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My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’
The author argues that there are many meanings of the adjective 'biblical.'
November 17th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’

Editor's Note: Rachel Held Evans is a popular blogger from Dayton, Tennessee, and author of “A Year of Biblical Womanhood.”

By Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

On "The Daily Show" recently, Jon Stewart grilled Mike Huckabee about a TV ad in which Huckabee urged voters to support “biblical values” at the voting box.

When Huckabee said that he supported the “biblical model of marriage,” Stewart shot back that “the biblical model of marriage is polygamy.”

And there’s a big problem, Stewart went on, with reducing “biblical values” to one or two social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, while ignoring issues such as poverty and immigration reform.

It may come as some surprise that as an evangelical Christian, I cheered Stewart on from my living room couch.

As someone who loves the Bible and believes it to be the inspired word of God, I hate seeing it reduced to an adjective like Huckabee did. I hate seeing my sacred text flattened out, edited down and used as a prop to support a select few political positions and platforms.

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And yet evangelicals have grown so accustomed to talking about the Bible this way that we hardly realize we’re doing it anymore. We talk about “biblical families,” “biblical marriage,” “biblical economics,” “biblical politics,” “biblical values,” “biblical stewardship,” “biblical voting,” “biblical manhood,” “biblical womanhood,” even “biblical dating” to create the impression that the Bible has just one thing to say on each of these topics - that it offers a single prescriptive formula for how people of faith ought to respond to them.

But the Bible is not a position paper. The Bible is an ancient collection of letters, laws, poetry, proverbs, histories, prophecies, philosophy and stories spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own.

When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word, we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t quite fit our preferences and presuppositions. In an attempt to simplify, we force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone and turn a complicated, beautiful, and diverse holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says.

Nowhere is this more evident than in conversations surrounding “biblical womanhood.”

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Growing up in the Bible Belt, I received a lot of mixed messages about the appropriate roles of women in the home, the church and society, each punctuated with the claim that this or that lifestyle represented true “biblical womanhood.”

In my faith community, popular women pastors such as Joyce Meyer were considered unbiblical for preaching from the pulpit in violation of the apostle Paul's restriction in 1 Timothy 2:12 ("I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent"), while Amish women were considered legalistic for covering their heads in compliance with his instructions in 1 Corinthians 11:5 ("Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head").

Pastors told wives to submit to their husbands as the apostle Peter instructed in 1 Peter 3:1, but rarely told them to avoid wearing nice jewelry as the apostle instructs them just one sentence later in 1 Peter 3:3. Despite the fact that being single was praised by both Jesus and Paul, I learned early on that marriage and motherhood were my highest callings, and that Proverbs 31 required I keep a home as tidy as June Cleaver's.

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This didn’t really trouble me until adulthood, when I found myself in a childless egalitarian marriage with a blossoming career and an interest in church leadership and biblical studies. As I wrestled with what it meant to be a woman of faith, I realized that, despite insistent claims that we don’t “pick and choose” from the Bible, any claim to a “biblical” lifestyle requires some serious selectivity.

After all, technically speaking, it is “biblical” for a woman to be sold by her father to pay off debt, “biblical” for a woman to be required to marry her rapist, “biblical” for her to be one of many wives.

So why are some Bible passages lifted out and declared “biblical,” while others are explained away or simply ignored? Does the Bible really present a single prescriptive lifestyle for all women?

These were the questions that inspired me to take a page from A.J. Jacobs, author of "The Year of Living Biblically", and try true biblical womanhood on for size—literally, no “picking and choosing."

This meant, among other things, growing out my hair, making my own clothes, covering my head whenever I prayed, abstaining from gossip, remaining silent in church (unless I was “prophesying,” of course), calling my husband "master,” even camping out in my front yard during my period to observe the Levitical purity laws that rendered me unclean.

During my yearlong experiment, I interviewed a variety of women practicing biblical womanhood in different ways — an Orthodox Jew, an Amish housewife, even a polygamist family - and I combed through every commentary I could find, reexamining the stories of biblical women such as Deborah, Ruth, Hagar, Tamar, Mary Magdalene, Priscilla and Junia.

My goal was to playfully challenge this idea that the Bible prescribes a single lifestyle for how to be a woman of faith, and in so doing, playfully challenge our overuse of the term “biblical.” I did this not out of disdain for Scripture, but out of love for it, out of respect for the fact that interpreting and applying the Bible is a messy, imperfect and - at times - frustrating process that requires humility and grace as we wrestle the text together.

The fact of the matter is, we all pick and choose. We’re all selective in our interpretation and application of the biblical text. The better question to ask one another is why we pick and choose the way that we do, why we emphasis some passages and not others. This, I believe, will elevate the conversation so that we’re using the Bible, not as a blunt weapon, but as a starting point for dialogue.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (4,657 Responses)
  1. MeAtheist

    Doomed likes little boys, it that weirdo way

    November 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Answer

      They always want more little boys to join them. Too bad today's society has a load of media outlets. XD

      November 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  2. Apple Bush

    When you look at different religions, they usually contain "magic." For example:

    • The Mormon religion contains the magical golden plates, the magical angel, the magical seer stones, the magical ascension of the plates into heaven, etc.

    • The Muslim faith contains the magical angel, the magical flying horse, the magical voices, the magical prophet, etc.

    • The Christian faith contains the magical insemination, the magical star, the magical dreams, the magical miracles, the magical resurrection, the magical ascension and so on.

    The presence of "magic" is a clear marker for "imaginary." For example, how do we know that Santa is imaginary? Because (among other things) he has eight magical flying reindeer. How do we know that Jack and the Beanstalk is a fairy tale? Because (among other things) the story contains magical seeds. In the same way, how do we know that God is make believe? Because God is surrounded by magic.

    According to believers, God is an all-powerful being who has the divine, magical power to do anything. How do we know that this belief is a fairy tale? One way to know is to try to invoke God's magical power. For example the Bible tells us in many places that God answers prayers. However, whenever we try to pray, we notice that nothing happens. That tells us that God is completely imaginary. The magical powers ascribed to him are a fairy tale.

    Another way to know is to read the stories of magical events in the Bible. There is the magical flood, yet we know with certainty that the flood never happened. There are the magical miracles of Jesus, but (predictably) none of these miracles left behind any tangible evidence. There is the magical resurrection, yet there is zero evidence that it ever occurred and no reason to believe it.

    God is identical to Leprechauns, mermaids and Santa. God is a magical fairy tale creature. The magic surrounding God tells us that God is imaginary.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • vincastar

      St. Nicholas did not have flying reindeer and no Christian believes that he did. No Christian ever said anything about "magic" that is your explanation for 1) something that you do not understand and 2) a children's story that you extrapolate to being the religion (a big miss-conception by many people).

      Miracles happen all the time and it is not magic. I have seen amazing things since I have started to pray. I pray that one day people will realize that the body of Christ is only hurting by dividing Christians. We are suppose to be united...one God, one Holy and apostolic Church, one body of Christ.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      vincastar. name one single verifiable miracle. I am waiting.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  3. Blane

    People of faith, do not argue with the unbelievers. They are a wretched lot. They will never know what it is like to be called by God. It's sad really.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Which would explain why you are arguing with us now.......mmmkay.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Robin

      Holy Condescension, Batman!

      You are quite desp'icable, Blane.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Answer

      Youtube it.

      "Dan Barker – How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists "

      ==quote==
      "like to be called by God. It's sad really."
      ==end==

      How silly do you feel about your calling? Sad isn't it <-that's you.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • MeAtheist

      You like little boys in that weirdo way dont you?

      November 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      You'll never know what it is like to be called by the supreme invisible pink unicorn, master of all universes and gods.
      How dare you speak of a false, minor god as the only true one?
      Free your soul and recognize the supreme invisible pink unicorn!

      November 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      Umm.... I think he/she is arguing with the BELIEVERS. Maybe you should read that again. ;)

      November 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • thekingbambu

      wretched lot? you people of faith use God to blanket your insecurities. quick to cast stones of judgement

      November 18, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ FreeFromTheism -
      I think you need to read my article at TilledSoil DOT org on "Teapots & Spaghetti Monsters" as you've fallen for a basic mistake in thinking.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      Steve, I was mocking religious belief.. I don't think there can be any falling in my reasoning in such a context.
      I'd be happy to debate with you whatever you wish though, if you intend to be serious.
      I'm still not going to read your article...

      November 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Bill P

      Blane: Generally reasonable advice – endless argument is futile. However, it might be noted that there are examples where the early disciples and the Apostle Paul attempted, with great fervor, to reason with the unbelievers. At some point the rule of "shaking off the dust" from one's feet is applied, but not immediately. We need guidance from the Holy Spirit to know when that point is reached. One would like to think that each of us, at one time, might have been, before being saved, a "hard nut to crack" – so that spreading the gospel is not simply "putting out a statement" but, indeed, providing impassioned exhortation to the unbelievers to believe on Jesus as their Lord and Savior. As Jesus and the first Christian martyr, Stephen, told the Father at the point of death, in reference to those that persecuted them, "they know not what they do."

      November 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      Bill, indeed, a "nut".

      November 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ FreeFromTheism -
      Yea, I realize that. You're kind of like the toddler with fingers in ears going.... blah blah blah... I'm not listening to you... blah blah blah. Sorry to hear you're beyond reason.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Answer

      @Bill P

      ==quote==
      "to reason with the unbelievers. "
      ==end==

      You see those words? Do you know what reason is?

      We call you on it. All you resort to are babble quotes and h-o-m-i-l-i-e-s. You employ emotions – not reason.
      You employ ignorance towards facts. You're backed into your bubble and you use fear. All you have is faith – your kind doesn't even have any reasonable arguments for your delusions. But it makes you feel good and you think that is all the "reason" you will need. Sorry but your kind's p-o-s-i-t-i-o-n are unreasonable. So take ridicule as your medicine til you do learn what reason is. It is certainly -not- your fall back of "faith".

      November 18, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      Steve, is that all you wanted, for me to read your article? Let me guess, does it talk about how unicorns and tea cups aren't necessary beings or that they don't have great creating powers?
      Like I said, if you have an argument you wish to present on this blog, I'll be happy to challenge it. Otherwise, I have no desire to talk to you or duty to read your "article".
      Also, you wouldn't be allowed to use ad hominems like in your last post.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Bill P

      ANSWER – "We call you on it. All you resort to are babble quotes and h-o-m-i-l-i-e-s. You employ emotions – not reason." I see that other feet may have already, and rightly, shaken their dust off regarding you. Somehow, you have stepped up the conversational tone with much anger. Before it is too late, try to understand what drives that in you. But, I will offer this: the Christian is sitting in the theater of life, jut as all others. The Christian believes that he or she has discovered that there is fire in the theater. And it is real. So, that Christian can either warn others or, simply, to avoid confrontation, get out with his or her own life, leaving the others to be consumed. But the Bible tells us, that is the Christian (this does not apply to you), regarding these folks that would be consumed in the fire, that their blood will be on the Christian's hands – the one who failed to warn the others of the fire. At some risk, I have shared this, given your apparent spiritual discernment, in the hope that you might get what drives Christians to share the "good news" of salvation through Jesus. This is not about "joining a club", this is about helping other to avoid eternal punishment.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ FreeFromTheism -
      Nope, it's more about the fallacy of analogy of Russell and the FSMists. I'm not going to try and repost it here, nor is this really a good place for discussion of that nature. It's your choice though, fine.
      It isn't an ad hominem if it's true. ;)

      November 18, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  4. Apple Bush

    Doomed, as the dumbest person on the blog today, you get a 10% off coupon to the Belief Blog Bistro. Congrats!!

    November 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  5. Mike

    If biblical model of marriage is polygamy then I support it - that system kept women in families instead of loitering on the streets unprotected (there are more women than men and divorce has created further demographic issue of single women). Those men who have the resources to support more than one woman should be able to do so legally within the marriage and family system. That would be much better than being married to one woman but cheating with two others. Only conditions should be they should be able to maintain, protect and take care of all wives equally - emotionally, physically and financially. No neglect. Within those basic conditions, I have no issues with polygamy - it was practiced in all cultures - by royals and rich merchants who could maintain more than one wife.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      what about polyandry, are you good with that form of polygamy where it is that a woman takes multiple husbands? Of course, all the other criteria would remain the same.. No neglect and such.. Each husband loved equally from the same woman etc.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Mike

      It is another matter that in this day and age most men can hardly afford to maintain even one wife and her kids ... but that is due to the stressful lifestyle and economic realities of today ... nothing against polygamy that worked perfectly in the past and was a positive for the society.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Mike

      FreeFromTheism

      Not a practical reality - a) more women than men (always been the case), b) women's traditional role as child-bearers, c) men's traditional role as protectors and bread-winners. You cannot ignore these realities.

      That being said, there have been exceptional cases in some traditional cultures - like case of Draupadi in Mahabharat - but that was an exception and not the rule. Exceptions are never used to set a new rule.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ Mike -
      The good news is that is coming, should you wish to indulge. Once the law tosses out the interests of the child and natural law basis of marriage (making it about what makes consenting adults happy), just about any combination will be hard to keep out of the courts.

      However, I think you'd first need to make an argument that the Bible supports polygamy, as I don't think that is the case.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      "Not a practical reality – a) more women than men (always been the case), b) women's traditional role as child-bearers, c) men's traditional role as protectors and bread-winners."
      a) I would like you to source such a statistic, which is false.
      b) traditional whatever.. people can have surrogates nowadays. If a woman can be a bread-winner, she can probably do other things too.. such as pay other women to have her kids.
      c) protectors from what? in a civilized society, there really is no use for such roles. Plus, women are perfectly capable of learning how to defend themselves. I'm sure plenty women are capable of kick man as$

      Think about the future, dude... stop appealing to tradition and other nonsense. Society and culture changes. Accept it. You can't ignore this reality.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Bill P

      Mike – The "biblical" standard for marriage was "one man marries one woman and they become ONE flesh" (Genesis 2). Jesus re-iterated that position in the New Testament (Matt. 19:4). The prevalence of polygamy, while "noted" in the Old Testament, was sin – just as murder is and was sin. Along with covetousness. Another person who posted on this board noted that those examples of polygamy resulted in large problems, not solutions. For example, Abraham having a child with Sarah's handmaiden. Result: all of the problems that Israel is now having in the Middle East. Another example, Solomon and his hundreds of wives. Result: took a fall, Solomon went from being the wisest person ever (God gave him twice the wisdom of any person) to, towards the end of his life, having lived foolishly and vainly (see Ecclesiastes).

      November 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  6. Apple Bush

    Science hopes to find truth. It may take many hundreds of generations if it can be done at all. But there is truth out there. And if it is a god, so be it. It matters not to me as it has no effect on my life. I am just curious. I wish I could know in my lifetime what is behind the curtain.

    I think what is obvious is the Judeo Christian god is an old myth. Whatever force is out there is certainly not the anamorphic super being from a man-made book of stories.

    I imagine a multi-verse where scale is completely relative. The very fabric of reality could very well be spongy and wiggly and invisible to us. It is also likely that the big bang that created this universe was fueled by explainable forces “behind” what we can perceive and is probably common place.

    One thing is for sure. We don’t know much. But it is fun finding out what we can in the short time we have. And I know this, if it exists, it is not supernatural. Following that logic, nothing can be supernatural, because if it exists, it is natural.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ Apple Bush -
      re: science – yes, science is after the truth, but so isn't philosophy and religion. The questions are: What is science? (a philosophy question) and What are the limitations of science? (something not well understood today)

      re: no God matters not – Seriously? What makes you so certain YOU have gotten it right? What makes you sure the Judeo-Christian God isn't reality rather than myth? Have you studied this, or are these the talking points of the 'New' atheists?

      re: universe / multiverse – OK, and then don't you think you should investigate to the best of your ability then? What if God has communicated to us, then we'd know a LOT (in comparison to knowing little... of course we're not going to be omniscient). This is the 'blind man and the elephant' fallacy.

      re: supernatural – Yea, I agree. When we use that term, we're talking about what is available to the 5 senses verses what is beyond them, not reality verses non-reality.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Steve my friend, there is only one reason you started believing in your Christian god. You were told too. To the rest of us, the evidence against your god is completely obvious.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      Nope, that isn't the reason I started believing.
      And, as someone who switched from a very lucrative 6-figure IS/IT career and invested a half-million dollars in my education (tuition and lost wages), you'd better bet I've investigated and studied this all quite seriously.
      Maybe you can describe the level of study you've undertaken to come to your conclusion about it being so obvious. ;)

      November 18, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Is God to be made a mockery by those who tend to instill anti-leveraged pragmatisms? Are we to believe in the godless and the ungodly who care little about the piecemeal subjectives' ordinates?

      Jesus, was the very first of many immeasurable 'elemental beings' and was in the Beginning an elemental king of all the elemental Gods. Jesus, in His cunning, did thru Chaos' manueverings, established the gravimetrical waves for the elementals to gather in broods thusly was formed the beginnings of celestial nebulas.

      As time did force the nebulas to progressively surround the gravimetric oscillations where from did come about galactic formations of the elementals' soundness. As systems of photonic elementals, the infinitesimal finite elemental Gods did shower the solarized systems with their embodied beings. And in the Now, we are but made from the photonic elementals' stillnesses, the stardusts of the Ages.

      My "Physicist" knows very well the quantum physicalities of natured atomic stimulations. I call this "Physicist" God. He has strewn His Sea of Nothingness with 'photogenitisms' or the stillness of the photons creating all manner of the first materials needed to become thru timeliness all the elementals' members of our declared Periodic Table of Materialized Photogenitis.

      Microbiologists are today's inwards-seeking astrophysicists for they are searching among our embodied core-roots to find answers regarding biological fractals of inner cosmological paradigms. We truly are God's buildings! Some of our bodies are condominiums and some are for storage purposes and some are the temples where God's family members and His servants do pay homages in. 1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!"

      November 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  7. Dr. D. Johnson

    This theme and others lend themselves to some staggering conclusions. Based on the evidence we have, it is clear now that the disciples of Jesus were in fact in business with him and equal partners.

    How do we know this?

    In the Timothy Gospel we read, "...and at our table will Phillip score our keep. Speak in turn and in fairness. Ours is the mutual trust."

    I think it is clear that these thirteen men sought profit and most likely in textiles.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • MeAtheist

      Follow our lord satan

      November 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • bill

      MeAtheist – an Atheist that believes in Satan – too funny. !Choose your God wisely!

      November 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Gnosis (γνώσις) in ancient and modern Greek is the common feminine noun for "knowledge". The word is a 19thC construction first made by Henry More, but is based on the use of the adjective "of knowledge", (Greek γνωστικός) by Irenaeus (c.185 AD) to describe the school of Valentinus. However, itself refers to a very specialized form of knowledge, deriving both from the exact meaning of the original Greek term and its usage in Platonist philosophy (see Plato's gnostikoi’ and gnostike episteme from Politicus (or Statesmen) 258e-267a). Gnosis also has a hermetic understanding. In the Hellenic world gnosis and hermetic understanding were exclusively pagan as one can see in the word being Koine Greek and deriving from Pagan Platonic philosophy. Platonic and Pythagorian modes of thinking spread Greek ideas and culture throughout the Hellenic world, introducing the mideastern peoples conquered by Alexander the Great to many of the concepts that were unique to Greek thinkers of the time (and vice versa). It should also be noted that Alexander made efforts to unite all conquered peoples under a common language and a common culture, which led to many cultures adopting Koine Greek as a language for common communication in commerce between different ethnic and cultural groups.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Get Real

      Satan is imaginary just like god. But he is a much greater concept for good as Satan, or Lucifer, stand for logic, reason and science. Also Satan never murdered thousands of innocent children like god did.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  8. achepotle

    Can Our Leader fire up the FEMA camps now and start sending these freaks off for "reeducation", or do we have to wait until after the inauguration? I would like a job implanting the microchips they will need to obtain food.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Doomed

      Seems like a good place to put atheists in.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • MeAtheist

      Doomed loves Satan

      November 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Doomed

      No you're wrong, atheists loves Satan.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  9. Dr. D. Johnson

    In the Gospel of Mary we read, "...and so he came out from the shadow, heavy in hand and much more so than when he entered. It was our Lord."

    To further quantify this concept, Phillip states, "...the 12 were but fugitives but beholden to Him."

    Scholars feel certain that, among the many exploits of Jesus and the apostles, he was the original "Robin Hood” and the 12 the “Merry Men” if you will.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      Gospel of hindu drunk gossiper.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Gnosis (γνώσις) in ancient and modern Greek is the common feminine noun for "knowledge". The word is a 19thC construction first made by Henry More, but is based on the use of the adjective "of knowledge", (Greek γνωστικός) by Irenaeus (c.185 AD) to describe the school of Valentinus. However, itself refers to a very specialized form of knowledge, deriving both from the exact meaning of the original Greek term and its usage in Platonist philosophy (see Plato's gnostikoi’ and gnostike episteme from Politicus (or Statesmen) 258e-267a). Gnosis also has a hermetic understanding. In the Hellenic world gnosis and hermetic understanding were exclusively pagan as one can see in the word being Koine Greek and deriving from Pagan Platonic philosophy. Platonic and Pythagorian modes of thinking spread Greek ideas and culture throughout the Hellenic world, introducing the mideastern peoples conquered by Alexander the Great to many of the concepts that were unique to Greek thinkers of the time (and vice versa). It should also be noted that Alexander made efforts to unite all conquered peoples under a common language and a common culture, which led to many cultures adopting Koine Greek as a language for common communication in commerce between different ethnic and cultural groups.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  10. Dan1943

    This lady is on the right track but she should take the next step and realize that the bible is what it is – a book of fairy tales written by a very diverse group of people, but each one with a somewhat different idea of what their fabricated god might expect of them. The trouble is that in order to do this, one has to question even the very existence of a diety to begin with. This is not possible for a large number of people because they are going to believe what they want to believe or what they have been brainwashed with since childhood regardless of whether there is any truth to it or not.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • BPollutin

      Plus that would require her to have a certain level of intelligence that most people don't have. Reality is that theism will always exist because most people are DUMB...just like most people aren't ATHLETIC!

      November 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • ChitownDoc

      A big mistake that you make Dan, is to generalize about all Christians the way you do. I do not fit any of the preconceptions that you have about Christians. I was not raised as a Christian, but in the rigors of science in some of the top schools in the nation (and not "brainwashed" as a child). I have a very high IQ (does not impress me, but others seem to be impressed by it) and I have dedicated my life to science, research, medicine and humanity. But first to God and my family. I do not follow a certain church or dictates, but in the words of Jesus Christ. I never forget that at the heart of Jesus Christ is love and forgiveness.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  11. Denise

    The reason that evangelicals (such as the ones who are so vehement and mean on CNN boards like this one) are so anti-abortion is that their numbers dwindle otherwise. They need every unwanted pregnancy to result in childbirth. A larger percentage of such births are to children in disadvantaged/poor/broken households, who then often get poorer and less adequate educations than the general population does. It is the least educated who are most easily swayed by the nonsense that Christianity represents, particularly the evangelical versions of Christianity. Evangelical Christians are vehemently anti-abortion, even though they can't produce any specific support for their stance from the bible, because they need to be to keep their numbers up.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Evangelical

      Denise wrote "... Evangelicals ... (such as the ones who are so vehement and mean on CNN boards like this one ..."

      Have you ever taken a look at how vehement and mean the atheists and ho.mos.exuals are?

      November 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Jed

      Evangie: two wrongs don't make a right, despite all the violent retribution that your god wants done according to your bible.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Evangelical' is an instance of a Red Herring fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      November 18, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  12. tony

    I'd feel the same way as the murdered Palestinian residents of Dar Yasin in 1948, which was one of the causes of the present ongoing conflict.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  13. John 3: 16

    “From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
    2 Timothy 3:15-17

    “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
    Hebrews 4:12

    “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
    2 Peter 1:20-21

    November 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • MeAtheist

      Hail Satan!!

      November 18, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      From childhood, the adults in your life have indoctrinated you into their cult. Selfishly they twisted and brainwashed your mind, not allowing you the right to mature and think critically about your world. The result of which is an intelligence wasted on superstition and myth. Woe should you be for never being allowed to make your own choices as is your right. Such abuse should be punishable by law.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Ben

      Do you think that any of the New Testament writers thought what they were writing was "scripture"? Paul was just writing letters the same way the president of any company nowadays would write a memo. What they were talking about was the Jewish scripture, and there is some question as to whether even Jesus knew just the books we have in our modern OT, if he knew less, or more, or if they were even exactly the same?

      November 18, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Doomed

      @ Apple Bush

      No don't get me wrong, you were born a certain way, then you change for atheism, you're the one who have been brainwashed.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Dr. D. Johnson

      @Doomed

      Would you care to explain how you came to that conclustion? Are suggesting that people are born as a Christian? How would that be possible? Would the be born a Christian in the South American jungle? In India? In Israel? In China? In my house? I can assure you my children are not Christians and I have given free reign to explore anything and everything they wish. Given the facts, the natural conclusion is Atheism. You must necesarrily be brainwashed to join a cult.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Proven

    November 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayerbot...

      November 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  15. Dr. D. Johnson

    While we know very little of Christ as a child, what little documentation we have paints the picture of a normal, if solitary young man.

    For example, in the Gospel of Truth we read, "...this boy, though recognized and cared for in kind, found comfort in solitude and great noises and raucous cacophony would pursue him."

    Scholars agree that as a young man, Jesus did seek relief and perhaps had special gifts.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  16. Steve Wilkinson

    If she'd have spent a week reading a basic exegesis book (like most 1st year Bible students read) such as, "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth" by Fee & Stuart, instead of a year being silly (so she could write a 'pop' book to make money), we wouldn't be seeing ignorant articles such as this.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      To the great oxymorons of our time — military intelligence, jumbo shrimp, stale brownies, Big Environment, Fox News — wwe can now add bible college.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      If she had once again listened to someone else's interpretation of the bible you mean. She makes a very good point that should make any organized religion nervous since it reflects what happens when the flock manages to become educated against all their attempts to indoctrinate.
      Organized religions can adapt and shrink slowly, or hold fast to their teachings and shrink quickly.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Ben

      So, before you read the bible for yourself, you have to read some other people's opinions on what the bible "really says" so that your "personal" reading matches their's?

      November 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ RichardSRussell -
      Hopefully you'll grow up soon and actually take a mature look into your biases.

      @ MarkinFL -
      No, that isn't what I mean at all. I'm talking about learning to read (properly). The sad thing is that her article indicates she actually realizes some of the principals, she just doesn't put them into practice (like genre, context, author intent, etc.)

      For example, why would she cheer Stewart when he pointed out the Biblical model of marriage is polygamy. Certainly, she realizes that there is a difference between a historical account and God's instruction and law, right? Or, she talks about camping out in her front yard while on her period. Certainly, she realizes that she's not living in theocratic ancient Israel and that post-Christ, there is no need for her to maintain the holiness code, right? Or, when she talks about covering her head, she was aware of the practices 1st century Roman women and societal order (and she also read what was required of males, which gives a hint about what the female prohibition means), right?

      Nope. She's simply a liberal Fundamentalist.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  17. Black & White vs. Gray

    Thank you, Rachel, for taking the Word of God that is sharper than any two-edged sword able to discern thoughts and intentions, and 'blunting' it down to a dull butter knife.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • End Religion

      How could a human possibly be a threat to an all powerful god?

      November 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  18. j

    how times change... now during my wife's period i'm the one camping in the yard...

    November 18, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  19. b

    ½ lb. Tri-Tip (bottom sirloin), grilled medium rare, sliced thin after marinating in its own juices and our succulent marinade. Served with spicy pinto beans, flour tortillas and homemade salsa. You WILL become addicted! $12.99

    November 18, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  20. Dr. D. Johnson

    Many in my field believe that the many references to Jesus as being "dumb" were in fact a reference to the fact that he was mute. This has given further creedence to the well known assertion that Jesus did not deliver the "sermon on the mount" but instead "signed" his wisdom to the deaf community present at the time.

    November 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      What field is that?

      November 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      It's also said that the reason the acts of Jesus were viewed as being so miraculous is that they were all related by fishermen.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Dr. D. Johnson

      Gnostic studies naturally.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Gnosis (γνώσις) in ancient and modern Greek is the common feminine noun for "knowledge". The word is a 19thC construction first made by Henry More, but is based on the use of the adjective "of knowledge", (Greek γνωστικός) by Irenaeus (c.185 AD) to describe the school of Valentinus. However, itself refers to a very specialized form of knowledge, deriving both from the exact meaning of the original Greek term and its usage in Platonist philosophy (see Plato's gnostikoi’ and gnostike episteme from Politicus (or Statesmen) 258e-267a). Gnosis also has a hermetic understanding. In the Hellenic world gnosis and hermetic understanding were exclusively pagan as one can see in the word being Koine Greek and deriving from Pagan Platonic philosophy. Platonic and Pythagorian modes of thinking spread Greek ideas and culture throughout the Hellenic world, introducing the mideastern peoples conquered by Alexander the Great to many of the concepts that were unique to Greek thinkers of the time (and vice versa). It should also be noted that Alexander made efforts to unite all conquered peoples under a common language and a common culture, which led to many cultures adopting Koine Greek as a language for common communication in commerce between different ethnic and cultural groups.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:54 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.