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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.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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.

Opinion: What all those Jesus jokes tell us

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. REDFIREBALL

    MESSAGE TO THE MOCKING PAGANS WHO MAY VIEW BENGHAZI WITH HUMOR - Satan made his irreversable choice long ago. He is condemned and be destroyed by Jehovah and Jesus Christ. Satan wants to lure, manipulate and entice any many of the 7 billion human souls now on Earth that he can just for last-breath satisfaction. Satan remains defiant of Jehovah to the bitter end. The door to Jehovah is till open to all humankind, even those enslaved by Satan. Just know that Satan is determined to keep what he has gathered. His timetable is rapidly shrinking. He will get more desparate as his end nears. He will make all the evil dictators in human history combined feel like soft harmless feathers. I hope to be saved, and wish the best for all my brothers and sisters also. God bless America.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      An all – knowing, all – caring, ever – present, and perfect god perfectly created everything!

      A short list of things created perfectly by this perfect god.

      1) Satan
      2) Small Pox
      3) Malaria,
      4) Measles,
      5) Anthrax
      6) Cholera,
      7) Multiple Sclerosis
      8) Tay-Sachs,
      9) Hemophilia,
      10) Autism,
      11) much much more.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • Polycarp

      ElmerGantry
      An all – knowing, all – caring, ever – present, and perfect god perfectly created everything!

      A short list of things created perfectly by this perfect god.

      1) Satan
      2) Small Pox
      3) Malaria,
      4) Measles,
      5) Anthrax
      6) Cholera,
      7) Multiple Sclerosis
      8) Tay-Sachs,
      9) Hemophilia,
      10) Autism,
      11) much much more.
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Satan CREATED, he, she, itself ( God actually gave he, she, itself a choice ), the rest is from us either COMMITTING sin, or it has been past down to us from our parent's, grandparent's, great grandparent's, 3-4 generations. Then their are the sin's of the king and queen, since we got a President and First Lady, their sin's will be past down to us 4 to 5 generations.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • fay ruujin

      only in your mind. FACT: medical proof shows prayer did not help people with sickness, who just used prayer.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • MacJew

      The fact you decry something you dislike in your name only goes to show your bigotry. I go to Shuul 6 days a week, follow a kosher diet, and use a Tallit and Teffillin when I pray. Even in my faith we know that prayer only works when action is done.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  3. LivingLogos

    Rachel you valiantly tried to explore the variances in living out faith, it's evident you didn't take anything in context of the times, culture and beliefs of the scripture you referenced. It's always healthy to examin the why behind our practices, to be able to justify them, not just join the current fad of speech or behavior (to have a cultural "knowledge"). You have brought up incongruencies from the Bible. I would encourage you to go the whole way and talk to Bible scholars that have spent their entire lives interpreting and explaining the contents of the Word to gain truth. Man has not always adhered to God's commands and chaos resulted not only on a personal level, but in the case of leaders going astray, the result was pain, suffering, and often exile for the entire nation.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  4. Notevangelical

    Read it again. She's arguing against proof-texting and pointing out that the Bible is full of paradoxes. We ALL pick the verses we like, and ignore the ones we don't like. The Evangelicals I know are fond of quoting the OT at the people they have a problem with (Gays, for example), and act as if they have the corner on Grace. I ask this question: What would a society that structured itself around the Sermon on the Mount actually look like? Hint: I would look very different from the "Christian Nation" the evangelicals claim we have-or they think we should have.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  5. Nicole

    It's interesting how the world has turned so nasty and "anti-God". As Christians, we are not of this world. It's become cool to bully, snark and make fun of people. It's called Christian Bigotry. As Christians we can't let people who choose to ignore God turn us away from God. People have to live their own lives and account for their own sins. As Christians, it's hip to be square. Those who live in sin will have to answer for it. Have your fun.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  6. ediddydub

    What God has allowed me to discover is that when we break Christianity down to its core, the fundamental truth all traces back to Christ and God's ultimate plan to bring us back into His family. That alone encompasses the entire text. What we as people then try to do is minimize God into pieces and create these so-called manifestos of Him, and then try to force people to live by the letter of the text rather than by the Spirit of the text. This is why so many people hate religion, because religion makes it impossible to be considered good in the eyes of God, because there's no amount of good we can do to be good enough for God. Yet by faith, God loves us despite our flaws. That's why Christianity is not a religion, and it's a wonderful thing that the author's eyes have been opened to realize that God is not concerned about the rules, rites, and practices that are supposed to make us "look" holy. God, rather, cares about whether we have a genuine relationship with Him. Check out libertyunited.wix.com/echurch, and I believe that God will show us all who He is and what He has truly called us to do, and His Word will back His command up.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Christian7

      I like a lot of things you wrote there; but some can rationalize the "freedom in Christ" to mean you can do what you want. Our human understanding of right and wrong are not the same as God's and nothing unholy will ever enter heaven. We need to do the best we can to follow the bible always trying to improve. If you get drunk every day, lie, cheat, steal, and sleep around, don't be surprised if you are judged harshly.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • Tony

      Are you suggesting that we should abandon rules?

      November 18, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  7. sam davis

    It does not mention " life as being a fetus". The bible is devoid of of any statement about the "start of life" or abortion. Yet it is used as a bases and justification for these situations. How can that be? If failure to follow all principles of the bible , as they are written, not caveats, will result in " burning in hell" then are not those who espouse these nonbiblical acts ' those who shall " burn in hell"? Are they not the ones who use the bible selectively to advance their own agenda, thereby violating the commandment to not use " g-ds name in vain" ?

    November 18, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Reality

      Injuring a pregnant woman (and her womb-baby) as per Exodus 21: 22-24 does not warrant significant punishment???

      New International Version (NIV)

      22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[a] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you ARE TO TAKE LIFE FOR LIFE, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,"

      November 18, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Doug Lynn

      Actually, you are wrong. The Bible makes multiple references to children in the womb and God forming us in our mother's womb. If you are old enough to remember, pregnant women were said to be with child until abortion became legal. The meaning of fetus is developing mammal, or developing human in this case. The baby in the womb is human life and an abortion ends that life. The logic that it is part of the mother's body is a lie. The unborn child is dependent on its mother, but not part of its mother. Viability is a false line for the simple reason that every baby that requires incubation or surgery after birth is equally dependent.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Eugene Adkins

      "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this way: when his mother Mary was going to be married to Joseph, before they came together the discovery was made that she was with child by the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 1:18)

      The Bible plainly reveals when God considers life to begin. This was said long before the child was born.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • OpinionsToGo

      Reality, does the bible really mention "womb-baby"?

      November 18, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • LivingLogos

      I always go straight to Psalm 139 to be reminded of the beginning of God's involvement with a forming life. He was there at the beginning of a person's life while in the womb. Life is scared. Recall the story of the visit of Mary to Elizabeth while they were still pregnant with Jesus and John, respectively. John stirred at the presence of Jesus presence even while both of these babies were inside their mothers. A woman can choose to end a life forming within her, but the age of the victim doesn't change the fact that it is murder. An unborn baby's screams are not heard by anyone other than God himself, and there is no stronger advocate for the unheard than the creator. There is a price exacted for choices made. . . . every choice has a consequence. Forgiveness follows repentance, but the consequences come despite the change of heart.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  8. sim namore

    "Nous n'avons besoin ni pretres ni nobles–ca, ca ira, ca ira, ca ira" This is a line from a song of the French Revolution. It translates: We don't need priests or nobles–this, this will pass, it will pass, it will pass. French revolutionaries understood that the chruch stood arm in arm with the noblitiy and that these nobles used the church as an instrument of oppression. The people understood that political authority had corrupted the word of God–and made Him to its bidding.–the Bible tjustified the king's authority, and forced obedience with threats of eteranal damnation as well as promises of hell on earth. The Huckabees and the Romneys of this nation do the same–they have politicized the word of God to match their agenda–not His. This is why "the chruch" in the broadest sense, is failing and why it will continue to fail. Mr Romney had best start breeding miniature camels if he expects his to pass through the eye of a needle. The poor, you see, are not his problem–they are someone else's responsibility. Furthermore the poor are not worthy of consideration–they're lazy freeloaders–and a drag on the corporate state. Romney was quick to remind us, repeatedly, that "corporations are people, too." In which of the Gospels does that great truth appear? Perhaps this is what the god of Kolob says in the Book of Mormon–but it is not in the Bible–indeed, Mr Romney's ancestors–the supposed prophets, re-wrote the sacred text according to their own wishes and needs. Evangelicals do the same, every hour of every day. How long will we put up with them? Until we can bear their weight no longer and their hypocrisy condemns them.. When do we start sharpening the gillotines? I want a front row seat.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  9. Chad

    Granted, having "biblical values" by definition is a confusing and often contradictory endeavor. You bring up some Levitical laws and some instructions from the apostles to the nascent church that make it difficult to decipher what a biblical woman should be, but what you unfortunately completely misunderstood is the whole purpose of the whole testament from a Christian point of view (you said that you were a Christian, right?) that defines their ethical cod. It is a relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. Consider the lack of instruction from Jesus who reduced the law into two rules – Love the Lord with all of your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Truth, he said, was found in him. And as far as Jon Stewart and liberal pundits that grandstand on how Christian conservatives should focus on poverty and vote for Democrats are concerned, It is the CHURCHES job to reach out to the poor, to make a home with those without. The church, not the government, was called to be the hands and feet and Jesus. One of the Churches' biggest problem is their abdication of their mandate help the poor to the government.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • Reality

      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?

      November 18, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Juls

      And it is the MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL'S job to determine which treatment should be given to a patient – including oral contraceptives and abortions – not government's.

      Further is the responsibility of my FAITH and FAMILY to help find my moral compass – not the government's.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:23 am |
  10. sohappy

    my comment is awaiting approval from the moderator

    November 18, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • The Moderator

      Sorry. We don't accept comments by anyone who doesn't follow the CNN pro-gay group think.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Reality

      • The moderators of this blog have set up a secret forbidden word/fragment filter which unfortunately not only will delete or put your comment in the dreaded "waiting for moderation" category but also will do the same to words having fragments of these words. For example, "t-it" is in the set but the filter will also pick up words like Hitt-ite, t-itle, beati-tude, practi-tioner and const-tution. Then there are words like "an-al" thereby flagging words like an-alysis and "c-um" flagging acc-umulate or doc-ument. And there is also "r-a-pe", “a-pe” and “gra-pe”, "s-ex", and "hom-ose-xual". You would think that the moderators would have corrected this by now considering the number of times this has been commented on but they have not. To be safe, I typically add hyphens in any word that said filter might judge "of-fensive".

      • Make sure the web address does not have any forbidden word or fragment.

      Sum Dude routinely updates the list of forbidden words/fragments.

      Two of the most filtered words are those containing the fragments "t-it" and "c-um". To quickly check your comments for these fragments, click on "Edit" on the Tool Bar and then "Find" on the menu. Add a fragment (without hyphens) one at a time in the "Find" slot and the offending fragment will be highlighted in your comments before you hit the Post button. Hyphenate the fragment(s) and then hit Post. And remember more than one full web address will also gain a "Waiting for Moderation".
      Zeb’s alphabetical listing

      o “bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN "awaiting moderation" filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      --–
      ar-se.....as in Car-se, etc.
      ba-stard
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, lubco-ck, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      do-uche
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, etc.
      fu-ck......!
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      ji-sm
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      nip-ple
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sh-@t.....but shat is okay – don't use the @ symbol there.
      sh-it
      sl-ut
      sn-atch
      sp-ic.....as in disp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      wt-f....also!!!!!!!

      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.
      -–
      Allowed words / not blocked at all:
      anal
      anus
      ass
      boob
      crap
      damn
      execute
      hell
      kill
      masturbation
      murder
      penis
      pubic
      raping (ra-pe is not ok)
      shat (sh-@t is not ok)
      sphincter
      testes
      testicles

      The CNN / WordPress filter also filters your EMAIL address and NAME as well – so you might want to check those.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      That lost of forbidden words and word fragments is good.

      Please give greedily where credit is due. From what I can tell, a blogger named "Helpful Hints" was the first person to archive and post this list.

      THANKS TO HELPFUL HINTS!

      November 18, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Rats autocorrect

      Should be ...give credit where credit is due.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • nope

      @elmo
      nope

      November 18, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  11. Nicole

    This article just gives atheists fodder. Nevermind, Rachel. Jesus is coming back.

    November 18, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Reality

      "The Two Universal Sects

      They all err—Moslems, Jews,
      Christians, and Zoroastrians:

      Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
      One, man intelligent without religion,
      The second, religious without intellect. "

      Al-Ma'arri
      , born AD 973 /, died AD 1058 / .

      He was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.[1][2] He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion and rejecting the claim that Islam possessed any monopoly on truth."

      Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/resalat-al-ghufran#ixzz1lI6DuZmZ and http://www.humanistictexts.org/al_ma'arri.htm

      November 18, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  12. good luck

    and many will say Lord did we not do great things in your name and he will say away from for I never knew you, Rachel good luck with this

    November 18, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  13. Fitter876

    What bothers me about the bible is the way in which the book in its entirety came together. A bunch of kings and scholars came together and decided which books would make it in, and which books wouldnt. Who are any of the people on earth to say that we know more of what god wants than someone else. Who are we to say that whatever books make the most sense are the ones that must be truth. And if gods feelings and rules towards us can change so very easily. ie , old testament to new. Then who are we to say that god hasnt sent people after jesus, not as a savior but as a messenger with new instructions and behaviors. Im not a mormon , but for evangelicals to be so hypocritical i think is just pathetic. Everyone on this page who claims to know the "real" message of the bible by looking into the text through context is a fool. Your not intellectual, just stubborn and sad really.

    November 18, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Amal

      perfect. You reflected the comment in my mind.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  14. Reality

    As noted on p. 1:

    Putting the bible, Judaism and Christianity in the proper 21st century perspective:

    Only for the new members of this blog–

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “
    prob•a•bly
    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    November 18, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • The Moderator

      CNN likes guys like you. How'd you like a date with Richard Quest? You have to wear the noose.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Ted S

      You are largely correct about religion, but you are far too arrogant in your use of the term "hallucination". If you had a near death experience, and encountered one of those "beautiful winged thingies", the evidence shows that you would very likely change your tune. Try reading the ever expanding literature on NDE's and other transformative experiences. Ask yourself one question: Why do countless individuals who adamantly believe that consciousness ends after physical death, totally change this belief when they have a core near death experience (in which they encounter The Light); yet there is scarcely a single case recorded of someone who had a core NDE changing their mind after studying the research of those who claim to debunk the experience, and announcing that what they really had was a hallucination. I attended a support group of people who had experienced near death experiences. When asked how they knew that they had not merely hallucinated every one of them said that, compared to the reality they experienced in their NDE, "normal" consciousness was the true hallucination. Interestingly, most of these folks came back from their experiences with less, not more, use for organized religion.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • norawestcott

      There is no question that some of what you state is true. However, ALL of what you say doesn't matter. The Bible, the Torah, the Qur'an, and other sacred texts were written by various, divinely-inspired men (di.vine... of, relating to, or proceeding directly from God). Although these texts were written by different people, at different times and in different places, it doesn't change the fact that all of the writers were inspired directly by God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

      That said, the writers themselves were not divine. Only God is divine. They were human beings and therefore restricted by human knowledge, human culture, technologies, politics, and environments of their time. To put the Bible in its proper context, one must approach the text with this in mind. One must put one's self in that time and in that place in order to garner its meaning. When one approaches the text from this perspective, universal truths emerge.

      For me the three most important universal truths in the Old Testament are Creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and The Ten Commandments.

      God created everything. It doesn't matter if one believes He did in seven days, or a billion years. All one has to do to see that God created everything is to look around at the Earth's perfection. How anyone can believe that the Earth and all it contains came together by chance?

      God created people. It doesn't matter how humans came to be sentient beings or how long it took. God created us. God gave humans free will meaning the innate knowledge of right and wrong. The story of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel is a Biblical, divinely-inspired human being's way of explaining free will and the consequences of sin to other human beings in a manner that they can understand. Again, one must put oneself in that time and in that place.

      You state Moses didn't exist. I state whether he did or did not exist is irrelevant. What is relevant is the set of laws the divinely-inspired writer left for humanity. These laws are The Ten Commandments. If everyone at least aspired to live by the Commandments, think of how much better the world would be. Imagine a world in which everyone at least tries loving God above all else, loving his neighbor, no worshiping idols (in modern terms, money, celebrities, material possessions) no murder, no adultery, no lying,no stealing, no coveting, no cursing, loving and honoring his parents, and honoring the Lord's Day. If everyone followed these laws, there would be no poverty, no wars, and we would all live in peace and harmony. They are as relevant today as they were when written because they are universal truths.

      Here's the rub. God gave us free will. We have the freedom to choose to follow them or not. Throughout history we humans have chosen not to follow them. It's like a bell curve. At one end, there are a few who have and do follow them. At the other end of the curve, there are a few who have and do outright reject them. The rest of us fall somewhere along the curve leaning towards good or evil, and most of us land right square in the middle.

      There is no question that humans committed and continue to commit unspeakable atrocities in the name of religion, but not God. Note the distinction. Religion is not God. Religion is humanity's way of trying to make sense of God. God transcends all religious beliefs past and present....the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Hindus, Native Americans, Christians, Jews, Muslims...all of them. God isn't concerned with doctrines, isms, or edicts. God wants us to love Him, no matter what we conceive Him to be. He doesn't care if we believe him to be Jesus, the Holy Ghost, Mohammed, The Great White Spirit, etc. He cares that we aspire to follow the Ten Commandments, to resist temptation to do evil things.

      Finally, Reality. I try to keep the Commandments, not out of fear of inuring God's wrath, but because I want God's grace. I've failed countless times. I don't judge you for not believing, and I certainly don't condemn you. I don't think God does either. However, I can't help but pity you because for me, a life without God in it would have no meaning.

      God bless you.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  15. Christian7

    I think some people interpret Christianity as : I am forgiven now I can sin and not worry about it. That is completely wrong. One example is the lords prayer. " forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." Do not expect to be forgiven, if you do not forgive. "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." You have to really follow God to be saved. You can not just keep sinning.

    November 18, 2012 at 7:58 am |
  16. Lou

    EXODUS 2:12 Moses saw an Egyptian beating up a Hebrew. He looked around, saw no witnesses, killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

    November 18, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Reality

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

      The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation. "

      November 18, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  17. tmiletus

    The only commandment worth a darn:
    "Take care of each other and the planet. And be nice about it."

    -God

    November 18, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • trod

      well said. I wonder why every time the Bible is challenged, believers like to stop the public conversation, instead of really trying to get to the truth

      November 18, 2012 at 8:13 am |
  18. Malph Ralph

    Why is CNN always attacking Christians? Never Muslims, just Christians.

    November 18, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • tmiletus

      Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Oboso

      Because CNN doesn't like anybody who doesn't espouse the gay lifestyle.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Is it an attack to allow an evangelical to describe her own experience? Don't paint with such a broad brush, Ralph.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • adh1729

      Answer: the media in America are owned by the super-super-rich. They have a club, and one of their goals is to destroy Christianity. Believe it or not, Congress in 1953 investigated the issue (the Reece committee) and the legal counsel wrote a book about it: Foundations, Their Power and Influence. It is a difficult but worthwhile read. Guess what? The media suppressed the investigation, the way they suppress everything that does not suit them.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  19. Melanie Bush

    Not all of us believe in the bible. The bible has been edited and translated so many times that anyone really has to wonder what the original meaning was. There is really nothing literal left in it.

    November 18, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • The Truth Will Prevail

      Maybe you should start reading it.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Eugene Adkins

      Actually you can find out what the original meaning is fairly easily. The New Testament was written in Koine Greek. That particular language is a "dead" language which means it doesn't change with cultures, time or stances on social and political issues.

      For example you could read James 2:3 in the KJV and really miss the mark because of the way some have perverted our language and culture. But you can go back to the Greek word "Lampros" and see that the particular word I have referenced means: "shining, magnificent, luxurious, elegant."

      If you want to understand the Bible then 2 Timothy 2:15 applies to your situation, and Acts 8:30-31 (finding the right teacher).

      November 18, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • adh1729

      "Not all of us believe in the bible. The bible has been edited and translated so many times that anyone really has to wonder what the original meaning was. There is really nothing literal left in it."
      Fact: Hebrew to English is ONE translation. Hebrew to Greek is ONE translation. Where do you get "translated so many times"? Do Americans know anything anymore? What do they teach in school?

      November 18, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  20. One one

    Good morning everyone, God here.

    WORSHIP ME OR I WILL TORTURE YOU FOREVER !

    Have a nice day.

    November 18, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • notea4me

      Actually he'll torture you either way!

      November 18, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Amal

      notea4me. lol.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • adh1729

      Can you give the chapter and verse?

      November 18, 2012 at 8:47 am |
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About this blog

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