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.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
“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.
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
“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.”
@Russ & Bob: If it is so that Nii is stressing obedience not just as an outworking of faith – but as pre-requisite to real faith, then i agree w/you and i denounce that doctrine.
Like i said, i havent really gone over his stuff so i do claim ignorance here.
NII is basically saying that one goes to heaven based on the sole fact that they have loved their neighbor as themselves.
Well, if that's his take, then i must say it doesnt jive with apostolic teaching from Scripture..
But you know how it is with people going off on a tangent, where the end result is error – or even heresy.
1 big myth about the Bible. It's infallible.
That is a myth.... It doesn't say that.
A book inspired by God is no less weird than the enlightened spirit that gave Buddha the knowledge to found Buddhism. The key word is inspired by God, man wrote it down, and mankind is fallible, with our own perceptions, beliefs, and biases. We as a species are limited in expressing ourselves to the words we have to describe abstract ideas, like the differing schools of philosophy, religion/spirituality, or even how we experience the world. The idea of God is the perfect example of what I'm talking about. For instance, I believe in God, both the in a pantheistic and panentheistic sense. I also believe God is too anthopomorphized. The point of the Bible is bring people closer to God, to follow it's divine (natural) law. The Bible shows that we are not above or equal to laws of the Universe. The point of the story of the Garden of Eden and Lucifer's Rebellion is to demonstrated this exact point. Most Bible passages aren't to be taken literal, and have a deeper allegorical meaning than what's read at first glance. The spirit or spirit within (if you will) reveals the truth.
Couldn't "God" just be a concept, like "infinity", and the Bible the poets' attempt to articulate that concept?
Russ: "Upon what does our hope rest: what I do or what Christ did?"
That question can be re-phrased as: Does a person have to do *anything at all* to remain in a state of saving grace?
A Baptist would say "yes, but if u r truly saved u will"
A Pentecostal will go further, often venturing into legalism.
A strict Calvinist will say nothing required, in fact, even your initial belief was all from God (His grace is irresistable to the elect).
I really dont want to argue these mysteries, other than to say that we must keep looking to Jesus (resting our hope on him as u say).
What is your take on 2 Peter chapter 1?
The inverse question of course: Is there anything *a person can do* to fall from grace?
That is, sins of commision vs sins of omission.
Again, to all Calvinists, i point them to 2 Peter chapter 1.
But NII's point is that you go to heaven if you loved neighbor as yourself? How many people on this planet can honestly say they loved their neighbor as themselves. Did you ever come across a homeless person in your life? What did you do show them love? a penny here and a penny here is not what God is talking about. To show love to that homeless person would mean to make sure he had a home to live in. Have shown that kind of love to your neighbor?
@ b4: Bob is right. You are jumping to the secondary discussion here. Certainly, Christians widely disagree on that topic. But Nii is stressing obedience not just as an outworking (read: after the fact) of faith – but as pre-requisite to real faith. that is contrary to the central message of Jesus – and more importantly: to the centrality of Jesus.
"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters,[a] make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1
=> I think once you are saved, you are saved for it is the Fathers will that none should be snatched from His hand.
You can however lead an unfruitful life, and that ties in to rewards.. What exactly rewards are I do know.. To be honest, I'll be happy being the janitor in Heaven.
should be "What exactly rewards are I dont know"
Hey Chad old buddy!
What I don't get is how believers actually know that heaven will be a good experience? Obviously, nobody has spent an eternity there and then come back to tell the tale. Sure there are those supposed out-of-body experiences, but that's only a few minutes tops, and anything can seem pleasant for a few minutes, even visits from the in-laws, am I right? On the same note, anything that is really great would probably lose it's charm and become quite boring waaaaay before the first millennia passes. Anyone who thinks that spending an eternity doing anything would be wonderful just doesn't have a very active imagination IMHO!
BTW, good luck cleaning up with all that white up there. Pollution must really show.
@ Oh Yeah:
for a very creative response to that objection, read CS Lewis' "Great Divorce" (about a busload of people from Hell visiting the outskirts of heaven).
Heaven is where the infinitely creative grace of God resides – the same One who simply spoke this universe into being.
Boring is being permanently apart from such creativity – i.e., Hell.
@Oh Yeah "What I don't get is how believers actually know that heaven will be a good experience? "
=>God is love.
He IS love, it isnt just something He does, He IS love.
spending eternity with Him, that's heaven.
"They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 21
It's not about the end of the world, dammit! I liked the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and their leader, Apocalypse. Oh, wait never mind that X-Men! I get X-Men mixed up with the Book of Revelation all the time (not really). This author obviously did her research. 666 is, in fact, a code for Nero.The hidden texts she's talking about are Apocrypha, like The Book of Enoch, and the Deuterocanonical books, like III Corinthians. As a Protestants, we get the bible with the fewest number of books: 66-67 total books, depending on if Proverbs is split into 2 books.
Leo, it seems you weren't able to respond to my post earlier, so I'll try again now:
Most of the advances in modern medicine have come from scientists who are predominantly atheists. Similarly, a lot of advances in human rights have come from the bravery and watchfulness of secular organizations such as Amnesty International. Also, 2 of the world's largest charitable donors are not religious.
So, we already have a more humane world where many of the benefits that would be called humane and that we are accustomed to, have come from atheists. Religion, on the other hand, wants to take us back in time to lesser rights for women, and to turn back the clock on modern medicine.
Sure, there are modern problems such as global warming and pollution and new health problems, but religion offers no solutions at all to those. At least sciences brings some understanding of the problems and presents viable solutions. Can't say that about religion.
I'll speak for myself: no way would this woman go for religion and turn back the clock from the mostly better world we have today thanks in large part to atheists.
I am glad to see all types of people doing good. and just because some organizations are 2 of the largest Christianity has been giving to the poor for 2000 years!! Most of the Hospitals and educational systems for the last few hundred years? Christian.
Chrsitians have been called to be good stewards of Gods Creation for again 2000 years. You are just now starting!
Better late than never.
As far as this world a better place? Rose Colored Glasses.. the world is pretty messed up and the overall morality of our people is terrible.
And though science has made great breakthroughs we have also managed to give man the ability to destroy everything and we will. For the Bible tells us if God does not cut the days short there will be no flesh left on the earth.
As far as you as a woman, in both Christianity and Judaism women are free to excel as much as possible. Yes men have the responsibilty of the household, but men are called to lay down their lives for their wives.
SHARI one of the atheist donors divorced his wife for becoming an atheist. The proverb charity begins at home simply means if you will love your fellow human as yourself then start with those you live with first. guess he dropped de ball there. She wanted to keep de marriage but he wudn't hear of it
That is a very interesting! Just the 'thought' is what matters and not the 'actual works' after all? really?
Most of the hospitals, schools, and other charities established by Christians were mostly an opportunity to proselytize people when they are at their most vulnerable.
Beautifully stated, Shari. Unfortunately, it falls on deaf ears.
Thanks for any other informative blog. Where else may I am getting that type of information written in such a perfect way? I have a venture that I'm simply now operating on, and I have been on the look out for such info.
Prayer changes things . .
Did u read 1Cor13&14? Or Isaiah 7. I'm quoting chapters. To stop de verses getting in de way. Verses don't say anything a Jehovah Witness, Atheist or u dont want them 2 say! De passages r more unwilling 2 b used 4 others purposes. The Laws n rituals r fulfilled by LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.
@ Nii: why not use the "reply" button? that way your responses appear in the ongoing conversation.
Yes, read whole chapters. Read the whole Bible for that matter. But it's clear that there is a central message – one which you are missing. You continue to think it's about what YOU do. The clear focus of the Bible is not you, but JESUS.
RUSS De Gospels dont say profess n be saved even Romans n Acts which r de Holy Books of sola fide doesnt say it. Sola fide is soundly rejected by St James in his Epistle. De Parable of de Two Sons Sent 2 Work on De Farm, De Good Samaritan n De Sheep n Goats dont support it. De reply button is faulty
@ Russ & Nii: U R both right (i think – i havent retained everything Nii has said, seeing as how he's contributed a lot over a long period of time. Also, i think maybe there are 2 Niis, because some of his posts are grammatically correct and others use 'de' instead of 'the')
The argument of Man's will: free or fallen? has been going on for centuries and will continue until we meet the Lord.
The two theological camps are divided into Arminians vs Calvinists.
I happen to believe a little more along the Arminian side, but I do NOT endorse legalism in way, shape or form.
Want to know what to do to be saved? Believe on Jesus (not just intellectually, but also 'trust in, cling to and rely upon' as the greek word believe is rendered.
Want to know what to do to stay saved? Put on Jesus daily, like the apostles did – 2 Peter 1:5-11
Bless u both!
You clearly didn't watch the video. The point of all Jesus' teaching (and the disciples') is not "try hard to love people." The point of the Law is to lead you to Christ (Gal.3:24) because you CANNOT keep it. It is Paul's entire testimony – as he tells in Php.3. He counts all his works "rubbish." The same point is made repeatedly in Scripture (Isa.64:6; Lk.15 [the elder brother]; Rom.3:10-12; etc.).
Right to the point:
You are trusting in what YOU do to "get in" with God. That is self-salvation (the opposite of what Jesus taught).
What have you earned? All your best works earned death (Rom.6:23), are rubbish (Php.3:8) or menstrual rags (Isa.64:6).
Jesus died to save you from what YOU did – and that includes your *best* efforts to love people.
The main message of the BIble is the love of GOD to save us – not our own.
We obey – not to gain favor with God – but in response to his love.
@ b4: this is not about Arminianism vs. Calvinism.
Upon what does our hope rest: what I do or what Christ did?
BANG 2 me Russ isnt so wrong but de problem is his understanding of belief. As S James said ur inner beliefs must appear in ur actions or they r useless 4 salvation. The thief on de cross didn't just pity Christ in his mind but acted on his belief 2 empathise, rebuke de other thief, etc. 1 Nii only.
@ Nii: you are making obedience into a saving act instead of a response to love. That is deadly. You become your own Savior.
"There is one name under heaven whereby we must be saved. Salvation is found in no one else." (Acts 4:12) That includes my obedience.
Again: "it is by faith you have been saved, and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no man can boast" (Eph.2.8-9).
Russ the word works is incomplete. It is the "works of the law". These r the religious and ritual laws in the Torah and Mishnah. The moral law is not dispensed with and these are "works of obedience" not "works of the Law". It is the moral law which is fulfilled by love. The ritual law is shadows.
I did not make love the saving act. It is rather the subscribing act. Look at 1Cor14. Look at other Parables. Jesus has done His sacrifice. Like all sacrifices the people who say they are being atoned for must subscribe to it. Love is our subscription. Otherwise those who don't care must go too.
@ Nii: you are making a false dichotomy. Certainly Paul is not repenting of just "works of the law" (Php.3). he's repenting of why he ever did anything good in the first place.
it's the whole point of the elder brother's sin in the Prodigal Son story. there are two ways to run from God: you can run by disobedience (the prodigal son) – but you can also run by obedience (the elder brother).
As Flannery O'Connor put it in "Wiseblood" @ Haz Moates: "there was a deep, black, wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sinning."
Obedience is merely outward (& often wrongly motivated). There must be an inward change. Yes, obedience will flow out of it – but it is the inward change (which brings about action) that saves. If folks on this blog "love others as they love themselves" but they wrongly love themselves... that is not saving. And you cannot love as Christ loves unless Christ has *already* saved you & lives in you (Gal.2:20; 1 Cor.2:6-16; John 16:13; etc). You can do the actions w/o loving the Lord. That's the point of the warning: "depart from me, I never knew you" (Mt.7:22).
Russ is clearly explaining that we are saved not by works but by grace and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. NII, try and listen to what Russ is saying. Loving your neighbor as yourself is a very important commandment to keep. Can you honestly say you have loved your neighbor as yourself? If you have seen a homeless person did you show love to them and bring them home and take care of them as you would take care of yourself?
RUSS, RUSS, RUSS do you see why I use the full passage and not the verses? The people he condemned all did "works of the law" rather than obey the "commandments of the law" read the passage. The need for obedience cannot be overstated. The Parable of the Good Samaritan comes after the Great Commands
The salvation that is extended by grace(as a help not favour) to us must provoke a response in us. God requires us 2 prove ourselves worthy 2 b given His help. I know we wudnt manifest love perfectly outwardly but if u thoughts r dominated by "I love my neighbor as myself" then u'll see God's help.
@ Nii: you are right to be concerned about context – but the individual verses are part of the message. Read those passages in context. They all lead to the one, same, primary message of the Bible...
What's the point of the parable of the Good Samaritan?
You seem to think YOU are the point: that YOU should love like that. As if the parable is primarily about you...
Again: the Bible is primarily about JESUS.
Jesus' point is that HE ALONE is the one who loves like that.
Re-read the Parable of the Good Samaritan:
HE is the one who stopped to love the unlovable.
HE is the one who healed the wounds.
HE is the one who paid for the rescue (not the 'rent' for the man beaten on the road, but the ultimate price).
You continue to make these things about YOU. That misses the entire point. Every page of the Bible is about him.
HE is the point. Not US.
It is HIS obedience that pleased the Father, not OURS.
He said "It is finished" on the cross – not "now, try hard to earn this."
the amazing thing is this: It's all about HIM – yet HE makes his love about US by what HE did.
NII-muslims believe that you go to heaven based on works.
Can you quantify how much good works must one do to please the God of the Bible? What those good works are? is it daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually or semi-annually? what are good works?
Naaman was asked to bath to be saved from leprosy not because God couldn't save Him but Naaman's demonstration of faith(trust n obedience) was needed because it set him apart. What is so hard about loving your neighbor as yourself? Atheists r promising 2 do it even if they don't know as much u do.
For how many homeless people have you provided shelter? How much good works is good enough? Taking care of 1 homeless person, 2 homeless people or 3 or 4 or 70 ?
@ Nii: so you think Naaman's obedience saved him?
How did he even know about Elijah (or the Lord)? A slave girl he had taken captive (after killing her family) tells him – and she didn't have to! she voluntarily loved him when he had hated her! Where does love like that come from – to love one's enemies?
Was it just Stockholm syndrome? OR did she have a taste of God's love that comes BEFORE obedience?
Again, this points to Jesus – not Naaman's (read: OUR) obedience.
Read Luke 24. It's what Jesus is telling his disciples on the road to Emmaus. All of Scripture (explicitly: the OT) is about me (especially – but not exclusively, since you like whole chapters – v.27 & 44).
pardon me – Elisha.
VINES all the God of the Bible requires is that your single most dominating thought shud become, "I love my neighbor as myself". Thats all. If this happens you will definitely show it in your actions don't worry. Then you have what is called eternal life. God will dwell with you here as you are.
That is a very interesting. Just the 'thought' is what matters and not the 'actual works' after all? really?
I wonder why people don't evangelise anymore? Is it because the love that pushed the Church to conquer the Roman Empire is lost? That excuses like Christ is the only one who can love like that is being offered? If U don't love ur neighbor as yourself u have no power cos God is not with U. 1John5.
NII,Do you also believe Mohammad is a prophet of god?
VINES indeed you can give alms as much with pride or to get tax breaks as you can with love. One will diminish the reciever while the other will raise him up. The thought or motive is so important. When your motive is loving your neighbor as yourself then your good works shall be truly good.
After you've read the whole Bible, why not read the scriptures of other religions, the myths of other ancient people's and other writings by people living in the same place and time as those who wrote the Bible? Without doing so, aren't you like the literature student who has only ever read Shakespeare?
i left one important process out. that is the Taking of the LORD'S SUPPER
John 3 verse 1-13
1 Cor 13 versev1-13
John 3 verse 16
Rom 10 verse13
1 Cor 11 verse 17-34
The 'good' thief didnt take the Lord's supper either (except he really did, spiritually-speaking).
Exceptions–The christian's best friend.
Going to Heaven does not require only one way. there are several of them. first u must hear and listen to the word of God, Believe, Confers that Jesus is the Savior, Master and BELIEVE in Him,Baptize and evangelize to other people,loving your neighbor etc.All these are some of the processes.
@Rachel: The thief on the cross (aka, the 'good' thief) did ALL the things you laid out by believing with all his heart and asking Jesus "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (with the exception that he didnt baptise anyone/didnt get baptized), and he will be in heaven with the rest of us.
wow, b4, don't separate a shoulder patting yourself on the back for your oh so certainty that you will be in "heaven"
Salvation is like a golden parachute. You can be the worst kind of person your whole life. Lie, cheat, and even murder your fellow man all the way into extreme old age, and never apologize, or ask a sing person to forgive you until the day you die, and then, if you crock out a simple acceptance of Jesus with your last breath you get rewarded.
Meanwhile, a person can live an exceptional life of near-perfect goodness and benefit to his neighbor, but happen to be reasonable enough not to believe in anything without proof, and end up being punished after they die.
There is no logic, or justice in this belief. Only something evil, and petty would do this to people.
Of course, there's not a single shred of evidence to support the existence of any god, devil, heaven or hell.
Do not led people astray...There is only one way to heaven and it is through Jesus Christ...Actes 4:12 "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.""
@EnjaySea & Shari: Is the Jeffersonian statement "we hold these truths to be self-evident" another example of circular reasoning?
Also, please show academic proof of your answers to this question.
I just learnt about the reply button and you should too.
@b4: to understand that statement you have to read the whole quote. it is self evident that all humans are created equal by our "creators" (our parents create us.) from birth all humans are equal as being a living being we are equal.
@WASP: Sorry, but your take on the statement is wrong.
Jefferson was referring to the Creator (singular deity) seeing as how he was a deist (NOT a Christian, far from it, but toyed w/the idea of an unknowable God nonetheless).
Please see the Wiki article (yes i know it's not an academic source, but since no one is up to my challenge...).
But thanks for having the courage to reply WASP.
Again – any takers?
Post by b4bigbang is an instance of the Begging the Question fallacy and includes a non sequitur.
Fred- Jesus loves you and is the Saviour.
Can he cook up some grits? I'm real hongry for some.
sammie: free people do not need saviors. slaves do. get off your knees
@sam stone: Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord...none of us are free.
@fallacy spotter: I extend my original question to you, seeing as how it might be within your alleged area of expertise:
bob ross: speak for yourself. you are the one who thinks they need a savior
We are born free, and then either your parents enslave you to the belief in God, or you choose to enslave yourself later in life.
I would like to see her discuss her supporting research with someone like Dr. Chuck Missler or Ravi Zacharias.
Just another poor attempt to discredit Christianity.
For those who ask for proof of God's existence, can you prove He doesn't exist?
Can you prove that pixies don't exist? Can you prove that Zeus, Hermes, Odin, Ra, and all the others don't exist? That argument is so intellectually lazy it's amazing people can ask it in all seriousness.
AJ, god still loves your ass.
AJ.....gosh, asking people to prove a negative? Prove that Odin doesn't exist.
hawaii: as we can see with aj and his ilk, it is not a matter of serious questioning, it is desperation.
Can you think of any proof that would actually convince you? Probably not, right? Your mind is closed, so why should we even try?
God doesn't exist in an obvious way, like the sun or the moon, and you lot who believe in his existence don't bother to provide any proof. So, all we need to do is dismiss your claim. So, no, I don't think he exists. If you want me to change my mind, show me proof. If he actually exists that part should be easy.
Really it is time to put the silly revelation stories away. They are not even good science fiction, but fiction for sure. Awfully pathetic that millions of people in the US still go for that stuff. I was on a trip to Ireland recently, and even there where Catholicism had such a hold (or maybe because of that), people are leaving Christianity in droves. It was good to find out about that.
Jesus loves you and is the Saviour.
Sounds gay to me. That doesn't bother me but personally I don't fly that way.
I like to eat dog excrement.
That would be cannibalism for you.
Have we ever had a society that was based on Atheist Beliefs?
The murderous regimes of the communist countries.
Atheists don't believe, so you'll have a hard time with that one Leo.
It is clear that Atheism can't be true: for if it were it would produce a more humane world, right?
Where atheists rule millions die.
What about societies that are ruled by men that have fallen away from their beliefs... how well did those go?
Most of the advances in modern medicine have come from scientists who are predominantly atheists. Similarly, a lot of advances in human rights have come from the bravery and watchfulness of secular organizations such as Amnesty International. Also, 2 of the world's largest charitable donors are not religious.
I'm wondering if you even really know what atheism is. So just for fun, what is your definition of atheism? What is an atheist to you? How do you think atheists live their lives?
If I judged atheist based on how they act on these discussions, I would guess most are very miserable and need to try to make others like themselves.. I guess thats were they get misery loves company.
I really think all atheists know that this world and the creation within it didn't happen by dumb luck.. and that they suppress the desire to admit that the complexity of life, the Human Brain (the Most complex thing in the Universe) could not have happened thru random mutations without purpose. They fear the ridicule from their own people and probably love their jobs too much to stand up for what they really believe.
Harvard put this out, on just a single whit blood cell. http://www.xvivo.net/the-inner-life-of-the-cell/
Too think this just happened again by dumb luck is just dumb.
So then to you, atheists are self-deluded miserable people. This is a pretty condescending statement, especially basing it on your interaction on an INTERNET forum. Atheists on these blogs are varied, and the most outspoken of us do not give an indication of the mindset and lifestyle of all of us. You then take up an argument I hear very often. Complexity, when looked at in a biological frame, does not denote design. If complexity were to gaurantee design, then there must be a designer for the designer that made us, and so on a so forth. There cannot be a stop to the designers without the admission that something does not need a design, which would cause the first argument to be called into question.
Hawaii, what would happen to you if you one day came to work and said I think life has a designer? Would promotions have better chance or worse?
Please know my points were made on what I see here, and consider this that this is a "BELIEF" site.
Evolution is pretty much the EXACT opposite of "dumb luck.". Adaptation is the furthest mechanism from "chance" that I can imagine.. Why do you believe a lie?. Why insist that evolution is how you say it is in order to disbelieve it?
If you're going to disbelieve evolution, then fine, but don't disbelieve it based on the stupid idea that it represents the opposites of what it actually does represent.
What the hell do promotions have to do with anything? You know it would be nice to actually have points I make addressed. I address the points you bring up, but I guess expecting the same is to much to ask for. At least you confirmed that you are forming your thoughts on what atheism is from a very small amount of people on an internet forum.
So evolution has a purpose? Mutations to eventually give beings a conscience? sight, flight, reproduction, etc.?
Evolution is your God!
Ummm, no. Evolution is not a god of anybody. Evolution is a biological process that can and has been measured. It has also been confirmed to the point that the scientific community can confidently say that it is the best explanation that we have for the progression of life on our planet.
I rushed the last comment I have to go... I will say this atheist are just like everyone else, there are good ones and not so good ones. And I am being unfair to use this board as a guide.
The same with Christians... some are bad and some are good. The ones that don;t act like a Christian at all probably aren't. But Jesus laid this out for us... you shall know them by their fruit.
"I would guess most are very miserable and need to try to make others like themselves"
Isn't that an accurate description of evangelism?
Also, Leo, how does one make the intellectual leap from a creator to a being that judges "sin"?
Sam, I think you hit it on the head that what the Atheist are doing is evangelism. The difference is what is the hope of the Atheist? There is none..
Leap form Creator to judge? As long as the Judge is just and merciful, and willing to pardon. What would you want Adolf Hitler is ok to hang with??
The problem with the Atheist and their judgement on the Bible is they are stuck on the old testament laws, and refuse to come into the New Covenant of Grace that is promised in the Old Testament and Fulfilled in Jesus.
And yet Jesus reportedly said that all of the old testament laws still apply, and that you are to follow them.
Yeah, the god of the old testament is a whole different brand of crazy; the new testament god has a different purpose altogether.. The reason why the god of the bible has multiple personalities is because of all the god-myths incorporated into the Jewish mythos.. It's fairly obvious what happened..
God can't be proved because believers can't agree on just what he is and isn't, so there's nothing to argue against.. That biblegod has a dozen or so contradictory personalities throughout the "record" is a case against him, not for him.
leo: you are missing my point. how do you make the logical leap from the possibility of a creator and make it about a being that judges sin. it's as if you were saying "the universe is complex, therefore jesus died for your sins" one does not logically follow the other. as far as evangelism, your description of atheists also describes evangelicals
"It is clear that Atheism can't be true: for if it were it would produce a more humane world, right?"
Problem with that is that the world has always been run by religious people, so we've never had the chance. Even the communists you like to cite as examples were also egomaniac dictators, like many religious leaders throughout history, including Hitler. Elect an atheist president and then we can compare apples with apples.
I hope you got your foot out in time. Can you imagine what would have happened if I hadn't prayed for you?
Do you know about the reply button?
If it is not in the Bible of course I wouldn't know about it.
CNN-Whose patooties are you kissing by carrying fictional work?
I agree, Craig.. CNN is kissing the @ss of the Christian church in America by having a "Belief Blog" and pretending that god-belief is something to be considered or somehow represents a certain moral standard in relation to items of news.. CNN needs to quit supplying their customers with the notion that their god-belief is an important factor in news evaluation.
Heretic'sl lunacies of heretical hearsayers do ever meander hither to there ever to make issues of Godly pleasentries. The nerdy quagmires toward atheisms of charged fooleries are but subliminal undulations of hell's kitchens.
That was one of the most successful attempts to inject as many intellectual sounding words as possible into a post, thus making it a rambling and nearly incoherent pile of idiocy I have ever seen.
Pipe D-That was cool!
Just because you cannot intelectulize a "para-phraser's" wordages does not make your words,,,,,,,,,,,,,
I think you forgot to finish your thought. Also, a paraphraser would need to give the reference for what he is paraphrasing. If you are saying you are paraphrasing something, then state what it is you are paraphrasing. If you are saying that I am doing that, then I don't know where your getting that kind of idea from. Your post make look impressive with your wordage, but beneath it all there is almost nothing of worth.
@ Hawaii / Pipe-D ~~ Seriously.... it is really annoying when people try so hard to squeeze as many "SAT words" into a sentence as possible so as to make it completely IMpossible to read. I generally find that these people obscure their lack of actual knowledge on a topic with a bunch of jibberish. Pipe-D... if this is how you need to make yourself feel important, then carry on....
I wasn't trying to make my posts hard to read, but if it is sorry. I'm just typing the way I talk.
Loving your neighbor as yourself is the only requirement for entering Heaven. It is out of grati.tude to God for teaching me this through Moses, Christ and my mum that I am a Christian nd will remain one. Even if the Bible is declared untrue beyond reasonable doubt.
so what? even muslims and every body else believes in' loving their neighbor as their self. ' Ask yourself truthfully how many times have really loved your neighbor as yourself. If you honestly answered that then going to heaven is gonna a be a big challenge for humanity unless you are a Mother Teresa.
Jesus clearly said he is the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the father except by Jesus.
WRONG! You don't even know your own religion. The only requirement is to believe in God. You can spend your whole life hating your neighbor, and at the last second say "I believe in you God! Forgive me!" and zip! Off to heaven with you, even if you still hate your neighbors.
OKAYE Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth and the Light so the Samaritan who worshipped other gods apart from Him was righteous because he loved his neighbour as himself. The whole passage not a verse. Read John 13,14,15,16&17 the Speech at the Last Supper well. Most Evangelicals think like BLAH.
@ Nii: you still are missing it. Re-read those chapters in John to which you appeal.
Jesus is not teaching "try hard to love people & then I'll love you/let you in."
As John wrote elsewhere, "We love BECAUSE Christ first loved us." (1 Jn.4:19)
Again: it's not what we do (love others) that saves us; it's what he did (loving the unlovable: namely US!).
You're missing the whole STATED point of the book: (Jn.20:30-31)
30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that **by believing** you may have life in his name.
RUSS 1John is de worst book 2 use 2 support ur Profess Christ 2 B Saved doctrine. 1John4 read de whole passage. God in John14 says if you love me follow my commandments. Paul, John, Peter n James all wrote in their epistles that we shud love our neighbor as ourselves 2 prove we love God. Why?
@ Nii: glad to see you are using the reply button. Did you see my response above?
Yes, the *test* for a regenerated heart is obedience (in particular *why* you obey: not out of fear or obligation, but b/c of how you've been loved). But it is not the works themselves that save (Eph.2:8-9). It is the clear theme of Scripture: it's not what YOU do that saves you, but what JESUS did (Lk.24:27, 44 – all of the Bible is about Jesus).
again, see the video I posted above in response to your comment there.
I cant view de video but I believe that God sent Jesus 2 die 4 our sins. Yes. But 2 prove we believe(Remember John 3:16 requires belief not professing) we must love our neighbor as ourself. Jesus clearly says that not all who call Him Lord Lord shall enter de Kingdom but those who do de will of God
@ Nii: here is the central question:
is our obedience *in response to* being saved or is our obedience *the thing that* saves us?
RUSS as Christ said if you love me you will obey my commands. Obeying is an act that shows us responding to Christ's love. The thief was restrained by His sin on his cross but his obedience found him favour n God gave him grace to enjoy salvation. Our obedience will strive to be perfect but won't be
@ Nii: but it is not our obedience that saves. It is Christ's love in us – which is not our doing. That's the point of Eph.2. That's why no one can boast. It is by grace (not our works) that we are saved.
The fool[a] says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
So you can quote scripture.
Oh, so your own myth book says that people who don't agree with it are stupid.. Gee, how convincing.
Circular logic, Sam.
1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.
Mathew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is INSIDE you.
circular reasoning is circular.
In a roundabout way.
wow, sammie, cut and paste. congrats for being such a fine witness for jeebus
Before science could offer an explanation for how the universe could work without any gods anybody claiming that gods didn't exist out of necessity would have indeed looked like a fool, but all that has changed for the past 100 years, or so, right? There is nothing foolish at all now about believing that gods aren't real because they are not needed to explain the universe, and there has never been any proof of their existence anyway. So, it's a simple thing really to dismiss them.
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.