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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. endtime

    Without the baptism HOLY GHOST a person can misinterpret and distort the Bible every time.There are those who wish not to know the truth and twist it. The Book of Revelation is a perfect example. By the way, we are on the verge of the sixth trumpet. Many won't believe until it actually happens.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  2. Phil Strickland

    Take a New Testament scholar on the outer fringe of her discipline, pass her ideas off as mainstream scholarship, and this is what you get. 1) The idea of the church having to adjust its theology because of some speculative concern regarding Jesus' return is completely unfounded, and many, if not most, current NT scholars have moved away from this position since there is very little evidence to suggest the Church expected an immediate return of Jesus, rather than in the future; 2) Yes, 666, when translated into Hebrew characters spells out "Nero Caesar." Nobody really disputes this. This only confirms what most NT scholars already believe, namely that John's Apocalypse was written for seven churches in Asia Minor during the reign of Nero; 3) The idea that there were multiple "christianities" and that orthodoxy was a later, novel development is a tired argument that goes back to F. C. Baur and the German school of the 19th century in NT scholarship. It's a defunct position that is getting new life because the people forwarding it (e.g., Pagels and Bart Ehrman) are doing so by publishing books solely for popular consumption and are bypassing the academic peer-review process to do so. The only evidence for this position are "gnostic" texts dating to several years after the New Testament had already been written for, and accepted by, the churches - and honestly this evidence is unconvincing (and no, the canon of the New Testament was actually not decided by Constantine, as some others have popularly, and wrongly, declared). 3) Athanasius actually accepted the same 27 books of the New Testament that we do today, including Revelation (see his 39th Festal Letter from AD 367)! The church historian Eusebius notoriously believed Revelation had been written by one "John the Elder" rather than John the Apostle, but neither he nor any of the major early church fathers have ever said that Revelation had been written by some heretic (at least none to my knowledge). Revelation was known more widely in some churches than in others, and so questions about it centered around the issue of authorship, not on authority or orthodoxy. There were some who later shied away from using the Gospel of John, however, because of how gnostics liked to use it for it's "Logos" Christology and dark/light dualism. In the end, the second-to-last line of this article rings true, "Even after writing a book about it, Pagels has hardly mastered its [the Book of Revelation's] meaning." Indeed she hasn't.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  3. Kindly Believer

    Mr. Black this week trotted out Jesus to justify Obamacare.

    Now he writes about how modern Christians have misinterpreted the New Testament.

    What's next, that Jesus in fact went to a gay marriage and changed the water into wine?

    April 1, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Kindly Believer

      Blake

      April 1, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • TAC

      This is simply a digest of the book, a book I've read and his observations about it are accurate. Certainly, you can reject the books premises but the article states them accurately. Which of his observations are inconsistent with the book?

      April 1, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  4. Johnny Newman

    Elaine Pagels's literary and educational history is quite impressive; however, this book can simply added to the plethora of religious studies texts for the collegiate secular & term paper referencing . For Christians; there should not be any stock put into this article or book. The literary and scholastic history Elaine Pagels does not seek to glorify or bring praise & honor to Jesus Christ, but rather glorify ourselves in our rationalism. These ideas are most certainly not new and are available in books & commentaries that do help us to understand the Bible and its authors more deeply. I'd suggest the John Macarthur commentaries for starters.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  5. Heru

    Its too early in the morning for a painting of some dude hairy junk on the CNN front page.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  6. Adam B. Embry

    CNN's religion blog picks a liberal scholar and makes it seem as if this viewpoint is novel. Well, it's not. And there are multiple views held by conservative scholars, as well. For those out there unwilling to actually read anything other than Tim Lahaye's Left Behind series or an uninformative CNN religion blog, you'll discover there have been multiple interpretations of Revelation since the first few centuries of the early church and the Protestant Reformation. A simple Wikipedia check would work or reading through the eschatology section of any systematic theology book.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Gordon Hamilton

      I realize this is an editorial, but it is not presented as such. It is presented as fact and thus very dangerous. While it is true there have always been many visions of the Christian faith it is erroneous to act like they were all treated as equally valid. Many people today believe Obama is a Muslim. That does not mean they are correct. The message found throughout the Bible has always had detractors but these people have always ultimately come to nothing. Just as the 19th century modern liberalism is dying out. I have no problem with someone thinking they are right. The problem I have is that being presented as the only viable option on a supposedly neutral site like CNN.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • TAC

      Wiki is nothing more than a public forum and is not a source or reference. Anyone, including you and me, could add or subtract from it. Her observations are not novel and are supported by an ocean of ancient and contemporary scholars. Certainly, you can disagree but must admit there are many who support her conclusions. I've read the book. Have you?

      April 1, 2012 at 9:38 am |
      • Adam B. Embry

        I am working on my third theology degree. I've read Revelation numerous times and hold the amillennial position, a typical Protestant & Catholic position. If you're interested in reading more on Revelation, I suggest reading G. K. Beale's commentary.

        April 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts or goblins

      George Hamiliton, why do you have a problem with one editorial being "presented as fact" when the entire Babble is presented as fact? A book of (bad) fiction being presented, and worse yet, accepted, as fact, is way more dangerous than a single editorial attempting to make sense out of craziness.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  7. freedom

    Here is wisdom: Babylon the Great is a city on seven hills.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  8. GRCOOPER

    The book and this article are poorly researched. This genre of literature, the Greek nuances, the timing in history, the authorship, and this books key place in the biblical cannon are written about with a remarkable degree of ignorance. Disappointing.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • TAC

      Have you read the book? I have and found it well researched. Have you actually read it?

      April 1, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  9. Bill

    A great article (despite a little geography error) which gets people thinking about their faith and the concept of eternity and even their relationship with "God". Well done!

    April 1, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  10. George

    And when will the koran be dissected as assiduously?

    April 1, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • AGuest9

      The Qur'an reads much like the Old Testament.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  11. TR in ATL

    I encourage you to read and study Revelation for yourself. This liberal, new age writer makes points that no other Christian scholars agree with. The author of Revelation, John, IS the same John who is a direct disciple of Jesus. Make no mistake, evil is in the world and this writer, a professor at Princeton no less, uses her position to mislead people in their study of God's Word. Be very careful what you believe of this woman's words.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • TAC

      What exactly is a "liberal, new age" writer? I've read the book she wrote, and many of her observations are classic interpretations made centuries before.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  12. Greg Staub

    "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."

    Another often rejected writing of John

    April 1, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Forgiven 2

      AMEN! Greg =) 2 Timothy 4:3-4. People get ready Jesus is COMING!!!!

      April 1, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • pntkl

      It would be rejected even more so, if people actually took the minimal effort to read the Scripture in context and in its entirety. Beyond the single oft-cited verse, John continues:

      "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."

      Furthermore, it must be understood that there are many that would try to take that which is not their given rite. If those that did actually believed the traditions of old; they would choose their paths with much greater care:

      "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

      Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie..."

      It isn't without forewarning that man is given the freedom to choose. Not even the angels know the time of His coming. Who of you can say what makes man think they would even recognize that for which he cannot understand, let alone sympathize with? Without a full knowledge of that which is pre-ordained, many will speak out of turn, even to speak haughtily with blasphemies against the Holy Spirit. Those that do speak carefully are quick to accept correction. That isn't the many, only the few. For them, many great things are to come.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • gman

      @ pntkl , i see your preaching SATANS DOCTRINE AGAIN, once again the bible says

      " GO OUT INTO THE WORLD AND PREACH THE GOSPEL TO EVERY LIVING CREATURE "

      why don't you just admit you don't believe in JESUS , and you follow satans teachings ?

      April 1, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • pntkl

      gman, the accusation is for naught. It matters not, for what you say, as it is of little importance. Just as your works are against that which is written, being vile and defiled, so are your words. Debasement is a tenant of your conviction, but that is not of my Father's Word. Even if I said to you, "I am He," and also showed you every such wonder; you would still reject that for which you would bind another to. All of which is for naught, as I am both the natural and unnatural fool, the one that is often mocked.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • gman

      @ once again he who denies the RISEN CHRIST , JESUS OF NAZARETH is of the antichrist.

      the spirit you preach is not the holy god of zion. it is the spirit of an angel of light. the antichrist.

      JESUS on the cross is the only thing that saves.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • pntkl

      After being rebuked, a contentious spirit will always stir fervently. The Salvation of all mankind is found in Jesus Christ, born of God, Son, and Savior–Him who brings all near still waters. Salvation is offered by Hope, Faith, and Love, in absolute conjunction. You must have a sense of urgency, to rid yourself of the desire to speak against what you consider to be evil. Leave such matters to my Father and the messengers before you. Lay down yourself, concern yourself not with another. For any likewise that will forbear: without delay, loose it quickly. Until that great day comes, which is spoken of in Malachi, I do now depart.

      April 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  13. myway

    One more example why one has to understand the contemporary political and social issues to understand the meaning of individual biblical texts. Most people don't even know the bible was compiled for political reasons prolonging the besieged Roman Empire. The Roman leaders viewed Christians as another threat to political stability before they added Christianity as one of several authorized religions. Many biblical metaphors were created to protect the churches who commissioned individual texts from retaliation by contemporary authorities. Perhaps that's why scroll authors used assumed names. Most of the population at the time couldn't read. Even if they were, texts were outrageously expensive since they were all hand written. Therefore followers had to attend churches to learn about their own religion.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  14. A Theist

    All a lot of boonswaggle and hogwash if you ask me! It is nothing but a fictional writing of the time.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  15. Dixon

    Let's learn some facts about the Biblical Satan:

    According to the Bible itself, God killed FAR more people than the "evil" Satan. Most people are shocked to learn about how many people the devil actually killed. In the Bible, the number of SPECIFIC references to the number of people that God killed is in excess of 2.3 Million.

    None of that even accounts for abstract events such as "the flood," then that number is likely in excess of 30 Million people.

    And how many people has the devil killed? The answer is 10. Not 10 Million, not 10 Thousand, but rather 10. ..... That's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

    Even more ironic is that the 10 people that he killed were in a "bet" of sorts with God with regard to Job and his family, so God was directly implicated in those as well.

    So looking at the final specific tally that is MOST favorable to God, it is:

    God Killed: 2,300,000+
    Satan Killed: 10

    Don't shoot the messenger... I'm only reporting what the Bible says.

    If Satan REALLY wanted to control the people on this planet, then Satan would have written the Bible (and other various religious texts) himself and gained control of all the major religions. And no matter how hard people try, they CAN NOT say that Satan didn't write the Bible because they weren't there. Thus, they might be believing in a book written by the Devil himself... especially considering how many people the Bible COMMANDS it's believers to kill.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • TR in ATL

      Satan doesn't need to kill anyone. He misleads, he lies, he pretends... and man falls for it and kills himself. Your summary is very naive. I encourage you to study what God's word says and He will transform your life.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • jude

      ...and the big "pass or fail" in the end depends on a persons good karma.

      to follow written word and be nasty,
      or love and treat everyone equally,
      what to do, what to do....

      April 1, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Peick

      Dixon, it's important to recognize that killing and murder are not always the same thing. Case in point, if the state executes a convicted murderer, the former is called justice. You may not agree with this, but you have to keep that principle in mind. You will not find in the Bible (to my recollection, anyway), a place where God tells people to murder. That is forbidden. But there are instances of war and justice where killing is the command. I'm not always sure what to make of it, either, but try to consider the context.

      Now to challenge your view that God kills more than satan: How about Josef Stalin, who rejected God? How about Hitler, who rejected Christianity and whose SS troops were into the occult? How about abortion, which the church opposes generally, that kills 50,000 potential new lives per year? Open your eyes to what is going on around you, and you will see that a lot more killing takes place for illegitimate reasons (by satan) than by command of God for a higher purpose.

      Here come the trolls!

      April 1, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • jude

      i really love the idea that SATAN himself wrote the bible.
      it makes total sense.
      god will sit back and see who prevails.
      who follows their heart, and not a silly book.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • R2litefan

      You have every right to your own perception of what you read but what you say does not make it fact, unless of course you were sitting along side the writer and witnessed it first hand.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • jude

      as were you?
      ....
      the bible was made to create order in an orderless time.
      to create fear.
      and hate.
      so biased.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Dixon

      @TR: "Satan doesn't need to kill anyone. He misleads, he lies, he pretends... and man falls for it and kills himself."

      LOL... isn't that PRECISELY what would have happened if Satan chose to author the Bible? Nice try.

      *** "Your summary is very naive."

      It is? It is based on the Bible. Thus, the Bible is naive.

      **** "I encourage you to study what God's word says and He will transform your life."

      I went to elite faith based schools for 12 years. I used to be a devout believer until I realized how "naive" I was by believing in a fictional book.

      According to YOUR Bible, it is IMPOSSIBLE for Jesus to have even been born! Did you know this? Of course you didn't because you let others tell you what the Bible means instead of thinking for yourself.

      When looking at the only two Gospel writers who deemed it important enough to talk about the birth of your Savior: Matthew says Jesus was born when Herod was King of Judea. Luke says Jesus was born when Cyrenius was Governor of Syria. Thus, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR JESUS TO HAVE BEEN BORN during the administration of these two rulers because Herod died in the year 4 B.C. and Cyrenius (aka Quirinius in Roman history) did not become Governor of Syria until 10 years later. Herod and Cyrenius are interrupted by the entire reign of Archelaus, Herod’s son. Between Matthew & Luke (once again, the only 2 who thought Jesus’ birth was important enough to actually write about), there is a clear contradiction of at least ten years, as to the time of Christ’s birth. They were absolutely clueless.

      The Bible is an antiquated book written by uneducated men. The facts are that 5th graders today know more about the world in which we reside than did the simpletons that wrote the Bible. You'd NEVER let a 5th grader dictate the course of your life, but when it comes to the Bible, then you are fine with it. It is absolutely mind-boggling.

      Peace!

      April 1, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Dixon

      @Peick: "Dixon, it's important to recognize that killing and murder are not always the same thing. Case in point, if the state executes a convicted murderer, the former is called justice. You may not agree with this, but you have to keep that principle in mind."

      I have a PhD in Communication/Linguistics, so I get the concept. What you are doing is playing the semantics game. Both result in someone losing their life. This is PRECISELY how Christians "justify" their entering the military to "kill" people when they could choose a peaceful job instead.

      *** "You will not find in the Bible (to my recollection, anyway), a place where God tells people to murder. That is forbidden."

      According to the Bible, God COMMANDS you to:

      - Kill everyone that works on Sunday: Exodus 31:12-15

      - If you catch anyone breaking God's law, you are COMMANDED to stone them to death: Deut 17: 2-7

      - Anyone not seeking the Lord is to be put to death: Chron 15: 13-14

      -- The ability to kill an entire town and burn it to the ground: Deut 13:12-18

      - The ability to kill your wife, brother, son, daughter, etc via stoning and show them "no pity." Deut 13: 6-10

      - More stonings ordered by God: Leviticus 24: 13-14

      - The Lord COMMANDING that anyone who blasphemes him is to be put to death: Lev 24: 16

      - Anyone who takes another's life must be put to death (sounds like Christians have some killing to do of our men in uniform when they return): Lev 24: 17

      - If a child talks back to his/her mom or dad, the child is to be put to death: Lev 20: 9

      - If you commit adultery, you are to be killed: Lev 20: 10

      - Let's not forget the gays too! Despite God creating gay animals of all different species, if you are gay, you are to be killed: Lev 20: 13

      I could go on and on. I'm not sure why so many Christians are on these boards when there is so much killing to be done that their God COMMANDS them to do. The reality is they just pick and choose which parts to believe and which parts to ignore because apparently God's word is only important some times, despite the Bible specifically saying that "the law of the Lord is perfect." lol

      None of that even talks about owning slaves and being able to beat to them (including females) without any sort of punishment if they can get up within two days. That's some great love and kindness there.

      It must be nice to cherry pick which parts of God's laws you want to obey and which ones you have veto power over. It just goes to further illustrate the ridiculous nature of an antiquated 2,000 year old book written by uneducated men.

      *** "But there are instances of war and justice where killing is the command. I'm not always sure what to make of it, either, but try to consider the context."

      The context is that these were uneducated men writing this... many of whom would have believed the Earth to be flat. If you want to see some more about context, this is an old site I no longer use that I created to answer long posts on a different site:

      http://uscatholic.yuku.com/topic/39/Interpretations

      **** "Now to challenge your view that God kills more than satan: How about Josef Stalin, who rejected God? How about Hitler, who rejected Christianity and whose SS troops were into the occult?"

      Hitler grew up with a religious background and utilized the Bible to help brainwash his followers.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Dixon

      @Peick: "Dixon, it's important to recognize that killing and murder are not always the same thing. Case in point, if the state executes a convicted murderer, the former is called justice. You may not agree with this, but you have to keep that principle in mind."

      I have a PhD in Communication/Linguistics, so I get the concept. What you are doing is playing the semantics game. Both result in someone losing their life. This is PRECISELY how Christians "justify" their entering the military to "kill" people when they could choose a peaceful job instead.

      *** "You will not find in the Bible (to my recollection, anyway), a place where God tells people to murder. That is forbidden."

      According to the Bible, God COMMANDS you to:

      - Kill everyone that works on Sunday: Exodus 31:12-15

      - If you catch anyone breaking God's law, you are COMMANDED to stone them to death: Deut 17: 2-7

      - Anyone not seeking the Lord is to be put to death: Chron 15: 13-14

      -- The ability to kill an entire town and burn it to the ground: Deut 13:12-18

      - The ability to kill your wife, brother, son, daughter, etc via stoning and show them "no pity." Deut 13: 6-10

      - More stonings ordered by God: Leviticus 24: 13-14

      - The Lord COMMANDING that anyone who blasphemes him is to be put to death: Lev 24: 16

      - Anyone who takes another's life must be put to death (sounds like Christians have some killing to do of our men in uniform when they return): Lev 24: 17

      - If a child talks back to his/her mom or dad, the child is to be put to death: Lev 20: 9

      - If you commit adultery, you are to be killed: Lev 20: 10

      - Let's not forget the gays too! Despite God creating gay animals of all different species, if you are gay, you are to be killed: Lev 20: 13

      I could go on and on. I'm not sure why so many Christians are on these boards when there is so much killing to be done that their God COMMANDS them to do. The reality is they just pick and choose which parts to believe and which parts to ignore because apparently God's word is only important some times, despite the Bible specifically saying that "the law of the Lord is perfect." lol

      None of that even talks about owning slaves and being able to beat to them (including females) without any sort of punishment if they can get up within two days. That's some great love and kindness there.

      It must be nice to cherry pick which parts of God's laws you want to obey and which ones you have veto power over. It just goes to further illustrate the ridiculous nature of an antiquated 2,000 year old book written by uneducated men.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Dixon

      @Peick: *** "But there are instances of war and justice where killing is the command. I'm not always sure what to make of it, either, but try to consider the context."

      The context is that these were uneducated men writing this... many of whom would have believed the Earth to be flat. If you want to see some more about context, this is an old site I no longer use that I created to answer long posts on a different site:

      http://uscatholic.yuku.com/topic/39/Interpretations

      **** "Now to challenge your view that God kills more than satan: How about Josef Stalin, who rejected God? How about Hitler, who rejected Christianity and whose SS troops were into the occult?"

      Hitler grew up with a religious background and utilized the Bible to help brainwash his followers.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Dixon

      @Peick: **** "How about abortion, which the church opposes generally, that kills 50,000 potential new lives per year? Open your eyes to what is going on around you"

      Yes, let's talk about abortion. Do you know where the highest rate of teen pregnancy is in the US? The Bible Belt boasts the highest rate of teen pregnancy BY FAR in the country while the ultra liberal NorthEast has the lowest. - This is what happens when religious nuts enforce teaching "abstinence" instead of "birth control." And despite it not CLEARLY not working, they keep doing it anyway because they are delusional.

      Moreover, women with religious affiliations make up more than 3/4 of all abortions in the United States. - Thus, the demographic that aborts the most babies actually belongs to religious people.

      On top of all that, Atheists/Agnostics have lower rates of divorce than Christians, Jews and even the Mormons. - Those religions are sure strengthening the bonds of "holy" matrimony indeed.

      So here are the options:

      #1) Do not make contraception readily available to people. This will lead to unwanted pregnancies that will lead to MORE abortions. This will also lead to many people feeling "forced" into marriage for the "sake of the baby" which will lead to a higher rate of divorce. Moreover, contraception such as the condoms in the same vending machines help REDUCE the rate of STD's/HIV.

      #2) Make contraception easily available. This will lead to fewer unwanted pregnancies, fewer teen parents, fewer cases of STD's/HIV and fewer abortions.

      Hmmmmm... REALLY tough choice now isn't is?

      And why isn't #2 just common sense and practiced throughout the United States? It is because of religious nuts who prefer to believe in a world of delusion where they pretend that preaching abstinence actually works.

      In fact, God is the biggest "baby" murder of all by allowing around HALF of all fertilized eggs not to implant in the uterus. God also was responsible for all abortion doctors. But hey, what does any of that matter to the brainwashed?

      *** "and you will see that a lot more killing takes place for illegitimate reasons (by satan) than by command of God for a higher purpose."

      So here's your "logic:" Satan only killed 10 people in the Bible, but now he's on a killing spree. Brilliant! Meanwhile, God was on a killing spree, but now he's not. I'm sure those children starving to death in Ethiopia with flies in their eyes and their rib cages showing are SO thankful for "God's Love."

      Peace!

      April 1, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Dixon

      @R2litefan: "You have every right to your own perception of what you read but what you say does not make it fact"

      LOL... these items can be identified. Lot's wife "looked back" so God turned her into a pillar of salt. That's "1" for God. Then you do something called arithmetic.

      *** "unless of course you were sitting along side the writer and witnessed it first hand."

      Good, so you admit there is a 50/50 chance that Satan or God could have authored the Bible. Thus, you might be living your life based on what Satan wrote. Congrats!

      April 1, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  16. 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 1, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Dixon

      Great post reason! Here's what I like to ask (which is right in line with what you were saying):

      Let me ask Christians: How many times have you attended a Mormon Temple? What about a Muslim Mosque? What about a Hindu Temple? What about a Jewish Synagogue? How can anyone possibly know for certain that you've found the "right" religion while not experiencing the others that millions upon millions of others find to be their salvation? If you haven't, then you are the person that sits there and insists that Pepsi tastes better than Coke, but you have only tried the Pepsi and never the Coke. Yet, you will be steadfast in your belief that Pepsi is better despite having no conclusive first hand experience to prove otherwise. Thus, the ENTIRE argument is invalid.

      When you come to the realization that if you were born in Iran that you would have the EXACT same zeal for Muhammad and Allah that you do for Jesus and God, then that will be a big awakening for you. If you were born in India, you'd have the same zeal for Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma that have for Jesus/God. If you were born in Tibet, you would have the same zeal for Buddha that you have for Jesus/God. So what does that say about the book Christians worship (when they wouldn't have worshiped it based solely on geographic location of birth and religion of their parents)?

      To deny it is to deny the truth. After all, the Truth Shall Set You Free...

      April 1, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • reason

      Thanks for the response Dixon. Good points you made.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • zeyn2010

      Totally agreed! One's religion depends on where one is born or who they are born to – not something they have much of a choice in….

      April 1, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  17. Athane Khagan

    Why is every new scholar to write a best-selling book the one and only expert on the Bible? The Bible itself is a chronological history and every book has lessons in it. Let us observe for ourselves the divinely inspired words of many Bible authors and not believe as fact every latest questioner of our faith. Live the lessons that Jesus gave us, they are so natural to prospering in this universe his Creator God Father has given us to live in. God gave us beautiful Life, he gave us this amazing clockwork-like Universe to live in and He gave us Free Will to enjoy it all. Be thankful and exercise your free will wisely – don't be deceived to fall by the wayside, little flower seeds of God.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • WMoonFox

      Sure. The problem many have is that, when it comes to Revelation, it seems that God fired his writing staff and hired on a bunch of anti-Roman activists to finish the Bible. It doesn't match the writing style, tone, or provide any type of closure; indeed, it paints an awful picture of the present/future that has been misused throughout the centuries to justify horrors. Honestly, you should be ashamed to defend the work.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  18. Jim

    Revelations is the book of the bible I can be sure will not be read in my church this morning. In fact, by rule, it is never read in the Orthodox churches of the world. Probably because there is no entirely agreed upon interpretation, and they fear the poor and speculative interpretations like this one. The positive assertion that John the Apostle did not write Revelations has been put forward by people who did not want it included in the Bible since the 2nd century (Eusabius), but this is NOT the invariable truth proposed by the author and is contested.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      It's Revelation. No S at the end.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  19. RowJimmy

    come get your bible classes at CNN!

    April 1, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • reason

      Next they will tell us the world is not flat!

      April 1, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  20. achepotlex

    Myths? Ain't it all real, word fer word?

    April 1, 2012 at 9:20 am |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.