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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. Mari

    No I was not, attacking Buddhism or any of the other religions mentions, my apologies if it was interpreted that way. Yes, Buddhism has not necessarily caused great harm to the world as a whole , however, if any of you know the process of which monks have to go through in order to become monks then you would know that it's not necessarily a pretty picture. If you did you would know they go days with out eating , are hit with a big staff on their backs while learning how to meditate so that they don't lose focus and many other things that to us would seem unnecessary and cruel. Never the less I understand that it is their belief that this is the form they will reach their spiritual goal. Again let me reiterate I am not against the religions I mentioned. Unlike most people who claim to be tolerant and understanding to other religions than their own I have actually visited Hindu temple, Buddhist altars and Islamic mosque and from time to time indulge in reading their literature. My point was to simply let people know that religion it's self is not a bad thing. People who use it to their benefit and to accomplish their ill intentions are. People who use the Bible , Quran, Bhagavad Gita and any other sacred book to fuel hatred, inequality and yes ignorance that is whats truly bad. Again my apologies if my words were unclear if this does not make things clear enough for you then I have no other way to explain it , however, you can choose to pick up some history books and make your own conclusion. Again it was not an attack it was a statement. Whether you agree with it or not it is totally up to you after all it is your right. And just in case when I said you can pick up some history books I am not calling anyone an ignorant wouldn't want to be misinterpreted yet again. My intention was never to offend anyone I just wanted to express my thoughts on the article and on religion over all.

    February 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • reason

      Thank you for the response. It seemed reasonable enough. If your honest opinion offends people that should not hold you back. Honest sharing of ideas is more important than trying to avoid confrontation.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  2. Stan Dotson

    I wrote about this subject in my Daily Passages blog today, likening the experience of reading Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac to the horror movie, Frailty. check it out at http://inourelements.com/1-daily-passages/gods-hand-on-the-hilt

    February 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  3. kenny

    The more important the issue at hand, the more it demands careful scrutiny.
    This is a simple but important point which most religious people overlook. Science strives to overcome ignorance. Religion perpetuates and exploits it.

    February 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  4. Mari

    I believe for the most part the author of this article is right, that the translations of the bible tend to be off. However, as i'm sure this author knows this is more due to the history of the book it's self. At the end of the day the bible is just a book , with words, sentences and accent marks that can be changed at mans will. The important thing to me is not so much the wording ,but the message it's self. That being said I agree with the statement that atheist aren't "pushy" , but they do love to argue mainly with Christians I know this for a fact. Now granted people in history have used Christianity to harm others, however, it wasn't the religion/belief it's self that did it , it was greedy ,self righteous and corrupt people who did. Incidentally I find most not all atheist only seem to have a problem with Christianity always talking about the bad thing people have done in the name of Christianity. Sorry to inform you ,but "peaceful" religions such as Hinduism , Islam and Buddhism have done a lot of damage to the world and other religions as well. As long as human are involved in religion there will never be a perfect religion. Back to my point in the same matter that no one should ever push a religion on anyone , no one should argue or even try to tell some one they are ignorant because the believe in a higher power aka a God. As an Art Historian I've studied many cultures and religions and find that at the core of all the religions is a lifestyle meant to help the people of many cultures live a life that is generally a peaceful and happy . Yes, most people say you don't need religion to teach you morality, but stop a second and realize that morality is dictated by a culture not by what we believe to be common sense. Not to mention morality is part of nurture not nature. I personally am a christian,but I would never attack nor belittle anyone's culture or religion because no where in the bible does it say I have to convert anyone . If anything it tells me to love others and with love comes respect and understanding .That's all I had to say

    February 28, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • reason

      What harm has Buddhism brought the world?

      I am very interested in your response since I have never heard anybody make this claim before. The arguments for the other religions you mention bringing harm are obvious, however Buddhism is free of the barbaric gods the others have.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Sorry to inform you ,but "peaceful" religions such as Hinduism , Islam and Buddhism have done a lot of damage to the world"

      How?

      "I would never attack nor belittle anyone's culture or religion"

      See your above statement

      February 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      That "how" comment referred to the alleged harm to the world via Buddhism

      February 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • reason

      I was surprised by the comment about Buddhism as well Sam. People often cite that no war has been fought over Buddhism. Unlike all other major religions it was founded on peace and love since its inception.

      I doubt Mari will have a response.

      February 28, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  5. zechariah14

    i say to all people read romans chapter 11 – john chapter 4:22- G-D does not want religion but a relationships with the human race,its like this when you start dateing,some you like or love you dont have a religionship you have a relationship.religion was made by the gentile race not G-D almighty.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      If you believe in a supernatural being and worship it, that's religion. Pure and simple.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  6. reason

    LinCA, you would enjoy this video.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBsIMY3JWr8&w=640&h=390]

    February 28, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  7. atheism is the most the sweetest word used as sugar coating

    Kenny:

    "A Christian reads the bible. An atheist understands it."

    MarkinFl

    "Understanding the bible encourages atheism."

    Yes, because they are using their hollow craniums.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • kenny

      = AN HONEST PRAYER AS atheism is the most sweetest word used as sugar coating WOULD USE=
      Dear Lord, love me today and forever, bless my soul and conscience
      daily, agree with all of my decisions, punish my enemies until I am
      satisfied, give me huge amounts of money, promise to help me always
      win, look the other way when I cheat, justify my excuses and believe
      all my lies, obey my wishes, and reserve the most luxurious part of
      heaven just for me. I will be thankful as long as you do what I say.
      Amen.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  8. SeanM

    Steve all you can say is that i am confusing you with my logic and sentence structure, that is all you can tell anybody. Tell me what is wrong with my logic if you are so much smater than everybody explain it to me. I am a simplton and would like you to enlighten me.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  9. steve

    the only thing confusing me is your logic and your sentence structure. 🙂 I'm outta here. Have a good day!

    February 28, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  10. SeanM

    also everyone should check out 6000years.org it is an awsome site that looks at how to prove the Bible is literal it is hilarious.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  11. SeanM

    Ah but there is also a problem with being Atheist. Atheism is the belief in no god, which like all religions is based on a belief instead one has to step back and become Agnostic. While this may seem like the easy way out it is the only way out there is no proof for god or for the non existance of god.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • reason

      There is a big difference between 'believing' there is no god, and claiming to 'know' there is no god.
      Many religious folks claim to 'know' the truth, self described atheists rarely do.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • SeanM

      Very true an Atheist will not run up to you on a college campus and tell you that you are going to hell for reading that book (not that all religious people would do that). The problem with most religious people is they try to push their religion onto other people try and make other people believe what they believe something atheists do not really do.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I am an atheist until I see some evidence of a god. I do not expect that to happen but I certainly would not deny reality if it turned out to include gods. Now whether I would want anything to do with said god would depend on which if any of the god's of man it turned out to be. Most of the god's I have heard or read about are deplorable little dictators with a penchant for torture and terror. Perhaps if an actual god showed up it would turn out to be a benign sort of fella that you could share a beer with. I could deal with that.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • LinCA

      @SeanM

      You said, "Atheism is the belief in no god, which like all religions is based on a belief instead one has to step back and become Agnostic."
      Not necessarily. You can be both.

      There are two distinct but related forms of atheism (weak and strong). The strong form is based on a belief there are no gods, the weak form is based on a disbelief in gods.

      Both forms rely on the fact that there is, as of yet, not a single shred of evidence in support of any god. Without evidence, there is no reason to assume there are any gods. The weak form stops there, while the strong form asserts that because there is no evidence, gods don't exist.

      Also,
      Gnosticism is about knowledge. I don't know, therefor I'm agnostic.
      Theism is about belief in god(s). I don't believe, therefor I'm an atheist.

      I don't know for a fact that there no gods, but the odds they do are so ridiculously small, there is absolutely no reason to believe they do. I'm an agnostic atheist.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • SeanM

      Yes I agree no proof for god. While I do not believe in the Biblical god I am still on the fence about there being some sort of higher power. I think it is as easy to believe that some higher power which is infinite which created the Universe, is just as easy to believe as the Universe is just infinite and always has been and always will be.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • reason

      Personally I like to help people get passed religious delusions because it makes the world a better place.

      The problem with religious folks is that so often they will try to force their views on others, based on nothing but superstition. Timely examples include denying women access to safe, legal abortion or denying gays the right to marriage. Obviously there are non-religious people on each side of these issues, but religious superstition is a major force behind trying to deny these human rights. Any argument for or against should be based on reason, not religion.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • SeanM

      @LinCA

      Thank you for the insight I appreciate your logical and concise reponse. I am no expert on the subject, I dare anyone to say they are. I just like to get some ideas out there and see whay people have to say. Your response actually made me think which is nice . I have one question for you: how the universe was created? I would like to hear your thoughts on this matter.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • SeanM

      So Reason would it be safe to assume you are not sending any money into support the preacher himself Santorum. Religion has no place in politics.......

      February 28, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • reason

      SeanM, take a look at the video I posted above. I think you would find it interesting as well.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      SeanM
      It's alright to go through a phase of agnosticism, but everyone eventually has to make up their minds to live as though gods exist, or don't exist. People who have decided that the likelihood of gods actually existing is too remote to base the running of their lives on consider themselves atheists, while those who have decided that gods are likely enough to believe in are believers. Every atheist I personally know will admit that there is a slim chance that they could be wrong, but few believers that I know personally would ever admit any doubt that their god exists. They have absolute faith in something that cannot be proven, which is a leap that a rational mind really ought never make.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • LinCA

      @SeanM

      You said, "Your response actually made me think which is nice"
      Thanks! You just made my day.

      You said, "I have one question for you: how the universe was created? I would like to hear your thoughts on this matter."
      Let me start by saying that atheism is nothing more than a disbelief in gods (or a belief there aren't any). Atheism says nothing about the origin of the universe or life. Atheists tend to reject a creator as the start of anything. Being an atheist doesn't require anyone to believe in any particular theory.

      To answer your question about how I think the universe got started, I'd have to say that I don't know (and I'm perfectly OK with that). I'm pretty sure that the picture that science paints about the universe is pretty accurate, but that picture doesn't start until a few femtoseconds after the initial event.

      I accept as very plausible that the start of the universe started all space and time. From where we sit (inside space and time within our universe), there is no way to get to before the start of the universe (from within our time, there is no "before"). The "big bang" is, most likely, a barrier we will never be able to cross. So all we have, and all we can have, is speculation.

      I accept as possible (though not likely by any stretch of the imagination) that there was a creator that kicked off the universe and everything in it. Without any evidence in support, there really isn't very much sense in seriously considering this remote possibility.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • SeanM

      I will take the pragmatic approach and say the start of the universe does not affect us here and now. But I am a man of science and logic and would like to know how it started or the better question is why are we here.

      I think a lot of people want to have some meaning to their life, and the thought that the earth is just here by chance as the result of some cosmic cycle is an unacceptable thought to many. For a lot of people religion and the thought of god gives their life meaning in their own mind, when they are really just here by sheer luck.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • sam stone

      "It's alright to go through a phase of agnosticism, but everyone eventually has to make up their minds to live as though gods exist, or don't exist."

      Why?

      February 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • SeanM

      @SamStone

      Why do you exist?

      How exactly do you know everyone has to pick to believe or to not belive,what did you go and talk to everyone that has ever been agnostic and find out when they mind their mind up.

      The fact is you can not make the claim that I have to decide one way or the other; I can not make my mind up for as long as I want to including until I am gone.

      Tell me why I have to make up my mind though I am interested to hear your thoughts.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      If you open your car door and do not see an unicorn in the passenger seat then you are justified in believing that unicorns haven't broken into your car, yes? No amount of some unicorn believer's arguing that said unicorns are actually invisible and otherwise undetectable will likely convince me that they've been there. You can call this just a 'belief' if you like, but it still doesn't take away from the soundness discounting the believer's claims.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  12. TMoney

    @Nii Croffie–You are the reason everyone thinks organized religion is insane. You are running circles around youself, and only yourself. It's a shame you are too dilluted to notice.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  13. kenny

    A Christian reads the bible. An atheist understands it.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Understanding the bible encourages atheism.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • reason

      A recent Pew Research study found the more you know about religion the less likely you are to believe.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • atheism is the most the sweetest word used as sugar coating

      @Kenny and MarkinFL

      Yes, atheist do, using their hallow craniums.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Rick

      While a Christian attempts to read and understand the Bible, the atheist claims to understand the Bible without reading it ?!?!

      February 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Rick
      I think you'll find that many atheists read the Bible, and more of it (not just the 'nice' parts) than the average believer. Many, if not most of us, have a very keen interest in religion, which accounts for our knowing enough not to want to practice it ourselves. It's like the old saying that, if you only knew what went on in the slaughter house, you'd likely become a vegetarian.

      The inst.itutions of religion keep most of the flock in the dark over the inconsistencies within the Bible, the actual history of how hit-and-miss the canonization process was, the dark practices of the men of God throughout history, and the widespread debate over what is truth and what is merely tradition.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  14. 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.

    Christians who think God is just and will receive 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 that truth actually is. If there is a just god and an afterlife people who choose not to lie to themelves and others about organized religion are more likely to be rewarded in said afterlife.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      This post was refuted last week. Post something else.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • reason

      No offense, but I do not have discussions with people who do not spell out words like 'you' or 'and'.

      They often think they have refuted something when they have not.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  15. Eric

    Any one on here can be right. But if your not. Eternity is a long time to be wrong. I'll take my chances and believe. To prove there is no God, You would have to be one.

    February 28, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Primewonk

      Pascal's Wager was refuted long ago.

      Your problem is that you make the assumption it is your version of a god vs no god. It isn't. If Amma is the real god, then you are just as screws as me. Likewise if the real god is Bumba, Ra, Thor, Zeus, etc.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • reason

      Believe in what? The majority of the world believes that some other majority are going to hell for believing the wrong thing.
      Also, why do you think not believing in one of the religious delusions would result in going to hell?

      Pascal's wager is totally irrational.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Hope you picked the right god. Apparently, worshiping the wrong one or in the wrong way will get you seat next to me anyway. Good luck.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Mithracalin

      I must admit it is refreshing to find a believer who is honest about the language within the Bible, and who is further unafraid to defend his believe in the Bible. Too often we see individuals claiming that the book is the perfect Word of God, while at the same time filtering the language through their own subjective sense of morality. While I do not agree with proposition that a God even exists, I can at least respect the honesty of the author and his defense of what he considers to be a Holy Text.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • sam stone

      To know there is a god, you'd have to be one

      February 28, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • sam stone

      That was meant to read "To prove there is a god, you'd have to be one"

      February 28, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • myweightinwords

      See, I've given that consideration. I've thought about the "what if I'm wrong" scenario.

      My conclusion was, that even if I'm wrong, and the Christian mythology is correct, I'll stand by my choices and my life, even if that means going to hell. Because a god that would condemn me for making the world a better place, for fighting for equality for all, for believing as my heart leads me...a god who would demand blood sacrifice and ACCEPT the blood of someone other than myself to atone for whatever I may have done wrong? That's no god I want to spend eternity with anyway.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      YHWH is the most morally demanding of all the ethical Supreme beings therefore one does not have to be afraid of failing the others' standards if u keep His. If u aim at de Moon u will not miss the tree tops. Immorality, Amorality and morality have no problem with Ethical behaviour. U enjoy here too

      February 28, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      If u were good YHWH will take u in, If u r bad he wud not. however if the God is amoral u don't have to worry. And if He is immoral and doing good was bad, u were bad too! If there was no God well then u enjoyed the benefits of emotional maturity on Earth. Going to Hell is not the entire motivation.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • myweightinwords

      @Nii Croffie...I'm not sure if this was aimed at me or not, but...

      YHWH is the most morally demanding of all the ethical Supreme beings therefore one does not have to be afraid of failing the others' standards if u keep His.

      Where to even start? The point of a Supreme being is being Supreme, thus there can be only one (Highlander flashback).

      If by "Supreme Being" you only mean a god, well then we're faced with a different sort of problem. Because all of those gods have different requirements, in many cases conflicting requirements. There is no "one size fits all" solution.

      If u aim at de Moon u will not miss the tree tops. Immorality, Amorality and morality have no problem with Ethical behaviour. U enjoy here too

      You do know that using proper words is a better way to communicate, right? "de" is not a word in the English language, nor is "U".

      And what the heck are you trying to say? There is no difference between morality, immorality and amorality? Do you even know what those words mean?

      February 28, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  16. J. Alejandro

    Yes, Jesus did all that. But he did not eliminate religion, nor did he eliminate any of its dimensions, including worship, prayer (certainly not prayer). He just put them in their right perspective. Religion for Jesus was about the true meaning of religion, "religare", to reunite man with God and thus man with his fellow man.

    February 28, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  17. Religion is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer is delusional.

    February 28, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Keri

      If you believe in God, and God doesn't exist, you've lost nothing. But if you do not believe in God, and God DOES exist....you've lost everything.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • MarcTTF

      @Keri

      What if you picked the wrong god to belive in?

      February 28, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • reason

      Keri, which god are you talking about? The majority of the world DOES believe in a god or gods, and the majority of the world thinks YOU are going to hell for picking the wrong one.

      Deluding yourself in an organized religion that is almost assuredly nothing but stoneage myths does nothing to save you.

      If there IS a just god and you are a good person, what do you have to be concerned about?

      February 28, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      Keri
      For many it doesn't matter that you believe. What matters is what you do as a result of believing. Judge, condemn, waste money keeping pastors in nice suits, waste time trying to understand how outdated morals apply in today's world, march against things that you pastor says are wrong, but that you can't rightly find fault in otherwise. You might think that you get a lot of stuff out of believing, but just think of what's been taken away from yourself and others that's just a waste if you happen to be wrong?

      February 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  18. reason

    God commanded his followers to murder non-believers and people of other faiths in Deuteronomy 13: 5-15. The primary difference with Islam is they have more adherents taking the Quran seriously. Modern theology has sugarcoated the Bible to be compatible with Western society.

    February 28, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      REASON I want u to be brave. Come out clearly to state your case against God for murdering non-believers. Start now. I'll defend. He is innocent till proven guilty so start.

      February 28, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Nii Croffie
      This could be fun!
      Shall we use the standards of International Law as defined by the Nuremburg Tribunal?
      The following are defined as crimes:
      (a) Crimes against peace:
      (i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
      (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

      (b) War crimes:
      Violations of the laws or customs of war include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labour or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.

      (c) Crimes against humanity:
      Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connexion with any crime against peace or any war crime.

      If we can agree on the ground rules, I'd love to start the trial – though perhaps over in the daily speed read section (where I'll cut and paste this)

      February 28, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Doc if u know law then u will know also that a person cannot be tried for breaking a law which did not exist at the time the event took place. Use the laws that the ancients used.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • reason

      Nii Croffie, I do not have discussions with people who do not spell out words like 'you' or 'and'.

      Think of it as a type of filter.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • steve

      Reason I cannot agree more. And Nic, I suggest you read the bible for what it is. The "word of God"? well, how about Deuteronomy 13:7-12 for all the proof you request from mr. Reason. I suppose this direct order to kill non-believers is innocent to your delusional mind. By the way, I could go on and on and on with the evidence you seek but it's obvious to me I as an atheist know your bible better than you as a believer lol.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Nii Croffie
      Is God not omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent?
      The Alpha and Omega is aware of ALL standards of law ever set down by man.
      However – if you've an alternative code of law you'd prefer to use, please feel free to say it by name.
      The Code of Hammurabi? The 12 Tables of Roman Law? Or good old fashioned 13th century Hebraic law?
      If the latter, we must decide whether or not God is to be considered a Hebrew.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      IF Nuremberg is what u have then it is unfortunate that you do not know that the countries which set those courts up were Christian nations. Inspiration was? Yes God. However even if I gave u the easy way out as a Messianic Jew those rules won't affect my case one bit though I might need a PC.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      YHWH the God of the Hebrews is to be tried for murder by common law of that time. That means any law that u can say came from the Semites who are accused for Him.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Doc the DA, mr REASON has fled the court because he says defense counsel speaks with a foreign accent. lol.
      Hope u can mount ur defense alone. I f u choose to use ancient Hebraic law then you will realise it is the same as our law's concept of murder.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Nii Croffie
      Hold on here – in this little though exercise, semantics are going to play a big role!
      Please clarify what you mean by " the Semites who are accused for Him."
      In the interest of starting this game, I've conceded to you in using ancient legal codices instead of modern ones even though the Nuremburg laws bolster the prosecution's argument immensely.
      Is it your purpose to put on trial those who acted in God's name, or God Itself?

      February 28, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "tough exercise" = THOUGHT exercise.
      Doc brain no work coffee well without.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      The problem with Bible verses is that even Satan's temptation of Christ were with Bible verses. They can say anything taken out of context.
      Note that killing is not murder neither is war genocide. In the Torah there are clear instructions about declaring peace to the cities b4 attacking.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • steve

      Like Deuteronomy 7:16-25 says "you must destroy all the nations the LORD your God hands over to you. Show them no mercy and do not worship their gods....."
      yep. Killing isn't murder. lol. Wow, is this really what religions do to people's minds? hmmm....maybe I'll go kill my neighbor..."it's not murder!" will be my defense. hahahahaaa

      February 28, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • popeye47

      @Nii Croffie said: Doc if u know law then u will know also that a person cannot be tried for breaking a law which did not exist at the time the event took place. Use the laws that the ancients used.

      But there were other laws in other lands at the time such as "The laws of King Hammurabi" which weren't as cruel as god's so called laws. Especially against non-believers.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Sorry that shud have read," for whom He is accused". Note that God cannot answer to the pronoun it as He is a person. If u do not acknowledge this then why stress yourself in this exercise. Only a person can be accused. If you use 'it' then the Hebrews may well be liable for their actions.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      The people sacrificed their children to Molech by burning them alive. I thought America did the same for Libya? Showing someone mercy on the battlefield is a beautiful concept but in the days of virtual hand-to-hand combat it was stupid.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • popeye47

      @Nii croffie said: The people sacrificed their children to Molech by burning them alive. I thought America did the same for Libya? Showing someone mercy on the battlefield is a beautiful concept but in the days of virtual hand-to-hand combat it was stupid.

      Unlike god who in several instances said to kill everyone, including men,women,children and animals. I'm sure the animals if left alive could have cause them some harm.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      The Semitic peoples also worshipped a Creator God who was supreme. So dey were more apostates than unbelievers. The kings of Canaan also didnt sit idly by but attacked Israel. Og n Sihon 4 instance werent attacked. As 4 de women n children. It was normal 4 a blood feud to continue for generations.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      There are many Canaanite practises which survived like eating your own children in a siege. By the time the Israelites got there most children wud have been sacrificed or eaten. Most people think only 12 tribes were in Israel. The country consisted of Israelites, Kenites, Egyptians, Gileadites etc.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      Nii
      I don't know about Canaanites, but God forced his people to eat their own children, right?

      'I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another's flesh during the stress of the siege imposed on them by the enemies who seek their lives.' Jeremiah 19:9

      February 28, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Someone thought u to pickout Bible verses but did not teach u that they can't be used for arguement. The whole passage gives u ur answer. He didn't say here are ur children eat them! He said it will be a consequence of siege. Its like telling me America wanted an Iraqui civil war.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Nii Croffie
      Just a consequence of siege, eh? So, if somebody locked you in with a bunch of other people without anything to eat, and people resorted to cannibalism because of the madness of hunger, that person would be blameless? God MADE them do it, the verse says so.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  19. Reality

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

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

    “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."

    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.

    February 28, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  20. steve

    thank God atheism is growing faster than any individual cult....er religion....in western societies. That's my 2 cents. 🙂

    February 28, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Non-religion is growing not atheism. Atheism even if it grows is a tiny fraction of non-religion. Even that the new house church and cell church movement will soon deal with that decline. The Muslims are breeding rapidly as well.

      February 28, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      The Muslims won't be better than the Evangelicals. They vote as a bloc no maatter their sect. They will also make America know the difference between a Christian nation and a Muslim one. Thank God for smaall mercies which might vanish in your lifetime. If u doubt ask atheists in Turkey.

      February 28, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • steve

      fair enough. Now please explain the difference between the two. Do people with who are "non-religion" types believe in God then as you seem to suggest? how presumptuous...

      February 28, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Non-religion include non-practising theists of vaarious faiths, Deists of various faiths, agnostics, secularists, ignostics, and of course atheists. Research more on your chosen religion.

      February 28, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      As for the muslims they are better than the Inquisition. All they require of non-believers are taxes and military service aka canon fodder.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • steve

      ok, nice try. You fail to see the contradiction in what you are suggesting. NON-religion is NON religion. Here's the definition of religion for you:
      .
      1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
      2.
      a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
      3.
      the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

      Hence, if one is "NON" -religion then by definition one doesn't BELIEVE or adhere to any of the above definitions. It's quite simple. Don't make stuff up as you go along...I understand how hard it is for religious people but just try.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Steve u r not serious. When u take a dictionary to do an encyclopaedias work, what do u want me to tell u? IGNOSTICS don't care whether there is God. They just won't worship Him. Atheists are believe there is no god. Agnostics do not think there is a way to find God legitimately. He may or may not b

      February 28, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Deists believe God if He is just stays out of the physical world's affairs though He may have set it in motion. Secularists believe that religion is not the only path to morality and as such they look more to the govt to define it for them. Did u think I saw these in a dictionary? Research ok

      February 28, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • steve

      my friend you don't need to try to verse me on definitions. I'm well aware of what atheists are, agnostics, etc etc. I've studied religions for over 20 years. We are confined to using words to describe our ideas. Just a fact of life. Accuracy in using these words is important to our message hence we have dictionaries. Semantics are crucial. If one is "NON" something then it obviously means the opposite of whatever follows the "non". As in NONsense. ie religions. BTW....what the hell are you saying here?? "The problem with Bible verses is that even Satan's temptation of Christ were with Bible verses. They can say anything taken out of context." lol

      February 28, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      U've been studying religion for twenty good years but u r still confused. Even ur laughter is confused. If non-religion is defined by no religion there will be no need to study it as a religion. Nor will it be listed as one. Negation is one side of a coin not a different coin.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Bobby

      Nii
      "Cell churches", do you mean all those Christians in jail?

      February 28, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • steve

      As I previously stated, the only thing confusing me is your logic and your sentence structure Nii. I've a feeling I'm not alone on that one either lol.
      have a good day!

      February 28, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      God b with u till we meet again n remember to love ur neighbor as urself! lol

      February 28, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Since u r speaking of language, ANTI is opposite not NON in Latin

      February 28, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Nii Croffie
      We say 'non' as in non-believer, someone without a religious belief. 'Anti' would be being against belief, which some atheists may be, but not all.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:03 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.