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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. Darling

    this is a beautiful article....and i recommend most of our religious leaders to read. Thank you

    March 7, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Bizarre

      I can see two possible disparate effects of this article:

      1. Pushing people closer to Fred Phelps' hideous philosophy. They often use that "don't sugarcoat it" phrase...
      2. Convincing people that the whole book is primitive, barbaric nonsense.

      March 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  2. Agnesi

    This God is a really slow learner! If he wants the bible to be his "original literal world", he has to become literate, learn modern English, sign a contract with Amazon.com, and learn Microsoft Word. Unfortunately, at the rate he is learning, by the time the Kindle version comes out we shall all be speaking Ebonics. Don't work too hard, Bro'!

    March 7, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  3. JPX

    This is what amazes me about the bible. It has been re-writen so many times that it is impossible to know what was originally written. Obviously it's all fiction, but I wonder how much religious nuts would embrace it if they really knew what was originally written by scholars 2000 years ago. I don't put any more merit into the bible than I do a Superman comic book.

    March 7, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  4. lome

    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).
    =====================================

    Next time ...use a Catholic version. The original Douay Rheims bible.

    Psa 77:1 Unto the end, for Idithun, a psalm of Asaph. (77:2) I cried to the Lord with my voice; to God with my voice, and he gave ear to me.
    Psa 77:2 (77:3) In the days of my trouble I sought God, with my hands lifted up to him in the night, and I was not deceived. My soul refused to be comforted:
    Psa 77:3 (77:4) I remembered God, and was delighted, and was exercised, and my spirit swooned away.
    Psa 77:4 (77:5) My eyes prevented the watches: I was troubled, and I spoke not.

    You don't authored the bible, The Catholic church did. Before the bible,there was the church.
    So if you have any question about the christian bible..follow the teachings of the Church.

    March 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  5. CS

    So many idiots out there that have so much to say about stupidity! There is a GOD and God help you who do not believe and who say anything against Him. God is love. God is real and He’s alive and watching and hearing you’re every word/post! He’s closer than your breath! One day you will be very sorry for saying these bad things! Think about what you say and what you do in life... you are being judged !

    March 5, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • William Demuth

      Your God can go to Hell

      He deserves it for his incomptence and egomaniacal followers

      March 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • BOB

      William, Hell was created for Satan and his demons. We as people make decisions that allow us to follow God or not.
      BTW...God conquered Hell
      He still loves you and wants you to love Him

      March 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • BOB

      unfortunately, those that choose not to accept Jesus' precious gift of salvation will suffer Hell. Not HIS choice. It is our choice. HE already made HIS decision when HE dies for all of us

      March 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  6. b4bigbang

    At least i *thought* Ran was making sense in the way i described. After reading his all-caps post, i must reserve judgement on all his rants.
    Oh well, out of the mouths of trolls.....

    March 4, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  7. b4bigbang

    reason: "Ran, I thought you were joking after reading your first two sentences. Read your first sentence.
    Now read your second sentence. Ironic that I am not even the one claiming to know if there is a god.
    That is about all that needs to be said on your comment."

    All that needs to be said? Oh just 1 more:
    I think Ran's making sense, i.e., i think he's saying that God exists, not because he 'decides' for God to exist, but simply because God does exist.
    Not much bolder a statement than Jefferson (who many atheists love to quote due to his disdain for Christianity) claiming that something is "self-evident".

    March 4, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  8. b4bigbang

    OhPleaseYerKillinMeSTOP, I see from your post that you too are a "Zetigeist" fan.
    The only problem with your Zeitgeist-inspired post is that it's all a bunch of gobbledee goo that arrives at a false conclusion.
    Other than that, it's great !

    March 4, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  9. Sheila

    First let's address this statement the writer of this article made:

    "instead he partied so much that he was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton (Matthew 11:19)"

    The writer said on one hand Jesus was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton, then on the other support the accusation saying Jesus partied so much ! Jesus did not "party". His teachings are clear about being "sober and sober minded". God is always faithful to himself and never contradicts his own teachings. Jesus makes it clear that drunkards will not make it into the Kingdom of Heaven. We must put off our sins.

    Examine first the original scripture from chapter 11 of the book of Matthew taken from primarily the Koine Greek dialect in the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament by George Ricker Berry. What you will find is that Jesus first sends a message back to John the Baptist confirming he is the Messiah. Then Jesus refers to the generation he is trying to teach as being mockers who fail to accept truth, and turn from their sins. The accusation regarding Jesus eating and drinking comes from the mockers. If you examine the original Greek word for his drinking in the Greek-English Lexicon in the back of the book, you will find the original Greek word meant "wine-drinking", not drunkeness, whereas the Greek word for being drunk is totally different. If I could write Greek characters here, I would show you the difference. You can pick up this Greek-English Interlinear New Testament for yourself on Amazon.com reasonably cheap if you buy used. I recommend it for any serious student of the bible.

    So are the publishers who are using the translation "drunkeness" wrong ? It appears so, but it depends on the sources they used for their translation. Wrong or Right, the fact was that the accusation came from mockers who also made wrong accusations against John the Baptist for the reason of refusing to recognize and accept truth and refusing to turn from their sins. It was merely an accusation that Jesus had made clear bore no truth.

    Is drinking a cup of wine drunkeness ? What alcohol proof is it ? A grown man drinking a little wine would hardly be drunk. But when the drinking is taken to the point where it affects one's mental and physical functioning it also becomes a spiritual impairment as well. At that point it is drunkeness.

    If you are going to argue 'translation issues" and translation accuracy is important to me personally, then you need to understand the whole context of any biblical passage.

    Anytime you take writings from one language and try to translate those writings into another language, which may also have a different grammatical structure, there is the chance of making an error. A mere translation error if indeed it is error, does not negate God's existence, and the fact that he created everything in the Universe including YOU, nor does it negate his word and teachings.

    So those with false pride, arrogance and rebellion, please step back and humble yourselves and become serious about studying the word of God. Otherwise, you have no business rejecting it as you are rejecting something you do not know or understand. The bible tells us "a fool has no desire to get wisdom" and that "wisdom is proven right by her actions".

    You can be the mockers Jesus spoke of in the book of Matthew Chapter 11, or you, like the disciples and listen and learn.

    March 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Sheila, i take issue w/his "party" remark too (sounding too much like a Driscoll-clone), but yet i do agree with everything else he said.

      March 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  10. Danman

    The dead rise upon his return. So they don't sleep forever, everyone is reformed as a spirit being who may look like their old self, but are truly transformed by the lord into eternal spirits, like the angels are eternal... when Jesus returned they still
    recognized him but were in fear/awe of his spirit body. Keep reading....

    March 3, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  11. Danman

    Very well put. Often you only see the light of the spirit when the rest of your sould has become dark....
    The dead sleep and know nothing..... nobody goes to heaven/hell until the return, period.
    The dead sleep and know notheing... but get baptized by mormons anyway! LMAO!

    March 3, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  12. Ted

    First of all, reciting verses from the bible is not an argument. If you have something to say then speak for yourself. I have read the bible multiple times and I don't need a reminder of the stupid things I rejected years ago. No one will take you seriously and you are not gonna convert anyone on a message board. In addition, the bible is important for people who cannot think for themselves. They need something to tell them what is right and what is wrong because the pressure to decide for themselves is unbearable. It's worthy to note that they get very offensive because that 2000 year old book is the only thing that keeps them from pooping in their hands and throwing it at you. Some people are not equipped with the critical thinking skills that are required for someone to think by themselves. Just smile and node at them because the bible might be the only thing that keeps them from going insane. Don't hate them because they are self righteous. Pity them because they are so so stupid. Ok, go ahead and quote the bible and tell me how your god gave you purpose and how I need to believe because it makes it more real for you when more people buy into the delusions that make you feel safe and important. Evolve into something smarter already.

    March 1, 2012 at 5:11 am |
    • scott

      Wow...we'll find out if you're right one day.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Alan

      Scott, actually we won't. When we're dead – which I assume you're getting at – we can't know anything.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • evolvedtg

      i.e, tell me what to do so I don't have to think for myself (take responsibility for what I do or think.)

      March 1, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • momoya

      Ecc 9 5

      For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten.

      March 2, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Brett

      I am reminded of another quote when reading this: "Teens, move out now, while you still know everything!" While there are plenty of people who live the Bible verse by verse, there are also those strangled by their own arrogance, who make assumptions that they have it all figured out. Your education doesn't make you wise, nor does your experience lend itself to your arrogant lectures. You rail against being told what to do, and yet here you are, lecturing everyone else to live as you do. Kind of ironic, isn't it? Welcome to the flock, know it all!

      March 3, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Danman

      You are a stupid thing I rejected.

      March 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Your own words back at ya Ted:
      "...you are not gonna convert anyone on a message board."

      March 4, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • joe2011

      Reading the bible multiple times does not make you an authority. From what i see here, it probably did not nothing but makes Ted cynical. Too bad because there is much that Ted is missing out.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • JohninMV

      Note, no bible verses. My little pea brain finds it difficult, if not impossible, to conceptualize death. Simply flashing to nothing. How frightening; how sad. I choose to believe that our souls are transcendant and living; not merely a collection of neural impulses that simply cease to exist. In fact, I would argue, that the concept of nothing is impossible for us to conceptualize. If Christian faith is nothing more than an illusion concocted by some to bring us peace and order, then so be it. But how is anyone helped by growing out of the belief? I've found peace, fullfillment, even happiness in the church. Why would you want to take that away from anyone?

      March 13, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  13. grist

    What we really need is a good x-rated movie of the Bible!

    February 29, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  14. Religion is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer is delusional..

    February 29, 2012 at 5:46 am |
    • conan

      looking on the bright side, at least prayer keeps them off the streets, right?

      honestly i don't care what they do on their own time, it's their freedom whether to do something productive or to spend it on their knees because that time belongs to them, what annoys me about Christians is that they try to waste other people's time A LOT by preaching again and again to them. More importantly, they almost always do it to little kids. This is really troubling as, afterall, kids are not exactly very mentally developed and, well, most of them believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy! While they will know that Santa and the tooth fairy don't really exist when they grow up, because everyone knows they don't exist, the sheer amount of fellow Christians would just fortify their delusions until they grow up into adults, at which point the belief in the "existence" of god would be so merged with their minds that to stop believing in the existence of the diety is practically equal to stop believing in the existence of themselves. That's what worries me.

      If anything, if they're gonna preach to people at least do it when the preachee have a mature mind, like in University or at least in secondary school! To do so in, like, kindergarten or primary school is the equivalent of taking advantage of their immature minds to brainwash them!

      btw i'm saying this in your reply instead of mine because apparently you seem to be getting more attention and i'm looking for a good argument 😉

      February 29, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      And yet u needed to plaigerize your alias from "Atheism is not healthy..." – one of your so-called "delusional" posters....

      March 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Conan

      @b4bigbang
      I believe this is called a "parody"?

      March 4, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  15. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you fat.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
    Prayer makes you anally frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    February 28, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Conan

      I'm guessing half of that was for teh lolz and half was that was serious. You should have added something about the pedopriests though.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Syman Pons

      Prayer requires one to be humble in the presence of one's Creator.
      Prayer connects the created to the Creator.
      The Creator blesses all prayer and those who pray.
      The creator does not always repspond to prayer in the way the created wishes.
      This can only be accepted by one who is humble.
      The Creator is a loving and patient advocate, provider and protector.
      The Creator's ear is only an eye lash's distance from your prayers.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • lola

      You must be a very miserable human being and definitely lonely.You're missing God in your life!

      February 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Yes, parody indeed. Plagiarism, parody or whatever, i find it interesting that he follows him/is inspired by him....

      March 4, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Meg

      Haha, I follow Jesus and some of that is true about prayer- it bores the hell out of me sometimes but sometimes, things happen I can't explain? And it is usually when I am not standing around looking at the sky or something...because I do that...all Christians do...because we are crazy...like everyone else...but somehow, when I learn about Jesus, there is peace in my crazy.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  16. Conan

    I probably shouldn't be doing this, but a good meaty argument is too good to resist...
    I've been reading these comments for a while now, and personally i have several things I'd like to say and questions to ask.

    First of all, like Steve James had said, the Bible has been edited many times to suit people's taste. However, what was edited was not just "rude" words to make it sound more polite, but many not-so-appealing texts had also been removed by the Church because it hurts their propaganda. It is practically impossible to find a completely unedited version of the Bible or any other holy text nowadays. I find it funny how when i go into religious arguments with Christians they almost always quote the Bible in their defence, when the Bible, even IF it was once the words of the Gods, had long been replaced with a censored book of propaganda.

    Secondly, I noticed quite a few arguments in the comments about Creationism. True, the scientific laws of the Universe are so complex and the odds of there just randomly being life on Earth is strong support of the existence of a Creator, but let me ask you Christians this: If everything has to have a creator, then what created your God? And if God just...happened, then what argument do you have of the universe not just "happening" in the same way?

    And another thing. There IS proof of evolution. Dog cross breeding. For example the Beagle was bred by humans in the 1830s using several other breeds such as the Talbot Hound and the Southern Hound. It DOES happen. Now you might say, "but dog breeding isn't natural! It was done by human influence!" Well animals have been observed in the wild to mate with different animal species. It is not common, but it happens. Look it up if you don't believe me.

    There are so many other things i would like to point out, but this is getting long and it's turning into an entire blog post, so i'll sign off with my own religious view.

    I can't say that there is 100% chance of not having a god, because while there is no proof there is god there is ALSO no proof there isn't. However, I don't believe in spending my life trying to appease some diety that has never shown himself to me in any way. It doesn't matter if you pray to Gods, your mental self may be comforted but you still have to live your life. To depend on a higher being to live your life is weak. Life sucks and then you die, that is a universal fact for all living beings. If you're going to spend your time on your knees begging a god to bestow success on you, why don't you actually get off your ass and work for your goals? One does not need an omnipotent being to tell them that hurting others is wrong, and if you do, you need some help. I am not an atheist. I am not an agnostic. My religion is kindness and reason, and that is all I needed to say. Take from it what you will.

    Thank you, and good day.
    ~a Hong Kong student

    February 28, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • jim h

      "Some red skin freaks of nature sprouted out of the sand to terrorize U.S.". In laymen term somebody is the ancestral offspring of the albino african. Now here comes the bible in bits and pieces. The truth shall set you free or can u stomach. The world as we know, split apart some point and time, but u know that

      February 29, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • conan

      considering that the only replier doesn't even make sense to me, this isn't much of an argument :/ Come on people, say something! >_<

      February 29, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • OhPleaseYerKillinMeSTOP

      The bibble was NeVER the word of god(s). It is entirely plagiarized from the writings and musings of great civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Babylonians, even asians and others... all who came long before Jesus. Some of their recommendations on health and personal interaction were repeated verbatim but most of their words were cherry-picked and edited by admittedly brilliant salesmen as part of the greatest marketing scam and induced mass hysteria in human history... to secure money and power (and today > votes) to the self-serving manipulators. It is beyond hilarious to see brainwashed christians incapable of independent thought simply regurgitating scripture complete with numeric citations claiming the authority of a god behind it rather than just a copy editor.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:13 am |
    • Conan

      @ohpleaseyerkillingme
      I never said the Bible WAS the "word of the gods" i said IF, because if i bluntly say that it is false out right, then most Christians would automatically go into rage mode and wouldn't even attempt to give me a reasonable argument. By saying "if", i can get the message across that even if the Bible was "legit" per se, which i don't believe it is btw, it is not now due to censorship, otherwise Christians reading the message wouldn't even look past that part because i already outright rejected their central of faith. Wordplay is important in debate 😉 Ask any politician.

      I agree with what you say btw, as for why Christians would continuously cite the Bible in their defense, when the Bible is precisely the thing that we are criticizing already when we argue their believes are not real, i think Ted (his comment is a few posts above mine) made a pretty clear explanation about it already, albeit it a little harsh.

      March 1, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Alan

      There may not be a 0% chance of some sort of creator, but the odds of there being the Christian (or Jewish, Muslim or Mormon) creator is exactly 0%. None of the religious creation stories I have heard have any merit as truth.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Momof3

      Have you read Timothy Beal's "The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book"? He's a christian, but it's still a good book on the history of the bible, and how it came to be in the version it is today. My husband and I are agnotsic and atheist, repsectivly, and it was interesting to see how much the word has changed, even in the last 150 years.

      March 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Evie

      dog breading is proof of evolution? Um. OK.

      March 4, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Conan

      @Evie
      Dog breeding created new species of dogs, that being my point. New species of animals may be bred by previous existing species, meaning that they don't have to be "created" by a higher being.

      March 4, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Conan, which removed Bible texts are you referring to? If it's the Apocrapha(sp?) then yes, the Prots removed it (good 4 them), but that's the only part i can think of.
      And of course, the Apoc is still in the orthox/Cath Bibles as well as amazon.com, etc...

      March 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Conan

      @b4bigbang
      aside from the apoc, there's still a Gospel of Peter, a Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary Magdelene, and the book of Enoch from what i can remember. Personally i'm not sure what's in these gospels but i'm pretty certain they were unpublished for reasons unknown.

      March 5, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • mitch

      Conan

      Please let me give my take on your creation question. I find it funny that some would imply that it is irrational and delusional to believe in a creator. The usual response is that if I was created then what created my creator. It seems more rational to assume we are the result of some big bang or explosion. i ask what created the big bang or the atom etc. My take is this if i create something ( ex building, drawing etc) Am Ii not greater that my creation. If I am greater than my creation then why would I be automatically bound by the rules I placed on its existence. I submit that my creator is not bound by the rules I live by – Life, death, beginning, end, time, space, gravity etc.

      Second the question about evolution. Why do I have to not believe in a creator to believe in evolution. It is pretty apparent that the world is very old and that things have evolved. Because the Bible describes Adam and Eve and the creation of the universe in seven days – does not mean that the seven days is in God's time and that humans did not evolve.

      Third for everyone who has felt that Christians only purpose is to use Christianity as a means for self gain and to sit in judgement of other I would apologize. We are ALL sinners and our purpose in not to sit in judgement of other people. This is what the pharisees did.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  17. Reality

    Hear Ye, Hear Ye Mr. James, it is time to enter the 21st century:

    To wit:

    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 3:52 pm |
    • slo111

      Don't forget he was probably gay too. Who else liked to wash the feet of 12 men.

      February 28, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Ran

      slo111-YOUR SOUL WILL BURN IN HELL FOR THAT COMMENT. YOU ENEMY OF JESUS. HE IS GOD AND HE WILL JUDGE YOU FOR THIS EVIL COMMENT YOU MADE. YOU ARE EVIL

      February 28, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • ashrakay

      HE JUDGES IN ALL CAPS

      February 28, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • reason

      Ran, according to Christianity only God can judge men. Unless you are God and referring to yourself in the third person you are not qualified to make such statements.

      Also is that an example of Jesus's love you are showing? Did you know Jesus taught to love thy neighbor, even to love thy enemy? I don't think Slo111 is feeling very loved right now. You should apologize and say something constructive.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  18. reason

    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.

    Looking at organized religion objectively, they're myths from stoneage societies that were trying to explain the world, and there is virtually no chance any one is truth.

    Rational speaking, if there is a just god and an afterlife, you will be judged on how you lived your life. Rejecting reason and deluding yourself in blind faith does not help your cause.

    February 28, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      STARTED PRODUCING SPAM! ANY EGGS?

      February 28, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      "Rational speaking, if there is a just god and an afterlife, you will be judged on how you lived your life. Rejecting reason and deluding yourself in blind faith does not help your cause."

      What you just wrote is exactly what the devil advocates. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • reason

      Where in the Bible does the devil advocate being a good person?

      February 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Robert Brown, While I'm a non-believer in the fantasy of the bible, I will point out that jesus said, You are the light of the world. If your idea of being the light of the world is a dim, sycophantic automaton, feel free to let your mind waste away on fantasy that have not more merit than watching an episode of survivor and eating a bag of cheetos under your snuggie.

      If there turned out to actually be a god that created us, I would hope that he would desire free-thinking, the betterment of oneself through the mastery of the sciences and arts, and independence of action as he is the one that supposedly endowed us with a free will. Should it turn out that he gave us these wonderful abilities in hopes that we would not use them and in fact stifle them, such a god does not deserve my praise.

      February 28, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Ran

      I find it amusing how a mere mortal can decide whether God exists or not. By the way, there is only one God and He does exist.
      Also, why are there so many people who don't believe God exists posting on the CNN BELIEF BLOG? Reason, Reality, and all the other unbelievers, your posts are just so bitter, insulting, sadistic and just plain ugly......What you all have in common aside from the nature of your posts is that you all don't believe God exists.....Could this bitterness be due to God (who exists) not existing in YOUR life perhaps??

      February 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • reason

      Ran, I thought you were joking after reading your first two sentences.

      Read your first sentence.
      Now read your second sentence.

      Ironic that I am not even the one claiming to know if there is a god.
      That is about all that needs to be said on your comment.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Ran, As has been often stated, the reason so many atheists monitor this site is because we worry for your sanity just as we worry for the sanity of those who believe in leprechauns. I'm sure someone somewhere is saying "I find it amusing how a mere mortal can decide whether leprechauns exist or not. They do exist and so do fairies!"

      This is the 21st century. It's time to grow out of bronze age and medieval fantasies. Embrace reality and we will embrace you.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Ran, Also, It's pretty obvious that for most people "bitter, insulting, sadistic and just plain ugly" is just another way of saying "does not agree with me." I'm sorry that you find reality so offensive. I assure you that it is neutral.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      The Bible and Science considers humans as emotional rather than rational beings. If a human glorifies rationality above emotional(spiritual) maturity he is not being scientific. That is why most of you cant even attempt arguement with me or any other spiritual Xtian. I love u as myself. Try it.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  19. Russ

    The central image of the Christian faith is an execution device (the cross).
    This article is right to highlight the extreme statement the Christian faith makes at its core:

    Through the cross, God states two things clearly:
    1) it's worse than humanity wants to admit (we deserve to die)
    2) it's better than we ever imagined (we're so loved that Jesus would die in our place)

    To lose this unpalatable central truth of the Christian faith is to lose Christianity.

    February 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Despite whatever Jesus supposedly did, we still die, like all living things. Nothing mysterious about this at all.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Oh Yeah, do u know there is a difference between eternal life and immortality in Christianity?

      February 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Nii Croffie

      Isn't 'eternal life' just another hope for immortality really? I can't see any difference between a person's soul living on in heaven and science fiction stories about fixing up people's bodies to go on forever, or transferring their personalities into robots, or something like that. It's still the same fantasy about cheating death.

      Anyway, who would really want to be conscious forever? Funny how the doctrines are all kinda fuzzy about what people would be doing in heaven that wouldn't get boring after a few million years, but like all fairy tales, no thought is ever given to what happens after they say "And they lived happily ever after."

      February 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Pauvre toi! So u don't know that eternal life is de relationship of adoption 2 SONSHIP by God so that in case there is immortality after death u r an angel rather than a demon who is eternally dead. This is what Adam lost by de Fall n God protected him from de Tree of Immortality 2 allow him repent.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  20. Wisdom4u2

    Are you kidding me? The same people are still commenting on this forum from day one.....move along people, there nothing more to say about the article. LOL!!

    February 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • reason

      How about the judge who throughout an assault against an atheist. The judge said his speech was not protected by the first amendment because it was provocative to muslims. He cited sharia law, holding up the Quran in court! Also the judge claimed that it was his word against the other's, even though there was video, a crowd of onlookers witnessed it, and the attacker admitted his guilt to a nearby police officer!

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHXp0Kvn4PM&w=640&h=390]

      February 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
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About this blog

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