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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. Zombie Jesus

    Eat my flesh. I'll cook yours. It'll be huge.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  2. Hugh G. Rection

    About time that CNN starts recognizing the Bible for what it is: MYTH.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • TC

      Just another article and another opportunity for closet atheists to troll and be intolerant and divisive – such good and logical human beings aren't they? Funny how you never see any in the real world? So cowardly bigots they are it seems

      April 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • zach

      first of all, how can you say that the bible is a myth??? there are scrolls hundreds of years old stating in hebrew language exactly as it is written today. i pray over you and your soul...it is time to know who your lord is, and i bind up the demoms oppressing you...have a wonderful day, god bless you

      April 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • nimitta

      Elaine Pagels is neither intolerant or divisive, TC, but you seem to be.

      Maybe this is because you don't know – or more likely recognize – any atheists in your world. I know lots, and many are very open about it, even though many Christians regard and treat them as enemies. Have you ever heard of George Clooney? Katharine Hepburn? Gloria Steinem? Sam Harris? Richard Dawkins? Elizabeth Cady Stanton? Sigmund Freud? Lance Armstrong? George Bernard Shaw? Helen Mirren? Rodney Dangerfield?

      April 1, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  3. hawaiiduude

    666 can be portrayed mathematically as 2 triangles overlapping each other in a six pointed star. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41qPi1BAHP0

    Synagog of satan refers to the jews who have rejected jesus. Particularly current practicing jews.

    The anti-christ is talmud believing jews and zionism. There is no other belief system that blaphemes villifies jesus and his followers.

    Read the talmud in english and just google what talmud says about jesus and christians. Google "talmud vs. ten commandments."

    http://encyclopediaegypt.com/israel/l032001.htm

    April 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • nimitta

      Your meds are in the bathroom cabinet, hawaiiduude – back away slowly from your laptop, get a glass of water, and down the hatch.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  4. austin

    This article is EXTREMELY untrue and liberal. The writer of this gave the Book of Revelation a very unfair stance. This Book is infact about the end of the world, just look at the very last verse and the rest of the text. And verse 5 talks about how Jesus died for us and freed us from our sins. Liberals are quick to hate this book because of its different theme of the other 26 books but this book is certainly scripture and was upheld by the 1st and 2nd centuray Church. Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandira and Hippolytus all said it was written by the Apostle John. The book doesnt contridict other scripture, it actually is very related to other scriptures such as the book of Daniel. Revelation is scripture, face the facts liberals

    April 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • trulysaid

      After reading this article, I can say that it is not the christian who are afraid of facing the truth, but it is the atheist who is always afraid of facing God's existence. We, as christians who take God seriously by experience (and study prophecy seriously) are never surprised by the way people deny and ignore the existence of God because it was foretold ( not only this was foretold but the future of Earth, so don't think real christians will be caught by surprise). The fact that many people try to hide from God's existence and character, does not change the fact of who HE IS!! He is not a myth, He is GOD!

      April 1, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • nimitta

      You're not making any sense, austin. There's nothing 'liberal' at all about studying history, investigating the provenance of ancient texts, and better understanding how early believers saw the world. When one engages in these kinds of activities for a living, one can expect to arrive at a more nuanced, less ideological or dogmatic view of early relationships & contexts that later traditions tried to suppress.

      It's not 'liberal' at all for Dr. Pagels to study early Jewish & proto-Christian history and texts. Why do you find it so threatening, or at least enough to unleash your political pejoratives? As one who does the same kind of work, I can tell you that the ancient texts of all modern religious traditions were the outcome of political and historical processes. None can really be called 'the inspired word of God', as one hopeful put it below. I know you'll have no trouble accepting this idea in regard to the texts of Buddhism, Shinto, or Islam, but the Judeo-Christian literature is at least as complex and corrupted as those others.

      April 1, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  5. Rainer Braendlein

    The great merit of Jesus was that he, as an ordinary man, did not break with God, despite the infinite sufferings he had to face. People, who share his sufferings on earth, will finally share eternity with their victorious Lord (Jesus was man and God at the same time, thus we are allowed to call him man or God).

    Revelation 1, 1-8:

    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. 4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. 8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

    The great topic of the Bible beside salvation is the suffering of the Christian Church, which she has to bear in an antichristian world. A man, who remains in his redeemer Christ, will face hostility in this godless world.

    However, Jesus Christ, who has suffered like no one before him and after him, has overcome the demonic world. Christ had a free human will and a divine will (two wills). Despite cross, rejection and suffering Jesus remained "in God". The great merit of Jesus was it that he remained in God, although he had to bear superhuman sufferings. Christ has rolled back the Fall of Adam.

    Adam abandoned God voluntarily, although he was made in a blissful state. Jesus remained "in God" despite infinite sufferings. Hence, Jesus is a "new Adam" or the first born of a "NEW MANKIND", a mankind, which has returned to its Creator and loves him on every condition, even if she has to suffer. Jesus is the beginning of a new creation, a creation in God.

    Jesus Christ is yet in the "Future of the Lord". Jesus has overcome the profane world by the Holy Spirit and God has honored him and confirmed him with the resurrection from the death and has made him ruler of the universe. The meek and humble Jesus, who sweat blood in the garden Gethsemane, because of endless trouble and horror, is ruler of the universe right now and his dominion can manifest very soon.

    "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

    God, the Father, delivered God, the Son, for the sake of our sins. He raised him from the dead for our justification. Everybody, who believes that and gets sacramentally baptized, becomes righteous: His sins are forgiven and he lives a life of practical righteousness. Despite the attacks of the godless world, the believer remains within his saviour and does works of righteousness. The meek and humble people on earth living in righteousness, will finally manifest as kings and priests of the Most High. God will reward them with very high ranks, because they kept the faith on a hostile, godless earth.

    The majority of the mankind will never believe in Christ, at least not in the true Christ. The majority will believe in the false Christ or Antichrist (The Wicked, Mohammed, the popes and others).

    The revelation is nothing else than an account of the intergalactic war, which blusters on earth between the true Christian Church and the profane world (secular society, churches, which have turned apostate, false religions like Islam, cults like Mormons).

    God tells the true believers through the Revelation: "Don't become worldly again, but remain faithful; I have overcome the world and will come soon and raise you to glory!"

    April 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • TC

      Raineir – your herectical sect of Christianity and your long winded posts aren't helping the Christian cause here. Either work to help with brief sane comments or dont post.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Sardukar

      TLDR...

      April 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  6. Sardukar

    When will CNN change the Believe Blog with the Atheist Blog or Reason Blog...hell how about TED blog instead.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • vikkk

      Why? I am tolerant of Atheist views, why can't they be tolerant of me?

      April 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • mandarax

      The TED blog – that would be awesome! The fact that sermons are so well-attended, and TED talks are so obscure is one of the clearest reasons I know to fight the affects of religious beliefs.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Sardukar

      to ViKKK because you are sick..and give a chance you will never miss to BBQ somebody..you pretend to be tolerant but you are not..your time is up. You had all the powers around the Dark Ages but no more you and your invisible zombie are obsolete.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  7. Turth7

    I watched a PBS presentation about an archeologists work at an old Mayan city and it's inhabitants who left the area and never came back (the show had nothing to do with 2012). As best he can tell from physical evidence, early on they used to perform their religious ceremonies in caves because they believed the gods lived in them and they used to break clay pottery in their rituals (note: caves and clay pottery have meanings in the Bible).

    Then as time passes, the physical evidence showed they moved towards chaos...the started to add serpent motifs on buildings, including their gov't buldings, and they started to practice blood letting and cutting during their religious ceremonies. He then goes on to reveal that soil samples reveal massive droughts hit the area just after these came into place...he "thinks" the drought might indicate why they left, but he wasn't sure...he also didn't understand why they didn't come back.

    Well guess what? It's pretty clear to a believer...as God says "there is nothing knew under the sun".

    Don't fall for the oldest trick in the book – the serpent is the father of LIES.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • mandarax

      Wow, way to retrofit information to your existing beliefs. The infection is strong in this one.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  8. Monica

    If the "findings" are as accurate as the geography this is not worth even the paper it is printed on.
    Patmos is a Greek island and does not make part of Turkey.
    The rest is just hot air.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • dabble53

      Is that based on today's geography, or the geography of the then time?
      I don't know (not having been there at the time despite my age), but I do know country boundaries and claims change through the ages, including opposing arguments about which country owns what piece of real estate.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  9. Andy

    This is one of the most ill informed articles I have read in a long time. The four 'myths' are actually established fact, and anyone with enough will power to visit a public library can find hundreds of references to these facts in Christian and non-christian references. You can't just spin something and they say an obscure sect of gnostics who lived 300 years after the time of the writing of this book saw it differently, and expect people to take it seriously. Epic fail.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • TC

      The author is a rogue atheist/agnostic and of course thats why CNN chose her – they dont bother to get actual experts.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • nimitta

      Established fact? As all of us know who study ancient texts and histories for a living, there ain't no such thing! You're a 'true believer', Andy – facts have nothing to do with it.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Sardukar

      ...ok let me say. 4 miths are fact...mwahahahah.....boy and you say fail in the same paragraph....take your pills.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  10. James

    I have just read the Quran and it helped me understand the bible better. I am going to download a free app on my I pad it was amazing

    April 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Sardukar

      Im going to look at some pron...well its almost the same your stuff is retro.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  11. BLOCKthisCOMMENT

    Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime; give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • TC

      BUt show man the way to the Lord and he realizes he is not the center of the universe and behaves like an bigoted know-it-all.

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

      That only works if you believe that once a man dies, there is nothing beyond....

      April 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • nimitta

      Actually, TC, lead a man – or woman – to science, and it shows much more clearly that neither humans nor imagined gods are at the center of the universe. The universe doesn't seem to have a center, friend, but historically religionists have been more prone than atheists to put humans or gods at some imagined center. Ever hear of Galileo?

      And terri, the comment above works just fine even if one believes that some sort of soul lives on after death. Just sayin'...

      April 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Clattus

      haha......to TC: That's true because Christians don't act like know it alls.....at all....ever.....and people that subscribe to factual evidence that is proven through science and don't claim to know everything(dark matter anyone) act like bigoted know at alls?

      April 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  12. terri

    Here we go again....Another modern day version of someone's interpretation of the Bible. I wonder why someone studying events of a few thousand years ago feels qualified to provide a more valid interpretation? Or why that someone would not entertain the possibility that certain other writings were "suppressed" because they contained false information? Further, if I were going to conclude that any religious information were a "fairy tale" : Which is more probable? That a historical book, of which many stories are supported by fact is a fairy tale, or that a modern day interpretation by someone a few thousand years removed, is a fairy tale?

    Once a person concludes that the Bible is the inspired word of God – then all other teachings have to be compared to what the Bible says. And the Bible says: If they speak not according to this Word, then there is no truth in them.

    If a person does not believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then there are a million and one variations upon what is true and valid and worth pursuing. There is not a person alive who has the time, access to valid information, and intellectual capacity to discover the answer to those questions based on their own efforts.

    The best defense against modern day interpretations of the Bible is to know what the Bible says. That comes through self-study and determination, rather than someone else's interpretative efforts.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • TC

      Exactly – plus its just another opportunity for closet atheists to troll and be intolerant and divisive – such good and logical human beings aren't they? Funny how you never see any in the real world? So cowardly bigots they are it seems.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • dabble53

      You ignore your own history. The Bible did not magically appear, books selected and intact.
      It was a huge political endeavor. How do you account for the RCC supposedly descended from Peter, and yet, not a single book in the Bible is written by Peter?
      Blind faith is exactly that.....blindness and unable to see the truth.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • nimitta

      Hate to break it to you, terri, but your so-called 'inspired word of God' instructs its followers to murder disobedient children, atheists, and those who eat shellfish while wearing blended fabrics.

      What you call 'inspired' can be characterized more accurately as the remnants of an often brutal, rigid nomadic desert tribalism. Not to say that there was no trace of wisdom, compassion, or tolerance – just that a great deal of this 'inspired word' reflects the darkest side of humanity, from the Torah to Revelations.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  13. Fred Hafner

    Great post Sheila. God Bless you.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  14. Homer

    The writer was John, the Beloved. If he wasn't Christian, then what was he? He followed Christ and held the authority given to him by Christ. In fact, Christ entrusted him with the care of Mary, Christ's own mother. Christian? Of course he was Christian. John later wrote his testimony of Christ in a Book often called "The Gospel According to St. John."

    April 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Jonah

      John the Beloved and John of Patmos are different people. The man who wrote The Gospel of John did not write Revalations.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • nimitta

      Simpson?

      D'oh!

      April 1, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  15. BLOCKthisCOMMENT

    We must respect the other fellow`s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Dinosaur

      I'll respect their right to have their religion.. but I can't respect a religion that thinks they can find salvation from eating the flesh and drinking the blood of someone who was dead for 3 days then came back.. We call those zombies nowadays.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      One of my favorite (and accurate) quotes.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  16. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    Religious indoctrination of children from birth is a form of child abuse. To enhance the wonderment of childhood we give our children Santa, Easter bunny & the Tooth fairy and reveal the truth when a child matures and logically questions them. Logical deduction prevents them from continuing to believe on their own, but yet are forced to continue a belief in God out of their parents own indoctrinated fears.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  17. Dinosaur

    Enough arguing.. Lets have Jesus come in and settle this. Could someone summon Jesus for us, please? Thx

    April 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • terri

      Because in your world, God should come when and where you summon Him?

      April 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • reason

      Let's all pray and report back what everyone hears from Jesus.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Jesus

      here I am. Okay, let's see – Dinosaur indeed speaks for me. Believe him as his word coms from god. American christians are dopey and I'm all about that Lady Gaga. Well, that's about it – see you at the third coming, folks.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • reason

      I'll start. Jesus didn't say anything specific, just kind of grumbled. He sounded a lot like my stomach. I am hungry.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  18. Fred Hafner

    A Christian is a servant of God. Our job is to pass along God's word. It is the individual's choice that hears that word to believe in it or not. I pray that they believe in it with all my heart.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  19. Lardeau

    Great topic for April 1. All Fools' Day. Nobody knows anything. It's all guesswork. BECAUSE we are not supposed to know. It is not programmed into our Souls. Just like the origin of the universe. The proof that there is indeed something going on or that there will be something going on after death is our conscience. ALL of us know good from bad. Just ask yourself why is that. If you believe in God you must also believe in the Devil. There is an eternal struggle between the 2 and the final showdown is coming soon. You can already see the signs.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • lol

      Maybe morons don't know anything. The rest of us know it's all gibberish.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Adam

      Read a Science book.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  20. Sheila

    Revelations response to CNN article on author Elaine Pagels:

    Elaine Pagels is obviously projecting her own rebellion towards God and the truth in her own book and she sounds confused and is terribly misinformed.

    1st of all, John was not a "mystic". He was a prophet of God. Prophecy is not some mystical ability but a gift of the Holy Spirit by which God actually communicates to the prophet and through the prophet to mankind. If you study the bible, you will see time and time again, prophets being visited by angels who provide them the prophetic words to give. Prophecy does not originate in the mind or imagination, but is given through the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is given to those who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, putting away their sins. The Holy Spirit is a comforter, a guide, a teacher, and it is the Holy Spirit within us that convicts us of sin.

    The Book of Revelations was written in a form that would be understood by the true followers of Christ as it is revealed to them as it unfolds. God is not ignorant of the Devil or of those who belong to Satan (Devil). God knew full well that there would be those that would try to destroy the word of God to try and keep people from knowing the truth, so they cannot be saved. However, since it is God's will to save as many as are willing to come to him, he has assured many safeguards so that this can happen. The Devil cannot outfox God...ever. Either can mankind. Though in Revelations we find that humans think they are going to defeat what belongs to God. Never.

    God was so wise as to the deviousness of mankind, he made sure the message of Revelations was told time and time again through each and every one of his prophets to include finally, his son Jesus Christ born of the prophecy of the Virgin Birth through the lineage of King David. So If you want to have a better understanding of the details of Revelations you need to go back and study all the other prophets and their messages.

    I would love to expand further on the Book of Revelations, however, the character limit of this comment box will not allow for something that would be so extensive. Maybe CNN would invite me to be a guest writer ?

    April 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • von

      Amen. Like Paul I am fully persuaded.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Boast Busters

      Sheila,

      The name of your book is "Revelation", no "s". How can a preacher like you not know that?

      Any old dolt can proclaim that he is a "prophet" who has been visited by some supernatural being or the other... e.g., Mohammad, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Warren Jeffs, Joseph Smith and every president of the Mormon church since its inception.

      The Book of Revelation is an early sci-fi/horror/fantasy story, with no basis in fact.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Charmayne

      Well written Sheila,

      It is apparent that Elaine Pagels has her own agenda and it is being fueled by her lack of faith in Christ Jesus. How can anyone make concrete statements about the Bible and not believe in the "True God"? Not only does one have to believe in Christ Jesus (Romans 10:9) to understand the book of Revelation, but he or she needs this faith to comprehend ALL other the books of the Bible. In addition, any books outside of the Bible that provides a witnessing account of Jesus' life when He came to SAVE the world from their sins (John 3:16). Only the Holy Spirit (for those reading and do not know about the Holy Spirit; He is part of the Trinity: Father God, Son, Jesus, & Holy Spirit~all existing as 3 persons but 1 God) can give a "True Christian/Believer" insight behind the God-inspired Words written down by men chosen to convey God's message to humanity.

      I hope Elaine comes to know this truth and not just be "knowledgeable" of the Holy writings but connect with them from a "heart" that believes that Jesus is God and ONLY through ACCEPTANCE OF Him she can be SAVED and enter heaven when she passes on from this earthly life. Keep the faith, sister:) Peace & Grace

      ~Holy, Holy, Holy,
      Lord God Almighty,
      which was, and is, and is to come~Revelation 4:7

      April 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      Do you and the other "believers" on here really think anyone besides yourselves is listening to you?

      April 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • nimitta

      Sheila, your post is a magnificent example of the power of projection. Your utter confidence in these anachronistic beliefs apparently enables you to completely disregard their implications. If your 'Holy Spirit' is a comforter, why has 'He' created a world of such hatred and pain, and inflicted so much misery on believer and non-believer alike?

      When you speak of mankind's 'deviousness', aren't you really talking about the pomposity and illogic of those who cling to views like yours and impose them on others? Doesn't your mind have to be pretty devious to believe in the 'Devil' and 'Hell'? I don't think you realize yet – but maybe will someday – how twisted and boastful your theology is, despite its sorry record.

      April 1, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.