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March 11th, 2012
01:20 AM ET

My Take: Jesus would be OK with card counting

Editor's Note: David Drury is featured in the documentary "Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians” and is writing a book about his card-counting adventures.

By David Drury, Special to CNN

(CNN)–“Shackled by a heavy burden/'neath a load of guilt and shame/ then the hand of Jesus touched me/ and now I am no longer the same.”

So begins the popular William Gaither hymn. By popular, I mean Elvis once recorded a version of it, which is what it takes for a hymn anymore.

When I stumbled into a church on the outskirts of Las Vegas one Sunday morning in 2007, I was shackled with my own heavy burden of sorts. I had $80,000 in cash hidden on my person. It was crammed into pockets, stuffed into socks and strapped beneath my clothes. The pastor was just getting his sermon fired up when I slipped into a back row with all the grace of a stiff-limbed Frankenstein.

So much for going unnoticed.

The pastor stopped midsentence and stared my way. Had he cleared his throat or even made an offhanded comment about punctuality, I would have understood. Instead, he called my first and last name into the microphone, and every head turned.

Believe it or not, I had never been to this church. While I traveled to Vegas often, my time was spent in casinos, not churches.

Blackjack is a beatable game. With card counting, perfect decision-making and plenty of capital, you can gain and cash in on an advantage against the house. East Coast college students, known as the MIT Team, used the method to plunder casinos in the 1980s and 1990s, inspiring books and movies and making card counting famous. But people have been employing this winning strategy in casinos for 50 years.

Mark Treas stands outside of a casino.

A card counter assigns a value to every card as it is dealt out of the shoe. This creates a running count that always changes and allows a player to determine when a statistical advantage falls to him or her, by virtue of more aces and face cards than usual being poised to appear. More faces mean the dealer will bust more often.

More aces mean more natural blackjacks, which pay the player at a higher rate. A card counter keeps bets low when the casino has the statistical advantage and raises them high when the advantage shifts to them.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

When I lost my Seattle office job in 2006, this was the strange career path down which I found myself traveling. I was not alone.

It started when I met a guy at church named Ben. He had made a small fortune counting cards. Ben was putting a team together comprising people he’d found through mostly church connections — pastors, worship leaders and students of theology. This was the team I trained for and joined. As card counters, our common faith was incidental, but as team members it held us together.

A scene from the new documentary Holy Rollers about Chrstians who count cards at casinos.

We took our craft to casinos, from Vegas to Atlantic City to Biloxi, Mississippi, to Bremerton, Washington. We won millions of dollars. The money was not funneled into any ministry or religious consortium.

Instead, the winnings were split between those who invested in the operation, those who managed the team - which ran between 10 and 25 players – and the players, who didn’t risk any of their own money at the tables. As a player I made what amounted to a modest annual salary with no financial risk and maintained, on average, a 10-hour workweek.

We returned home with the gift of time to our ministries and families and, yes, to plenty of questions.

If the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, as the Bible suggests, what business did a bunch of Christians have throwing around big money on a game of chance? For us, chance had nothing to do with it.

To count cards is to remove the gamble. Anything can happen in one hand or on one night, but slowly, over time, the advantage you earn by executing perfect playing decisions and betting according to your advantage bears itself out. Playing the stock market is much more of a gamble.

Yes, money is attractive, and we dealt with a lot of it. Tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. You can’t withdraw $50,000 from a casino ATM and it can take a half -day of red tape to get as much out of an account at a big bank. Our assets had to be liquid.

Until we had the better sense to put it in safety deposit boxes, we kept our cash in freezers and under mattresses. For our investors and for tax reasons, we were tasked with reporting our wins and losses accurately, but at any time any one of us could have pocketed thousands without a hint of suspicion.

While we were left to weigh our own motives, as a team we were forced to trust one another with money that could have collapsed the business if it ever went missing.

We were an uncommon fellowship, to be sure. But while we never claimed a full understanding on how God viewed our activities, I felt that he never left the room. He was ever present in our musings, discussions and deliberations. With the math on our side, we took confidence in the fact that that we lacked any of the traits of wild gamblers. But were we deceptive by hiding our intentions at the tables? Were we providing a service to the world by playing a card game? The answers varied.

Mark Treas baptized a woman before heading off to a casino to card count in the documentary 'Holy Rollers.'

Which is worse? To declare your path the righteous one and retire all questions of God’s will to the back of your mind, or to seek them out?

We chose the latter, engaging the hard questions as they arose rather than pretending to corner the market on righteousness. We wrestled with them in a way that we came to know intimately the stink of our own individual natures. But there was something pure born out of abandoning an easy, comfortable existence for a true fellowship with my teammates that came with plenty of hard questions.

Casinos have a dubious reputation as the gateway to vice and temptation. I think that’s unfair. I had Internet access and a bar around the corner from my home, so the casinos never represented any particular threat to my morality I didn’t already have at my fingertips.

Maybe that day I stumbled into that Las Vegas-area church I was looking for a familiar face in a strange town. For all the secrecy and questions, maybe I was looking for a little validation, too. I knew two of the pastors on staff because they had served at the church of my childhood.

One of those pastors was at the pulpit that day. He called my name out when he recognized me. After the service I had a brief conversation with the other in the church lobby.

“What brings you to Las Vegas?” he asked.

“I’m on a card-counting team.”

“Well, God can change anyone.”

What? I thought.

“I know a young man,” he said, “who came to Las Vegas for a dodgeball tournament. Now he’s on staff with us. Who knows what God has in store for YOU?”

This man of the cloth had essentially stuffed the cloth right in my mouth, as if to say that even I could be saved from whatever silly game I was playing. But he needn’t have tossed me a lifeline because I didn’t need saving.

Engage me. Ask the hard questions. Be confounded as I am confounded. But don’t write me off. We are all in the water together. Faith is a journey, and God calls us into relationship.

I remember a man at my table once who was furious with the aggressive way I was playing. “A fool and his money are soon parted,” he said in a huff. For six years I stood ready as ever to be the fool. But me and the money, by way of card-counting wins, never parted.

The team ended with the making of a documentary about our journey. My blackjack career ended with it. I have taken to writing my tales in the hopes of forging a new journey that doesn’t involve stacks of cash. I guess I am a gambling man after all.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Drury.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

soundoff (1,821 Responses)
  1. Eleni

    Boy indeed, you did take a gamble with your choice, let me know if it pays off in big stach of $$$$$$$$$!!!! One thing is for sure your new choice will definetly make youmore of an observer rather than an active player in life.........and maybe you will find your self judging more just like the priest did upon your card playing's 🙂 not very sure if that's fun. But hey life is a gamble so why not, and I believe God is okay with either of your choices as long as you don't take his role and start playing GOD!

    March 12, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  2. Billy

    If I were President: I'd ban alot of things. Religion- People will only practice 2 religions. Catholism, and Christianity. Churches must provide Sunday School, name tags & Bible studies. Must have Youth Groups. Only straight people will be alowed to get married. There will only be 2 kinds of the Bibles, which will be the Catholic Bible, and The NIV Christian Bible. All Priests/Pastors will be married straight men. Religious Camps- Will require a resonable set of rules and also uniforms with set colors.

    March 12, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • momoya

      Poe, is that you?

      March 12, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Observer

      With thinking like that, you probably don't need to think about getting enough votes to win.

      March 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • fred

      Don't forget churches must provide birth control and condoms on demand at no cost. Someone else always must pay when the government gets involved.

      March 12, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Arias

      Interesting that in your world you say there will be only two religions of Catholicism and Christianity.

      Catholicism IS a form of Christianity. Your ignorance is staggering.

      So in your Christian Taliban world, you would outlaw all non-Christian religions which would necessarily persecute anyone who continues to believe anything outside of the religion you have chosen to belong. Great way to return the world to the medieval ages when Christianity was forced onto the masses by crusaders at the tip of a sword.

      March 12, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  3. Keith

    Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son what do you know about raising children?

    March 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I know that Obama isn't a Muslim. Do you?

      March 12, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'll bet they know you're a complete loser.

      March 12, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • SueEllen

      He doesn't know anything Keith

      March 12, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • SueEllen

      But I'd suck his d!ck in a minute!

      What? Wait! You mean Tom is a WOMAN!

      So much the better!

      March 12, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  4. Keith

    Glad I don't have to raise my kids in this new America

    March 12, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Observer

      This new America is getting educated and getting rid of mindless bigotry. The days of Biblical support for slavery and the inferiority of women and discrimination against the handicapped is gone.

      March 12, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do your kids know that Obama isn't a Muslim?

      March 12, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • SueEllen

      Amen

      March 12, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  5. Christianity is not healthy for children and other living things

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

    March 12, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  6. Dr. Peabody

    Do Greek Orthodoxers use K-Y or Crisco? Did you hear about the little Greek Orthodox boy who ran away from home because he didn't like the way he was being "reared?" But he came home because he couldn't bear to leave his brother's behind?

    March 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  7. Queen Lattice

    it's fine for a xtian to gamble in the eyes of god
    but if a non-xtian gambles, then it's a sin

    March 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • momoya

      1 Corinthians 10:23 says as much, Queen.

      March 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Jo

      I can't imagine how you came to this conclusion. A belief in the supernatural is not, in and of itself, healthy or unhealthy and neither is the opposite. I suppose one could form a cult of fitness or something, and call that a healthy belief system, but then your god would be The Terminator.

      March 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Dr. Peabody

      "Prayer changes things ." Doesn't work on diapers.

      March 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven

      March 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • 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!!~

      March 12, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Observer

      "Prayer changes things
      Proven"

      ZERO proof. Guess again.

      March 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Observer

      Drunk driving changes things.

      Proven.

      March 12, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things.
      Proven
      Powerful.

      March 12, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things.
      Proven
      Powerful."

      That you are a LIAR!

      March 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven
      Powerful
      Pervasive

      March 12, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Observer

      Drunk driving changes things.

      March 12, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  9. The Mad Zak

    In our culture we often equate "legal" with "moral", and many times they are not the same. Card counting is not imoral. It is not allowed (and is perhaps illegal) in casinos because it takes away their advantage. Personally, I think if someone is smart enough to count cards they should be allowed to do it. They are not using an artificial means such as a computer; they are only using their own wits. What is wrong with that? So yea, Jesus doesn't have a problem with counting cards.

    March 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • GodPot

      "They came and said to Him, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to play a rigged game at Caesars Palace, or not? Shall we play or shall we not play?" But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a poker chip to look at. They brought one. And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" And they said to Him, "Caesar's Palace". And Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar Palace the things that are Caesar's Palaces', and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him."

      March 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • sam

      @GodPot – well played.

      March 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  10. SueEllen

    No morality in America or these forums, it's a shame.

    March 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • JeffB

      Morality is idolatry.

      March 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, can't it, justsayin.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's a shame you're a troll SueEllenjustsayin.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      "No morality in America or these forums" Says the bigot!! You're right SueEllen, as long as bigots like you exist there can be no morality in America.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Observer

      SueEllen,

      "No morality in America or these forums, it's a shame.'

      Yep. Like the mother who abandoned her son because God had made him gay. Disgusting!

      March 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      I think SueEllen should consider not posting here...after admitting such a horrible thing she will not live it down. What a horrible parent she is!!! Absolutely disgusting!! Who allowed this thing to parent?

      March 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Keith

      You guys should lay off she sounds like a good Christian woman who stands up for her beliefs!

      March 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Observer

      Keith,

      There's NOTHING "good" about a mother who apparently would abandon her son when he most needed her love and support.

      THAT is immoral.

      March 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Keith

      Observer I can't say that my decision would be much different if my son came to me with that BS

      March 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Observer

      Keith,

      Pathetic!

      That shows just where your priorities are when it comes to what REALLY matters. Try to dig deep into your soul and see how important s-xual preference is when compared to murder, r-pe, hurting people, theft, etc. If being gay is the "worst" thing you could say about your son, be PROUD. Wake up!

      March 12, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Really?

      "Observer I can't say that my decision would be much different if my son came to me with that BS"

      The experts around the world have proven it's not BS. Your children should be taken away from you because your hatred and prejudice is completely unfounded and they should be raised by gays since it's been proven they can raise children into loving well rounded adults.

      March 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Keith

      I'd die before I saw my kids raised by two men or two women

      March 12, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Your kids would have been better off had they been raised by two wolves than by you, ignoramus.

      March 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Really?

      "I'd die before I saw my kids raised by two men or two women"

      Your kids will be a menace to society being raised by such a bigoted prejudice person who believes spreading hate is the will of their god. You're a moron.

      March 12, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • SueEllen

      Thanks for the support Keith. I can tell you are a righteous man:)

      March 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • SueEllen

      Come closer and I'll fondle your sweaty balls.

      March 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  11. jimtanker

    @ Reality

    As I said, extra-biblical accounts. Quoting from a work of fiction doesn’t count.

    Quoting from something that was written at least 40 years and as much as 200 years after the supposed account is not reliable information as well. Tacitus wrote his papers around 116CE which can hardly be considered contemporary information.

    Josephus was born in 37CE, 3 years after the character of Jesus supposedly died so he is hardly a contemporary as well.

    The Romans kept meticulous records and there is no record of a census at the time when Jesus was supposedly born (not in December by the way, most likely in September of 4 CE if it even happened). There is also no record of someone being raised from the dead as Lazarus supposedly was or all of the dead that were supposed to get up and walk around in Mathew. You would think that if a bunch of zombies were out walking around town that someone else might have written about it. Like EVERYONE!

    You have NO evidence that anyone such as Jesus ever existed. NONE!

    March 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      Are you serious?

      That is just intellectually dishonest. Do you believe Mohammad existed? Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha? Lincoln?

      and please don't cry SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE WITHOUT THE EVIDENCE.

      Makes you look bad. Just because a story gets placed in reader digest as a collection of stories does not remove validity.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Mike from CT: "Do you believe Mohammad existed? Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha? Lincoln?"

      It makes little difference if any of those people existed or not, except to hero worshippers and purist historians (not demeaning historians, it's just a separate discipline). If any wisdom or concepts that are attributed to them are verified to be useful – that's all we need.

      It's the same with any practical wisdom that is attributed to Jesus. It's the valid wisdom that matters, not the man. Again, there is not a whit of verified evidence for the supernatural events attributed to him (nor to anyone else – ever), nor that his alleged preachings about the supernatural are true.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      "historians, it's just a separate discipline"

      Good, so now tell us how do you determine if something is historically accurate? One is witnesses, which Peter, Matthew and John were. Who Luke interviewed just like many of your news articles you read today and still used in the court of law

      Another is internal consistency, which you have to a great degree in the gospels surpassing any other doc.ument for Antiquities.

      History is a valid form of knowledge, you will pay good money for it as you attend college.

      "verified evidence"
      Provide the "verified evidence" that this is not a dream you are having and what you live for, what drives you is actually real?

      March 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Mike, the gospels were written by MANY anonymous authors. No one knows who wrote them or exactly when.

      March 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      Please provide Verifiable evidence to your statement.

      I will go first. The Gospel according to (MMLJ) were not the actual names of the books. They received those names because past down through history these works were identified as such.

      As to exactly when is irrelevant what is relevant is time period and we know that all Gospel accounts were written before in the 1st century. When many of the cross witnesses referenced in the books were still alive ex. the father of Alexander and Rufus

      And the 500 Paul begged his listeners to seek.

      March 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Reality

      One needs to read the studies of contemporary historians and NT scholars to see how they decide the authenticity of historical events and passagess. Rigorous conclusions rely on the number of independent attestations, the time of the publications, the content as it relates to the subject and time period, and any related archeological evidence. Professors JD Crossan and G. Ludemann's studies are top notch in this regard with respect to the NT.

      An example:

      John 8:7

      When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

      Said passage, as per many contemporary NT scholars, was not said by the historical Jesus. One reason for this conclusion is that it appears no where else in the scriptures.

      Actually, all of John's Gospel is of questionable historic value.

      To wit:

      From Professor Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Jesus,

      "Conventionally, scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John's Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source......
      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John#Authorship

      "Since "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, some historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus.[3][4] "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous,"[5] and date it to 90-100."

      "The authorship has been disputed since at least the second century, with mainstream Christianity believing that the author is John the Apostle, son of Zebedee. Modern experts usually consider the author to be an unknown non-eyewitness, though many apologetic Christian scholars still hold to the conservative Johannine view that ascribes authorship to John the Apostle."

      And from Professor Gerd Ludemann, in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 416,

      "Anyone looking for the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John. "
      See also http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/1john.html

      Please note for example that the "raising" of Lazarus appears in only John's Gospel, the least historic of the four. Such an important event would have been noted in all the gospels and other related docu-ments from the time period.

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      March 12, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Reality

      There is not a lot of information on the four authors of the Gospels. What little there is, is discussed by Father Ray Brown in his book, An Introduction to the New Testament. Said book is probably one of the best reference books available and has both the imprimatur and nil obstat from the RCC.

      And added comment:

      From the Philadelphia Inquirer's report on Cardinal Bevilacqua's testimony to a grand jury investigating the pedophilia coverup in the Philadelphia Archdiocese during the Cardinal's tenure:

      "Bevilacqua insisted he needed "evidence in order to ask someone to step down."

      And not just any evidence. Anonymous reports, Bevilacqua said, had "no value at all to me."

      "Secondhand information," he added, lacked credibility.

      That puzzled the jurors, who then asked Bevilacqua if he believed in the Gospels.

      "Yes," assured the cardinal.

      "But," Spade pressed, "it's the jurors' understanding that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written many years after the actual events," by those not present at the time.

      "Yes," Bevilacqua agreed.

      So, using the cleric's own logic, wouldn't that make the Gospels "secondhand information"?

      March 12, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      One needs to read the studies of contemporary historians and NT scholars to see how they decide the authenticity of historical events and passagess. (sic)
      Correct.
      But ofessors JD Crossan and G. Ludemann's do not qualify as NT scholars because they lack the BASIC fundamentals of Semitic background of the NT
      And that is just the basics. Study someone else like Evens or Craig
      Past post
      @Reality, again and again I plead with you to stay away from the fraud, as you mention above. crossan

      The arguement that it is only mention by luke makes a weak arguement that it Must me a myth.

      Scholars and secular people on Crossan (since we are using wikipedia)

      Luke Timothy Johnson[28] of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, in his 1996 book The Real Jesus, voiced concerns with the seminar's work. He criticized the techniques of the Seminar, believing them to be far more limited for historical reconstruction than seminar members believe. Their conclusions were "already determined ahead of time," Johnson says, which "is not responsible, or even critical scholarship. It is a self-indulgent charade."

      Dale Allison of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, in his 1999 book Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet, cited what he felt were problems with the work of (particularly) John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg, arguing that their conclusions were at least in part predetermined by their theological positions. He also pointed out the limitations of their presumptions and methodology. Allison argued that despite the conclusions of the seminar, Jesus was a prophetic figure focused to a large extent on apocalyptic thinking.[13]

      Daniel L. Akin, writing in the Journal of the Southern Baptist Convention, called the work of the Jesus Seminar "destructive criticism".[29] Craig Blomberg notes that if the Jesus Seminar’s findings are to be believed then “it requires the assumption that someone, about a generation removed from the events in question, radically transformed the authentic information about Jesus that was circulating at that time, superimposed a body of material four times as large, fabricated almost entirely out of whole cloth, while the church suffered sufficient collective amnesia to accept the transformation as legitimate.”

      John P. Meier points out that in the past the quest for the historical Jesus has often been motivated more by a desire to produce an alternate christology than a true historical search; as an example, he points out that the stated motivation of one of the Jesus Seminar members was to overthrow the "mistake called Christianity."[20]

      Scholars who have expressed concerns with the work of the Jesus Seminar include Richard Hays,[14] Birger A. Pearson,[15] Ben Witherington,[16] Gregory A. Boyd,[17] N.T. Wright,[18] William Lane Craig,[19] Craig A. Evans,[20] Craig Blomberg,[12] Darrell Bock,[12] and Edwin Yamauchi.[12

      The Seminar places much value on the criterion of dissimilarity. For the Seminar, a saying will only be held as authentic if it does not match the beliefs of Judaism or those held by the early Christians.[22] Critics such as Gregory Boyd have noted that the effect of this is that the Jesus of the Seminar shows no continuity with his Jewish context nor his disciples.[23] J. Ed Komoszewski and co-authors state that the Jesus Seminar's "Criteria for In/Authenticity" create "an eccentric Jesus who learned nothing from his own culture and made no impact on his followers".[24] Others ask rhetorically, "why would such a Jesus be crucified?"[25] The same criticism has been made by Craig Evans.[20]

      The voting system has been criticized by, among others, NT Wright, who says '... I cannot understand how, if a majority ... thought a saying authentic or probably authentic, the "weighted average" turned out to be "probably inauthentic

      Wow, you did not even make it to the end of one chapter? Skipping over vs 33 and 34...

      "After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing"
      So let me get this strait, the disciples slip past the awake guards and the chief priest that gather, remove a large stone without making enough noise to wake those who were already awake. Then for the rest of their lives live out persecution for this lie. Being burned alive and exiled, crucified upside down. Stone to death. Beheaded. Thrown off the temple then bludgeoned. And you believe that the apostles had financial security. Really? Because one guy, know to not have the correct studies and use very skeptical methods made a comment in a dialogue. And you have the audacity to say Christianity is farfetched. Self examination my friend.
      By the way even making the statement that there was a body to steal concedes the rest of the gospel accounts.
      http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-t012.html

      Reality why do you not post the next paragraph of the book if you are being intellectually honest.

      Ben Meyer comments that most Jesus scholars of the day couple the liberal emphasis on the ethics with an equally liberal "hermeneutic of empathy" In turn, a host of imaginative these were put forward in an effort to understand more fully Jesus religious experience by tracing out the psychological development of Jesus's messianic awareness. This was very attractive in that it allowed the authors to write something akin to a biography of Jesus. The weakness of this approach lay in the fact that it depended more on the imagination than on the historical method. Again the resurrection is moved to the background as the light is focused on Jesus' psche and the effect hist teachings had on the early Chrurch.

      William Wrede responded to such ideas by insisting that the nineteenth-century psychological theories of Jesus' work were derived from somewhere other than the text. Wrede declares: And this is the malady to which we must here allude–lut us not dignify it with the euphemish "historical imagination." The Scientific study of the life of Jesus is suffering from psychological "suppositionitis" which amounts to a sort of historical guesswork. For this reason interpretations to suit every taste proliferated. The number of arbitrary psychological interpretations at the same time from the basis of important structures of thought; and how often do people think that the task of criticism has already been discharged by palying tuneful psychological variations on the given factual theme!"

      First Reality
      Still waiting on your response about the fraud that is Crossan and called out by Craig Evans and Wright in Lee Stobels book the case for the real Jesus

      It's like I typed this before.... AS PAUL said don't believe me but ask the 500 witnesses. Along with Hebrews 4 and about 20 others passages
      14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens,[e] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

      John 1 is NOT the only attestation. You know this but continue to type it.

      As far as the Most exegetes... yet again you also know and have been shown that this is not true
      Again I start with Evans

      http://www.craigaevans.com/cv.htm

      and continue with
      NT Wright
      Hays
      Allison
      Craig Blomberg
      John Frame
      John Piper
      Matt Chandler
      Crossan doesn't even qualify as a exegete for having a lack of displine in his "studies" and lack training in the Semitic background of the NT

      March 12, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • CTscam

      @Mike from CT..

      "The arguement that it is only mention by luke makes a weak arguement that it Must me a myth."

      Yes! it's you! You are the myth! Good for you to know that.

      March 12, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Josephus, Philo-Judæus, Seneca, Pliny the Elder, Arrian, Petronius, Dion Pruseus, Paterculus, Suetonius, Juvenal, Martial, Persius, Plutarch, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Justus of Tiberius, Apollonius, Quintilian, Lucanus, Epictetus, Hermogones, Silius Italicus, Statius, Ptolemy, Appian, Phlegon, Phædrus, Valerius Maximus, Lucian, Pausanias, Florus Lucius, Quintius Curtius, Aulus Gellius, Dio Chrysostom, Columella, Valerius Flaccus, Damis, Favorinus, Lysias, Pomponius Mela, Appion of Alexandria, Theon of Smyrna:

      All of these First and Second Century historians, and not one of them wrote a single word of this wondrous Jesus of Nazareth. Isn't that odd, with all of the miraculous claims made about him by his followers?

      March 12, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Reality

      Added suggested readings:

      o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.
      2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
      – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

      3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
      – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"
      4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
      5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
      6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html
      8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias
      joezias.com/HealthHealingLandIsrael.htm
      9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

      March 12, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Reality

      Continued from above:

      10. The Gnostic Jesus
      (Part One in a Two-Part Series on Ancient and Modern Gnosticism)
      by Douglas Groothuis: equip.org/free/DG040-1.htm
      11. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
      Presented on March 18, 1994
      ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM#2
      12. The Jesus Database- newer site:
      wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=Jesus_Database
      13. Jesus Database with the example of Supper and Eucharist:
      faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb016.html
      14. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:
      mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
      15. The Journal of Higher Criticism with links to articles on the Historical Jesus:
      mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm

      March 12, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Reality

      Continued from above:

      16. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/
      17. Diseases in the Bible:
      etd.unisa.ac.za/ETD-db/theses/available/etd-08022006-125807/unrestricted/02dissertation.pdf
      18. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
      theologians, ethics, etc.
      religion-online.org/
      19. The Jesus Seminarians and their search for NT authenticity:
      mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      20. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/
      21. Writing the New Testament- existing copies, oral tradition etc.
      ntgateway.com/
      22. The Search for the Historic Jesus by the Jesus Seminarians:
      members.aol.com/DrSwiney/seminar.html
      23. Jesus Decoded by Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco (Da Vinci Code review)jesusdecoded.com/introduction.php
      24. JD Crossan's scriptural references for his book the Historical Jesus separated into time periods: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan1.rtf
      25. JD Crossan's conclusions about the authencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the conclusions of other NT exegetes in the last 200 years:
      faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan2.rtf

      March 12, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Reality

      Continued from above:

      26. Common Sayings from Thomas's Gospel and the Q Gospel: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan3.rtf
      27. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
      28. Luke and Josephus- was there a connection?
      infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html
      29. NT and beyond time line:
      pbs.org/empires/peterandpaul/history/timeline/
      30. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
      harvardhouse.com/prophetictech/new/pauls_life.htm
      31. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.
      32. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
      33. The books of the following : Professors Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
      34. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
      35. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

      March 12, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Reality

      Studies by John Dominic Crossan

      •Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts (Harper San Francisco 2001)
      •The Birth of Christianity (Harper San Francisco 1999)
      •The Jesus Controversy : Perspectives in Conflict (Trinity Pr Intl 1999)
      •Who Is Jesus? (Westminster John Knox 1999)
      •The Essential Jesus (Book Sales 1998)
      •Who Killed Jesus? (Harper San Francisco 1996)
      •Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (Harper San Francisco 1995)
      •In Parables : The Challenge of the Historical Jesus (Polebridge Press 1994)
      •The Historical Jesus (Harper San Francisco 1993)
      •An Inventory of the Jesus Tradition by Chronological Stratification (online)
      •An Inventory of the Jesus Tradition by Independent Attestation (online)
      •Common Sayings Tradition in Gospel of Thomas and Q Gospel (online)
      •Seminar: HJ Materials & Methodology (online)
      •A Closer Look at the Mustard Seed (online)
      •Was Jesus Buried? (online)
      •Alchemy and Accuracy (online)
      •A Review of John Dominic Crossan's The Birth of Christianity (Harvard Theological Review 2001, reproduced online)
      •Danny Yee's Book Reviews: The Historical Jesus (online)
      •Simple Choices? A Response to John Dominic Crossan
      -In Search of Paul with Reed, Harper, San Francisco

      March 12, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Reality

      Studies of Luke Timothy Johnson – now at Notre Dame?

      •The Writings of the New Testament : An Interpretation (Fortress Pr 1999)
      •The Real Jesus : The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and Truth of the Traditional Gospels (Harper San Francisco 1997)
      •"Whose Faith Saves?" Summary of a Lecture by Luke Timothy Johnson (online)
      •The New Testament and the Examined Life: Thoughts on Teaching (online)
      •Reshuffling the Gospels: Jesus According to Spong and Wilson (online)
      •Higher Critical Review. The Real Jesus. By Robert Price. (online)
      •Jesus at 2000: The e-mail debate (online

      March 12, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Reality

      Studies of Marcus Borg

      •The Meaning of Jesus : Two Visions (Harper San Francisco 2000)
      •Conflict, Holiness, and Politics in the Teachings of Jesus (Trinity Pr Intl 1998)
      •The Lost Gospel Q : The Original Sayings of Jesus (Ulysses Pr 1996)
      •Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time (Harper San Francisco 1995)
      •Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship (Trinity Pr Intl 1994)
      •Jesus : A New Vision (Harper San Francisco 1991)
      •A Renaissance in Jesus Studies (online)
      •David Friedrich Strauss: Miracle and Myth (online)
      •The Historical Jesus and Christian Preaching (online)

      March 12, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Reality

      Studies of Bishop N. T. Wright, Episcopalian

      •The Meaning of Jesus : Two Visions (Harper San Francisco 2000)
      •The Challenge of Jesus (Intervarsity Pr 1999)
      •What Saint Paul Really Said (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co 1997)
      •The Original Jesus : The Life and Vision of a Revolutionary (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1997)
      •Jesus and the Victory of God (Fortress Pr 1997)
      •The New Testament and the People of God (Fortress Pr 1996)
      •The Wright Quest for the Historical Jesus (online)
      •Paul's Gospel and Caesar's Empire (online)
      •One God, One Lord, One People (online)
      •God's Way of Acting (online)
      •Jesus' Resurrection and Christian Origins (online)
      •Defending Nicea (online)

      March 13, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Reality

      As noted early on, the studies of Professors Crossan, Johnson, Borg and Wright and many other contemporary NT scholars are reviewed at:

      1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

      Their conclusions were divided as follows:

      :Jesus the Myth: Heavenly Christ
      Earl Doherty
      Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy

      Jesus the Myth: Man of the Indefinite Past
      Alvar Ellegård
      G. A. Wells

      Jesus the Hellenistic Hero
      Gregory Riley

      Jesus the Revolutionary
      Robert Eisenman

      Jesus the Wisdom Sage
      John Dominic Crossan
      Robert Funk
      Burton Mack
      Stephen J. Patterson

      Jesus the Man of the Spirit
      Marcus Borg
      Stevan Davies
      Geza Vermes

      Jesus the Prophet of Social Change
      Richard Horsley
      Hyam Maccoby
      Gerd Theissen

      Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet
      Bart Ehrman
      Paula Fredriksen
      Gerd Lüdemann
      John P. Meier
      E. P. Sanders

      Jesus the Savior
      Luke Timothy Johnson
      Robert H. Stein
      N. T. Wright

      March 13, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Reality

      Summarizing with a prayer:

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen

      March 13, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Aguest, check the first name on your list,

      Now the standard reply as to why Reality's website is unreliable

      the author identifies himself as the apostle Peter (1:1), and the contents and character of the letter support his authorship (see notes on 1:12; 4:13; 5:1–2,5,13). Moreover, the letter reflects the history and terminology of the Gospels and Acts (notably Peter’s speeches). Its themes and concepts reflect Peter’s experiences and his associations in the period of our Lord’s earthly ministry and in the apostolic age. That he was acquainted, e.g., with Paul and his letters is made clear in 2Pe 3:15–16 (see notes there); Gal 1:18; 2:1–21 and elsewhere. Coincidences in thought and expression with Paul’s writings are therefore not surprising.

      From the beginning, 1 Peter was recognized as authoritative and as the work of the apostle Peter. The earliest reference to it may be 2Pe 3:1 (see note there), where Peter himself refers to a former letter he had written. 1 Clement (a.d. 95) seems to indicate acquaintance with 1 Peter. Polycarp, a disciple of the apostle John, makes use of 1 Peter in his letter to the Philippians. The author of the Gospel of Truth (140–150) was acquainted with 1 Peter. Eusebius (fourth century) indicated that it was universally received.

      The letter was explicitly ascribed to Peter by that group of church fathers whose testimonies appear in the attestation of so many of the genuine NT writings, namely, Irenaeus (a.d. 140–203), Tertullian (150–222), Clement of Alexandria (155–215) and Origen (185–253). It is thus clear that Peter’s authorship of the book has early and strong support.

      Nevertheless some claim that the idiomatic Greek of this letter is beyond Peter’s competence. But in his time Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek were used in the Holy Land, and he may well have been acquainted with more than one language. That he was not a professionally trained scribe (Ac 4:13) does not mean that he was unacquainted with Greek; in fact, as a Galilean fisherman he in all likelihood did use it. Even if he had not known it in the earliest days of the church, he may have acquired it as an important aid to his apostolic ministry in the decades that intervened between then and the writing of 1 Peter.

      It is true, however, that the Greek of 1 Peter is good literary Greek, and even though Peter could no doubt speak Greek, as so many in the Mediterranean world could, it is unlikely that he would write such polished Greek. But it is at this point that Peter’s remark in 5:12 (see note there) concerning Silas may be significant. Here the apostle claims that he wrote “with the help of” (more lit. “through” or “by means of”) Silas. This phrase cannot refer merely to Silas as a letter carrier. Thus Silas was the intermediate agent in writing. Some have claimed that Silas’s qualifications for recording Peter’s letter in literary Greek are found in Ac 15:22–29. It is known that a secretary in those days often composed doc.uments in good Greek for those who did not have the language facility to do so. Thus in 1 Peter Silas’s Greek may be seen, while in 2 Peter it may be Peter’s rough Greek that appears.

      Some also maintain that the book reflects a situation that did not exist until after Peter’s death, suggesting that the persecution referred to in 4:14–16; 5:8–9 is descriptive of Domitian’s reign (a.d. 81–96). However, the situation that was developing in Nero’s time (54–68) is just as adequately described by those verses.

      The book can be satisfactorily dated in the early 60s. It cannot be placed earlier than 60 since it shows familiarity with Paul’s Prison Letters (e.g., Colossians and Ephesians, which are to be dated no earlier than 60): Compare 1:1–3 with Eph 1:1–3; 2:18 with Col 3:22; 3:1–6 with Eph 5:22–24. Furthermore, it cannot be dated later than 67/68, since Peter was martyred during Nero’s reign.

      March 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Suetonius, Thallus, Phlegon, Mara Bar-Serapion, Lucian, Tertullian, and Thallus all wrote about Jesus or The Way

      March 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Info

      Mike from CT
      "Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Suetonius, Thallus, Phlegon, Mara Bar-Serapion, Lucian, Tertullian, and Thallus all wrote about Jesus or The Way"

      None of those authors were contemporaries of the alleged Jesus. They wrote about what the Christians claimed. You can read a very detailed discussion of it here:

      http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/jury/chap5.html

      March 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      The contemporaries are found in the NT, Matthew, Peter, John, some question about Mark.

      But Aguest question was "wrote a single word of this wondrous Jesus of Nazareth"

      March 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Reality

      For those interested in what many NT scholars have to say about 1 Peter:

      From the previous referenced site, http://www.earlychristianwritings.

      Online Text for 1 Peter

      •American Standard Version
      •King James Version
      •World English Bible
      •Bible Gateway (NIV/KJV/NASB/RSV/NIV-IBS/DARBY/YLT/WE/NKJV)
      •Perseus NT (English/Greek/Latin)
      •Blueletter Bible (English/Greek)
      •HTML Bible (Greek/YLT/KJV/ASV)
      •The Online Greek Bible (various Greek fonts)

      Online Resources for 1 Peter

      •e-Catena: 1st Peter 1
      •Edgar Goodspeed: The First Epistle of Peter
      •NAB Introduction
      •Daniel Wallace's Introduction
      •NT Gateway: 1 Peter
      •An Introduction to the New Testament: The First Epistle of Peter
      •Catholic Encyclopedia: Epistles of Saint Peter
      •The Apostle Peter on Civil Obedience: An Exegesis of 1 Peter 2:13-17
      •Soft Difference: Theological Reflections on the Relation Between Church and Culture in 1 Peter

      Offline Resources for 1 Peter

      •Burton L. Mack, Who Wrote the New Testament? : The Making of the Christian Myth (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1996), pp. 208-210.
      •Raymond Edward Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1997), pp. 705-724.
      •Udo Schnelle, translated by M. Eugene Boring, The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998), pp. 398-415.
      •Andrew Chester, The Theology of the Letters of James, Peter, and Jude (Cambridge Univ Pr 1994).

      March 13, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Reality

      One more time:

      One needs to read the studies of contemporary historians to include NT scholars to see how they decide the authenticity of historical events and passagess. Rigorous conclusions rely on the number of independent attestations, the time of the publications, the content as it relates to the subject and time period, and any related archeological evidence. Professors JD Crossan and G. Ludemann's studies are top notch in this regard with respect to the NT.

      March 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  12. melissa

    just look at your money it says in( god we trust) everone has a opion but the people that are christians sholudn't be punished everone likes different thing and has different beliefs but putting people down is what is wrong with the world today

    March 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • jimtanker

      OK, you make no sense.

      March 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      When your belief interferes with the rights of everyone else, you should be told. No-one is punishing you for not growing up but they are telling you they will not tolerate it in their government or public. In God We Trust was not put on your money until around 1954. Your founding fathers were mostly deist. The country is secular regardless of what the population of christards is. You want respect for your beliefs, then show it to others for their belief/disbelief.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • sam

      LOL

      March 12, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  13. @youignantdotcom

    "Jonathan Said:

    If you've ever read the Old Testament then you'd realize that God punishes a lot of large groups of people for their uncleanliness and disbelief. That was the entire reason for the great flood. Those that think God is "all loving" and doesn't cause harm doesn't know the Christian God."

    Jonathan, I hope you know that the book you are referring to was written by a bunch of MEN.

    March 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Four Jumps to Insanity

      I also hope you know that the flood myth was "taken" from one of the hundreds, if not thousands of Ancient Near Eastern flood myths, (assumed by scholars to have been specifically the Epic of Gilgamesh). It would be really nice, if religionists actually KNEW something about their religions.

      March 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • mat180

      That were directed by God. If you believe it or not believe that important piece of information is ultimately your decision but no matter whether you believe in God or not does not disprove his existence. What if I said I don't believe in gravity. I can't see it. I cant hear it. I cant taste,smell,feel it. But that doesn't mean it is not there. And just like if I act upon gravity by jumping and it pulls me back to the ground. If you act upon God by accepting his son Jesus Christ then you will truly be able to tell his existence.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • I'm the same

      mat180,

      I was a fairly devout believer for close to 50 years. I have been a non-believer for around 15 years now, and there is no difference, except for the absence of the self-induced emotional responses of that fluttering heartbeat and jiggly-stomach euphoria when imagining that one is communicating with a divine being.

      March 12, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  14. Nii

    The Majority carries the vote is not what I am talking about. I did not use the word Democratic. China is a Democratic Republic too. It is more about political structure than specific legalities. The key word in government is power and who wields it not voting powers. You dont have to be a majority

    March 12, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Four Jumps to Insanity

      So what ARE you saying ? Now are you saying the people in power in government should shove their ignorant views down everyone's throats, regardless of whether they are a majority or not. One is worse than the other. Sure hope YOU don't plan on staying here.

      March 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nii, get a clue. This is not a "Christian nation", simply because a majority are Christian. It is a secular country; there is no state-endorsed or sponsored religion.

      Jeez.

      March 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • MAJORITY always WIN!

      It's all in mah name. Get it over with, will yah?!

      March 12, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  15. Tommy Thomas

    God has a higher calling on your life, glad your card counting days are over....

    March 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • @youignantdotcom

      oh yeah? have you talked to "god" and has "god" spoken back?

      March 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  16. Nii

    OBSERVER I do not intend to interfere in your national politics but you do realise that as a Republic the power resides in the people as such the US can easily be termed a Christian nation for the overwhelming majority Xtian population. In Britain the Queen makes her Christian rather than citizens.

    March 12, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, dear, popular vote does not control all. You need to read up on the 'tyranny of the majority' and how the founding fathers made sure to prevent the rights of the minority from being abrogated by the majority. Why is it you continue to spout your opinion when you do not know anything about the US and its laws?

      March 12, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Four Jumps to Insanity

      Nii,
      When you get around to studying US history, you will learn that in a Democratic Republic, minorities are protected from the "tyranny of the majority", no matter which one of the 33,000 various sects of the christian religion the total of a *supposed* majority belong to.

      March 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  17. Jonathan

    So what's wrong with counting cards? It isn't cheating. In fact, it isn't even illegal.

    March 12, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  18. Observer

    Saint Louis resident

    "All presidents swear on the bible, and all presidents have been Christians (Only few Deists back then)."

    FALSE. It is NOT a requirement and NOT ALL presidents did.

    "We use the Gregorian/Christian calendar, not any Islamic or Hebrew or Chinese etc."

    Yes we do. This month is March, named in honor of Mars, the Greek god of war.

    Why not do some research to avoid making such foolish statements?

    March 12, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Saint Louis resident

      What about the Christian holidays, the 10 commandment on the federal buildings etc.?
      Don't ignore it....

      March 12, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, please. Get a hobby. I'm sad you're confined to the home, but I'm sure you could find stimulation in doing jigsaw puzzles.

      March 12, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Observer

      Saint Louis resident,

      Yes. 230-year-old government buildings do contain the Ten Commandments. New ones today do not.

      We are predominantly Christians. That does not make us a Christian nation anymore than the fact that we are predominantly women makes us a feminine nation.

      March 12, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Observer

      Just as an aside, Mars is the Roman god of war, Ares is the Greek version. Just pointing that out. Otherwise completely agree.

      March 12, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Observer

      HawaiiGuest,

      Thank you for the correction. You are right. My source was Wikipedia and I misinterpreted this line "The name of March comes from ancient Rome, when March was the first month of the year and named Martius after Mars or Ares, the Greek god of war"

      March 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Good point! It's time to get rid of the papist calendar, too.

      March 12, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  19. Leucadia Bob

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIu5aPIIzzM&w=640&h=360]

    March 12, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  20. Greek Orthodox

    just curious..... do atheists tell people 'Bless you' when somebody sneeze? Carry US dollars?

    March 12, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Observer

      So do you have to believe in God to use money?

      lol. Get serious.

      March 12, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why? What do you care what people do in a free country where everyone has the right to worship or not, as he/she chooses?

      March 12, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Saint Louis resident

      Free Country? Hmmm.... I guess you are free to abuse dr.ugs, murder, ramp etc.?

      March 12, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "ramp"?

      I can ramp all I want, yes.

      You sound a bit like Mike, a poster on the Health boards, discussing abortion rights. Dumb as dirt and less useful.

      March 12, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Bible Clown™

      I never say 'bless you' at sneezers. God must really despise me, huh? I bet He's gonna make me sit next to Limbaugh in hades. Why do "Christians" hate everyone so much? It's just nasty.

      March 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Sneezy

      Bible Clown – You can say "gesundheit" to sneezers. It just means "good health".

      March 12, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I wonder why you feel the need to say anything when someone sneezes? What's the point.

      March 12, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Do you say something to people when they cough? I try to avoid paper money, that's why man created Amex Platinum.

      March 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • 6tsugea

      "I try to avoid paper money"

      That would be nice alibi not to pay your "Amex Platinum"? bills. I bet it works effectively for you.

      But wait...I just hope you're not have been mistaken welfare coupons as "Amex Platinum".

      March 14, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • lol

      LOL!

      March 14, 2012 at 1:58 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.