10 commandments, not including Psalms and Proverbs. It cannot be factual truth, but there are those out there that feel a need to believe in something and be a part of something. The bible makes men rich with wealth from donations of those who wish to pay for a seat next to the Holy ones after they pass. How naive people with education can be.

      February 27, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Army u r seeing things aren't u or reading too many atheist commentaries on the Bible. THE Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament of the Christiaan Bible aare the same so where did u deduce those numbers from? Sit down and count. There are four covenants in the Pentateuch with their laws.

      February 28, 2012 at 2:14 am |
  14. ARMYofONE

    God’s message was not meant to be run through some arbitrary, holier-than-thou politeness filter. Hmmmm I thought a panel of MEN decided what went into the bible. Read the book of Enoch that was left out. How did GOD mean anything if mere men decided what the bible would contain? It is all rubbish!!!

    February 27, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • Kelly

      To answer your question
      Assuming God is God i.e. creator of everything and infinite power etc. I would think that he can make sure what the people wrote down for the Bible was what he intended it to be.
      Just to add on to this for other comments. to the debunkers of God and the Bible. you keep referring to humanity and people as validation for the existence of God and the truth of the Scriptures.
      Does people's description of you mean more that who you really are? I don't think so. You know who and what you are.
      Shouldn't you consider that when making statements about God?
      If you think we exist purely because some random not directed process happened on this particular random ball of dirt I think you need to take time to think a bit.
      Our efforts on our own are pathetic and the world reflects that to this day. Again, I encourage each of you to put aside all the garbage and things "good and bad people say" and take time to talk to God yourself in your own words. If you really want to know in your heart and soul (not your physical heart which is an organ) that God is real He will show you and give you understanding.

      February 28, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • *facepalm*

      "I would think that he can make sure what the people wrote down for the Bible was what he intended it to be."

      Then you think he would have been a little clearer and a little less contradictory. I mean, shouldn't the creator of the universe be able to write a book in such a way that just about every person who reads it seems to come away with a different message.

      Oh, and being timeless and all, you'd think he wouldn't have changed his mind so much.

      February 28, 2012 at 1:26 am |
  15. palinized

    nowhere does it mention christians – jesus, moses, and and the patriarchs were followerers of the only one and true religion///

    christiainty has been perverted over the hundreds of years by the catholic church to the point that it is blasphemy – "thou shalt worship no other before me" .

    February 27, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • Bobby

      No one, including Jesus?

      February 27, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  16. Dave Wyman

    The Bible is "very real"?

    Like the parts about the talking, walking snake? People living to 120? A flood that killed all but a few people and a boar that held two of every animal. The dead walking the streets of Jeruselem? A woman turned into a piller of salt? An all-knowing God who can't find Moses or Adam and Eve?

    February 27, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Chad

      Like the parts about the talking, walking snake?
      =>wasnt in the form of a snake before it was cursed to crawl on it's belly following the fall of Adam/Eve.

      People living to 120?
      =>120 is no big deal, people do that now. Methuselah lived to b 969 years however

      A flood that killed all but a few people
      =>Noah and his family

      A boat that held two of every animal.
      =>7 of every clean, 2 of every not clean

      The dead walking the streets of Jerusalem?
      =>matthew 27 could be prophetic not actual, it isnt clear..

      A woman turned into a piller of salt?
      =>Lots wife, yes

      An all-knowing God who can't find Moses or Adam and Eve?
      =>not sure what you are referring to there.

      February 27, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • ARMYofONE

      Chad, a group of bishops in the council at Carthage in 397 A.D assembled the Bible. The actual books and chapters are credited to various prophets, apostles and disciples. But, the book as a whole was created by an assembly. They left out the Book of Mary, the Book of Enoch which speaks of Angels descending to earth and impregnating human women who gave birth to giants. They taught them charms, men to make sword and knives, etc. Why was this left out? Because it would of been too hard to believe. Like the rest of the writings are.

      February 27, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Chad, "An all-knowing God who can't find Moses or Adam and Eve? =>not sure what you are referring to there."

      I can answer for the A&E part. I'm sure he's got the verse for the Moses part. He's referring to god looking for adam and eve after they ate the fruit. "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" 10And he said, "I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself," (Gen. 3:8-10).

      February 27, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Chad, "Is this the same Chad that said to name one good thing that's come from Atheists... The record is awful?"

      February 27, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @ashrakay
      RE: "Is this the same Chad that said to name one good thing that's come from Atheists... The record is awful?"
      Yup. It's also the same Chad who has offered these bits of nonsense on this blog:

      "I dismiss all other gods other than the God of Abraham because the God of Abraham has told me that they aren't real."

      "Every book that purports to accurately record history needs to be examined critically for internal consistency and for its accuracy in detail. The bible succeeds on all accounts."

      "The Genesis account stands alone amongst all creation stories of the time, a fact universally acknowledged...We are only know [sic] beginning to scientifically discover how accurate it is indeed."

      'As for supernatural vs natural processes, I also believe that the origin of life, and the development of more and more complex life forms on earth in the stages reflected in the fossil record, is the direct result of supernatural intervention (it's called "punctuated equilibrium" )'

      HAAAA!

      February 28, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  17. Vera Waitress

    Ephesians 6: 23-53 The Lord loves you as a shepherd loves his flock. And just as the shepherd beheads a wayward sheep and spills his blood, the Lord will smite you with the tongues of a thousand whips. His divine love is endless like the love that a hungry man has for another man, but his wrath is that of a spurned dog.

    February 27, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Whitney

      Don't do it! Crack is whack!

      February 27, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Charles Darwin

      yo waitress-u drunk or what?

      February 27, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  18. Don Jones

    My take? Start teaching what the Bible REALLY says, instead of twisting it's interpretation to prop up doctrine that is in no way biblical, just to consolidate organized religion's power base.
    1. There is no immortal soul. This is a lie constructed by Satan. Gen 3:4 There is no Biblical support for it, and the early Christian Church did not teach it. Rom 6:23 Stop telling lies about The Most High. Humans would not torture a person forever, and neither would a loving God. Do not ascribe more mercy to humans than to God. 1John 4:16
    2. Jesus is the son of God, a god but not THE God. John 3:16 Many things are described in the Bible as being "gods". Deut 4:3
    Jesus described you perfectly at Matt 23:27, as he did your fate. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. He also told it like it is at Matt 23:4 Religious leaders who use the law to over-burden men, but they themselves refuse to carry the same load.

    February 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  19. jwss1987

    The Bible is a guide that we need in order to make it in this uncertain and unsafe world. But if we decide to live independent of God and his teachings written in it, then we will have a tough time dealing with the different adversities we all face on a daily basis. Just as when we purchase a vehicle, in it we find the user's manual, with all sorts of instructions from the maker letting us know how we should proceed for example when we encounter a problem with our car. If we choose to disregard what it tells us and just do as we please and not what the instructions advise us to do, we can be certain that the car won't last and will for sure given time, completely break down and become useless. Unfortunately this is kind off what we see in our system of things today. People have chosen to live their lives as they please with no regards to what our creator Jehovah has said about how we should live it in order to be happy and satisfied. More and more people are killing themselves or each other because as they say "they see no light at the end of the tunnel" they feel they have no hope for a better future. This is why it is so important that we read, analyze and meditate on what is written in the Bible, it is God's way of communicating with us so we can benefit from his teachings and truly be happy and fulfilled. (2Timothy 3:16)

    February 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Brenda

      Well written,,,accurate. Bless you, In Jesus.

      February 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • GodPot

      "The Bible is a guide that we need in order to make it " So what did he intend for the two thirds of the world born into a different religion? Do they not have laws to help them "make it"? And are they not "making it" by not only being alive but having some of the worlds oldest and still thriving religions? The bible did not invent morality.

      You say IT'S necessary but what you are really saying is that it's moral message is good for people to live by, at least selectively since no one would agree to take their disobedient children to the city gates and stone them to death nowadays. What Christians are really selling is the other part of the package in the bible, the "my book says that you inherited sin, so you are going to die if you don't bend your knee to my God" which has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with controlling people lives and keeping themselves in power.

      February 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      The Bible is a guide that we need in order to make it in this uncertain and unsafe world. But if we decide to live independent of God and his teachings written in it, then we will have a tough time dealing with the different adversities we all face on a daily basis.

      For what it's worth, I found it much easier to deal with the adversities I faced in the world when I left Christianity behind. I found an amazing love of my fellow man, a need to serve my neighbors, and an ability to love myself once I walked away from the hate and derision of a life where I was "unclean" without the forgiveness of bloodshed.

      Just as when we purchase a vehicle, in it we find the user's manual, with all sorts of instructions from the maker letting us know how we should proceed for example when we encounter a problem with our car.

      If the bible were a user's manual, it would be filled with useful things, not word-of-mouth myths and legends that depict the faith journey of a particular group of people.

      People have chosen to live their lives as they please with no regards to what our creator Jehovah has said about how we should live it in order to be happy and satisfied.

      Perhaps he should have spoken a little more clearly and not buried the "instructions" inside a text that speaks to a culture that has been lost in the sands of time.

      More and more people are killing themselves or each other because as they say "they see no light at the end of the tunnel" they feel they have no hope for a better future.

      More and more people, particularly young people, are killing themselves because we as a society give them no hope. We torment those who are different or do not believe a certain way, we teach our children to hate and revile, we make outcasts of those with mental disease or who are gay or fat or whatever their differences, and we offer them no respite, no protection.We make it more and more difficult for those with genuine mental disease to get the care they require, while illegal drugs and weapons are easy to come by.

      Perhaps if more of us loved our fellow man enough to see past our own fears about them, fewer might kill themselves.

      February 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • TG

      Yes, the Bible is the only true guide.(Ps 119:105) Without it, mankind has brought upon themselves nothing but "woes" or great troubles.(Rev 12:12) Mankind has succeeded in being brought under the manipulative power of an unseen former spirit "son of God", who is known by the name Satan.(Rev 12:9)

      They have succeeded in putting themselves on the threshold of disaster, with the earth being decimated at a rate that will, according to some scientists, bring about the total demisement of the human race in about 25 years, unless drastic action is taken. And some say that it is "to little to late" for the earth.

      At Jeremiah 2:13, our Creator, Jehovah God says that "there are two bad things that my people have done: They have left even me, the source of living water, in order to hew out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that cannot contain the water.’ "People of the nations have rejected Jehovah, hewing "out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that cannot contain the water." They have fabricated their own political ideology, disregarding what our Maker has written in his word the Bible, with the religious leaders of Christendom at the forefront in many instances.

      It is as Jeremiah wrote as to why conditions are deteriorating: "The wise ones have become ashamed. They have become terrified and will be caught. Look! They have rejected the very word of Jehovah, and what wisdom do they have?"(Jer 8:9) Without Jehovah God, life only "goes downhill".

      February 27, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • ARMYofONE

      I think TG has been brain washed to believe without the bible man would of died many years ago. Funny how there is so many in this world who do survive without reading the bible. To include those with their own religious beliefs and their version of a bible.

      February 27, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Your car analogy is a bit off. Instead of using the proper, up to date manual for our 2012 model in the glove box you want us to use the original manual for a first century chariot. The Bible is just as out of date.

      February 27, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • new world translation

      are you a witness?

      February 28, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • sam stone

      "But if we decide to live independent of God and his teachings written in it, then we will have a tough time dealing with the different adversities we all face on a daily basis."

      I have Purple Kush to fill in the gaps

      February 28, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      TG
      "Yes, the Bible is the only true guide.(Ps 119:105)"
      So, because it says that it's the only true guide then it MUST be the only true guide, because there is no such thing as false advertising, right?

      "Without it, mankind has brought upon themselves nothing but "woes" or great troubles.(Rev 12:12)"
      We've managed to keep up our "woe" count under the guidance of the Bible baby, in spades! Following the Bible has even invented some new ones.

      "Mankind has succeeded in being brought under the manipulative power of an unseen former spirit "son of God", who is known by the name Satan.(Rev 12:9)"
      And some people believe that invisible aliens are secretly doing experiments on us as well. As long as we can imagine "unseen" things that don't leave any proof anything goes. Monsters under the bed level thinking, my friend.

      The total demisement of the human race in about 25 years, unless drastic action is taken."
      You quote Revelation, but are concerned about climate change and such? What's the problem? Worried that the world will end before Jesus comes back to destroy it?

      Jeremiah 2:13 says that because Israel took a very long time to become monotheistic. The very idea of having only one god was new at that time. YHWH was likely just the favored god of the ruling class, and it took a while for people to be forced to give up their household fertility and other gods which amounted to a crackdown on women's worship.

      "Without Jehovah God, life only "goes downhill"."
      Not a comment against atheism, per se, but a comment against rejecting YHWH for the more powerful gods of Israel's conquerers, and retaining the old household gods.

      February 28, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  20. Remnant of God

    http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/blog/?p=1366

    Chrislam Starts to Spread in America!

    Just recently, Rick Warren, founder and pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Orange County California, addressed the convention of the Islamic Society of North America. Warren stated that Muslims and Christians must work together to combat stereotypes, promote peace and freedom, and solve global problems. Christians and Moslems – faith mates, soul mates and now work mates! Chrislam!

    And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:14-16

    February 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • momoya

      See!! This is how it's done, folks! Christians, let your crazy show!

      February 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.