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.”
I am a very strong believer in Christ. When I asked Him to reveal Himself to me he did in a very powerful way. I know that He is real and so is heaven and hell . Knowing that I know the truth, I will have eternal life. I have plenty of testimony that God is real. All those unbelievers have everything to lose. Instead of seeking God and them calling upon His name, the find one excuse after another to reject Him. Their stubbornness will drive them into hell. Jesus is not a religion but a relationship. Too many so called believers or Christians have a religion. They have never heard the voice of God. They go to church but yet they have no relationship with Jesus. They seek their own will, follow their own desires and claim to know Christ. They are the ones that do more damage to the cause of Christ. I look at all the comments here and shake my head.
You need serious help. You need prozac at least three times/day.
OK, I'll bite.
How did god reveal himself to you?
amen* I recieved the Holyspirit Back in september im 21 Years old & Ive had a visitation from an angel & jesus came to me in a dream Iam a FIRM believer in Jesus because he Radically Changed my Life and Saved me from myself. & the Book Of Revelation Has already started to Unravel which seems to be why all asudden people are trying to Deny its Truth to Turn People away from Getting educated on the things that are about to Happen. I mean Look at Our goverment Lining things up for a new Tyrancy taking away our Rights Months after months Read MATTHEW 24 Nation rising against NATION GET EDUCATED PPL dont let THE MEDIA brainwash you! SEEK THE LORD WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND.
You morons act like god himself wrote the bible and handed it down from heaven to be copied into every language. As the article states, the CHURCH (ROMAN CATHOLIC) assembled the many writings together until they formed what you call the bible. Many books that were once in the bible were eventually removed because they conflicted with the churches agenda. That in itself would tell an intelligent person that the bible is just a bunch of stories.....folklore.
It's interesting how many self confessed agree about so little, except the fact that they 'know' they are rights (and by default, everyone else is wrong)
oops, i meant self confessed Christians, in my last post....sorry folks
Read Jeremiah 33:3 it says
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'
On June 24, 1989 I said if Jesus is real there has to be more power than what I had received. I had been going to the Catholic church and had a religion until that day. He touched me that night. He met me right then and there.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
"Even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
Acts 2:38 are the steps to follow. It starts with repentance.
It was 7:30pm that day and it changed my entire life.
Debbie-You are a moron if the only thing you can pick on is my grammar which I am not even watching. and as I said. You idiots cannot have it both ways.
Why call a person an idiot when you are trying to hold a conversation with them???? You must be acting like your god, again.
I believe you fired the 1st torpedo!
You're a great christian, Javier....may the spirit world reward you with many virgins, and goats, and breakfast cereals.....
Oh, and I also picked on your apparent 'glee' over people burning in eternal damnation...what a show that will be for you and your friends....watching people suffer, bet ya'll can't wait :)
This is what happens when non-Christians try to be authorities of the Bible. It's an impossibility. They aren't content and they believe in nothing unless it conforms to their own thought processes and understanding. God is God because He is infinite and impossible to "figure out." Elaine Pagels is just one of scores of non-Christians trying to become self-described authorities but being 100% wrong.
Where does it say she's not a Christian?
Why are you bearing false witness?
That's very easy, Raj. She is not a Christian because of what she's written. Believing in God doesn't make a person a Christian. Even the demons believe.
your post indicates that you did not read the article, nevermind the book. Calling someone a name is not an argument–just because you are calling them a non-christian rather than anything else does not change that. Usually only very young children who lack critical faculties use name calling as a means of argument; It displays a failure of reasoning abilities. Try to establish your belief on other planks than mere denial and name calling and others will be able to join in a conversation with you.
Matthew 24 >>
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
1Yeshua went out from The Temple to depart, and his disciples approached, showing him the buildings of The Temple. 2But he said to them, “Behold, do you see all these things? Amen, I say to you that not a stone will be left here standing, which will not be pulled down.”
3And when Yeshua sat onTur d'Zaytay, his disciples came and they were saying among themselves and to him: “Tell us when these things will be and what will be the sign of your advent and of the end of the world.”
4Yeshua answered and said to them, “Beware that no man will deceive you.” 5“For many will come in my name, and they will say. 'I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Messiah', and they will deceive many.” 6It is going to happen that you are going to hear battles and reports of wars.Take heed that you will not be troubled, for it is necessary that all these things should happen, but it will not yet be the end. 7For nation will arise against nation, and Kingdom against Kingdom, and there will be famines and plagues and earthquakes in various places. 8But all these things are the beginning of sorrows.
9And then they will deliver you to suffering, and they will kill you and you will be hated by all the nations because of my name. 10Then many will be subverted, and they will hate one another and will betray one another. 11And many false Prophets will arise and will deceive many. 12And because of the abundance of evil, the love of many will grow cold. 13But whoever will persevere until the end will have life. 14And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world for the testimony of all the nations and then the end will come.
15But whenever you will see the desecrated sign of desolation that was spoken by Daniel the Prophet, standing in the holy place, ( he who reads should consider ) 16Then those who are in Judea should flee to the mountains. 17And the one who is on the roof should not come down to take what is in his house. 18And he who is in the field should not return to take his clothes. 19But woe to pregnant women and to those who are nursing in those days. 20But pray that your escape will not be in winter, neither on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great suffering, which has not been from the beginning of the world even until now, neither will be. 22If those days are not cut short no one would live, but because of the chosen ones, those days will be cut short. 23Then if someone will say to you, “Behold, The Messiah is here or there”, you should not believe. 24For false Messiahs will arise and Prophets of lies, and they will give great signs so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25Behold, I have told you beforehand. 26If therefore they will say to you, “Behold, he is in the desert”, you should not go out, or “Behold, he is in an inner room”, do not believe it. 27For just as lightning goes out from The East and appears unto The West, so will the coming of The Son of Man be. 28Wherever the body will be, there will the eagles be gathered.
29But immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will darken and the moon will not show its light, and the stars will fall from the heavens and the power of the heavens will be disturbed. 30And then the sign of The Son of Man in Heaven will appear and then all the families of the earth will mourn, and they will see The Son of Man who comes on the clouds of Heaven with miracles and many praises. 31And he will send his Angels with great trumpets, and they will gather his own elect from the four winds, from all the ends of the heavens.
momya-I could care less if a bunch of self-righteous, so called intellectuals that spent their life insulting God, is creatiation and his children burn in hell. You called it right when you called him my God cause he is certainly not your. And please. Let me give you a violin so you can cry me a river. Do you really think I could care less about your feelings when people like you spend their life insulting Christians and then cry foul when we retalliate back? At least stop being a freaking hypocrite. You idiots cannot have it both ways.
Yes, Javier, that's the point.. Thanks for making it once again.. We're not like you.. If some alien force was torturing people of a certain height or weight, we'd try to help you.. When your god fries us in a pit of neverending fire, you'll enjoy it right with him–whether it's been a trillion trillion years, or a google, goggle, goggle years..
Have a blast.
speaking of hipocrits! Calling yourself a christian and not having God in your heart in your reply is the height of hipocritical.
Cnn should mind there buisness about religon because this is a very Deciptive article aiming to confuse and make disbelief You dont see people pearing into the Quran do We? this is all based off One person Pagels beliefs. I dont believe this article is RIGHT at all!
Not the spelling, not the grammer and especially not the thoughts; there is nothing clear about this post.
Theological theory aside, please note that the island of Patmos is not in fact part of present-day Turkey as the author suggests but part of the Dodecanese complex of Greek islands. This error is largely insignificant to the point that the author is trying to make, but stands out as careless to anyone familiar with that part of the Aegean.
Actually u just drew a hasty personal conclusion. Ok to believe whatever, but i respectfully disagree in this case.
1) Jesus isnt a religion
2) The gospels dont reveal Jesus as hungry for power of any type – indeed, he proclaimed that all power had ALREADY been given to him.
And why did Jesus go to the cross?? Hebrews 12:2
Regarding Myths of the Book of Revolation:
Let's get serious. It's the bible. The whole thing is a myth!! LOL!!
I wish secular media would give voice to a balance of the varied Bible-related scholars out there and not repeatedly go to the minority crowd of liberal writers like Pagels. I don't feel well informed reading this, I feel like its just another secular media source baiting readers or viewers with headlines that refer to Christianity but then showcasing voices that ultimately want to convince the public that Jesus was not God, much like the standard Time magazine cover with Jesus or Mary that we regularly see. Many disparage Evangelical Christians for openly attempting to spread their faith and word view, but this seems to me the spreading of a different kind of faith under the false pretense of objective journalism.
I read about 3 minutes into this article and then just got tired of it's junk. I believe the Bible to be G-d's perfect Word in it's entirety and in my Lord and Savior Yeshua HaMoshiach/Jesus Christ. Amen.
One who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall be put to death; the whole congregation shall stone the blasphemer. Aliens as well as citizens, when they blaspheme the Name, shall be put to death. (NRSV) — Leviticus 24:16
If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. (NIV) — Leviticus 20:10
Anyone who dishonors father or mother must be put to death. Such a person is guilty of a capital offense. (NLT) — Leviticus 20:9
... and on and on and on...
When did they decide that then?
It's been translated a load of times and books left in and out.
Do you read the various books in the original classical hebrew and greek because if it is the word of god, it's definitely not what you're reading.
What makes me laugh about you atheist is that you actually believe that we Christians give hoot about what you say and wether you believ or not. I for one could care less if a bunch of opinionated, self-righteaous, know it all like yourselves go straight to hell. And before I hear some misguided Christian preaching to me about "showing the love of Christ to our enemies" let me remind you that the bible is very clear that whilst God's grace is infinite, his justice is as well an he has prevented many people from asking forgiveness because of how much they have offended him. Let me also remind you that there is a sin for which "there is no forgiveness neither in this world or the next" and that is the offense against the Holy Spirit. So to those who want to understand I'll help them understand, to those who do not, you can go straight to hell. And yes I am a Christian, an no I am not perfect nor will ever be, neither do I have any intention of turning the other cheeks. I think you are all a bunch of morons.
We know. That's why we are going after your children. Why do you think the catholic church has so many publications out there trying to help parents keep their college kids from leaving the church? That's where we get-em. We educate them.
Precisely the point, Javier.. You don't care about people with feelings spending an eternity in a never ending torture pit of fire.. Your god not only created the never-ending torture pit, but enjoys it, and you plan to be yuking it up with him while he enjoys it.. That sums it up nicely, wouldn't you say?
Not very Christ like, wishing people to HELL. And, at least we can spell and have decent grammar.....lol, and you guys call us 'morons'.....
Perhaps you could pray for some English lessons then.
If you're going to defend the Lord at least you could do it in properly written English.
As for not turning the other cheek, of course you shouldn't. It's absolutely not what Jesus would do is it...........oh right, scrub that. Er you just carry on. I'm sure you'll be able to make sense of it eventually.
The insanity of Revelation only mirrors the other insanities of Christianity.
ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:--------–>>
JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")
Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.
Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.
Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.
Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!
So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?
So the Big Bang THEORY is now considered FACT? I must be wasting my time then thinking there could be a supernatural being considering that the Big Bang THEORY has been PROVEN now.
Yes, the big bang is a fact.. You can believe anything you'd like about how it got started because science hasn't reached a definitive answer, yet.. Some ideas are a lot weirder than others, but feel free to go nuts, it's no big deal until we can measure other stuff..
Dr. Pagels admits at the end that she does not understand the book completely – the book of Revelation isn't the only book of prophecy – check out Daniel and Isaiah – both books clearly support the claims made in Revelation. I can buy into some of the Nero ideas, and the destruction of the temple, but Revelation is clearly talking about the future. Atheists or agnostics need only look at the prophecies that have been fulfilled to at least determine it is worth taking a look at.
May all of you find peace in Christ through his salvation!
Sorry – when I say buy into the ideas, I mean I can consider them since John was writing during that time. I believe they are, in fact, prophecy of things still to come.
Jon, "check out Daniel and Isaiah – both books clearly support the claims made in Revelation"
No kidding? Don't you think that the guy who wrote Rev. knew about those old-time stories?
So here is my question Oh Yeah. If there is nothing after this life, why does it matter what you do in this life. Won't it end either way? And aren't we both wasting our time no matter what we do?
And I disagree. I don't see people who believe in Religion any more selfish than people who don't. i.e. yourself
You sound like a glass half empty kinda person. Knowing this is my only life, I want to live it the best I can. And part of that good feeling comes from helping others.
but you only get that good feeling until your life ends, and then it doesn't matter after that right? So you get 90 years of feeling good and 90,000,000,000,000,000,000,000+ years of nothing.
Such is life and death. You have to come to grips with it. You can hope it is different (and so do I) but I don't believe it is.
It appears CNN is more interested in controversy than fact. This is the same John that accompanied Jesus. He was a Christian (one of the most devout). Revelations is about the Second Coming of the Lord. Revelations cannot be a scholarly study, rather it needs to be experienced through prayer pondering and an understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yea, I used the same procedure to get through my college physics class.
so, in other words, you need to think really hard about it – just not in any rational or logical way.
Why, because that is the lie that you have been taught and choose to believe? 99% of all the people who believe the crap in the bible have no formal theological education. Just a bunch of sorry followers who believe what the snake oil salesman has sold to them. Even when the truth is presented to them the opt to believe the lie they have been sold on.
One thing is for sure, Elaine Pagels is not one of the leading biblical scholars according to the world's leading Christian biblical scholars. Jesus preached holy love, Paul taught that his grace sanctifies us and saves us from God's wrath, and Revelation describes the wrath that is to come for those who haven't put their trust in him and carried on in holy love. Context people.
Quite possible i would think off-hand, momoya.
I don't think half the people commenting on this have even opened a bible 1 time in their life. Take a glance at the Middle East right now. The bible says that nations will conspire to make war with Israel. The mainstream media is not airing about 80 percent of the information going on in the middle east. Ezekiel 38, Isaiah 17, Zechariah 14 ( which sounds like a nuclear war to me). All these talk about the present day Islamic countries that will invade Israel. This was written thousands of years ago so you have to take into account that the kingdoms talked about in the bible are geographically different than today. for example , Tubal and Meschech=Turkey and so on. look for yourself.
It doesn't take a "prophet" to tell you that those maniacs over there would be in conflict for eons to come. It would be a little more wowsy if these old Hebrew guys knew specific stuff about the rest of this whole wide world, which vastly outnumbers the count of Jews and Arabs.
Has it occurred to anyone else what an inefficient and unnecessarily cryptic guide the bible is? If God is perfect, and wants us to know him, why couldn't he just say what he means? All of the stuff that is argued about in the bible could have been summed up in about 10 good pages, if God just spoke clearly and directly. So much doubt, so much bloodshed, so much eternal damnation could have been spared.
Ref Jesus' answer when they asked him the same question re his parables, mandarax.
Ahhh. Now we get to the answer. A religion needs the mystery for a couple of reasons. One is that it excites us. Another is that those who claim "special knowledge" can excert power over others.
This is precisely how they grow!
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.