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4 big myths of Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation has terrified and confused readers for centuries. Few agree on its meaning, but many have opinions.
March 31st, 2012
10:00 PM ET

4 big myths of Book of Revelation

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – The anti-Christ. The Battle of Armageddon. The dreaded Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

You don’t have to be a student of religion to recognize references from the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible has fascinated readers for centuries. People who don’t even follow religion are nonetheless familiar with figures and images from Revelation.

And why not? No other New Testament book reads like Revelation. The book virtually drips with blood and reeks of sulfur. At the center of this final battle between good and evil is an action-hero-like Jesus, who is in no mood to turn the other cheek.

Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, first read Revelation as a teenager. She read it again in writing her latest book, “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelation.”

Pagels’ book is built around a simple question: What does Revelation mean? Her answers may disturb people who see the book as a prophecy about the end of the world.

But people have clashed over the meaning of Revelation ever since it was virtually forced into the New Testament canon over the protests of some early church leaders, Pagels says.

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“There were always debates about it,” she says. “Some people said a heretic wrote it. Some said a disciple. There were always people who loved and championed it.”

The debate persists. Pagels adds to it by challenging some of the common assumptions about Revelation.

Here are what she says are four big myths about Revelation::

1. It’s about the end of the world

Anyone who has read the popular “Left Behind” novels or listened to pastors preaching about the “rapture” might see Revelation as a blow-by-blow preview of how the world will end.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation was actually describing the way his own world ended.

She says the writer of Revelation may have been called John – the book is sometimes called “Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine” but he was not the disciple who accompanied Jesus. He was a devout Jew and mystic exiled on the island of Patmos, off the coast of  present-day Greece.

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“He would have been a very simple man in his clothes and dress,” Pagels says. “He may have gone from church to church preaching his message. He seems more like a traveling preacher or a prophet.”

The author of Revelation had experienced a catastrophe. He wrote his book not long after 60,000 Roman soldiers had stormed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., burned down its great temple and left the city in ruins after putting down an armed Jewish revolt.

For some of the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus, the destruction of Jerusalem was incomprehensible. They had expected Jesus to return “with power” and conquer Rome before inaugurating a new age. But Rome had conquered Jesus’ homeland instead.

The author of Revelation was trying to encourage the followers of Jesus at a time when their world seemed doomed. Think of the Winston Churchill radio broadcasts delivered to the British during the darkest days of World War II.

Revelation was an anti-Roman tract and a piece of war propaganda wrapped in one. The message: God would return and destroy the Romans who had destroyed Jerusalem.

“His primary target is Rome,” Pagels says of the book’s author. “He really is deeply angry and grieved at the Jewish war and what happened to his people.”

2. The numerals 666 stand for the devil

The 1976 horror film “The Omen” scared a lot of folks. It may have scared some theologians, too, who began encountering people whose view of Revelation comes from a Hollywood movie.

The Omen” depicted the birth and rise of the “anti-Christ,” the cunning son of Satan who would be known by “the mark of the beast,” 666, on his body.

Here’s the passage from Revelation that “The Omen” alluded to: “This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.”

Good movies, though, don’t always make good theology. Most people think 666 stands for an anti-Christ-like figure that will deceive humanity and trigger a final battle between good and evil. Some people think he’s already here.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation didn’t really intend 666 as the devil’s digits. He was describing another incarnation of evil: The Roman emperor, Nero.

The arrogant and demented Nero was particularly despised by the earliest followers of Jesus, including the writer of Revelation. Nero was said to have burned followers of Jesus alive to illuminate his garden.

But the author of Revelation couldn’t safely name Nero, so he used the Jewish numerology system to spell out Nero’s imperial name, Pagels says.

Pagels says that John may have had in mind other meanings for the mark of the beast: the imperial stamp Romans used on official documents, tattoos authorizing people to engage in Roman business, or the images of Roman emperors on stamps and coins.

Since Revelation’s author writes in “the language of dreams and nightmares,” Pagels says it’s easy for outsiders to misconstrue the book’s original meaning.

Still, they take heart from Revelation’s larger message, she writes:

“…Countless people for thousands of years have been able to see their own conflicts, fears, and hopes reflected in his prophecies. And because he speaks from his convictions about divine justice, many readers have found reassurance in his conviction that there is meaning in history – even when he does not say exactly what that meaning is – and that there is hope.”

3. The writer of Revelation was a Christian

The author of Revelation hated Rome, but he also scorned another group – a group of people we would call Christians today, Pagels says.

There’s a common perception that there was a golden age of Christianity, when most Christians agreed on an uncontaminated version of the faith. Yet there was never one agreed-upon Christianity. There were always clashing visions.

Revelation reflects some of those early clashes in the church, Pagels says.

That idea isn’t new territory for Pagels. She won the National Book Award for “The Gnostic Gospels,” a 1979 book that examined a cache of newly discovered “secret” gospels of Jesus. The book, along with other work from Pagels, argues that there were other accounts of Jesus’ life that were suppressed by early church leaders because it didn’t fit with their agenda.

The author of Revelation was like an activist crusading for traditional values. In his case, he was a devout Jew who saw Jesus as the messiah. But he didn’t like the message that the apostle Paul and other followers of Jesus were preaching.

This new message insisted that gentiles could become followers of Jesus without adopting the requirements of the Torah. It accepted women leaders, and intermarriage with gentiles, Pagels says.

The new message was a lot like what we call Christianity today.

That was too much for the author of Revelation. At one point, he calls a woman leader in an early church community a “Jezebel.” He calls one of those gentile-accepting churches a “synagogue of Satan.”

John was defending a form of Christianity that would be eclipsed by the Christians he attacked, Pagels says.

“What John of Patmos preached would have looked old-fashioned – and simply wrong to Paul’s converts…,” she writes.

The author of Revelation was a follower of Jesus, but he wasn’t what some people would call a Christian today, Pagels says.

“There’s no indication that he read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or that he read the gospels or Paul’s letters,” she says. “….He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins.”

4. There is only one Book of Revelation

There’s no other book in the Bible quite like Revelation, but there are plenty of books like Revelation that didn’t make it into the Bible, Pagels says.

Early church leaders suppressed an “astonishing” range of books that claimed to be revelations from apostles such as Peter and James. Many of these books were read and treasured by Christians throughout the Roman Empire, she says.

There was even another “Secret Revelation of John.” In this one, Jesus wasn’t a divine warrior, but someone who first appeared to the apostle Paul as a blazing light, then as a child, an old man and, some scholars say, a woman.

So why did the revelation from John of Patmos make it into the Bible, but not the others?

Pagels traces that decision largely to Bishop Athanasius, a pugnacious church leader who championed Revelation about 360 years after the death of Jesus.

Athanasius was so fiery that during his 46 years as bishop he was deposed and exiled five times. He was primarily responsible for shaping the New Testament while excluding books he labeled as hearsay, Pagels says.

Many church leaders opposed including Revelation in the New Testament. Athanasius’s predecessor said the book was “unintelligible, irrational and false.”

Athanasius, though, saw Revelation as a useful political tool. He transformed it into an attack ad against Christians who questioned him.

Rome was no longer the enemy; those who questioned church authority were the anti-Christs in Athanasius’s reading of Revelation, Pagels says.

“Athanasius interprets Revelation’s cosmic war as a vivid picture of his own crusade against heretics and reads John’s visions as a sharp warning to Christian dissidents,” she writes. “God is about to divide the saved from the damned – which now means dividing the ‘orthodox’ from ‘heretics.’ ’’

Centuries later, Revelation still divides people. Pagels calls it the strangest and most controversial book in the Bible.

Even after writing a book about it, Pagels has hardly mastered its meaning.

“The book is the hardest one in the Bible to understand,” Pagels says. “I don’t think anyone completely understands it.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Christianity • Church • Devil • End times • Faith • History • Jerusalem

soundoff (8,460 Responses)
  1. jj

    Thank you, Elaine Pagels. A nice change from the usual Belief Blog rubbish.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  2. sam

    Elaine Pagels is very wrong about the facts to start off with. This is the same John who was with Jesus and was the youngest of the disciples. He is the only disciple who died a natural death. All others were martyred.

    She says that it doesn't say that Jesus died for our sins. In fact right in the opening it says
    Rev 1:5

    To Him who loved us and washed[a] us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings[b] and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

    She also says that John wasn't Christian, its so wrong...
    The synagogue of Satan were the Jewish people it is said clearly...not gentile Christians... Revelation 2:9 (New King James Version)
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    Revelation 2:9

    New King James Version (NKJV)

    9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

    She is not fit to write a book because all her facts are so wrong even a child can point out these...

    April 2, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • momoya

      Children who have not been brainwashed with cultish thinking can indeed point out how ridiculous the bible is.. It's a cool myth book, but describes a very stupid and contradictory god.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  3. Geek

    Patmos is a Greek island, not Turksh.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Bank of America

      All your islands are belong to me now.

      I offer you loan to buy them back at 7,000% but you must provide gold as collateral.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Decline

      Good one, B of A!

      April 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  4. Nii

    I want u 2 know 1 thing that makes people like u fail in ur interpretation of Scripture. You use verses n they may b taken out of context. As a minister I preach with passages not verses. I read a lot of JW books n their error lies mostly in using verses. U can love ur neighbor as urself. Yes u can!

    April 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Ted

      Grammar fail for you Nii. Give your mother her keyboard back.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Nii

      Since I started 2 think "I love my neighbor as myself" n let it dominate my thoughts I've learnt how Paul n co felt. I'm not an Evangelical. I'm Messianic Orthodox. I don't believe just saying u believe in Christ will get u to Heaven if there is Heaven. Rather u must love ur neighbor as urself.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Nii: actually, you've missed the main point of the Christian faith & the Bible itself.
      it's not what you do, it's what Jesus did.
      you are believing in a Gospel of self-salvation.

      if you're really a pastor, you really should consider this:

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkNa6tLWrqk&w=640&h=390]

      April 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • A Literate

      You are a preacher and you cannot write proper English? Shame on you! If I had children in your parish I would rip them out now. I assume that your theology is as faulty as your grammar and spelling. Get thee behind me, Satan.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I'm pretty sure English is not a requirement for belief.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  5. Shibboleth

    Another interesting curiosity to me is that for years there were preachers who associated the nations of Gog and Magog with the USSR. The geography and location north of Israel is consistent with Biblical prophecy and at times the soviets did claim to be Gog and Magog. But now the USSR has collapsed and many states are emerging as nations. Nations that are returning to their ancient names.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Ted

      Shibboleth: Predictions of all kinds have been frequent throughout history. Shit is simply bound to happen, regardless, and it's easy to push stories around from the past to fit your claims. So, unless your particular shit prophecies come with exact dates, they are pretty much that, just more bullshit like all the rest of them.

      So, what day is the world going to end? Exact date please, or else take your worthless shit back and swallow it.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Shibboleth

      @ Ted
      It is apparent that you are not capable of having an adult conversation on this matter. No dates are given nor was that the intent of the post, I was simply posting what I have found to be interesting and curious. There is no need to reply you will probably be more comfortable spray painting obscenities all over your neighborhood anyway.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Ted

      Shibbullshit, unless you can reply with a response to my challenges, you have actually proven that you are the one painting the CNN neighborhood with your excrement.

      Please do wash your hands before you come back.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Good point shibboleth. I also agree w/you re Ted. He has some growing up to do.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  6. Ken

    It is not a matter popularity or how many people say they believe it or not. If God said it, then it will happen just as He said it. People can disclaim it all they want and call everyone "nuts" that say they believe it. The proof is in the happening. Look around and see if you can the truth of what the Bible says is to happen before Christ's return and see if it is not happening today before our eyes.

    April 2, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • bff

      I'm looking. It's not happ'nin.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Anon

      The people that died during the black plague in medieval times probably thought the same thing as you, yet the world is still here. :D

      April 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Thanks for making it that simple Ken. I see nothing around me that approaches the delirium-induced dreams of John's revelations. So I guess we're safe.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • WASP

      @ken: you see the end of the world; and the coming of the announted one....aka christ? i'll tell you what i see. a bunch of lost confused violent animals trying their best to figure out how to survive while a bunch of power hungry leader wannabes try scaring them into submission. everything that has, is and ever will happen is because of humans......no god no devil no heaven or hell, just us hairless apes trying to survive; so either pitch in with something constructive or stay out of our way.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Decline

      The decline of civilization has been happening since it began. We needn't look to ourselves and our own generation for any sort of 'downfall.'

      April 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  7. Anon

    Bible = Big book of primitive Jewish myths that is holding us back.
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsaRQDxmLqY&w=640&h=390]

    April 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  8. Shibboleth

    Revelation is a controversial book. The apocalypse, is not found only in Revelation, there are parts of apocalyptic writings found in both the Old and new Testaments. The theme of the final battle between good and evil is also a common theme in other ancient writings as well. What is unique to Revelation is the ability to interpret the book into different historical eras. For example there were those at the time of World War 1 that saw the global conflict including the area around Palestine as foreshadowing an imminent apocalypse. Today we see prophecy even closer to the Biblical account with the restoration of the nation of Israel. An event 2000 years in the making. Revelation is full of symbolism and images, many difficult to interpret and probably some that we cannot or have not accurately interpreted. Some small help may be in the way we associate various creatures with nations. The eagle for the USA, the bear for Russia, the Lion for England and so forth.
    Just a note on a couple of interesting items
    First – Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises the reader a blessing if they read the entire book.
    Second – kind of a historical curiosity, The Bible says many anti-Christs have gone out into the world. Guess what the number was that Adolf Hitler took as his Nazi party number?

    April 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • No need to believe

      NINE! I'm just guessing.... Truth is I was blesses by just reading this response to revelations.... Everything in the bible is hearsay and not a true record of history. The bible has been through so many printings and translations it is impossible to say it is the word of God now.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Ted

      Shibboleth: Predictions of global disasters have been frequent throughout history. Shit is simply bound to happen, regardless, and it's easy to push stories around from the past to fit your claims. So, unless your particular shit prophecies come with exact dates, they are pretty much that, just more bullshit like all the rest of them.

      So, what day is the world going to end? Exact date please, or else take your worthless shit back and swallow it.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Shibboleth

      Is there no one out there curious enough to offer a reasonable response?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Anon

      The world is going to end in about 4-5 billion more years when the sun goes through it's red giant phase.
      Humanity on the other hand could go extinct anytime soon.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • just sayin

      Archaeology confirms more and more of the Bible as historical truth almost daily. Archaeology = science.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Anon

      Nope it's the complete opposite. Many biblical characters are based on other myths.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts or goblins

      While archeology may show that The Babble authors got a few physical or geographic items correct, it says nothing in support of the basic supernatural god / jesus claims. There stillmis no evidence for that. I find it interesting, and dishonest, how some believers pick and choose what bits of science they pay attention to, much like they pick and choose which bits of The Babble they actually follow.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Anon

      It's like saying New York City exists, therefore Spider-Man is real. :D

      April 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • just sayin

      At this point that was not what the conversation was about, archaeology probably will not give you faith. Sadly I fear God himself would not convince you.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Anon

      Yahweh is more likely a volcano/mountain god.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • cbinal

      @Shib – the number Hitler used was 555 wasn't it? I heard a theologian say one time when he was asked why there were so many people who are identified as the AntiChrist, and yet the one in The Revelation hasn't been revealed yet. He replied, "Because, only God knows when the end will come – Satan doesn't know, so he has to be prepared with his man in every generation."

      April 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      God would definitely convince me. I have no trouble accepting observable evidence. If he exists, and he cares whether I believe in him, he knows what to do.

      But since he hasn't appeared, for my lifetime anyway, I can assume he either 1) doesn't exist, or 2) does exist but doesn't care if I believe in him, or 3) does exist, but couldn't care less about the planet Earth, or hasn't even discovered it yet.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Shibboleth

      Hitlers number was indeed 555 . I have always found that to be a curiosity.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • momoya

      If biblegod can't be as convincing as math or chemistry while being even more important and real, he's pretty fvcking stupid.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • just sayin

      Both math and chemistry was given to mankind by God. Are you A.D. D ?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • momoya

      Or maybe an imaginary unicorn?.

      Math and chemistry are obvious, and fundamentalists of all gods use them while they argue over what god wants.. It doesn't matter if your god gave humans math and chemistry if he's not just as obvious or even more so.. Why do you think billions of people can have differing view of god but somehow all agree on math and chemistry?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Anon

      Math and chemistry are emergent, not given magically by Yahweh/Jesus/Allah the Abrahamic desert god.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • cbinal

      @Enjay – The evidence is all around you, you just have to open your eyes. Prophecy, like in The Revelation, is another way you know God exists. Read Rev 11, it talks about the two witnesses that are going to be killed and lay dead in the street, the world will see their bodies and will celebrate. How could the world see them before TV? What about Rev 13, the Mark of the Beast, every man has a number, none can buy or sell without it – how could that happen until current times? This was written almost 2,000 years ago. Other prophecies just as amazing.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • WASP

      @ ok so emperor nero was represented by 666, and hitler used 555, then wouldn't the numbers be running in the wrong direction for the "evil one to appear?" lmao hmmmm i wonder who is 444?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Shibboleth

      No one is agreeing or disagreeing that Nero represented 666. That is not the only Biblical reference to the anti Christ. I think the 555 was just an interesting curiosity, but I would tend to support a progression not a regression.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  9. No need to believe

    So i still say there is more evidence of Cthulhu than there is of any other deity.

    April 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I would revise that to say that there is exactly the same evidence that Cthulhu exists as any other deity. They all share the same attribute: something that has been imagined, then subsequently written down, then published for all to read.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  10. transformed 4eva

    To all atheists:
    I'm sorry you have to be influenced about our faith by those who pretend to know God and all His ways. It's sad because throughout this article, it misses so many major points, so here they are:
    everyone is a dirty, rotten sinner; Jesus died to know you; to be saved, accept Him (simple, right?); He never gives up on you!

    April 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • bff

      We are not influenced by just this article, believe me!

      April 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      To say that all humanity is inherently bad would suggest that one cannot do any good unless they are religious (in your case christian). This assertion does not hold up to any kind of scrutiny.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Atheism is for children and other living things

      Jesus was a delusional madman born from a w h o re...nothing more...nothing less.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Jill

      transformed, are you a REALLY dirty sinner? Prove it. Show us what ya got.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • sam stone

      you do realize that asking athiests to accept a being in which they do not believe has only limited persuasive merit, don't you?

      April 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • No need to believe

      Is Scientology real..... I'm just saying.... How do you think Christianity got its start.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • tevii

      That is such a negative outlook of the world. I strive everyday to be a better person. But unlike you I dont do it out of a fear of something. I do it because its the right thing to do. For myself and those around me.
      The real sin is that you never take the time to educate yourself or improve yourself because as long as you believe in god you think that makes you a good person. You are EVERYTHING that is wrong with this world

      April 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  11. Pipe-Dreamer

    God cannot be measured by a rule or ruler, God cannot be seen in this dimension of one's Cosmological consistencies. God is celestial Life's husbandry and He and His kinds do ever dwell inside our Life-formed buildings. We are but vessels of containment for the Godly to dwell within and upon. Life is a treasury of Godliness ever maintained by the Godly from within. Life upon the celestial shores are God's Arks. WE are His kinds' ships which house all Godly Life. Oh you of God's Godliness, I will await my departure from this celestial plain of Cosmotic existence to be born into your Micro-cosmologic plains.

    April 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • bff

      This is the definition of arrogance, claiming to know things that are impossible to know.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • No need to believe

      Tell me the story about the zoo boat all knowing book from amazon!

      April 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • TING

      I see you got your prescription for medical marijuana. Whatever floats your boat.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      bff did a rebuttal stating, "This is the definition of arrogance, claiming to know things that are impossible to know."

      Is my "inferring" on and commentaries about my perceptualisms viewed by you bff as an offensive allegory of witt?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      bff=fail on your definition of arrogance.
      Look it up next time...

      April 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • A Polytheist

      This wreaks of Dionysos worship to me! Let the god live within me, eat of my flesh, drink of my blood and become one with me and ye shall have eternal life.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ..

    April 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Jesus

      More lies. No it doesn't. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. 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.!
      April 2, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |

      April 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • steven

      Any article with a theme of, 'incorrect things that people commonly believe about the Bible' is going to have a lot of potential material!

      The author of Revelation certainly sees all of creation as subservient to Christ, who recieves worship from all creation, earthly and heavenly, and is the co creator of the world. So, by what definition is he not a Christian? He is a critic of the church, but so was Paul.

      When debunking myths about the book, I think that it's counterproductive to create fresh ones, such as telling us the manner of dress that the author wore.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • tevii

      seriously.... is that all you have to say.... no matter what day it is or what kind of responses or what kind of an article, all you ever say is prayer changes things. So Im praying you stop posting. Im testing the power of prayer right now

      April 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • just sayin

      You cannot pray against prayer. God bless

      April 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • tevii

      @just sayin – im not praying against prayer. Im praying against internet posts from that individual. Are you going to change the interpretation to suit your needs?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • tevii

      @just saying – I notice you responded to that, but had nothing to respond with when I replied to your death-wishing to atheists. Your hatred is exactly what your supposed god is against.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • just sayin

      Do not recall a death wish. There is another who posts as just sayin quite regularly, could cause some confusion. Also I am not always at the keyboard.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Christianity was not healthy for those slain in the battle of Ascalon

      In 1099 in Israel, 20 to 30,000 innocent people were slaughtered "in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ" at the end of the first crusade.

      Yes, atheists have killed too. I don't excuse murder for any reason, but Christians don't exactly come out of history smelling like a rose either, and have no right to preach to anyone about what is moral, or what is "harmful to children and other living things."

      April 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • tevii

      @just sayin – Convenient.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • just sayin

      Check it out, whenever I notice the phony I post 'everybody wants to be me'. It is noticeable on many of the past few stories.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  13. Pipe-Dreamer

    The worldly treasures are not Godliness treaured. That which a Life is made from are the Godly treasured. The inheritances one receives upon departing this dimensional state is an inwardly treasure of monumantal proportion. We are God's Buildings and our embodied beings are the Kingdoms of the Godly. We are but essences of the atomic dimension and as we see this world and its' Life forms and formations, we cannot fathom our body-like buildings of the Godly who dwell upon and within these buildings or our bodies, the Kingdoms of the Godly. Love therefore your Kingdom of the Godly which is your body of a building amd is a proportionalized husbandry of Godliness.

    April 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Jill

      The black sheep dug its effervescent shambles through diligent companionship. Herein are words to blow your pack towards in the presence of worn tires Cataclismic fortunate armies march translucently onwards towards lumber tresspassed on your larvae. Eminent taxation caveat emptor states countries rural language barriers exhumed heuristically. Ergo jubilant humiliation enters prior art confetti.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  14. Reality

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    "John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

    The Situation Today

    Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

    It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

    April 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  15. Pipe-Dreamer

    OF REFLECTIONS' ABYSS
    By Pipe-Dreamer

    The mirrored reflections of socialisms will ever hide many individual's oneness. "I am alone" when one looks passed socialisms' reflectives. You will never truly be united with me nor myself. I am myself and nothng more. You are the mirrored reflectiveness that keeps me wanting to learn. I am fearful oh God of my unleavened spirit. You oh God know my innermost thoughts and you oh God do see myself's pain to know you oh God. Without my always trying to know you oh God, I would be without much reason to want living and to be alive. You oh God are my Life's nourishing moments in Time.

    Shadows play in the lime of lights' refractioning. The motions of light do mix with the movements of self. Never able to see into the depths of darkness will ever be. Only the mirrored momentums of self may be one's shadowy fields of reflective monumentalisms. Oh God of my everness soul, You are my fields of Glory and personal redemption. Without individualisms being manifestations' consort, Life could not exist let alone become aware of its' Self. Oh God who is Creator of Creation and creations made manifested, you are Time's momentum and Life's essence. People are but refractions of reflectiveness oh God and your Godliness does outshine all celestial Life and its' many formations. God you are and will forever be!

    Deeply within the microcosm of inner space our reflectiveness ever does shine thru. Our being within the realm of outer space does ever mirror the deepest parts of inner space. We are your buildings oh God and all Life here is of your Kingdom's Domains. The Abyss reaches ever outward and inwardly. Time does the traveler their sentenced waywardness. Oh God, I do so see your Timeliness and timelessness. My soul does treasure your moments' finiteness with my thoughts. In your Abyss I will die and become of your Holiness Spirit.

    April 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Jill

      Don't quite your day job, if you have one.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Elias

      Very nice. Enjoyed the poem, keep it up.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  16. Russ

    almost 7,000 comments? i think we'll be hearing about Revelation again in the near future on CNN...

    April 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Cq

      You can count on stories about the imminent return of Christ for decades, centuries, and even millennia to come. As long as there are still Christians, they will believe totally that THEY are the last generation, and that "all the signs" point to Christ returning during their lifetime.

      Sad, isn't it?

      April 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • WASP

      @russ and cq: hey i look forward to many years of having fun with christians because eventually they will get the whole "end of the world" thing correct.............when the sun explodes in another trillion years. lmfao

      April 2, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  17. Pulch18

    People who are not born of the Spirit of God can not understand the Bible, It is foolish for them... You must be born again to undertand the book of revelation...Do not be led astray by this article..The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned....Our Lord is coming soon......

    April 2, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • bff

      What's the recipe for being born again? How did you do it?

      April 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Pulch

      Your condescension of those who do not agree with you is astounding.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Can you not see the problem with that loop of non-logic?

      April 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • momoya

      I used to have that opinion and att.itude when I was a believer for almost 50 years.. About my 7th time through the bible I realized it made a heck of a lot more sense as a book of collected myths than anything "divine."

      April 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Pulch18,,,,

      Please explain the following verse of scripture,,,,,,

      1Cr 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      Pulch: Yeah....this second coming has been coming for how long?

      April 2, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Old Story

      Pulch18: "People who are not born of the Spirit of God can not understand the Bible, It is foolish for them..."

      A quite old and sometimes effective tactic – declaring that those who do not believe your story are 'fools'. Nobody wants to be considered 'dumb' for not seeing the Emperor's new clothes, or a 'bas.tard' for not seeing the Sultan's new turban, or a 'cuckold' for not being able to see the Miller's gold thumb.

      Even Joseph Smith used it when he gathered his 'witnesses' to his golden plates. He told them that only those with 'true faith' would be able to 'see' them.

      The ancient, primitive Hebrews who originated those Bible stories and your cited quotations were quite adept at manipulative mind-games.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Nii

      BFF the formula for being born again is real simple. It is to love your neighbor as yourself. This shud be ur primary concern and atti.tude. You can start by developing the thought,"I love my neighbor as myself". You carry this thought into your lifestyle then you are born again.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • bff

      Nii,
      Then I guess I am born again. But I still don't believe in God.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Cq

      Nii
      Well, as long as you don't have to believe in anything crazy or supernatural, count me in! ;-)

      April 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Arcas

      That's not at all egocentric to your own ideology, no, no way.

      You can have your mythology; I'll have our reality. If your god wanted me to believe in him, he'd have made me like you – ignorant and condescending.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Pulch18

      @ Old Story

      I did not say that non christians are foolish, but that the Bible is foolishness for them because it is the Spirit of God that dwells in a christian who unveil the scripture. a christian himself can not understand without the Holy Spirit ....if you are not born of the Spirit of God, you can not understand the scripture....everything in the Bible is spiritually discerned...

      April 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • bff

      I get it. You have special powers that none of the rest of us have, so only you can understand the real meaning in the bible.

      I've got news for you... There are a large number of people in this world claiming to have these same powers, and therfore claiming to understand the bible, yet they disagree on what it means and they kill each other over it.
      So I don't believe for a minute in these special "born-again" powers you claim to have.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Nii

      BFF n Cq well thats great! Jesus didnt care 4 religious labels. Belief is not blind in de Bible. If u love ur neighbor as urself that is all. The Parable of Sheep n Goats makes it clear that this is God's only requirement for any man. If you don't believe in God, u can love humans as a humanist.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Pulch18

      @ Bff

      John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

      As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10)
      For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)
      But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
      Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12)
      For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
      That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

      Bff accepting Jesus Christ as you Lord and Savior makes you a child of God.

      John 1:12 " Yet to all who did receive him( Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God"

      April 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Nii: according to the Bible, no one is capable of actually loving his neighbor as himself (Rom.3:10-12, 23).

      April 2, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • bff

      P,
      A lot of wasted typing. You can't prove to me the truth of the bible by quotes from the bible.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Pulch18

      @ Sam Stone

      Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

      But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

      The Lord wants you to repent that why he is delaying his coming...he loves you and does not want you to perish..He is just being patient..

      April 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer is a waste of time
      Proven

      April 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Old Story

      Pulch18,

      You are saying that those people who dismiss your Bible stories and claims of supernatural beings are deficient... lesser than you... and if they want to be as special as you, they should pretend to hear some supernatural creature talking to them.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Pulch18

      @ Bff

      I quote scripture because The Word of God has life..Jesus is the word of god made flesh..It is the word of God that can save you not my bla bla....nor my knowledge...you believe in the word of God that has the power to save and you have eternal life, you don't then you will perish when Jesus comes to judge the world....

      April 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • bff

      P,
      You've got to understand your audience. If you want to convince me, you will have to do it with something other than bible verses.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Yes because apparently good works don't matter for sh.it when it comes to judgement. You just need to choose from one of the thousands of religions around the world, then hope you get it right. Being a good person doesn't make one worthy of a reward apparently.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Pulch18

      @ Pipe dreamer

      1Cr 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

      We are labourers with God because God use us as vessel to accomplish his will.

      ye are God's husbandry: spiritual covenant with God, we are the Church, the bride of Jesus..

      [ye are] God's building: We have the Spirit of God in us.The Spirit of God dwells in us ( vessel)

      April 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Nii

      Russ I am sad you think so. However all that you say is bogus when you look at Rom . Also look at John 13,14,15,16&17. God will not punish us for what we cannot do according to James 1. This is what Paul said that some misconstrue his teaching. Faith is believing the words of Christ and doing them.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • WASP

      @pulch:"Pulch18
      1Cr 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.
      We are labourers with God because God use us as vessel to accomplish his will.
      ye are God's husbandry: spiritual covenant with God, we are the Church, the bride of Jesus..
      ye are] God's building: We have the Spirit of God in us.The Spirit of God dwells in us (vessel)"

      ok major problem with your statement and logic ;mainly in this sentence"We are labourers with God because God use us as vessel to accomplish his will" ok if god uses humans to accomplish HIS will, then it removes the whole freedom of choice thing "god" gave humans...."choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve" (Josh. 24:15)" so which is it, destiny or freedom of choice? if god ordained that a certain percentage of the population was to go to hell, then he is evil....if we have freedom of choice then his ability to "use us as tools to accomplish his will" is a lie. so which is it, a lie or a lie? lmao

      April 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Nii: as I said above (note well the video), you have missed the main point of the Christian faith.
      Every other major religion believes God makes the rules/ethics, & you get "in" by following those rules/ethics.
      Christianity uniquely teaches the exact opposite: it's not what we do that saves us; it's what Jesus did.

      The cross tells us 2 things clearly:
      1) I'm worse off than I want to admit (he had to die for me to be saved)
      2) I'm more loved than I ever dared to imagine (he was willing to die in my place)

      April 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      "But do not let this one fact escape your notice"

      Gosh, you sure have a problem confusing facts with opinions.

      Your empty proxy warnings are laughable.

      There will be no second coming.

      Get off your knees

      April 2, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      sooooooner or later, the messiah is going to get here......

      any time now.

      pulch: it ain't happening. there have always been mockers because of the absurdity of the story.

      there will always be mockers.

      there are no "last days"

      April 2, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Pulch18

      @Wasp

      God has given to everybody the freedom to believe in him or not....That why he only works with those who choose to believe in him..He does not force people into doing things..God didn't ordain that a certain percentage of the population was to go to hell but it is only those who reject him that go to hell..it is a free choice...God loves everybody but hates sin..and He is just..He punished His only Son Jesus instead of us. That's how He proved his love for us....Let's say it differently so that you can undertand..Imagine you did so much bad things ang you are to condemn. But The judge decides to put his son in prison so that if you accept that grace that is given to you ,you are set free from your condemnation because somebody else paid your price....but you have to accept the deal..does it make sense?

      April 3, 2012 at 4:20 am |
  18. MIchael Newman

    A great book to read to understand the book of Revelation is "Revelation: What the Last Book of the Bible Really Means." Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/Revelation-What-Bible-Really-Means/dp/1448662001/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1333398434&sr=8-2

    April 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Ourobouros

      Isn't that where this all began?

      April 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  19. reason

    The gods of all organized religions, if true, would all be horribly unjust and evil deities 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 are myths from stone age societies that were trying to explain the world, and there is virtually no chance any one is truth.

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

    April 2, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • momoya

      Amen!

      April 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • JoeBlow

      The reason I find "God" purely the manipulation of power is because it discredits accomplishments in the name of...well god. Some people think that to live with out faith in God is to have no hope for life, but the truth is every so called miracle is just the discrediting of a human being's accomplishments or dumb luck. If you get cured from a horrible horrible disease don't thank god praise your own damn body and give it some credit. I knocked several disks in my spine out of place because of a horse riding accident and after an x-ray it was determined I had to be moved to another hospital to deal with the severe damage; when the emergency helicopter landed again and I had another x-ray at the specialist hospital my back was completely fixed and I could walk with out severe pain. This is no miracle, the ability of my back muscles to realign my spine is purely fixated on my physical fitness and not on any supernatural being.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  20. HeHasRizen

    People the stage is being set.. The Gov't officals, celebrities, THE MEDIA are now getting ready for the anti-christ return. The Lord has shown me the way. They will say Aliens exist this year (which they dont) they will start the NWO. They will preform miracles to your eyes. DO NOT BELIEVE it. Just like this article, the media is out to decieve all you brain washed people. Look up project blue beam, haarp, chemtrails and repent to GOD. You can't believe everything you hear from the NEWS. CNN BREAKING NEWS Lindsey Lohan goes to court?? Really thats breaking news yet most of you will talk about it rather than people starving. If you want some light got to utube and type in "deception of antichrist 2012" look at some of those videos to maybe wake you up. Symbolism is everywhere, Movies, videogames, TV but yet you choose to ignore it. Just like in Noahs day the signs were there that there would be a great flood yet no one listened or payed attention the the signs.
    Now it's happening again, People are so busy with work and playing on their phone they don't know whats going on. How about looking up to the sky for the past 13 years the gov't has been poisoning you with chemtrials from these special planes called project clover leaf. they are not contrails as those disappear these form into clouds. 9/11 gov't job, Huricane Katrina Gov't job. (you're saying ya right. I bet my life on it because my cousin is apart of the secret organization that created the hurricane to begin with. I had solid proof.) but yet most of you are like that can't happen. Yes it can just like the inbreed of animals and humans to look like aliens. All you have to do is WAKE UP people this is GODs word. Repent before its too late.

    April 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Please, seek some professional help.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Nii

      I am a Christian but I agree with HAAWAIGUEST. Try to seek a second opinion with a Pastor and a Psychologist.

      April 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • WASP

      @hehas: i know only one fitting quote for this bs. "seek and you shall find" in other words if i want to find a pink bunny rabbit i can fool myself into seeing what isn't true. i have a christian here at work that swears president obama is the anti-christ and has a very convincing line of logic, until you actually think about what he is saying and understand he is just an old misguided nuttcase. stop looking toward the end of the world and enjoy the life you have. i hope you didn't scar your children with this whole "the end is near" bs.....if so how could you do something so evil to your own children?

      April 2, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      HeHasRisen, OK, I just repented... Now that I'm in the cult, errr, club, please show me your evidence.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • JoeBlow

      Everyone quickly run away from news broadcasters TO YOUTUBE because that is a much more reputable source. Wait what? Wait we are not done yet chemtrails? Really. You know how easy it is to google "those mystifying clouds from planes" and realize it is actually water? What purpose could making a hurricane have, why would any government do that? The only thing that has every created so much death on a global scale is God himself so if you are religious than one should actually point the finger of blame to him. I am in no way saying that religion is bad in any way, if Santa Claus and the Boogie man are the proper influences of good behavior for some people than why would we ever get rid of them? If people need a God to behave properly then fine but don't attack anyone who says otherwise. I am happy that these types of things can actually be made into books now, at 17 I am sick of being part of one of the greatest minorities, people who depend on themselves for answers, morals and way of life. I am not going to tell anyone to WAKE UP, just pump your garbage in someone else's face, if it makes you a better person than whatever

      April 2, 2012 at 5:06 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.